“Why will I want a second wife? What is in their body that is different?” I had said to my colleagues who seemed to think that being a Muslim, I will want to exercise my freedom to more than one wife. That was two weeks to my wedding.
Five months down the matrimonial road, all was bliss like I expected it would. My wife was cool-headed, respectful despite our being only a few weeks apart in age and really economical with the little salary I earned. I had no fear about the new addition we were expecting to our family. She will be the perfect mother.
There’s nothing like a wedding to bring old friends – and foes- together. A married man for six months and my first time attending a social engagement without my wife due to her pregnant state, I saw her again; my ex.
It had not been a nice parting. How could it be after ten years together? The last we saw she came to pick her stuff from my house, a month to my wedding, and we barely acted in a civil manner towards each other.
Now, she looked to be doing well, though the way she painstakingly ignored me proved she was still affected by our break-up. Deciding to be the bigger man I made a move to be civil.
She was reluctant for a long time. I suggested we bury the hatchet. She looked at me with disbelief.
“Bury hatchet? You are one to talk when you have moved on! Ten years of my life is what I gave you. For ten years I refused every marriage proposal and what do you do? You replace me easily.”
Funny how the guilty can suddenly become the accuser. We had met soon as I was wrapping up my HND programme. She was yet to get into school and with my paltry salary then of NGN 20,000 I paid her school fees all through school.
My friends saw it as a bad idea. She was in school in a different state from me. Anything could happen. And something did happen. While I was meeting her financial needs and preserving her virtue for marriage, she had a course mate meeting her physical needs.
On finding out, I pretended not to know then when she came to visit while on holiday I did what no Muslim brother should do; I seduced her. I consoled myself that it was the only payment I was to get for my years of sacrifice on her. “She wronged me first” was the reason I gave when my conscience worked overtime.
I would have straight up reminded her all the ways she was the reason for her own misfortune but I noticed for the first time, or just now chose to accept, that I still cared about her.
We are mature adults, surely we could sort out our differences and be friends. Upon further inquiry I discovered our offices were quite close and I suggested we met to smooth things over.
I never hid anything from my wife and when she asked me how the wedding went, I told her all save for meeting my ex. I didn’t want to trouble her, I rationalized. As she inquired further about the wedding and I answered distractedly, it registered that this time last year my wife and I were total strangers. To the surprise of my wife, i got up rapidly in search of a calendar. This time last year was the exact date I seduced my ex then asked her out of my life. Allah blessed me a few weeks later with a virgin maiden, Aisha, who is now my wife.
I began calling Hadiza again. In the office only. No need to trouble my pregnant wife.
“Does your wife know about this?” Nneka, my favourite colleague asked.
“No she doesn’t, but she will once I have made peace with Hadiza, that’s the only reason why I call her”
“OK o, just be careful” She warned. But that was not necessary. I trust myself and love my wife dearly.
Some phone conversations later, we agreed to meet and since I could not confide in my wife I told Nneka about it.
“Nooo Way!” She objected loudly.
“Yes way” I countered smiling. “Remember I promised I will never marry a second wife?”
Nneka continued shaking her head and did everything in her power to prevent me from going.
“Will you be happy if your wife meets with her ex?”
“Ahn ahn, why will she? See, it’s different. I just want to clear the air, that’s all”
“That’s how it starts.”
Very early Sunday morning, one full month after we had met again at that wedding, I met with Hadiza at her house.
She asked why i treated her in such manner. I explained that I found out about her unfaithfulness in school. She was shocked that I knew and explained that it all happened at a time when I began acting indifferent towards her. The guy was very attentive and she was vulnerable thinking I was not interested in her anymore.
I remembered that during that period I was really busy at work because a colleague resigned and I had to handle two people’s job till we got a replacement. I apologized for being inattentive but told her that wasn’t still a good reason to lose her virtue. She explained she was sorry about it and that she had no real feelings towards him.
But she had also become rude towards my family and when I brought that up she explained that she felt like the outsider amongst them because she had not been properly married into the family and hoped I would ask her the reason for her behavior and try to remedy things.
She cried. I cried. We apologized and I realized I had never stopped loving her. She begged me to take her back; Two wives was not unheard of. We talked till seven in the evening before I left for home.
“How did it go?” Nneka asked in answer to my “Good morning” on Monday morning.
I refused to go into details about all that transpired and said simply “I still love her. She was my first love.”
“Well, what can I say? Congratulations on your next wedding Fatiha.”
As I opened my mouth to remind her of my vow never to marry a second wife she interrupted me “And don’t feed me that ‘no second wife’ story because the first seed has already been planted and you are doing a good job nurturing it. I just regret that I didn’t make a bet with you when you boasted never to remarry, I would be richer in a few months.”
She sounded so certain that i will be getting married soon. I wonder if it is so. How can one love two women so intensely?
Writer’s Note: This is a true life story; the story of a close friend. Names have been changed and i am ‘Nneka’ in this story. It has been tweaked a bit though and i had to leave out some really personal stuff.
“Is it OK to stay friends with the ex?” That was the discussion on radio last night and as i listened i decided to write this story.
So i ask.; Is staying friends with the ex a sign of maturity or courting trouble? To what extent should one be civil towards their ex?