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Divorce Diaries Season 4 Eps 5

MY NAME IS SARATU ALHAJI. I AM FROM ZAMFARA STATE. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE MY DIVORCE DIARIES WITH YOU.

I met my husband Faruk on Facebook. We had mutual friends and Facebook had suggested that I send him a friend request. I thought he looked handsome and cool on his profile picture and so I sent him one. I had even forgotten about him when he sent me a message via chat. We started chatting, we kept chatting and we continued chatting. Soon we exchanged BBM Pins. We were constantly chatting like every day. Soon every minute of every day was spent chatting or thinking of chatting with each other. He told me about himself. His father had only one wife and she had 3 boys. He was the second born child of the family. He was a graduate and worked with NNPC. I thought he was quite the catch! Young, handsome and upwardly mobile, what more was I looking for?

After  2 months of chatting non-stop, Faruk and I decided to meet up. I suggested the venue to be my father’s house, irin good girl din nan. I didn’t want him to think any less of me; neither did I want him to think I was a cheap girl. The moment I saw him pull up our driveway I knew it was my lucky day. He was even more handsome and cool in real life than in his profile photo. I told myself that: this is my husband. This is my husband. I made up my mind there and then.

I was just rounding up my Degree program at Ahmadu Bello University, I was 22 and already my Mothers (I am from a polygamous home), aunts and sisters had started disturbing me about marriage. In fact my mother felt that if I graduated without getting married, I would be too old and too educated to get a good husband. I felt bad because all my older sisters had married before reaching their final year in University. The pressure to marry before my other step sisters and cousins was too real. I had to marry before them to save my mother from ridicule and embarrassment. I wondered if there was something wrong with me that I still was not married at 22. It bothered me also because more than half of my friends had gotten married and I was assuming the position of the single friend. That position was not fun at all. Arewa Ladies will understand what I mean. I was looking forward to also bragging about my husband and in laws. I didn’t want to carry last. Everything went well and soon enough Faruk asked me to introduce him to my father. It could only mean one thing: Faruk was ready to make me his wife. I was over the moon. I introduced Faruk to my father and the marriage preparations began in earnest.

The day of my wedding I was so happy. I was happy to see my mother happy. We danced our hearts out to kalangu music and cried when it was time for me to follow my in laws to my matrimonial home. It was a beautiful day. I was happy.

My honeymoon was short. After like 3 weeks of marriage I started to notice changes in Faruk’s behaviour. He was jovial and kind before but he started turning into a dictator pretty quickly. He stopped calling me sweetheart and referred to me as “KE” even in front of his friends and family. Especially his friend Tahir. This behaviour hurt me a lot.

But I remembered I was admonished to be patient and submissive, so I took his behaviour in my stride. Another thing that caused me problems was his closeness to his friend Tahir. Tahir was his remote control. Tahir was using Faruk for power steering wallahi; every decision ultimately was taken by Tahir. I literally had no say in my marriage. I couldn’t decide anything. Even mundane everyday decisions like what to cook for dinner, what to serve guests , even permission to go out fa  would be taken by Tahir. My husband would call me from work and say: “please cook Jollof Rice for dinner, make it spicy because that is how Tahir likes it”

Tahir was my de facto husband. I was disappointed to find out that even the decision to marry me was advanced  and promoted by Tahir. I was frustrated and angry because I felt I should have had more power and control in my home not be dictated to by someone who was not even related to my husband, a mere friend. I was at a loss as to what to do and so I continued to suffer all manner of unfair treatment because of Tahir. My husband even said we should not have children until later years because Tahir said I would be fat and disfigured as a pregnant woman, therefore making it impossible for him to enjoy me well. All this rubbish was according to Tahir. Just imagine. I was so fed up with Tahir’s presence in my husband’s life. I wondered what I could do to assert my authority as a wife and I couldn’t come up with anything. So I persevered. Things kept getting worse between Faruk and me, mostly because I wanted to start a family and Tahir did not ‘approve’.

Things came to a head when Faruk was posted to England and Tahir advised him against taking me with him. I was furious. His excuse was that London was not economically conducive to go along with your family. I just wanted to strangle him. That night before Faruk left for England, we quarrelled about Tahir. I opened up and told him I was very unhappy with the way his friendship with Tahir was affecting me and our marriage. Faruk seemed to understand but then his conclusion was:

‘I trust him with my life. He only wants the best for me; I agree he may overdo it but wallahi he means well. Besides he is getting married soon so he will be off our backs’

I opened my mouth to say something but no words came out.

All I could say was “Toh maigida”.

When Faruk was leaving for the airport, Tahir came and said I should stay back at home, while he would escort him. I looked at my husband. My husband looked at me and said goodbye. My heart was on fire. I went back into the house and wept like a grieving widow, what had I gotten myself into? For hours I wept and asked myself what I was doing in such a marriage.

A knock on the door brought me back to reality. Lo and behold it was Tahir. I was unable to hide the disgust.

“Ah Madam Lafiya Dai?”

I wanted to be civil but my mouth had a mind of its own.

“Don Ubanka what are you looking for? Our husband is not around”

I made sure to emphasise the OUR.

“I came to see you”

“For what?”

Despite my better judgement I let him in. He sat down and motioned for me to come and sit on his lap. I was not sure my mind was not playing tricks on me. I stared in shock.

“You know I have always told my friend what a mesmerizing beauty you are, ga shi you are a fantastic cook, and you are now sexy on top! Burst my brain!!”

To say I was scandalized would be an understatement.

“Kai wani irin daniska ne?? I am a married woman.  Married to your so called best friend. Wa iyazubillah you should ask Allah for forgiveness. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE NOW!!!”

“Yes my so called best friend told me you like it rough. You are a freak and your husband told me so himself. And we both know he doesn’t lie. Ke Yarinya there is nothing I don’t know about you.I know you want to show me that side of you. I see how you look at me”

He was moving closer, wearing a mischievous smile. I was getting scared. My heart was threatening to burst out of my chest. This man wanted to rape me. I was telling myself to run but as if by magic, I could not move an inch. I stood rooted to that spot sweating. The look in his face told me he would do what he wanted to do.I suddenly felt a burst of energy, I ran to the kitchen but before I could grab a knife, he had overpowered me from the back. I felt him. I don’t know how he had a knife in his hand but I felt the cold steel against my neck. I tried to struggle but it was in vain.

‘Wallahi if you move an inch I will slit your throat. If I hear pim I will slaughter you like ragon layya.’I closed my eyes and started reciting hasbunallahu wa ni’mal wakeel. Hot tears were running down my face. I wanted to scream but I didn’t want to die.

‘You better relax so you can enjoy this’

I kept praying. Trying to get my mind to escape from the reality of what was happening. He raped me on the kitchen floor. I don’t know long it was but he must have raped me till I passed out. Because when I came to, I could hear the call for Maghrib prayer.I got up and took a shower, and then I went downstairs and bleached the kitchen floor. I was tired of crying. I was tired of thinking. I cleaned every inch of my house just like I cleaned every inch of my skin with harsh bleach. I felt like the walls of my house were closing in on me, threatening to suffocate me.

I went home and told my parents what happened.

Faruk was summoned back after like a week. You will not believe me but he came to my parents’ house with the devil Tahir. I was shocked that he even had that kind of confidence. My parents wanted the matter to be reported to authorities.  Faruk’s parents were also there as I narrated what happened between me and Tahir that fateful day. Everyone seemed to believe me except Faruk. He said no one heard from his friend and that he had 100% trust for his friend.

As I expected Tahir denied the whole incident . He said I tried to seduce him and he refused. He said I framed him because he refused my advances. So my Father in Law asked him:

“What took you to Faruk’s house that day, since you knew he was out of town? You said you were the one who dropped him off at the airport so what were you doing in his house?’

“Alhaji, I went to check on his family ne kawai. I was going to inquire about any needs she might have had because he asked me to take care of her’

My father in law seemed convinced by this answer. He turned to me and said:

“Toh Malama what do you want us to do now? If you go to the authorities it will bring shame and ridicule to our family. Whether you are the one telling the truth or not, Leave it to Allah. Allah will do justice for whoever is lying here. Now I want you to follow your husband back to your home”

Before I could even answer, my dad said: “Over my dead body! I believe my daughter is telling the truth. She will not go anywhere until I am certain your son can protect her. Until then she remains here with me at home where her safety and wellbeing are guaranteed’

My father in law asked me if I agreed with my father. I said yes.

I was at home for 6 months before Faruk divorced me. I decided not to report to police because I didn’t want to expose my family to the shame and embarrassment. I couldn’t bear the exposure, back and forth that would occur in a court case. I am still dealing with the trauma. I cannot get over the fact that my husband chose to believe Tahir over me. What’s even worse is that Faruk is now married to Tahir’s sister. I wonder if he also discloses their private affairs. I keep wondering if there is more to the friendship between Tahir and Faruk.

I am taking it one day at a time. I thank God for my father every day for standing up for me. If I had gone back I would have run mad. Seeing and tolerating my rapist every day. I thank God that I didn’t contract HIV or any other STD. The regret I have is that I rushed into marriage without really asking all the right questions about my husband and the people he calls friends. I rushed and I regret it every day because the same people I was trying to impress are the ones peddling rumors about me sleeping with my husband’s friend. But I have faith that one day everything will pass and that I will move on to better and greater things, God Willing.

Alhamdulillah. Thank you for reading my story.

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