Divorce Diaries Season 4 Eps 6
MY NAME IS LAWAL JALO. I AM 58 YEARS OLD. I AM A BUSINESS EXECUTIVE. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE MY DIVORCE DIARIES WITH YOU.
I was married to my wife Halima for more than two decades years before our union crashed. No one could have predicted that our marriage would become what it became. In the beginning it seemed like the best thing ever. A match made in heaven. Even throughout majority of the years we spent together all seemed well. Halima was the most understanding woman, she was the kindest soul ever. For the longest time I felt like the luckiest man in Nigeria.
That is not to say we didn’t have our challenges as a married couple. We went through it like most people but we always pulled through. Halima was always so full of grace and forgiveness. Sometimes even if I wanted to do something bad, I would remember how gracious my wife was and I would immediately stop myself.
One of the biggest challenges we faced as a couple was that of having children. The first seven years of our marriage we were battling with in-laws and friends over our childlessness. During this time my heart went out to Halima. She faced all sorts of insults and allegations from in-laws. I did my best to stand by her. I tried as much as I could to defend her and be there for her. This action caused us isolation from our families. Everybody thought I was being soft on her. In the 80s the general belief was that women were to blame for childlessness. It never actually occurred to us back then to get a man examined for fertility. It just was agreed or assumed by all and sundry that men were fertile. Everybody blamed Halima for our childlessness. I was urged to marry a new wife to prove my manhood. In fact I was seriously pressured to take a new wife by my mother. It wasn’t easy but I had to stand up to my mother. I didn’t see the need to humiliate my wife further by marrying another wife.
We continued going to the hospital; test after test; procedure after procedure and doctors assured us she was fine. We were asked to be patient and wait for God’s time. I was beginning to get frustrated with everything. I wondered why people would not just leave us alone. I wasn’t particularly crazy about children. With or without children, Halima was still precious to me. True to character, Halima took it all with grace and the patience of an angel. I was very proud of her.
After a while, Halima told me she was tired of going to hospital. One morning she just broke down and told me she was tired of all the poking and tests. My heart went out to her. I held her tight and kissed her and told her it was alright. I didn’t care about children. I was content with our life, just the two of us.
I got a new job and we moved to Calabar. It was a very welcome move because we would be away from all the pressure and nasty talk. Halima was so excited about setting up house in Calabar. Calabar was a lovely quiet town back in 1986. It was a good change of environment for both of us. We lived in a three bedroom colonial style bungalow with BQ. It was the biggest house we had ever lived in. we were like teenagers in that house. We had good neighbors who welcomed us and made us feel at home. Halima became particularly close to Mrs. Okon, an elderly retired civil servant who took Halima and I as her own children. Life was good for us.
Halima informed me that Mrs. Okon had suggested that herbs will work for her. I didn’t like the idea initially but seeing the way Halima was insistent I had no choice but to agree. So Mrs. Okon took Halima to a traditional healer and she was given some roots and herbs. There was a set for me and a set for her. Around this time, my younger brother Mustapha came to stay with us in Calabar for his NYSC. I used to joke that the three of them; Mustapha, Halima and Mrs. Okon created a cabal and I was their hapless victim.
The herbs seemed to work because we both noticed an increase in libido. And soon enough about 4 months after we started taking the herbs, Halima started having weird symptoms like throwing up and malaria incessantly. It was a joyous day for us when the doctor told us we were expecting. Alhamdulillah… finally! Halima became the most pampered pregnant woman in Nigeria. Between myself, Mrs. Okon and Mustapha we treated her like a queen. I remember one night when Mustapha and I had to go out to look for suya at 2 am because that’s what Halima wanted to eat. We did it all with smiles.
Halima gave birth to our first son, in June 87. I will never forget that day. It felt like being in a dream. I never imagined that being a father would make me so happy. We named him Abubakar after my father. Finally my mother and other family members loved Halima. Calabar was really good for us it seemed. Even Mustapha was lucky enough to be retained in the establishment where he served. It seemed we were on a roll.
Three years later we welcomed another baby boy. I couldn’t believe our luck! From childless for years to 2 children in 3 years. Truly patience is never wasted. Three years later, we welcomed a baby girl, Maryam. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I fell in love as soon as I saw her. She was and still is the love of my life. I was a fulfilled man. I went into the world of fatherhood with my sleeves rolled up. I was there changing diapers, feeding, rocking, caring, everything! I didn’t want to miss a thing!
In 1999, we left Calabar for Abuja, leaving Mustapha and Mrs. Okon behind, sadly. The children were distraught leaving Mrs. Okon and Uncle Mustapha behind. But we had to go. I had been transferred to my organisation’s Headquarters. Life was good really I couldn’t complain. My kids were growing up and I was in top management with a beautiful and lovely wife. What more could a man ask for?
Our fertility seemed to end after Maryam was born. Though Halima wanted more children, our well seemed to have dried up. I didn’t mind really. But you know how women are. I was happy with 3 children. I was grateful for every single one of them.
In 2005, my dear brother Mustapha became very ill. He had a rare form of blood cancer. Naturally we were all worried, especially Halima due to their closeness. She was always at the hospital taking care of him. Mustapha had no wife and so Halima took care of his every need while he battled cancer. It seemed the doctors were not succeeding because as the months passed by he got weaker and weaker. We decided to take him abroad for treatment but Mustapha refused saying it would be useless. He kept saying he would die of cancer. He said he preferred to die surrounded by his family.
During this time, my world came crashing down on me.
A week before he died, my brother kept asking me for forgiveness. He said his time was approaching and he needed to end his relationship well with everybody. I assured him I had forgiven him for everything, though I couldn’t think of anything he had ever done to wrong me. He was the perfect brother. Until Mustapha told me he was the biological father of my children.
I laughed and told him of course he was their father. After all he was an integral part of their lives. I thought the powerful painkillers had gotten to him. I pitied him. He was crying.
He looked me with so much pensiveness I thought he was about to pass away.
He repeated what he said.
‘All those times Halima got pregnant in Calabar, I was the one responsible. The first time, was a mistake. It wasn’t planned. It just happened. Please brother forgive me. I don’t want to face God with this. I don’t even remember how we just started but we couldn’t stop. After a while she told me she was pregnant. I wanted to confess then but she begged me not to…..’
I stared at him. I was feeling a mixture of rage and pity and sadness and betrayal all at the same time.
‘She said no one would find out, she said you were impotent. That she had figured it out and she wanted to take matters in her hands. She said I had to help her. I believed her. Brother, please forgive me. I hated myself every time she got pregnant. Every time she gave birth I wanted to tell you what I had done but I couldn’t. ‘
I wanted to get up and strangle him to death. But I was paralysed by my shock.
‘Sometimes she would put something in your evening tea that would make you go to bed early. We would be in the BQ. Sometimes till dawn. When Maryam was born I couldn’t handle the guilt. I decided not to do it again. Please forgive me.’
At this moment, Halima walked in to the room. I looked at her. I doubted my brother. No way. He was hallucinating from the effect of so many drugs. His pain was getting to his brain. No way.
‘What is wrong Baban abu? You look like you just saw a ghost’
Before I could answer her, Mustapha replied:
“Halima I have confessed to him. He knows everything.’
She sat down. All her grace and composure was gone. I couldn’t stop looking at the two of them. Imagining all sorts of things. Halima started to beg me. I did not know what to say. I just walked out and drove home. How I drove home without getting killed is only by the Grace of God.
I didn’t go back to that hospital. Three weeks later Mustapha died. My anger has not allowed me to mourn him.
I kept my distance from Halima from that day. We became strangers. I avoided her like a plague. After some months she wrote me a letter asking me for a divorce. I gladly obliged.
The kids who are now adults have no idea. I decided not to tell them anything. As far as I am concerned I am their father for all intents and purposes. I did get tested and doctors confirmed Halima’s assumptions. It is almost impossible for me to impregnate a woman.
I don’t know what Halima is up to these days. I see her around when she visits the kids, especially Maryam. When people ask what happened, I just say that it was time for us to end the marriage.
I am still angry. I was betrayed in the worst manner by people I stood by. People I would have gladly given my life for. I blame myself a lot. I never should have allowed so much closeness between my wife and my brother. I should have gotten tested early in my marriage. I would have been aware of my disability. I would have made my peace with it. I never knew how desperate Halima was to be a mother. I could forgive her if it was even one child, but 3 children is no mistake. When is one ever safe from betrayal?
I do not think I will ever remarry. I will soon retire and focus on my children. My first son is expecting his first child with his wife. I am looking forward to being a grandfather.
Thank you for reading my story.