By Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe
Nelia was what many people would probably describe as a 'bush girl.' She was in her early 20s, just about to gain admission to a tertiary institution when Tim, a marketing executive with a financial institution, came to ask for her hand in marriage. Back then, her parents were excited that their daughter attracted someone from the city. Nelia herself, who was not only a virgin, but also naïve (too naïve for her age), simply saw the marriage as a natural development; and something she should be happy about.
During the short period they courted, she was surprised that her prospective husband did not demand sex or romance even for one day. But because she was so uninformed, she felt it was because the man was disciplined.
She says, "Then I would tell my friends that I liked my fiancée because he was a decent man, who did not ever demand sex from me. Then it never occurred to me that anything was wrong with him. I was just too naïve to harbour such thoughts. However after our marriage, I was surprised that he didn't make any attempt to touch me. It wasn't as if I was particularly interested in sex, but I wanted to have children and I was brought up to believe that sex was solely for children.
"I returned to school and my friends were teasing me, asking how our sex life was, but I told them that my husband had never touched me, and they were surprised. They told me that it was not normal, that probably something was wrong with him. When I got home during the holidays, I mustered up the courage to ask him why we never had sex and he asked me if it was food. I was shocked and ashamed. But he wasn't done yet. He told me he got married to me because he thought I was a decent girl, but that it was obvious I was wayward. I couldn't believe my ears. I felt so bad at the accusation and was even afraid. I didn't know what to do; I was so confused that I couldn't even confide in my mother.
"Later he told me to follow him to a doctor and as foolish as I was then, I acquiesced not knowing that he had connived with the doctor. When I got there, they made it look as though I had problems and kept packing drugs for me. One day, one of the nurses at the hospital took me aside and told me that my husband was impotent; that he would never be able to have sex, let alone impregnating a woman. When I heard that, I simply wanted to die. In fact, the nurse advised me to find a man who would make me pregnant and surprisingly, when I told my husband he didn't see anything wrong with it.
"That was how I met Tony and before long, I was pregnant. I was very discreet and everyone believed it was my husband who fathered the boy. That was also how I had a second son through him. But because of my marriage, we couldn't make the relationship public even when we discovered that we had fallen in love. After the two children, I kept away from him and resigned myself to fate. Meanwhile, along the line, Tony met someone else and got married.
"A few years back we ran into each other and he confessed to me that he still loved me and would like us to continue. I don't really love my husband, especially because of the way he deceived me and right now he is making life quite miserable for me because he is having problems with his finances. Tony even suggested that we got married and leave the country, but I am thinking of his wife, who already has a daughter for him and I don't think it will be right to treat her that way. After all, it wasn't her fault that we got ourselves into this kind of mess.
"Another thing that is worrying me is that right now my husband is suspecting that I have gone back to Tony and may therefore do something drastic to stop us. Furthermore, under our native laws and customs, Tony may not claim those children unless we come out openly and fight for it.
"I am tempted here to say, 'to hell with native law and customs, 'but I will hold my peace, at least to avoid being accused of ruffling certain feathers.
But for crying out loud, what kind of family was Tim planning to build on a foundation of pure deceit and callousness?
However, it is a very complicated scenario since Tony is already married with a child. Now, two marriages and families are involved in the mess. And to think that all this would have been avoided if Tim had behaved like a true gentleman, declared his reproductive status to his bride-to-be and who knows? They could have settled for artificial insemination with a voluntary anonymous sperm donor.