By Nkarenyi Ukonu - Nigeria
Their parents were well aware of the relationship and gave their blessing. They were the envy of their classmates, as they had everything going for them. Their love for each other was mutual and their academic records never fell short of expectation; they were always tops in their class. At graduation, they emerged first and second best in their department. Unfortunately, they had to be separated during their youth service year. While Olowe served up North, Bimpe remained in the West. They kept their love aglow through constant phone calls, post cards and love cards. The service year soon ended and they were happy to be back in each other's arms.
It didn't take long for them to get employment. Bimpe was lucky to be offered employment in her area of core competence at the British High Commission as a diplomatic attaché. Olowe wasn't so lucky. He didn't get his dream job; but rather than sit at home and bemoan his fate, he decided to make do with what came his way. He took employment in a chemical manufacturing company as a sales representative. Even though he was constantly on the lookout for a better offer, preferably in his field, he, nevertheless, carried out his duties with all seriousness and diligence.
Nine months after they both started work, they were joined in holy matrimony and they settled down to raise a family. Eighteen months into their jobs, they welcomed their first baby, a bouncing baby boy. In quick successions, they had all their children, three of them. By now, Olowe had risen fast in his company to become the assistant sales manager.
Bimpe was also well rewarded with promotions and all the perks that came with each new position she attained. Things were going on well for them; their children were doing quite well in school and they were able to afford the basic things of life. But there was a problem: Olowe detested his job and the paltry sum he received as salary. He wished he could switch to his dream job, but luck eluded him. He detested even more the fact that his wife got a fatter salary at the end of the month; but he did his best to hide his resentment. He worked himself sore to meet up with his financial obligation, refusing help in whatever guise from his wife. Even though he didn't tell her so, she was quick to detect that there was a problem as far as finance was concerned, as it was beginning to affect all other areas of their life. She tried, in vain, to make him understand that contributing to the family up keep did not in any way diminish her love and respect for him.
As the months rolled by, so did his resentment towards his wife worsen. Things soon got worse for him. The chemical company he worked for folded up due to the sudden turn in the economy and, without any prior notice, he was thrown into the labour market.
He had nothing of his own to fall back on. He plunged into depression as his plans to get a better job proved to be an effort in futility. At this point, he had no choice but to allow Bimpe to take up the family upkeep. He refused Bimpe's suggestion to help him set up a small-scale business when he wasn't making a headway with his job hunting. He gradually began to take out his frustration on her; questioning her every move, picking quarrels over inconsequential issues, raising his voice at her and generally making life unbearable for her.
Surprisingly, she took all of his outbursts in her stride, careful enough not to join issues with him, while playing her role to the best of her ability. She dared not offer words of encouragement in order not to incur his wrath, while she secretly job-hunted for him.
He became disconnected from his three children who all preferred to stay away from him as much as possible. The last straw that broke the camel's back was when he didn't come home for two days and by the time he came home on the third day, he was reeking of alcohol. When Bimpe tried to inquire about his whereabouts and why he chose to keep them all in frightening suspense, he gave her a thorough beating, one that got her hospitalised for three days.
While on her hospital bed, she strategized and perfected her plans to move out of her matrimonial home with her three kids, a move she made once she was sure he wasn't anywhere in sight. After rollicking in alcohol for another two days, Olowe arrived to an empty home one day at a quarter to midnight, with no trace of his wife and children.