Written by Yetunde Arebi
~Vanguard Nigeria. Sunday, January 15, 2017.
Please, close your eyes for a minute. Now, imagine that something terrible just happened to you, such as an accident or illness, rendering you incapable of being in charge of your life. You have become so incapacitated, you can no longer run your own show. You can no longer bark out orders at your family and loved ones.
You are no longer that fire spitting boss at the office that everyone dreaded to cross path with. No longer are you that loud laughing, back pumping buddy to your friends and colleagues. Your beer guzzling and cigarette puffing addiction which you loved to call enjoyment can no longer be fed. Yes, imagine that you are now totally dependent on some other persons to help you get by.
You need someone to take care of your personal private needs, particularly toilet needs. Simple tasks such as bathing, brushing your teeth, eating, sitting, getting into your own bed, talking, laughing, and even taking your own medication have become the duty of some others. All you can do now is stare at the ceiling and into space as you lay in your bed like a zombie. What do you think would happen to you should you suddenly become a vegetable? Who do you think ought to be responsible for your care?
This was exactly what happened to Steve, a 59 year old business man when he suddenly suffered a severe stroke two years ago. According to Angelica, his wife of about 25 years, it all happened so suddenly late one night." Because we did not share a room, I did not realise that anything had happened to him until I woke up at about 5.30am to use the bathroom and heard a muffled sound coming from his room.
It was a strange sound, so I decided to check on him. Then, I saw him, lay out straight and staring at the ceiling, foaming from his mouth. I rushed out of our apartment and alerted the neighbours to help us get him to the hospital and called his siblings and some close family members too. Informing them of the development.
This was very important so no one would accuse me of keeping his condition a secret from them until something irreversible happened. As you are aware, a woman is usually held responsible for any condition or death of her husband in this part of the world, even if the cause of his death is public knowledge.
At the hospital, we were informed that he had suffered a full stroke which had affected his brain severely. He lost virtually all his senses, movement, coordination, speech, feeling (touch), he just lay there, with his eyes open without seeing anything or acknowledging anything. The family coughed out a fortune to save his life and God granted him favour. He survived but became a vegetable. The man I once knew is gone and may never return to that body".
At the initial stage, Angelica said she did not realise the full impact of what had happened. She had thought, then hoped and prayed that he would at least regain some of his senses before he was discharged. But this did not happen. After about three months in the hospital, all that the doctors were able to do was preserve his life, take him off his feeding tube, pump him with drugs and asked that he be taken home and nursed for full recovery, if possible.
By this time, most of the family members and friends were already tired of coming to visit and finding him in the same condition, so, visits had fizzled out. Their warnings of several years about his lifestyle had finally come to pass. Now back at home, it was just Steve and his wife, Angelica, who now had to attend to his every need like a new born baby.
It is only natural that the human brain will reminiscence and review past events and action leading to such a tragic end. And who better than Angelica could do this as she was on the verge of being kicked out of her home by her husband of over two decades when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Steve had been in a relationship with another woman for almost three years prior to his sudden illness. This was not his first extra marital affair, he'd engaged in several and his escapades with the opposite sex dotted the chequered history of their union. A very head strong and insensitive man, he'd considered himself a sex god of some kind and basked in the euphoria of lost fame, wealth and past local glory to do as he pleased.
Steve had never hidden his obsession with the thing under a woman's skirt and had often told Angelica without mincing words that she could not satisfy his sexual needs. And so, he'd brought home some of his girlfriends to spend the night or weekend as it took his fancy. He introduced some of them to his wife as his next wife once she packs out of his house, as he would not live with two women at a time.
It was pointless reporting him to family and friends as they all were aware of his shenanigans, some of them, even encouraging and supporting his habits. Thus, he was free to bring his girls not only to his matrimonial home (he had told her it was his bed and he could share it with anyone) but also to family events and even their ancestral family home in the full glare of his wife and other women in the family.
Never once considering her feelings, and if he did, he couldn't care less. After all, he is (was) a man, a virile African man and sex machine. Once, he'd brought a lady he called his wife home and housed her into their ancestral family home under the custody of his mother.
In support of his nauseating action, his mother had told anyone who cared to ask questions that the new wife was there to take care of her as she was getting too old to do much by herself!! It turned out that the so called wife was merely looking for somewhere to hang out while her problem with her husband was being resolved.
She left without telling anyone less than six months after she was ushered in. If a man must engage in extra marital affairs, why do it so blatantly that he would hurt those who care, love, respect and depend on him and his affection towards them? Surely, there ought to be some measure of decency, justice, fair play and fear of God in the affairs of men.
I have heard that there are men who have sex two or three times a day, every day of their lives. I found this a bit difficult to believe until a close friend confirmed himself as one of such men recently. He said he must have sex at least, twice every day, before bedtime and on waking up, else he would feel incomplete throughout the day.
These does not however disturb an opportunity for more sessions during the day. His extra marital affairs are mere appetisers, and most times, warm him up for the serious sessions at night, he said. His wife initially had problems with his unending appetite but after 18 years has adjusted to his style, he concluded.
Before his sordid confession, I never would have guessed he had such stamina going by his diminutive stature and religious disposition. And I doubt if his wife has any inkling of what he gets up to out of their bedroom. But Steve's new 'wife', Peju, was not a regular girl, she was of a special breed.
Still in her late 20s, she'd had six children reportedly by five different men and all of them live with her in her mother's house, down the same road where Steve and Angelica reside. Peju assists her mother run a pepper soup joint where she meets all manner of men, including the bus drivers, conductors and other shady characters she conceived her children for. Steve was therefore a big catch by her standards and she was ready to do all it took to have him to herself.
Neglecting his own wife and three lovely, promising children, he took up responsibility of some random men's children by an obviously wayward woman, attending to their every need, want and desire. And so; like Mario in the children's video game, Peju believed she'd finally found her resting place in the arms of another woman's husband, while Steve on his part, flaunted his young Oyoyo before his wife and children's faces and as usual paraded 'Her Royal Whoreness' in the presence of family and friends at important family functions.
At the height of their delusion, they imagined themselves as Celebs of some sort, taking photographs of their sexcapades in several positions and places. Couple in bathroom; madam on the toilet seat, madam stooping to pee and beaming her winning smile for Oga, madam rubbing her twin girls on Oga's face as he stared sheepishly at them, madam displaying her warehouse with her thighs thrown open in the air and many more. All captured on Steve's mobile phone for his private entertainment in her absence, perhaps, but which have now become a matter for public viewing.
I sometimes wonder what could be going on in the minds of these two. Are the tears that sometimes roll off the corners of Steve's eyes, those of regrets or self pity and frustration at his condition? Now confined in doors except when attending clinic appointments, helpless and at the mercy of Angelica, the wife who once suffered abuse and neglect at his hands, what exactly must be going on in his mind?
What would have happened to him had he succeeded in booting Angelica out from their home a few days before the hammer of fate fell on him? I shudder to even imagine it, especially now that Oyoyo has deserted him and moved out of the neighbourhood, probably into another man's arms. And what about Angelica?
What runs through her mind as she baths, changes diapers, wipes the drooling from his mouth, carry him from one room to another, feeds him and even tries to interpret his expressions and body language. The body and instrument of love he ought to have used to love and worship his wife, but which he had used instead to abuse, malign and ridicule her in the presence of her children, family and friends, including neighbours, now lay placid, of no use to any woman, and not even to its owner.
Those sympathetic to Steve's situation, for some reasons are resentful of Angelica, despite all she's been through in the last two years. They say her care of Steve is not borne out of love but spite and revenge. If it was love, she would not show his secret videos and share his other secrets with other people.
I'm yet to figure this out as I have found no flaws in her tending to him. Rather, I admire her courage and dedication to a situation she simply could have turned her back on and walked away. And even if the critics are correct, these are natural, human emotions which Angelica is entitled to, isn't she? Angelica too, insists she is doing it for the sake of her children and not for Steve. Hmm!!