MY NAME IS TALATU TARAUNI. I AM 32 YEARS OLD. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE MY DIVORCE DIARIES WITH YOU.
I married my husband out of poverty. Life was hard in Kano. I grew up in the ghettoes of Rijiyar Lemo selling shinkafa da wake and tin moin moin to help my mother out. My father was alive o just that he only cared about marrying new wives and having more of us than actually providing. There were days we went to bed hungry so our younger ones could have dinner. In our family, there never seemed to be enough anything for anyone. My mother tried to provide but it just was not enough. She had eight of us while in total my father had 27 of us, from different mothers. We were lucky because somehow our mother decided to stay and suffer with us instead of leaving like the other wives. Our house was a 4 bedroom traditional mud house. To say that it was cramped would be an understatement. With so many wives and children it felt smaller than it actually was. I hated every minute of it and I couldn’t wait to have space of my own.
At 17 I started selling rice and beans meal (garau garau) in front of Bayero University. While there I saw wealth… it was as if we were in to different Kano cities. These people spoke English very well with confidence unlike everyone back at my school. I wanted to be like the University girls who walked past us as if they were queens. I wanted a better life away from the poverty and sorrow I grew up in. I was determined to escape my life.
An escape presented itself in one of my regular customers, Alhaji Tanko. Alhaji Tanko bought 5 plates every weekday from me and on days that I wore lipstick he paid me extra… As a seasoned yar talla I knew he liked me. I also knew I could use it to my advantage, if I played my cards right, I would be able to warm myself into his life. Alhaji was wealthy and he could marry me. So I set out to seduce Alhaji…
He noticed my efforts and quickly responded. About two weeks after I started wooing Alhaji, he came to my stand with twenty thousand naira! Back then twenty thousand naira to me was like ten million naira to me. I could not believe my luck! He told me he wanted me to stop selling rice and beans..It was not something he wanted his future wife to do.
‘I want to marry you gaskiya you should not be selling garau garau on the streets like a common girl kin gane ko?
I replied with ‘haka ne Alhaji’
I agreed with him. Things were moving faster than I thought. Within months, I had bought my mother a new mattress. Alhaji did not hold back when it came to money. It was during this time that I really appreciated the power of money when I saw how quickly my father became a gentleman towards me. My condition to Alhaji was only one: after marriage I had to go back to school.
When I married Alhaji, he had two wives already. The first one was a stark illiterate; the second one had gone to primary school so I was the only secondary school graduate. Alhaji was very proud of me and he called me his ‘yar boko (my educated girl). I had my own apartment; it had three rooms, a kitchen and even a generator! This was even more than I had ever dreamed of.
Alhaji kept his promise. I went back to school and soon I was an undergraduate at Bayero University! I was so grateful that I had crossed over from food seller to undergraduate. I was diligent because I wanted to be as far away from poverty as possible. Even the birth of my twins did not deter me as I graduated with a second class upper in Economics.
It was during my service year that things began to fall apart.
It was not as if I planned anything but I just did not want my husband anymore. It was not that he changed towards me, it was just that I had grown up and been exposed to life outside his house. While serving at a new generation bank in Kano, I met a man, Dr Ismail. He was a medical doctor and he had come to activate his ATM card.
He was sophisticated and he spoke English without any ps or fs. He pronounced every syllable correctly. He was smartly dressed. We became friends instantly. As the months went by I found myself falling in love with Dr. Try as I did I could not stop my mind from thinking about him. I was always looking for excuses to see him. He obliged me and we went on dates at fancy Chinese restaurants around the city. When I was with him, it felt like time had stopped, like the only thing that mattered in this whole wide world was him! I had never been in love until I met Dr. He was kind to me, he was intelligent and he treated me like I was a diamond. Most of all, he was refined.
Soon enough I started having an affair with Dr. I did not know how to tell him that I was a married mother of twins. I told myself I had no right to hurt him by telling him, when the time comes shebi we will cross the bridge?
I was also beginning to compare Dr with my husband. And my husband scored poorly in almost all categories. He was not cultured, he swore, his jokes were lewd and his potbelly was horrible. Dr on the other hand was a sweet sensitive soul who ran 3 kilometres every day. He was well travelled and he spoke to me like I was his peer. My heart broke a little when he told me he was a married father of two.
‘I don’t believe in polygamy, yarinya’ he told me one day… I loved it when he called me ‘Yarinya’.
‘Haba Dr, so you mean you will stay with only one wife? That is not the Sunnah o’
‘Yarinya is that the only Sunnah?’
Looking back now, I wish I had opened up to him that day about my marital status because soon after that we somehow started making love. It was not like we planned it but it just happened one day. And the day after that, and the day after that. Pretty soon we were taking trips to Lagos and Obudu to getaway. Alhaji made love to me like he was in a bull racing competition. I soon discovered that Dr was an expert gentle considerate lover unlike my selfish husband who was spent after five minutes. Dr took his time and he always put my needs first. I could not believe this was what other women were enjoying!
I was constantly lying to my husband about my whereabouts. I kept telling myself I would stop but I just could not. I figured after service I would get a good job and then I would leave Alhaji. I would leave my children with my mother and move in with Dr. He did not have to marry me, as long as he was in my life everything would work out right.
As you can tell, that was not a good plan at all.
One day my twins both fell ill. They were both running high fevers and throwing up. We took them to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and we were referred to a paediatrician. In my distress I walked into Dr Ismail’s office with my husband. I was so shocked when he and Alhaji embraced warmly. So they knew each other! Dr Ismail perhaps did not look at me or he pretended not to recognise me because he greeted me warmly as well.
I felt my body getting hot. Oh my God.
‘Uncle, what brings you to my office? ‘
Alhaji looked at me and introduced me as his third wife, his amarya. I wanted to die.
‘Dr you need to ufhold ze ties of kinshif, ba ka zumunci! Look at it now I hab been married to her por 6 years you do not know her from za next woman. She is a mazr to you. She is my amarya and she is a graduate’
Alhaji said the word ‘graduate’ in such a way that it felt my brain was being grated.
‘Amarya, this is my sister son, the medical doctor Ismail. This is also your son’
I looked up! Wallahi it was the same face that had looked at me the night before. Naked and filled with wanting. The same mouth that had kissed me tenderely … the same mouth that had said I Love you. At this moment it was difficult for me to hold my gaze.
I do not remember the conversation that followed after the introduction. Only thing I remember hearing Dr Ismail apologise to his uncle for not upholding the ties of kinship.
I do not remember how we left the hospital. I was not myself. The moment we got home I called Dr. There was no answer. I must have called him a hundred times that night before he finally picked up
‘Anty na barka da dare’
‘Haba Dr I have been calling’
‘So you are married Yarinya and you did not tell me. Do you know I have been sleeping with my uncle’s wife? Listen to me: I cannot do this anymore’
‘Wait I can explain, I was going to tell you I was just waiting for the right time. Please my love….’
‘Whatever we had is over talatu! I was considering making you my second wife now you have broken my heart. Please do not contact me again’
That was when I lost my mind. I begged and pleaded but he refused to yield. It was over.
I could not sleep that night. I went to Alhaji’s room even though it was not my night. I confessed to him in the presence of my co wife who was so excited and happy. Alhaji sat there like a deflated pot bellied tyre. He was breathing hard.
‘Obviously we cannot remain married Alhaji. I want a divorce.’
‘Bitch Karuwa Yar Iska’
‘Alhaji I have outgrown you now. You are not my type.I have tried to ignore this feeling and look where that led me. You don’t know how to love me the way I want to be loved. This is not a marriage’
‘You ungrateful bitch, are the twins mine?’
‘Yes they are.’
‘One cannot be sure with these University Prostitutes. Talatu Allah ya isa!’
My co wife was begging me to plead for his forgiveness but I did not care for any of that. I just wanted to be free. I still believed without Alhaji in my life Dr and I could be.
I just wanted to be free.
‘Talatu leave my house’
At dawn, I left Alhaji and checked into a hotel. I have not looked back ever since. I have not seen my children too since that day. I guess they are fine.
With help from friends, I am now living in Abuja working with a bank. I am not happy without Dr. I still call him every day but he does not answer me. I am certain that leaving my marriage was a good decision. At least now I have a chance to be loved the way that I want to be loved. A lot of people have called me names and labelled me selfish. In a way they are right, I was selfish but then I have only one life to live. I must live it to enjoy it. And when i think about it, a man would have done what i did with no consequence! As if adultery of men is different from that women.
Sometimes I worry what will happen if Alhaji does not forgive me and my children grow up to hear my story. But then these are things I cannot control I guess.
Thank you for reading my story.
All thanks to Jaruma Magazine Chief Editor For Allowing Us to Re-Broadcast it.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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