Relationships have always been complicated from the very beginning of time, people judge you for making mistakes when they have not been in your shoes, my story was one of those that people felt they could give me advice and I should just act by it.
My name is Zainab Salihu, I am from Niger state but grew up in Kano, I am the first born of my parents, my mother died when giving birth to my brother when I was 5 and 2 years later my father married my mother’s cousin who at the time was a divorcee with a daughter.
My father although a driver for a private company always tried his best to see that he catered to us as best he could but as years passed by and he started having more kids’ things started becoming difficult. My aunt wasn’t particularly good to us and with time she became even more vindictive, I in particular became like her kishiya, “ke!!, zo Nan Dan ubanki” you would always hear her shout, I started doing house chores immediately she came into the house, when my father commented she would say she was training both me and Safiya her daughter who was a year younger than me but of course that was a lie, Safiya lived like a princess, hardly lifting a finger to do anything except when my dad was at home.
When I was in secondary school, my father lost his job and had a stroke, this was when the hardship really kicked in, I was barely able to finish school. My step mother had a small restaurant and she took over most of the finances from my father before he could get better and that gave her more right to treat me like trash, she would insult me and my brother, tell us we are useless and a burden to her. I would wash, clean, cook, iron and dust but will still not escape her insults. There were times that I would be allowed only 1 meal a day, I prayed and prayed to leave this house, sometimes I felt like running away.
My only escape was my dreams and imagination, I would imagine marrying a really rich guy and he would carry me away to a beautiful palace and we would leave happily ever after.
I got admission to study English in BUK and I was lucky enough to get my uncle to help pay for my tuition. A week into lectures I met Abdul, apparently, he was in his final year but he was carrying 2 of hundred level courses.
Abdul was a nice friendly guy, he started talking to me when he missed classes and heard there was going to be a test, he introduced himself and asked if he could borrow my notes, later he tried to become acquainted so that he can sit next to me and copy, obviously he didn’t read a thing! He even offered to pay, but I declined.
With time I came to like him and he came to depend on me, he would come when the term has gone far to photocopy my notes, attend tests and then exams. I would summarize the course and we would do a little tutorial before the exams. It turned out Abdul was from one of the rich influential families in kano and as I got to know him I came to like his humility, kindness and generosity, he was good to everyone but his greatest weakness was drugs, he would say he had meetings or business trips and disappear for days but it wasn’t so, at first I believed him but eventually got to find out .
Abdul and I became close, I wouldn’t say we dated I was more of a confidant to him, I would talk and talk to him about cleaning up his act, stop drugs and concentrate on his studies and he would always respond positively but after a while I would see things were still the same, Abdul knew about how sad I was at home and even paid for my 3 hundred level tuition after my step mother poisoned my uncle’s good intentions, Sometimes he would take me shopping, buy me a phone and other nice things like cloths, jewelry and perfume. I soon realized that I had found my prince but since he didn’t declare his love I kept quiet and prayed for the best.
One day we were talking and he mentioned that he really wanted to get married but most girls didn’t understand him, we parted ways and went home and he later called me saying he realized I understood him and he had loved me from the first time we met. I laughed it off and said he wasn’t serious but I was ecstatic, I knew he had his issues but I was pretty sure I could manage him and most of all I wanted to get out of that hell.
After our wedding we settled in a nice big 2 story building house in Bompai road, my step mother was shocked from the very beginning of the introduction till the marriage, she even tried sabotaging the wedding at a point cause she wasn’t happy I was getting married first and to a rich guy but she didn’t get her way so she started sucking up to me immediately after the wedding.
I settled in and finished my final year, miraculously Abdul was able to finish his courses last year and graduate. He went for his camp in Calabar then redeployed to serve in Kano, during his service he got a job offer from a private company and I was so excited although he didn’t seemed too happy about it, he was more interested in business but I felt this would give him some experience at least he will have to learn how to wake up early every day.
Unfortunately my joy didn’t last long because Abdul messed up and lost the job, then he got another job and then another one, all this while he would look for a way to sabotage the job, he would rather just stay home, go out and hang with his friends, party, take drugs and smoke weed. What pained me the most is I was also a graduate with 2.1 but somehow that wasn’t even an option, Abdul and his family felt I needed to stay home and baby sit him. I wasn’t happy about that but his family made sure they provided for me, they would send a car full of provisions and a pickup full of bags of rice which I would send half home, they paid for my father’s hospital bills and even took him to India for treatment to make sure he got the best care and when I needed money all I had to do was ask, so I had no choice but to stay calm.
After 2 years and 3 attempts he finally managed to find a job he liked which didn’t seem to mind if he went to the office late or taking “sick leaves”.
A few months into the Job I noticed something about him seemed different, he was even more disorganized and forgetful, and got upset easily, he would fight with me over the slightest thing he became aggressive and I couldn’t manage his temper or his behaviors. After some time I found out he hooked up with some old friend from work who was into stronger drugs, this really hit our marriage hard, I had agreed to marry Abdul knowing fully he was an on and off again drug addict but he was a good and generous person and I knew how to manage him but somehow all at once Abdul became someone else, he became more sporadic and violent, we once had an argument about which school to enroll our 2 plus year old son and he went out and broke my new car’s windscreen with a stick.
He would break glasses and plates anytime I disagree to anything he wants or simply disappear for days. It got to a point that some days when he wouldn’t seem to recognize me until after he had sobered up. I was devastated what have I got myself into? On one hand was a very comfortable life and the other was a husband who was out of control. The worst part was his family were holding me responsible for his actions, saying they thought I could handle him and make him responsible; they had no idea I had been keeping his behavior under wraps for almost a year.
Honestly speaking from the beginning of the marriage I was mostly able to calm him down and tolerate his misbehavior but now it had gone too far, he could wake me in the middle of the night with very loud music and ask me to dance, or just go on a rampage of breaking all my kitchen breakables but what made me finally throw in the towel was the day he picked my 3 year old son and wanted to make him “fly” by throwing him off the balcony of our 2 story building house, I was in the kitchen when I heard my house help shreak then a very urgent call , “Anti! baba zai karya Ikram, baba zai karya Ikram”, she screamed on the top of her voice as she ran towards the kitchen, I quickly went upstairs and saw him (Abdul) excitedly asking our little boy “do you want to fly like superman” he didn’t even notice me approaching until I was very close to them, he was smiling and my baby was terrified, even the way he clutched on to the father’s shirt was enough to tell he wasn’t interested in flying at all, “a’uzu billahi, haba Abdul, wani irin was ne wanan?”, I was white with fear but tried to stay calm because any wrong move could result to my child being thrown off, I managed to pull him inside and collect Ikram.
As I hugged my son tightly I realized that I couldn’t deny the fact that Abdul needed help urgently because he was getting worse every day . He had changed completely, he had completely fallen off the wagon, he was almost always high, he would sleep all thru the day and sneak out at night to come home high again. I had no idea who his new friends were and what he was taking but I knew that he was now a danger to us and himself too.
I told his family what happened and said I wanted a divorce, his mother tried to calm me down, she told me this was not the first time he had acted this way, apparently he even tried killing his father once with a kitchen knife, they had to take him to rehab, that was why they couldn’t let him study abroad like his other siblings. She promised he will be better all he needed was to detox, she told me to go back home that Abdul will be kept here with her , I did as she said, for about a week I was not allowed to see him then one day I went to see him with our son, made his favorite food and some change of clothes for him, as I walked into the house, there was some commotion going on, Abdul somehow got out of the room he was locked in and was trying to escape over the fence they finally got him down and tried to calm him down while calling the doctor, I tried to talk to him and also calm him down but he was looking very viciously at me, it seemed he didn’t recognize me today again, I walked towards him slowly while 2 security guards held him down, “Abdul nice fa, Zainabun ka ce” please calm down and listen to me, he stayed still for a while and watched as I approached, he seemed calmer and so I asked the securities to let him go, I said I could handle him, I held his hand while talking to him soothingly as we entered the house, “Bana so in koma ciki” he said to me “zasu rufeni a daki”, he looked so upset and I told him he didn’t have to stay inside, I promised it was just to eat his lunch then he can come out again, he was like a little child, he went in with me, I managed to feed him a little then he wanted to go out again, he jumped over the couch and started looking for an escape root, I heard his mother saying “Kar ki barshi ya fito” of course I didn’t have the strength to hold him down but the doors were locked, he tried and tried but all his effort was frustrated then he turned me “you lied to me” he shouted furiously, ”kince zamu fita waje” he looked at me with murder in his eyes while I tried to calm him down, he reached out and grabbed me before I could move, he put his hands around my neck and squeezed, I tried to scream but I couldn’t …. That was all I could remember because I passed out, he wanted his mother to let him out so he risked killing me… I went home later that day and packed my things and moved back to my father’s well refurbished home.
What I realized in the end was Abdul didn’t need to be managed he needed help and I accept that I really didn’t help him much. His family accused me of enabling him and manipulating him but what they didn’t understand was Abdul was my escape from poverty and a miserable life, I regret ignoring all the signs and allowing him to reach this level and I pray that he understands that I needed to get out of that toxic environment because my son deserves better.
Thank you for listening to my Divorce Diary today.
All thanks to Jaruma Magazine for allowing Us to share this beautiful and educative episode
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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