Where do I start? Oh, let’s see, was it the time I slid into an inbox, or the time I came out of my office with puffy eyes. Sometimes you wonder at what moment did your life shift from normality into complete chaos. Can I recognize that moment? That specific time called the turning point.
That afternoon I slid into an inbox, you know, the way Banky W said he had done. There was this woman, a life and relationship coach, that I found absolutely amazing. She’s an intelligent woman. She spoke impeccable English and her enunciation of Arabic is excellent. If I mention her name, you would know her as she’s popular on social media among Muslim women circles.
She was particularly hard on low-life men who abuse their wives. She doesn’t tolerate even bare minimum husbands, one could note from her writings and videos. “If he’s making your life difficult, Sister, there are better fishes in the sea. Don’t compromise your mental health.” She’s would advise. And to cap it all, her husband was a great man from everything we hear. He’s a young imam, with a PhD in physics.
I’m friends with her husband on Facebook, and he had commented on my posts one or two times. One time he liked a photo I posted as a story, and I was really, really surprised and flattered. Well, I looked pretty beautiful in that photo. So. 💅
Well, I stared hard at my phone that afternoon, few minutes before closing at the office, typed salam alaykum and sent it to him on Messenger. It had been months ago I noticed he liked my photo. So, I wasn’t expecting instant response. But to my amazement, by the time I got into the Bolt ride waiting for me downstairs, he had responded. I was so excited and scared at the same time that I didn’t follow up with him until I got home that evening.
We would from that day on chat, chat and chat. I was upfront about my intent with him. I like him. I am a divorcee, with a twelve year old child who lives with her aunt in the US. I’m 32. I know he’s married and would like to marry him if after a month or two of talking, he would like to marry me.
After a month, he said it clearly over a phone call that he would like to marry me. He had been attracted to me for a while but, despite our occasional conversation comments under his and other people’s posts, he had kept it to himself. Of course he knew I was single, but just kept it to himself out of respect. I didn’t understand the respect part.
I was over the moon. Finally. After ten years of biting loneliness. Getting married to a good, pious man. A week after his declaration, he went to Osogbo to see my parents. They too were full of joy. They didn’t mind that I was going to an ilé olorogun. They judged him to be a perfect gentleman. We were all happy.
Until, well, another afternoon at the office.
This time I was in the restroom. It was an unknown number. I put the phone on speaker. Then came the question in a somber voice: “Is this….?”
Yes, this is she. I responded to my name.
“Are you crazy or is it crazy that is doing you?”
You’re going to stay-away from him. That’s what you’re going to do. Okay? When we were building our home, what were you doing? Now you want to come and eat from where you didn’t cook?
You get the gist.
I tried calling him the whole day after that crazy, two-faced girl called me, but her number wasn’t going through. I was having all kind of weird thought. He she blocked my number? How did she find out? Oh, he has finally told her and she’s still in the state of shock. She’ll calm down. But why isn’t he picking the calls? Or Wai has she murdered him? Crime of passion? I was going nuts.
He did call later that night and said he couldn’t risk losing his wife. “I really like you, but I can’t. I want to please my wife.”
I know you may think, oh, serves her right. Or, girl, this is not the end of the world. Sure it isn’t. And like I said, I was married at the age of 20 and divorced at 22. Now I’m 32. So, there’s nothing coming from top that the earth cannot withstand. I cried for the breakup. I was looking forward to marriage and sisterhood with this amazing life coach, but such is life. C’est là vie.
He sent me a text the next day, saying he was sorry. And the text moved me to tears. I came out of workstation with puffy eyes, and my manager saw me. Ever so kind, he asked what was going on, and I said I was just having a bad day.
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that. Well, if you want to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate. Do you need to take the day?”
I shook my head that I didn’t.
Then in a few minutes, I found myself at his station, pouring my heart out. He listened. He handed me napkins. He said kind things to me. He said things like, ” It’s the man’s loss.”” Anyman would be lucky to have you in his life.” things that made my head rise and fly…
Well, Sola and I grew closer over the coming days. He didn’t know my story before. He had always been a nice guy, you know, perfect gentleman and helpful. He had never pulled rank on me and he always says please and thank you even when I’m just doing my job requirements.
Instead of Bolt rides home, he started dropping me off at my house. On the way, we would talk about life, Nigeria, politics, and religion. He was the type that says he believes in God, but not in organized religion. I would taunt him that he just was being stubborn and doesn’t want to follow the laws of religion. When I’m not expecting, he would say something about my dressing, my hijab, how it looks beautiful and modest. One time he said, “You’re beautiful.” And I couldn’t say thank you because I was beyond blushing.
I know, I know. It’s wrong. With a man not related to you. And not even a Muslim. I know. But he was so sweet. He paid attention to me. No one has paid attention to my living over a decade. He would open the door for me. It’s not like we were dating or something. He was just being his normal self – kind. Sometimes he would chat me up before I sleep. Saying he’s thinking of me. In my mind, I’d say keep thinking o, unless you become a Muslim, nothing nothing ó.
Three weeks ago, I invited him in after he parked in front of my apartment. I had prepared stew before going to work in the morning. I wanted to thank him with a good meal. He tells me how much he spends on restaurant and fast food. So I wanted to do this for him.
I know. I know. It’s not like I don’t have self-restraint or that he’s a monster.
If you’re still reading this, well know that nothing happened that evening over dinner. He ate my white rice and stew and he loved it. I meant nothing physical happened. He didn’t rape me o. We didn’t have sex o.
But there was a moment that evening when he raised his head and we locked eyes, and he said thank you with so much tenderness that my heart skipped. I don’t know if there’s a turning point between liking someone and falling in love with them. All I know, I was smitten. And he was too.
When he was leaving, I could tell he wanted to hug me, but again he was a gentleman, so he put his hand on his chest. That respect, that level of restraint from him set my heart ablaze. I now wanted him to have dinner with me every night.
So it became our thing over the next two weeks. We had amazing, romantic and absolutely lovely dinners. I would dress up and all. And…
Today I sat in front of a woman in white discussing my options. I couldn’t give my cat away, much more. The shame will be out of this world. What would my daughter think of me? I made my choice. God is oft forgiving.
So, again, I wonder the turning point. Was it marrying early to a man that made marriage hell for me and deciding to uphold my mental health and leave? Was it the leading-on by the young Imam? Where did I go wrong? Would people care now that I’m making this choice? People who never cared about me before?
I sit on this white hospital bed, about to get rid of an impending shame, I recalled ta story related by tafseer scholars about a pious man who was deceived by Shaytan to zina, then to kill the pregnant woman, then to bury her, till the man renounced faith. Then it hitS me. I’m doing something similar. I scream. NO!
I’ll keep it. I’ll ask for God’s forgiveness.
The End. 😊🙏🏾