I fixed my gaze on the old crimson ornament dangling from the ceiling, and my face writhed at each jerking motion. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen… I counted in mind, too afraid to speak less I angered him. I felt an ache spread out from the base of my back, a confirmation that I was uncomfortable beneath Tunde. My right leg was hooked under his knee and my left leg was almost numb, but I dared not complain. On a good day, I would have gleefully asked him to slow down, while I placed one of the pillows under my back; this would have made me more comfortable, and push my hips higher to fully receive him, driving him crazy with passion; but not tonight. Every of his movement bruised me. I hurt all over and unfortunately for me that was the least of my problem. Tunde was disinterested in this bit of conjugal routine and turned his face from left to right, looking everywhere but my face. No wonder he kept the lights on. Hewas as interested as a horse dragged to the river – even if you forced the horse to drink water, you cannot force the horse to enjoy it. He managed to put just about enough effort to sustain the frail pendular sway of his groin.
On the forty sixth thrust he released, not even up to a minute. I can’t even call him a one-minute-man. I had counted to keep my mind distracted from the aches and pain, though it didn’t work. As Tunde was about to roll off me, I held him down with both hands.
“Stay stay, don’t withdraw yet” I said. “What?” he asked.
“Please don’t withdraw yet. You know my doctor said you shouldn’t withdraw immediately after releasing” I repeated with a shaky voice. I considered the amount of persuasion it took to get him to do it in the first place, and I didn’t want to trigger his volatile temper.
“So your doctor is now the one to telling me how to sleep with my wife” he said as he rolled of me. “Next time, you will go and call your doctor to come and sleep with you. Idiot!” he added with resentment in his voice. He turned his back to me and didn’t say a word again.
The sting of his words was worse than a snake bite. After all these years, and it still hurts so much. I felt like sinking into the bed. What have I done to deserve any of these? I didn’t know I was crying until the teardrops reached my pillow. I laid there in silence as I generously soaked my pillow with more tears and reminisced on when it was all rosy between me and my husband.
“Hope I didn’t hurt you?” Tunde asked as he eased himself into me. It wasn’t our first time doing it, but being our wedding night, we added a little kinkiness. I was still in my wedding gown or what was left of it. The top corset had been shoved out of the way, and my breasts were at the mercy of Tunde’s roving tongue. Soft moans escaped from my lips. Tunde filled my entire being with carnal pleasure that every nerve-ending in my body exploded in an emotional firework, as we both climaxed at the same time. While I was trying to catch my breath, Tunde got rid of the rest of his clothes, and was doing same to mine.
“Ahan… me I am tired ooo” I pleaded.
“On your wedding night? You must be joking” he smiled as he pulled at the zipper of my wedding gown.
“You want to kill me with pleasure abi?”I replied. I turned on my side and he pulled the gown completely off me.
“If I don’t kill you with pleasure, who will?” he retorted and we both laughed. This time the sweet sensation was unbearable and I cried. Tunde was completely on top of the world doing different things to me, that my body trembled under him. At the height of his orgasmic spasm, he whispered into my ears, “This is for the twins”.
That was eight years ago and I am yet to give Tunde a child.
My days were filled with sadness, and the nights filled with tears. Each day brought its own parcel of shame and ridicule. How I wished my mother was here.
Mama passed away five months after my marriage to Tunde. She died heartbroken, and a part of me was glad that she wasn’t around to witness my humiliation in the hands of my in-laws. Even in death I imagined her vindictive voice saying “Agwara mgiotua!”– I told you so! I could still hear her voice loud and clear in my head, fuming, “Achoghi m ka i nuonwa Yoruba a” – I don’t want you to marry that Yoruba boy. I clashed with mama several times over my decision to marry Tunde. She had always wanted me to marry someone who is a native of her state, or at least a fellow tribesman.
“Manaahuru m yan’anya.Naniya bun woke m choroinu” – but I love him ma. He is the only man that I will marry, I shouted amidst tears.
“You talk like a child. What do you know about love?” she replied. Mama then called the names of popular Yoruba men, and counted the number of their wives on the fingers of her hand.
“But Tunde is different” I said desperately.
“Different! How do you know? Is he not the boy that you just met during your NYSC? Ehn Chiamaka, answer me?”
One trait I inherited from my mother was her stubbornness, and she knew it. Once her mind was made, there was no changing it, and I wasn’t changing mine either. Sensing she had lost this, mama broke into tears, sobbing “You know if you insist I will not stop you. But if you go ahead and marry that boy, your father’s spirit will be disappointed in you”.
There I won the battle to marry Tunde, but lost my biggest fan in the process. After the wedding ceremony, I was literarily on my own.
My husband’s family were loving and caring at the early days of our marriage, but like every good thing in life, it lasted for a short while. Everything changed after my failure to conceive. My mother-in-law became my greatest tormentor, and I always dreaded her visits. Whenever she was around, I couldn’t do anything right in the house. She seized every slight opportunity to humiliate me. To her, I was a “Male dog” that could never conceive; and a “Witch” that had sacrificed her offspring for diabolic powers and bewitched her son. I remembered the time I made a grave mistake of sending my husband’s sister’s son on an errand during a family get-together. My sister-in-law warned me never to send her precious son on useless errands again, and she politely added that if Iwasso desperate to send a child on an errand, then I should wait till I gave birth to mine. Tunde’s sister insulted me in front of him, and he didn’t say or do anything.
Later that night I confronted Tunde, and his response shocked me. “I am shocked that you have the effrontery to confront me” he said. “My sister insulted you! How? Because she asked you to give birth to your own child? She asked you to give me a child, and you called that an insult? Let me tell you what an insult is… Me going to visit my mother and all she talks about is her other grandchildren, that is an insult. And every time she keeps asking me to take a new wife just because you have decided to remain childless, that is an insult”.
“But Tunde, how can you say such a thing? You know I didn’t decide to remain childless. I didn’t choose any of this for myself” I said weakly I could barely hear myself.
“See Amaka, let me tell you something. I am tired of my mother always pestering met o marry another wife. Just give me a child. Is that too much to ask? Look at my brother, Sola, even after Derin gave him 3 beautiful girls, my mother still forced him to take a mistress outside matrimony to give him a son. Just think about that next time, before you come running like a cry-baby to me!”
I live in a society where a woman’s worth is tied to a man one way or another. If she doesn’t find a man to marry, something is wrong with her or she is labeled promiscuous; if she is married and has issues giving birth, she becomes an outcast. And if she is unfortunate not to give birth to a son, then she has failed to give her husband an heir. Really! Is that all we are good for?
I have fasted and prayed to God – the spirit-filled tongue-blasting Pentecostal w ay, the bare-footed white-garment holy-water-sprinkling way, and even the all-my-enemies-jump-up-fall-down-and-die way. Secretly without my husband’s consent, I have even offered sacrifices to other gods. Let them make me pregnant even if it is just for a day, an hour, or a minute, I don’t care; at least people would stop calling me barren. I don’t even mind if it is a miscarriage. Every month that I bleed, I despise the blood I shed, for my own body had conspired against me and denied me conception. After awhile, I celebrated every futile month with a special cocktail made from my salty tears and thick juicy menses, which I drank and then I make a toast to another month of ridicule and reproach.
Tunde’s voice jeered me back to my senses, “Can you stop all this your yhun yhun yhun! I am trying to sleep here” he shouted; and for the umpteenth time in recent years, I can’t help but think that my mother had been right all along.
By Ayomidotun Freeborn (follow on twitter @IamAyomiDotun)