• Thursday, February 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

‘Imagine! After 10 years of childlessness, my husband divorced me for getting pregnant’

VIOLENCE-AGAINST-WOMEN

Lucy’s pregnancy was talk of the town. Not that she was the first woman ever to get pregnant – of course, there was Eve in the Bible who gave birth to Cain and Abel – just that she had waited for a whole decade for it to come. At last, her prayers and those of her family, friends and well-wishers had been answered. For her mother especially, it was the greatest news she had heard in 10 years. Her husband’s people were also joyful for a while, until everything turned sour again.
It was the longest 10 years of Lucy’s life of 40 years. It was 10 years of sadness, torment and torture. In the family into which she was married, she was the only woman who hadn’t borne a child. The wives of her husband’s brothers, all three of them, conceived and bore a child within their first year of marriage. She often asked God why her own situation would be different, especially when the other wives, in the midst of a minor misunderstanding, mocked her for her childlessness.
Lucy’s mother-in-law gave her no peace. Whenever she came around, she would touch her stomach and say, “Is there a child in there now? Or is it still filled with my son’s food? Because that’s all you’re good at, squandering my son’s money. Perform the role for which you were married into this family, for where?”
Her husband’s two sisters were merciless. They would often call their brother on phone and ask, “Has that barren tree yielded any fruit yet?”
They pressurised their brother to marry another wife. Once, in order to justify this suggestion, the elder one quoted from the Scripture, “Remember, the Bible says that any tree that does not bear fruit must be cut off and another one planted in its place. Throw this barren woman away and marry another woman who will give us beautiful children.”
When their pressure failed to bear fruit, they resorted to calling Lucy a witch. They said she was eating up all the seeds that their brother was sowing in her. They accused her of bewitching their brother and not allowing him to see other women.
“Whatever you have given to our brother to eat will soon clear. Your juju will soon fade,” they said.
Lucy was distraught. She had visited every hospital and fertility clinic recommended to her by her friends and colleagues; she had been to several traditional healing homes, drunk all forms of bitter and sometimes nauseating concoctions in the name of herbal medicines, yet her situation did not change. Her pains knew no bounds.
She prayed, she wept, she grieved, but God always seemed to be too far away from her. She occasionally contemplated suicide just to end it all, but she always restrained herself. At last, she went back to God in prayers and waited patiently on Him to wipe her tears.
“God, please give me a child even if it is just one to prove to the world that I’m not barren,” she often prayed.
Bode, her husband, quite a gentleman, was her stronghold. Even though he was torn between his wife and his people, he was always on her side, providing the pillow for her to cry on.
“Calm down, my dear. I know that God will surely do it for us someday,” he often assured her, with a promise that he would never marry another wife besides her.
Bode too had been to hospitals to check himself and always assured her that he was perfectly okay and that they would soon have a baby, although she never saw the results of his laboratory tests.
Eight years into their marriage, Lucy began to attend a church programme for pregnant mothers and women looking for the fruit of the womb. Udo, her colleague in the office, had told her that the Servant of God, Apostle Don Bosco, who ran the ministry, was very powerful in the spirit and in working wonders. His special ministry was praying for expectant mothers and those looking unto God for children, Udo had told her, adding that through him many women who were thought to be barren had experienced the joy of motherhood.
Udo was also childless and hoped that someday, like the other women whose dreams had come true through the instrumentality of the Servant of God, she too would receive her miracle.
Two years after she began to attend the special prayer and anointing service, Lucy found that her monthly flow had ceased. At first she did not understand it. Was something wrong with her? Had she contracted a venereal disease? Why was she feeling so dizzy and feverish? Why was her mouth always full of saliva? Could it be malaria then? Or, most importantly, was she pregnant? These questions tugged at the very cables of her soul.
When she confided in Udo, she was overjoyed.
“I thank God for you, my sister. Didn’t I tell you that Apostle was a very powerful man of God?” Udo said with joy.
“But it hasn’t been confirmed yet. What if it’s not what we’re thinking?” Lucy replied, feigning seriousness. “I’ll need to see a doctor tomorrow to be sure.”
“Of course, but I’m sure because the signs are all over you. I just pray that my own miracle will come soon too,” Udo said.
“Amen,” replied Lucy, averting her face so as not to betray the uncertainty lurking in there.
Bode’s reaction to the news of Lucy’s pregnancy was rather cold for a man who had been married for nine years without a child. When Lucy handed him the envelope containing the result of the pregnancy test, he was reluctant to look at it.
“What’s this, another list of things to buy?” he asked apprehensively.
“Open it and see for yourself,” she retorted, fighting hard to be jocular.
Bode quietly unsealed the envelope, extracted the neatly-folded white sheet inside, unfurled in and glanced through. Then, without saying a word, he flung both the paper and the envelope on the bed and stormed out, jamming the door hard.
Few hours later, he was back, dead drunk. It was interrogation time.
“Who got you pregnant, Lucy? Because I know I’m not responsible,” he said in that half-asleep-half-awake tone.
“Bode, you reek of alcohol. Have you been drinking too much?” she answered.
“That’s not the answer to my question. Again, who is responsible for your pregnancy? Who impregnated you?”
“Stop that silly joke, Bode. Who else could be responsible for my pregnancy but you, my husband?”
“You lie, you bloody whore!”
“You call me a whore, Bode? For getting pregnant for you after 10 years of a childless marriage? O God, save me from this nightmare!”
“Speak up now or I’ll kill you. Who’s the father of that bastard you’re carrying in your womb?” he said as he got and made to grab her. But then, he slipped and fell down, sustaining a bruise in the process.
At the hospital where he was being treated, Bode ran another potency test to be sure. Two days after he was discharged, he returned home with some papers.
“This marriage is over for good, Lucy,” he said, handing her the papers. “Study these papers thoroughly and sign as appropriate. You can consult your lawyer if you wish.”
A couple of weeks later, the divorce process was completed and everyone went their separate ways. Lucy relocated to the United Kingdom to nurse her pregnancy.
Back home, everyone wondered at it all. They could not understand why a man who had been married for 10 years without a child would divorce his wife for getting pregnant, something he had always prayed for.
“Stuff happens in this life sha, things we may never understand,” one man said.
A year after she relocated to the UK, Lucy wrote a letter to her friend Udo and told her everything.
“I have given birth to a set of twins – both boys. I named one of them Bode after her husband and the other Don Bosco after the Servant of God. They are actually Don Bosco’s children.
“My husband is impotent. He ran several tests but hid the results from me while his mother and sisters poured hot coal on me for being responsible for our childlessness. He made me hope in vain that someday everything would be okay. And I hoped.
“Then one day while cleaning the room I stumbled on these papers in his private chest drawer that he never allowed me access to. He had mistakenly left it open while rushing out to answer an emergency call from his office. That was how I got to know. It was after that I gave in to Apostle Don Bosco who had been piling persistent pressure on me, telling me how he was responsible for the pregnancies of most of the women that came to him for prayers at his ministry. Initially it was disgusting, but considering everything we had been through, I succumbed. I did it to save my husband from shame and save our marriage. Do you think I did anything wrong?” she wrote.