He made me wish for death.
I dragged myself to Sister’s house, bleeding from a miscarriage brought on by the violence. Even then, Sister wasn’t ready to show compassion. Neither was she waiting with open arms. Her face carried the “I-told-you-so’ look for she could recall warning me not to marry Sammy.
“Don’t be fooled by all that bling-bling,” she’d told me back then. “A man’s bank account doesn’t ensure a happily ever after. What happens if his money suddenly dries up?”
When I’d shrugged my shoulders in nonchalance, she had continued, “You should discover yourself as a woman before you settle down, Imisi. Finish your degree. Get a job for your own self-respect. And if, God forbid, he loses his wealth or his health, you’ll be able to help by supporting him financially. Not only him, but the children God will give you.”
I walked away, done with the conversation. Sammy wasn’t going to lose his health. Neither was he going to lose his wealth. Besides, I’d be a fool not to marry the man right now. Why couldn’t Sister see that Sammy was the total package – a man with several nice houses, cars and a successful career? An attractive woman like me only needed to marry a man that could take care of her, and Sammy was more than qualified in that regard.
“Why are you sitting at home doing nothing?” Sister had asked me another time, some few months into my marriage.
“What do you mean ‘doing nothing’?” I’d replied, offended by her comment. “I’ve been up all day cooking.”
“And making yourself pretty,” she’d retorted, staring at my powdered face and my voluptuous figure in my newly made Ankara dress with gold trimmings.
“Sister, don’t start. Please.”
Sister had clapped her hands in derision. “Are you a wife or a housemaid, Imisi? Why are you lowering yourself like this? All you ever do is wait on your husband to bring home the bacon so you can pretty yourself to warm his bed.”
I’d rolled my eyes, certain that her irritation stemmed from envy.
“Don’t you know that men get bored easily? A man is like a baby; they are only interested in a woman so long as she remains valuable to him. Don’t be a trophy wife whose duty is limited to warming her husband’s bed and cooking his meals otherwise he’ll get tired of you.”
Eighteen months of marriage rolled by and Sister’s prediction came true. I was suddenly without a husband; without a home; and in dire need for her to take me in even though the look on her face said she’d rather not. But she couldn’t throw me out, her civil servant husband cautioned her. I was the only sibling she had.
Friends were surprised to see my fairy tale marriage end. They had heard that Sammy divorced me because I’d cheated on him.
I didn’t try to refute the rumors. I concentrated on healing.
“It has to start with accepting that you can’t trust anybody to take care of you, not even me,” Sister had told me as we dropped her four kids in school while I’d continued crying my eyes out. “Once you understand that, you can then start working on yourself.”
This time, I listened. I got a job. It didn’t pay much at first, but it was a start. Making my own money meant that I didn’t have to depend on anyone, not even Sister for financial support. I moved out into my own apartment. I was an independent woman, with my own car, my own job, my own money. Most importantly, my own mind. No man was ever going to make me feel helpless and so needy for completion.
Just when I’d finally discovered myself, Dave entered my life. They say a woman shouldn’t be so independent, so sure of herself, otherwise she’ll repel the man, but Dave wasn’t even an insecure man to begin with. If anything, my confidence and self-assuredness stimulated his interest and caused him to love me more.
We started dating. He proposed.
I said yes.
Today marks ten years of wedded bliss to Dave and I pause for reflection. Dave is no millionaire like Sammy was, but he respects me more than Sammy ever did. We complete each other- he needs me just as much as I need him, so you can say we are both mutually vested in our relationship. He isn’t rich enough to daily lavish me with expensive gifts but he has given me something dearer: it’s the independence to be me; the acceptance of being an equal in our marriage; the liberty to express my views without fear of judgment.
The fact is, at the end of the day, diamonds are not exactly a girl’s best friend.
Only true freedom is.
Lara Daniels is the author of African romance suspense novels –Love in Paradise and Love at Dawn. She makes her home in Texas with her Best friend Husband and three precious children. Read more about her works at www.laradanielswrites.com or follow her on Twitter @ LDparables.