A Page Each Day With Mnena

Life…. A four letter word that means everything yet means nothing. We hold on to it tenaciously expending enormous energies to get something out of it. It is in stages and phases, and when we’re expected by society to be at a certain stage, we put ourselves under pressure and push ourselves. Sometimes, we achieve it, but at other times, we regret the push. Read below a story of a lady who was pressured into marriage and how she fared.

Leave to Live…

“That evening, I felt completely broken emotionally. Where did I get it all wrong? What should I do next? A thousand thoughts coursed through my mind as my heart raced. I tried to be calm but saw that it was a big struggle. The tears started flowing freely and I couldn’t hold them back. As they flowed, I recollected the thoughts of how I’d fared in life till that moment. The thoughts forced more tears flowing down my cheeks and before long, my pillow was all wet.”

Tiwase met Ben two years back in a bus while on a trip to visit an uncle in Jos. His seat was next to hers and shortly into the journey, he struck up conversations with her. He was warm and good looking, a perfect gentleman. She fell in love already. Their conversation was so interesting that they did not want the journey to end. When they arrived at the destination, while other travellers alighted, they stayed back for about thirty minutes to round up their gist. That day, their love journey began. They exchanged contacts and chatted each other.

Ben was a teacher at a primary school in Jos, Plateau State. He was from Bokkos and on graduation from College of Education, he picked up the teaching appointment and leaving his parents in Bokkos, he moved to Jos. Being the only son of his parents, he visited them every other weekend. There was a strong bond between them, especially his mother who wanted to continue controlling everything about him even after he attained adulthood. Tiwase had completed secondary school and her dream to go to higher institution looked bleak because her parents were poor and could not afford tertiary education. She was on her way to seek sponsorship from her uncle who lived in Jos when she met Ben.

Her uncle’s response regarding her scholarship request was cold. It was not borne out of wickedness but the economy was not smiling and Uncle Dan was also struggling to make ends meet. Things in the country were bad. His entire family of six depended on his singular source of income, so in spite of his disposition to help out, he was constrained. He asked her to stay around peradventure blessings would flow. Blessings did not flow. Things got tougher. The family even started feeding from hand to mouth. Her uncle and her parents started mounting pressure on her to get married. That meant relinquishing her dreams. That was not what she wanted in life.

It is said that when one door closes, a window is opened. So it was that Tiwase and Ben’s relationship rapidly bloomed. Ben felt convinced that he wanted her around him and since education seemed stalled at the moment, he thought of taking their relationship to the next level. Both families accepted. Ben’s mother was eager to get a grand child, and Tiwase’s parents were happy to push her responsibility to her new family. Ben promised helping her realise her dream of furthering her education. The marriage rites were performed in a modest and moderate manner and family life began for the couple.

Mama Ben wouldn’t let them be. She expected Ben to still visit as often as he used to, and to provide all her needs as in the past. She started blaming Tiwase for manipulating her son and visited Jos every now and then. She brawled about Tiwase’s inability to look after her son. Within five months of the marriage, Tiwase was referred to as a man for her inability to conceive. She was taunted day and night and accused of undergoing series of abortions before marriage. Tiwase’s life became bitter by the day. More painful was the fact that her husband, Ben remained mute and offered her no protection.

As the months wore on, things got worse. Tiwase aged within that period. She looked twice her age as she was weighed down by the pressures of the marriage. It was always one day, one trouble and sometimes two or more. Ben started keeping late nights and even when he was at home, he spent time on the phone chatting away with women without a care that Tiwase would be hurt. She lost her self esteem and her dreams gradually faded. The big dreams she had of attaining higher education and getting a white collar job became blurred. The once beautiful cheerful lady became a shadow of herself. Ben’s promise of sending her to school after marriage remained a mere mirage. Her life was miserable. Even her family deserted her. Her mother told her to endure and keep praying.

A ray of hope emerged, or so she thought. She had missed her period. Tests proved that she was pregnant and she heaved a sigh of relief. Relief was still far though, because her relationship with Ben worsened. She felt alone and went through the entire pregnancy period without the desired support. All the cravings that come with pregnancy, the complains of pains here and there and the general desire for attention were completely lacking. She braved it all and was delivered of a boy child. Mother-in-law visited and expressed happiness. The baby grew and at exactly one year, without any notice, her son was taken away to live with grandma. When Tiwase expressed her disapproval, Ben told her the story of her life.

Ben reminded her that she was being fed by him and had not contributed anything to the marriage. And since she had not contributed anything, she had no right to question his decision on where his son lived. He told her he was tired of the marriage. He simply said, “pack your things let’s go to your parents.” That was the last straw that would break the carmel’s back. She had endured all the while, hopeful that things would improve. How was she to face the shame of being returned to her parents? As she cried and thought of the next action, she heard a knock on the door. It was Joy who lived around the neighbourhood. Joy was a lawyer and had noticed the situation with Tiwase. She had appeared out of the blue that evening and Tiwase’s situation turned around.

Tiwase has been able to pursue higher education with support from Joy and her organisation. She has regained custody of her son and life is going on well for them. When asked if she regrets leaving the marriage, Tiwase says “I’m absolutely fine.” “I’m better off today as compared to when I held on to the marriage.”

Like Tiwase, many women are having it tough through marriage and in life. Some have no access to a ‘Joy’ to pull them out of the quagmire of marriage and life. Some are not even aware of the existence of any ‘Joy’ in the world. And the men like Ben are having a field day. For the unmarried, you can take your time and not be swayed by the pressures of family and society. For those already married, leaving to live is the watchword. You can do it.