Reap what you sow …
You can’t reap where you did not sow…
Haven zipped the last of the three travel bags, and waiting for my servant to come with the cab, I stood to have a last look at what had been my home for the past eight years. A one storey twin duplex. My home of glitz and class; a magnificent edifice that is sure to catch an attention any day from anyone who love style. This piece of architectural prowess sure speaks volume of Nkem — my hero and pride at the time.
But once I am gone from here, that will be the end. There will be no trace of me whatsoever; not a reason for remembrance. I will be forgotten like I never existed. And this is not because my impact as a symbol of authority wasn’t felt, rather it will be because I never had a child in the marriage. In fact, I can imagine that my exit from this house and from my marriage will be celebrated by the workers –formerly my workers–most of whom hated me with a passion. Just once upon a time, we had all been colleagues, until my status changed to become the wife of the boss.
Then, in what had seemed like replaying a movie, I saw the pictures again in my head; it had seemed so clear I could almost recall the scenes as though they were happening right away. It was the first time I had known and enjoyed an intimate relationship with a man. And Nkem, my former boss and the then husband of my madam, became that man. At first, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of timidity and guilt that I almost denied myself the right to enjoy the experience; the experience of a wife. But my mother’s scolding had helped to knock some senses into me. Little did I know that the saying: reap what you sow is true…
I remember having Nkem lay his head on my laps one of those beautiful afternoon, with the breeze sweeping in through one of those open windows. He was so much at peace as he talked about his life as a young man and his escapades with women. He told me how he and Chioma had been students of the same university, and how it had taken him nearly one year to get her to become his friend.
After that, they had dated for about three years before finally tying the knot. Their relationship he said, was full of romance and intimacy. But the five years of marriage which followed was hellish. Even though the union produce two male children, Nkem confessed to have regretted marrying a woman he thoughts was more ambitious than him. She was not the traditional house wife, and so it was difficult to beat her to subjectivity…she was always coming up with ideas on how a family should be, making it impossible for him to play out his blueprint for the family.
”So, this is why you two were always having a fight in the middle of the nights?” Nkem smiled coyly. ”I remember the day you almost beat me up because I tried to help separate the two of you. Thank God I ran for dear life, else would you have thought of marrying me today?” We laughed at the remark.
Once I became married to Nkem, my former colleagues –all the in-house workers– revolted. They believed I was the architect of Chioma’s misfortune. They said to me… you will reap what you sow …
Chioma, we all believe then, is a good woman. She made the house welcoming for everyone; there is no high or low as far as she was concerned. This made it easy for us all to fall in love with her children. But what we did not understood was why she had a horrible experience in her marriage. It wasn’t as if she was not presentable –and to cap it all, she was a career woman.
”I knew, after the woman came to pick you as a help, that you had a more promising future in this family”, mother said. ”I had allowed you follow her on the premise of this faith.”
It was really surprising to hear my mother talk like that. As far as I knew, Chioma was good to her. ”Nene, what do you think I should get for your mom this festive period? Aside from some food stuff which I know she would need, does your mother like fashion or would you prefer I just send her money to get whatever she pleases?”
And every time my mother receives gifts from my madam and calls to thank her, she never forgets to drop these words with me: ”Nene, continue to be a good girl to your madam, she is “Godsend”. Our family would never have survived without her kind gesture.”
And to think that mother had forgotten those good old days? Well, I think it was only normal for a mother to want to protect the interest of her own daughter. After Nkem paid my bride price, mother moved in to live with us. And the day my mother came into our house, Chioma’s two sons took the backseat. Till this day I cannot tell how Nkem felt about the whole thing. But one thing was sure, my husband tried to get me pregnant, it just wasn’t happening.
”Sometimes some men are destined to have just two children with their wife. You have to do everything possible to get pregnant in this marriage. You cannot afford to mother another woman’s children. And for eight years I struggled to hear the cry of a baby without success.
I remember one of those days while we were lying down on bed, skin to skin, relishing in the warmth of each other with the first sign of dawn getting ready to set in, Nkem wore a heavy look of gloom on his face. I remember feeling sad every time I see him look that way.
”Don’t worry”, I said as I gently stroke a part of his left arm. ”We’ll make beautiful children”. He smiled in response. His body tensed against mine, and he wrapped me in a firm embrace. I felt secure in his grip. But deep down, I knew he was greatly troubled. All my promises of making him forget about his ex-had seemed futile. Not even the great sex could change anything.
Nkem’s marriage with me wasn’t free of its own squabbles. Most of his friends believed I was the reason Chioma was driven out of the house. But it wasn’t true. Most nights I would hear their scuffle from my room. When everyone would be asleep, they would be busy exchanging hot words, even knowing they had to be up early to report to work. Most times, Nkem would end up beating her black and blue. I had almost gotten beaten in like manner one of the days when I intervened, so I never dared to try it again.
When the strain in their relationship became intensified, Nkem’s family began to make passes at me –obviously preparing me to be the next in line. I guess Chioma read the writings on the wall. My reaction to the invitation was that of fear and desire. Before now, Chioma had trusted me with running the home and taking care of the children without dropping any instruction. I enjoyed a very good relationship with my madam.
But all of these changed when she sensed her days in her home has been numbered. She stopped talking to me, or let me go near her children. Could I have been responsible for the lovelessness in their marriage? And it never ceases to amaze me how they had two children in a loveless marriage. Finally, the family insisted that Chioma must leave the house. That day, she cried bitterly that day as she packed her things.
I couldn’t stop to imagine why she never took legal action –after all they were both married before a court of law. It was a very pathetic scene as I watched the kids shed tears while their mother packed. But before she left the house, Chioma spoke in a loud voice with the tears pouring down in torrents: ”no other woman would have peace in this house. All my sweat to build this marriage would judge Nkem and any other woman he will dare to get involved with. There shall be tears of agony in this house for all I have been made to suffer”. And to that woman that’s thinks she can take my place, you will reap what you sow.
Unconsciously, I said ‘amen’. Then things happened fast. Nkem’s family have started to make move towards me. They intensified the process of our marriage to the dismay of my colleagues. The thought of becoming a wife, and married to a man who had a lucrative career and is above average, was too juicy to turn down. In just about two months after Chioma left, I moved in to her bedroom.The experience was such a lovely one. My mother quickly came to town to live with us. She told me this was a divine arrangement and that I was the perfect wife for Nkem. I had a game plan, to send the boys to my former room as I anticipate making children who will have to sleep in theirs. But one year went by, no pregnancy.
Two years. Three. Four. Already, I had become a punching bag for Nkem. My dilema began at the second year. I had hoped that getting pregnant would stop this madness of his. I did everything under the sun to become pregnant, including sleeping with other men. Nothing happened. My mother had to run away from our home because Nkem almost attacked her.
Now, I have packed my things and taking one last look at what I will miss –the palatial home. I have to run before the madman kills me. He is cursed. Just as I made to leave, I remembered her words –those bitter words of my madam. Now I understand why I went through this. Selfish woman. Couldn’t she had left quietly without dropping those useless words of hers?
My was time colleagues are laughing at me saying: you reap what you sow !!!
Well, I guess there must be a man out there waiting for me. I don’t regret anything. I just played my card but now really, I have seen that ; you can`t reap where you did not sow… you reap what you sow…and surely, you will reap what you sow…
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what goes around comes around…reap what you sow…
You reap what you sow : written by Gloria Okezie-Okafor
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