I left Nigeria some years ago and came to the UK to further my education. Behind in Nigeria I left Mary whom I was sure would wait for me. Initially communication between us was good. I constantly wrote to her, she constantly wrote to me. I'm sure that the guys at Royal Mail and NIPOST had a lot of fun reading our missives. However as such things go, time passed and the letters between us dried to a trickle. I had gotten distracted by the easy virtues of this place and on her part in Nigeria, the wolves that populate the place had done just enough to sow the seed of doubt in her mind. Eventually communication between us ceased entirely and for my part I knew that we had grown well and truly apart.
I finished my degree and in the tradition of this place got a job. Times were good, Labour had just taken power and jobs were available. So I focused on my career and in no time putting my head down I was earning £36k per annum. Not bad for an immigrant black boy in London in the 1990s. As is the case with women everywhere I had a string of girlfriends, but I knew that I couldn't settle down with any of them as they were all white, my mother wouldn't have ever accepted that.
As I got older and my career grew, I left my modest place in Brixton and moved to better appointed surroundings in Bow. Then I began to feel the need for someone to share my success with. My mind went back to Mary, so I went back to Nigeria to look for her. Alas five years had wrecked their havoc and despite the fact that she still hadn't married, we had grown so far apart that there was no point in pursuing it. I was despondent, and it was during that bout of depression that I asked my mother to shop around for a fine young girl for me to marry. She did and into my life came Nkem.
Nkem was a looker by every stretch of the imagination. A girl whom any man would be proud to have on his arms, and I was. Our courtship went by in a breeze. She dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. It couldn't have been better. I found myself thanking God for letting Mary go. This was the one, and I fell madly and deeply in love with her. We had a lavish wedding a great honeymoon in South Africa, and shortly after that she skipped Nigeria to join me in the UK. Life couldn't have been better.
She duly presented me with a son then a daughter to follow. My career was sky-rocketing. Then the bubble burst.
It all began innocuously enough when I asked her to go to Nigeria to oversee some projects I had been sending money back for. Like the dutiful wife that she was, she went. Then the things that didn't add up began to come in when she called me to say that the money I had given her to hand to the workmen was not nearly enough. I sent more money only to be met by yet another demand. I sent money again. Then she overstayed her trip by two weeks (I paid for the rescheduling of the flight). She claimed that she had something urgent to attend to in Lagos. I didn't complain.
Upon her return I noticed that her behaviour had changed slightly. She appeared distracted almost all the time. I put it down to the boredom associated with being a full time housewife with two kids who were now in school. At no point did anything untoward cross my mind. Then the children's school went on break and things began to unravel. I was feeling slightly ill at work one day and took the rest of the day off to go home. To my shock I discovered that my wife had left our children, ages seven and five, alone at home. I waited with the children for four hours before she returned. Just in time for when I would have come back from work on a normal day. For the first time since I met her, I lost my temper with her. She explained that a friend of hers had had an emergency and had been rushed to A&E. She gave me that beautiful smile and my heart melted. The next day I couldn't go to work and like the dutiful wife she stayed with me. However while she was having her bath the phone rang. I answered it and a man asked for my wife! I cut the call, however my suspicions had been aroused.
I called the house at a random time from work the next day and mummy wasn't home. For the first time in my marriage I had a major fight with my darling Nkem. She once again talked about her friend in A&E and I accepted the explanation at least on the surface, but my suspicions wouldn't fade away. I backed off when the next day I called again at a random time, and she picked up the phone and accused me of not trusting her. I felt ashamed of myself.
Then two months later a colleague of mine told me upon return from a meeting in Enfield informed me that he had seen my wife just that day. I couldn't take it anymore so I hired people to check up on her. The evidence was overwhelming. My darling was having an affair, and what was worse, upon further enquiry, I discovered that the other party had been her boyfriend before I even met her. She was the one who sponsored his student visa to the UK for his Masters degree. She it was who was maintaining him while I was slaving away to provide for her. The money which she had demanded from me when she was in Nigeria had gone towards providing for him. The extended time she had stayed in Lagos was spent with him. When I confronted her with overwhelming evidence of her infidelity, she didn't deny it. As a matter of fact she was defiant, and that is what drove me to hit her...
...the lawyers had a field day during the divorce proceedings. That I beat my wife silly proved that I was a violent person not fit to raise children. She got full custody of them and I got paltry visitation rights. That I had brought her to the UK and left her in this country for nine years jobless meant I had destroyed her chances at a future career. This despite the fact that I had paid for her education up to a Masters level. She got an alimony so generous that half my wage goes towards her maintenance. All this is minus the child support I have to pay, which I am only too happy to.
Despite all of this, I want to tell Nkem directly. Nkem I love you. I need you. Come back to me. I beg you, please come back.
Author's note: Chijioke the narrator of this sad tale has been made redundant in this credit crisis. It was coming anyway as he has not been the same man since his divorce. He now lives off benefits and still moans about Nkem all day. Olisa and Njideka, the kids Chijioke had by Nkem now stay with Nkem's mother in Enugu, Nigeria. Nkem meanwhile has married Ike her heartthrob. She is pregnant for him and they appear to be doing well.