Thursday, 28 June 2012


This is a true life story.

As an observer this was more than I could bear. And writing it out is not as easy as I thought. But remembering the words of King Solomon that vanity upon vanity, I am encouraged to relate the reality of the vanities I have seen.
To protect the identities of the real persons permit me to change the names.
Once upon a time, there lived three good friends. They all bore the same name, Helen. Because they were friends and had the same name, they gave themselves pet names. There was Helen Body, Helen Spirit, and Helen Soul. Helen Body was fat. Spirit was always seemingly reserved. And Soul was the life of the party.
Body was not in any relationship but Spirit and Soul were.
Spirit was engaged to a generous, quiet and unassuming hustler called Nevin. He wasn’t very successful in the real terms but he was very hard working and he loved Spirit to the death.  Nevin’s love for Spirit was amazing. Despite that fact that he didn’t have much education and didn’t have much money, she never lacked. She only had to imagine it and Nevin would be all over her, trying to please. Spirit had a well-paid job but never spent her dime on nothing. When she needed something, she asked Nevin, he got it for her.
Despite all this love and attention, and giving, it amazed many of Nevin’s friends that Spirit did not reciprocate. She openly disdained him, sometimes telling her friends he wasn’t successful enough, was not handsome enough, and many other complaints. His friends asked him on several occasions to leave her. When he tried to, she hit on him strongly, making him feel his friends had given bad advice. Nevin backed off on his friends and continued to endure (which he didn’t feel was endurance anyway because he really did love her) Spirit’s bad treatment and milking of him.
Soul was engaged to an over-achieving career man. He had obtained a business degree and then gotten a master’s degree. He had a job that paid fairly well, with a company vehicle attached. He had some money in his pocket as well. His name was Kosi.
Kosi’s relationship with Soul was not very satisfying to Kosi. Contrary to what her friend enjoyed in her relationship, Soul was constantly trying to please Kosi. He wasn’t happy that Soul had dropped out of school and was doing small buying and selling. He wanted her back in school, and wanted her to have a job like her friend, Spirit.
Well, Soul had a good heart. She was a pleasant and caring person, and was madly in love with Kosi. But she didn’t have a knack for formal education. She was good with her small business and would rather concentrate on that and grow it.
On the career issue, Soul and Kosi deadlocked. And he finally called the relationship off.
Soul was broken. She wept for days, begged him, and sent her friends to plead with him.
Particularly, she sent Spirit to plead with him.
Spirit on the other hand had been having a few problems in her own relationship. Nevin caught her in the arms of another man, and called their relationship off. She flippantly told him the guy meant nothing and when he refused to accept that, she threw the relationship back in his face, taunting him that he wasn’t even half the man the other guy was.
Suddenly, the three friends were all unattached.
But this caused a slight friction. Initially, Soul’s hurting weighed on them. Spirit was uncaring, and Body seemed helpless. Then stories began to seep out amongst their friends and colleagues.
It was discovered Spirit had indeed cheated on Nevin. A few of her friends convinced her to plead with Nevin, convincing her that it was better to marry a man who loved you more than the one you love more.
A couple of months passed.
As Nevin finally began to crumble under the weight of his brokenness, missing his Spirit, and considering going back to her, a blow hit the circle of friends.
Kosi got engaged to Spirit.
The first question was, how? It was barely three months since Spirit and Nevin broke up, and Kosi and Soul separated in even less time. So how come?
Of course, this scattered the relationship between the three friends. Body, who had tried to just complacently be in the middle, tilted toward Spirit, and then Soul, and then she just stayed on her own.
Within a year of the relationship, Kosi and Spirit were married, shocking everyone.
Many who knew the stories pitied Soul... and Nevin.
Nevin, because he was on the way back to Spirit when the news of her engagement hit. He still loved her. Though Soul was also heart-broken, it seemed Nevin was the worst hit. Besides the breaking of his heart, he felt cheated. He had invested so much of his life and substance into that relationship, he felt practically drained. He walked around like a ghost, and did his business half-heartedly.
Then someone introduced Bertha to Nevin. She was your average high achiever. A professional, if ever you had seen one. She didn’t sweep him off his feet. In fact, Nevin was slow and unsure with her.
Two years had passed. Because they all lived and existed in the same environment, Spirit’s news of a baby had reached him. And shattered him. He was still reliving the nightmare of his relationship with Spirit when Bertha came along.
She didn’t hit on him either. She respected him. He wasn’t so much as successful as she was but he was very hardworking, committed and purposeful. And she discovered he was also very intelligent. As a professional, she never imagined Nevin could have any creative ideas about her job but he did.
In fact, Bertha discovered they connected strongly in the area of their careers. He, a small-scale media businessman, and she, an architect, fashion designer and bundle of business talent.
Nevin and Bertha were a hit!
One thing Nevin recalled after he fell in love with Bertha was that Spirit had always belittled his intelligence, constantly comparing him with ‘professional’ men! The irony was that as unprofessional as he was, he was getting married to a high-class, professional woman.
Down the road, months after Nevin got married, a scandal occurred in Spirit’s place of work and she was disgracefully dismissed. Kosi was devastated. He had always said he would not bear a woman idle at home – his wife had to have a job! And there she was, caught stealing from her company! She could never get a recommendation for another reputable job, at least not in the city, and definitely not so soon.
Soul was out of the mix for a while. In the hope of getting her life back in order, she got a small contract out of town and left. Seeing her friend with her ex was too much to bear. The job lasted a few months, and she had to come back home to where her family was. For the next few years, she dallied here and there.
She saw her friend have a baby, lose her job, and eternally making the man she loved unhappy. But she could do nothing about it. She wasn’t even able to get into another relationship, and keep any of her old friends close. Three full years after the saga, Soul was still alone.
Gradually, she made herself scarce, taking any opportunity or business that took her out of her circle of influence.
So it was with a rude shock that Soul came back one day and announced she was getting married. No one... not one of her friends knew she was even in a relationship. Naturally, everyone was happy for her.
Soul got married to a handsome and dashing young medical doctor. Within a year, she gave birth to a baby girl.
That would have ended the story in a good way.
Except that while I stood back and observed these ironies of life, two rude shockers hit me!
The first was that Kosi, been two years living with a wife who was not working, and heavy with a second child, got a better paid job, and resigned from the old one, which he’d had for more than five years. Two months into the new job, he was fired! He sends his wife back to her parents, to have the new baby, and moves in with one of his married friends, because his rent was due, and his landlord threw him out.
The second was that Soul’s husband got a high-paying job at about the same time Kosi was being fired, and asked his heavily pregnant wife to stay home... He didn’t want his wife hustling all over when he could conveniently take care of her every need.
A bishop of the Anglican Church who I respect, Rt. Rev. Tunde Adeleye, once said, “Every man gets the wife he deserves.”
Food for thought.

By Sinmisola Ogunyika

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