Anene Chinyere Obioma.
Title: Marriage: The Bonding Rituals.
For the first time since I got married to Tony, I stood up to him, my face was filled with fear yet there was anger in my voice, and hatred filled my heart, how come I had professed love for this beast all this while? I need an awakening from this daydreaming, what have I done? I couldn’t hold back my tears no matter how hard I tried, I let them out freely, they ran in torrents, I’m done for, God saves me from this mess, that was what I kept on muttering in my head, I couldn’t think straight, I didn’t believe this just happened to me. Before I was Tony, “my husband,” he stood motionless, I could tell he lacked words to express himself, he never expected the calm me to flare up that way, he was bewildered at my ranting.
This was the ninth month of our marriage, yet my hope of staying with this man was already fading away. I can’t stay here another second, this was the reality dawning on my head, worst still, Tony left me in a pool of confusion after he broke the ice without uttering a word. Did he, really? I asked no one in particular. How on earth is this happening?
Tony and I just had barely celebrated our ninth-month anniversary when the devil came knocking at our door. His mother came to visit that fateful day with a young girl of about 18 years. I was calm all through as I cheerfully welcomed them and had my own moment of formality, I was quick to leave them before my mother-in-law would find another fault for she hates to see me happy. it was always a fault or the other, I would always apologize in the end although, I haven’t seen the reason for the apology. As a peace lover, I was supposed to be in my home, I always apologized to preserve my marriage.
They spent hours discussing as I was away, I didn’t bother listening nor prying into whatever they were discussing, the discussion was quite weird because my husband came to our bedroom all sullen, I wanted to ignore him completely, that was how much I avoided getting stuck with my mother in law. But on second thought, my husband was almost sulking. At least I couldn’t bear him crying before me. I had to ask what the problem was, “nothing,” he said, that was all, I respected his opinion of being silent. I didn’t bother asking again, at intervals my husband would hiss and turn uneasily on the bed, I also noticed he was staring at me, the stare was quite sad, I didn’t remember when he slept off, I completely took my mind off whatever his problem might be, perhaps he got tired of staring and not talking, I guess. In the morning, I did my due diligence of preparing the meal and attending to the domestics before I left for work.
Maintaining a sullen face and few words to each other lingered until after a week, then, his mother went back to the village leaving the young girl with us. I asked my withdrawn man why the young girl didn’t travel back with mama and what she was still doing in our home, but he kept mute while staring at me, I was really pissed off, I asked the girl who she was and why she didn’t travel back with mama, she deliberately ignored me for she didn’t even cast a glance at me. I calmed myself as I went to my room with a shrug, at least my husband won’t do anything in this house without telling me, alas! I was damn wrong, my husband was already on it.
Tony’s countenance kept on failing, I cared less untill when the real shock came, I quickly realized how laze I had been with my home. On that faithful day, I came home from work quite earlier than usual and surprisingly, Tony was home, I greeted him and went in to change, he walked right into our bedroom and said “Dear, I want to discuss something very important with you.” I would have waved him with my flimsy excuse of being tired but the look on his face was not one to be denied any request, for he looked as if he was fighting unforseen forces “I’m listening,” I replied, fixing my gaze steadily to his eyes, ” I’m sorry this will sound this way, he began, I can’t deny my love for you and I promise to love you still, but my mother wants me to marry that girl she came with, she said you are not the one for me, her prophet told her about what I’m talking about.” I was surprised to hear such words from my man, I wasted no time as I jumped on him, yelling and wailing at the top of my voice, “what did you actually say? “Are you kidding, marry what? which prophet!” My God, I remembered God for the first time since I got married, I rained abuse on my husband, calling him good for nothing. How dare you? How did you even summon the courage to tell me this.” … He Interrupted, “I’m sorry but I can’t disobey my mother. What? I shouted, where was she when you came for my hands in marriage?” Tony, what have I done to deserve this?” I held him tight on the elbows and shook him as though I was meaning to bring him back to his senses, he looked at me with surprise and still said nothing. He carefully removed my hands from his elbows and left the room.
Dear God, you’ve got to fix this, I went on my knees and cried, I felt like the prodigal daughter, for the first time, the reality of how I disobeyed my parents to marry Tony came ringing, but God supported our marriage, as long as I can remember, God is not an author of confusion, How I have neglected God in my marriage dawned on me. I cried uncontrollably, my heart was only bitter about me, I have neglected my wifely duty to keep my home and my negligence has brought me here. To compound My woes, My husband came into the room, looked at me and left without saying a word, I could hear the girl laughing loudly. That night, I remembered my altar, I couldn’t pray nor read my scriptures, only tears ran down, as I was relishing my pain through my tears, ” forgive me, dear Lord, I have messed up…” tears choked my words halfway as I started another bout of tears, in my shattered state, a scripture I knew years back dropped in my hear thus “Arise and Christ will give you light.” It seemed hope awakened in me, I prayed the little I could and slept off at my altar.
That night, I dreamt of coming into my home as a visitor, not the woman of the home, I couldn’t wrap my head over the dream I only intensified my prayers. I avoided my husband for days, I would only manage to cook his meals but, he barely touched the food. The only thing I did was to pray, that was the only thing I could do. “Remind him of his vows” I heard the voice clearly in the course of my prayers, I immediately rejected the idea and summarized my prayers, I even had to bind such ideas, ” what would a vow do to an already gone man, I asked no one in particular,” facing my husband was what I didn’t have the strength to do, at least not now.
After two days, his mother visited again, this time she came along with two of her daughters, their hostile attitude towards me pushed me into speaking with my husband despite my earlier refusal to hearken to God’s voice of reminding him of our vows. I went to our bedroom that night and met him sitting on the bed, Tony, I called, he didn’t bother looking at me but I continued, shrugging off his cold attitude “How did you quickly forget our vows, the vows we made to each other on the altar, Tony, my love, you agreed to keep the vow till death do us part us…,” I went on talking, at a point he had tears in his eyes when I was done talking, I went straight to my altar and cried my heart out. I had resolved not to cry anymore but pray more, I woke up with this resolve and prayed all through, silently until morning.
They called me that morning, I maybe to remind me of why they came, I left my room that morning with God’s voice all over my being ” Be calm I will fight for you.” I gave them a proper full stare when I came to where they were, that was my first time of looking fully at them since they arrived at my house, I didn’t know where the courage came from but it would be attributed to prayers. Then his mother started the preamble, only to be halted surprisingly by his beloved son, who never disobeyed her orders and thus has turned her puppet, “Mom, Tony, started, I made a vow to love and cherish this woman till I die, I can’t back off from my lawfully wedded wife, the circumstances notwithstanding, mom, I married her not you, she’s still the best I can find anywhere, that’s why I made my solemn vows to her, I didn’t know what I was thinking falling for your deception all this while. Mom, leave my family alone, don’t pet into our affairs, I can handle things from here. I know what and who I want, and I will keep faithful to my vows.
I was all emotional from where I was sitting, is this really happening to me? was tearing up, my husband knelt before everyone’s presence and apologized for the pain he had caused me. I was too happy that I hardly noticed when my in-laws and the strange woman left our house.
My husband and I took our positions seriously, we respected each other and our love was rekindled afresh, it bloomed like never before. I learnt to care more for my man. We took the bold step of keeping God in the centre of our lives and marriage. We just tasted the bitter side of marriage but, our bonding rituals that made my husband choose me over all odds kept us against the tides.