40 & Weathered – A widow’s tale

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It’s never easy moving back to your father’s house in your late thirties with two children. Never. No matter how much everyone pretends to care, the disdain is just a little suppressed.

Ehiga lost her husband when she was barely thirty-seven. Horrible motor accident, he was burnt beyond recognition, and his charred remains in a black polythene bag was the only memento left for his family to bury.

For a mother of two waiting for her hubby to return from a business trip, the charred remains broke her. She went into shock and then deep depression. She spent days dazed, in denial, believing it was all just a bad dream that would pass. It never did.

I felt like my life was over. I kept wishing it was not true. I kept wishing I could go back in time and stop him from going on that trip. What was I supposed to do? Two children just starting their education. I needed support, and I needed it fast.

She never got that support, at least not from the people she expected it from at that moment, her husband’s family. In Nigeria, when a man dies in his prime, it is normal for his family to promise heaven and earth to the wife(s) and child(ren) he left behind. The promises are rarely fulfilled. In-laws are more likely to fight over the dead man’s property than they are to render any meaningful assistance to his family.

So, I returned, to live with my family, in the same house and the same suburb I grew up in. It was shameful, it was humbling, but my family cared and they wanted me to be fine. It was the best place to be, for me and my kids.

Life was being tough, and Ehiga needed an escape from it all. So, she took to alcohol and marijuana. She actually had to get her gin on before she could share these stories. It’s how she has learned to cope. She hardly gets too drunk or stoned enough to lose herself. Just enough to levitate above her pains and feel good. It is what it is.

She got a casual job with a manufacturing plant and she is trying to keep head above water with her children. She is a fun person to hang around, and she can be quite a handful atimes. I mean, she once packed refuse into a so called big man’s jeep because he violated a “Do not litter” order in front of her residence. The “big man” made threats, but he had to calm down when he perceived the level of craziness he was dealing with. I guess when you’ve been through that much, you have little patience with irresponsible people.

She soldiers on in her own way, albeit with a few notable character tweaks best expressed in her own words.

I slept with the man who got me my current job. I still sleep with him on a regular basis. He takes me out, makes me feel good and keeps the engine oiled. What do I have to lose?

If I feel you are decent enough, I would get down with you. It’s for a fee though. I’m a widow, I always need help. So, I don’t give away free cookies for any reason.

I like to hang around younger guys. They make good drinking buddies and they have more happy stories to share. A group of them once tried to get me drunk enough for some group sex though. I got drunk alright, but one of my asthma attacks came in handy. The heavy gasping and ventolin inhaler was all it took for them to start pooling their resources to get me home safe. I came home with a lot of cash that day, and I didn’t even have to give up anything for it.

I used to care a lot about religion and morality. Not anymore, I will do whatever it takes to make sure my kids are okay and I’m fine too. The kids are all I have, and I don’t care if I break any religious or moral law to ensure they are well catered for.

That’s Ehiga. She’s almost 40 now, and she’s been through some hell and back. She has so many stories to tell. They might be stories for another time. With the sour grapes life has thrown at her, she lives by one principle. “What will be, will be”.

Kola ‘Makinde

331 thoughts on “40 & Weathered – A widow’s tale

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