A reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote in to share her bitter experience of not living with her husband when he secured a better paying job in Abuja.
My husband and I were married for 11 years plus before his untimely death in February this year. We lived together in Lagos where he was struggling to make ends meet with his one-man business as a Lawyer, while I worked as an admin officer in a research firm. Our earnings barely took care of our needs until this job came for him in June 2009 at Abuja.
The job provided a comfortable accommodation for him immediately so settling down was not a challenge. But I could not leave my job immediately; also because of the children’s school. I hadn’t been to Abuja before this time and I just thought that it should take some time before we would consider relocating with him. However, he was visiting home every two weeks or once monthly. I did not have cause to begin to worry because he had always wanted us all to move to Abuja, until the worry about the security situation started.
For the better part of the second half of 2011, I visited Abuja more than he came to Lagos because of work demands. And after completing a small family house he was building, we both agreed that by May 2012, we must begin to live together as a family. We did not see that happen as he died in February.
The memory of what happened on the night of February 8, 2012, still remains fresh within me. The children had gone to sleep and I was preparing to do the same after ironing my clothes to use for work the next day. My phone rang once and stopped. As I made to get it, it started ringing again. I picked it and asked who was calling at 10.17pm.
When the caller introduced himself as a colleague of my husband, my heart skipped several beats. I spoke with my husband last on Monday afternoon and he was fine, but complained of a bad network service. When I didn’t get his call on Tuesday morning like I usually did, I tried his numbers severally. One of his numbers was switched off, while the other rang a few times and the automated voice message said the person I called was not responding.
“It was not anything to worry about since he complained of poor network”, I thought to myself and hoped he’d call me later in the day. Back to the person who called, I asked if there was a problem, but he tried to weave around my question. He eventually said that my husband had complained of some feverish feelings on Monday and that since they couldn’t reach him on any of his lines, he decided to call my number. I told him I was in Lagos and had also tried to reach my husband on phone without success. He asked me not to be worried that he would check on him first thing in the morning.
I was awake all night praying that he was fine. I woke the man up with my calls by 6am, begging that he should go and check on my husband. The man assured me that he would be on his way as soon as he took his bath, and would call me when he got there. At 7.40 am, the man would still not pick my calls and my husband’s numbers remained switched off. By now, my husband’s younger brother who also lives in Lagos would not take his calls too. The smell of danger was all around me, but I didn’t want to think of the worst case scenario. I called my office to intimate them on the situation at hand, so that was sorted while I continued with the waiting and anxiety game.
By 10am, when I wasn’t getting any word from anybody, I took a very drastic decision. I called over one of my sisters and told her what was on ground and what my fears were, and my decision to fly to Abuja immediately. I concluded with her on how to get the children back from school and take care of them while I was away.
I arrived at the house in Abuja by 4pm. When I saw the crowd of friends and some relatives of his that live in Abuja too, I fainted. I didn’t know what day it was by the time I regained consciousness in Lagos. I didn’t know when I was brought back to Lagos or how I was even brought back home. My children, ages 10, 7, and 5 years, sat around me. My sisters and some friends were going about different chores in the house.
They laughed at me when I asked what had happened. After some pep talks, I got to hear the story of what they said happened to my sweetheart. I was told that he kept complaining of feelings of exhaustion during the week, and decided to go home at about 4pm on that Monday shortly after we spoke. But painfully, he didn’t tell me that he was feeling ill and I did not feel it from his voice. He got home and slept the sleep of a life time! All the while that we tried reaching him on phone, he had passed away and all his phone could do was just ring and stop until the battery went flat.
I was told they found him on one of the couches in the siting room. He still had his shoes, shirt and trousers on. His phones were placed on a side stool beside him and his briefcase was on the floor, close to his right leg that was in a dropping position. I was told by those who saw the photograph of him taken by the Policemen investigating the case.
My regret is that he may not have died if we were living together because I would have insisted he went to hospital when he was experiencing that uncomfortable feeling. He probably thought that he would get better if he had some rest. The other thing is, even if the worst still happened, his body wouldn’t have been left in the house for almost two days if I and the children were with him.
He was buried two weeks after he died and I’m still trying to come to terms with being widowed just like that. The experience is a bitter pill I would not wish for anyone. I know death is a necessary end for all men, but this would have been prevented if we did not live apart.