By Rohey Samba
In the aftermath of the earth shattering news of his nuptials with his long term girlfriend, given to me over a telephone call, I decided that enough is enough. I owed neither he, nor his family, any obligation. I was no longer going to waste my time in an unfaithful marriage or suffer fools for love of a man, bedeviled by his own shortcomings and supported by his family in every which way possible. I realised that I have nothing to fear, no one to look up to, to inspire reconsideration of my decision. My trepidation about my Islamic faith, could not make me falter in my decision. Not so, the limitations of my scanty wealth…
Yes, Islam allows up to four wives for an individual man, who could afford their emotional, financial and spousal benefits. Yet Islam also gave me the choice, as a wife, to either stay in a polygamist marriage or not. Thus, my faith in Islam, nurtured over the long years of practice augmented my mental direction. I was not going to trifle, hoping that an unfaithful spouse and unsupportive in-laws were going to alter their ways for better…in the future.
First there was the impregnating of the girl next door, which was blamed squarely on my shoulders. “Oh, a woman is always to blame for her man’s infidelity.” And then this callous announcement after five years of trying to grapple with the fact of this infinite wrong against any which wife that ever exists in human history.
How could any man leave his legitimate wife’s bedside to warm another woman’s to the extent of producing an offspring thereof? What callousness of spirit, what shortsightedness of vision and what downright disrespect could qualify this eternal error? Not to mention immorality. Don’t we get married to curb this despicable act of human lust? To add insult to injury, the whole affair was normalised in my face. “He is not the first man, or the last man, to commit this mistake,” I was told over and over again. “Get over it and move on with your life.”
Outside of my circles, I was blamed for my attitude, my endless limitations and more…
I was used to being blamed. My attitude has at best been described as unsavoury by people who I expect to protect me and shroud me with a veil of ‘sutura’… but experience has taught me that that sutura is only reserved for biological children in this our small Gambia. In fact, only a heartless person can emerge from such ordeals in life, without some anger about societal injustice.
Nevertheless, my life has taught me to deal with calculated ruthlessness, like the one I have been dealt with when my opportunity was deliberately thwarted by a superior at work. I can get over that. What’s not meant to be, cannot be. My time will come. But hypocrisy has never been my forte. I cannot deal with it. In effect, while I am fully equipped to intellectually repudiate any intelligent argument, I have no stomach to refute baseless accusations or ploys and innuendos. ‘Waydi dindi wut two mah,’ the Wolof would say, meaning, ‘Refutation does not expunge guilt’. Only time will.
It helps. I mean it really helps to stand back from ones personal problems and parry them against the bigger problems of the world in order to gain perspective and correct for ones selfishness. That sometimes we tend to focus on trivialities so much that we lose sight of the things that really matter is also a veracity of life. But I can’t unsee what I saw that faithful day on social media.
I am not bogged down however. I understand the loyalty of clan, of blood relations…but I cannot get over the disrespect and emotional shunning done in front of the whole world. If I had been mean in the past towards these people, it would have made sense to me. Maybe I have offended them by an unkind word or gesture. You never know what causes ire in people anyway.
To my mind, all I ever did wrong was to love their brother, their son, their relative, without motive. There were so many other eligible men in my life at that time, wealthier, more educated, more promising etc. but I chose him. Against all odds I stuck with him, through illness, through poverty, through ridicule, I stuck with him. I never complained to anyone. The turn of events has shown me that he is my biggest mistake of life. I betted on the wrong man.
Clearly, these petty annoyances are infuriating me more. I know I have to get over myself. Agh!
My limitation as a mortal being, is knowledge about the certainty of my own death and the wisdom that I am unsure about the length of my own life. The truth is a better pill to swallow. The idea of my three kids having to suffer pains from my set mind draws a huge blow to my self-confidence, compounded by the so-called voices of reason that continue to infiltrate my soul’s rest. These were the words of well-wishers, family, friends and foes, which were pitted to break my resolve.
The idea that to be single again is going to be the worst thing ever to happen to me, after 13 years of marriage is nonsensical of course – I have spent a longer time being single than as a married woman. More so, is the notion that a woman, any woman, would be the cause of my flight from a good marriage. Truth is, only another woman – not a man, a jinn or an animal, can break my marriage. Like really? Smdh…
Furthermore, what is a good marriage, when your in-laws rush to Facebook at the first opportunity in order to humiliate you on the tying of nuptials of your own husband, or the change of profile picture by your rival. Couldn’t they be a bit more discreet? Isn’t that a declaration of support for the other woman, and a slight for one who was there when no one else was?
Yet the kids were a major issue to sort. So, there was the conundrum. In fact, I did not stay in this marriage because of any high moral judgement, I did not stay because I possess immense patience…no I don’t have that. I stayed because there is always in this ephemeral life, a time to wait. I drew my inspiration from the Bible that, ‘to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose. A time to mourn and a time to renew. A time to reflect and a time to move forward’. Thus I opted to bide my time, reflect and move forward as I always do when life happens to me.
Over the years, the religion of Islam has weaned me of my neediness, my suffering and my hunger for appreciation. The morality it espouses has been my greatest motivator in life. My belief in its superiority in all aspects of life is what drives me. Rather than mull over the life I cannot have, I bask in the works of kindness I aver to when I am at the end of my tether, concerned most of all by the legacy I bequeath to society on my inevitable demise. Henceforth, I would rather be remembered as a good human being than as a good wife, a good mother than an exemplary in-law.
I dare you to judge me otherwise.
Rohey Samba is an award winning Gambia writer and author of three books, with experience working as a media analyst, press and public outreach assistant for the EU Election Observation Mission in The Gambia National Assembly Elections, 2017. She owns a publishing company and works as a maritime specialist, specialising in maritime safety and environmental administration at the Gambia Maritime Agency.