Behind Bars

Welcome to the season of EPL, all you lovers of EPL. May your team not disappoint you. Today’s post is also one of my old stories that I never published. Just like last week Saturday’s story, this one also has to do with marriage. I think it’s an important issue to address especially with the way marriage is not for life these days. Have a very good weekend and don’t forget to be back here on Monday. Much love Awesome readers, much love!

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He was beaming with excitement as he looked at his uncle. He was going to propose to his girlfriend and he wanted his uncle to be the first to hear. He has always been close to his uncle. Infact, he looks up to him as his own father is dead and his uncle who happens to be his mother’s younger brother stepped in to fill the shoes of a father.

“Do you know what a bar is?” his uncle asked. He was befuddled by the question. ‘Why is uncle asking me about a bar when I just told him I wants to propose to my girlfriend of two years?’ he thought to himself. He looked at his uncle, but his uncle didn’t seem to care whether or not he replied him or wanted to listen to what he had to say. He continued talking … “There are many definitions of a bar from what I goggled. But, there is a particular definition that suits my predicament and that definition is: a barrier or restriction to an advance or action. Oluwaseyi, I am behind bars and that bar is marriage.”

There was silence for a while as he tried to digest what his uncle just said but he was more confused than ever. “But uncle, you have a happy home. What are you talking about?” Dapo looked at his nephew and laughed out loud. He shook his head and asked, “Haven’t you ever heard of a farce?” He looked at his nephew who had a confused look on his face and put a hand on his shoulder like an old man would when advising a young person.

“Bar doesn’t give you hope. No, it doesn’t. You are too occupied with thoughts of ways to either survive or get out. Most days, I think of how to survive because I can’t get out. While growing up, your grandmother of blessed memory used to sound it in our ears that ‘marriage is for life’. So I grew up believing once you go in, you can’t go out. It was easy to believe and imbibe that philosophy. Dad and mum had the most beautiful marriage and it was genuine. They were not pretending and they were not enduring; they were enjoying marriage and for them, it kept getting better and better until they breathed their last breath. I am a dead man,” he chuckled softly. “Believe it or not, I am a dead man. I started dying when I started seeing a loveless marriage as normal. When I started enduring my marriage for the sake of my children.  Oh! If only I knew…” he sighed deeply and raised his head boring his eyes into that of his Nephew.

“If only I knew, Oluwaseyi, I wouldn’t have gone ahead. I would have listened to that voice of reasoning in my head that asked me if she is the one I really want to spend the rest of my life with. There is an adage that says; “when a dog is heading for destruction, he wouldn’t hear the whistles calling him to turn back.” I was a dog. There were signs… your grandparents called me and spoke to me, but I didn’t listen. I felt they were against the idea of marriage because she is from a different tribe. Your mother called me and said: “yes, Dapo, she is beautiful physically but do you really think she is beautiful at heart? Do you really think she will grow alone so she can grow with you?” I love my sister, but I ignored her. I married Chioma and I started becoming imprisoned without even knowing.

“But … but uncle, I sometimes come to spend the weekend at your place. I haven’t noticed anything wrong with her. I actually admire your marriage and pray for mine to be like yours. So how can you be saying this?” Dapo struck his beard for a while. “There is something that interests me and that thing is the faces we put on as humans. Have you ever stopped to think about what goes on behind the doors of the pastor that preaches about love and his wife that smiles a little too much? I have studied some people as a research sociologist and I have discovered they have many faces. The face they have when they are alone which is most often the true face. The face they have when they are with friends and most especially the face they have when they are in public depending on the opinion they want people to have about them. So when you see me peck or hug my wife in public or in front of the children, when you see her feed me or straighten out my clothe or smile at me across the hall in public, know we are putting on a public face which is only a travesty. The real face; the one we put on in the closet when no one is watching is the private face.”

“What happened uncle? Was it always like this?” Dapo stared into space for a few minutes … “Hmmm! That is a good question. It went wrong from the beginning. The most important part of a building is its foundation. The strength of the foundation will determine the durability and sustainability of the building. The foundation was faulty and I was too clouded by emotions to realize it. I had a picture of what marriage should be and oh, it was a pretty good picture. But I was ready to let go of that picture to create a new picture with her; our very own picture.”

“ How does it sound for me to go to the hospital to get stitched up, unable to look at the questioning eyes of the nurses because I can’t tell them the glass vase my wife aimed to throw at the wall when she was angry hit me? What can I say when my guys are talking about how good their wife is in bed and how she is so good at romance when sex is only for procreation in my house? How can I tell people that I will like my wife to stay at home more rather than travel weeks upon weeks doing one charity work or another? She is saving dying children in other third world countries like ours. I should be proud and I was proud until I noticed my own children were dying and my wife’s charity did not extend to the house. There are so many times she will hear but never listen. There were too many dates she stood me up. There are too many days the house help takes care of this family. I will never be against my wife’s progress and pursuit of excellence, but that is killing us.”

“My wife is no longer attractive…” “Ah, uncle what do you mean? She is so pretty”, Seyi said Open-mouthed. Dapo laughs lightly. “Yes, she is. But attraction is not just physical. Do you know why people stay in that abusive relationship? I’m not referring to only physical abuse.”

He continued not waiting for Seyi’s reply. “They stay because they are either scared of what people will say or they are not courageous enough to leave, but I’m staying not because I am a coward or I give a rat ass about what people will say. I’m staying because it is the lesser of two evils. I will rather stay in prison than let my children grow up in a broken home.”

“But, is it worth it when you are unhappy? Do you think your children won’t know and still be affected by their parents loveless marriage?” Seyi asked with a raised eye brow.

Dapo kept nodding his head as if someone was talking to him though no one was. He nodded one last time, then he spoke; “Seyi, you have to marry your friend. You are a different person from her though you might have some similarities but you are you and she is she. Marriage requires bonding. It requires two nations coming together as one. It’s an entirely different journey. You think you know her so well? You will never finish knowing her because you will learn something new about her every day. It might take you years to agree and hours to reach a compromise daily on different issues. Don’t be deceived; love is not enough in marriage but it’s capable of conquering all. So you have to find a way of loving her even when you hate her. You have to find a way of forgiving her before she offends you and you have to find a way of forgiving yourself before you offend her. Marriage can be the best thing that can happen to a man, but you have to work every day.”

“So what will you do about your marriage?” Seyi asked. Dapo hesitated for a while before answering and drops his shoulders like a defeated man. “I guess I will have to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow remaining behind bars. What can I do? It’s my cross to bear.” Silence fell on both men as Dapo thought about how agonizing being behind bars is and Seyi contemplated getting married.

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