A month before we got married, my husband-to-be lost his job. I told him, “Maybe we should hold on for a while and see what happens. You can start looking for another job, get one before we get married.” He told me, “I’m a man with all my qualifications. I can get another job very soon. This marriage has taken us two years to plan. We can’t let it go because of this small hitch. Let’s go ahead. I will get a job right after that.” I listened to him and we went on with the marriage. It was a beautiful wedding that had friends and family congratulating us for pulling it off but if I have to be honest, I was scared throughout the weeks leading to the marriage. Even the day when he held my hand and said “I do,” I was scared.
I was scared of the future. “What if he doesn’t get a job immediately?” What if it gets too bad for us after marriage? Won’t they laugh at us for blowing all we had on a wedding?” Call me a pessimist but there was logic to my pessimism. I didn’t want to get married and later regret it. But he was too sure about the future so I fell for it and we got married. Our wedding brought us some money. We were able to pay off what we owed and saved the rest of the money. For a few months after our wedding, we were relying on what we had from our wedding. When that was finished, we went into my savings. For two years my husband was in the house.
I didn’t keep quiet about it, I told everyone I thought could help. I was desperate and he was desperate too. My mom got involved and started looking within her network and see if she could get anyone. One day she called me and said, “There’s a man I know. When you were young, he used to call you his wife. I’ve spoken to him and he’s ready to help. Call him and talk to him about it.” She gave me the number and I called. The man was so happy to hear from me though I could barely make him out. He said, “I’ve heard about your husband’s issue and it saddens my heart. A young couple like you shouldn’t go through such a mishap. Come home on the weekend. Come with his CV, I would be able to see where I can fix him.” I responded, “I will come along with him. He can explain his situation better.” He said, “You don’t have to come with him. This is the first meeting. Just come along with his CV and we’ll take it from there.”
Early Saturday morning I set off to meet this man. I wasn’t feeling comfortable about meeting him because of the fact that he wouldn’t make me go along with my husband. I have a crazy mind. It kept telling me the man was a live wire I didn’t have to play with. I told my husband about it and he played down my fears. “This is someone your mother trusts. Do you think he would do that? Just go and listen to what he had to say.” I said, “But why won’t he let me go along with you?” He answered, “He may have his reasons. Meet him first before you can draw conclusions.”
I got to his house around 10am. A huge gated house he lives in with his security. He welcomed me in and I shivered. He was such a huge man with his big belly falling on his lap. “Should I give you something to drink?” He asked me. I shook my head and said, “No thank you.” He asked again, “Anything to eat? I can send the security to get it for you.” Again, I shook my head. There were so many chairs in the hall but he came to sit next to me. I screamed in my head, “This is trouble looming.” I showed him the CV and he was going through it. Every now and then he’ll tap on my thighs to draw my attention. He was touching me in a way I felt uncomfortable. I will pull away from him and he’ll push. Finally, he said, “Did your mother tell you that I used to call you my wife?”.
Before I could answer, his hands were all over me. ”I’ve always wanted you but your mother thought you were too young. Now, look at the mess you’re in.” I started sweating. I told him, “I want a drink.” He got up for the drink and I hurriedly run out of his house. I rushed out of the house as if someone was pursuing me. I got home and I was too ashamed to tell anyone about it. My husband asked what happened and I told him, “He took your CV. He said he’s going to work on it.”
Of course, nothing came out of that encounter. Months later, a man in our church connected him to another man who ended up giving him a job. My husband had been home for two years without a job. The day he had a job, you should have seen me. I screamed God’s name out loud as if God was standing next to me. I jumped up and screamed for joy. “At long last, God has answered our prayers.” I cooked his favourite food and we both ate in joy. For once in a very long time, there was no fear in us. We ate happily and discussed the future as if the future would be gone tomorrow. The next day, he dressed up and went to work. He walked like he had a spiring under his sole. Everyone saw the change in him and they smiled.
That was January 2020. Two months later, there was Covid. We went into lockdown with fears in our hearts. My job was safe but I was thinking about my husband and his new job. He told me, “No need to fear. Everything would be alright. God knows I just had this job and it means everything to me.” After the lockdown, he still had his job. The company was thriving. Things got shaky along the line but he was still optimistic until January 2021 when the company started laying people off. He knew right from the start that he was going to lose his job but he was keeping hope alive and I was praying fervently against job loss. But what would be would be no matter how hard you pray so he got laid off around January 2021.
He told me, “We don’t have to tell anyone about this. This is more embarrassing than the first one. It’s beginning to look like I’m cursed or something. I will start looking for a job tomorrow but we don’t have to let anyone know that I’ve lost my job, not even your parents or my parents.” So I kept quiet about it. Every morning, my husband will dress up and take his bag and leave the house with me as if he had a job he was going. He was just pretending so no one will know our situation. He told me he was moving from one institution to another institution distributing his CVs and praying for a miracle. After seven months of doing that, I told him, “Dear, someone has to know. We need help and we can only get the help if we discuss our problem with people we trust. Remember how you got the job the last time? We could use the same method.”
He didn’t give me his mind. He said, “I’m very close to getting a job. We don’t have to go public for everyone to know our marital problems.” “This isn’t marital, dear. This is critical.” He didn’t accept what I said so he kept hiding. He kept wearing the mask he had been wearing for the past seven months, acting like everything was alright when indeed he was dying on the inside. I was the one bearing all the suffering. I had to give him money every week. I had to pay for utilities. I had to feed us. I had to do everything to keep us afloat but my salary wasn’t anything to write home about. At some point, I told him, “If we don’t seek help, one day we will break down. As we speak, I don’t have any savings that we can fall on in case of an emergency. We are living from hand to mouth and that’s a dangerous way to live. Let’s seek help.”
He brushed me off. He told me he was picking moves that would bring a job very soon. As I write this, my husband doesn’t have a job and no one knows about it because he feels too big to let anyone know that he’s jobless.
I’m tired of covering up for him but he expects me to play that role exceptionally well because we are in together. Before he lost his job, we were trying to have a child. Immediately after he lost his job, I hopped on family planning to prevent us from having a child. Recently he asked me, “What’s happening? Why can’t we have a child? Is there anything wrong with any of us?” I responded, “This is the time we have to go to the hospital and check but where’s the money for that?” He asked me, “So you mean there’s nothing in your savings account for that?” I told him, “There’s nothing. If today, you fall sick or I fall sick, it might be difficult for us to survive. That’s why we have to seek help.”
He doesn’t want to hear anything about seeking help. He has things together but nothing come out of the things he does. He wakes up, bath and dresses up only to put up a show. For close to a month, I didn’t have money for him to go out there so he stayed home telling neighbours that he was on leave. Our lives have been a lie for over a year and a half. My parents call me to send something to them and I have nothing to give them. I know they think I’m being wicked with money but I don’t have it. Everything goes into our care. Our rent is due in the next five months. I think of it and my heart skips a beat. I think of it at dawn and I will never sleep again. When I told him he said, “I would have a job by then. We would be able to pay our rent. He always has this stinking confidence but that confidence doesn’t end in anything.
Now, I’m tired. I’ve broken down. I’m emotionally downcast. Apart from his joblessness, he doesn’t do anything in the house to help. I have to be home to cook for him. On weekends, I have to wash and clean the whole house while he stays on the sofa watching TV. He won’t even get up to get food for himself. He would call me to serve him. This is not something I should be getting angry about but I think about everything we are going through and it gets me angry anytime he asks me to serve him. We’ve been fighting a lot recently. I want to tell the world that he’s jobless. He told me, “If you dare do that, you and I won’t fit into this house.