By Clifford Ejenavi
In life, some people were born to find happiness and achieve greatness while others have continued to live in perpetual fear, agony, pain, sadness and regret. This is even so in marriage. Many people go into marriage with high hope, pride and happiness.
Marriage is an institution meant for the brave and matured minds and not the weak and poor in mind and mentality. That is why child’s marriage in any society has not been encouraged either by the government or most of the people.
The story of former Mrs. Ogechi Nwaneri, now preferred to be addressed simply as Ogechi Johnson is such a pathetic one that even the dead would not want to hear of it because they may come back to life to rebuke. Now 36 years old, Ogechi never experienced menstruation until after given birth to six children through severe pains, tears and bitterness. As that was not enough, her husband has abandoned her and the six children for almost 15 years now.
I was about 12 years old in primary school when my parents gave my hands out in marriage. I never knew anything then. They didn’t tell me I was leaving the village for marriage. I was told to follow him to Aba that he would take good care of me. I didn’t object when my parents informed me because the man was old enough to be my father. They said he had assured them that I would continue my primary school in his house in Aba.
Two years after living with him in Aba, he refused to register me in school. I could not ask him the reason he refused to send me to school because I was afraid he might send me back to village and I don’t want to go back to the village again. I would stay at his supermarket to sell from morning till night. He allowed me to eat whatever I liked, so I became very big and fat.
I remembered one night after closing from the shop; he called me and asked if I had started seeing my menstruation. I stood in one place just looking at him because I had no experience about menstruation then. He took time to explain it to me and I said no, I haven’t seen such a thing. That same night, he woke me up in the middle of the night and asked ‘do you know that you’re my wife?’ I said no. He said he had paid for everything on my head and had allowed me to grow a little before he can touch me. He said he woke me up so that he can play his role as a husband. I said okay, without knowing what he actually meant. He said I should follow him to his bedroom and I did, thinking that he wanted to give me some money because every time my father wanted to give me money, he would call me to his bedroom. That night was the first horrible experience of my life as he forced himself on me. The next day, he took me to a hospital where I was admitted for days. I insisted that I won’t go back to his house that I want to see my parents. But when my parents came, they said I was going nowhere. They advised me to bear the pains because the man is my husband. With no one to help me, I accepted my fate. Every night in tears, he would come and have his way. Two months later, I became seriously sick and I was taken to a hospital where I was confirmed pregnant.
This was how I started having children for him every year. I had my first child at the age of 14. For six consecutive years, I was given birth each year. That is why when you see my children; you cannot tell who is senior or junior among them. I did not see the menstruation he asked me about until after given birth to six children at the age of 21. And when I saw it for the first time, I thought I had miscarriage. It was in the hospital they told me it was a normal menstrual period otherwise I wouldn’t have known.
After I gave birth to my last born (the sixth child), the doctor then warned me to rest that giving birth every year has grievous implication on my health. I have been warned severally but he would not let me be. Every time I refused him, it would turn into serious problem in the house and would not know when I would agree. So, I took the decision not to allow him after the doctor educated and warned me to control myself. This was how the house became a living hell for me and my children. All efforts to make him see reasons for family planning and allow me to rest yielded no result. Every night, he would beat me. He became a monster in the house. He started bringing women to the house to sleep with. And if I dare to ask who the women were, slaps and beating would be his answer for me. He would tell the women that I was their last born helping him to take care of his children after his wife died in a motor accident while returning from market.
After the women found out I was his wife, they stopped coming to the house. He went out one night and never returns till today. He left me with six children to care for. I later found out that he moved in with one of the women he was bringing to the house. Since he left for almost 15 years now, he has never visited us. If he wants to see the children, he would send his younger brother to come to take them out and would later join them. I had vowed not to remarry in life. There is no need for that. I already have six children and want to stand by them all through. Besides, I can’t imagine another man sleeping with me, God forbid. It would be another horror experience. If I can stay without a man for 15 years, I can as well stay alone till I die.