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Sobolation Series (1): How Many Wives Do You Have?




With
Sanusi Lafiagi

Sometime ago, a rich friend whom I’ve known for close to a decade called to inform me that he was planning to take a second wife. He had been married for over 15 years now and is blessed with 4 kids. He’s a relatively quiet dude with a charming wife and adorable kids. He runs his own company and makes a lot of cool cash. Despite his fat bank account, he’s prudent to a fault. In fact, some of us used to accuse him of stinginess. You should have studied economics as an undergraduate, we would taunt him.

A few days later, he phoned again that he was coming down to my office for a proper discussion. “As a prospective applicant to the ministry of dualization, I, humbly submit myself to the honorable minister for screening and further recommendations“, he said jokingly. We spoke at length and deliberated on the three most important questions of “why”, “when”, and “how” of the proposed project. In the end, we both agreed on all the modalities to be followed except one: ‘When should he inform his mother in-law?’

Personally, I felt that it was unwise to inform her prior to the marriage, for it sounds absurd and disrespectful. How do you phone or sit with your mother in-law and say to her, “I wish to inform you of my decision to take a second wife”. He, however argued that given the kind of mother-child relationship between him and his mother in-law, it would be cruel of him to not inform her prior. He maintained that he doesn’t want her to feel betrayed by his action, lest their jolly relationship becomes frosty. No matter how hard I tried to convince him, he stuck to his gun and insisted on informing her soonest.

I had no choice but to leave him to his decision. All the best, I said as he rose to depart.

Fast forward to last month, my friend traveled to Lagos to check on his family who had been holidaying with grandma and decided to seize that opportunity to break the news to his super-friendly mother in-law. Unknowing to him, his wife had informed her, and both women were waiting for him to come and “embarrass” himself. He was too naive to not have envisaged such delicate discussion to have ensued between mother and child.

To his utter dismay, his darling mother inlaw “changed it for him”. She wondered why such a young and successful gentleman will suddenly decide to ruin his blissful and peaceful marriage for no just reason. What else do you want? If your wife has offended you, why not punish her in another way rather than make her suffer the pains of rivalry? If you desire more children, why not impregnate your wife to give you more? Are you doing this to imitate some of your mates?She allegedly asked!

In the end, my friend was subdued and humbled. He left the place heartbroken. From Lagos to Ilorin, he wore a cold look. No sooner had his flight touched ground than he called me for an important discussion. I laughed all through as he narrated his shocking ordeal. In the end, I said, “Did I not warn you?” He looked confused and terribly scared. What do we do now, he inquired. We will go ahead with the plan, I replied. I said, if you want the hare to hop, you move the carrot.

So we decided to play a prank on his wife and Inlaw. We got a web designer to design a colorful wedding card between him and his fiancee slated for last Saturday in September. I asked him to use the card as dp on his WhatsApp and to also instruct his friends to do the same, then wait for the reaction from home and his Inlaw. In that way, we were putting them on the defensive. Rather than having to convince them on why he wants to take another wife, he would be pushing them to explain to him why he shouldn’t do it. It was a perfect bait. In less than 4 hours, he received several calls from his mother and sisters in-law, pleading with him to “stay action” until they resolve all issues. He kept me posted on all the developments as they unfolded.

Last Saturday, a meeting was convoked at the instance of his in-laws. 8 of us were in attendance: himself, his wife, her mother, 4 of her siblings (3 ladies and 1 man) and I. His wife spoke first. As usual, she made some highly emotional submissions, detailing how she had suffered with him in the time of want, her commitment, faithfulness and loyalty; and how hurt she feels by his sudden decision to marry again despite all his initial promises to her never to marry again.

Her sisters also spoke, urging her husband not to be influenced by “my friends’ are doing it” syndrome but to consider his wife’s faithfulness and sacrifice, blablabla. Her brother was more mature and diplomatic. As a man, he knew that sooner or later, he may also have to take a similar decision, so he maintained a neutral position on the matter. Their mother maintained that his son inlaw’s action was strange to her as he has always been an easygoing guy. She urged him to resist bad external influence and pleaded with him to not take hasty decisions that are likely to boomerang in future. Dangerous ladies abound out there, she submitted. Do not allow them to destroy your home. She concluded.

In my own submission, I argued in favour of my friend’s decision and took time to educate his inlaws on the good side of polygyny while discountenancing the evils of the movies  producers who have wrecked so many marriages as a result of their negative depiction of polygyny. As I spoke, I kept watching the countenances of my audience who seem less convinced and rather enraged by my submissions. The wife was giving me that “abi this one dey mad ni” look, but I no send am. Suddenly, I was interrupted.

Mother inlaw: How many wives do you have?

Me: 2 ma

Mother inlaw and sisters: Abajo! (No wonder)

Everyone laughed.

Mother Inlaw: Please, baba oni iyawo Méjì, plead with your friend on our behalf. We are not asking him not to do whatever pleases him, but he should also consider the interest of his wife and kids. Abi? She asked her kids who all answered in the affirmative.

Meeting ended in a stalemate as no concrete decision is reached yet.

“If you had listened to me the first time, you wouldn’t have to be negotiating this now. All it will take is a flight to Lagos to plead with grandma and nothing changes. After all, she can’t ask you to go and divorce your new wife.” I whispered in his ear as I give him a parting hug.

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