THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN (A Short Story)
Aneesah and her husband, Marwan, had been married for a year and half.
On her wedding eve, her mother, Madam Ewatomi, sat her down and advised her on marriage. Her mother was a three time divorcee. She had four children for three different fathers. Although the three marriages hitting the rock were not actually her fault, nonetheless, she doesn’t want her daughter to go through the same agony.
Madam Ewatomi had a boy, Muhsin, from her first marriage before fleeing the marriage when domestic violence wasn’t bearable.
Madam Ewatomi proceeded to marry another man where she had Aneesah and her younger brother, Abideen. Aneesah’s father was a chronic drunkard. He could empty the whole brewery without getting satisfied. He was equally irresponsible and a wife beater. Aneesah’s mother carried all the responsibilities of the home alone while her husband spent his own earnings on alcohol and other frivolities. She would have stayed because of what people would say.
That was her second marriage which must not fail. She would have stayed if her husband was only irresponsible. At least she had a good job which paid the bills conveniently. But her husband wasn’t only irresponsible, he was equally a violent and aggressive wife beater. She had to leave when the last beating got her a three weeks bed space in the hospital. She carried her children and ran for her dear life.
It’s a living person that can answer the title of Mrs. The title of Mrs can no longer be beneficial to a dead person. For these reasons, she had to call it quits with her second marriage with sadness.
What she ran for in her first marriage became her reality for the second time. She cried bitterly, wallowing in melancholy everyday. She dwelled in self pity for being a victim of a bad marriage twice. She decided to remain a single mother for the rest of her life. She decided to focus her all on her three children, a case of once bitten twice shy. Her own case was not a once bitten case, it was a double bitten case which made her multiple times shy.
She rented an apartment and was living with her three children until she met Otunba, the father of her fourth child, Ali.
Otunba already had two wives at home. The two wives had all girls. Apparently, Otunba was looking for a baby boy which made him embark on the third marriage mission. He did everything at his disposal to woo Madam Ewatomi. At last she let go of her decision not to marry again and succumbed to love.
Life happened and the woman who once swore never to get married again found love in the arms of another man. She married Otunba to become his third wife.
Otunba was good to her. He was the true definition of a good husband. He cared so much for her and her three children. He rented a duplex for her before the marriage. She moved into the duplex with her children.
When she conceived Ali, even before the scan detected a boy, Otunba’s kindness to her skyrocketed. She enjoyed paradise on earth. When she underwent a scan and the scan detected a boy, Otunba nearly ran mad with happiness. He cared for Ewatomilola like a baby. He took her shopping for baby clothes every week. The baby wardrobe was already filled to the brim before the arrival of the baby.
When the baby eventually arrived and he was indeed a baby boy, the whole World knew that Otunba Ali had now fathered a boy. He named the boy after him, Ali.
Otunba held a grand naming ceremony for his baby boy which was the talk of the town for months.
Otunba inclined more towards Ewatomilola at the detriment of his other two wives. Suddenly, like a pack of not well arranged cards, the marriage crumbled again. The once committed husband became an absentee. He withdrew totally from Ewatomi. He wouldn’t visit her house for months. She became an abandoned wife. Until finally when he told her he wasn’t interested in her again.
She pleaded and begged to no avail. She asked what her offense was but he said she didn’t offend him. He confessed to her that he didn’t really wanted to marry her but did unwillingly because he was looking for a male child. And now that he had gotten a male child, he saw no need to continue with the marriage again. He collected his son from her when the boy was 4 years old.
Ewatomilola felt the blow of the deceit. She nearly run mad. She cried everyday like a bereaved. She suffered depression. Suicidal thoughts crossed her mind. She wanted to end her own life but she looked back on her innocent children who would suffer her absence.
She had to be strong for her children. She got a grip on herself and her life continued. She moved out of the duplex Otunba rented for her. She couldn’t keep up with the rents any longer. She had her own building which she fast tracked after the divorce. She moved into her own house and picked the pieces of her broken life.
Years later, her only daughter, Aneesah was getting married at 23. She got really paranoid about the marriage of a thing. But she couldn’t stop her daughter from getting married. She could only pray for her not to suffer the same fate as hers which she did wholeheartedly.
Aneesah got married to a good man. Marwan was a good man. He was just a man of high principle. He was always particular about his wants and needs. Aside this, he was generally a loving man.
The house he rented was a stone throw to his parents’ house. His siblings, mother and other family members always came around his house at will. This does not sit well with Aneesah as she thought she was being robbed of her privacy.
Marwan’s family meant no harm. Theirs was just a big and united family. They saw no wrong in visiting their brother, son or relative who lived just two streets away. The siblings might be the one to visit today. And it might be cousins the next day and his mother and aunt the day after. Marwan’s aunt and his mother owned a joint shop in front of their house. So, his aunt, aunt Bola, his mother’s younger sister was always in the house from morning till evening before going to her own house.
Perhaps, they’d gotten accustomed to one another’s company that they couldn’t do without seeing one another for a day. Aneesah disliked this development. Apart from the fact it robbed her of her privacy, it was also stressful having them around because she would need to entertain them with either snacks or food.
Aneesah spoke to her husband about this. She suggested that they relocated to a diffetent area of Lagos but her husband didn’t buy the idea. He told her not to bother entertaining them if it was stressful for her. She told him it wasn’t only because of the stress, she needed her privacy as well. Marwan told her he couldn’t tell his family not to come around again. He told her that she shouldn’t bother keeping their company. She could be in the room if she wanted, no one would disturb her.
Aneesah shook her head. It seemed Marwan didn’t understand her plight. She needed more of her husband’s time. He had a 7-5 job which took him away from Monday to Friday. The weekend she was supposed to spend alone with him, his family would still come over and rival that with her. She wasn’t pleased at all. But no matter how much she tried to make her husband reason with her, he wasn’t getting her point at all and it was quite frustrating.
Her mother-in-law was the most annoying to her. Each time the woman came around, she must use the toilet. Her maladorous poo always filled the air even hours after she had used the guest toilet attached to the living room. Everyone present in the living room would have to cover their noses. Multiple spray of air fresheners would have to be sent on errand before the fetid odour would vanish. Aneesah doesn’t understand if the woman always hold the poo only to come and release it in her house because there was hardly a day she visited that she would not poo.
This went on for 18 months into their marriage. Aneesah was getting tired. It got to a point she had to open up to her mother concerning her plight. Her mother asked if her husband was giving her problems. Her reply was no. Her mother asked if her husband wasn’t responsible or that he was a wife beater. Her response was no. Then her mother told her to only focus on her husband as he was the only partner she had in the marriage. Since he wasn’t giving her any problem, she should just ignore his family like they never existed.
“But mom, it’s difficult to ignore. This people have practically turned my house to a family centre. I don’t have any privacy with my husband. The stress of entertaining them is draining me.” Aneesah cried out.
“That is still bearable compared to when it’s your husband that is giving you problems. You can endure it please my darling. Your husband is a good man. Do not lose a good man. May you never be as unlucky as I was with marriage. Do you think I wouldn’t have remained married if my husband was good? If it were to be only his family giving me problems, I would have endured with the faith that we won’t stay close to them forever.
Do you know I always got scared that suitors will not approach you because your mother had three failed marriages? People in this part of the world are judges over other people’s lives. They believe a woman whose mother is divorced isn’t suitable for marriage, hence they stigmatize her, not caring to know if the divorce was actually her mother’s fault or not. They believe that divorce may run in the family. This make people run away from children of single mothers.
I really got scared that my life might affect you but God answered my prayers and gave you a good man who didn’t look at your mother’s past to judge his future with you. Please my sweetheart, hold tightly to your husband and pray that God touches his heart so that he can rent an apartment far away from his family. It’s not by fight. It’s by prayers. May you not be unfortunate.” Aneesah’s mother prayed for her.
Aneesah went back home and continued to hold it in as her mother had advised but it wasn’t easy. There was a particular week that her mother-in-law visited every day of the week. And on each day, she would pass her stinking poo as well.
On Saturday of that week, Aneesah was going for grocery shopping. Her husband had an emergency at work so he left for work. She closed the door of her house and set out. She was already at the gate when her mother-in-law walked in through the gate. Aneesah squeezed her face. Her mother-in-law told her to quickly come and open the door because she was pressed already. Aneesah mumbled a curse under her breath. She reluctantly went back to the house to open the door.
Immediately the door was opened, Mama rushed to the toilet. Aneesah hissed loudly as the stench of the poo accompanied by the sound of paparapapara filled the air. Then a devilish thought crossed her mind.
She moved to the toilet and locked the door from outside. She locked the house and went out to get her shopping done. She decided to do that in order to teach Mama a lesson.
When Mama was done, she tried to open the door but discovered it had been locked from outside. She knocked several times without an answer. Hours passed and Mama was still stuck in the toilet. The toilet’s bad smell and absence of fresh air suffocated Mama. She was beginning to lose consciousness.
Aneesah got to the shopping mall. She picked the few things she needed to buy. She proceeded to pay after which she got out of the mall. On her way out, she saw her old school mate walking into the mall. They embraced each other excitedly. Her old schoolmate, Hafsah, told her that she lived on the next street to the mall. Aneesah decided to pay her a visit. She waited till Hafsah completed her shopping. She forgot totally that she locked her mother-in-law in the toilet back home.
Aneesah followed her friend home where she spent hours. They caught up on old gists. They laughed and giggled to jokes. They discussed their family. Hafsah had two children already. She showed concern on why Aneesah’s 18 months marriage had not produced a child. Aneesah told her they’d been to the hospital and the tests showed they were fine. Hafsah wished her the best. Aneesah was carried away by the reunion ecstasy with her friend that she totally forgot she locked her mother-in-law in the toilet back home.
Aneesah left her friend’s house after Asr She’d left home since 11am. She was a few steps to reaching the house when she suddenly remembered her mother-in-law whom she’d locked in the toilet since 11am.
She raced home like a flying bird. She quickly opened the door and rushed to the guest toilet. To her surprise, the toilet was opened and Mama was not inside. She wondered why that was so because the house door was locked. Her brain quickly processed the fact that her husband might have returned home and released Mama from the toilet prison in which she’d kept her.
A pricking conscience was her ordeal. She knew her husband would be angry but she would beg him for forgiveness and that would be all. She unbagged the stuff she bought and placed everything in their proper places. She entered the bedroom to relax before making dinner. She slept off and only woke up at quarter past 7. She quickly got up and prayed magrib. She was worried that her husband wasn’t back. She put several calls through to him but he didn’t pick up.
She sensed trouble. That was very much unlike Marwan. Aneesah decided to go check him in their family house. She got there and met no one. The gate to the house was locked.The shop in front of the house was also locked. She soliliquized worriedly.
“Where could they all have gone to?” Aneesah soliloquized.
She was turning back when her teenage sister-in-law emerged. She greeted her cheerfully but Khadijah, her sister-in-law, hissed loudly at her. Her heart did a marathon of somersault. She knew she was in trouble. Her action had definitely backfired but to what extent was what she didn’t know.
“Khadijah please where’s everybody?” Aneesah asked her sister-in-law again but the later hissed, opened the gate and walked in.
Aneesah quickly followed her. She asked her questions to which she didn’t respond. Khadijah went to Mama’s room. Aneesah followed her. Khadijah opened the wardrobe and started picking Mama’s clothes into a bag. Aneesah trembled with fear.
“Why are you picking Mama’s clothes? Aneesah asked but Khadijah didn’t answer.
When Khadijah was through, she exited the room and walked out of the house. Aneesah followed her. Khadijah walked out of the gate while Aneesah walked behind her.
“Please walk fast I want to lock the gate. Or do you want me to lock you in the house the way you locked my mother in the toilet?” Khadijah shouted and at this juncture, she knew she was in a big mess.
Khadijah walked to the motor park and boarded a vehicle. Aneesah followed her. When Khadijah got down, Aneesah also got down. Khadijah walked straight until a hospital was in sight. Aneesah swallowed her dried throat and broke into tears. She knew her action had landed her mother-in-law in the hospital.
After Aneesah locked Mama in the toilet, Mama screamed and knocked tirelessly till she passed out due to suffocation. Marwan got home around 4:15pm. His instinct just told him to check the guest toilet. He was surprised to meet it locked. Upon opening, his mother’s lifeless body was what he saw. He rushed her to the hospital immediately. Mama wasn’t totally unconscious. She told her son that it was his wife that locked her in the toilet since morning and then went out of the house. Mama passed out completely after informing her son of what happened.
Marwan was furious. He called the other members of his family to meet him at the hospital.
Khadijah walked into the hospital. Aneesah paused for a few minutes before walking into the hospital like a prodigal son. Her heart was palpitatating heavily. She got to the entrance and paused. She peeped from the entrance.
Her husband’s entire family was in the hospital. They were all sitting at the reception with their head bent worriedly. Aneesah couldn’t go in. They might eat her raw. She wept bitterly and lamented with regret.
“What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?” She lamented amidst hot tears.
She couldn’t go into the hospital. She stayed outside and cried. It was getting late already. Aunt Bola asked the rest of the family to go home that she would stay with her sister.
The family walked out of the hospital together. They saw Aneesah seated at a corner. They all hissed at her and walked away. Aneesah followed them and tried to hold her husband’s hand but he flung her hand away. The family entered into the space jeep they brought to the hospital. Marwan was the driver, he zoomed off without looking back at his wife.
Aneesah ran to the park to board a vehicle home. By the time she got home, her husband had already locked the door. She knocked and pleaded without him showing mercy. She spent the night at the entrance of their apartment amidst fear and tears.
The following morning, Marwan opened the door. He was going to the mosque to observe subh. Aneesah got up and ran to him with plea but he pushed her away. He closed the door and went to the mosque.
Aneesah cried and waited patiently for him to return. He returned shortly after. He opened the door and was about to walk in when Aneesah quickly sneaked in through his legs. He shook his head with a long hiss.
Aneesah begged him for forgiveness.
“I’m so sorry Marwan. Please forgive me.” Aneesah apologized amidst tears.
“I should forgive you? If my mother had died, will you still be standing there and asking for forgiveness?” Marwan shouted.
“I’m sorry. It was a mistake please forgive me.”
“No, it wasn’t a mistake. It was something you did deliberately. I can never forgive you. In fact, this marriage is over.” Marwan said angrily and walked into the bedroom.
He packed Aneesah’s clothes into her bags.
“What are you doing?” Aneesah cried out.
“I am taking you back to your mother. This marriage is over.” Marwan said while Aneesah quickly held onto his hand.
“Please don’t do this to me. My mother will be very heartbroken. Please forgive me and give me a second chance.” Aneesah pleaded amidst hot tears.
“You should have known that your mother would be heartbroken before trying to kill my mother. I am done with you.”
“Please. Please. Please. I beg you in the perfect name of Allah. Please give me a second chance. I promise not to do that again.”
“It’s late. As far as my mother’s life is concerned, I can’t give you a second chance. Do you know my mother is lying in the ICU battling with her life with the aid of an oxygen? And you want me to forgive you, never!” Marwan said obstinately.
“Please forgive me. Mama will not die but live. Allah will grant her complete healing. I will pray for her everyday.” Aneesah pleaded for the umpteenth time but all her plea fell on her husband’s deaf ears.
Marwan packed three boxes and carried them to the car. He pushed Aneesah away as she held onto his leg.
He zoomed off before Aneesah could get outside.
Marwan got to Aneesah’s house and offloaded the three boxes. He knocked on the door and didn’t bother to wait for any response. He dumped the bags outside the door and walked away.
Aneesah’s mother opened the door and found three bags with a letter on the upper bag. She was astonished. She didn’t understand what was going on. She picked the letter and read. Marwan explained everything that happened in the letter. He also informed Aneesah’s mother that he was done with her daughter.
Madam Ewatomi clasped her hand on her head and cried bitterly. She called Aneesah immediately and asked for the name of the hospital where her mother-in-law was hospitalized.
Madam Ewatomi rushed to the hospital immediately. The nurses told her she couldn’t enter the ICU. She waited patiently at the reception. She looked around for Marwan’s family members. She didn’t see any of them. She continued waiting when Aunt Bola emerged from outside.
Aunt Bola hissed upon seeing her. Aneesah’s mother begged for forgiveness on behalf of her daughter but aunt Bola lashed out at her.
“You don’t need to beg for forgiveness. We should have known that bad behaviour runs in your family when we heard the gist that you also divorced three times. Your behaviour was so bad that your three husbands couldn’t keep you but threw you away like a piece of trash. Like mother, like daughter. Bunch of badly behaved people. A woman has a bad character but laments that she’s not lucky with marriage. How will she be lucky? Show me your mother and I’ll tell you the kind of daughter you are. Show me your mother-in-law and and I’ll tell you the kind of wife you have. Your daughter is not welcomed in our family again. The day I set my eyes on her will be the day she’ll be buried.” Aunt Bola insulted Aneesah’s mother at the reception in the presence of patients and visitors.
Aneesah’s mother felt embarrassed. She wished the ground would open and swallow her. Her eyelids were filled with hot tears which cascaded her cheeks. She dragged her feet in shame out of the hospital. Since that day, she didn’t step foot in the hospital again. She decided not to interfere in the matter again.
Aneesah returned to her mother’s house when Marwan and his family wouldn’t accept her back after plea upon plea. She even went as far as sending dignitaries to beg them to no avail. Aunt Bola swore that she wouldn’t step foot in their family again. Marwan wouldn’t want to see her either. Aunt Bola told her there was nothing to consider in her since she didn’t even bear them a child.
Aneesah however went to the hospital everyday to see her mother-in-law till the woman was discharged a month after the incident.
After Mama was discharged, Aneesah went to the house but she wasn’t allowed in.
Her mother was making life difficult for her as well. Her mother fed her with insults and hot words for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday.
“After all my plea for you to endure, you still misbehaved. You’re a disgrace. My case is clearly different from yours because in all my three marriages, I never misbehaved,life just happened. Even at that, I begged you to borrow a leaf from my story so that you won’t end up being a divorced woman. But you not only disgraced yourself. You also disgraced me. Your mother-in-law’s sister had the nerves to insult me with my past. But I don’t blame her, I only blamed you for being an unfortunate child.” Aneesah’s mother poured hot words on her.
She did insult her everyday. Aneesah had cried so much to the point of sickness. When her ill health was persistent. She went to the hospital. She received the good news that she was 8 weeks pregnant. With joy in her heart, with high hope that the child would reconcile them, Aneesah raced to her husband’s house to inform him of her pregnancy. But to her dismay, he told her he doesn’t want anything to do with her. He told her he would collect his baby when he was born and totally free her from the marriage. Aneesah wept bitterly. She begged him to no avail. She sent people to beg him and his family but they were bent on not having anything to do with her anymore. Aunt Bola even said a bad woman would give birth to a bad child. Marwan only said he would send money to her every month to take care of her pregnancy. He told her that was all he owed her.
Aneesah’s mother wasn’t making life bearable for her either. Even with the news of her pregnancy, she continued to torment her. Aneesah decided to leave home. Her younger brother with whom she shared a father schooled in OAU Ile-ife. Abideen was the only one that understood her and was willing to stand by her. Abideen told her to come to Ife. With the little money she had in her account, Abideen helped her to rent a self contained apartment. She relocated to Ife to start a new life. Some weeks after her relocation, she secured a job with a private school in Ife.
When her pregnancy was four months old, she started antenatal clinic. She was told to do a scan. The scan revealed she was carrying triplet. She picked her phone happily to share the good news with her husband. She logged into WhatsApp.
“I want to tell you something.” She typed but he never responded. He blocked her number from reaching him on WhatsApp, phone calls and messages.
He also blocked her on all social media platforms. She cried bitterly but she was still hopeful that the three beautiful babies would reunite them eventually.
Her brother was everything to her. Life can’t be so hard without one person always staying through. Her husband and his family abandoned her. Her own mother abandoned her but her brother, Abideen, became her backbone. She also did not lack money as Marwan credited her account with 50k every month.
Abideen ensured she ate regularly and also not missed her antenatal. He visited her everyday and ensured she doesn’t over think.
Days rolled into weeks, weeks into months and the journey of nine months came to an end.
Marwan slept and dreamt of Aneesah being in a pool of blood with babies soaked in blood crying for her attention.
He got up terrified. That dream melted the resentment he had for her. He had a gush of emotions. The affection he once had for her returned from no where. He was worried about her all of a sudden.
He quickly got his phone and unblocked her everywhere that he blocked her.
He put a call across to her and Abideen was the one who picked the call.
“Where’s my wife?” Marwan asked.
Abideen hesitated before responding. He felt nothing but anger towards him for all he’d made his sister go through.
“She’s in the theatre. She just delivered three baby boys.” Abideen informed while Marwan screamed.
“Which hospital is she?” Marwan asked eagerly.
“She’s in OAUTHC, Ile-Ife.” Abideen informed reluctantly.
“Ife?” Marwan marveled and quickly added, “Alright, I’m coming right away.”
He said and ended the call. He rushed to the bathroom to have an express shower. He got out hurriedly and got dressed. He informed his family of the good news. They were all happy for him. He took to all his social media handles to break the news of his triplets. Within minutes, there were over a thousand reactions. He smiled proudly and grabbed the steering wheel. Off he went to bring the mother of his triplets home. The fight had ended. It was time to reconcile.
After Abideen ended the call with Marwan, he called their mother. Madam Ewatomi screamed happily on the phone. She set out on a journey to Ife immediately to see her daughter and her three grandchildren.
Marwan and Mrs. Ewatomilola got to Ife about the same time. They met Abideen on the floor weeping like a child. Aneesah could not make it. The operation was complicated. However, the three babies were hale and hearty.
Marwan burst into tears. Mrs. Ewatomilola burst into tears. They both cried uncontrollably. They lamented amidst hot tears. They wished they had done things differently.
Abideen stood up to them angrily. He spoke angrily to them amidst tears.
“Eni oki n shey ojo ekun eyin mejeeji. Why are you crying now that she’s gone? I thought her offense was too big to be forgiven. She lived her last days in pains and loneliness, in regret and agony. She wished for both of you to draw her closer after reprimanding her but that never happened till she breathed her last. The pregnancy was so complicated. She needed warmth from the man that put her in the family way but she never got it. She spent days in the hospital due to complications and waited for your calls everyday but she waited in vain. Even when the doctors were running helter skelter to save her life when she was bleeding so much, she had nothing to say except that both of you should forgive her. It’s too late to cry when the head is off.” Abideen said amidst tears.
Marwan and Madam Ewatomilola cried bitterly.
The triplets reminded Marwan of Aneesah every day of his life. He stared at them with guilt filled eyes. He was never there for their mom when she was undergoing the pains of pregnancy. He left her to bear it alone, now he hated himself so much. He learnt to always forgive his loved ones while they’re still breathing
What is that offense that is too hard for you to forgive? Forgive now when you still have your loved ones around before they become a painful memory instead of a sweet one.
LATEEFAH ADEWUNMI JUMAH;LAJFINGERS
AUGUST 1st 2021