By Uche Amunike
Last week, I wrote the first part of this piece. Interestingly, it generated a lot of controversy as I was bombarded with phone calls and text messages from our teeming readers. I did not intend writing a sequel to it, but because of the pressure on me by readers, I am compelled to do so.
It was a piece I wrote about an orphan, Ezinne, who grew up in an atmosphere of love and laughter with her only brother, mum and dad. They lived in Kano and life was good. That was until their mum, Mrs Ekwonye who was Asthmatic, gave up the ghost in 2014. In less than two years after that, her husband, Mr Ekwonye brought in a second wife. From the moment that move was made, things fell apart and their family never remained the same.
The second wife maltreated them to the point where they became outcasts in their own father's house. She made sure their father stopped paying their school fees and before long, her brother, Ebuka who was in his second year in the polytechnic had to drop out of school while Ezinne didn't even have the opportunity to go to the university, even though she passed jamb. They were fed most times by neighbours and because of how bad their hunger pangs were and how totally neglected they were both by their step mother and their dad, , they fled their home in Kano and ended up in their father's hometown in Mbaise.
While at Mbaise, they depended on kind relatives to survive as their father refused taking their calls, how much more, send them money for their upkeep. Ebuka had to go and learn a hand craft while Ezinne went to learn tailoring. It was at this point that news came to them that their father had passed on. Today, he is long dead and gone, his two children are suffering and his new wife is back in Kano, fully in charge of his business without helping to train those children notwithstanding the fact that she did not have a child of her own.
Now, the numerous readers that called me had a lot of varied opinions on whom to blame in the whole story. I blamed the late Mr Ekwonye for bringing the calamity that befell his family with his own hands. I was not too happy about the fact that he married almost immediately after his wife's death. If he truly loved his wife, he would have at least respected her memory before getting involved with another woman. He wouldn't have been hasty in getting involved so soon. If he wanted to marry so soon, then he should have been man enough to be able to control his new wife whenever she acted out of proportion.
Isn't it sad, though, that when a man dies, his widow will be more concerned about taking care of her children and protecting the family name unlike the case of men where their wives would still be in the mortuary and they move on with their lives as though nothing happened.
I went to my hometown over the weekend and saw one of my uncles whose wife passed on about a week prior and was still in the morgue. He was performing his duty as a Master of Ceremony at the burial ceremony I attended. I was shocked to say the least. You know the way MCs crack jokes and try to liven up the place so people can be happy and have a lot of laughter? Well, I watched him do that very happily and actually got very disturbed.
As I watched him from my seat, numerous questions filled my mind. How come his wife is dead for only five days and he is happily trying to make people laugh? Shouldn't he be home receiving visitors that were still coming around to commiserate with him over her death? I tried picturing the scenario where people came with heavy hearts to condole a widower just a few days after his wife's demise, only to be told that he was out there in the field. What picture does it portray to the outside world? If I went to a widower's home to pay my condolences to his family and was told he went to make other people laugh, I will see him as irresponsible.
Unfortunately, we live in a man's world and everything they do wrong is always defended or adjudged right. I can't imagine a woman going to work five days after her husband death.
People would even accuse her of being responsible for killing him. In fact, she won't even dare. So, what are we talking about? We're talking about a couple bound together in matrimony and eventually separated by death only for one of them to be in a hurry to hook up with someone else. We're looking at the manner in which the institution of marriage is being mocked by the conduct of certain couples.
I remember one of my readers that called to give his opinion on last week's piece. He completely blamed the Late Mr Ekwonye's second wife for the misfortune that befell the family. His take was that Mr Ekwonye did no wrong by marrying a second wife. According to him, the story would have had a happy ending had the second wife been a good woman. He did not blame him for marrying merely two years after his first wife's demise, saying that the only reason why it became an issue was that he ended up marrying a bad wife. He was not happy about the way the children's education and general well being was handled but blamed the second wife for it.
Another male reader told me that it was not a bad decision on the part of the man to remarry. He said that it was better for him to remarry than to date different women and run the risk of contacting all sorts of venereal diseases, especially the HIV Virus. He said it was probably for reasons of companionship that made him walk down the aisle a second time. I had a few questions for this reader of mine, however. How many women remarry after they lose their husbands in order to avoid dating different men or contacting venereal diseases?
Again, is there any widow who doesn't need companionship, or who isn't lonely? How many of them remarry because of those reasons? You see, it all boils down to the same point of women being the ones cheated in all these case studies. We truly live in a man's world. Every widow I know prefers to stay put and take care of her kids. As a matter of fact, marriage is usually the last thing on the mind of any woman who becomes widowed. They are usually more interested in upholding the legacies left by their dead spouses and trying to fulfill every wish or plan they made together, especially as it concerns the children.
I will however also state that most times, these problems come up when the woman in question does not have good upbringing. A woman who comes from a good home will naturally embrace the values of peace in the home. Where there is no peace, she ensures that there is peace. She makes her personal standards as the woman in the house to be significant and valuable to the family she found herself married into. She would nurture the home and even take the conscious decision to keep that family in one piece even though the mother of those two children was dead.
I expected her as the second wife and new mother to those children to be a soothing balm to them and their father. She should have warmed their hearts and gained their trust and loved them naturally. Since she doesn't have a child of her own, she should have raised the bar by building their expectations on the personal standards or principles she set in the home, knowing that society would beam their lenses on her the moment she took over as the new Mrs Ekwonye. If she meets up with their expectations, the entire family will meet her at that point and accept her as the pillar that holds their peace and happiness together. If she doesn't live up to their expectations, then she'll be labeled a bad wife like she presently is.
I want to advise women, generally. If you take good care of a child that is not biologically yours, the blessings that come with it is unquantifiable. Again, if you are married into any family, you should be a bridge builder, motivator, source of peace/happiness/love and also the heart of that family. Every time anything wrong happens in a family, a woman is blamed.
That's why it is very necessary for women to discover their purpose in their families and work towards fulfilling that purpose. I talked about setting standards and gaining significance in the home. It can happen when you harness your potentials in order to manifest as a woman that carries the seed of great impact in the family.
I however insist that men should try and accord more respect to the memories of their deceased wives. Ezinne's father didn't do well by remarrying less than two years after her death. If he died first, she wouldn't have married so soon no matter how lonely she is. So, it's a great lesson for everyone reading this. Marriage is a great institution. Anyone that passes through it should have some level of wisdom, restraint and piety in order to successfully weather some of its numerous storms.
I can only pray that the souls of the late Mr and Mrs Ekwonye continue to rest in peace and that their children, Ezinne and Ebuka be blessed in all their life endeavours. May it be well with them, through Christ our Lord, Amen!