Our marriage failed: now she wants to hide my daughter away

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We started from the top, the top where the beginning ends. People meet today and are in love. They follow the process until they’re married. After marriage, husband and wife stay under one roof to begin a family. Our story started from living together under one roof. She was posted to do her national service where I was living. Because I knew her from school, she called when she was struggling to get a place to stay for her service. I jokingly said: “You can come live with me here. It’s a chamber and hall. Take one, chamber or hall.”
So she moved in with me. Seven months later, she was pregnant. We started the marital journey from the top, the top where the end begins. I didn’t have a job that paid me well to take care of a woman and a child. I shivered. I cried. I cried for starting where angels fear to tread but I told her: “Let’s have it. Life would get better.” She believed in me. So, we started planning toward having a child together.
I had saved some money. It wasn’t much. She had no savings at-all. So, everything was on me. I called home to tell my parents that my wife was pregnant. My dad was angry. He expected something better from his first child, and I understood him. Mom simply asked: “Who’s this pregnant wife of yours that I am yet to meet for the first time?” I took Esi home and they were happy to meet her. Her belly wasn’t big. The pregnancy was like three months old. She was scared to confront her people with a pregnancy. So, she postponed meeting them, until she couldn’t hide what was in her belly.
She told her elder sister first and then it spread like wildfire. When her father called and asked who the man was, she said: “I live with him. He’s a good man.” Her father responded: “If he’s a good man then he will marry you.”
We outdoored our baby and our marriage the same day so that our child would be older than our marriage. That’s how it looks like when you start from the top where the beginning ends. Your children will be in your wedding photos.
I spent all my savings on our marriage so there was nothing left except the meager salary I was waiting to receive at the end of the month. When the going got tough, I called friends and they came to my aid. My wife was home. She completed service with a pregnancy so she couldn’t start looking for a job. Our child was too young to be left alone. So, she waited, jobless and broke. Her burden became my burden and when we started starving, she got angry. “You’re a man. Do something. Do you want us to die of hunger?”
She would call her sister for help. She was kind. She would visit us with a lot of baby foods and leave nothing for us. She was giving me a message. A message I decoded the very first time she brought us baby food. Baby had more than she could eat. So, when I was hungry, I stole some of the baby food. Cerelac finished earlier than expected. My wife got angry and it turned into a fight. “You’re a man. Do something before hunger devours us.”
There was a soap factory very close to where we lived. I spoke to the owner and he gave me a part-time job. After my day’s job, I would go to the soap factory and work for another five hours. That extra money went to my wife. But it was still not enough. So, out of hunger and anger, Esi went out there to look for a job. She would leave our ten month-old baby with our neighbour and step out on job hunt. She came home eventide with nothing but promises. She was wasting our little money on transportation that brought nothing home. So, I asked her to stop going out. It turned into a fight.
Lack of money is the reason most married couples fight. You don’t fight over what money can solve. You don’t wait until needs arrive. You solve it so your needs don’t turn into a fight. We didn’t have the means for our needs, so we always fought. And whenever we fought, I was reminded to be a man. A man is a man. When a woman reminds you to be a man, it means you’re losing your place in the family. Your hallowed spot in the family hierarchy is gradually being washed away when you’re reminded to be a man.
My wife soon had a job that came with a promising salary. I was happy for her. She was also happy for herself. In two years she was promoted twice. She became a manager. She was travelling all over the place and came home with a fat envelope at the end of every month. I stopped my soap job so I could stay home and take care of our girl while mom was out making magic happen. I washed. I cooked. I cleaned. I did what husbands do when it is the wife that usually brings home the bread. We had to rent a new place. My wife preferred a posh area in town. I felt it was too expensive. I thought we should rent a moderate place, save money to buy land and start our own building. I told her: “It’s too expensive. We can’t afford it. Why don’t we look…”
Before I could land, she retorted: “Too expensive for you but not me. We would get it.”
A few weeks later, we moved into our new home in a posh area. I felt out of place. People who lived in the place didn’t do my kind of job. I felt so small. I was a square peg floating on water looking for a square hole I could call my own. Our daughter was four. When we had to choose a school for her, I wasn’t consulted. I woke up one morning and my daughter was all dressed up for school. I had to accept that I’d lost my home. The politics had swayed. I’d lost my opinion. It was no longer a democratic dispensation.
So, I took a decision to be better, to look for something greater than what I was doing; to regain my voice and have my opinions respected. I left home early morning and came in very late. It was one of the things trying to be better does to your marriage. You can’t be a good husband and a father while you are trying to better yourself. The waves would carry you away and bring you back only when you let yourself go. You won’t be home often. You won’t be able to help your kid do her homework. You can’t help your wife because you have to help yourself first.
We fought about these things and because I couldn’t help it, I left the house. Two months later, I was served with a divorce. I didn’t blink. I didn’t fight. After all, what was there to take or fight for? I gave up the marriage so I could concentrate on building myself to become a good father to our daughter.
Things were not going according to plan but it was better than it used to be. The problem now is, Esi won’t allow me to see my daughter. She fought it in court and won. The court gave me some liberties as a father. I took it with grace but those liberties had been taken away by my ex-wife.
I had the right to see my daughter, spend weekends with her and take her back to her mom. I didn’t get to do that. She didn’t pick up my calls and anytime I showed up, I was told they were not around. I knew what she’s doing. I understood this game very well. She was trying to feed my daughter with one sided story. In the story, I’m the antagonist, the father who abandoned his daughter.
It’s a script I won’t allow to be written about me. I’ll keep fighting. I’ll keep competing for space in my daughter’s life. I won’t be the man who gave up and allowed his daughter to be stolen from him. Currently, I’m not able to pay her fees. It’s not my fault. I don’t have the money. If she consulted me, I would have taken her to a school where I could afford the fees. She tries to put the bar way beyond me, where I can’t reach up and touch but I’m building myself up. Slowly, the flag will unfurl and fly in the air. Then I’ll touch everything up above me.

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