Life as a widow: Sweet Beginnings
Kene, Kene I could not believe he was gone……. I was running frantically and screaming on top of my voice, I felt like the world had come to an end.
My Name is Labake Madu, widowed at 30 with two lovely kids….. I made up my mind to turn my mess into a message. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.
The Love Birds
Love has no boundary and it is the greatest force in the universe. This was the kind of love I shared with my late husband.
Ifeoma my best friend had invited me for a get together at her place (I am a bit of an introvert) I had to go because it was Ifeoma and we had been high school BFF from way back.
Kene came with his friend who was Ifeoma’s boyfriend, I guess Ifeoma had planned to match make me earlier on without my consent. Well, Jude, Ifeoma’s boyfriend introduced me to Kene and we got talking. I fell in love with Kene at first sight, he had this charm about him and his smile dazzled as he spoke softly.
Kene was from Imo state while I am from Ibadan in Oyo state. We soon became fond of each other and became lovebirds. We couldn’t lose sight of each other, most people knew we were dating and we could care less. We were lost in our world.
Most weekends, I spent in Kene’s house and we wouldn’t want to leave each other’s arms. Kene was sweet, sexy and romantic. He would make my meals, bathe me in the shower, care for me and provide money no matter the amount he received. I had access to his account and he would always apologize when he was wrong. Kene was every woman’s dream man.
After our university days, we tried to see if we could be posted for NYSC in the same state but it didn’t work.
Despite the distance, Kene and I visited each other frequently. I loved Kene with every breathe that I had and with every strand of hair on my body.
During our service year, we saved up money together so that we can start up a family… our plan was to get married after our service year.
After Nysc, Kene got a job to work in Stanbic IBTC but I was still in search of a job…..in between, we were already living as couples, so he proposed and I said YES!
We faced a lot of challenges getting married because we were from different tribes. Kene parents did not give their consent and in the period of waiting for them to give their consent, I got pregnant and we had to get married.
I was not welcomed by the family even after marriage. I was treated like an outcast but because of the love, I had for my husband I didn’t retaliate or complain to him.
My Journey to Widow island
I relied on my husband as the main decision-maker in the home. I gave birth to our lovely twins (A boy and a girl) Odinaka and Chika. Odinaka looked like his father while Chika looked like me… Kene loved them both and would refer to Chika as his new babe. Our home was filled with love, laughter, peace and joy.
One day, Kene fell ill and started treating for malaria but it instead got worse. He took the local herbs popularly called ‘agbo’ thinking it was an accumulation of malaria or yellow fever but he didn’t get better. We had to go to the hospital.
The doctor informed us that he had contracted hepatitis B and the herbs affected his liver. He had to be on admission but as days passed by, he got worse. Kene had complained of feeling a hot sensation in his body while on admission, and the doctor had assured us that he will get better.
I just stepped out of the hospital ward were my husband was to use the restroom and I got back to discover that his body was cold and his eyes were closed.
Kene! Kene! I called but no response. I raised an alarm and the nurses came and checked his body and said “Madam please can you step outside we want to attend to him”
At that time, I knew there was something wrong but I didn’t think it was death. I replied “what is the matter” and one of the nurses said he is fine! We will attend to you soon.
After a long wait, the doctor summoned me to his office and said “Your husband is dead as a result of the herbs he took. His liver was badly damaged. We are sorry we did our best”. My jaw opened and I didn’t know what happened next.
I found myself in a hospital bed was surrounded by my in-laws and my family. My sister told me that the doctor said that I fainted in his office. I was crying and my sister was consoling me. I could not sleep at night; they had to give me several shots of sedatives to enable me to sleep. I couldn’t believe I was now a widow. Just like that, one day I am with my husband and the next day I was a widow.
I was discharged from the hospital to enable me to prepare for the burial.
My widow experience
My husband was buried in his hometown in Imo state. I stayed back at the village to mourn him for 21 days and during that time, my hair was shaved off as it was believed that if a non- widow makes my hair, there is this fear that she will also lose her husband.
My in-laws took custody of my son and claimed that since my husband was the only son, his son belongs to the family and that I could go with the girl. I pleaded for them to have my son back but his brother refused and said he was going to make him learn a trade when he gets to the age of accountability.
A widow’s knight in shining armour
Ifeoma! ‘my knight in shining armour ‘I love personalizing that. Ifeoma had been my BFF since high school and was the reason why I met my beloved husband. I and Ifeoma will quarrel and come back as friends severally. There were this connecting dots that stuck us together.
After the demise of my husband, I and my daughter Chika lived with Ifeoma for two years without a job. My bills were on her, Ifeoma loved me like she was my blood. I went for several interviews via Ifeoma’s connection and finally got a job with Unilever with a very good pay.
During the times of distress, Ifeoma encouraged me and stood by me.Though I tried fighting to have my son I couldn’t. I went to different welfare and human right offices but they said that since I did not have a job that I could not be in custody of my son. My brother in law claimed that my son was in school and he was taking care of him. Meanwhile, he told me that he would put Odinaka in school when it is convenient for him.
Today, I am able to stand on my feet and I am currently fighting to get Odinaka back from my In-laws. Becuase I have a good job, I am making progress on that end.
I am a better and stronger woman today. I am encouraging anyone reading this article to hold on and don’t give up on your dream.
There is light at the end of the tunnel…It will end in praise.