After eight (8) years of ascending and descending mountains, I walked down the aisle that fateful Saturday. I’ll save the ascending and descending part of my life for another day. Before I said ‘I DO’, my mind was made up despite the uncertainties of what the future held for us; the smooth paths, the rough roads and the manholes like you would find on our Ghanaian roads. But in all this, I felt this preserved joy that being admitted into the institution of marriage could bring. Then, the life long journey began.
Some few years into married life, our beautiful union started to grind to a halt. I know you will be asking why or what happened to living happily ever after. Well, if you are wondering it was a divorce, the answer is No! It was death. Death took my man from me at an early age and I didn’t see it coming.
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Usually when I get home from work later in the evenings, I knock on the main door and hubby comes out to let me in. On a particular Tuesday evening, the feeling became different! The usual knock on the main door went unanswered after several attempts. I didn’t know what to think and gave myself some time peradventure he was in deep slumber. Then a cold shiver began to take over my body, amidst many thoughts making their way into my mind. Then it finally dawned on me that the unimaginable had happened.
A series of unanswerable questions began to surface.
- Why me?
- Why should this be happening at my young age?
- Couldn’t it have lasted a little longer? Just a little bit longer!
- Did I adequately express how much this person meant to me?
- Did I make him feel loved enough?
- Are my house people responsible?
Folks, the questions were endless, yet none was answered
The situation comes along with its own symptoms; the fears, sleepless nights, nightmares, indescribable pain, uncontrollable tears, and loss of appetite. Topping the icing on the bitter cake was a majestic entry of a litany of inconsiderate utterances from people. Interestingly, these are not from distant people, but from close relations.
Adding to the already created misery, false accusations are applied to the fresh wound. Oh yes! Hasn’t it always been the woman who kills her husband? Has it ever been the other way round even when it is obvious? Meetings were held without the widow being present. Why should she be invited anyway? What does she have to offer when she’s too young in years to make any meaningful input? As a matter of fact, she’s responsible or has a hand in what happened. Moreover, he is our son, why should she be here?
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Funeral planning shenanigans
Fast forward, funeral date is set months after the tragedy. Is there any peculiar reason why we put people through such anxiety for so long all in the name of making preparations towards a funeral? Should taking a decision on the burial of the lifeless body of a loved one take forever? I mean, why not be swift about it to help ease the pain (somehow), than being constantly reminded that your loved one still lies helplessly in some cold and isolated cubicle? Ebusua do efunu ampa (families love corpse indeed).
Throughout these months of pain, I never got to go to the mortuary even before the final day. With my little knowledge about funerals and its preparations, a woman buys soap, towels, sponge, perfumes, powder, etc. to be used for the final bath of her late husband. In the event where they had children, the children buy the coffin for their late father. In my situation, there were no children; however, I was not allowed to contribute a penny or take part in getting anything for my late husband as my last sign of love, respect and appreciation to him.
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Instead, I am ‘hailed’: Here comes the witch, murderer, the one who has deprived us of our daily bread. What good impact would such words have on you than severely piercing directly into your heart? The hurt is indeed overwhelming; lacking words to explain how it really feels.
‘Family People for you’
Few days after the death, where you’re fortunate, it will take a couple of weeks for you to become the worst thing that ever happened to their son and to the entire family. At this point, everyone has something to say. Funny enough, they tend to know it all; the ones who advised him not to marry this little witch, the ones who knew this was going to happen because he had a supposedly “big” wedding that attracted evil eyes from the woman’s family. Wait. Only the woman’s family possess people with evil eyes huh! Such shallowness! Upfront envy!
There were those who also threaten to prove that you are the cause of the death of their son and they will accomplish that before you are done with the widowhood rites. Guess what, that prove is still being waited for. If God be for us, who can be against us?
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The madness called tradition
Another phase emerges during the burial programme; the rites and demands of the widow. Whoa! I’d give you just a tip of the iceberg. Bathing of the corpse became a necessity, folks. At least in my case, the funeral home didn’t agree to it. I thought I had escaped the trauma of having to hold the legs of my late husband or watch him being bathed for, but upon reaching the village, his family insisted tradition is tradition and MUST be followed religiously.
Tradition you say? How different is this from cruelty, abuse or deliberate torture? Imagine being told that if you as the widow are unable to do it, it means you cheated on your husband. How does that sink into the mind of a rational thinker? For crying out loud, would you allow your daughter my age to go through such immense pain and torture?
Have you ever thought of the psychological effects all these happenings could have on the widow? I’ve been wondering, is there a reason why the family insists on putting the rings in the coffin, because they claim the man paid for them and so he owns them even in death? Unfathomable! These things are absurd! No two ways about that.
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As for the ill treatments and the “killer-looks” nu di??, my people, that is a ten-chaptered book to be read another day. Some day we will tell the story better than we have now. God give us strength.
Special thanks to God for the very people who stood by me through it all; family, friends and strangers turned family. Thank God also for the grand exposé of disguised loved ones.
In the silence of our hearts, shall we find happiness and smiles from memories long lived and make beautiful and fond memories with people, because you never know when they will bow out from the stage.
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Maybe we will give it a shot again, maybe not. But whatever the future may hold, we have lived, still living and will continue to live by the best option life has to offer.