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Love, trust and betrayal

How much can you trust your spouse with your friend? The more I think about it, the more confused and confounded I get. Many things have changed about love, relationship and marriage from the way we grew up to know it. In fact, the basic rules guiding the interpersonal relationship anywhere in our society seems to have disappeared.

No longer are many of us interested in being our brother’s keeper or doing unto others what we wish done to us. Self-respect, trust, truth, selflessness, moral decorum, societal values, shame, all seem to have taken flight. Many of us have become very selfish and uncaring about our actions and their implications on our fellow human beings and society, including and especially those we call our friends. We have become less than animals in our struggle for survival and quest for the good things of life.

The end justifies the means, we say. And sometimes, the means can be as crass as downright dirty to downright evil. It is now a case of everyone for himself/herself and God for (the smart) us all. Nothing can be as demoralising, debasing and heartbreaking as having someone you consider a friend and soulmate stab you in the back. And in a most callous manner.

Such is the story of Elizabeth and her husband, Dejo, who had been married for about 14 years when he walked out of their marriage. What happened and the way it was executed have continued to have tongues wagging in the area, several months after the shocking development was unravelled. According to Adejoke, a friend who lived in the same compound with the couple, the duo had been having problems for a few months before the ill-fated day. Initially, everyone assumed it was the normal little things couples bicker over which ought not to amount to anything serious since they were married and supposed to be committed to each other. But later, more specific things bothering on cheating and finance, home keeping and so on, started filtering out. The lady had always been the least friendly in the compound, so many suspected that it was not very comfortable for her to share her problems with anyone. As weeks rolled by, she became more hostile and tried even harder to avoid everyone. A few days before the bubble finally, burst, the couple had a mild but worrisome drama in full public glare.

As the husband was setting out for work early one morning, his wife came rushing down in her nightgown and a pair of bathroom slippers. She quickly opened the front passenger door and dived into the car. Naturally, an argument ensued and the husband got out of the car ordering her to respect herself. Her intention, it was later gathered, was to prevent him from going out that day. Two other men came out from their flats to talk to her but she refused to budge, insisting that they had unresolved issues and he must step back into their flat so they could iron things out. But to everyone’s horror, the man got into the car and drove off with her still in the car, almost naked. That incident confirmed to everyone that something serious was going on. Mummy Emma, as she was called, returned home almost two hours later, still in her nightgown and bathroom slippers. Two weeks later, the compound was woken up from sleep at about 2.30am when a big haulage truck drove in. A couple of guys got down and soon, movements were heard of stuff being moved into the truck. By dawn, they were done. Daddy Emma drove after them with all their three children inside the car.

At that point, everyone thought they had moved without bothering to say goodbye to anyone. Mummy Emma’s car was still parked in the compound, so, they assumed they would come back for it. It took several days for co-tenants to realise that she had been left behind. All alone by herself in the flat. Shame and shock had prevented her from shouting and drawing more public ridicule to herself. To make matters worse, unfortunately, something had snapped in her mind and head and she had succumbed to serious depression. Her family eventually came to evacuate her and that was when the gist of what had really happened was revealed. The poor woman had discovered that her only friend had been having an affair with her husband. The pregnancy she’d been made to believe belonged to her friend’s husband who was resident in London, was actually Dejo’s, her husband. Even the car that she was informed was sent by the friend’s London-based husband, was actually bought by Daddy Emma. The truth is that while their friendship lasted, her husband was also in another kind of friendship with her friend. Her friend’s “marriage” to a man living several thousands of miles across the oceans had long since died and nobody informed her. Yet, they were supposed to be the best of friends. It was so shocking and unbelievable, and it affected the morale of other women in the compound.

A few months later, one of the neighbours ran into Daddy Emma and had a story to tell. Daddy Emma claimed his wife was an evil woman who wanted to kill him for his property; that she had been visiting spiritualists to ensure that once they moved into their recently completed duplex, he would lose his mind or die and she could inherit the house. Did he catch her with the items or at the spiritualists? According to him, he had somebody monitoring her and giving him updates on her activities. Could this be the same friend that he has been rumoured to have run away with? Yes, but she actually was his saviour, he’d announced — she truly loves him and his children and it is to her that he owes his life! Had she not been there for him, he probably would be dead by now. (Hmmm!) From this point, it was easy to figure out what must have happened in the love triangle. A chain of deceit, lies, treachery and evil manipulations had been woven together to bring about the destruction of human life by two of the closest people to her!

Similar stories of jaw-dropping and eye-bulging effects now dot our society, making a mockery of love, marriage, friendship and relationship in general. From one story to another, it is a web of betrayal, back-stabbing, heart-wrenching and gory detail of man’s wickedness to another. The act of cheating has been taken to dizzying heights. It is no longer the domain of men, but married women, some of whom are not even ashamed to discuss their escapades and justify their actions in the open. Until our advent into monogamy, cheating in marriage, for the African man, was not an issue for serious discourse. The African man has a right by culture and tradition to have as many wives and concubines as he is capable of acquiring. His ability to meet all their needs is often irrelevant in many cases too. It was just a part of the norm. But it was taboo for the women, and they accepted their lot as dictated by their husbands.

Perhaps, monogamy has changed the status of the African woman and the terms and the conditions of marriage. Aptly assisted by industrialisation, technology, education and financial leverage or independence for women, cheating in relationships has taken on an identity of its own — many women now feel they can have any man they fancy. True, but why should one descend as low as cheating with a spouse’s friend? Why would a sister, finding no other man, pounce on her sister’s husband? Why would a mother, under the pretence of assisting her daughter, help herself to some warmth from her son-in-law? Why would a maid sleep with her madam’s husband and even overthrow her? Why bed the neighbour when the chances are high that you could be ratted out dishonourably? All of these acts break the bonds of relationship, trust, love, kinship and can only bring pain. If you must have an affair, why do it without decorum or respect for yourself or those who hold you in high esteem and respect? If you must cheat, why do it with someone who has a relationship with your spouse? A stranger would definitely not hurt as much. Though the trappings of such secret affairs may make them attractive and pleasurable, the accompanying shame and destruction that follow once caught make it all the more debasing and evil. Chief Ebenezer Obey in one of his evergreen albums captures this sort of affairs succinctly saying it only brings one to disrepute in the society.

So, why do we still fall into such odious pits? Sociologists have attributed it to all sorts of things, ranging from lust to jealousy and envy, resentment, curiosity, adventure, greed and covetousness, nonchalant attitude and even down to bare-faced hatred. Yes, it is not easy to play the role of a madman without being high on some stimulant of the sort, a Yoruba saying translates. This is why the guilty will want to do everything possible to cover up their tracks and coup up the most ridiculous of excuses for their irresponsible behaviour. For Daddy Emma, his wife wanted to kill him! Satan is most cases is the fall guy as he is often fingered as being responsible when all other excuses refuse totally. If only he can speak up for himself sometimes!
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section.

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