“Six wives rape their husband to death in Nigeria.” ~ News Headline, July 2012
“The eldest wife has prestige the other wives can only dream about,” my husband once told me. And like the foolish attention-starved girl I was, I believed him. But I was first only in his chain of free housemaids and baby machines. We married when I was 16, and before the sun set on my 25th birthday, I had birthed eight of his children. Somehow I flourished in that existence until one morning I realized I hated my husband; and my loyalty to him, along with my reason, like the twigs I used to cook his Ofada stew, crackled and went up in flames.
Wife # 4
To not be the first wife and know you won’t be the last is an agony no woman should have to bear. But I did. I endured all those nights when he was with another wife, or came home from the city reeking with the scent of a woman who didn’t smell like any of us.
“What do you want for your birthday this year, sister?” Second Wife asked me a few weeks ago.
“Our husband’s respect,” I answered.
Her laughter sent bush larks flying from the trees.
“Child, please. We’d have to kill him before that happened.”
We stopped. We stared at each other. And just like that, our husband’s final walk to his grave had begun.
When they burst in, he was writhing on top me like a hippo sunbathing in mud, his sweaty beer-swollen stomach almost crushing my ribcage. I prayed to any god listening to please stop this. As if in reply, I peered from beneath my husband’s bulk to see the five other wives glaring at him. He rolled off of me and hollered, “What the hell are you all doing here?”
No answer. Instead, Wife #3 said, “Get him.” The wives dropped their robes, striding toward the bed like the separate limbs of one huge lioness, their skin gleaming in the moonlight. Whatever juju they conjured got into me, because a sudden power replaced my fear. I straddled our husband and saw not a man but a prison door I was about to shatter to set myself free.
You want me to tell you I’m sorry, but I’m not. Not even now. Not even here, below the earth where Chango’s thunder rattles my bones like a calabash. I was a man, and I had every right to live like one. My wives should have respected me more, but with the way I treated them, I’m not surprised. Every decision I made was based not on their well-being, but my flesh. So I guess it was only fitting that they killed me with theirs. We all must die sometime. And my wives knew just what to do to conquer my insatiable lust and break my stubborn, stony heart until it bled at last and begged death for mercy.
published 1 April 2013