Sweet Potatoes, this is how my marriage ended. But before you start reading this post, I want to appeal to you to do me a favor: SHARE THIS POST. On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Skype, Email, Every-Damn-Where because everyone should know. There are share buttons at the bottom of the post for your convenience. This is a long post. I tried to make it as short as possible, but it’s still long because story full ground. Read on. Then share. Thank you.
I will write this story keeping in mind that for some people, this may be the first thing they are reading from me, so they may not be familiar with the people I’m talking about. Let’s start from the beginning.
I will refer to the person I used to be married to as The Boy. The Boy and I got married in 2011, and we had a baby (Ada Verastic) in 2015. He’s Yoruba. I’m Igbo. Maryland, USA is the setting for all this nonsense.
In 2016, right before Ada Verastic turned one, The Boy’s mother moved from Nigeria to America to live with us. It was not an idea I was thrilled about, but I came around to being okay with it. I was planning on leaving my job after having the baby (to work more on the blog), and The Boy said his mom would be a good addition, that she could care for the baby while I worked. I told The Boy that she could stay as long as I was not expected to change my life because she was now living with me. He agreed, said he was nervous too about her coming.
Side note: The Boy was not raised by his mother. She and The Boy’s father had him while they were very young. The Boy’s father never married her. He moved on, married a woman, and had three sons with her. The Boy’s mother moved on, but apparently, only physically. She had more children, each one with a different man. None of these men married her either. When The Boy was 7 months old, she abandoned him with his paternal grandfather and continued bearing children for any man who was brave enough to enter. So, the boy was in his twenties when his father introduced him to his mother.
She moved into my home in October 2016. Less than two weeks later, The Boy lost his job. According to him, he did nothing. They just fired him. I believed him because he was my husband, and he had not given me any reason to doubt him. Now, remember, I did not have a regular job at this time. All I had was income from my blog, which was inconsistent. Sometimes, it was a lot, and other times, it was barely there.
For six months, the boy did not have a job. We survived on the chicken change from unemployment benefits and from my savings. I was (still am) excellent at saving, so although I was not officially working, I had money. Every month, I’d transfer the needed funds for the month’s bills.
In April of 2017, I went back to work. It was a position that fell into my lap. I did not apply for the job, and I was hired based on my writing skills on the blog. The position was a three-month contract position for a Communications Specialist. The contract was extended once, but I eventually lost the job in August of the same year. The Boy also started a new six-figure job in April, after I started mine.
Before he got the job, however, The Boy’s mother – shall we call her The Witch? – told him that she saw a vision from God, that God told her that his father was responsible for his job loss, that his father was mad that he brought her to America. Several times, The Boy and I had arguments over this issue. The so-called vision made no sense to me. I asked him, why would your father “attack” you now? He’s the one who sent money to your grandpa to take care of you. And he’s the one who filed for you to be in America. And you have been here all these years. Why would he do this now? And if truly he attacked you, how come you got another job? Has the attack worn off? I was told that I did not understand, that I grew up rich, that I was asking too many questions and speaking too much English, that I did not understand how Yoruba people act.
During his six-month unemployment period, his business partner called a meeting in which he basically kicked The Boy out of the company. The Boy told me that it was because his business partner (let’s call him Ade) had discovered that The Boy was building a house in Nigeria, in his mother’s village, Ogere, and the business partner was jealous. It made no sense to me, especially because this business partner was also his closest friend who had otherwise been extremely supportive. Again, I believed him, and against my better judgment, I silenced all the voices in my head that were speaking too much English.
About two years prior to this, Ade and his wife had unfortunately suffered a miscarriage. So, when Ade kicked The Boy out of the business, The Witch said she saw a vision from God, that God had told her that Ade’s wife would never conceive, that there was something in her belly that tied her womb up. The Boy rejoiced because he believed that this was a punishment from God to Ade. I prayed for Ade and his wife. I did not like him anymore because he was allegedly jealous of my husband for the house he was building in the village, but as a mom, I prayed that Ade and his wife would have children.
Side note about this house in the village: I saw it when I went to Nigeria in 2016. It was located in the middle of a swamp. There was no road to get to it, and we had to drive on heavy mud to get to it. It was so bad that when we got there, I refused to come down from the car in my shoes. I did not want to ruin my shoes in that mud. Someone else had to take their shoes off for me to wear. Sure, you may call me an Ajebota. I have learned to not be sorry for being an Ajebota. Yes, I am. The house was a complete mess. It was not going according to the blueprint, but I did not care too much because (1) It was located in the village of Ogere, and I knew I’d never live there, and (2) I was never in support of building this house. I wanted a house where I lived in Maryland.
While The Witch lived with me, she always saw visions for me. Like when she said I should not wear anything red for a certain amount of time. Or when she said I should ALWAYS obey my husband, no matter what. Or when even before she lived with me, she said she knew the gender of the baby we were having. We did not know Ada Verastic’s gender until she was born, but The Witch said she knew it. When asked what the gender was then, she refused to say. After she was told it was a girl, she said she knew it, that God showed her the color pink in a dream. The day she moved into my home, she looked out the window of her bedroom and said that she recognized the tree, that God had shown her that tree in a vision.
The Boy and The Witch got into serious arguments all the time, and I was left being a verbal referee. I figured they were clashing because she did not raise The Boy, and this was them – two adults – getting to know each other. Several times, The Boy threatened to bundle her back to Nigeria. I begged him not to. Once, I even got on my knees to beg. You cannot throw your mother out , I begged. Be patient with her , I pleaded. Be mindful of how you speak to her , I warned.
Things were changing between The Boy and I. Our sex life was almost non-existent. At first, it happened because of hormones from being pregnant and bearing a child, but soon, it became more. No matter what The Boy did, I could not get my body to react. My doctor said it was childbirth, that I should give it some time. I had absolutely no desire to have sex with The Boy.
It did not matter how he touched me or where he stuck his tongue, I was as dry as a desert. Lubricants became our norm. Still, the sex was passionless, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. He complained, understandably. I also stopped initiating sex. How could I initiate that which I did not want? To appease him, I’d try to trick myself into being aroused. I’d watch porn to get me wet, then I’d run off to him to quickly “get it done” before the feeling disappeared, but there was no tricking my mind. My mind knew what I was doing, and it always snitched to my body, so by the time I’d get to The Boy, I was already back to square one: fucking dry. And then I’d feel guilty for watching porn. It was a continuous cycle.
In my house, The Witch saw many more visions. She told him that he’d be a king. Of where? I don’t know. He believed it so much that he said he’d be the biggest king in Nigeria, that he’d be so big that when presidents of other nations came into Nigeria, they’d come to pay him a visit before visiting the president of Nigeria, and that his throne would have a branch office in Aso Rock. Together, they’d obsessively watch videos of the Ooni of Ife, scrutinizing his looks. The Boy would tell his mother what kind of outfit he wanted at his own coronation, and she’d hail him, call him Kabiyesi. On his birthday in October 2017, I told the boy to kneel so I could pray for him. He refused to kneel, said that kings don’t kneel for people. I cannot make this up.
Long ago, I was in nursing school. I hated nursing school, but I quite enjoyed the clinical part of Psychiatric Nursing. We got to sit with the patients, listen to their delusional stories, and write about them (nurse’s notes). That was my favorite part. When that patient told me that she saw and spoke to the devil, I understood that she had a mental illness. Or I hoped it was indeed a mental illness anyway. But sitting in my own home, listening to The Boy and The Witch display their active delusions of grandeur, it was not funny or entertaining anymore. I was worried. Worried for my life. Worried for my daughter. Worried for my future.
The Boy told me to be excited that he’d soon go to Nigeria to claim his chieftaincy title (different from the kingship), that I, too, would be Chief Mrs. His-Last-Name. I was somewhere between amused and disgusted. First of all, I did not even have his last name. Second of all, I had never expressed any interest in being Chief Mrs. Anything. And lastly, I feared for the diabolical implications of a chieftaincy title. My fears were dismissed because again, I was an Ajebota who did not know anything. Oh, and he said that I would be respected by my Sweet Potatoes on IG once they knew I was a Chief Mrs, and I would wear a hat with a feather in it. Me, Vera? Hat with feather?
In August of 2017, we went for a traditional wedding. When we came home, we had an argument, and I don’t remember now how the argument started or what it was even about. He was really angry. I insisted that we talk about it, resolve it immediately, but he did not want to. I wouldn’t let him leave the room, so he hit me. Of course, I moved then. I screamed when he hit me – from the shock, not the pain. I barely slept that night. I cried, slept, woke up to cry some more, slept again, repeatedly. In the morning, I contemplated calling the police, but I did not. That day, we had to go to a wedding (the white wedding of the traditional wedding we attended the night before). It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I had promised a friend that I would be there for this wedding. So, I went. My mind was not with my body that night. I’ll dedicate a separate post to this wedding. It will be titled, A Tale of Two Weddings (And One Dress) .
The Boy never apologized for hitting me. But weeks later, when I “recovered,” I brought the conversation up. I told the boy that if he ever put his hands on me again, he would get a different response from me. He said he hoped I never “made” him do it again.
In November 2017, the boy traveled to Nigeria. It was a “business” trip. Against my advice, he had built an app. He got a credit card, hired developers in India and max’d the card out. He said the trip was successful, that “people” knew his name now. I did not and still do not know who these people are.
When he returned from Nigeria, I cooked some vegetable (efo) soup and some fried rice. I assumed he’d eat the efo because he never picked rice over efo. To my surprise, he chose to eat the rice. I thought nothing of it. I assumed that he was possibly fed up with eating efo in Nigeria. But he was acting really strangely. He slept with the lights on. He wore a long white gown that I had never seen to sleep. He was on edge, irritable. We had an argument and he finally told me why he was mad at me. It was because when I came to the airport with Ada Verastic and The Witch to pick him up, he said I let The Witch push the cart with his luggage on it. I asked him, who owns the cart and who owns the mother? If you did not like her pushing the cart, why didn’t you stop her?
Let me rewind back a little bit. While The Witch lived with me, the only job I asked her to do was to take care of my baby. I never asked her to do dishes or cook, or do laundry, or clean anything. She chose to do those things herself, except the laundry. I did everyone’s laundry. Apart from her puff puff, I never ate anything The Witch cooked in my house because she could not cook worth a damn.
Before I went to her house in Nigeria, the boy forewarned me, told me that his mother could not cook, but that I should manage the food. He has told a lot of lies, but this was not one of them. I nearly threw up in my mouth. My mom begged me to pretend to eat. I could not. I told them I was full, that I had just eaten. It was a lie. I was starving. In my home, I told The Witch that if she ever did not feel like eating what I had in the fridge, she was welcome to cook anything. And she did. She cooked egusi with meatballs seasoned for pasta. The stench of the flavors mixed together was nauseating. She ate yam with peanut butter. I could not care less. I only had one request: that the food not be fed to my child. Her son, however, was free to eat whatever she cooked. He didn’t.
She made side comments about The Boy only wanting to eat my food. She questioned where I bought my clothes, said she wanted my type of clothes. She asked what lotion I used, that my skin was too fresh. She asked why I had so many clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and was I selling them. Once, I pricked my finger on a piece of dry fish and it began to bleed. She said, “ Ah, Mommy Ada, see as your blood is smooth.” Funmie’s mom said I should have said, “Yes, it’s smooth, but it’s very bitter. In fact, you cannot taste it.” Funmie’s mom is savage.
Too many times, she expressed her awe of me. She could not believe I ate corn flakes as a child. Or that I was born in Russia. Or that I had never eaten certain mixtures, like meat and garri. Or that I had never bought fish crumbs on the roadside in Nigeria. Or that I disliked the smell of fish. Or that I did not eat the organs of meat (like the kidneys, heart, eyes, etc). Or that my mom had a food menu for each week. Or that my mother worked and had a car. Or that I refused to tie iro and bubu (wrapper and blouse). She even made a comment about how my daughter only loved her mother (me). Before nko?
After The Boy came back from Nigeria and we had that argument, I refused to give in. I’m not a fighter. I tend to always end the fight first because chaos is uncomfortable. This time, however, I refused to yield. One day, another argument ensued and I asked him if he was still interested in this marriage. He shouted no. I said, say no more. I went into our bedroom, called my aunt, and said, “Aunty, my marriage is over.” And because my mother did not raise a fool, I immediately packed up all the documents that meant anything to me (passports, social security cards, birth certificate, documents for my car, etc), and I took them out of the house.
He found out about a week later. He confronted me in the living room. I confirmed that I took them. He asked what was supposed to happen to us now. I told him that I had given him everything I had to give him, and that I was empty now. I told him I had worked for the marriage as much as I could, and that now, I was ready to meet him wherever he wanted to go. The Witch was in her room, and her door was open, so I knew she could hear us. I told him that love was the only reason why we were where we were. If I did not love him, The Witch would not be under my roof. At most, I told him, she would be my mother’s help – if my mother would have her. I ended my speech by telling him that he and his mother were not on my level. Sometime in the future, he tried to get me to recant what I said about them not being on my level, but I refused. He patronized me, said I must have said it in anger. Nope. I told him I said what I meant and I meant what I said, and I was standing by my words.
By the way, before all this, I suspected that he and his mother were discussing me, so I started recording their conversations. I don’t speak Yoruba, so they spoke freely in front of me. I got so much dirt on them. I’d send the conversations to my Yoruba friends, and they would scream and interpret.
In one conversation, for example, The Witch told The Boy that I had gotten too big for them, that they needed to clip my wings. In another conversation, The Boy told his mother that he would kick me out of the house if I did not leave, and The Witch supported, said yes, that is what you must do. In another conversation, he spoke very disrespectfully about his father, and The Witch said she would deal with The Boy’s father. The boy agreed. I recorded them for weeks and did not react. If I had said something, I’d have lost access to my data and receipts, so I played their game, pretended not to know what they were saying, kept them talking.
This story is a lot, so I’m jumping all around and writing things as I remember them. That day The Boy hit me, The Witch did nothing. She said nothing. The weeks The Boy and I were not talking, she said nothing and did nothing. One day (after I took the documents), she called a meeting to ask what the problem was. That entire conversation was recorded. I played along with them, pretended to be having a meeting with them. The Boy screamed, NO WOMAN WILL CONTROL ME IN MY HOUSE! Then The Witch asked why I took the documents, if we were fighting. I responded, No, this is war. But I did not tell them what I knew.
Thanks to the recordings, I knew she was traveling to Chicago to visit The Boy’s aunt. They did not tell me and did not intend to tell me. But that day, on December 19th, 2017 when the boy returned from work and was ready to go drop her off at the airport, I asked her where she was going. She said she was going “somewhere” for Christmas. I asked, “Won’t you take the rest of your things?” I advised her to take her things because that day was going to be her last time in my house. My blood was boiling, Sweet Potatoes. I smacked my palm on the table and dared her to try me. I would finish her if she returned. That day was the last day I set my eyes on her.
The Boy asked if I was asking his mother to leave. Iya mi? He asked. Yes. He took her to the airport. On his way back, he stopped at a friend’s house. Let’s call him John. Meanwhile, John had called him several times in the past few weeks, trying to talk to him about our situation. In one of the recordings I had, The Witch is telling him not to go to John’s house. On this day, however, he goes to John’s house and apologizes for not calling him back, says that he was sick. Little did he know that John was one of my interpreters, that John already knew he was lying, that John had already heard The Witch telling him not to come. The Witch had even reigned curses on John and his family.
While he was at John’s house, I got a sudden urge to search The Witch’s room. She had two pieces of luggage, both locked. I went into the laundry room and brought the hammer. I broke the lock of the first luggage. In it, I found his degrees. He had hidden them there after I took my own documents. I also found a worn, dirty underwear that belonged to The Witch. I did not understand why she’d save that there, but I zipped the luggage back up and returned the hammer. I walked out of the laundry room and felt in my spirit that I needed to open the second luggage. So I went back, got the hammer, and broke the second lock. It was full of clothes. I almost zipped the bag and walked away, but I decided to move some clothes around. And that was when my heart almost left my body.
Juju [Voodoo]. A calabash with feathers on it. Two bottles of black liquid. Two bowls with unknown substances in them. I did not open to see. I was freaking out!! I had never seen juju when it was not on a TV screen. Yet, here it was, in my home, in 2017. I tried to take a picture on my phone. My hands were so shaky; I took a video instead. In it, I’m screaming blood of Jesus! I eventually took a picture. I called The Boy’s father. He screamed on the phone, said “This woman wants to kill my son!”
His father said he was on the way. Meanwhile, the boy came home with John in tow. When he came home, the first thing he did was go into his mother’s room to check on her stuff. Then he came back to the living room where John tried unsuccessfully to talk to us both. I was livid. I was shaking. Angry. Confused. I called The Boy a fool, amongst other things. He looked shocked, I had never called him names. In all the years we were married, I never called the boys names, never insulted him, even when he said unkind things to me, but today, the gloves were off, and I realized that it was impossible to speak to him any other way.
When the boy heard me talking to his father on the phone, he said he was leaving, that he was not going to be told what to do in his own house. I called his father back, told him The Boy was leaving. He said I should show him the luggage then. I ran into The Witch’s bedroom and dragged the luggage out. I opened it in front of The Boy and John, told him to see what his mother was doing. What I expected was for the boy to jump back in shock, scream Blood of Jesus like me. Instead, the boy defended it, tried to convince John that it was not juju. By the way, John is a full-blown Yoruba man, so of course, he knew it was juju. Sweet Potatoes, the shock of The Boy defending the juju was more than the original shock of finding it.
John refused to look at the juju, lest he be blind. In his anger and humiliation, The Boy pushed me hard. This time, I was ready for him. I called 911, told them I wanted to report an assault. The boy dragged his mother’s luggage – the one with the juju – and fled. Police came and took my statement. Then they put out a warrant for his arrest. His father came too, looking tired and hurt. This was his son.
The next day, I called the security company and changed the code on the alarm before heading out to court to file a protective order. I knew nothing of what this order was. The police had asked me the night before if I was going to file one and I said yes. They told me where to file, and I headed there the next day. I was with Ada Verastic; she was just two months over two years old. She was bored and restless in court, and I had to stand before the judge to explain why I was asking for this protective order. It was granted temporarily. When I was walking out of court, the security company called me, “Ma’am, there’s a disturbance at your house. Your alarm is going off. Should we dispatch police?” They asked. And I said, “Yes. I’m not home. There’s an intruder.”
Before I got home, two policemen were there already with the boy standing outside. Ada Verastic had fallen asleep in the car. I told the police that I had to take my sleeping child inside; it was cold outside. By the time I came back out, The Boy was in handcuffs – not because the alarm went off but because they had checked their computer and found the arrest warrant from the night before. He was taken to jail where he spent the night. All hail the American system.
We went back for a final protective order hearing about three weeks later, and I was granted the protective order. The Boy and I met in his friend’s house before the court day. Let’s call his friend, Tunde. We met at Tunde’s house. The boy was asking for forgiveness, said he wanted his family back, asked me why I called the police over a “small family matter,” and why I took him seriously when he said he did not want the marriage, that it was said in anger. But it did not matter what he wanted or how serious he was. I was done. I had had enough. There was nothing worth fighting for. If I had fought for the marriage and we had ended up staying married, it would have still been a loss to me. A hundred percent of nothing was still nothing.
So, I did not believe a word he said when he apologized. Unlike before, I was not believing him blindly. I asked him about the juju and he said it was his, that he brought it for his “political protection and breakthrough.” Reason number 74733456920 why Nigeria is the way it is. This is what the politicians are made of. He also said the juju was from God, that it was our culture. I asked him what God he was serving, and he said we had the same God. Impossible. And yes, that entire conversation was recorded too.
Let me back up here and tell you a bit about Tunde. I met Tunde through The Boy when we started dating. They were very close, and as far as I could tell, Tunde was a good friend. In 2017, before The Boy traveled to Nigeria, Tunde first traveled to Nigeria. I told The Boy to tell Tunde to bring me back some Knorr cubes. The Witch requested that he bring her back some pain medication from the pharmacy. Tunde came back to Maryland with neither the Knorr cubes nor the medication. The Boy called while on his way back from Tunde’s house to give me the news. I was disappointed because Knorr cubes are a lot cheaper in Nigeria, but it was no big deal. When I told The Witch, she was so angry. She was cursing Tunde, saying things will not be well for his family. Ah, ah. On top of Knorr cubes? I did not understand the anger, especially considering that she was not the one who would have to pay for it at the African store. I tried to calm her down, but she would not be tamed.