BN Prose: The Vanishing House Girls by Ese Iruobe

My wedding was almost a blur. I hardly remember the details. I just know it was a day I woke up feeling extremely happy and deeply sad. The sky was a brighter blue and the sun was a deeper yellow as every sensation and emotion arrested me like never before. The day my only sister and I had talked about was finally here; the day one of us would be joined with our God-given husband. I was finally marrying the coveted Ehosa Obaseki; most popular for his charm and influential family. Throughout the traditional ceremony my heart threatened to beat out of my chest but I also felt a strange calm.

Relatives kept asking me to smile while my sister, Yuwa, tried to fix one of my supposedly crooked hair beads. There were so many hands and so many voices. There were many faces I had never seen, a few I had seen once and others I had seen all my life. Amongst these faces were my University of Lagos friends. They had stared in awe whenever Ehosa’s Mercedes drove into campus. He’d step out of it looking as handsome as ever, with his hands full of gifts from Europe and Dubai. People shouted prayers and washed my feet before they carried me to my husband’s house.

In the first year of my marriage I especially enjoyed my new name, ‘Mrs. Isimeme Obaseki’. I liked the sound of it whenever I introduced myself. I loved the way it looked, emblazoned on a golden name tag on my office desk. In less than two years I had my baby boy, Ehosa Junior. It seemed a king had just been born for both families could not contain their joy. Baby gifts from all directions piled up his nursery for months.

Four and half years and three babies later, I was too tired to be excited about anything. I became a blob and I found it difficult to juggle work, two small children and a baby. In the beginning I tried to keep my job by hiring house girls but a peculiar trend emerged. They never stayed. Our first house girl was sixteen year old Rose, she stayed for six months and that was the longest. My Mother tried to help me but I was really all alone. I told my mother about this problem when we visited one Christmas.

“So why do you think the house girls are not staying?” Mama asked me in the kitchen. Two year old Matilda was rummaging through my purse and scattering its contents all over Mama’s kitchen. While trying to pick up after Matilda I replied, “I don’t know Mama, it’s so difficult for me to keep working at this point, and I can’t have the driver dropping them off with you forever.”

Yuwa was turning some soup on the stove and nodding her agreement. “That is a Valid point” she said. “Maybe their spirits are not clean and God is purging them out” said Mama as she poured some starch into a bowl. I was irritated, “But Mommy, how can seven house girls in the past Five years all have unclean spirits?” I asked. Mama shrugged and said, “Only God knows the true answer my dear”.

After the Christmas dinner I complained bitterly to Ehosa about feeling overwhelmed. He felt a house girl was not needed and insisted that Mama and Yuwa should help. I thought that was ridiculous, my sister and mother had their own lives and lived far away in Lekki. We argued about it but he finally agreed that I could hire another house girl. The new girl, Mercy, had worked for two months when one day without warning, she was gone. It was the house girl vanishing act again, just like the others. The gate-man called me at the office to break the news; she had slipped out while he was bathing. I rushed home to find Matilda alone on the bedroom floor, sitting in a pool of urine. Her sweet little face was stained with tears.

I was furious and shocked that Mercy could have done such a thing. I looked at my watch while trying to console a furious and hungry baby Matilda. Mercy left the living room dirty, plates unwashed and Matilda’s toys were everywhere. The boys got home from school and added to the chaos. Between feeding them, trying to bathe them, cleaning our gigantic house and shushing a wailing Matilda, I almost lost my mind. I called my husband several times but he did not answer. I sent him a text about Mercy and he responded saying “It was probably time for her to go anyway. I am working late tonight”. I did not understand.

Ehosa was not around a lot. He got promoted and had to devote more time to work. Almost every night, Ehosa strolled in at midnight. One Saturday night I was sitting on the kitchen table trying to finish a project I abandoned at work when Ehosa came downstairs, opened a drawer and grabbed his car keys. He smelled of cologne and aftershave. I had no idea he had plans. I asked him where he was going. He said he was going to a nearby hotel to eat dinner, although  there was rice and stew sitting on the table, waiting to be eaten. Deep inside I knew where he was going and why he came home late.

Although I refused to acknowledge it, I also knew why Mercy, and why all the others left. I called their agents that afternoon and was told that my husband had sent most of them away. I saw the way he had stared at Mercy’s breasts, how he accidentally hit Rose’s bottom and chatted too long with every shop girl.

My heart was breaking but I said nothing and let him go out to ‘dinner’. After pacing back and forth for twenty minutes I called and told my parents about my suspicion.I told them how Ehosa tried to hide his vile affairs by sending the house girls away before I found out. They told me to hire a house boy instead and “make it work”, like it was my entire fault.

“But I do not want a house boy around Matilda” I said.

“Well then make your husband more interested, you must be a better wife” Mama said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Ehosa’s parents also heard about the matter. His father ignored it but his mother called me and said I should cook more and learn to be obedient. This was coming from a woman who had always had at least two chefs and had barely stepped inside a kitchen throughout her marriage. Nobody was considering how I felt; humiliated and dejected.

Ehosa was not happy about my suspicions. He took it out on me by hardly speaking to me. He said he was disgusted that I could ever think of him doing such a thing. He swore he had never been with any of the girls, or any other woman. We had another argument about it after I found a pair of women’s underwear at the back seat of his car. He insisted that he had no idea how it got there. The fight ended when he pushed me out of our bedroom and locked the door. I couldn’t believe what was happening to my marriage. Around midnight I heard his car drive out of the gate. By ten o clock the next morning he still hadn’t returned.

I waited patiently for him to call. I had all day since I had quit my job because I refused to hire another nanny. My phone rang but it wasn’t Ehosa.
‘Is this Isimeme?” a female voice asked. My heart started to pound.
“Yes, who is this?” I asked.
“Let’s not worry about names” she said. “I work at your husband’s office”. So he must have gone to work from the hotel, I thought sadly. “What is it?” I asked.
“Something has happened to your husband at work please come right away!”
“What happened?” I ask, alarmed. The woman insisted  I  got to the office immediately and refused to answer any of my questions.
I carried Matilda in the car and we drove to the office. Before I parked, I could already see my husbands car outside the gate. It was surrounded by an angry mob. I recognized our first nanny, Rose, standing beside an elderly man who was clutching Ehosa’s bloodied shirt.

“Confess!” the man screamed. “You no go enter any office today!” He was Rose’s father.

I started screaming when a blow landed on Ehosa’s head. The office security guard tried to squeeze through the mob and pull Ehosa out but the people descended on him. He cowered in fear.

“You are the man that gave my daughter HIV!” Rose’s father shouted. “Confess it!”

My mouth flew open and I stared at Rose. I couldn’t speak. She ignored me and looked away. Ehosa spotted me and started moaning, “Help me, it is the devil, I’m sorry.” The crowd went wild. Ehosa received more blows. I felt dizzy and I stumbled. Suddenly I was hauled aside as police swarmed the scene, guns swinging. I needed to get back to Matilda; I wanted to be anywhere but there.

While Ehosa recovered in the hospital, my mind teetered on the ledge of sanity, ready to jump off at any moment. Relatives tried to comfort me, but blood tests didn’t lie; I was HIV positive.

As I sat in the kitchen, numb after crying for most of the week it dawned on me. I looked at the kitchen clock; it was four o clock. I threw random things into a suitcase, grabbed all my cash and my children’s passports and told them we were going to visit grandma. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. I would start my life over, HIV didn’t have to be a death sentence. There was no fear or dread. A million voices echoed in my head; what will people say? What will you tell them? I would tell them nothing.

I opened the gates wide, drove out of the house and out of Ehosa’s twisted life.

Photo Credit: www.goodlife.com.ng

71 Comments on BN Prose: The Vanishing House Girls by Ese Iruobe
  • samsie September 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Jesus!

    • Tamilore September 21, 2011 at 12:37 am

      I don’t feel this is well written. Doesn’t really come together for me. Good story though.

      • Mary007 September 21, 2011 at 1:49 am

        I agree with you, the initial talk about her wedding, the way the helps all left and her HIV status do not add up. I know Ese has potential

    • MAYA November 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      AS IN! THAT WAS D FIRST WORD THAT CAME TO MY MOUTH! SAYS IT ALL! KAI

  • samsie September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Christ

  • Nrv September 20, 2011 at 9:29 am

    OH WHAO
    these things happen
    some men are just pigs

    God deliver us from wicked and unreasonable men
    AMEN

    • amazing! September 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      I am sure his mother will wish she had cautioned him. Nigerian women are not empathetic to the plight of their fellow woman. Let’s see how she will handle not seeing her grandkids now that she has left. Their own time 30+years back was very different from now because a man cheating rarely resulted in deadly sexual diseases.
      I use to work with some nigerian women who had serious problems with their husbands when it came to providing for the family. One particular lady from a wealthy family in naija, married the man and came to the US. As soon as she landed and got one small kabukabu job like this, the man cut down his hours and shifted the house bills to her. Wickedness! trying to make her repay him for all the time he was doing the work and sending her money back home. Every time I asked these ladies why they didn’t just drag their husband and kids back home to stop him from acting that way since they will be under the watchful eyes of their families. See the fears in their eyes as they start telling me why would rather work hard and take the abuse here than go back to Naija and have to deal with their inlaws abusing them up and down.
      HIV is not a thing that should be jokingly wished on anyone. Until you have seen someone living with this horrible disease then you can understand that five minutes pleasure is not worth it. Swallowing big big pills numerous times a day and all the hospital visits and medical conditions plus complications that arises from everything the body is exposed to. Thats if the person can afford the drugs in the first place when one bottle can cost about $1000 A MONTH, then times that by about five BOTTLES for those that don’t have to take plenty. Not everyone qualifies for government assistant to subsidize the amount they pay. With all the budget cuts in the US, many people stopped receiving the assistant and a lot of them………exactly.
      I think it is important for every sexually active person to visit or even work in hospitals where HIV patients are admitted and struggling for their lives. If that doesn’t calm that itch down there, maybe caring for one will. Many people that are infected can’t even tell you who infected them and even the ones that can, will tell you the cum or person wasn’t even memorable. IMAGINE THAT!

  • MissUnknown September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Quite an amazing read! And it’s so true and sad that this actually happens.

  • bee September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I dont even know wat to comment…All i can is |”MENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!” …Poor woman and poor children…..smh

  • omoh September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Wow!!omg…dis is really sad,its bad enough dat he’s cheating on his wife…but why didn’t he use a condom for God’s sake.

  • omoh September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Wow!!!omg…dis is really sad,its bad enough dat he’s cheating on his wife…but why didn’t he use a condom for God’s sake??

  • hauwa b. September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am

    very nicely written

  • oluwadee September 20, 2011 at 9:36 am

    wow, a master piece

  • peju September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Gosh!!!!!!!!!!!! Dis is so pathetic, i pity her. Dis is a big lesson to we girls ooh, i wan marry rich, i wan marry rich man…… see where e land am! May God help us sha.

    • Deiz September 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

      for crying out load its not only rich men that sleep around. this has more to do with the person’s personalty than with his financial status.

  • RITA September 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

    fine boyz ,ugly problem ,but not all though.sweet hart,i sympathize with u,get another job to take ur mind off him

  • babylet sonia September 20, 2011 at 9:52 am

    OMG…. I just read this story and am so speechless, can’t even find the right words to say. The man’s act is totally unacceptable and inhuman. Goshhhh

  • nge September 20, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Omg dis is touching,really touching,wat a wicked world.

  • dahlia voka September 20, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Very nice story,i like it,You are the best Bellanaija

  • Chubby cheeks September 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Very nice piece. Well written

  • Tiki September 20, 2011 at 10:11 am

    With three children? Lord forgive me, but I will kill him with my bare hands.

  • sofy September 20, 2011 at 10:19 am

    omg,this is so sickening!

    such atouching story*sad face*

  • Lue September 20, 2011 at 10:22 am
  • olawealth September 20, 2011 at 10:23 am

    this is a very sad one, i pray she enjoys the rest of her life happy. coz she need to be strong for her kids.pele

  • nelly September 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

    If you’re a father and you’re not faithful to your wife….pls & pls do not share clippers with your sons they don’t deserve a share in your dirty life.

  • princess September 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

    iF a man must cheat y cheat without condoms. Moral lesson; Marry a man who respects you

  • Nomy September 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Wow! Gripping story! Bella Naija prose back on track! This one is heartrending!

  • AnnLOludoyi September 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

    There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go

  • didiagege September 20, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Well written, and sadly echoes what sooo many nigerian wives go thru but are too ‘ashamed’ or ‘afraid’ to walk away from.

  • Rebel September 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

    OMG!!!!! Heartbreaking! Thats my problem with women when it comes to advice on marriage and men, telling her to cook more and be obidient!!!! WTF? is it easy to trail after two toddlers and a baby every single day and hold a 9 – 5 job, all without help?? what nonsense, instead of them to comfort and encourage her, they’re there saying nonsense! schewwwzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • suzzie September 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

    well well is an advice to all,get tested before having sex or getting married….sorry oh my dear sister……

  • yeni September 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

    wow,beautiful write up 1st and foremost. Wow this is just so sad, i’m beginning to believe the whole marry fine boy marry fine trouble. This is just sad,but m happy shes not living her life like HIV is a death sentence.

  • Uchechi September 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Okkkk BN, I would love to see articles too that portray the happy sides of marriages. Recenlty, most articles featured here are problematic ranging from HIV transmission, to Death, and cheating…just a balance of both sides please. Nonetheless, it was an interesting one.

    • Truth be told September 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      seconded

      • molarah September 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

        “thirded”. And yep, the story line was a bit too predictable. Nice writing though.

  • iya oloja September 20, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Hmmmm…… my lesson from this is not to ignore obvious signs of infidelity…the lady knew her husband was being unfaithful but chose to turn a blind eye…also,not that it’s an excuse but hiring young and attractive househelps is not the best of ideas

    • HoneyDame September 21, 2011 at 4:43 am

      Please define young and attractive. I was just wondering because I have heard of chronic cheats who will sleep with anything that bears semblance to a human female, even if a bamboon appears like a human female, they will still sleep with it. The paramount thing is for one to keep his/her eyes open at all time possible.

  • grace iteire September 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

    oh my God,wat a heartless man,i cant imagine wat i will do

  • Serena September 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Captivating story, big ups Ese!!!

  • jay September 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Oh my Lord!

  • jennifer obiuwevbi September 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    okay, how can i get mine up here?

  • Bella September 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Wowwwwwww, this is crazy. I will go insane if my husband treats me this way. I pray its not my portion though.

  • ty September 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Pls whats this about rich men and fine men bin cheats? u need to see the married men asking gals out nowadays. ugly and broke but u wont knw. dats not a criteria abeg. im soo sorry abt this situation. and yes!!!!! BN, write abt happy ever afters for 1ce. im getting discouraged abt this marriage thing

  • moo September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    nice prose.
    @iya oloja for a man dt sleep around,he ill do it with d unatractive ones so is not a matter of d househelp being beautiful or ugly.
    think its obvious dt in most cases when our man cheat instint always tell us but we luv to close our eyes to it…………………………

  • Sugar bunch September 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    This is such a sad story, if true then i wish Isi all the luck in the world. Also i thank God in her own case she has the balls to leave, some woman will stay simply becuz they have absolutely no skills to fall back to or bottom line they do not have the guts to stand on thier own 2 feet. So i commend Isi for dusting herself up. as they say “its not how many times you fall but how many times you get up that counts” . As for the husband well he should brace himslef bcuz his problems are just beginning and now he has NO wife or child to share with

  • Bellar September 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    i dont know what to say again, fine boyz, fine trouble o… i pray for her ehn, e no go better for dis man o, what wickedness is this? please men respect your wives again o.

  • cathy September 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    GOD help us!!! so sad how people or is it partners frustrate the life of their other half.

  • pynk September 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    this story is really not far fetched, as some men have minimal respect for others.

  • Obi September 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    The mother inlaw would probably say it was Isimeme who gave him HIV. Mcshew!!

  • mariamah September 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Speechless, suffering from shock, this life is not fair

  • Dabota September 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Just as you have saith HIV is not a life sentence take your children go some where and begin a new life and i know by God Mercy he will see you through this and always pray becos their is notting prayer can not do.

  • bunmi September 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    nice story….wish isi nd her children d best

  • Bolanle September 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Very good story! i couldnt stop reading!

  • Lafunky September 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    This is a fiction, it’s not real but u never know it might be real.
    Bella Naija, please you need to request for happy ending articles/write-up. While your articles/Prose are informative and interesting read, you are publishing a lot of negative stories lately, it might put some people off marriage.
    Also, I have missed your wedding updates. I keep checking for wedding articles/pictures.

  • Ese Iruobe September 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you guys for reading my story! Please check out my fiction blog http://iminasmelange.com. It’s a continuing story about a controversial young woman called Imina. I hope you enjoy it!

    • Nneka September 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      You and other good Prose Writers should convert your articles to dramatic literature and apply to the African performance Playwrighting Competition from next year onwards.

      Do not limit yourself to this platform, however great the response here is. Find other platforms where you can actually get compensated/ rewarded for your effort. Start researching now not tomorrow.

      Less I forget, good job!

  • akosua September 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Clearly Ehosa is a heartless bastard to still sleep with his wife regardless of his wayward acts.he should have just left her and die in his stupidity! Can’t even imagine where she has to start picking her life from.+ its so annoying when parents just keep saying the wife needs to make changes.what of the fool that is acting up.hiss..awesome story Ese! :*

  • moiself September 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    This is not about rich/ugly/fine/broke men.it’s about discipline.some men ar jst soo dirty.ladies pls be careful nd listen to ur instincts

  • 9jamom September 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Wow! Great story! While fiction, it definitely replicates a lot of ‘true stories’ woven together from the ‘typical’ Naija marriage. Well, it’s time for women to start taking back their voices and being the strong people they are. Mothers are the backbone of the society; we have relationships with such men and inadvertently raise similar men without thinking just because ‘it’s the way society is’…

    Well, no more to that: http://www.9jamom.com is the premier online portal and parenting community providing resources, news and support for Naija moms, moms-to-be and dads everywhere. Women and Mothers need to be empowered to ensure they are raising responsible children that can contribute to a better society.

  • Bimbo S September 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I love This! Very well written!

  • gina A September 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Hmmmmmm,such a sweet bitter story.am touched.Men really need 2 learn d hard way bt its jst dat most times d women end up carrying d burden of dere evil acts.God help us.

  • drsue September 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    This is my 1st comment, indeed, my 1st day on BN, and I got so excited at a point, I sent my bff a message to chk out BN. This site rocks!!!
    Abt the story, it’s not abt being a fine boy or frm a wealthy family. Even the ugly poor ones cheat. And HIV is so real n doesn’t show on the face, it’s real scary

  • sett September 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Chei!

  • Myne Whitman September 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Nice one Ese, Hmm…

  • alrighty September 21, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Very nice story Ese. Those saying that bellanaija should post more happily ever after marital stories should cool down por favor. The truth of the matter is, though they certainly exist, there are few of such marraiges especially in a country like Nigeria where domestic violence, spousal abuse, adultary, polygamy, rape, incest, and paedophilia is rampant and yet almost everyone there in Naija are living in denial or turning a blind eye to it like that’s going to make the problem go away. Moreover, I am yet to see any Nigerian marraige that I can personally wish on myself or loved ones. Luckily, I have been happily married to a non-Nigerian for years.

    My sister is a medical doctor in Nigeria. She tells us of the high number of women – married and single – who get infected with STDS by their spouses or significant other. It is no news that most Naija men are chronic cheaters and that Naija society expects that Nigerian women tolerate it/ suck it up! It is also not suprising that Africa has the most HIV/AIDS victims than any other continent in the world due to the promiscuity of many of its males and some of its females.

    Maybe, if there were so many happily ever after NIGERIAN marraiges, then we would not have so much spousal abuse and domestic violence amongst married Nigerians at home and abroad that we so constantly hear about. Also, the divorce rate in Nigeria and amongst Nigerians abroad won’t keep climbing like it is now and my sister will have fewer women wailing bitterly on her floor in the hospital when she breaks the bitter news to them yet again that they have contracted a non-curable sexually transmitted disease.

    With that said, bellanaija, do what YOU think is best for this site. Peace!

  • Uchechi September 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    @alrighty we are all readers of this site and there is absolutely nothing wrong in giving feedback on what we would love to read here.

    From comments it appears some of us that read these stories are single and looking forward to settling down in the near future. Stories like these give the chills that marriages have nothing good to offer but emotional torture, I choose not to believe cos I have witnessed beautiful marriages. Come to think of it..its always the “Nigerian men” that are at fault, don’t you think its tarnishing to their image. I believe there are many happy marraiges in Nigeria, its just that the sad ones always make the headlines, so featuring the happy ones here can balance it all atleast.

    It is also contradictory that BN has a section dedicated to weddings and then stories of marriages here are negative..!

    • Lafunky September 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Uchechi, it’s like you read my mind. I totally agree. I concur!!!! There has to be a balance. I guess Bella Naija are trying to raise awareness of issues prevalent in Nigeria but again, it is one sided. This is what Western countries tend to do when they report about Africa. We have to offer a balanced view. Imagine, this can also scare someone that is a non-Nigerian not to marry a Nigerian. Bella Naija, I love your site. We are just offering constructive criticism and we hope they do something about it.

  • Uchechi September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Thanks @Truth be told, @molarah, @Lafunky for same views, atleast Bellanaija has responded..looking forward to the happy stories!

  • Cynthia September 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Excellent story, I wish it were just pure fiction but stuff like this happens in marriages all the time….

  • Post a comment