Had a very busy day, packed up and was about leaving when I had an argument in the reception. It was Dara’s voice and an unknown voice. I heard to listen to understand what exactly the noise was about. “If you do not let me see her, what happens after now would be your fault.” I heard her appealing to him to come back the next day. With the level of desperation I heard in his voice, I opened the door ajar to see who it was and possible let him in. ‘Dara please allow him’. He gave Dara that stern look as he walked pass her and stepped into my office.
Good evening Sir. Sorry about that it’s just that we had closed for the day. But whatever it is, I apologize, you are here now. “Thank you Madam. Hope you will give me a listening ear. I needed a place to pour my heart even if it is the last thing I do before death takes me away. Let it be on record that I voiced out. Please madam, let me speak. I know I came late but please give me your ears.” Okay Sir you have it, as I took a deep breath knowing that my plans for the evening was being disrupted and for how long it would be I do not know.
Seated before me is a man in my opinion should be in his mid or late 60s. Good looking but I could see so much hurt in his eyes. I have always had women come in to share their stories, but for men, very few occasions. So I was eager to hear all he was going to say and being that he wasn’t looking or sounding happy at all.
My name is Dr. Sepenu Abuniga the Chairman of Sepenu Group of Companies. I sat up a little surprise with the fact that I was having such a high profile in my office and I didn't know. More reason to listen up and listen well. Sorry to interrupt you Sir, are you the husband of Riba Sepenu of Riba Sepenu Foundation? “Exactly” he exclaimed. He continued “Now you know me. I am grateful to God for being so good to me in life. He gave me all I need but I am not a happy man. I cheated on my family and it is payback time. I wish I could wind back the hands of time to right my wrongs. Looking back now I realize that money is not everything. There is a family you will need after all the hustles and bustles in life and a home to go back to after all the struggles. That is what I need now but can’t find.” I gave him a surprising gaze because I have followed his wife closely on social media but never heard of her being separated from him or any rumor of breakup. So I wondered where such words were coming from and why, knowing how successful this man is. So I asked in a bit of shock, “Sir what exactly do you mean, I am a little surprised at your words I must say. From the best I have seen especially your wife on the media you two portray a wonderful home. What is happening?” I sat up and was now very willing to let go every other schedule for the evening and listen. I gave him my full grasp attention.
“You are correct my dear, life is not always as it seems on the outside. I have been around the world, met great people and have done well for myself and my company but did none for my home. I thought building wealth and brand was all it takes to live a good life as I dreaded poverty with the whole of my life. I was born into a family that had nothing so everything I have achieved today I built from the scratch. My fear of continuing the same type of life my parents had us go through propelled me to work even harder. I gave my all and more to my career and very little to my family.
My wife is a wonderful woman; I love her and much more now. I now understand all she was saying those years, so I don’t blame her for anything she does now, I blame myself totally. Mind you she is not cheating on me with anyone but she has sunk herself in her passion and calling because when she needed love and care I gave her no attention. I was so insensitive to her needs. I thought providing her with material things and taking care of her financial needs were enough to keep her off my net while I man and pursue wealth. Those days I remember now, times she would cry for my attention but all I saw was a woman who was manipulative and wanting to control me.
Like I said earlier, heaven smiled on me early in life. I grew so fast in my career and business, paid moneys to develop myself, traveled a lot and had very good and memorable times growing my company. I heard the best of staff in my company. Let me emphasize it again heaven favored me and that happened on time. After my NYSC, the company where I served retained me, and I was with them for seven years before I resigned to start my own company. Three years on the job, I met my lovely wife who believed in me and we got married. Life wasn’t smooth for us the first few years I must say, but with time things began to improve. When I saw the opportunity and the prospect of running my own company and shared it with her, she had no objections to that. In fact, she gave me her full support. Three years into our marriage and with two children, I resigned. With my little savings I set up a manufacturing company. My wife managed the home financially for about two years while I struggled to get the business running. Every profit made within that period was plugged back into the business and she never complained.
Sepenu Group of Companies then Sepenu Nig. Ltd broke even in its third year of operations and our story changed for good. The first thing I did was to stop my wife from working (I tagged it slaving for my fellow man) to take care of our growing children. Initially she objected and gave me reasons why she needed to still keep her job but after much pressure from me, she resigned and stayed at home to take care of our four children. Then I began to journey about. I had series of meetings, training, academic pursuits, contracts, endorsements, awards, name it. I was everywhere and was showcased as a true model of ‘grass to grace’ except in my home and in the lives of my children and lovely wife. I commend her greatly for standing strong, staying and single handedly doing a great job on our children without me. No wonder I see her exhibit so much strength and passion in her Foundation and her resilience in empowering women and helping them discover themselves.
My case was so bad that I was so an absentee father that even when I am at home I wasn’t still reachable or available to them. She was the only one the children could reach and relate with at all times. I remember one of the incidences when our son asked me if I was actually his father. He invited me for his presentation at school and I promised to attend because the topic he was speaking on was one I was very much interested in “Renewable energy and the age to come”. I had bumped into him rehearsing with his mom and siblings, but do you know I couldn’t cancel or shift a meeting with a foreign partner to honor our son’s invitation even that once. Their mother attended every meeting. Their schools never saw me except times we had family parties and they came. My wife did everything. Disappointing to say my children grew not taking my promises seriously because I always broke them for what I see now as my selfish interest in the guise that I was preparing a better future for all of us.
I was a horror in my home in their growing days. I hardly made it home early. So I always met sleeping children and the few times I got home early I made a terrible father of myself. I hated their noise because I always had so much to read, while weekends I was either in class, training or at the club house. I moved from one program to another gathering all the qualifications and network I could, until I got my doctorate and got the business to where we are now. But is this life? The slogan then was ‘ shhhh daddy is at home no noise.’ So they spoke in whispers and tiptoed in their own home. At any slightest provocation I beat and others take caution from that. So our children never really got to have a lovely daddy-children relationship. I never had their time and with time they got use to that. Most times the stayed in their mummy’s room when I am at home. Even if I watched the television I wanted to do that in an absolutely quite house. So they gave me space by avoiding me.
To my wife, this was a woman who gave me her support but looking back I deeply regret every of my actions. She always said it to me those day ‘one day, this family you do not have regards for, you will need us, hope you find us and it wouldn’t be late before you realize what you have done to yourself’ that is my story now. I was a fault finding machine even in the very irrelevant things that could be over looked. Very trivial issues I made big cases out of; from her watching television to her phone usage, to food portions served, to food waste, to domestic helps, to the security, driver, everything. Although I know I raise valid concerns some of the times but I think my approach most of the times weren't right. Imagine me asking her if she knew what I go through to make the money she was wasting was a common statement. I always insisted on seeing the list of everything she spent money on to the last kobo. So she almost never enjoyed financial independence cause I made sure I monitored her spending to the last. I never allowed her to know my financial status or let her access to any of my accounts. I still wonder where I got that notion that letting her into my finances would bring me down. I am still shocked at my foolishness. After so many years of my emotional torment and verbal torture, she got use to me and stopped replying my bickering and mastered ways of avoiding me when I start.
In these years she sort for my attention in so many ways, she wanted to have her man but I wasn’t ready for that when there was more money and grounds to cover. Sometimes she cried, other times we clashed and a few times she reported me to people she felt could talk to me but it only landed her in more troubles. So she withdrew to herself and let me be. We lived in the same house but were like separated couples. I only had sex with her when I needed it and she stopped asking for it.
Regrettable to say that even the foundation that is widely recognized and celebrated was started secretly because I objected every of her plans to advance her own life. I felt I was making enough money so what was she going to work for. When I discovered, I almost pulled down the roof. That was the time she gave me a real threat on our marriage. She was ready to quit if I tried obstructing the one thing she's been able to achieve after 15 years of being a sit at home wife and mom. For fear of the media, I succumbed and let her be. That was when the foundation blew open and became public. This is a passion I know was birthed from the treatment I melted on her for not contributing anymore to the family finance. Because when she was, I cherished every bit of what she did. Now she is so busy, booked from the beginning of the year to the end for speaking and training engagements. My wife has grown to become a well sought after teacher, trainer and speaker, living her life and helping other women discover theirs. This she has successfully achieved without me, not even my money. That was what I asked for by my actions and that is what I have now.
In all my wealth I never heard a real holiday or followed them for any vacation. The two times I managed to follow them , was because I had business meetings in those countries and it coincided with the trip. So I was much occupied even during a family vacation. I gave them all they needed financially and made sure they were comfortable without me. And now they are very comfortable without me in their lives.
Fast forward to now, I have decided to take a break from work to be with my family alas there is no one available for me. Our children have all graduated and gone. My daughters are both married and my first son also is. I am left with the last who I can’t even say I know. He hardly visits even when he does, our interaction ends at pleasantries and he is off to see his mother in her room. Where she always is when she is not cooking. Have you seen how miserable my life has become? The last time they all visited with our grandchildren. I watched the way my son treated his wife and children and regrets began to stab me again. He managed to sit with me a few times but we had nothing to discuss except for the television program we watched and news headlines. His children kept interrupting and at every interruption he gave them some attention. I wanted more but there was no room built for such. I was never in their lives. So I do not blame them. My wife tried her best by forcing them on me, even defended my irresponsibility sometimes but I was too selfish to understand.
My conglomerate is growing but none of them is interested in knowing how it works or what happens there. Off course I am not an example they wanted to emulate. My wife does not have the slightest interest because I kept her completely away from my business. When she asked I shut her down. Now she is even too busy doing her things to be involved. The painful part of it all is that my health is ailing (then he broken down in tears), I need my family around me now more than ever. But I cheated on them and I lost them. I have apologized several times to my lovely wife and children. They have always assured me they have nothing against me. But our relationship is like straighten a dry fish. I wish my wife could talk more to me now. Let us gist and holiday together, but for now her schedules are fully booked. I need your help. Please help.”
At this point I must say I was completely dumbfounded and did not know what to say or do. All I could mutter was ‘all would be fine Sir’. When I looked up to see what time it was, it was well past 8.00 pm and I needed to be home. I had to schedule for another appointment with him so I could research how best to deal with such issue as this. A beautiful home without bond.
Stories not told...
© Stella C. Obokoh 2018
This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents, are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.