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Saturday, 02 March 2024 21:14

[OPINION] When 'sorry' means nothing - Funke Egbemode 

We called them the ‘happening couple’. Flex (real name was Felix) was a 500 level medicine student while Tunrayo was a 200 level Law student. Though the two of them were very busy ‘effico’, they spent every free moment together. They went to the bukateria together, walked hand-in-hand to the library and the cinema. They were a reference point especially when we girls wanted to ‘yab’ our NFA male classmates who were in the habit of giving excuses to their girlfriends as to why they couldn’t take them to see a movie at Oduduwa. 

We simply sneered at them.

 ‘If a 'medical' student could make out time for his girlfriend, please what is a Philosophy student reading?'

 Stuff like that.

Anyway, shortened version of the story of Flex and Tunrayo was that their love was not hidden, at least not to those who lived with or knew them. Those who didn't know soon did when tragedy struck. Yes, death, avoidable death,  came too soon, before their story got to a happy ending. 

Tunrayo ‘somehow’ got pregnant and Flex metamorphosed into a guy she couldn’t believe existed somewhere inside the fine-boy-no-pimples doctor-to-be she fell in love with. Flex didn’t want the pregnancy. Indeed, he told Tunrayo to ‘let them remove’ it. There were hospitals that would do it in minutes. There were pills. Pregnancy will slow him down. In fact, it will destroy his life. The two of them did not need the distraction of a pregnancy, least of all a baby at that point in their lives. 

True, neither Law or Medicine will nicely make room for pregnancy or a nine-month vacation without a major breach in the course-calendar. Happening couple or not, both Flex and Tunrayo were young. Flex was 22 while Tunrayo was 19. Of course, things fell apart. The 'Baby Doctor didn’t want a baby and so started avoiding Tunrayo. No more lunches at ‘Forks and Fingers’ or dinner at ‘New Buka’.

Flex stopped going to the movies altogether and avoided the library like it was a lepers colony or a tuberculosis ward. 

Love left the Garden of Eden and Tunrayo was inconsolable. She became a shadow of herself. And as the semester break approached, she became really afraid and distracted. How did you face your parents with a teenage pregnancy and disappoint your mother whose friends were already calling ‘Mama Lawyer’. Going home was like being sent to the Guillotine. So,  out of fear, Tunrayo stayed back on campus and as we later heard, she turned up dead in a quack hospital in town. She died alone, along with her dreams, her parent’s dreams , with her unborn baby.

Flex wept and mourned. We were told he got there just before Tunrayo's body was taken to the mogue and that he kept saying he was sorry. 

Dear Mum and Dad, tell your girls ‘sorry after an abortion had gone wrong means nothing’. If she does not die, she may be scarred, irreversibly. My dear girls, don’t put yourself in a meaningless sorry situation just because you think it would please the man or make him stay. Do not put your life and future on the line just for a man to say ‘sorry’ and move on while you carry the scar and bear the trauma. 

Too many times, the words and emotions backing ‘sorry’ don’t mean much or anything at all. It’s okay to be sorry, feel remorse and apologize but the man or woman who has inflicted the pain cannot erase the affliction. The scars sometimes are life-long ones. That’s why it’s better to stay safe than to be sorry. Be careful what you promise. Be wary of what you are promised. Think of the consequences before you lay yourself bare to the situation that might lead to gnashing of teeth. Do not forget yourself in the ecstasy of the moment and let someone else take and take and take until you are spent, only for him to come back and say sorry when it no longer matters.

What about husbands, fathers, wives, mothers who leave for greener pastures letting their partners raise their children all alone? And then they come back 20 years later when the ‘soup don done’ and the children are  all made, bearing ‘sorry’ as if it is ‘aporo-epa-Ijebu’, the solution or mixture that cure all ailments. Excuse me, who sorry hep, please?

Do not be like Mama Titi whose husband left with three children only to return 18 years later, his amputated tail in between his ungodly legs and bearing a dammed and cursed sorry bouquet. And I repeat, 'who sorry hep?"  Unfortunately, Mama Titi did not move on. She pined and waited for that 'sorry"for all those 18 years. One day turned into one decade but she trudged on, taking on extra jobs, doing all kinds of petty businesses to feed and put the three children through school. All she did was work and cry. Of course, 18 long years of pity party will take a toll on even the strongest healthiest woman, and it did. She had a mild stroke just before her last child graduated. All the years of hussle and hassle have impacted her body. Let’s not talk about what the loneliness did to her mind and spirit. The years of hard grind and heavy lifting a left its mark, leaving her  looking older than her 60 years. And then Baba Titi returned profusely apologizing.

‘It was the Devil’s work’

‘My eyes are open now’

‘She used juju to cage me’

‘I have wronged you and your Ori’

‘I’m sorry’

Annoying sorry, who needs it? What can roll back the 18 years of tears. Who will take away the toll of playing Father and Mother to the children on Mama Titi’s health?

Who am I to say don’t take your prodigal wife or husband back? It’s not my decision or anybody’s for that matter. 

That’s not even the point of this piece. The crux of this article is what you do while waiting for the return of the prodigal. 

If your wife left you with the children and went off with a richer man, should you just cry, pine away and wither with the years? If she bleached and partied 10 or 15 years away and then returned with a skin that is looking like yet-to -be -cleaned Shaki (tripe), offering you a bouquet of sorry and tears on her discolored cheeks, what will you do? Everybody will probably beg a deserted spouse to welcome home a deserter, right? Even the children most likely will join the plea club. Not a problem. The decision is solely yours. 

My own sermon and view is this: do not let a deserter find you on a dung heap when he or she returns. Take care of your health. In fact, pay extra attention to your health. Live, laugh, move on. Do not waste years you cannot retrieve, crying and beating up yourself with what-if-whips. If he or she is having a blast wherever they are, please enjoy yourself at least if you cannot afford a blast. Bond like never before with those children he or she abandoned for you. Live, I repeat, live. Add values to your life. Let the deserter not meet you at the same spot they left you. Develop yourself. Enrich your life. Make sure you can see through tears of loneliness. Do not become a heap of ruin and rot because your partner chose the easiest route. Make your own luck.  Enjoy as much as you can while fulfilling your parental obligations. If he’s having a blast, have a blast too. If and when he decides to return with ‘sorry’, meet him with ‘sorry’ too,  in case he finds evidence of your ‘blast’.

I came in peace.

I’m going in peace.

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