I was in school doing nursing when I first met Elvis. I had come home from school and helping my mom sell her foodstuffs at the market when Elvis came around to buy.
He bought yam and other foodstuffs and requested my mom to peel off the yam. My mom was busy so I did it for him and helped him carry it to his car. He was there again the next day and again asked my mom to peel off the yam. I ended up doing it and again helped him carry it to his car.
He was coming around almost every day to buy from us so I gave him my number and asked him to call me when coming so I could prepare his stuff before he got there.
That continued for a while until we begun chatting about things not related to foodstuffs. He said he wanted to know me. I told him about me and he did too.
It was then he told me about how his only sister returned from the US with a severe stroke that rendered her paralyzed. He said, “She was doing very well in the USA before the sickness struck. When she was brought back, I decided to bring her to live with me so I could take good care of her.”
“How thoughtful of you,” I said.
When our friendship blossomed, he invited me over to his house. That was when I got to know the extent of his sister’s sickness. She barely could walk so she supported herself in a wheelchair. The stroke somehow took her speech away. She could only murmur and gesture with the left hand which was also almost dead.
I was struck with pity when I saw her. I drew closer to her and said hello. She tried responding but when she opened her mouth, she only murmured while saliva kept dripping off her mouth. Elvis took a towel close by and wiped off her lips.
“So you’re the only one taking care of her?” I asked. He answered, “No, not only me. There’s a nanny who helps out especially when I go to work.”
He then introduced me to the nanny As a friend. With a grin on his face, he continued, “She would be coming around a lot from now on.”
We grew much closer to each other. He would usually pick me up on a weekend and we would go out with some of his friends and have fun. Finally, he proposed and I said yes. The following day I received a message from one of his friends, Uche, (the only married guy among his friends) He said, “Thanks for coming into Elvis’ life. I trust you’ll draw him closer to the altar very soon.”
From then on, Uche and his wife became my confidants.
Anytime I visited Elvis in his house, I made sure I spent a lot of time with his sister—I cooked for her, clean her up and usually spoon-fed her. She couldn’t talk but I tried all my best to make her comfortable around me. I wanted her to like me so I gave off my best. Even days that Elvis wasn’t around, I could go there, cook for her, clean her up and push her wheelchair outside for a stroll.
Some days she smiled, other days she was indifferent. I loved helping her. I’m a nurse and helping the sick comes naturally to me.
I noticed a sudden change in the demeanor of the sister after I’d spent a night in Elvis’ house. Early the next morning, I went to the sister’s room and tried to help her take her medication. I sensed some anger in her actions. She was trying to say something but the words were not coming out. She tried throwing me some gestures but that didn’t help since she’d lost the functions of her hands. But I could feel the anger in her demeanor.
I asked the nanny if there was something wrong. She only shook her head. I asked Elvis and he told me not to bother. He said, “Sometimes she’s like that. She gets angry over nothing.”
It continued for some days, she wouldn’t let me touch her and she wouldn’t let me help her with anything. Her demeanor changed anytime I was around.
One afternoon, I went to see the nanny. I asked her, “Has Elvis’ sister ever treated you the way she’s treating me now?” She said no. I asked again, “Do you know of anything that will make her act the way she does towards me?”
The nanny was quiet for a while. She then said, “hmm, madam, there are a lot of things you don’t know around here. Elvis didn’t tell you the whole truth. The truth is, the woman in the wheelchair isn’t Elvis’ sister. She’s actually the wife and have been married for 4years now”
“Huh?” I screamed with my jaws down to my chest and eyes so wide opened. “Wha…what are you saying? Nooo, that can’t be the truth. She’s the sister…all his friends have confirmed that to me.”
“Those friends are evil,” said the nanny. “I wonder how they sleep at night knowing what Elvis is doing to his wife. The woman has been depressed. Yeah, you’re a lot of help to her but I guess she’s realized what is happening between you and the husband.”
I got choked. I didn’t want to cry but tears found their way. It wasn’t about a man lying to me. I’ve been lied to a million times and none of those deserved my tears. I cried only because I made a sick woman’s burden a lot heavier. I walked home that day carrying a heavy guilt I’ve never had.
I called Elvis and asked him to see me after work.
Within two hours, he was at my house. The first question was, “Why would you do that to someone who’s already in pain…not just someone but your wife for that matter?” “Whom are you talking to?” He asked. “I’ve been talking to your wife! She had lost her speech but not her actions! I can’t believe you made me do this to a sick woman. How could you be so insensitive?”
Then he started giving me his version of the story; “Yeah she is my wife. I’m sorry I lied to you but the truth is, the woman in the wheelchair isn’t the woman I married. She was strong. She was beautiful and could take care of herself but just six months into our marriage, she had a stroke that reduced her to the woman in the wheelchair now. This isn’t what I bargained for. I’m wrong for lying to you but it’s not altogether my fault.”
He tried his best to be emotional about it. At one length I could understand the difficulty of his situation and at another length, it made no difference to lie about his situation. So I told him…
“Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning? And even if you had to cheat on your wife should you do it right under her nose? Or you thought she had a stroke so she had lost her emotional senses? You can’t excuse yourself from this no matter how hard you try.” He was quiet for a while, trying to find what to say; “I’m sorry I lied to you but don’t take it the wrong way. I’m getting a divorce very soon and you are the one I want to settle with after everything.”
I answered, “You’ll settle with me and divorce me when disaster strikes, right? Thanks a lot for finding me worthy to be your wife but unfortunately I don’t feel the same.”
I was so ashamed I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Snatching a sick woman’s husband? The guilt was too much on my head but I blamed everyone involved in this charade, especially Uche and his wife. The wife especially. I thought women had a heart towards the sufferings of their fellow women?
The next day, while Elvis was at work, I went to his house to see his wife. I pleaded with the nanny to allow me in and she did. Immediately she saw me, her demeanor changed. You could see rage on her face. I knelt down and cried and asked her to forgive me. I told her, “I’m not a good woman but not in a million years would I take another woman’s husband and even do it openly as I did to you. I believed in the lies Elvis told me—he said you were the sister. His friends called you his sister so I believed you to be. Forgive me and count it not against me.”
I felt her squirming in her bed so I lifted my head to look at her. She had tears in her eyes and you could see she was trying to touch me but she couldn’t lift a finger. I didn’t know how to feel—forgiven or not. I asked her not to cry and I told her to be strong for the days ahead.
I left her side still not knowing how to feel but I was happy for the apology and went home determined to close this chapter of my life for good so I could move on.
I’ve moved on.
-Patience, Lagos, Nigeria