I met Alex when I was in university. My dream guy was someone who would be affectionate and friendly and buy me gifts but I never got that from Alex. He was handsome and quiet which I liked about him but he was an introvert who stayed indoors all the time. He didn’t buy me gifts and was always broke. Nonetheless, I fell in love with him and we dated for 6 years because I thought that he couldn’t be abusive and I didn’t have to worry about him cheating on me.
When we were ready to get married, he came home and introduced himself. My parents liked him but my mother saw beyond his act.
“He’s too quiet. Are you sure he’s good for you?” My mum asked.
“Dad has already accepted him,” I answered dismissing her concerns.
They reached an understanding on the dowry and he paid later. Then we planned the church wedding which went on successfully. However, I noticed something peculiar that day. While my family came in large numbers, the only people who came from his side were his mum, uncle and aunt.
“Why are there only three people from his side of the family?” My dad asked.
“He said most of his family lives far away and they couldn’t make it,” I answered.
I didn’t think it was a big deal since I was head over heels in love with him.
On our wedding night, I was excited to consummate the marriage. However, Alex didn’t seem too enthusiastic.
“I don’t want children right now.” He said when I tried to be intimate.
“Okay.” I agreed reluctantly.
A week after our wedding, we had planned to move to a new apartment with the things we had received from the wedding. I went to look for a place and paid the caretaker a deposit. However, when it was time to move, the house was locked and the caretaker wasn’t picking my calls. I was unable to reach him so we decided to go to another place but Alex was extremely mad at me.
“You’ve eaten my money together with the caretaker.” He said while grabbing my hand. “You’ll know where you’ll get that money.”
“I’m sorry. You know I don’t have money.” I pleaded.
He gave me the silent treatment for a week and I had to call his friend so he could intervene. His friend offered to pay the money which Alex accepted.
Marriage life wasn’t what I expected it to be. My husband used to do business so he travelled a lot and I was left at home alone the whole week. When he left, he’d give me around Ksh 500 to take care of my needs for the whole week which was barely enough. I also didn’t have a phone to communicate with him and used to go to ask friends to give me their phone.
“Tell your husband to buy you a phone.” They’d say jokingly before giving me.
“He will.” I’d reply.
Though I felt like the marriage wasn’t going well, I wanted it to last so I could prove everyone wrong. I was also a bishop’s kid and had a reputation to maintain so divorce wasn’t an option at the time.
The only people I could confide in were my spiritual parents. I called my spiritual mother one day when I felt like I was at the edge to explain my predicament.
“Things are not going well in my marriage,” I said.
“We’ll talk with your husband.” She said.
They called us in for a meeting and he explained himself. He was good at explaining himself.
“He’s a hardworking man. You have to give him time.” My spiritual mum said.
Less than a week later, he bought me a 40-inch TV and a few other household items to make me happy. My dad also offered to take a loan so he could grow his business.
I never saw a single shilling of the money and any time I asked Alex about it he would brush me off.
“You don’t understand business.” He said.
I used to beg for money to do my hair or buy essentials like pads which he would refuse, at times. When he found that I had done my hair or bought something, he would accuse me of sleeping with men for money.
By that time, I wanted a child but he used to make excuses. I got worried since I wasn’t getting pregnant and decided to go to the gynaecologist. He informed me that I was okay but asked me to bring my husband so we could both get checked. As expected, he refused.
As time went by, the intimacy between us was no more. I was stressed and emotionally exhausted yet I had no one to confide in. The only joy I would get was when I’d visit my friend and we’d cook together. One day, I opened up to her about my marriage.
“Let’s go back to my house. I want you to see something.” I said.
We went to the house and I opened the fridge and kitchen cabinets to show her how empty they were.
“This is how I live. I’ve tried calling my husband and he doesn’t pick up.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“I’m done. I don’t want to stay in this marriage anymore.”
She suggested that we call him to see what he would say. I knew he wouldn’t sympathize with me but gave it a try anyway. He picked up when we called using my friend’s number.
“Do you know you left me with nothing to eat?” I confronted him.
“I didn’t carry the cooking pots or gas cooker.” He answered.
“You know what, I’m leaving.”
“Okay. If you’re leaving, don’t go with my keys.” He answered then hung up.
My friend helped me pack my things and then called my spiritual mum who told me to go to her place. A few weeks later, Alex came to see me and asked me to go to my parents’ home.
“When I want her back, I will go for her.” He said.
“Do you know the repercussions? She came here because she was protecting your reputation from her parents.”
He took me to my parents’ home but didn’t talk to them. I started to heal slowly and got my confidence back. I was active again on social media, posting pictures and having fun. Alex started calling me to harass me so I blocked his number. Then, a cousin called me on Alex’s behalf.
“He thinks you want to take his property because you’ve studied law and you know how to.” He explained.
“I don’t want any of his property, even the ones we bought together. I just want my peace.”
A few days later, I got a message threatening me.
“Do you think you can take my property? One of us will have to die and it’s not me.” It read.
I told my cousin about it and he advised me to go and tell him that I didn’t want anything from him.
While I was at home, I heard movement and before I could figure out what was going on, I saw my cousin pouring something on me. I started screaming because it was burning me. My mum poured water on me and then took me to the hospital. They told us it was acid and I had burns on half of my body, including my face.
I stayed in the hospital for over a year healing my wounds. My cousin and my grandmother were the ones who took care of me and built my spirit up again.
It took a long time for me to forgive the people who had attacked me but I did, eventually. I decided to turn my experience into a positive one and started an organization which helps women who are survivors of gender-based violence.
The singlehood series is a collection of real-life stories and opinions from different people. It looks at the current world of dating around the world and the experiences that people have gone through.