This is not my story. It is a story of a married couple I know . A couple whose love turned to hate. A couple who stood at the edge of spite. They are Mr and Mrs Ade-Coker. They have been married for over 8 years, blessed with two children, Femi and Sally.
Eight months ago, their marriage turned to a wrestling ring. Everyday, they fought while I watched helplessly. I saw Mr Ade-Coker hit his wife time and time again. Then I saw his wife invite soldiers and had her husband beaten black and blue. I watched silently, cradling their kids in my arms, covering their eyes with my hands, shielding them from the agony.
Also, I was there, when the two families came together to discuss the terms of the divorce. I watched Mrs Ade-Coker’s father argue that divorce was not an option.
“I am a knight in the catholic church for God’s sake. My daughter cannot divorce, Mba nu!” he had screamed, adjusting the red cap on his head.
Mr Ade-Coker’s mother also insisted that the couple must work it out after all she had advised her son against the marriage in the first place. Now, he should live with his choice.
The embattled couple fought to make the marriage work yet time and time again, their disagreement rose. Mr Ade-coker screamed that his wife didn’t respect him while she yelled that her husband was a shameless womanizer.
Despite their problems, one thing remained certain; their love for their children. I would watch as Mr Ade-Coker would played with his children, carrying them high on his shoulders and tickling them. I also know how Mrs Ade-Coker cared for the kids. She would stay awake on their bedsides throughout the night, nursing them from sickness.
I saw all this because I was their house help.
Unlike most helps, I was well treated so I loved the Ade-Cokers. I prayed that their problems be solved. I hoped madam would shut her mouth whenever oga screamed at her. But she never did. She would talk back, scream, yell till Oga’s fist slammed into her face, knocking her to the ground.
Two months ago, Mrs Ade-Coker presented her husband with divorce papers. I watched his eyes twitch. Then I saw sadness crept in their depths. I saw him kneel before her, tears shinning in his gaze. He pleaded, begged for a second chance but his wife would have none of it. She was busy cursing and packing her bags but the moment she carried her children and headed for the door, Mr Ade-Coker went berserk.
“You won’t dare take my kids!” he bellowed.
And that was the beginning of the custody battle. Endless court appearances. Mr and Mrs Ade-Coker began to use their kids as pawns,painting the other bad in the eyes of their kids.
Once Mrs Ade-Coker stole the kids from their school and ran to another city and resided but when her husband got hold of it, he found them and took them back. The kids became a leverage for the couple. But the more they fought, the sadder Sally and Femi became. The once cheerful children began to wear long faces and no matter how many story books I read to them, they wouldn’t laugh. They no longer believed in forever afters.
So, on a hot afternoon, I was undressing Sally for a bath. Femi was playing in the balcony while Mr and Mrs Ade-coker ‘s loud screams were echoing in the room. They were having another fight. Femi was listening to their rants. The pain of their strife darkened his eyes. His forehead burrowed. He walked over to the edge of the balcony and before I could Mrs Ade-coker could run over; Femi jumped, crashing down the four storey building and slamming his head against the hard concrete ground.
Why do parents use their children as pawns after break up?
Why are children mostly the victims of divorce?
Share your thoughts with me.
READ ALSO: OF COMPATIBILITY OR NONE
Written by Chioma Ngaikedi.