What if you had died?

The doctors say you took a cocktail of pills. The discovery was, thankfully, early. The prompt surgery took life out of the coloured pills that were hungrily gnawing at your being. Alas, they, not your heart, ground to a halt.

What if the discovery was not made?

What if it hadn’t been a whole week before I read the story in the Metro pages of the newspaper?

It has been over a year since we last had a proper conversation, one on one, like we used to, before life happened and put a blade to the thing that held us together, making our friendship fadeout into awkward hellos and how are you doings, delivered through chats that always returned a positive response; fine.

What if I always knew everything was not fine with you though?

Thankfully, this is not a funeral oration. But it is. Not for this bucket you missed kicking by inches but for the death you died some years ago when you took the decision to marry that man.

We were young and eager for marriage. It was the next cap, an icing on our freshly acquired degrees. He came along, like a smile from heaven; oozing affluence and trouble. You refused to see beyond the affluence. The Prada bags made up for his drinking. The designer outfits covered up his open womanizing. The love, you convinced yourself, would grow. When he said jump, you screamed how high?

What if I admit I was slightly envious, standing there as your maid of honour, watching as you exchanged diamond rings and swore to be with him in sickness and in health. Alas, you alone took that oath seriously. For him, the words paled into nothingness no sooner than they left his lips.

He hit you and you stayed. You made excuses for him. You even claimed to have been at fault. The most ridiculous excuse I heard was that the sex was good, a worthy compensation of sorts for every time he turned you into a punching bag. You stayed.

What if death is a decision? Not a state. Not an end.

You decided to marry him even though you hardly knew him. You decided to stick with him even when he was a monster. You decided to close your eyes to the other women even when you saw glaring evidence. You decided to quit your job because he said his wife should not work. You decided to lock the world out, telling us to mind our business.

You died long before you chose to commit suicide!

What if you remembered your strength, your independent mindedness, how you infected me with your love for life and success. Back when we were teenagers in secondary school, you told me of your desire to be a successful career woman, a professional, someone high up in the corporate world, combining beauty and brains and making men catch cold when you sneezed?

How did one decision ruin it all?

What if you had said yes to someone who loved you back instead? Someone whose brain is not stuck between his legs? Someone who knew your worth and valued it. Like that guy you dumped for this man, who you said was a broke ass fellow. He certainly would not have told you few months into your marriage, that he married you so you could stay at home and be a wife. A cook and a hen hatching children.

What if…?

The man you married would have been only too glad if you had died. In a matter of weeks he would have announced your replacement, one of his many mistresses, with a face buried in layers of Mary Kay.

Would I have been able to forgive myself for not being there, for not going beyond those awkward phone chats, for not stepping in to support and not to judge?

The last time we saw was last December at the end of year party of our Old Girls Association. You looked spent, twice your age, like a sucked orange. Two rows of seats separated us and when our eyes met, we exchanged an inaudible Hi, your face, a signpost of regret and pain. I was going to pull you aside after the guest lecturer’s speech to ask what was wrong. But you did not stay long. By the time I looked in your direction again, you were gone.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo is the author of “The Funeral Did Not End” and tweets from @nzesylva





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  1. Ugomma

    lol@”the designers made up for his womanizing”.
    “looking like a sucked orange”
    love the expressions. Enough said! Good write up Nze

  2. topazo

    truly, a single decsion can alter the course of our lives…people have always said your spouse can determine your destiny…i think that is if we give in to despair…it is never too late to turn back…rather than commit suicide and admit defeat, she should have mustered the strength to walk away. maybe if we stop stigmatizing divorced women and not view them as weak women unable to keep a home, maybe if we stop measuring success of women by how long their marriage last then more women will have the courage to leave abusive (both physical and emotional) relationships. sometimes it is better to stay single and happy than married and withered and unproductive. and no, let’s stop this manta of “staying for the kids” it isn’t fair on women…


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