Tare had never spoken a word of Spanish…where was she going to start from? They had talked of her taking Spanish classes, but she was overwhelmed with everything. She was thankful every day that she and her husband spoke the same local language, when she was tired of trying, she would easily speak Yoruba to him instead of English so that no one would understand what she was saying. The big shock for her was how they walked everywhere. Unlike her life in Nigeria where she would jump into her car and go where she wanted, she had to study the train and bus times and plan around those schedules. Manual labour was very expensive so she had to learn to do everything herself. Her husband helped when he could but with his work schedule and knowing that that was their only source of income, she could not complain.
Winter was approaching, so was the delivery. Having a first child and having to deal with everything on her own made her miserable. She spent a lot of time thinking as her husband was not there for her to share these fears with. She was not ready to speak to her mum about these concerns. Her mum would not only get worried but would blow up Seyi’s phone, which might just do more harm than good. Seyi came home tired and somewhat uninterested in all her baby talk most days; she quickly learnt not to bother him with it.
Her bundle of joy arrived one fine snowy day, after 20 hours of labour. The pain is not something anyone can ever prepare you for. But like they say, once you have the baby in your hands, you realise that the pain was worth it. Tare moved into the spare bedroom so that the baby’s constant crying would not bother her husband. He was involved at first but that started to wear out. Communication between the couple was strained and Tare easily focused on her baby, her only source of joy. Postpartum depression kicked in and was worsened by Tare juggling everything. Learning to be a mother on her own, constantly on the phone with her mum when she has no clue what to do. And having to deal with Seyi’s attitude, Tare started to feel unloved, inadequate and her self-confidence dropped all the way to the floor.
Tare tried to suggest couple therapy, but Seyi was as stubborn as a mule; he didn’t see the need. Seyi had not touched Tare for as long as she could remember. She tried to seduce him a few times but he was constantly tired. The last time she tried, he yelled at her so loudly and suggested that they get a divorce. She walked out of his room, ashamed and anything left of her ego died that night. She had never felt so low, that she decided that that was the end for her. She started digging into his past and uncovered so many issues that had not been dealt with. He was such an insecure individual and was projecting all that on her. She tried to save him, she really did, but realised a little too late that a person could only be saved if the person wanted to be.
Two years passed with them living like flat mates, talking on some days and not talking on others. Tare became desperate to find a job. Although she had learnt enough Spanish to get by, with no friends and no confidence to venture out, she could hardly practise the language.
The highlight of her life in Spain came when her friend, Iyabo, visited. Iyabo was happy, full of life and she showed Tare around her own city. Tare had been too timid to venture out on her own, but most importantly, Tare had no money. To go anywhere, she would have to ask Seyi for money for a transport pass. Iyabo only spent a week but Iyabo’s happiness rubbed off on Tare and her baby. That visit was the wakeup call Tare needed. Iyabo made sure to give her friend enough money to keep her afloat for a while and reminded Tare to live, to go back to being the Tare who once had the world as her playground.
Tare put her entire free time into looking for a job. She had worked a corporate job back home but at this point, with the language limitation and other factors which she preferred not to dwell on, she was willing to do any job to make her own money. She eventually found a job to clean hotel rooms. What a mighty fall from grace, but Tare was proud that she was working honestly to make money.
She had the opportunity to interact with other people and practise Spanish. She could buy herself things and she had to make the choice to put her baby in a crèche which she could finally afford.
On one of the days at work, she ran into a guy, she was yet to see any Spanish man that caught her fancy but she found this one hot! He was tall, had well defined jaw lines, such thin lips and his hair was brushed back. He didn’t have the frazzled look that many walked around with. He was well dressed and geez, he had the body for clothes. Keep it moving she thought to herself. She had become so unattractive that even her husband would not look at her, talk more of touch her. She was yet to lose the baby weight from nearly three years ago and she was in her cleaning clothes! He stopped her, she assumed she had cleaned his room or he needed some information, so she was ready to answer any questions, but the dude seemed quite keen to have a chat. Caught off guard, she reminded him that she was working, but he asked for her number. She had no reason not to give him, so she did. She wondered what he wanted but thought to herself that he would not call. Well, he did! Her curiousity got the best of her, so she obliged him. They went for drinks and she had to communicate only in Spanish. She felt awkward at first but he seemed kind, he corrected her with such understanding that she started to feel comfortable with him. They had a light-hearted chat and for the first time, she was able to enjoy the moment. She went home smiling, she could still be happy after all, and she had Luis to thank for that.
The following weekend when he invited her out, of course she went, she left the child with Seyi to baby sit. She got back later than usual, walked in all smiles, that annoyed Seyi who had dealt with a grumpy girl all evening. None said anything, and they went to bed.
The next morning, Seyi asked for a divorce. Tare's response was that she would be waiting to sign the papers. His shock was obvious. Then he said, ‘you will have to go back to Nigeria’. In response, Tare said ‘bring the papers. I lived a far better life at home than the rubbish I’ve been dealing with here. I’ve tried never to complain so don’t push me’. Tare was no longer afraid, and she meant every word. Seyi could see that and he panicked. He rushed to a friend of his whose wife Tare respects. The wife called Tare asking to confirm what she was hearing about a divorce. All Tare had to say was, ‘please do not discourage him’.
On the other hand, Luis was keeping Tare entertained. On this day, he invited her over to his place and cooked her dinner. He made advances, but Tare felt so much guilt thinking of her husband and child, so she left. She got home annoyed at herself for resisting when she had been living with a man who may well not recognize that she was a woman and had needs.
Tare ran into Luis at the super market, she had not taken any of his calls since their last encounter. It was an awkward meeting but once they got past the awkwardness, they were chatting and laughing once again. He invited her over to his again. He tried, and on this day, Tare was not even willing to put up a fight. She went the whole nine yards and enjoyed every moment of it. Tare was beaming when she got home and made Seyi’s favourite meal. He devoured it, no questions asked.
Her meetings with Luis became frequent, Luis took her to places she had never been to. He made her explore and do things she only read in novels, things she thought would be filthy, but she enjoyed it all. She loved this new part of herself she was discovering. Tare was glowing… Her conscience pricked her but Seyi didn’t even seem to notice anything. He was always busy with Alvaro. Alvaro was over at theirs and in Seyi’s room as usual. Tare needed to pick some utensil from that room so she walked right in like she always would. Only on this day, she met them in action, pants down.
Horrified, she stood there staring until Seyi pushed her out and shut the door.
NB - This story (slightly modified) is based on true events...
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