Linus Oota, Lafia
It was a marriage doomed from the beginning, and after 13 years, it culminated in a tragedy. Presently, the couple, who live in Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State, are gradually coming to terms with the fact that they have opened a Pandora’s box.
It started with the husband’s deceit––hiding his impotency from the woman he intended to marry; it got messier with the woman’s effort to break her 12-year barrenness by sleeping with the houseboy––and she committed worse sin by murdering the 21-year-old househelp in order to keep her secret. Then a final twist: it turned out the houseboy was actually her husband’s son, born out of wedlock while he was a randy youth. This family calamity–– with the accompanying incest and murder––was spawned by too many secrets between husband and wife.
Strange and improbable it may sound, this is actually a true-life story, a revelation that came straight from the horse’s mouth––from the main protagonist herself––the nine-month pregnant wife, Rebecca Bako, who prodded by guilty conscience on her own volition knocked on the door of a minister on May 20, 2019, to narrate the travails of her matrimony.
Rebecca Bako, arriving at the minister’s house by 8 am at first sat quietly on the bench outside. Few minutes later, she was sharing her story with the pastor in the presence of Saturday Sun correspondent.
It was a bizarre, complex, mind-numbing story of 12 years of fruitless marriage, with what would have been the climax––the birth of the nine-month pregnancy––becoming an anticlimax.
What was Rebecca’s purpose for involving the pastor? To make a confession, seek God’s forgiveness and plead with the pastor to talk to her husband to forgive her, she clarified.
In an emotion-laden voice, the beleaguered housewife recounted how a perfect marriage gradually turned sour due to barrenness. Her narrative highlighted the aggravating factors, such as a toxic mother-in-law who harangued her endlessly, her husband’s lackadaisical attitude to their childlessness, her own fear of impending menopause and the bad advice of Rose, her childhood friend.
A marriage doomed by childlessness
Before she began her story proper, Rebecca Bako spent two minutes wiping her tears.
She started with a recollection of the sunny days. “He was my best friend before we got married. We had a beautiful wedding. Our honeymoon was fun. We were ready to have children as quickly as possible so we could move on.”
As with most marriage, barrenness begets misery.
“After 12 years, I didn’t conceive, I became apprehensive because I was not young any longer and I was nearing menopause. My mother-in-law was even more desperate. She pressured her son to take another wife. I understood her position. My childhood friend, Rose, who is married in Makurdi, advised us to adopt a child, but my husband wouldn’t buy the idea.
“My mother-in-law later came to live with us in the house and she became my nightmare. She made life a living hell for me, to the extent that I contemplated suicide countless times because she insulted me and claimed that I charmed her son who is the only son in the family.”
A friend’s sinful counsel
At her wit’s end, she turned to friends for advice.
“At a point, I had to share my experience with my friend, Rose, who confessed to me that she once faced a similar problem. She suggested that perhaps my husband might have been the source of the problem all these years. Her advice to me was to find a younger lover and try having sex with him to see whether it would work. According to her, that was how she gave birth to her three children. When she discovered that her husband was finding it difficult to impregnate her after more than two years of marriage, she devised a means of bearing children for him by having an affair outside, and it had worked perfectly for her, that had been the secret to her 10 years of a successful marriage.”
Rebecca recounted her friend’s advice to her: “Go for a guy who is not yet married, who is strong enough to give you the best of sexual satisfaction any time an opportunity presents itself, whether in the night or daytime. An unmarried man can easily walk away without accepting responsibility since he will equally get married someday to raise his own family, so there won’t be complications of laying claims to the child, but do not let the guy know that he is responsible.”
She at first found such advice impracticable. “I had never cheated on my husband before,” Rebecca said. “But I was equally considering my age too––just a year away from menopause. For several weeks, I thought over it. I didn’t understand how I would submit my private part to a man other than my own husband; I didn’t know how to find a man who would sleep with me, get me pregnant, and then just walk away.”
Unfortunately, she had, at the time, reached the limit of her endurance, and the circumstance around her was not in her favour. “I’d prayed to God for a way out, but I didn’t get any immediate solution; worse still, I was conscious of my fast-approaching menopause. I concluded that if I did not act fast, I risked losing my marriage once I reach menopause the following year because my mother-in-law was not ready to take chances. She had taken the matter seriously that I must give way for her son to marry another wife who can bear her grandchildren.”
Seducing the houseboy
Bako decided to take her chances after giving the issue a lengthy contemplation.
“I concluded that it is better I sleep with our houseboy, Kenneth, who is 21 years old. I had seen his crotch whenever he wore his boxer to keep the house clean. I realised that his manhood was long and sizeable enough to perform such functions. My husband had brought Kenneth from his village to live with us. He had just finished his secondary school and was preparing to go to university. I started admiring him anytime my husband went to work. I summoned the courage and made advances, wooing him with gifts like new trousers and shirts, takeaway food and other attractive items. In no time, he succumbed to me and we started having sex. I warned him never to reveal it and threatened to kill him if tries it. He was not too perfect in bed because of his age, but he was strong enough to give me sexual satisfaction because it takes him longer to release. We progressed in that direction and it became regular.
“After two months of this, I missed my period and the result was pregnancy. I was very happy and informed my friend, Rose that her advice has worked; what my husband could not do for 12 years, Kenneth has done it in less than three months.”
Another diabolical advice
After about four months, Rebecca’s friend, Rose sold her another terrible suggestion. She asked her to eliminate the houseboy who impregnated her. Her reason: He might one day reveal the secret and try to claim the child, thereby bringing shame and embarrassment to the couple.
“Something held me back because he was innocent and did not offend me,” she claimed. “After all, I lured him into having an affair with me against his wish.”
She continued: “But Rose continued to pester me, pointing out the dangers to me. Eventually, I had mixed Sniper (a deadly insecticide), otapiapa and rat killer with his food. I kept the meal for him and went to the hospital for medical checkup. Before my return, he had eaten the poisoned food and later died of stomach pain after four hours in the hospital.”
She cleverly managed the aftermath by convincing her husband the houseboy’s death could be due to spiritual attacks from the village. One week after his death, the body of the 21-year-old was buried, in December 2018.
“I was sad after his death. I regretted taking such action. I prayed to God to forgive all my sins and I distanced myself from Rose––I stopped picking her calls.”
While the death of the houseboy has eliminated the possible risk of future embarrassment, all she got was cold comfort.
“I notice that my husband was sad and affected by Kenneth’s untimely death. He was affected psychologically so much so it almost cost him his job at the bank. He ceased to be a happy man, even with my pregnancy. I tried severally to discuss with him about the future of my unborn baby, but it never interests him, at the time, I was in the fifth month of my pregnancy. Even though the test shows that we are expecting a baby boy, the man was still not happy at all.”
Then comes the dark secret
Three months later, early in the morning of April 30, 2019, her husband had abruptly woken her. She came awake to find him in a disturbed and depressed state. The man broke down, crying uncontrollably, unable to tell his wife the cause of his misery.
After a 30-minute cry jag, he was calm enough to tell her why he was crying.
He narrated a terrible and shocking story.
Rebecca recalled: “He started by apologising to me for not being fair to me by hiding from me what he ought to have told me from the first day of our marriage 13 years ago. I was confused. What fairness is he talking about? I became curious. Could it be that I am not the only one hiding secrets in this marriage?”
She recalled verbatim what her husband told her.
“He said: “While growing up many years ago, I lived a very rough life. I contracted a Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and was too ashamed to go to the hospital to treat it, but opted for a local treatment, which was not working. Later I had some medical complications, the untreated virus damaged my testicles and rendered me impotent forever. I didn’t know how to tell you all these years, but earlier before the infection, my girlfriend then in my diploma programme years back got pregnant for me, and refused to abort it, and that cost our relationship. But after three years, she brought a boy to my father. I wanted to reject it but my father accepted the boy and took responsibility while I proceeded to the university. It was the same girl that gave me the disease. She died a few years later as a result of the complications too.”
At this point, his wife had asked about the whereabouts of the boy and how he was faring. Her husband’s reply confirmed her worst fear: “The boy is the late Kenneth who had lived with us as a houseboy. I didn’t want you to know his true identity. I was afraid you might maltreat him or even kill him as most women do to children who are born into their matrimonial homes from another woman. I wanted to protect him since I wasn’t going to be able to get a woman pregnant in my lifetime again.”
The embattled husband once again burst into tears. The couple then came to the knotty part of their matrimonial misfortune when the husband dropped the next bombshell: “ I knew all these while that the baby in your womb is not my own, but I was too ashamed to confront you; now that everything has come to the open, please tell me, who is the father of our unborn child?”
This was how Rebecca found herself in a classic catch-22 situation. At that point, it was clear lies would further complicate the situation.
She decided to come clean, she claimed.
“I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably. I found it difficult to explain to him. Since he had been plain with me, I knelt before him in tears and confessed to him that the late Kenneth was the father of my unborn baby boy and that I was also responsible for his death. I pleaded with him to forgive me of all my sins, that I took that course of action to protect the marriage, and the consolation is that the new baby boy will replace his late son.”
According to Rebecca, her husband’s mien had briefly reflected anger when he learnt about the circumstances surrounding his son-houseboy death. He, however, appeared conciliatory, advising his wife to let go of the past.
Since their mutual confessions three weeks ago, life has not been the same between the Bako couple. Deteriorating relation between them has put Rebecca on tenterhooks.
“My husband has become a changed person completely,” she said. “He has emaciated, looking sorrowful nowadays. He hardly eats at home. He keeps late nights. As a banker, he gets home around 7 pm. Yet, he still goes out, which is very unusual of him. We hardly talk now. He hardly responds to my conversations. I am worried and even afraid to stay with him under the same roof. I suspect that he might also kill my son too when I delivered. His aloofness really worries me.”
On that note she concluded her story, bursting into tears again.
Pastor Joshua promised to meet with the husband by the weekend to hear his own side of the story before taking any decision.
Saturday Sun correspondent who was privy to the confession subsequently contacted Rebecca’s husband, who was hardly available due to the tight schedule of his job.
Daniel Bako was forthright in his response. “My brother, I am not myself. I am confused. I don’t deserve to be alive again. I am contemplating suicide. I wanted to give Kenneth the best education because he was my own blood, my only child in my entire life. I am yet to decide whether to be alive or not.”
On his wife, he is “confused about what to do with her.” He said: “It is not enough to kill my son in the name that she wants to protect the marriage. What marriage? What she did is an unforgiving crime, even if he (Kenneth) was not my son, it is wrong anywhere.”