By Ireto Temofeh
When I met Ola, I knew he was going to make a great father. Having grown up in a family without a dad, this was high on my list of prerequisites. Julian seemed to fit the bill perfectly — he was good with kids and spent lots of time with his nieces and nephews. I knew he was a workaholic too at his hotel, but was sure that he would stop working too much in order to make time for his family.
By the time we had our second child, I knew our “perfect family” was in trouble. Ola returned to work at his hotel straight after the birth and after that, we hardly saw him. He went to work early, came home briefly for lunch and to see the children and returned to work until late in the evening, when everybody was in bed.
When the kids reached school age and weren’t home in the middle of the day, they never saw their father at all. Ola brushed off my complaints with reminders that he was working so hard for them in the first place, but I knew this wasn’t really the case.
The hotel was doing well and we’d always been good with money; there was more than enough room for Ola to take a few days off here and there. But it never happened and so by the time our kids had almost reached secondary school, we’d never even taken a family holiday together like traveling to the village for Christmas.
Besides, I had heard reports that my husband kept so many girlfriends in his hotel, which I believed was the reason he seldom has sex with me.
I was very angry with him and I knew that I had to do something drastic. Infuriated by his apparent lack of concern and remembering my own childhood with a dad who lived two states away and didn’t care, I decided it was time to teach my husband, Ola, a lesson. And I knew just how to do it.
Ola had a good business going with his hotel here in Lagos, but I knew he was a bit clumsy in how he ran things. No one who worked for him received proper training, for example, because it cost too much.
One day, I anonymously rang the state Ministry of Health and made a complaint. I said I’d recently eaten at the hotel and had ended up very sick. I told them that I had watched the preparation of the food and noticed some very poor hygiene practices from the chefs. I hung up the phone, knowing that Ola was going to get a visit from the health ministry.
What I didn’t know was that Ola had already been in trouble and fined for similar infringements. For example, his staff didn’t store food correctly, didn’t label expiry dates, check temperatures, wear gloves or even clean up adequately at the hotel!
I had no idea things had been this bad. I only wanted Ola to get a fine, to pay him back, but it was a long way past that. When the health inspectors paid my husband a visit, they found enough wrong to shut his hotel down. And it was all my fault!
It was a blessing in disguise, though. Out of work, Ola came back to the family begging for my forgiveness. I forgave him on one condition: he should spend more time with his family.
He accepted begrudgingly and said that whenever he reopens his hotel he would start spending more time with me and the children. I laugh inside me because he has no idea how far I’ll go to make sure he keeps to his promise!