The best stories are usually the true ones. The following story is not only true but it is also revealing and remarkable. Please fasten your seatbelts, sit back and patiently read it. You never know, you may learn something from it. I certainly did. Here we go.
Someone asked me the other day where I got the inspiration to write my poem titled “The Power of a Woman”. I told him that it came from the Spirit of God and that I also drew on so many experiences that I had had with women over the last 53 years of my life and the experiences of many of my male friends too. All in all the poem, in my view, far from being an attack on womanhood was in fact very charitable to them and confirmed the view, held by many, that they are extremely complex beings that need to be treated with tender love and care at all times.
Funnily enough most of my closest friends today are women: this is because I find them to be far more loyal and generally speaking much deeper, more far-sighted, more sensitive and more discerning than men. But let me share something here that happened to me just a few years ago when I was still in government and which shocked me beyond belief. It also made me extremely wary of members of the opposite sex. A good friend of mine who was, and still is a leading and well known politician, was put in detention during President Obasanjo’s administration. He was facing some very serious criminal charges (he has long since been cleared and acquitted by the courts) and he was detained in prison for many months. I was reasonably close to him at the time and I used to speak with him regularly when he was there and I did all I could to help him with his case. I also used to visit his family regularly to encourage them and do whatever I could for them.
He and his wife were very close and I always saw her as a dutiful and loyal wife. She seemed to be totally devoted to this man. Then came the shocker: one day when I went there I noticed that she seemed a little more restless and agitated than usual. She offered me a generous shot of vintage ”Remy Martin” brandy and I reminded her that I don’t drink hard liqour. I noticed that she was getting a little too familiar with me and she wore a flimsy gown that night. I was getting very uncomfortable and hot under the collar and told her that I had to leave. She then told me that she had prepared dinner and that she cooked it herself just for me and that she had told all the househelp to retire early and the children were all away at boarding school- in short, she told me that we were completely alone in the house. At this point I protested strongly and told her that I had to leave right away. She then told me that she had something to tell me and something to give me. I asked her to go ahead: she told me that I should stop worrying about her husband and that after all how do I know that he didn’t commit the said crime? She told me that he is a very ”harsh and wicked man” and that the only reason that she was still with him was because of the children and because he had plenty of money and power.
She then broke down and wept and said that she was so unhappy in the marriage and that the only way she could be free was for him to die or to be jailed. She said that she did not want him to ever come out of detention and that that was her secret prayer. At this point there were goose pimples all over my body and a very deep fear gripped me. I sensed that I was in mortal danger and I started praying under my breath. I told her that I did not want to hear such things and that I was leaving. She then got up and ran to the front door and locked it from within. She told me that I could not go until she had given me the gift she had promised me and that she would now go upstairs to fetch it for me. At this point I had come to the conclusion that this lady was mentally unstable and I actually feared for my life. Was it a gun she wanted to bring or was the food drugged or poisoned? All sorts of things were racing through my mind. She then went upstairs and came back five minutes later and you know what? She was completely naked! She told me that this was the gift she had for me: her body. She told me that she had loved me from the first day she saw me and that she was ready to do anything for me there and then. I was shocked beyond belief.
I then picked up my cell phone and sent an SOS text to my chief security officer who, together with his team, were in the compound by the cars. Immediately they cordoned off the house, brought out their weapons, rushed to the front door and started demanding to see me. They actually thought that perhaps I had been poisoned or shot or something. It was at that point that the lady relented, unlocked the door and I was saved. I left the place safely. What shocked me the most was that when the man was released I went to see them and this lady was once again playing the role of the devoted and dutiful wife. She was doting on him and showering him with love and praises, which is, of course, how it should be. She even insisted on leading the prayers thanking God over and over again for his release from detention and final acquittal. I was happy for my friend but at the same time unhappy for him. I was happy because he had been released but I was unhappy because he had no idea about the type of wife he had.
I learnt something that day: I learnt that when the bible says that “the heart of man is desperately wicked, who can know it?” that it is true. I also learnt that when William Shakespeare wrote that “there is no art that can see the minds construction in the face” that he was right. And this goes both ways: men can be as deceptive as women and more often than not they are. It is just that men are not nearly as good at it and more often than not they are very obvious. You see it was not the suggestion of infidelity that shocked me the most (because that is common enough) but rather the deep-seated hatred that this woman secretly had for her husband. That is what I found frightful. And as bad as that was, I am sure that he must have brought that beast out in her by not treating her well over the years. So perhaps it is not entirely her fault. I cannot judge her or either of them (in any case who am I to judge anyone) but the morale of the tale is surely this: we must treat our wives and our partners very well indeed and then we can leave the rest to God.
We must give them a new reason to love us anew every day. We must light up their fire, touch their souls and lift up their senses. We must treat them as if they were princesses and queens so that they will love us forever and not run to another or secretly wish us dead. We must ensure that the beast does not rise up in them by giving them all that they could possibly want, whether it be emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially. My friend is still with his wife and they appear to be very happy too. I am happy for them and particularly for his blissful ignorance concerning his wife’s inner-most thoughts. Well maybe she has changed her mind about him now and maybe she truly loves him again. I really wouldn’t know and that is none of my business.
I have never spoken about that incident with that lady and I never will. Whenever we see each other we just smile and say hello: she knows that her secret is safe with me but I do pray for both her and her husband. I pray for their marriage because we are all vulnerable from time to time and we all have our moments of weakness. And neither will I ever tell anyone the names of this interesting couple. My lips are sealed forever on that and neither is it relevant. May God help us all, particularly we men, for we have no idea about just how deep, powerful and complex women can be. That is the power of a woman! And it is partly that shocking experience that led me to write that highly celebrated and controversial poem. For those that are interested in reading it and learning more about the fairer sex just google the title or look it up in the poems column of my website- www.femifanikayode.org. You never know- you may learn something new. I certainly did. Shalom.
Fani-Kayode is a former Minister of Aviation