Our marriage was only three months old when I saw my husband smoking for the first time. I was shocked. I thought it was a prank to see how I will react. I rushed to him, snatched it from his hand, and threw it away. I got burnt on the finger but that didn’t bother me a lot. I said, “What kind of joke is that? It’s not funny, don’t ever do it again.” And then he showed me the whole pack in his pocket. I said, “Are you ok? Where from this? Where did you pick it from?” He told me, “It started when I was in secondary school.”
“You mean you’ve been doing it even when we were dating?”
“It wasn’t consistent. I did it intermittently.”
“Wow. You’re making me feel like I was blind then.”
“No, not at all. I’ve been trying to stop but time and time again I go back to it.”
“Then today would be the last time you’ll do it.”
We dated for almost two years. He was a friend for over three years, I never suspected that he could do such a thing. This is a man I found in the church. He got me with his dedication to the things of the Lord. He never missed church and never missed an opportunity to talk about the Lord to anyone who will listen. I asked him, “So God is aware that you’ve been smoking? Or you hid it from him too?” He found my question funny so he laughed but I was serious. I just didn’t understand why I could be closer to him for all those years and still didn’t catch that habit of his.
I took the pack from him and said, “Promise me. Promise me that it would never happen again.” He shuffled off my presence. I looked at the pack and thought of what I should do with it. In the end, I threw it in my side of the drawer with the aim of discarding it whenever I step out of the house. I forgot about it for two days. I went back and it wasn’t there. I called him, “Tony, you came for the pack?” He smiled at me. I said, “Tony, what did you do to it? You finished it or you threw it away?” Again he smiled. I got what he wanted to say with those smiles. I felt like a failure. Like a clown who laughs at his own jokes.
We had a serious conversation that lasted for almost two hours in the hall. When we went to bed we continued until one of us fell asleep. We were brainstorming on how he could give up and the kind of help he needed to stop. I asked if anyone knows about it and he said only a couple of his friends. He had been able to hide it so well that none of his family members knew that he smoked. I told him, “No one knows about it that’s why you’re struggling to stop. We’ll have to tell someone. Someone you could be accountable to.” He retorted, “Now you know. Help me be accountable to you.”
It got worse. He stopped hiding it. He’ll do it in the house in my presence. The scents were not the same. I don’t know the differences but I felt some of the scents were heavier on the nose than others. I pressed him and he confessed that sometimes he does the weed. “I screamed, “You mean ntampi?” He answered, ”I don’t do it often, trust me.”
That confession alone was enough to drain all the romance in me. I couldn’t kiss my husband again. I was scared I would get high if I did. He touched me and I shivered. I started hiding from him. When he gets high like that and he jumps on me in the night, the shuperu could last all night. There was no love in it so I didn’t enjoy it. I will run dry and start getting cuts here and there. Because of that, I dread the night. I wore jeans shorts to sleep. If there was a cage around, I would have slept in and locked it so he wouldn’t get access to me.
For three years, he was smoking intensively. All attempts to get him to stop proved futile. I reported it to his parents and they didn’t believe me until I sent them photos of him doing it. They called him home. I wasn’t there when he went but they told me, “We’ve spoken to him at length. He listened. He promised to stop. Keep an eye on him. If he starts again tell us.” It looked like every week I was reporting him to them so at some point they also gave up on him.
After doing all that, on Sundays, he’ll be the one to wake me up and tell me to get ready for church. There was this young pastor in our church whom everyone revered, including my husband. When all hope to get him to stop was over, I ran to this man of God and complained to him. He whispered in surprise, “Your husband? You mean Anthony?” I answered, “You won’t believe it. No one believes me when I tell them. Yes, my husband is a heavy smoker.” He called him one day after church and we sat to talk about it. His humility in front of the pastor got me emotional. The pastor advised, “The devil destroys the seed when it sees how tall the tree would grow. Don’t give the devil a chance.”
We had been married for three years without a child. I threw that one in while we were still in the presence of the pastor. I said, “I believe it’s the reason God has refused to bless us with a child. He doesn’t want our baby to start getting high on its first day on earth.”
In the end, the pastor took it upon himself to help him stop. He told him, “Anytime you get the urge to do it, drink water and call me.” God being so good, he listened to the pastor and for a whole year, they worked together until my husband stopped smoking. We started working diligently toward having a child. We visited facilities, did checkups every now and then, and followed the advice of specialists. It took us three more years before we finally conceived.
You can imagine my happiness when I found out that I was pregnant. Everything around me turned beautiful. I said thank you to my husband every morning even when he hasn’t done anything of note. I slept and prayed for the baby that was growing in me.
I was washing my husband’s clothes when I found condensed milk toffee in his pocket. I was like, “He has started buying these toffees in traffic? Old man like him eating toffees?” I took the wrapper off and threw it in my mouth. It tasted someway but the condensed milk taste overshadowed that subtle funny taste. I munched on it until it finished in my mouth. I’d finished washing and was trying to get up to go and hang them but I couldn’t get up. All of a sudden, I started getting weaker at the knee. My vision got blurry and my heart started burning. I couldn’t even shout for him. I fell off the chair I was sitting on. Maybe it was the sound of the fall that drew his attention. I couldn’t see anything again. I woke up in the hospital, feeling weightless and lost.
He was there crying when I opened my eyes. I asked him, “What happened?” He couldn’t say anything. Later the nurse told me everything. I’d been out for over two hours and I’d lost the pregnancy. It was my turn to cry. I kept asking him what happened and he was begging me not to say anything. He said, “Please don’t mention what you ate when the doctor asks you. I beg you in the name of God. Else I would end up in jail.”
The doctor came around and asked questions about what I ate or inhaled. I told him, “I don’t really remember. Everything happened so fast. I was even washing.” I lied through all the questions. He said, “That’s so strange.” I was discharged, came home, and cried for days. That toffee wasn’t just a toffee. He said it’s called “Lord of the Toffee.” He stopped smoking because we were complaining. He resorted to putting the weed in food and drinks so we wouldn’t know. I packed my things and left for my parents’ house. He came by often, begging me to come back. “I’ve learned my lessons. I will never ever touch that thing again. It will never happen again in this lifetime.”
I listened to him. I went back home and for the last three years, we’ve been trying to have a baby but to no avail. Yes, he has stopped and he is very transparent with me now. He tells me everything and puts me at the center of his world but what is important to me now is a baby. I’m thirty-five going to thirty-six. Every new day gets me scared. Anytime I see the face of my menses, my heart breaks into pieces. I look up and say, “God, is that the end of the road for us?”
I pray it is not because that will kill me—to walk this earth without a child. The shame is too much for me now. They think I’m the problem. They advise him to get another woman and try again with her. The shame I go through each day is enough to break the hardest of spirits but I’m here, trusting God to come through for us once again.