“It was a happy home, but… in 1998, things started falling apart and from 1998 to 2000 death took them away in quick succession.”
■ Says I now live a gloomy, desolate, lonely life
■ Mulls suicide
Linus Oota, Lafia
Life has become mean and beastly for 76-year-old Mrs Theresa Igyum. The septuagenarian once had several reasons to smile until her life took a terrible turn when she began to lose members of her family.
Theresa was blessed with six sons, but she also adopted another son. But then Theresa began to lose them, one after the other.
Theresa who hails from Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State attended St Augustine Teachers College, now Nasarawa State Polytechnic, Lafia, where she met her husband, Mr Jerome Igyum and they finally got married after their studies and were employed by the then Benue-Plateau State government as primary school teachers. They served in various schools across the state.
But one unfortunate thing about their union was that in the first 13 years of their marriage, they had no children. This caused her psychological trauma as relatives and other people in the neighbourhood routinely made jest of her predicament and heaped insults on the hapless woman. The abuse and insults extended to her home where she was tortured and frequently denied peace for as long as the infertility lasted. To make matters worse for her, her husband showed no care for her plight. He did everything humanly possible to provoke her, hoping that she would abandon the marriage.
“I remember asking my husband, how long I would continue to live in this misery, but he said, ‘you are of no use to me and you refuse to leave my house.’ I almost got hypertension because of the worry,” Theresa said.
But she had nowhere to go, as her parents died five years after she got married. Besides, she was the only daughter of her parents, and had no living relatives on her mother’s side.
“At a point, I asked myself, ‘who am I in this world, is this the life I was meant to live? There is no one to love or help me, I have nowhere to go, it was a terrible experience,” she said
However, God performed a miracle in March 1975, when she conceived. The arrival of a baby in the family put an end to the acrimony between her husband and the family members.
Recalling those years, she said: “There was a lot of challenges all through those years I was unable to give my husband a child. Being patient was not easy because there were some things that you would not be able to tolerate and you would react to. So when the baby came,
I was happy and everybody in the family expressed joy over the birth of the baby. They said 13 years of endurance, patience and prayers had paid off.”
Over the years, Theresa gave birth to six children, but unfortunately all of them died in mysterious circumstances. Later she adopted a boy to wipe away her tears, the boy also died. Her husband who became heartbroken also died.
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Hear her: “God blessed me with six children, three boys and three girls. Then one by one, death took them away. To compound my agony, death also took my husband from me. And to make my situation terrible, my adopted son, who just got married died along with his new wife in an accident. I am now a lonely woman who was once surrounded by children. The years when I began having children were the day I had joy and I was happy. Now I am living in gloom, waiting for the day death will also come for me. My first child came in 1975; between 1975 and 1990, I was able to give birth to six children. In 1998, the first of my three children to die were the second, third and fourth children, who died in an accident in 1998, while travelling to Abuja
to spend a holiday with a friend. My second child, Francis, was born in
1978, third one was Mary, born in 1981 and the fourth one, Audu, was born in 1984.
“It was not easy for me but I accepted it as an act of God. Before we could
get over it and move on, the remaining three children, namely Vivian, a university student born in 1975, Eric who was born in 1987 and Franca, the last child was born in 1990, all died in a rainstorm in August 2000. Their death was unimaginable and unbelievable.
I was speechless, I cried uncontrollably, but my cry could not bring them back to life,” she lamented.
“My children used to be my pride, whenever they came back from school, I would be very happy and ask them to go to the kitchen and take food. It was a happy home, but the merriment previously felt in our homestead was replaced with trepidation. In 1998, things started falling apart and from 1998 to 2000 death took them away in quick succession.
“The periods of their deaths were very agonizing moments for us. I asked myself severally what curse had befallen our family. I believed that the deaths of my children must have had a cause. My husband and I were born-again Christians, so God couldn’t punish us for not following him. My husband went to bed one night in December 2000 and never woke up. He died in his sleep.
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“Right now my children and husband are a distant memory, I have their photos on the walls in my house. Sometimes I blankly stare at those photographs and shed tears. I ask myself what could have gone wrong. The one that shocked me most was that sometime in 2001, I was too lonely and decided to adopt a child (Gabriel). He brought little joy to my life and through the little resources I have as a pensioner, I was able to bring Gabriel up. He completed his secondary school in July 2017, but was unable to proceed to the university due to low JAMB score. I was afraid of my age and decided that he should get married so that he could start up a family while pursuing admission into the university.
“He got married sometime in mid-April 2018 to an Eggon girl in the state, but they both died in an accident in early August 2018, while travelling to Lokoja to pay a visit to the uncle of his wife, who was not able to attend the marriage ceremony due to tight schedule. He invited them to come over and visit him in Kogi,” Theresa said, amid tears.
“I now live a desolate and lonely life, I live an indigent life. I’m a poor woman who once upon a time had it all, now I think of suicide every day and have come close a couple of times to taking my life. I am devastated and things will never be the same again. I have lost very important supports in my life.” Then she burst into tears and refused to talk further.