First and foremost, I wish to make it crystal clear, that the intention here is not to disparage the personality of Helen Prest-Ajayi. A gorgeous and charming personality, I have always admired her. As a child in the primary school, I used to be attracted to her gorgeous photos in the magazines of that era-Drum, Vintage People, Prime People etc. The zenith of her persona for me would be the fact that she is not only a beauty queen, but also a writer and lawyer; the type the media would call a ‘combination of brain and beauty’.
In view of these, the unsavory stories emanating from the burial of her man, late Dr. Ajayi, are quite unavoidable. I am sure that within her closet, Helen would be imagining where she could have set it right from the very beginning. But like a popular Ngwa proverb, ‘the day one misses his way, marks the beginning of the thorough knowledge of that route.’ To break it down for those who don’t do African proverbs like me, it means when you happen to miss the road while travelling between Point A and Point B, someone would probably help to direct you and from then on, the direction would be engrained in your brain.
The encounters should be an eye-opener for both ladies and men. Much as the situation would remain ‘embarrassing’ for Helen, I am sure the late medical doctor would not be happy about the incidents that have dogged his household since he died, culminating in discussions that have dominated the social media space. If dead people have any feelings, he would wish he amended certain things to save everyone from this kind of scenario. Incidentally, what needed to be done initially are not complex things, just the act of calling a spade a spade and standing up to it. It is that simple, but sometimes, people are too busy or always procrastinating until it becomes very late.
The facts of the matter are so simple. Late Dr. Ajayi had a wife whom he married in 1974 but the relationship became strained after some kids. While the couple were separated and not divorced, the celebrated doctor found love in Helen, and started a family. This new relationship would last 25 years, and the new woman, Helen, had to put in so much that she was the person with the man during his last days in the hospital. Having to bear the burden of a sick spouse could be the most trying moments of any relationship, which is why marriage is easily classified as ‘for better…for worse’. The real test of love does not only rest on when life is flowing with all the good things; a spouse gets tested when it goes left for any reason, especially health or financial challenges. At this point, that hitherto great-looking spouse could be so sick that one would have to help him or her to pee or poo. That is when the real test of love comes. In the case of Dr. Ajayi, it was the beauty queen, who spent the last 42 days in the hospital that bore this burden. From Helen’s social media posts, after going throw those harrowing encounters for 42 days, she ended up being accused of killing the man and had to do rounds in courts to extricate herself from the allegations.
In my opinion, Helen did nothing wrong by falling in love with a man who had a family before her. The only thing she did wrong is failing to understand that in Africa or elsewhere such relationships are supposed to be backed up either by law or custom. That word, ‘consummation’, stems from the idea that certain things must be in place to make it whole. It was also a mistake for the doctor not to have acted in like manner, considering that this woman has spent the past 25 years with him. That’s a quarter of a century and some marriages never lasted that long!
Truth is that there are many Helens and Dr. Ajayis everywhere today. They are in relationships that have not been certified either by law or by the custom. Everything could be going well today but there are no guarantees that things would be the same in the next couple of years. There could be illness, death, bitter feud or even ‘total dis-interest’, where both partners simply grow tired of each other. The best is to do well and save oneself of such in case it happens. Every woman or man in a relationship deserves to know his or her place in that ship. Demand it. Many avoid doing so because they will not like that uncomfortable truth that will come out of it. But it is better to suffer that rejection and discomfort when things are still repairable than when they are not. Life has a buffer for every situation. It is not all marriages that would cost millions of naira to organise. So do not fall for the story that ‘it will happen when money comes’. Or it will ‘happen when you get pregnant’. Start somewhere. Consummate it in a small way, and when money finally comes, you can celebrate it by inviting Rihanna and Beyonce to perform for you, if you wish.