Watching the young couple exchange marital vows got me wondering. “What common interest brought them together? What were they expecting from marriage? Could there be more dreams waiting to be fulfilled in their union?”  I sighed as my thoughts wandered back to two years ago. I had always desired to live abroad and getting married at the age of 19 to Uzoma who resided in Australia was synonymous to winning a lottery. He adored me and I basked in the euphoria but all of that went with the wind when I stumbled upon job application letters on his laptop.

I had questions but I patiently waited for him to come home. He still had his shoes on when I broached the subject. His response confirmed my worst fears. After telling my friends that I would be relocating, after preparing a resignation letter which I intend to tender to my over domineering boss, after writing a goodbye text for my ex, after boasting about having my first child abroad. He was not going back. I did not let a second slip by before I furiously barged into the bedroom where he was undressing, threatening fire and brimstone if he did not return to Australia. He was completely baffled.  An intense argument ensued. I called him a bloody liar, manipulator, looser, coward, dream killer, destiny destroyer… the curses flowed of their own will.  By that time, tears were streaming down my face. That night and for so many nights, we slept apart at least I made sure of it. He would toss around restlessly while I would sob endlessly until sleep took the reins from us. We barely spoke to each other neither did we eat together. I felt betrayed and trapped in our marriage. My dreams of living abroad were fast fading away. Gradually anger turned into hate, hate into animosity and animosity into despise.

“There is no place like home.” he maintained yet beyond the horizon all I could see was success, posh life, freedom, a chance to see the world…  I just could not picture us living in Nigeria and that clouded my mind. Everybody wanted to know when we would travel. My ready-made response became “soon.” On my birthday, I deliberately choose to go home late so I stopped by an eatery where I stuffed myself with over spiced grilled chicken while I pitied my life. At home in the staircase, a sweet aroma coming from our apartment greeted me. Reluctantly, I followed it to the kitchen where I met an amusing scene. Uzoma in apron was laboriously preparing dinner. Obviously, it was a birthday meal for me.  Hissing, I quickly left for the bedroom to prevent us from having a conversation. Who said a birthday meal could change my mind. Nothing he did could cheer me up. Not even the expensive tablet he gave me after dinner. The tablet to his chagrin took his place and within a week, my inbox was already full of immigration letters and notifications. I was still obsessed with my dreams. The hours I spend checking out the best countries to live and reading updates of my friends who live abroad were more than what I dedicate to chores. On one of such occasions, he came home and noticed streaks of tears on my face. Without hesitating, he took my phone to see what made me cry. His face darkened with rage.

“Adaeze what has happened to you? What has happened to us?” I looked away. “This is tearing us apart yet you don’t care?” He dropped the phone on the center table I cringed afraid he had smashed it.

“When was the last time we did things together, held each other, kissed… baby do we still have a marriage?” Guilt and sympathy tugged at my heartstring as I watched him walk away swearing under his breath.

A month later, he showed me our visa to Dubai. When I asked him why he changed his mind, he simply told me my pain was killing him slowly. He sold his car. We withdrew all our money and left for Dubai. I was overwhelmed with excitement. The flight being my first was sheer adventure. After checking into the hotel, I insisted we went sightseeing as I read that the view of Dubai at night is breathtaking. Back at the hotel, I revelled in uploading pictures on social media until I finally gave in to sleep . Getting a job was not easy but we kept searching. Four weeks and we had spent so much on food, accommodation and other things. Finding out I was pregnant made me do a little dance in our tiny room. Although thoughts of his welfare gave me concern, I choose not to dwell on them.  After all, I was in Dubai and I had just started living my dreams.

Grabbing my shawl and Dior sunglasses, ready to step into another sunny day Uzoma came in looking so gloomy. I thought it was the usual turndowns but no. My heartbeat quickened. He cursed the visa agent. He cursed me. I swallowed hard as beads of sweat ran down my back. I was burning up.

“It is right here but I can’t read Arabic. We either turn to fugitives or go back home.” he voice was laden with regrets.

Clutching my chest I frantically reached for the dressing table. The room swirled around me. After all the updates, resignation, boasting … this time my dreams really shattered before me. Struck with panic my legs gave way. “Our visa has expired.” This echoed in my subconsciousness as darkness enveloped me. A nudge on my shoulder jolted me back to the moment. 13:05 Nigeria time and we were still in the middle of the church service. Everybody stood up to cheer the couple who beamed with smiles. “Whose dreams would this union shatter?” Again, I wondered.