I’ve not slept in our bed since my husband died — Adebayo Faleti’s wife

Olori Olubunmi Abosede Faleti is the widow of Alagba Adebayo Faleti, the late renowned playwright, poet, author and broadcaster who passed on recently. She speaks with Deputy Editor, DAPO FALADE, on her memorable moments with her late husband, what she would not forget about him and her quest for the government to immortalise the deceased. Excerpts:

Adebayo Faleti was a trademark, an elderly and famous man, even before you met him. How did you cope with that fame, considering your young age when you married him?
I was able to cope with his fame and position then because I, too, have been going out when I was still single. By this, I mean when I was in school, I was a member of a cultural society and we do go to the television house for dance and drama. Also, as a child born into the CAC family, there is nothing I was afraid of because of my father’s position in the church; his position was more than that of a governor.
I also do address and preach to people from town to town. All these emboldened and prepared me for the task ahead as the wife of a famous person.

Didn’t you for once nurse any fear that this famous man may have a wife out there or may be contemplating marrying another wife?
When I was about marrying my late husband, we reached an agreement that I don’t want to be a rival to any woman in the house. I know what his profession entailed. There were times, when he was on location, a lady with whom he had canal affair may sit on his lap. But as my father was a shepherd; you know after the congregation must have dispersed after church service, some women would be looking for favour from him and refuse to go home. Under the pretense of seeking for prayer, some of the singles among them will be trying to seduce my father. I learnt all these while still living with my parents. So, when my husband was at location, I was not moved, even if a woman sits on his laps or hugs him because he had promised me that he would not have another wife after me and I didn’t meet any one when I was marrying him. This is what made me to completely trust my late husband.

How were you able to convince your parents to marry him?
My parents were against my marriage at the initial stage; even after the birth of our first three children, we took food items to them, but rejected them, saying they didn’t give me out in marriage to Alagba Faleti. Right from the inception, before I met my late husband, my father used to say a lantern cannot be bright enough to see its base.
He directed my mother to a man of God for prayer concerning my future.
My father had a brand new Peugeot car then. He tried to kick the car, but it wasn’t working. So, he told my mother and I to go for the prayer, using public transport. We didn’t meet the man on getting there, but we sat and waited for him. The man latter came out from the bathroom and stood by the door. He didn’t sit down, but just prayed for us and inquired about me from my mother. He started revealing about my future, saying I planned to marry an elderly man who did not have a wife living with him. He said my future was bright if I married him and warned that if I do otherwise, because my parents want one man, one wife, my latter years will be terribly bad and that I will become a financial burden unto my parents.  He thus dismissed us.
To my greatest surprise, on getting to the house, we found, working perfectly well, that my father’s new car that failed to work when kick-started earlier in the day. My father later called me and asked about the outcome of where we went to. I told him that I expected my mother to have told him, but he said she didn’t tell him anything. I didn’t say anything but went outside, knowing that the two of them must have talked. He told me that he knew my plan, but that it won’t work. He said he would not support me because he cannot afford to be running helter-skelter, seeking for spiritual solution to problems that may arise if I marry a married man or a divorcee.  We went our separate ways, but I married my late husband.
I was in this frosty relationship till I gave birth to first three children. It was when I gave birth to the third child, a boy that we reconciled. When I delivered the boy, he was struck by a strange illness; he was gnashing his teeth and we went to Oni Memorial Hospital, the children hospital at Ring Road, in Ibadan. My parents’ house is near the hospital, but I dare not go there. It was a church member who saw me at the hospital that informed my father that I was there. My parents share reversal of roles; my mother was a tough woman, while my father was a gentleman who is more attentive and listens. He came to check me at the hospital and prayed for the little boy. He also brought food for the boy, without the knowledge of my mother. Eventually, we lost the boy and that was when Alagba Adebayo Faleti and my parents reconciled their differences and we started living in harmony till my husband passed on.

When did you solemnise the marriage and made it legal?
We had our marriage in 1983, after we started having our children. My father said I am a child of destiny from heaven because he had stillbirths; out of 15 deliveries, we are just two surviving children and I am the first born. He said he had planned to do an elaborate wedding for me and lamented my issue. In CAC, wedding cannot be conducted for any woman who conceived outside wedlock. My action thus made my father to be angry, but my husband repeatedly assured my father that he would do whatever he wanted. For that reason, we went to the Registry at Mapo Hall, in 1983, for the solemnisation of our union.

Did you at any point in time have any regrets that you married the famous man?
Ever since we started living together and till the man breathed his last, I did not have any regret whatsoever that I married an elderly or famous man. When I was in school, some of my mates, at least, two of them who married young and single men have gone their separate ways. But because I married an elderly man, whenever I offended my husband, he would use the wisdom of the elders to deal with me because he would not want people to be deriding either him or me for our decision to marry each other. On my own part, I also tread softly so that I will not be having any regrets.
When we offended each other, we found a way for us to settle amicably. When I offended him, he would call me and chastise me. My husband did not eat outside and I am used to that. I usually wake up by 5am every day, because he must go to his office with his food by 7am. When I retuned home in the afternoon, I will cook and keep the food till he returned in the evening so that we can eat together. I have been so used to this way of life. But whenever we had any misunderstanding, he would refuse to eat. He would have eaten from outside (which he rarely did) or buy bread or biscuits when he got to the house as he was not that used to eating from outside the house. That was his way of punishing me whenever I erred and I will apologise. He also knew that I will not eat and so, we settled our issues amicably.
When my children grew up and attained maturity, whenever I erred, they would go to their father and plead on my behalf. They so much love their father more than me. They would pick quarrel with me too whenever their father refused to eat as they too would refuse to eat, no matter what I tried to do. I will be left with no option than to beg my husband. If, after begging him and he decided to eat, the children too would eat.

What can you say you are going to miss about your late husband, after about 40 years of very close relationship?
I am going to miss several things about my late husband. For example, I am going to retire next year as a staffer of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Ibadan Station. There is this annual screening exercise for would-be pensioners when it is about one year to their exit from service. It is the turn of Ibadan and a date has been fixed before his demise that fateful Sunday. The following Monday was when I was supposed to go for the screening exercise at The Polytechnic, Ibadan. I now called my office that Monday morning that I lost my husband. They sympathised with me and told me not to bother to come, but that same exercise would take place in Abuja next year and that I should come to Abuja with all my working documents to Abuja for the screening. The moment I heard this, I immediately went to the venue of the screening exercise, not minding the fact that I was still feeling the pains of the loss of my husband. This was because I felt the person who will give transport fare is no more. Secondly, I felt that the person who could accompany me on such a long journey is no more.
Since his demise, I have not slept in the bed. This is because I have never been sleeping separately since we got married to each other; we were sleeping together in the same bed till the day he died. Again, I cannot eat well again because the man with whom I eat together is no more. Again, who is going to be feeding me when I can no longer see my lover? Indeed, what I am going to miss about my late husband are too numerous to mention.

Given your experience, can you advise the young ladies out there who are planning to settle down to marry a divorcee or a married man?
My response will be in two places because everybody has his/her destiny from heaven. What I personally loved and wished for is one man, one wife. The reason is what I experienced during my primary schools days at the Children’s Home School, Molete, Ibadan. If you see the way the owners of the school, Baba Ogunlesi and his wife, Mrs T. Ogunlesi, were operating within the school’s premises; the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was their friend and that was where I first knew.
Whenever Baba Awolowo and mama HID came visiting, baba will be carrying the bag, while mama HID will be walking either beside or behind him. I so much loved such a scene and that was what made me resolved that one man, one wife is what I will do.
However, if our contemporary young girls want to marry an elderly person, they should make sure that such a man is not covetous. There are some elderly men with two, three wives and you want to be the third or fourth wife. You are going there to suffer; you and your senior wives will be after each other’s life, using charms and you will not have a peace of mind. This is because the first wife does not know how to behave was the reason the husband got a second wife. The fact that the second wife is also not behaving well informed the reason for the third. If a young lady should go into such a relationship, it is like dipping your head inside a bowl of hot water.
And if you are marrying an elderly divorcee, ask him what led to the exit of the first wife. This is because the man may be the one at fault and the same treatment meted to the former wife will be served unto you too. So, if you are destined to be the wife of a divorcee, pray over it and if it is confirmed, don’t look back, march forward and such a union would be fruitful and bring forth happiness and joy.

You once said baba read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, what is unique in that as several other people have been doing same?
It is true that several other people have been reading the Bible from cover to cover. But the uniqueness of baba’s action is that he was the first person (if not the only one so far) who has read the entire Bible, recording the whole book into a tape. His effort is to make Bible referencing much easier for interested readers. He did this about two years ago and the tape would soon be launched by an organisation, Bible Africa. Among many other of his numerous works, Baba Adebayo Faleti was the one who translated our National Anthem into Yoruba Language.

What would you like the government to do to honour of the memory of the great man?
His impact was greatly felt in the broadcasting and, above all, he lived and died for humanity. I will be happy and grateful if the Federal Government can set aside July 23, the date when my late husband passed on to the great beyond, as a public holiday in his honour.

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