“My name is Eva Oguna. I am a 39-year-old single mother of four, three boys and one girl. I am also a fashion designer and a gospel singer. Today I can afford to smile. This has not always been the case. On the contrary, my love life has been a mix of love, hope and despair.
“It all started 14 years ago when I met Brian (name changed to protect identity) at the St. Jude’s Church in Huruma, Nairobi. He was a member of the church choir. He was handsome and had a good job.
“At the time, I was a single mother of two boys, but this did not deter Brian. He was willing to take care of my boys and raise a happy family with me. His love and kindness swept me off my feet. We started living together in the Light Industries area in Nairobi. The first few months were pure joy. We were happy, and in 2005, we were blessed with my third born daughter. We would later have my last-born child in 2008. But by then, things had taken a turn for the worse.
“Our downturn had started a few months after the birth of our daughter. Brian started discriminating against my first two children. He would prevent them from using electricity in their bedroom to study or watching TV. He constantly complained that they were hiking our domestic costs. He then started having affairs. It did not take long before the affairs became blatant and shameless.
“After the birth of my fourth born in 2008, I invited a close relative of mine to come and live with us. She would help around the house, and during her free time, she would attend a course at a college. Within eight months, though, her attitude changed. She became distant and rude to me. On the other end, she and my husband became best friends. They would talk and laugh aloud for hours. Initially, I did not suspect anything. One evening in October 2008, I dozed off while nursing my baby to sleep in my bedroom. A few hours into the night, I woke up and realised that I had not bathed. I walked to the bathroom and shockingly, found the relative and my husband having sex.
“I felt as though I had been hit by a thunderbolt. I walked back to the bedroom, put on a dress and walked out. I went shop to shop, club to club, buying condoms. I returned a few minutes past midnight with a paper bag full of condoms. I threw them at my husband and shouted, ‘If you can’t keep it in, at least have the courtesy to protect me!’ I walked to my bedroom, banged the door behind me, covered myself with my bed sheets and cried myself to sleep. My relative did not show any remorse or regret for her actions. In fact, the following morning, she woke up and stayed on as though nothing had happened.
“I wanted to leave, but I was afraid. Where would I go? How would I raise four kids on my own? Yet, the more I stayed with Brian, the worse things got. His affair with my relative did not last long. He started bringing girls into our home and bedroom and getting intimate right in my face to humiliate me. He would also pick small arguments, burst into a fit of rage, and beat me up in the house. He also stopped giving me upkeep money.
“To meet my needs, I started selling fish at a nearby bar where he was a shareholder. I remember how he would buy all the stock and distribute it to his girlfriends in the bar. ‘I have money. I can do anything!’ he would boast. But then he lost his job and went broke. My relative left our house.
“Losing a job did not change Brian. In fact, it made him worse. For two years, I ran the house and paid all the bills while he went out drinking and having affairs. The beatings also got worse. But I stayed put, praying and hoping that he would change. Perhaps deep down, I did not want my marriage to fail. I dreamed and fantasised that he would go back to the choir-singing man I had fallen in love with. But all this amounted to nothing.
“One day, in 2010, he woke up, packed up his things and left. This was the break I had been praying for. I knelt down and asked God to help me forget him. I have never looked back. Over the past few years, Brian has made two attempts to reconcile with me. I am glad that God has given me the strength to turn him down.
“It has not been easy to forgive my relative, but gracefully, as my heart has healed, I have come to forgive her. She is now married and I pray that she may find marital happiness in her union.
“Currently, my foremost priority is raising my kids. I also work towards helping single mothers know their value under an upcoming organisation called Mama’s Cradle. But looking back, I have come to learn that the cliché that love is unconditional and patient is largely a destructive myth. I may not be in a position to love again today. But I know that true love has boundaries.”