In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani reflects on her relationship with her husband

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“My
favourite NORTECH event isn’t the one with the president.” He says as he
pops a chocolatey cookie in front of me.

I eat it
before replying while trying to focus.

“Oh,
the president one.” He continues. “NORTECH is also sponsoring a youth
activities initiative. I’m the CEO of the company in Nigeria and we are
bringing it to you, the world, from our headquarters.”

I pick
up my glass of cold water from the coffee table next to my sofa, and sip while
he continues. “We need to spread our presence throughout the nation,
especially to young people. You guys have grown accustomed to the Internet.
It has been a part of your lives as well. I am sure you have the same needs
as we do.”

“You
can’t just invite your CEO to speak with young people, and then expect them
to take notice.” I say after taking another sip of water.

“Yeah,
he’s right.” He concedes. “We have to show them we know what they
want as well.”

I
take another sip of water while he plays with a stray strand of hair that fell
over his forehead. “We could just ask them directly.”

“You
got married and you want to talk about it on Facebook?” He asks.

I
swallow. “I didn’t have a lot of choice. I already had a relationship
that was supposed to last till 2035.”

“Yeah,
and then he just left you, leaving you in financial debt to his friends
and family. I’m sure he would not thank you for taking your life for granted
for the rest of your days.” He says with a chuckle.

“Well,
I do have a great life.” I respond. “I do know I have the best years
of my life ahead of me. You can’t change that. I’m not asking you to make
fun of me. I’m just saying I’m doing something that’s going to make me the
most successful person that I could be, and I want to share that with my
younger friends who have shown me how much they mean to me.”

“You
are a good man. You have a good life too. I love you for what you are
and not for what you didn’t do, which I am fairly certain is not going to be
the same.” He tells me with a smile. “You may think I’ve never been
around the president. I have. The president isn’t easy. But you can’t be in
touch with all the people in the country. You need to know what’s going on
with your community, with your school, and with your government. You need to
follow your education and work hard.”

“I
did my best. I tried my best,” I reply. “I wanted to get that degree
but I couldn’t. It wouldn’t have been right for me to sit and sit and sit
when a career could have given me a better life.”

“You
can’t sit and wait. You have to take action. Not everyone is the next
Facebook CEO. You have to take action too. I’ve never been a part of a real
community. I don’t even know how many communities I’m a part of. I am too
mature and too independent to get involved with that level of interaction.”

“You
are. The world is full of people like you.” I tell him.

“Yeah,
I know we are a generation of people obsessed with our own existence. You
can’t even imagine the things young people do for our generation. The things
we do for each other. The way we look out for each other. We love our
community. I think everyone should do that. When you look at my social media
profiles and the things I post, I am a product of my generation. I have
become an individual and not like so many other things. I’m not a product of
the society I am a product of myself.”

I
stand up and walk over to my laptop and open Facebook. To my dismay, I can
see that the president is at a business dinner with the minister of finance
on Monday. The president has more power than anyone in the country. He can
dictate how his cabinet is formed, what policies are implemented, and the
future of all the government departments. I never imagined for a second that
anyone would have that degree of power. It’s a very frightening thought. I
don’t want to see the world like this. This is not the America I grew up in.
We all have a choice. We can be ruled by an evil dictator who controls his
army of men with guns. Or we can work together and do something positive
for our society. The world just needs more people like me. I love my life,
my freedom, and the things I do as an independent person.

I
feel like telling him everything I am thinking about him, and why I am with
him, is probably the worst thing in the world to do. I don’t want him to
think I don’t respect him. I am not a big fan of my own company for a
different reason: I am a fan of many other things happening.

I
turn on my laptop as I make my way back to my living room. It is nearly
11 p.m. I have to be at NORTECH building as early as seven a.m. tomorrow and
I have to make sure things are in order around the company because we are
taking part in several events related to the initiative with young people in
Nigeria. I will be speaking to young people after work and at events in other
parts of the country. I might even need to meet and greet the president and
a few of his other Cabinet members during that time. I know he would
probably tell me he has to leave immediately for some event, but I can’t
ask him twice.

I
close Facebook and my browser. I will go back to my TV. It’s time to start
on another work dinner. I hope I can talk some sense into this woman this
time.

Sunday, July 16, 2014

“Why
would he want to see me? I’m not a politician.” I say as I watch the
president with his cabinet members arrive at our building for dinner.

“Because
he needs to meet you and you have a lot to offer the country. He is a man
who has done many good deeds for the country. He is the most powerful
person in this country.” Norman answers as we get out of our car.

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