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Sunday, March 13, 2016

She's his wife but I'm his woman (1)



Anna

I was at the market, doing my weekly shopping when my mobile rang. It was Ema, my friend Tola's younger sister.
"Aunty Anna, please come quick o! There's a big problem!" she said anxiously over the line.

"What's the matter?" I asked. I moved to a spot behind the provision sellers which was a bit quiet.

What she said made my blood run cold. 

"Sister was beaten up by Uncle and she fell downstairs and is unconscious. We want to take her to the hospital but there's no car. Please come ma!" 

It was not long I arrived the market and I still had a lot of shopping to do. But I abandoned everything and quickly drove to my friend's house at Ikeja.

I prayed silently as I drove along that she would be alright. I wondered what the problem was with Jerry, her husband. The man kept beating her all the time with or without provocation. 

In fact, it was not too long before that they had had a fight which resulted in her being hospitalized for days at the hospital. Now this. Most of their quarrels had to do with one thing: her childless state.

They had been married for nearly eight years with no child and Jerry's family were threatening to throw her out if she could not have children. 

"I hope she's ok," I said silently as I negotiated a turn that led to her street.
Tola was in pretty bad shape when I arrived. She was lying on a mat outside in the courtyard of their compound and was barely breathing.

Ema was weeping and wailing and a few of the neighbours around were making efforts to get a vehicle to take to her to the hospital. Her husband was nowhere in sight.

They quickly carried her to my car and we left for a hospital in the area.
She was to remain in the hospital for weeks due to the extent of her injuries. She had a broken arm, a sprained ankle, numerous cuts and bruises. 

As the doctor who first attended to her on our arrival at the hospital noted, she was lucky to be alive.

"What happened to her? Was she run over by a truck?" the doctor asked me. I had no answer to that as I had not got the full story of what transpired between Tola and her husband.
She regained consciousness some hours later. 
She tried to speak to me on seeing me sitting by the bed but I placed a finger on her lip, telling her to rest.

"The doctor said you should rest. Just take it easy ok? You'll be fine. Thank God you've woken up," I stated. I felt bad seeing my friend in such pitiable condition. What kind of man was that Jerry that he could treat his wife in this manner, I thought angrily.

It was the same thing her mother said when she arrived the hospital. She wept on seeing her daughter lying on the bed, with bandages all over her body.

"What kind of man would do this to his own wife? You are not going back to that house! I'm not ready to lose you yet," she declared vehemently.

Throughout the period she was in the hospital, while family members, friends, colleagues all came visiting her, her husband never showed up one day to see her.
Upon discharge from the hospital, I took Tola to my house. I had discussed the issue with my husband, Brian and he had given his approval.

"She can come here. We have enough room," he had stated then. 
"Thanks Anna, for allowing me stay here. You are a true friend," she said the day I brought her home.
"I smiled and said.

"What are friends for?" 

How was I to know that my kind gesture would cause so much problems for me later on?

***
Tola

Anna wanted to know what led to the latest fight between my husband, Jerry and I that landed me in the hospital? Well, it was not much for these days, just a certain look from me can set him off, make him descend on me with his strong fists.

"He had gone out one evening and didn't return home till the following morning," I narrated. "When I asked him where he had been, he flared up and shouted at me: "And what business is it of yours where I've been to, woman? How dare you ask me that? Mind your own business and leave me alone!"

"I looked at him with pity and left him, mumbling 'stupid drunk' to myself. He must have heard for the next thing I felt was a slap on my face with him yelling: 'You dare call me a drunkard? It's your father in the village that's a drunk! Stupid, barren woman!' 

He then slapped, punched and kicked me with me screaming. I struggled to get out of his grasp and fled outside to the balcony of our flat. He came after me and continued with the beating. He had his hands round my throat and was choking me. In the struggle to escape, I slipped and fell downstairs. I was lucky. The courtyard was not paved but had a garden with grass and plants that cushioned the fall a bit or the story would have been different. Perhaps, I would have been dead by now," I said sadly.

Anna, feeling touched by my story, hugged me tenderly and said: "It's ok. Thank God, you survived. It could have been worse. Put the horrible experience behind you and just focus on getting better."

I nodded and smiled a little, feeling soothed by her words.

***
With time, I settled down in Anna's home and life went on as before. They lived in their own home, a five bedroom duplex with a boys quarters at the back where their domestic staff, a driver and the maid lived.

I did not have a job as I had been retrenched from my working place a few years before. To earn some income, I did a little supply business here and there. 

Most days, when Anna and her husband had gone to their respective offices, and their two children had gone to school, I would be left alone in the house with the maid. With time, my injuries healed and I began to feel like my old self again.

Anna often returned home late from the office and most times I did the shopping and cooking to save her the stress of cooking whenever she closed from work.

One evening, she had returned late as usual from work to meet her husband devouring a dish 
of pounded yam and egusi soup with fresh fish I had prepared that evening.
On sighting her, he beckoned at her.

"Honey, come and join me. This is delicious, the best pounded yam I've had in a long time!" he enthused.
She ate a small portion, and licked her fingers with relish.
"Tola cooks really well. Well done," she said, smiling at me.
"I should thank you and your husband for accepting me into your home, for harbouring me like this," I stated.

"We love having you here," said Brian. I was sitting opposite him at the table. A moment later, I felt his leg on mine, his toes caressing my leg from my knee to my foot. I looked up quickly at him, but he was talking to his wife, reminding her about his cousin's baby dedication ceremony that was coming up that weekend. 

Then, turning to me, he gave me a quick wink when Anna was sipping some water and continued eating as if nothing was amiss...


To Be Continued...


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