Let me explain. Gloria is one of those light complexioned Ibo girls that cannot enter a place without being noticed. It’s one of the reasons we call her Glo (apart from the other obvious one ). If you hold her too much on one spot, the skin of that spot will become red, that’s how sensitive her skin is (in fact, on days she gets frisky with any guy, and she is with us after and undresses, the redness of her boobs gives her away). So when she took off the scarf and specs today, it revealed red blotches all over her face, two black eyes and deep red etches on her neck. Every vex inside me melted away right away and I was beside her as she broke down into tears.
“Did he do this to you?” I asked, voice shaking. She just continued crying, as Toke put her hands around her, sobbing along with her.
Nearly the whole café was looking our way now and so we decided to go to mine, away from the prying eyes. She rode with Toke, as they drove behind me. There was a bit of traffic at that blasted toll gate and it took us a whole forty five minutes to make a twenty minute journey. Alone in the car, the thought of what could have happened to Glo rose in my mind, but I desperately hoped it wasn’t what my rational head was telling me it was. We eventually got to my pad and just sat in the parlor quietly for a few minutes, waiting for her to begin to talk.
She pulled herself together as I poured her a drink. Ossy had begun by isolating her from Toke and I, with the drama at the wedding. As if that wasn’t enough, he began to complain about everyone else. In the months they had been married, she had cut her family off and had been isolated from them. Then the late nights and all the signs of other women began. She had turned a blind eye initially, since he was being discreet. But it seemed that he got emboldened and stopped being discreet. When the confronted him, the beating began. Lightly beatings (whatever that means) at first and then it got progressively worse. At this point, the tears were flowing freely.
She began to narrate episode upon episode of how Ossy beat and battered her. He abused her verbally. He told her she was never his choice and that he just settled for her and would do as he pleased. Chasing small girls was what he referred to as doing as he pleased. He expected her to be at least happy that she was married and that he saved her from her spinsterhood. He had sha made her a Mrs. And whenever she said anything, he would beat her mercilessly. Nothing was spared in beating her. They lived in their own house, so no neighbor could hear him beat her. The only people that stayed with them were the house-help who was one of the “doing as he pleased” and the gateman who assumed that wife beating was a normal part of marriage. After the drama at my wedding, she couldn’t reach out to friends. Ossy had isolated her from her family and so she couldn’t go to them. She endured her pain alone.
“Ossy is not Ossy again since he cannot have you Oyin,” she continued. “He has turned into every woman’s nightmare. So while what I’m about to say might sound out of place, I’ll need you put yourself in my shoes. I am trying to save my marriage here, and it’s the only way I can think of.”
Now, I’m not normally a skeptical person, but whenever anyone wants to say anything, and dramatics are involved, plus warnings like “put yourself in my shoes”, and “it’s the only way”, I become very skeptical. Very. I sat up and encouraged her to continue, eager to hear what Glo was about to say. I noticed Toke too had sat up. Her body language meant we were both about to hear whatever Glo was going to say for the first time.
“I would like you to come back into Ossy’s life”.
My sharp head got what Glo was trying to say immediately, but I chose to disbelieve. Toke was the one that spoke up as the proverbial cat had my tongue. “Come back into Ossy’s life as what exactly?”
“Oyin, you seem to have been the reason Ossy’s demons were repressed and now you are gone and he’s become like this. He thinks about being with you night and day. Maybe if you just gave him a chance, maybe he would return to being the sweet Ossy we all knew.”
I growled “you are asking me to have an affair with your husband, put my life on hold, and be content with being a side-chick in order to make your marriage happy?” My voice was getting progressively louder, because the more I voiced the thoughts I knew she was having, the angrier I got “Can you listen to yourself? You would be content with a marriage to someone who would batter you like this, sleep with anyone he pleases, even your close friend, and still call that a marriage? That would be worse than what I planned to do with Yomi. Much worse.”
She became hysterical, shedding tears seriously. “Oyin”, she wailed, “please help me save my marriage. I ask you to do it for only a while, maybe one year, while I”…
I didn’t let her finish, I flew into a rage and Toke had to restrain me “You are very selfish Gloria. I should give you one full year of my life to do this nonsense you are proposing. It’s not your fault, shebi it’s because I’m not married! Would you come and say this nonsense to me in my husband’s house? You know what? Just leave my house! Yes get the hell out of my house.”
Toke tried to calm me down but I turned my rage on her. “Why did you bring her here” (lie, cos we both decided to bring her o, but I had to blame her) “Just take her away before I do something I will regret!”
I stormed into the kitchen and fetched a bottle of wine from the fridge. It seems Toke thought I wanted to use the bottle for other purposes than to take wine from it, because on seeing me turn around, bottle in hand, she dragged a weeping Gloria out of the door.
When they were gone, I looked at the time. It was nine thirty pm already. As if to add to my horrible mood, NEPA decided to install a reign of darkness. I didn’t bother to go turn the gen on. Cradling my bottle of wine in my laps, I drank myself to sleep.
The shrill ring of the ringtone I had set for Toke woke me up the next day. My phone told me the time was eight o clock. I had really slept plenty. I sluggishly picked the phone and answered the call. My head was still all groggy.
“Oyin!” Toke’s voice was frenetic.
“Toke what is it?” Toke can be slightly dramatic, so I would not be surprised if she woke me up like this to tell me she had just found a great book.
“Gloria is in the hospital!”
I became instantly alert. “What? What happened? Were you guys in an accident?”
“Ossy was the only accident that happened, Oyin. I dropped Gloria off at home yesterday. I didn’t go in with her. Ossy was drunk and assumed a man dropped her off. He got more angered when she told him it was me that dropped her off. When she explained that it was you she had come to see, he went ballistic on her. I mean he beat her till he was spent. Then he locked her out of the house and went to bed with the house-help. She managed to call me. I rushed back and took her to the hospital.”
Surges of guilt rose in my heart. Mentally, I knew I wasn’t responsible, but all I could remember was throwing her out of house into Ossy’s clutches.
“That bastard! Which hospital are you?”
“I took her to Dr. Phillips”.
It took me just twenty minutes to get to Dr. Phillips small but well equipped clinic.
Toke met me at the reception as I rushed in. Dr. Phillips was a motherly doctor that we all had used for years and felt comfortable with because she was a woman old enough to be our mothers.
“Where is she? Where is she?” I asked Toke.
Toke placed a hand on my shoulders and silently willed me to listen to her. When she was sure she had my attention and I was calm, she hit me with the bombshell.
“Gloria has lost her baby”
I fell into the hard reception sit “Oh my God, Oh my God”.