When she arrived her mother was pleasantly surprised to see her daughter and beamed at her as she walked in.
“Baby girl, what a nice surprise”! Her mother, Cecilia exclaimed, “You could have called to let me know you were coming so I could have prepared something nice, anyway I am sure I should be able to rustle something up for you, you are really looking emaciated, I hope they are not working you too hard at that your job, this oil and gas people self” her mother continued, her words tumbling out at a mile a minute.
Nene plumped herself dejectedly on the chair, and stared listlessly across her parents’ living room before propping her bowed head in her hand.
“What is it, my daughter” her mother stopped herself in mid sentence as she noticed her daughter’s despondent stance “why are you looking so dejected, what has happened?”
Nene did not reply, still maintaining her listless stare, looking at nothing in particular.
“Nne, talk now? Tell me what the problem is, this silence is killing me. Has something happened at the office, is Zelinjo okay? Please speak to me” her mother continued to press her.
Nene’s head shot up at the mention of Zelinjo’s name and the concern in her mother’s voice. Eyes blazing, Nene got out of her seat and in a cold voice she began to recount her experience of violence and betrayal to her mother.
Her mother allowed her to speak, and when Nene had finally finished her narrative, she started to address her daughter in a very gentle and sorrowful tone.
“Nene, baby girl, I am so, so sorry to hear all of this. I gave birth to you and you have always been a little trouper but I have never known you to be a stupid person. I know you must have had your reasons for keeping all of this information away from me but do you realise that you could have been killed and I would have been none the wiser, ehn?
“How would I have explained it, if that mad man had beaten you to death ehn? Dead men can’t talk and so he could have made up any stupid story to explain your demise.” She shook her head sadly and continued “My darling girl, so many women have been through exactly what you have been subjected to and some of them did not live to tell their stories”.
“Adanne, you are my only daughter. I bore you after having four sons and for this you are most precious to me. Never mind what people will say, I am your mother and I cannot see you walking into a lion’s den and I will then not hold you back”.
“From what you have just described to me, it seems your husband has a personality disorder of some sort; if not how do you explain him being a wife beater without any of us knowing? But I also have no reason to doubt the validity of what you are saying to me because you have always been a truthful child who would do all in her power not to hurt anybody around her talk less of making up stories and telling willful lies.”
“Please, Nene, tell me truthfully, how long has this been going on for?” Her mother asked her
“Just over three years no, mama, I mean he has always been verbally abusive and slightly critical of everything and everybody but I thought he would grow out of it as we got older but it grew worse over the years and eventually the beatings started particularly as I was progressing on my job.” Nene continued weakly.
“Do you know even after he made me resign the job, he continued to pounce at the slightest provocation? Even as I did my level best to avoid setting him off” Nene said.
“Ewoo, nwam oh! Her mother said gesticulating wildly with her hands
“ Why did he not just send you back to us eh?” did we tell him we picked you from the dustbin or that we were destitute, does he not know where your parents are to send you back to or did we say we could not repay his stupid dowry back, eh? Chei! Cecilia exclaimed looking around her in an exaggerated fashion.
“I tried so hard to make that marriage work mama, I did everything and just because of this Jumobi lady my husband continued to use me as his punching back.
“It was Dr Omawunmi that eventually helped me to see reason, to know when to call it quits” Nene continued.
“Which Dr Omawunmi is this one?” her mother interjected “is it the same one I know, our family doctor Omawunmi, where did she see you and how did she know about all this?”
“I have just been discharged from her hospital today after I was brought in unconscious by my husband” Nene volunteered quietly knowing what was coming.
“Hey, hey” her mother began wailing as she jumped up from her seat. “Adanne, what are you saying to me eh? This is too much to bear oh, hey!” she continued wailing “this man could have killed my only daughter for me oh; your brothers and father must hear this oh, hey!”
“Mama, please calm down, please calm down” Nene pleaded with her mother.
“I don’t want to get papa and my brothers involved in this mess. You know what they are like, this can lead to a bigger problem if they go and start making trouble with Zelinjo. And anyway he would probably deny everything”
“I came up with a better plan when I realised how he planned to make me penniless and chase me out of his house and I now have everything on record and I have secured my assets as well”.
“Hmmh, hmmmh” her mother continued with a muffled wail.
“First, I need somewhere to recuperate so I can regain myself before I go back to pack my things”. Nene continued “He did not visit me throughout my stay in the hospital and has not yet realised that I have been discharged”.
“Okay my dear, but what do I tell your daddy when he gets back. You know I hate lying to him?”
“you can just give him an abridged version of events, tell him my husband and I are having issues and I have only come home for a chance to clear my head, once I have everything all sorted and I get Zel out of my life then I will be ready to give him chapter and verse of all that went on in my home”
“Okay, my baby, if you say so” her mother sighed helplessly.
“And mummy, please I don’t want you to make a fuss and worry yourself about me. I am a survivor and I will be alright. I just need time for my battered body to heal” she said, wondering when her broken heart would eventually mend as Zel had shattered it into a thousand pieces with his betrayal and abuse.