“Mojisola’s Coffin” short story by Alade Abayomi Idris
“Consider yourself dead if I meet you at home when I return from work”. Michael thundered as he walked away from the emerging crowd that had gathered to settle and sympathized with the helpless woman. The neighbours were already used to their everyday fight. They often discussed about their fights in their secret places. The crowd had settled and discussions ensued. “This man is mad oo” An empathizer screamed. She was obviously new to their fight. Her voice toppled every other persons’ own.
It had just rained. As usual, mire had formed in front of the face-me-i-face-you house where commotions were no stranger. Mojisola writhed in excruciating pains as some persons helped her up from the mire where she laid helplessly. Blood journeyed freely down from her nostrils and mouth. They were too soft to withstand the numerous punches the angry man precipitated them. Mojisola’s left temple had swollen with reddish patch that stood out on her troubled fair complexioned skin. All her strengths were gone. She could not respond to many questions the sympathizers asked her.
“Take her to tht pavement. Let her receive fresh air.” A man’s voice rang from the crowd.
“Ha!” Mojisola cried.
Her right arm had been broken and swelling gradually.
“This case is beyond what can be treated at home oo. Take her to the hospital.” A man suggested. As if others were waiting for someone to initiate the idea. They chroused “hospital… Hospital” variably. Those carrying Mojisola toted her towards the open street.
“I am not going to the hospital. Take me to the room.” She said faintly.
“What’s she saying?” Somebody asked.
“She say she no dey go hospital say na room she wan go”. One among the persons carrying her answered.
“Plaase! Take me to my room” Mojisola struggled between pains to speak up.
“Na hep we wan hep u oo. You dey stubborn. Let her die jare” A young man retorted and stormed away from the scene. The crowd began to reduce. People leaved one after the other cursing Mojisola’s husband. Mojisola knew they would take her to the hospital and dumped her there. They had already done that to her sometimes in the past when her husband gave her the beaten she would tell many generations. At first, she thought the people were kind from their concern words only for them not to show up to shoulder the bill. She had to beg the hospital management to allow her to go and hustle for money. She was not ready to go through all that this time around. The pains would go on their own. she concluded.
Mama Joy, the greengrocer helped Mojisola to her husband’s room. The room was scattered. Pieces of broken bottle could be seen glistening on the ground. The fight started in the room. Michael had hit the bottle on her head which caused the swollen temple. Mojisola ran outside hoping neighbours would quickly intervened. Michael usain-bolted after her, mauled her in the mire before unwilling neighbours intervened.
Mama Joy helped her to sit on the bed. She cleaned her.
“Thank you mama. I will be fine” Mojisola declared.
“What about his threat?” Mama Joy enquired
“Let him kill me” She blotted out
“I will advise you to go to your relative’s house. At least for awhile.” Another woman suggested.
“I don’t have anyone around here” Mojisola started “Even if I have, I won’t go to them.” She concluded
The women looked at themselves and signed.
Mojisola was one of the many ladies that were so eager to live in a man’s house. She met Michael at a friend’s party one fateful day. They got talking and before everyone knew what was happening, she had moved to his house in Oshodi to live as his wife without any marriage rite.
At first, things were rosy but as time wore on, things went berserk.
It was barely three months of cohabitation that Michael first laid his hand on Mojisola. It was a terrible slap that should have warned her of the things to come. It happened when they were having dinner. The number of chunks of meat she served ired him and a horrendous slap was what he used to remind her of the things he told her concerning his food. He had earlier told Mojisola that two two chunks of meat belittled a man of his magnitude. When he uttered that statement, Mojisola laughed. Magnitude! She said to herself. She convulsed into laughter.
Magnitude was too big a word to be used by a common shoemaker. She was in his house because she loved him. His figure was all she ever wanted. Michael was tall, huge, fair and handsome. She acted very fast because she could not stand to watch another woman personalized him.
The next day, Monisola went to see her friend Kabirat in her home. She told Kabirat about the slap Michael gave her. Kabirat, a twenty-three year old mother of three who was also a victim of abusive marriage told her that men are like that. Things like that were what every woman experienced in their matrimonial home. Kabirat urged Mojisola to avoid whatever could irate her husband even if it means dissatisfying herself. They discussed other matters and she returned to her home.
Mojisola had for countless of times seen how Michael’s neighbours maltreated their wives. She concluded that what Kabirat told her was true. She then tolerated all her husband’s excesses. After all, small small abuses were women’s portion in marriage she would tell herself. She had her first child and in less than two years, the second followed. They were boys. The difficulties that came along with taking care of children and their jobless mother on a meagre income added up to Michael’s beligerancy. He beat Mojisola at every slightest provocation.
“You this Urhobo man…my chi will punish you” Mama Efe yelled.
“This Ebonyi woman ehn, na today I go kill you. Your charms go spoil today today.” Papa Efe threatened as he brandished a machete he held in his hand. Some neighbours who also were birds of the same feathers ran to stop Papa Efe. They collected the machete from him.
“They tell me say make I no marry Igbo woman ooo” Papa Efe shouted. ” They say they are fetish and wicked.” He declared. “I wish I had listened to my people.” He rued
“He no go better for you oo” Mama Efe’s voice rented the air.
It was around 9pm. Mojisola laid calmly on her bed listening to the fight going on outside her room. The pains in her petite body had multiplied. They were too much for her to bear. Her swollen head ached and her broken arm hurted. Tears welled up her eyes. Her children were too small to comfort her. They sat beside her with their hunger ridden stomachs.
“I am hungry” The eldest child cried while the younger one watched their mother as if he understood the pains she was going through. Mojisola stared at them and cried silently in other not to draw attention from those settling fight outside her room.
The door opened. Michael walked in. The eldest child ran to meet him.
“Daddy..daddy..I am hungry” He cried.
“So you haven’t gone. You are there laying stupidly and my children are hungry” Michael said as he descended on her. She didn’t struggle to free herself while he precipitated her with anthonyjoshua’s punches. He kept punching her with all his strengths until he sussed that Mojisola had stopping moving. Fears gripped him. He placed his right ear on her chest. He raised her hand, it swung down.
“Moji…Moji!” He called gently.
He knew she had gone.
“Daddy I am hungry” the eldest child protested.
“Moji…Moji…!” He called again and again with low voice in other not to draw attention from outside. He made for the door and disappeared behind it.
“What is that”
“It’s Mojisola’s coffin”. Bukky,his mother’s sister answered him.
“Mojisola’s coffin” The boy repeated as he walked closer to it. The boy held the edge of the coffin and lifted himself. He saw his mother laying motionless with cottonwoods fastened on her mouth, nose and ears. He wanted to remove to cottonwood.
Bukky slapped his hand and took him away.
“Iwo okuku mo nkankan” she said.
There were cacophonous cries as Mojisola was turned to where she came from.