The story continues… you may wish/need to view the first part to follow. Hope this makes for a better read.
My husband hit me again today…and the tears that she had been trying to repress began to flow, blurring her eyes, falling; and smudging her incomplete diary entry. Seun lifted a hand and touched her busted lips which were still throbbing painfully. What do I do? How can I stop this from happening again and again and again… she placed her diary back on the side table knowing she wouldn’t be able to continue and lay back on the bed. After Tunde had finished venting his anger on her, he had picked his car keys and gone clubbing. Her leave of absence was suppose to start the day after tomorrow but one look at her face in the mirror told her she wouldn’t be able to go in tomorrow. Already the walls in her office were whispering. Though no one had as yet question her, the injuries she was sustaining so regularly were becoming increasingly difficult to hide.
She sighed, she had taken this leave of absence to devout more time to meeting Tunde’s needs. Hopefully it will make him stop hitting her and perhaps they could once again develop the loving relationship they use to share years ago. But a part of her believed that nothing she was going to do was ever going to make him stop and that scared her to death. The possibility of living like this for the rest of her life was a thought to horrific to contemplate, but her religious beliefs and traditional upbringing made her commitment to this marriage a must.
She had jumped in without a thought; a hasty marriage that had been preceded by a courtship lasting just three short months. She had always been a dreamer and a believer in ‘Happily ever afters.’ So when Tunde had shown up looking like her very definition of ‘Prince charming’ tall, handsome and buying her gifts. She had been easily swept of her feet. At first it had all started subtly with the use of abusive words, then it had degenerated to the occasionally slaps which he had quickly followed up with apologies. But as time past the slaps had become from frequent, the apologies less until they had disappeared altogether. Then the beatings began.
A knock at her bedroom door startled her out of her thoughts. This was quickly followed by an anxiety attack. It was bound to be one of her children. She couldn’t let them see her like this… The knock came again a little more loudly. She couldn’t just ignore it. What if one of the kids was unwell?
“Mummy we know you are awake. Can we come in?” It was her eldest son who had spoken. She quickly turned off her bedside lamp.
‘Ok, come in.” She said.
Gboyega came in followed right behind by Jnr. Instinctively; he reached for the light switch located by the door.
“Wait! Don’t turn on the light! Just…just leave the door slightly open.” Seun said.
Her blood was pounded loudly in her veins. If they flip on the switch and saw her face she didn’t know what she could possible say. Gboyega hesitated briefly but then to her relief he did as she requested.
“Why aren’t you boys asleep? Is everything ok?” She asked.
Her boys approached the bed. Jnr sat at the end of the bed, beside her feet. But Gboyega came closer and sat beside her. It took everything in her not to bury herself under the covers; praying that he could barely see her face in the near darkness. Gboyega reached over to switch on the bedside lamp. But from underneath the bedcovers her shot out and caught his hand.
“I don’t want it…” Seun began. But her son interrupted her. “It’s no use hiding Mummy we know.”
Seun felt the pieces of her already shattered world reduce to dust and ash and scatter into the winds of despair. Her precious babies that she had tried so hard to conceal everything from knew? For some reason Tunde had never hit her in front of them. He always waited until they were in bed or away somewhere and she had always done her best not to scream out loud so that they would not hear.
He shook her hand off his and went ahead to put on the bedside light and she flinched more out of what her boys would see than from its glare. Gboyega inhaled sharply making her once more feel like getting under the covers. To night’s beating had been really bad… Breathing rapidly she turned her eyes on her second child at the foot of the bed. Jnr simply sat motionless. Only the stiffness in his shoulders and the cold, cold look in his eyes showed any form of emotion. Out of her four kids he was the one who showed the least emotion. Consequently he scared her the most. One was never really sure of what was going through his mind.
“It…It’s not as bad as it looks.”She stammered.
“If he does it again, I’ll beat him up.” Jnr stated.
Seun felt a chill blow right through her. She stared in horror at him.
“Tunde! This is between me and your father I forbid you… ”
“Forbid me? Forbid me? Just look at your face Mummy!” Jnr yelled.
Seun stared speechlessly at her son; taken aback both by the words and the vehemence behind them.
“Tunde… jnr…” “No mummy! You really expect us to keep pretending to be asleep all the time? ”He asked.
He was blinking furiously now, obviously fighting tears. Seun with trepidation growing inside her, tried again.
“Jnr please don’t get involved, I’ll work things out with your father.”
Images of her son trying to wrestle his well over six feet father filled her head and sent shivers down her spine.
“Mummy you have been trying to work it out for the last three years. I am going to bed.”
He turned away from her. But she reached forward and grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around.
“Jnr! swear to me you will not get involved.” Seun said.
“Swear to me that you will not!” she repeated her voice now a near shout.
“Ok mummy. I’ll not get involved. Please can I go back to bed now?” Jnr asked.
His face once more a mask of control. She let him go and as she watched him make his way out of the room, she knew that she had most likely extracted an empty promise from him. She turned to her eldest child in desperation.
“Gboyega please you’ll help me talk to Jnr.” Gboyega stood up from the bed.
“Mummy I won’t do that he his right. Enough is enough.” She watched him depart as well.
“Gboyega… please…” She said to his retreating back. But he did not hear her or rather choose not to reply.
He opened the door and at the corner her eyes glimpse something pink hovering.
“Is Daddy going to stop beating mummy now?” Ladi asked her brother.
The door closed preventing her from hearing Gboyega answer. But her daughter’s innocent query made her heart constrict in pain. Even Ladi knew… and she turned into her pillow to mellow the sobs racking through her.
She remained awake till the early hours of the morning when Tunde returned. In his usual fashion he peeled off his clothes and left them unceremoniously on the floor. Then he got into his pyjamas, climbed into bed and in a matter of seconds was fast asleep. By the time it was time for her to get the kids up for school. She knew something had to change and fast. She could put up with Tunde’s manhandling her but if her children were going to get involved…she shivered. She had to tell him it had to stop.
She got out of bed and started the daily rituals of preparing her children for school. By the time she got back from dropping them off, Tunde was on his way out. This was her chance. She swallowed hard and began.
“Tunde…” “Save it for when I return. I am already late.” Tunde said.
And he brushed past her in his immaculately white office shirt and black jacket slung over his shoulder.
“Tunde this cannot wait.” She said a little more forcefully.
He stopped in his tracks and turned and walked back towards her. It took everything in her not to step back. He towered so easily over her five feet one frame. He stood right in front of her, a thunderous expression on his face.
“Go on start taking I am listening and this had better be good.” He said.
Seun swallowed hard. Already she could see his left hand twitching there way it usually does just before he hit her. And just had quickly has it had come to her; courage deserted her.
“Ppppperharps we cccan tttalk about it wwhen you come back.” She blurted out.
“You are lucky that I don’t have time for you this morning. Don’t ever waste my time like that again.” He grated out.
“Make sure that my clothes get to the drycleaners and yes, I almost forgot. Take food to mama in the hospital.” And he was gone.
She stared at the closed door through blurring eyes. “God I am such a coward.”
And with heavy heart turned and began her chores. As soon as she was done, she packed a meal and entered into her car to go and visit her mother-law in the hospital.
She knocked on room 202 and entered, and found her mother-in-law bed space vacant and neatly laid. She stared in slight confusion at the space. Had she misunderstood Tunde?
“She left this morning…” Seun shifted her gaze to the next bed.
The elderly woman who had been asleep the last time she had been here was wide awake.
“She said she was sick and tired of staying here so she discharged herself.”
“Thank you very much ma.” Seun replied.
“You’re welcome dear.” The old woman replied with a smile
. “Hem… was she alright?” Seun queried.
It wouldn’t be good for her to have discharged herself if she hadn’t yet made a full recovery.
“Oh she was fine. I envy her.” The woman said.
“Ok then, I best be on my way thank you ma.” She turned to leave.
“Wait dear I need a small favour.” The woman said. Seun turned back.
“Sure ma, anything…what do you want me to do for you?”
“I want to sit up but I can’t do that on my own.”
“Sure, no problem ma.”
Seun put down her bag and cooler on the side table and moved over to the bed. The woman was not heavy but was unable to assist her in the process, and after a series of huffs and puffs made harder by her recently acquired injuries, managed to get the woman into an upright position.
“Thank you love, God bless you.” The woman said.
“You’re welcome ma.” Seun tried not to wince as she straightened up. But her discomfort did not go on noticed.
“Are you ok dear?” The woman asked.
“Yes ma. I am fine.” She said smiling more brightly than necessary.
She would give her shoulder a good rub as soon as she left the room.
“Your husband is beating you. “
It was statement and not a question. Seun froze in the act of picking up her things.
“…No! Are you talked about this?” and she touched and licked the deep cut on her lip
“…I got it from a bad fall… it is nothing…” Seun said.
“She use to say that too…” The woman said.
“Eh…who? Who use to say that?” Seun asked in confusion.
“My friend Toyin.” The woman replied.
TO BE CONTINUED