With the increased rate in domestic violence across the country, I thought it fit to write a little something. This was also inspired by a task given by Pius from The Literary cafe (TLC).
“No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband“. (Ephesians 5:29-33 MSG)
“Pain!”, that was the definition she gave it, the lack of it was what I imagined.
“I’m in pain Kofo…I’m in so much pain”. She was beginning to sound like a broken record. Her high pitched voice that accompanied the tears irked me. “Why don’t you just leave if you’re in so much pain” she glanced a heart piercing look at me and said “I can’t I just can’t…you won’t understand…nobody understands”. She was wrong I understood perfectly to know she was a fool and Dotun a bigger fool.
“Are these new”, I said as I examined the LV bag on her dresser. Immediately her eyes shone and she started going on and on with details about how Dotun got it for her on his last trip, the price and the fact that it was a limited edition. As if I was interested, I only needed to get her out of her foul mood. Lately, nothing gives Dupe more joy than money and anything fancy. As she went on and on, all I felt was more pity.
Pity for my once upon a time beautiful friend, who has slowly aged without noticing – her mac and black up did wonderful jobs hiding the black eyes and bruises. If there was something Dupe was excellent at, it was make belief. I passed the bag to her and saw the struggle she had even holding it.
“It hurts, doesn’t it?”, “My hand?… I’ve to be more careful these days…imagine! I fell in the bathroom, I told you now”. No, she didn’t tell me, there was nothing to tell. I wish she’d just tell me the truth sometimes. She has everyone fooled but not me- we’ve been friends for too long.
The last time we had the conversation, she accused me of being jealous. I didn’t blame her, the unmarried friend who says the truth is always jealous. Society thought so, her mother thought so, Dotun though so and so it was so.
“Banker beats wife to death“, this was slowly becoming a trendy news headline. Last week it was a case of a man who arranged to have his wife beaten. “Animals, Animals!!!”.. I didn’t know how loud my voice was till my mother came running in. “what happened!!!….don’t kill me you this child”, she screamed back with her Yoruba accent that pops up whenever she was angry or scared. I apologised and gave her the newspaper to digest the content. “Men are animals…I’d rather die single than let a man touch me”. “Will you shut up with your nonsense talk…that is why at 27 you’re still in my house”. “Look at your friend Dupe, happily married to Dotun, What is my crime Kofo? I need grandchildren and not your nonsense talks about women Liberation”.
I was taken aback by my mother’s sudden outburst. It was as if she had found the perfect opportunity to remind me about my single status. “Girls of nowadays don’t know anything” my mother continued with what I suspected to be a sermon, one I wasn’t prepared for. “In my time women knew their place, if a man beats you, you accept it in good fate. Even after the beating you’ll do everything in your power to win Him back”.
None of this was new to me. I had experienced it first hand with my parents I almost thought it was normal for a man to hit a woman. That was the beginning of my resentments towards the male gender. It angered me more to think there was nothing I could do about it. Iya Agba-my grandmother- kept telling my mum it’ll get better. They held vigils after every episode of battering, calling on the angels to deliver my Father from the evil spirit. The prayers seemed to work for a month or two, then the beating continued.
I lost faith in prayer as I thought God had turned a deaf ear to my mother and grandmothers’ prayers, what good will mine do. I always wondered why my mother never left. Over the years, I realised that leaving for her meant shame. Her parents won’t welcome her back home, she’d become ridiculed by friends and “society”. But deep down I knew the major reason was because she was a full house wife- yes my father made sure of that – and didn’t have the means to support herself if she left my dad.
I was glad when my mother went back to her cooking when she noticed I was no longer paying attention. My mind went back to Dupe. Dupe and I have been friends since we could both say the words “mama” and”papa”. Growing up we talked about everything – career, husband, children etc. She was strong spirited, focused and didn’t take nonsense from anybody. When we were younger she wanted to be a human rights activists – fight against domestic violence, gender inequality etc. The drive drove me also. Looking back, I try to figure out what went wrong – how did Dupe move from that to someone’s punching bag. Did love make her weak? Had she been brain washed?. These are the questions I ask her and I’m met with the same reply, ” Kofo…you won’t understand”. She never really told me anything and she had an explanation for every bruise, scars and black eyes. I stopped asking after a while.
Some days I read the news and I fear that the headlines will read, ” Dupe Pedro, wife of Oil Tycoon Dotun Pedro beaten to death”. But I hope she makes me understand before then.
NB. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental