His Sister seemed to have heard an earful about me. She hissed and looked at me with disdain as I walked into her apartment. All I could pick out of the Igbo gibberish was “Animal Mother” When she tried to withhold the baby from me, my Daughter wailed. I then grabbed her and left. There was something inside of me that changed that day, as I held my Daughter in the Marwa on the way home. A growing sense of calm overcame me. The next few days were visibly good for him. I gave him more “pocket money”, bought him more chocolate and even shared the offer letter of my new job with him. He was very happy with me and said he knew I’d come back to my senses.
He came up with a policy that, I must transfer my entire pay check to him. He said that when he had a job. He had given me ,all of his paycheck to run the House and that it was only fair that I did the same. I tried to convince him that it didn’t make too much sense, because I did the shopping for the house and that I’d invariably be asking for the money back to make purchases. He made a big fuss about being the head of Head of the home and how Women should “submit” to their Husbands. I decided to give into his request because the house had been bereft of quarrels in the last few weeks and I wanted it to remain that way.
At Month 2 of me ‘submitting’ my paycheck, there still peace in the house. He bought himself some clothing and a new phone. He’d call me a few days after I’d given him my paycheck and ask what we needed in the house. It was madness, but I played along with it. By month 3, he gave me N5,000 and said I should “make do”. I tried to make him understand that N5,000 wouldn’t cover buying fuel for my Car for the entire month. I had to take a loan from work to get through the month.
One day in month 4 of the salary “submitting”, I came home a little late because we had last minute arrangements to tidy up for the Christmas concert the next day. I had called him several times during the day to update him on our progress, so I was not expecting him to be upset when I got home. I got home and saw his silhouette on the balcony puffing away on a cigarette.
“Good evening “I said
He didn’t respond
Me: Good evening
Still, he didn’t respond
Him: Is this the time responsible married Women come home? Who were you with?
Me: Haba! I was with no one
My response seemed to enrage him and then he gave me a hot slap and started pounding and kicking me with his fists and feet. I rolled my body into a ball for safety. It was not the first second or third or fourth time this had happened. I must have passed out.
Awareness came in bits, I felt tubes in my nose, on my arm and a urine bag pipe in between my legs. I tried to move but couldn’t. I then became aware of a presence in the room. I could tell right away that It was him without opening my eyes. It seemed, he was talking to another person in the room I tried to focus on what he was saying and alI I heard was” I Love her so much and”. A banging headache hit me and then I drifted back into the safety of unconsciousness to avoid more pain.
Apparently, I’d been in a comma for 21 days. I had some bleeding and swelling. It was not life threatening but required hospital stay. I felt someone lift my eyelids and instantly I was conscious.
“Who are you? I asked
“I’m the Doctor that treated you when your husband rushed you in here. Lucky for you he was nearby when that car hit you “How are you feeling? What time of day do you think it is? You’ve been here for 3 weeks. We had to induce the coma to make the inflammation in your head go down.
I couldn’t remember any car hitting me but I just nodded.
“I’m Doctor Hassana” and I know that story of his, is a ton of rubbish I have seen the bruises all over your body” I had to put my hand to stop the tears that made their way down my face.
Dr Hassana, said she understood the scenario and left. After a day or 2 I begged the Doctor not to tell Steven that I was out of the comma. I asked whether she’d seen my Baby. She said that Steven had mentioned that the Baby was at his Sister’s.
I had my eyes closed most times during visiting hours so that Steven wouldn’t walk in and find me awake. I devised a means of seeing through almost closed eyes. He came in with his Sister and the Baby. She spoke ill of me, not caring that It was possible that I had heard all she said. He didn’t pay much attention to what his Sister said. He said he’d never be mean to me again…He wept and then kissed me on the forehead. I heard his sister say that they should both go and to see their Father to update him on the state of my health.
After about 20 minutes of their departure, I buzzed the nurse who came in quickly. She took off all my tubes and helped me get dressed. Dr. Hassana and I had become friends in the last few days. She had arranged everything for me to leave hospital. I was ushered into the back stairway and given a scarf, veil and dark sunglasses. A car and driver were waiting to pick me up. I went to our Neighbor, and picked up the spare key for house Once inside, I made a mad dash for my important documents, a few of the baby’s things, my wallet cheque books, Passport and a few clothes. I described a short cut I knew to the driver to take us to my Father -in -Law’s place in a jiffy. We parked across his house while I sank down into the seat and asked the driver to alert me when he saw my car.
It was not too long after, that Steven drove in, in my car. My Father -in -Law was one of the old money people. He had a big compound with lots of shops and tenants.
Many of his tenants had become like his children as they had been there for several years. After what seemed like 30 minutes, I approached the Tailor whose shop was directly under the old man’s apartment. I told her what had been happening in a few minutes and that my Daughter had not been breastfed for 3 weeks because of my being in hospital. I wanted her to bring my daughter to me. She sighed and said I should leave it to her. She then called her Daughter and asked her to go up and play with the baby and then bring her down.
It was the worst 15 minutes ever of my life waiting for my Baby. As the little girl brought her down, I shoved a N2000 in her Mother’s palm and made a fast gateway to the car. I half leaped; half jumped. We sped away. My heart kept beating and I cried tears of relief.
I left Lagos and relocated to the East- to safety. Dr. Hassana was a gem, she helped me find a job and settle in. She had friends in the same state with me. When I had enough money I commenced proceedings for Divorce. Steven did give in without ado. He initially put up a fight for custody but I believe his Lawyer advised him to do otherwise.
So, I will keep spreading the gospel that violence at home should not be stomached. Never keep it a secret. It may just take your life! There was a standing ovation for me! Almost all the women in the hall kept clapping nonstop.