“Stop please. You’re hurting me.” I repeat like a mantra but my abusive husband of six months is deaf to my pleas. This is the third time he has physically assaulted me this week and it is just Thursday. I inwardly calculate the amount of money I have spent on concealers since we got back from our honeymoon. As he uses me to practice his boxing exercises, my mind flashes back to the first time I saw him.
I was a fresh graduate from the University of Nigeria still in search of a greener pasture. I had just recently completed my National Youth Service Corps program and finally had to move back to Lagos to live with my family. It was one sunny Monday that I was combing the streets of Lagos for vacancies that Chike and I met. He was tall, broad, handsome and very charming. His charm has a switch then but was now broken when it came to matters involving me. I was glad I was dressed in one of my finest attires when a Land Rover parked by my side of the road and the sexiest Greek god I had ever seen or imagined asked if I needed a lift. I quickly agreed as the sun was blazing and I could not pass up an opportunity to see an Adonis up close.
He had the perfect white teeth that radiated the sun rays when he smiled or spoke. His long black eyelashes framed his face beautifully and made me envious. His eyes were shaped like the seeds of a lentil, beautiful, smooth and spherical. His face sported a slightly crooked nose which boasted of several fights but the ruggedness and odd angle it stood at added to his sex appeal. He had a full head of hair and each hair strand stood out proud and curly. I constantly stared at him with my mouth wide open and mostly did not hear what he said.
I was lost in my sea of thoughts but was brought back to the present by a firm but gentle tap on my shoulder. I apologized for my wanderings and asked if there was any problem.
“Oh no. No problem at all. I just wanted to know the name of the beauty gracing me with her presence,” he said. I blushed a deep shade of crimson and wished then I wasn’t one of those with the light skins that tell all its secret. But then being light skinned also had its advnatages, it meant I was considered very beautiful.
“Oluchi. My name is Oluchi,” was my reply. He nodded and said my name suited me well. My name means ‘work of God.” As the well trained child I was, I thanked him and he proceeded to ask me where my destination was. After a couple of minutes in an enjoyable car ride that had no dull nor quiet moment, Chike dropped me in front of my house and asked me for my phone number. I tried playing coy but ended up giving him before stepping out of his car, thanking him then proceeding into the house.
I had not fully planted my feet in the house before my mother started questioning me on who dropped me off. Having a tight knit relationship with my mother meant there were no rooms for lies so I started narrating the whole incident to her and her reaction was her smiles and advices before she told me to make dinner for myself.
The following weeks saw Chike calling me at every free time he could get and trying his hardest to gain my love. We were constantly going on dates, visiting each other and he even came to my church a couple of times. He met my family and won their hearts over with his charm and self-confidence. He was well liked by my friends and I was the envy of all. My new boyfriend helped me to secure a very good job at a multinational company, pay for my siblings’ school fees, support my family and helped me start a little business of mine. Chike was liked and respected by all and sundry. After the best nineteen months of my life, he popped the question. It was a romantic moment as he asked me by writing the question on a pair of killer heels I had coveted for a while. The whole incident had me bouncing like a beach ball and I told the story to all who cared to listen and more. I flashed my ring everywhere I went and in a couple of months we were married.
That was when everything went sour. My lover turned into a monster I did not recognise. He kept constant tabs on me and even goes as far as getting someone to follow me around and report to him. He checks my phones and all my social accounts and beats me up if I have any male follower or friend. He completely alienated me from my friends and forbade me from seeing my family. He constantly feeds them with lies about how tied up we were with our jobs and our undying love for each other. He keeps up his financial duties concerning my family and refuses to let me do a thing. He even goes as far as selecting my wardrobe. To the public we look happy and in love but I am very sad and lonely. As quickly as it started, the beatings became frequent and worse. I get beatings for something as trivial as forgetting water in the electric kettle. Yes, he is that petty. I am constantly in and out of hospitals for internal bleeding, broken bones and concussions. I have become a life size punching bag and there is no one to turn to. I have tried talking to my mother but she gives the excuse of me being a married woman now and I have to endure whatever may come my way so I can have a happy marriage.
This current beating is as a result of using our second best China to serve his Sunday meal. We had just gotten back from our parish and I had quickly gone into the kitchen to put everything in place for our Sunday brunch. I particularly felt so close to God today, it was almost like I could touch him. I prepared his favourite which was garri and okazi soup in the fashion he loved so much and was very pleased with myself. All I can remember as I set the table was the darkening of his eyes, the long purposeful strides to where I was and the hefty slap I was landed with that left me dazed for a couple minutes. I stood shocked and tried asking what was wrong but all I got were punches and kicks with him shouting that I used the China. He is currently breaking China on my head and as I scream in pain, he slams my head against the wall. I feel a dizziness and the darkness envelopes. I close my eyes, the darkness is soothing and I give in to it, refusing to fight any longer.
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