Finally what you have always feared has happened; the one thing you have always tried to prevent has befallen you. Despite all your efforts, all your careful plans, everything has come to ruin. You crumbled to the floor, held your husband, your man, your world, and prayed that he would be fine, asking God to save him. Even if it meant taking the person that just stabbed your husband away. He was still as standing there, the bloody knife clasped in his murderous hand, face aghast, as the full impact of what he had done dawned on him.
You managed to look up at Chidalu, your son, and the most unimaginable of hate and anger enveloped you, threatening to crush your heart, blinding you with rage. You wanted to take the knife from his hand and slice him up with it, you wanted him to pay for this. But first of all, you had to help your husband. You had to save him first—he was more important than your son. So you sprang up like an automaton and rushed your handbag. Quickly and with shaking fingers, you picked your phone and called the emergency ambulance service.
“We will be there in ten minutes,” the operator said, promising you that your man would be fine. You thanked him profusely and rushed back to be with him. Your son was nowhere in sight, but you did not concern yourself with him; the paramount thing was saving your husband, who was the centre of your existence. You knelt beside him, held his hand and whispered words of sustenance to him, you told him to live for you, that he should tap off your life force and be alive.
The wait for the ambulance became the longest wait of your entire life. You’ve never trusted any service providing agency in Nigeria. And this was the reason: the very moment you needed them, they would suddenly become unavailable. Why had the operator told you that they would be in your home in ten minutes when they knew that Christ would come again before they arrived?
As you stared at Danny, your heartthrob, you willed yourself to go back in time to how it all began, how he had changed your life. You did not want to leave him, whether physically or mentally, but you could not just sit there and do nothing. You had to do something, even if it was reliving the past. Maybe you could channel your positive thoughts to him and keep him alive till the damn ambulance came.
So off you went. Truthfully, you cannot really recall most events before you met Danny; it was as if all the events in your life had been some sort of preparation for him, as you could not clearly remember anything before meeting him. Except for one thing though.
The day you met him would always be clear and fresh and early morning dew; like a tattoo to your heart, the day you met him would certainly be there forever—indelible.
That day, you had gone for Easter shopping with three-year-old Chidalu. On your way out of the mall, you had bumped into an old friend; and as you both chatted away, little Chidalu hobbled off. It was a shriek from an old woman that snapped your attention back to the present, and towards the cause of her distress. You had watched in terror (and a little bit of thrill, if you would be honest with yourself) as the boy stood in the way of an incoming vehicle. In your heart, you knew he would die; in that instant, you had even seen his funeral.
But at the last moment, he was snatched from the powerful jaws of death by a man who was as quick as lightning. He had dashed into the path of the vehicle and carried your son to you. You ran towards them, got on your knees and enveloped your boy in a rib-crushing hug. You held onto him, refusing to let go as you inhaled his scent, his sweet, tingling baby scent that had been mixed with fear. Your boy had stared death in the face and survived.
Slowly you stood up and gazed into the deep, dark eyes of the stranger who had saved your son. And in that instant you felt it, the spark between the both of you would later become a raging inferno. You had thanked him, profusely pouring out words of gratitude you had no control over. Then you had asked him to dinner that day. Your friend had been surprised, and made no pretense of hiding it, but you did not care. The man who stood before you had saved your son. That—not to talk of the attraction between the both of you—was enough to earn him a seat at your table.
The next months went in a blur of bliss. With the occasional punishments from him whenever you “messed up.” The first time he had touched you with the intent of inflicting pain on you, you were so shocked that you had been rooted to the spot, allowing him to land blows on all parts of you—your eyes, nose, ears, breasts. No part of you was free of pain. He had even knocked off two of your teeth, which you had lied to people fell of when you fell in the shower.
Yet you knew that he loved you, despite what many women said online about abusive men. No, you wouldn’t use that word. He was a stern, no-nonsense man, who was a bit controlling. But not abusive. The best word should be “disciplinarian.” And you knew as he had told you many times that he would not beat you if you did not earn it through your actions. When you analyzed it, you found out that he was correct; you would question his movements with the different women, read his chats, and even deny him your body. He was your boyfriend, he deserved to have you anytime he wanted. So he was right in keeping you in line. Then again, he was good to your son, someone he had every right to hate.
At the thought of your son, your face darkened, you’ve always found it hard to say what you felt for your boy. Sometimes you would hate him; and other times he would be the best thing that had happened to you. You knew that your hate for him stemmed from the circumstances of his birth.
That particular train of thought caused you to scowl; you debated on whether you would think about it, but later decided to go down that road. The ambulance was not yet there. You wanted to call them again, but you knew that they would simply repeat what they said before. So you just thought of how you became a mother before your time.
It had all started that Friday night you went for vigil with your family members. After the vigil, the pastor had called you for special counseling the next day. Being a student in a faraway university, you were not there when your parents switched to that particular church. So the man of God had wanted to see you and pray for you.
The next afternoon, you had gone there. And true to his words, he had prayed for you, pouring spit and prophetic words onto your bent head. Then when he saw that you were deep in your own prayers, he preyed on you. As he had his way with you, thrusting into your secret garden, bruising your soul and wounding your womb, you had screamed and pleaded. You had begged him, asking him to remember his position and yours, telling him that you were young enough to be his daughter, but he only shushed you with bits of kisses, pouring his spit into your mouth and his seed into your body.
When he was done, he had told you—no, threatened you—not to tell anyone. He had brandished a charm, telling you of its mystical powers and what would happen to you and your family should the details of his vile actions be revealed.
So you had bottled it up, preferring to shut out the memory than to confront it. But the events of that day confronted you. You had missed your period for two months, and in the third month, your mother had noticed. You had blamed the ASUU strike which had caused you to stay at home for an extended period of time. You knew that although you were afraid of getting an abortion, you would have done it in school rather than live with the child of the man who raped you in his consultation room, few feet away from his church’s altar.
And as your mother had noticed, she had informed your father who had threatened to disown you, then kill you if you did not tell them who was responsible for your unwanted pregnancy. He was a retired major in the army, so you knew that even if he did not kill you, he would at least give you a sound beating.
So you had slowly and tearfully revealed that the man of God who they worshipped as they worshipped God was the man who had done that to you. As if a faucet was opened, once you had told them who was responsible, you found yourself telling them everything—the events of that day, his threats and your fears.
After your confession, you father had been livid and had wanted to behead the man who paraded himself as an angel. But your mother, who was a teacher, had advice him to confront the man, he should at least know that they knew of his evils. So you had gone with your people to see the pastor. And after your father had told him everything, he had dismissed you with so much scorn that you felt like pouring hot coal down his throat.
Your father had made taken him to court, and had lost. The members of the church had rallied behind their pastor after he had told them that you were an agent of Satan sent to destroy the wonderful work of God he was doing.
So you had gone with the advice of your parents, and had kept the child. He had stayed with them as you completed your education. You would have preferred to have him stay with them as you pursued your goals, but your mother had insisted that you be with him; she had said that a child would always prefer the mother to any other person.
That was how you had taken care of the child of a man who had taken your innocence and had labeled you a whore. Why wouldn’t you hate the boy sometimes? Yes, he was your son, but seeing him would always remind you of what happened to you.
Then everything had changed when you met Danny. He had loved you and had accepted the boy, showering him with lots of love and some occasional punishments when he misbehaved. Like the time he was twelve and had tried to prevent him from beating you. You had tried to tell the boy to stay away; had tried to make him understand that he Danny was right in beating you. You had stayed late for a friend’s birthday party, and although he knew where you went, you had no right to stay late, thereby making him not to have his dinner. Your boy should have had the decency not to interfere in the business of married people.
Yes, he had married you two years after you met him. And although your friends had advised you not to settle down with him, you knew that he was a catch. He had accepted you with all your flaws and needless insecurities, not to talk of another man’s child. So why not marry him? They had called him a monster for beating you, but you had told them that he was just a strict person. Yes, he had some flaws, but who didn’t? He was the only man who had accepted you with a child already in the picture. And you were not getting any younger.
Suddenly you were teleported back to the present by the wail of the siren. You rushed to the gate and let them in. You were surprised when they came in with two policemen, but you were more concerned about the life of your husband, so you hurried them in. The female medic went to your husband and checked for a pulse. She checked again and slowly shook her head at her male partner. You knew what that signal meant, but you refused to acknowledge it.
“W–wha–t is the problem?” you stammered, praying that it would be something, anything else that wasn’t what it was.
“I’m sorry, madam, but he is dead,” the male medic replied. His voice was cold, lifeless.
You shouted a succession of “nos” and wanted to rush to him, but one of the policemen held you. You thrashed about and writhed, all the while shrieking from the pain that threatened to rend your soul apart. But the adamant bully of a policeman just held you tightly, whispering useless consolations to you.
When you were calmer, the policemen went to their work. Slowly, and with a clear voice, the other one said to you, “I’m assuming he’s your husband. Can you tell us who killed him?”
While you were as shouting, Chidalu had rushed in to know what the problem was. And he stared you as the man asked you the question.
This was the time to make the bastard son of a rapist pay for his crime. You knew that you had to tell the truth. Your duty was to your husband first, you had to get justice for him. And although you’ve been a mother for a longer time than you’ve been a wife, yet all your life you have been trained for the role of a wife more than the role of a mother. Your nature was that of a mother, but your nurture was that of a wife. It was what you were used to. Your maternal instincts have never been activated where the boy was concerned. So you knew without doubt that you had to say the truth.
As the people in the room stared at you, you thought about why the boy had killed your husband. He had been nosy again, despite your admonitions that he should never interfere whenever your husband was using you as a training doll for his never-to-come kickboxing match. This time, he had hit your husband, and a fight had ensued. After Danny had hit him with three successive heavy blows to the face, he had rushed out of the room and had come back with the knife with which he stabbed your man to death. He should have minded his business. So you raised your hand and pointed.
Everyone was surprised, most especially Chidalu. It was the policeman who had held you that found his voice first.
“You’re telling us that you killed your husband?” he asked with incredulity.
“Y–ee–ss,” you managed to whisper.
“Why did you then call for an ambulance?” It was the woman medic.
“Because I did not intend to kill him. It was an accident.”
“In that case, you have to come with us to the station,” the first policeman said.
As they led you out of the room, you looked at Chidalu, your son, who would always be a part of you, and you gave him a weak smile.
“Take care of the house,” you told him as the men escorted you out. Outside, the policemen called for the people who would take the corpse away. Then you went into the car and they sped off. You knew that you had done the right thing, you had no regrets about what you just did. You had to make that sacrifice. After all, you were a mother before you became a wife; although you were more of a good wife than a good mother, still you were a mother first.
And you would always be.