Written by Ife-Grace
My life fell to pieces when Abigail died.
I had been at work when her mother called to tell me she had been rushed to the hospital. I ran out of the office immediately but before I got to the hospital, she was gone. I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye.
Abigail’s husband, Tunde, was sitting with some of the patients in the passage when I came out of the doctor’s office with my friend’s mother. The poor woman just couldn’t get a grip on herself. When she fell to the floor and began crying, two male nurses took her away into one of the rooms. Abigail’s father wasn’t anywhere around. Not that he had been in her life for the past ten years anyway.
I walked over to Tunde and for once I wished I had a gun. I’d kill him right there even if it meant getting locked up. The beast does not deserve to live.
‘You killed her.’ I was shaking with rage. He glanced at me briefly and clasped his hands on his knees, staring blankly.
‘I’m going to get to the bottom of this.’ I said and stormed out of the hospital.
I tried so hard to block out the painful experiences my friend had gone through. Several times, I had pleaded with Abigail to take her kids and leave the monster. I remember the scars on her back, her swollen eyes, her limping feet when he pushed her down the stairs, the lost of sparkles in her eyes…I remembered them all.
The following day, I confronted my friend’s housemaid, Angela. I wanted to know the truth.
She looked down and began playing with her fingers. ‘Madam call me to her room. she say make I prepare yam and egg. I say ok ma. I prepare it. Come back to the room to tell Madam that food is ready. I see Madam on the floor.”
She stopped talking and immediately, I knew she was lying. Tunde must have told her what to say.
“Do you like Madam very well?”
She raised her head and tears were running down her eyes. “Yes. Madam is very nice. She give me cloth and shoe. Even money to send to my pickin in the village. But see now. Madam don go.”
I moved closer to her. “If you really like Madam, you’ll tell me the truth.”
She hesitated and I knew she was thinking if she could trust me with her secret. Abigail had called me the night before her death but I was watching a movie with my husband. I didn’t hear the phone ring and it was much later when I got back into the room that I checked the call history. Considering that it was already late, I made a mental note to call her after work the following day.
‘Angela, please tell me the truth. Trust me, nothing will happen to you.”
She folded her hand. ‘In the night, I was ironing uniform on iron table when Madam run comot for her room. Blood everywhere. She hol’ her nose and run to the other room. Oga come outside and begin to shout. He say next time she must no talk to him like that. I leave what I iron and go to Madam. She say I should bring ice block. I pity Madam. Oga always beat her. So, in the morning, I happy when she enter the kitchen and say I should cook yam. She even bath the children and wear their cloth. Later, I go her room say wetin we go chop for afternoon. I see her for ground. I shout ahh!Small small white medicin full ground. ”
I wanted justice for my friend and so I contacted my friend who ran an NGO for abused women. You won’t believe Angela denied everything she said to me. Her Oga had never raised his hand at Madam before. In fact, the love between them was strong. Oga cried throughout the day her madam died. It took so much restraint not to slap her. As Angela left my friend’s office, I saw that her dress had changed to something more expensive. Even her hair was styled and there was a gold watch on her wrist. The monster has bought her over.
I missed Abigail and many nights when my husband was fast asleep, I would cry until there were no more tears. In my eyes, men became cruel, selfish and evil. Around that time, I met Banke. She was my boss’ friend and one day while I was with my boss, she folded her hands and said,
‘Men are wicked. If as a lady you don’t stay in control and fight for your rights, they’ll treat you like garbage. When a man cheats, people regard it as normal but if a woman does same, she is shameless. Two years ago, my useless ex-husband slept with one of his office assistants and you won’t believe I was told to apologize for slapping him. Nobody remembered what he did. Let me tell you the truth, the day that misogynist of a man called Paul advocated for women to submit to their husbands was when our trouble began. Rubbish! Submission my foot! Just check out the number of women abused every day.’
I listened to every word she said and because I was still mourning my friend, it all sank in. I thought about Abigail and the way she pushed me to serve God while we were singles. She was in church almost every day. How could God allow this to happen to her? I vowed silently to put men in their place.
The following morning, I was brushing my hair when my husband entered the room. He was already dressed for work.
‘Honey, what about my food?’
I stopped and stared at him. ‘Food. You can’t find your way to the kitchen?’
His eyes widened. ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Did you hire a slave?’
He stared at me for a long time and left the room. When I finally got to the dining room, he was dishing fried eggs into a plate. I walked out of the house without saying a word.
As I pulled into the compound later that evening, I was ready to give it back to my husband if he brought his ‘I am the head of this house’ trash to the table. I was not going to take nonsense from any man. Give a man a spoon and he will force that spoon down your throat until you choke and die.
Richard was in the bathroom when I entered the room. I pulled off my shoes and rubbed my rumbling stomach. I’d rather stay hungry than go into the kitchen to cook. When my husband came out of the bathroom, I began to arrange my clothes in the wardrobe even though they were well arranged. I was ready for a fight. The first hot fight in our five years of marriage.
‘How was work?’
I could feel his hand caressing my hair. Was he trying to weaken me? Wasn’t that the strategy Abigail’s husband used? After hurting her, he would whisper sweet nonsense to her ears and she kept believing that he loved her. If this was his plan, it wasn’t going to work.
‘Baby, why are you so tense? What’s going on?’
I turned to face him. ‘What do you think?’ I wanted to say more but I stopped and stepped away from him. ‘I’m tired. I need to sleep.’
He held my hand. ‘I’m so sorry about Abigail’s death. I know how much she meant to you.’
Do you? I climbed the bed and faced the wall and all I could think about was my best friend. I cried again that night.
I acted worse as the weeks ran by. I don’t know what evil spirit descended on me. I wanted to see Richard yell and hit me so I could leave. At least I’d have a good excuse that he treated me that way because I couldn’t give him a child.
Richard was frustrated by my nasty attitude. Every time he raised his voice, I measured his with mine and he kept quiet. I rarely cooked any meal for him. I became a regular visitor to the eatery adjacent to my office, something I never did before Abigail’s death.
During an argument, he looked at me and said, ‘Sweetheart, I love you so much even though you are hurting me.’
My heart cut when I heard those words but I quickly reminded myself that I was doing this for my protection. But how long would this continue? What was even wrong with me?
One Saturday evening, I got dressed to go out.
‘Where are you going to?’
‘I want to see a friend.’
I was irritated by the question. ‘Demola’
I stood before the mirror, shaping my eyebrows. ‘Yes.’
‘I don’t want you to go.’
I chuckled and hissed. ‘Richard, you can’t order me around. You think because we are married, then I have to submit to whatever you say. I am going to see Demola and there is nothing you can do about it. Nobody will take me for a ride. Never.’ I was shouting at the top of my voice. ‘I am not a dummy! You hear me? Richard, I am not a fool. If you are already thinking of hitting me, you will not like the result o. I will not end up like Abigail.’
His face contorted in a grimace of pain. “Abigail was abused?”
I didn’t know when I broke down and began to cry. ‘Yes. She committed suicide but before then she had been-” I swallowed hard. I felt the pain in my heart so strongly and a sharp cry came out of my mouth. Richard held me and pulled me back to bed.
‘I didn’t know about this. But you told me she was sick.’
I shook my head. ‘I’m sorry I lied. I was afraid you would take a cue from her situation and treat me the same way.
My husband pulled away, annoyed. I held him and buried my face in his chest. “I can’t believe you could think that way about me.’
‘I was afraid, you would change and become cruel to me. I was so scared.’
‘Not all hearts are made of stone.’ He said quietly, gazing into my eyes and all I could see was pain. How could I have repaid my husband this way? Here was a man who ever since we married had shown me nothing but love. ‘Honey, some hearts have been sold out to the Holy Spirit. Every day I ask God to teach me how to love you better. Have I been a terrible husband to you?’
I snuggled close and allowed my head to rest on his shoulders. ‘No. I’m so sorry.’
He planted a kiss on my lips. ‘Trust God with me for the success of this marriage. I can’t do it without your help.’
My phone rang. Demola. I sent him a message saying I was sorry I couldn’t make it. I switched off my phone and when I turned to my husband, I noticed he was still sad.
‘I’m sorry.’ I said again.
We cuddled up together in bed and for a long time stayed that way.
…if ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11
Here is a word for singles: As we plan to settle down in marriage, there is nothing to be afraid of if our hearts are fully turned towards the Lord.
Not all hearts are made of stone. There are brothers and sisters who are genuinely following the Lord. The love of God is constantly being shed abroad in their hearts.
There are men and women submitted to the Lord and desiring to see the love of God flow through them.
This doesn’t mean they are perfect. The love walk comes with growth. As we behold Jesus continually, our relationship keeps getting better and deeper in ways that amazes us.
There are lots of hardened self-righteous minds carrying out spiritual activities. A good example are the Pharisees-heartless and cruel, yet they were the custodian of the law. As we trust God completely and grow in our knowledge of Him, we receive discernment to know those who are genuinely following the Lord
As individuals, we must continually keep ourselves focused on the Lord as he prunes us and pours out his love in our hearts.
This prayer must remain on our lips: That we may comprehend the length, breath, height and depth of God’s love which passes mere knowledge. (Ephesians 3:18,19).
Finally, I must add that if you are facing any form of marital abuse, please seek help.
Read: It’s more than a wedding