Lara drives into her parents’ house just a few minutes after 6.00pm. She pressed the bell and Kadijah, the maid answers the door ‘Aunty, good afternoon’ she curtsied, ‘How are you Kadi? Mommy dey for house?’ ‘Yes ma’ Kadijah replied. It had been almost four months since she came to visit her parents, they spoke on the phone regularly, but she rarely got the chance to visit.
Lara sits on one of the black leather sofas, and waits for her mother. She’s still amazed at the feeling of it all. It seemed strange that this was not really home anymore. Her husband’s house was her home now. Hmmm, home, even the word did not seem to hold much meaning again.
Mrs Ajayi walks gracefully into the living room and Lara stands up to hug her mother. She had always admired her mother, at 55 years, she still looked amazing, and she always prayed to look half as good when she was that age. But at this point in her life, she was seriously beginning to doubt it. Lara holds on a bit longer and immediately her mother senses something is wrong.
‘How are you my dear, is everything all right?’ She takes a step back and looks at her daughter carefully, ‘You’ve lost weight, are you OK? How’s is Richard?’ Lara opens her mouth to reply but no word comes out, she can only nod. ‘I’m a-a-a-alright’ she stammers before she breaks into tears.
Without a word, her mother pulls her to herself in a hug, ‘Shhhh, it is ok’ But this only fuels Lara’s tears as she is sobbing now.
‘Oh, mommy’ she wails. Her mother continues to soothe her, but she cannot bring herself to stop.
‘Let’s go to my room’ her mother says. After what seems like an eternity, Lara calms down, picks her handbag and follows her mother upstairs.
Getting to the room, she seems to have collected herself. ‘Mom, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t just hold it’ her eyes start to well up again.
‘It’s ok Lara. But what happened? Is Richard alright?’
‘I don’t know, I don’t know anymore mom’ she breaks into tears
‘Please talk to me, this crying is not going to solve anything’
‘Richard hits me’ she blurts out
Her mother’s hands fly to her mouth and she sinks unto the bed very gently. ‘Oti o, no oh, ehn, what did you just say?’
Lara is nodding and shaking her head at the same time, the tears are flowing freely ‘He hits me. Richard.’
‘Ah, no ko possible. Same Richard? No’ Her mother shakes her head continuously as if trying to convince herself that this was not really happening. ‘Tell me what happened’
Lara goes on to tell her mother about Richard’s temper tantrums. How he would fly into a rage over the slightest thing. The most recent being that she had gone to the salon and came back late, he said he couldn’t imagine why she bothered though, because she didn’t look any better than before she fixed her hair. She ignores this and goes ahead to prepare his dinner, but Richard is still in a bad mood, because he continues to ask for salt, pepper, tissue and so on. He ends up not eating it and says she is good for nothing. Now she has had enough, she decides to say something, she asks him what she has done wrong, why was he treating her this way. The same Richard who used to swear that her cooking was the best suddenly thought she could not cook. Richard, who always told her how beautiful she looked, now thought otherwise. She pleaded with him to tell her what she had done wrong, but he wouldn’t.
She’s too tired and goes off to the room. He comes in later and tries to touch her. She’s angry and not in the mood, so she brushes his hand off. He turns her over and tells her he wants to have sex with his wife, or is that too much to ask. She tells him not tonight, not after the way he talked to her. But this only makes him angry, he pushes her roughly and lifts her night dress up, she struggles with him but he’s too strong for her. He slaps her hard across the face and tells her never to talk back at him. By now she’s crying he hits her again and yells at her to shut up, she struggles and runs into the bathroom locking the door behind her.
He begins to pound the door very hard asking her to open up, but she does not. After a few seconds the pounding stops, she can’t believe he’s gone. No, wait a minute, she hears a sound. It sounds like a sniffle. She gently opens the door and peeps. She’s expecting him to push the door and continue hitting her, but there he is, lying on the floor in a foetal position crying silently, sniffling like a baby.
She thinks this is a trap, but Richard does not seem to be getting up. So she moves gingerly to touch him ‘Ricky?’ she is too shocked. No response.
‘Babe, it’s me. Lara. You’re crying’ as if that was not obvious enough. But she could not think of anything better to say.
He seems to collect himself now, and looks at her almost quizzically. ‘Baby, I’m sorry’ he sobs. He reaches out to touch her swollen lips, but impulsively, she pulls back.
‘I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I swear I didn’t mean to’ He hugs himself as if he’s cold and tears stream down his cheeks.
She knows it’s not a trap now, this is no joke. So she reaches out and hugs him, both of them crying silently, not saying a word. She can feel his tears soaking up her night dress. The more confused she got, the harder she cried.
Lara could not continue to talk anymore, she was struggling to keep the words coming, and her mother too was in tears and was patting her eyes with a tissue. She seemed like she could not make sense of Lara’s story. ‘So when did this start’, she asks
‘Like seven months ago’ Lara replies
‘What!! But you only got married like a year ago’ her mother says in disbelief
‘I don’t know what to do. I love him, but I’m so scared’
This was totally unbelievable to Mrs Ajayi. Richard came from a well-respected family. She and Chief, Lara’s father, had their reservations while he was dating their daughter; it had been a whirlwind romance. But they were so in love – Richard literally worshipped the floor Lara walked on. He was so respectful and polite. Lara was one of the most loving people she had ever known, yes, she was her daughter, but even friends always talked about her how nice and caring she was. So what could have gone wrong? But what was important now was that something had to be done. No, her daughter should not go through this kind of hell alone. Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of the gates.
‘That will be your father’ she says
‘Please mom, don’t mention anything to him. Please’ Lara looks panicked
‘But I will have to tell him at some point’
‘I know, but not now. Please not now’. She begged with her eyes
Ebun Oshin is a budding writer and this is her first published work.
Currently a student, she enjoys ‘a good laugh’ and reading – some of her favourite authors include Buchi Emecheta, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Candace Bushnell and Douglas Kennedy.