I have often wondered how you realise you are in love. Is it the gentle smile that creeps up your lips when you see that certain someone? Or the sharp pain that jolts through your heart when you see their affection aimed at another.
Love is a strange feeling, it has the ability to polarise every emotion. Anger and joy, sadness and utter happiness, laughter and tears. Anyone who has loved will know that it is always painful to love. It’s almost like the two words are linked and without knowing, in some way, love either births pain or pain births love. Whether it’s the pain of loosing love or the pain experienced from making love work. Either way with love there is always pain.
I was in love once. A very long time ago. I loved him with everything I had. Every part of me seemed to resonate with him. It was easy to love then. There where no complications, no what ifs, just possibilities and dreams. And dream we did. We dreamt of the future, of our children, of owning our own home…. we dreamt of everything. Then life began and I watched those dreams slowly disappear like the morning dew. It was almost like we were different people. Like the gods were unhappy with us. It was one thing after another. My weight, my friends, my job, my parents. The list was endless. But I held on to love. I was in pain, but I loved regardless. Somewhere in me I believed this was the transitional phase, “every couple goes through this” I told myself. “Just pray and it will be well”. So I kept loving through the pain. At first it was hard, and then it became familiar. The long awkward silences, the mechanic love making, the pretence in front of friends. It became like second nature. But I still loved him, through the pain of our pretence.
Then one day, on Valentine’s Day to be exact, I got home from work early to surprise him but he wasn’t there. I called out his name but he didn’t answer. I called his phone, once, twice and thrice but there was still no answer. “He is probably busy” I told myself “in a meeting perhaps”. But somewhere on the left side of my chest I could feel a familiar pain rise. I went into the bathroom placed my cloths together as a heap on the bathroom floor and went into the shower. I stood as the cold water drenched my body in one swift motion. It became impossible to tell where my tears began and where my bathing water ended. They all mingled together as one as they hit the bathroom floor.
I can’t remember how long I stood in the shower, I just remember waking up at 2:32am to the front door slam. He was home. I imagined that he would walk into the room with a huge bouquet of flowers, give me a kiss on each cheek and tell me just how much he loved me but even I laughed at my naivety. He walked into the bedroom then, he was drunk, I could smell him from the bedroom door. I pretended to be asleep, knowing what was to follow would be inevitable. He covered the distance between the bed and the door in what seemed to be one swift motion and landed with a huge crash on the bed. I took a deep breathe as I felt his huge hands tug on my dressing gown. He was on top of me now and as usual I stayed still, his foul breathe bringing vapour to my eyes. I began to think back to the day we said our vows, how happy we looked. How we swore before God and our family to honour, love and protect each other, and now, almost 3 years to the day, my beloved husband lay on top of me, raping me.
As usual it was quick. I had timed him once, and concluded that it to took me longer to fill up my car with petrol than it took him to do his business. But I kept that information to myself, there was no need to make a bad situation worse.
“It’s like fu**ing a corpse”, he grunted as he went to the bathroom. For some reason I cannot now explain, I answered. I shouldn’t have, in fact I rarely ever spoke to him but for some reason the words escaped my mouth like a runaway train.
“Its not like its any better for me”
What did you say “bi*ch”? He said turning towards me. He was halfway between the bathroom door and the bed and I calculated that it would take him less than two seconds to reach the bed again.
“Nothing”, I replied
You comparing me to your pimps, bi*ch? His eyes widening as each word left his mouth.
You think I don’t know that you have been sleeping all over town? He screamed.
“I wish I was”! I retorted, my brain failing to communicate to my mouth to shut up.
The slap was like lightning. He grabbed me by my hair and pulled me to the floor, I tried to grab the blanket to cover my modesty but it was pointless. I tried to scream but that too was pointless, the punches just kept getting harder. At first I fought him, I kicked and scratched and spat but soon gave up as each of his punches seemed to take away a small part of my consciousness. I must have fainted because when I woke up he was tucked in bed, snoring like a swarm of bees, while I lay on the floor naked and bloody. My hands instinctively reached for my face and I winched as I felt its soreness. Lord, why didn’t I die this time, I asked silently, although not expecting a reply. I had long decided that God had forgotten all about me. I was in this on my own. I was alone in this particular love story. Alone, in love and in pain, physical, spiritual, emotional and mental pain. I held on to the edge of the bed to gain my balance as I slowly got up. My left eye was throbbing now, it was almost like it had a pulse. I gingerly walked into the bathroom and turned on the light. I clutched both hands on my mouth to prevent myself from screaming as I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I would have cried if I could, but the pain would have been intolerable. My left eye was so swollen I could hardly see my eyelid. The left side of my upper lip was hanging like a loose thread and my nose had been bleeding so much, the blood had clotted to form a dark red line at the side of my cheek.
I kept staring at myself, hoping that the image I saw would somehow disappear, that the image of the beautiful, independent and carefree woman I once was would take the place of the docile, punching bag I had become. But nothing happened. Instead the tears began to fall again. But this time the tears were for an all together different reason. I wasn’t crying because I was in pain or in love. I was crying because I was tired of being either. Tired of the person in the mirror, tired of being beaten, tired of being unloved, tired of being me. But the cycle was always the same, there was never a point to these crying sessions. I was better of with him than with someone else. “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” my mother had said the first time I left him. Where would I go anyway? I had no money, no house, nothing. No, it was better to stay here and endure.
I suddenly felt hungry then. So I turned off the bedroom light and went to the kitchen. As usual there was nothing in the fridge. The fridge was like a mirror of my marriage. Cold and empty but necessary to have around, just incase. I remembered that I had a small piece of yam left in the pantry and some sardines with tomato sauce. So I put some water on the stove to boil as I began peeling the yam. I remembered how my mother would always make me peel its bark thinly to avoid wasting any yam. I smiled then, recalling my mother and how we wasted so much time fighting over trivial things. I needed her strength now. She had always told me I was too soft. “Toughen up” she would always shout when I cried. “Life is not for criers”, she had said. So I wondered why God had taken her first, since she was the stronger one.
I looked down then and noticed that the yam was covered in a reddish colour. I kept staring as the blood from my index finger stained the formally whitish yam. I should have run my hand under the tap to see how deep the cut was but I didn’t. I just stood there looking at the red-like yam and then all of a sudden it hit me. I looked at the blood stained knife and my life never seemed clearer. The yam fell to the ground then as I began tracing my steps back to the bedroom. My mind was blank now but my heart was beating faster than it ever had. He was still snoring when I opened the door. His face looked so peaceful, his breathing so relaxed, childlike almost. It was this childish innocence that had deceived me. This peaceful demur that made me believe that my future was secure in his hands. I touched his face then and he waved my hand away, assuming it was a fly. The tears began to fall then, as I realised how I had wasted my youth on a man who wasn’t worth it. All the pain, hardship, trauma and miscarriages I had endured. I remembered how I missed my own mother’s funeral because my husband had broken my ribs the day before. How I miscarried my last pregnancy at 7 months because he had pushed me down the stairs. How he had slept with all of closest friends and impregnated 2 of them.
All these events flashed before my eyes like a trailer at the cinema and it was all I could do to hold back from screaming. I clutched the knife with both hands and lounged down with the strength of a million horses, aiming straight for the left side of his chest-his heart. He let out a small gasp, but didn’t move. I called out his name but there was no reply. I thought to myself. Could it be that he died and felt no pain? Could it be that for all of the pain the bastard put me through for 3years, he’d end his days with a singular gasp? NO WAY! I wanted him to feel the very weight of my tears. I wanted his gut to quiver like mine did anytime he made me cry. So I took out the knife from his heart and began stabbing him again and again. I was screaming now, I didn’t care that there was blood on my face, on my hands, entering my mouth. I didn’t care, I just wanted him to feel pain. I kept stabbing him with all the strength I could muster. But there was still nothing, no sound. No indication that he was hurting. So I stopped. I looked at his dead limp bloody corpse as it lay on what I once called my marital bed. The bed he had carried me into on our wedding night. And for the first time in years, the glint of a cynical almost happy smile appeared on my face. It was indeed a befitting end, that the bed that caused me so much shame and pain would be were my dead husband should lay. There was some poetic justice in it all. And even if he didn’t feel any pain now, surely the fire of hell for all eternity would be justice enough.
Please note that the above story and its characters are based on a fictional story created by the author. Bella Naija does not advocate violence or support any form of criminal action. Women or men in abuse or negative relationships are advised to seek counseling. No human being is worth going to jail for or worse.