“Wh—what is that?” Daniel said, looking at everything but the piercing eyes of his wife. She held out the sachet to his face again and repeated her question.
“What is this doing in your pocket?” Ify asked. Her voice shook. It was either from the fear of confronting him, or the courage that splurged from the betrayal that stared her in the face. Perhaps it was a mix of both.
“I will not glorify that with an answer.” He stood up from his chair and started to walk away, leaving the untouched meal.
“Maybe you will find an answer when I inform the entire church that I found this in your pocket.” She said. She almost could not believe this strange courage she had.
He turned in a swift 90 degree angle. She could literally see the vapour escape his ears and nostrils just the same way rage was depicted in cartoons. He walked towards her and she stepped backwards a little.
“Are you mad? I seized this from a wayward teenager today. Have you gone crazy, Ify?” He yelled.
She shook her head, laughing sarcastically.
“Wayward teenager kwa. Daniel, tell another lie! And you call yourself a pastor. Is it because I have been keeping quiet? I am not stupid. I know this is yours!” She said.
He raised his hand and attempted to strike her in the face but he caught himself and retreated. He snatched his jacket from her before she found more implicating items in his pocket. He muttered some words under his breath and walked away, climbing the stairs to the bedroom upstairs.
She couldn’t help it. She was tired of it all. Her marriage was worse than couples who came to her for counseling and help. She wiped the tears that had started leaking off her eyes as she packed the dishes she had set on the dining table. She opened the ceramic bowl that she had served the fresh fish soup for him. It was still as untouched as when she had served it.
It was the vibrating sound of the phone on the table that caught her attention. Daniel had left his phone downstairs. She was tempted to peek. Would peeking qualify as a sin? Maybe temptation was not the right word. Wasn’t she his wife? Weren’t they one? Wasn’t that what they taught new couples who came for marriage counseling? ‘The two shall become one flesh’. She took in repeated quick breaths and then picked up the phone. She exhaled. It was a call from one of the pastors. She decided to take the phone to him upstairs. By the time she was halfway on the stairs, it became a missed call but she decided to take it to him anyways. She was about to open the door when she heard the mumbled sounds from his voice. He was on a call. Probably with the other phone number that she only got to know about from Pastor Babayemi the other day. She heard him right. She heard him correctly.
“Think of me kissing the nape of your neck and holding your waist just the way you like it.”
Ify pushed the door open and rushed over to him, dragging the collar of his shirt. He ended the call immediately and tried to calm her down but she continued to scream and wail.
“You are a bloody hypocrite! You are a useless man! It’s her on the phone right?!” She sobbed, pushing him. He tried to explain but she continued to push him and cry.
“Ify…” He tried to hold her.
“I am done with you. I can’t continue in this fake sinful marriage with you. You won’t drag me to hell with you, Daniel. I have had enough.”
She left him and walked over to their closet. She dragged out two big boxes and opened them and started to throw in some clothes in a scattered pattern. Daniel walked over to her, confused. He stuttered.
“What…what are you doing?” He managed to say.
She ignored him.
“Where are you going to?” He further said.
“I am leaving. I want out. I cannot cope with this anymore.” She said, her pitch low. Her voice was tired and croaky. Just like her mind.
Daniel sighed this time.
“And how do you think that is going to look on me? On the church? On you? Our kids? What do you think people will say about you? You’re the woman who couldn’t keep her home.” He said.
She tried not to listen to him even though his words sunk into her soul. She didn’t want her children to experience being products of a broken home. She understood the all too familiar stigma that came with it. The man she had intended marrying was from divorced parents. The moment her father found out, he withdrew his blessings. He said he would not have a taint of ‘ungodliness’ in his lineage. She had no choice but to break up with him. She saw him get married to someone else while she turned thirty one and still had no husband or a suitor. She met Daniel at one of the single summits in her friend’s church which she religiously attended. He was one of the co-coordinators and she had volunteered to help with organization as well. One thing led to the other and he informed her that he had received a vision and she was his missing rib. She had tried to pray about it and he seemed like the yes that God would have said. He was spiritual which was number one on her checklist. He was good-looking. He had dreams of winning souls for Jesus. And she was going on thirty two without a husband. Her pastor had asked her repeatedly after she introduced Daniel as the man she wanted to marry. He had asked her if she had prayed and if God had said yes. She had nodded eagerly.
God had not said no.
That Thursday evening, she walked into the church auditorium where the Virtuous Women meeting always held. She always anchored it. It was a group meeting for the married women of the church where she tried to groom and nurture them to be righteous wives and mothers. As Ify walked in, two women rushed towards her, one trying to help out with her hand bag while the other tried to reach her bible. Ify smiled and told them not to bother.
The meeting started and one of the women raised the topic of domestic violence. It was a topic they had been treating for three weeks in a row. When it was time for contributions and questions, Mrs. Babayemi raised her hand and gave a testimony of how important it was for women to pray for their erring husbands to change and maybe that would stop the hitting. Mrs. Chike said for her, women had to learn to bridle their tongues in order not to provoke their husbands. Mrs Danladi said women had to learn to be smart in the bedroom and this would reduce cheating. They all had a word of advice for women but none shared their personal experiences. They all had seemingly perfect homes. Then one woman raised her hand. Ifeoma noticed she was always at the meetings but never spoke. She introduced herself as Dorothy and stated that she had left her husband. There were sounds of rising gossip in the hall. Dorothy said that she could not take the abuse and violence anymore since the last time when her husband had poured hot water on her back in one of his angry moments. Ify heard the other virtuous women murmur. She knew they did not support that Dorothy left her husband. But secretly, Ifeoma envied her. She wished she had the guts to leave Daniel. Her legs still hurt from the lashes of Daniel’s belt three nights ago when she forgot to drop off his Sunday suits with the dry cleaner.
As she parked her car in the parking space at the house, she shut her eyes and said a quick prayer. She wasn’t happy in her marriage but she wasn’t happy about leaving her husband either. She was a Pastor’s wife! Daniel was in the house when she walked in. He was sitting on the dining table with the kids, having noodles and eggs. The kids ran over and hugged her, as they welcomed her home.
“I’m so sorry. I was held up in traffic. Let me start your dinner.” Ify said, looking at her husband. She knew she had wasted time at the Virtuous women meeting, listening to the women argue back and forth. She had also encountered very heavy Ajah traffic on her way back.
Daniel did not respond. She walked over to him and tried to touch him but he reacted with a sudden kind of bottled up resentment.
“Look at the time. Is this when a responsible Pastor’s wife gets in?” He yelled.
“Daniel the kids are here. Please lower your voice.” She said in a low tone.
He got all the more infuriated and struck her in the face.
She screamed. The kids started to scream too. He pushed her to the floor and kicked her in the stomach. He was possessed by something else. Something not romantic. Something vile. Ify looked at her children and screamed at them to leave the room.
“Go upstairs! Go upstairs now!” She cried out.
Daniel wouldn’t stop. She pleaded with him and told him she would go into the kitchen and prepare something befitting but he continued to kick her. She found a little strength and tried to escape. She knew now that she had to leave him, damning the consequences. She hit the calf of his leg by mistake as she tried to get up. He rained curses; unwholesome, unholy and insalubrious words for a Christian home. For a Pastor’s home.
In the height of whatever not in God’s name that possessed him, he grabbed the flower vase on the dining table and slammed it against the head of the woman whom he had once called his missing rib.
The children had come downstairs again. Daniel wasn’t there anymore. She didn’t know where he was.
Ify saw them; her precious babies, although with each second that passed and with each gulp of blood that gushed out from her head, her vision became blurry until she started to see their silhouettes. She heard them scream and she heard one of them run out to call for help. She wanted to hang on…not to continue to live in the death of being Pastor Daniel’s wife, but to live in the life of being a reasonable woman and a loving mother. That was all that mattered.
In a little while, she saw them no more.
It was the end.
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