This is a two-part story, you can read the concluding part here
Yesterday evening, Aunty Ireti's scream filled the air. We knew what it meant, Mr. Atilade is beating his wife again.
Mr. Atilade is a man’s man. Many would say he’s a leader amongst men, it shows in every step he takes; strong, confident, and impressive. And Aunty Ireti is his ‘beauty queen’ wife.
Long before he and his wife moved into the only three bedroom flat in our Compound, I met him at the bank. It was he who directed me to the lady who helped me open my bank account. We met at the door as I got to the Bank, he was also walking in. Everyone greeted him as he came in; warmly and with broad smiles. The fact that he is loved and admired by all was obvious. I wondered who he is and why he commanded so much attention. The nice lady who opened my account fortunately answered my unasked question.
“He is the new manager. He just transferred here from the big City. He is a beautiful man right? His wife is so lucky”
She said with a dreamy look on her face.
I smiled and nodded, silently agreeing with her.
Then he moved into our compound and changed it forever. The normal peace and quiet we enjoyed became one often interrupted by the piercing scream of Aunty Ireti. just like yesterday evening.
It was barely dawn, when the piercing scream filled the air for the first time. I ran out of my room perhaps without thinking, and so did everyone else. The scream was coming from the flat of our two months old neighbour and we all wanted to help. The men banged the door, shouting and asking loudly if all was well, if they needed help, but no one responded. Aunty Ireti's scream which had now turned to an equally loud sob was the only sound we could hear. It was Papa Augusta who first peeped into the house through their window. I still remember his gasp and the shock on his face as he turned back and told us Mr. Atilade was beating his wife.
I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Atilade is the perfect example of the perfect man I had built up in my mind. So, I went to look through the window. I saw a man who looked like Mr. Atiladé, but unlike the impressive man we all knew, this man was dripping of sweat, his eyes were wild, he held a belt, and stood over the sobbing figure of Aunty Ireti who laid shaking on the floor. I pulled back like I had been slapped. I was shocked.
The men continued to bang on the door… calling Mr. Atilade to open up, pleading with him to calm down, and not to let his anger get the better of him.
I think he opened the door later. I think the men spoke to him, but I’m not sure what either of them said. I had gone back to bed, hoping sleep will help me forget the scene that unfolded through the window.