“Mommy…Fone…mooommmy…fone”. I quickly wiped my hands with the napkin then made for the living room. My 4-year-old baby had managed to draw my attention to the ringing phone although I heard it ringing. I kissed him on the forehead “Thanks babe”. He smiled showing his white milk teeth which made him look more adorable.
“Hello, how are…”
"P-p-lease… you have to start coming…I-I-I-I…think… He’s…He’s…c-cooo-ming…he’s coming..."
“Hold on what are you saying, you are making no sense…”
“I’m scared-d-d-d-d-d…” she broke off crying. The line went dead.
Ok, …that wasn’t cool and I don’t understand a thing. I can’t just pick my car keys and drive off to her house. To start with, I’m cooking and I have to think of where to drop my son, I can’t take him along. She sounded so scared and I worry about her. I paced across the living room for a while, then I picked my phone and dialed my husband’s line, I told him everything. He told me to drop the baby at his sister’s then go over as soon as possible, it could be more serious than she sounded on the phone. “…and go there as soon as possible, I will meet you there. I’m leaving office right away,” he said as he dropped the call.
I dropped my son off at his Aunt’s and drove off almost immediately. I was worried sick and I could feel my hands trembling on the steering. We have come a long way and I love my friend but I also respect her enough to make her choices.
Memories kept flashing in front of me all at once, as I sped to her house.
I remember during our first year at the University. She once came to class with bruises on her lower lip, discoloration on her cheek and a black eye. I just couldn’t wait for the lecturer to get out of class so I can choke her with questions. I remember thinking if we were in our third or final year in the university I would have the liver to ask her about it while the lecturer was still in class but well it was our first year, we were still new in the system and no one wants to get into the “black book” of the lecturers.
“… so, see you next class” I was so happy to hear those words. Immediately the lecturer walked out of the class I blurted out “Is he beating you again?”
“I hit my head against the wall… you know Naija NEPA na, I was returning from the kitchen and they just took the light. I wasn’t holding my phone neither was I holding my lamp, so I guess I headed for the wall…”
I didn’t believe her that day but I wasn’t in a mood to argue so I decided to shrug it off. I knew he had beaten her again, that discolouration, and the swollen eye all came from something more of flesh and blood.
I remember the first time she came back to the room crying with a bruised lip, she almost cried her eyes out, he had just introduced her to SMS 101 (Special Maximum Shishi)…yeah, your guess is good shishi means beating.
“I can’t believe he slapped me… I was just greeting the class rep… ” She kept saying.
I was as surprised myself, I mean! He didn’t look it; he looks too cute and has this heavenly charm and so much charisma one could die for. She was devastated. The following morning, he came bearing gifts, sweet scenting flowers, cake, chocolates, and cookies, name it! He begged for her forgiveness on both knees weeping profusely, promising never to lay his hands on her again. That moment was cute…you know…that moment when you want to fall in love. They kissed… they made up…of course who wouldn’t? It was the first time and he promised it won’t happen again and gush! That moment was captivating.
But he never stopped hitting her, he never stopped begging, he never stopped bearing gifts, she never stopped loving him. She had it all… if you say so… gadgets, money, love, her prince charming, her doom. He got her all of it.
I remember during our penultimate year, she came into the room grinning from ear to ear, with eyes glittering with…I think it was love .
“He asked me to move in with him!!! Isn’t it wonderful!” She blurted excitedly. I felt a pang in my chest. Are you kidding me? She must be out of her mind.
“You said No, right?”
“Why? I love him. This will allow us to know each other’s differences, understand it better and reach a consensus”
“You can’t be serious right now. He hits you, he is violent…he keeps promising to stop but let me tell you the truth he is never going to stop... ” I snapped.
“…but he loves me and I love him. I know he has anger issues but he is really sweet and you know that! At least he keeps trying to change and he is faithful…no side chick…how many guys can do that? Stay faithful…”
Of course, she moved in with him. She was in love. And yes he didn’t stop beating her, and yes she didn’t stop running to me for a shoulder to cry on, and yes he didn’t stop bearing gifts, and again yes she didn’t stop running back to him.
I remember a few years after school when she called. “Guess what? He asked me to marry him?” She was so ecstatic.
I knew better at this point. “Really? You said yes?” I asked.
Of course she did. I remember asking her whether that was really what she wanted. She was sure, she said that was what she wanted. So I stood by her side as her chief bridesmaid.
To be continued...