Ever since I was born, I have never seen my father hit my mother. As a teenager, a nineteen year old cute guy, I have respected and loved the way he treated my mom like a queen. Although, marriage is not paradise, there are good and bad times. The day I witnessed a heated quarrel between them, my father avoided my mother's face and hit his right fist on the wall. Blood leaked out and his partner of twenty-one years of marriage rushed to his side and used her wrapper to clean his sore. I saw her sweating, salty water dripping from her fore head down to her neck. I respected their union and as the only child and son, I have learnt a lot from my dad that it is wrong to lay a finger on a woman.
I did not show fear or let my heart skip. It was only a small cut.
The pain he felt turned to happiness as I sighted a faint smile on his lips. He apologized, he promised not to shout at her again. She pleaded for him not to get angry with her. I saw love in their eyes.
“Omar!” my mother stretched out my name from her shaking mouth. “Go and get the first aid box from my bathroom. Be fast!!”
I hopped my legs as fast as I could to get what my mom wanted. I ran as if I was on a marathon, running for a gold medal. I entered their bedroom before the restroom and I searched thoroughly for the box but nowhere in the scene.
“Omar where are you?!!” I could hear her voice calling out for me. “Are you sleeping in there?!”
I looked around again, to be sure my medicated spectacle I wasn’t wearing was not needed at the moment. I felt relaxed because it was not there at all. I went back to meet them in the kitchen and the look my mother gifted me could make a toddler cry out loud as if he was smacked on his buttocks.
“What is your problem?” she asked me angrily as she used water to wash his hand inside the sink.
My father immediately used his left hand to touch her on her left shoulder and gave her a light squeeze.
He calmly muttered,” Honey it is okay. It’s nothing serious and my hand will get better.”
“But Omar is always doing this,” she said. “Anytime I ask him to do something for me, he is always finding it difficult to do.”
He gently removed his hand from her. “Relax dear.”
I had to defend my humble self. “Mom seriously, I searched everywhere in the bathroom. I swear!”
“No swearing in this house,” she said. “I am sorry for screaming at you.”
“It’s okay mom, I understand.”
My dad gave a light sigh. “I just remembered.”
“Remember what?” my mother and I asked the same time.
He answered. ”I borrowed the first aid box to Mr. Maje three days ago.”
“Again?” my mother asked surprised.
I stood and stared at them as they continued with their conversation.
She added. “These couple will not put someone into trouble. Must they fight all the time?”
“That’s their business dear. I asked him what the matter was, he said he was pursuing his wife and she fell and bruised her legs.”
“If he knows he can care so much about her why does he beat her all the time?” she asked in an angered voice. “I have advised Mrs. Toyin countless times to take her children away for some weeks. She needs a vacation.”
“You should not have advised her like that,” he said. “Don’t you know if she leaves and never come back, people will put the blame on you. Mr. Maje can accuse you of breaking his marriage. Do not allow them see you as their mate and always remember you are their landlady.”
“He won't dare say such to me! I never said a divorce, I only made a suggestion about a vacation.”
“He will not see it like that.”
I became tired of seeing my parents argue over our tenants who made me realize marriage is not for everyone. I tiptoed backwards to leave my parents to my bedroom. Mr. Maje, his tall and sexy wife and their two little daughters were our tenants/neighbors. We lived in the same compound, with two flats inside it.
I went to my room and lay on my clean bedspread I wrapped on my mattress. I was trying to close my eyes and sleep and the undesirable headache began to strike inside my head. The cause of it was the loud noise coming from outside. I could hear a male and female voices swearing at each other.
“Useless man!!” Mrs. Toyin spat at her husband. “All you know how to do is beat me!”
“I will show you I am the man in this house!” he yelled and ran after her.
She raced around the compound as Omar spied at them through his window. He nodded his head out of disappointment and continued to watch the drama.
“Come here you this woman if you are not scared of me!!”
“I can never be scared of a gold digger and woman beater!”
“Have you ever seen me with another woman?” he asked as he tried to catch her blouse. “All you do is assume, I will kill you today!”
Omar closed his curtain the moment he saw his parents come out to settle them as usual. He hissed and lay back on his bed to meditate. He didn’t bother to go outside to check the reason for the outburst between the boxing couples. He knew that the next day he was surely going to hear their story from his parents or Mrs. Toyin herself.
The next morning, after brushing my teeth, bath, wore my funky clothes and ate breakfast, I left for my lecture at the university. I was in my second year. I came out from the main gate to find Mrs. Toyin kissing her husband, later waived at him, and he drove off in his car.
I was not shocked to see them in such gesture, it has always been like that ever since my parents and I welcomed them into our lives.
“Omar!” she said my name as she saw me. A cheery smile on her pink lips. “How are you?!
I smiled back. “I am fine Aunty Toyin.”
“You are going to school.”
“Where were you yesterday when my husband and I were quarrelling? You could not come out to separate us, it’s not fair ooo.”
“I am sorry ma, I slept early.”
“You will not believe he was chasing me yesterday, threatening to kill me.”
It was not the first time for him to make such statement and I do not think it will be the last. Although, he do make such threats sometimes but he has never committed the crime.
“I’m sorry ma,” I said. “I hope you did not injure yourself?”
“No. Do you know why we quarreled?”
“I heard him promising someone money over the phone, I accused him of cheating and he got angry with me. Well, I found out it was his cousin this morning.”
“That is good.”
“When are you coming back from school?”
“In the afternoon.”
“Come early to play with my children ooo.”
“I will ma.” I saw her walk away with her big buttocks bouncing. I wanted to tap that but it has only happened in my imaginations. Turning it into a reality has failed despite my frequent visits pretending I wanted to play with her children. I searched for a taxi to take me to my school. I was not happy with the way things were going between the couple. I knew Mrs. Toyin was older than me with fifteen years but I have a crush on her. I remember on a particular night when I heard them fighting, I went outside quietly and left to their bedroom window to spy on them. After beating her, he begged his wife to forgive him and before I could turn to leave, kissing and smooching ensued. My eyes were wide open as I watch them make love and I masturbated.
Anytime Mr. Maje beats his wife, she would use every opportunity to destroy one or two things in their house. I cannot count how many plasma televisions the husband has bought. I would go to their house, see a bigger TV replacing the old one, and shut up my mouth to avoid long explanations from her.
(Few days later)
Mr. Maje slapped his wife because she refused to sleep in the same room with him. She wanted to join their kids in their room but he wanted to sleep with her.
“You cannot refuse me!” he uttered at their living room. “I am your husband.”
“I am tired of your complains, you nag all the time!”
“You call me a nag?” he asked in a furious tone, raising his hand to hit her. “I will kill you today!”
He hit her again, she stumbled on the floor, rose up and hiked to the kitchen. She took out a sharp knife and went to her husband who stared at her dazed.
“Do you want to stab me?” he asked.
She shook her head repeatedly and pointed the knife at him. “I am giving you the knife to kill me!”
“What!!” he exclaimed.
“You are always telling me you want to kill me and I am giving you the knife to accomplish your mission.”
“You are crazy!”
Mrs. Toyin hissed and before her husband could blink her eyes, she slit her left wrist. Blood gushed out.
“OH MY GOD!!” he screamed out of shock and speedily went to meet her but she stopped him by directing the knife at him. “Don’t you dare come close to me! If you do I will stab myself!”
Instantly, he went down on his knees, begging and crying for his wife to drop the weapon and allow him to take her to the hospital.
“Never!” she said. “I am tired of you beating me all the time. I want to die and leave you alone.”
“Please my love, this is risky. You can’t take sure decision, please let me take you to the hospital.”
His heartbeat was becoming faster. Fear absorbed him as he saw red substance spill out from her wrist. She was becoming weak, yet the knife stayed glued to her right palm. She managed to walk to one of the chairs and sat down. Mr. Maje ran to the entrance door to open it but the key was no longer there.
“Where is the key?” he asked in a panicky tone.
“Leave me alone.” she said softly. The blood colored the part of the rugged floor.
He knelt down again for his wife to tell him where the house key was but she kept mute. Her body was becoming white. “Please I love you, don’t do this to me. I promise never to beat you again.”
Her eyes were closing. He went towards her and tapped her on her body. She managed to open them faintly. “Where is the key! I will never lay my hands on you again!! Please think about our children!!!!”
She pointed to the dining table side, he ran, checked on top of it and saw it. He raced to unlock the door and went to his landlord’s flat.
My parents and I were chatting when we heard a bang on our door. My heart started to beat at an increasing rapid pace. I thought it was the kings of the night until I heard Mr. Maje baritone voice calling for my father’s help. He went to open the door and we saw blood stains on his shirt.
“What happened?” my dad asked.
“Please follow me to my wife, there is no need for an explanation!”
I sensed fear and apprehension in his voice. We followed him and we were dumbfounded to see Mrs. Bola body pale and her blood. She was trying to talk but we only saw her lips moved. My mother began to weep and my father quickly rushed to Mrs. Toyin to carry her. Her husband went to his room to pick up his car keys to leave and I was left to look after their daughters who were sleeping deep.
“Omar!” My mother called my name after I ate lunch on a Saturday afternoon.
“Ma!” I went to meet her and she gave me an envelope. “What is this?”
“Give the letter to Mr. Maje.”
“Can you tell me the contents of the letter?” I asked.
“It is a quick notice for them to pack their belongings. You father and I gave them two months to organize themselves.”
I was shocked. “But Mrs. Toyin is alive, she didn’t die.”
“We do not care!”
“But he has never beaten her ever since she came back from the hospital three weeks ago.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” she said. “It is our decision and it’s left for them to make their decision to leave as early as possible. I don’t mind if they pack out from the house tomorrow.
I turned away from her and left to my destination. I could not believe I was not going to see Mrs. Toyin again. The woman I wanted to myself. For her to make such a risky decision to kill herself, my plans to tell her how I feel when I get to my final year will no longer be possible. I knocked on Mr. Maje’s door, he came out and I handed over the letter to him. I turned my back and walked away to make a decision to leave the house and stay at my school's hostel.