A wave of paralysing pain shot through my body when I tried to move my body as I struggled to open my eyes, which felt heavy. I mustered the little energy in me and opened my eyes to realise that I was in a place that looked like a hospital.
The bed, the drip stand which stood menacingly at my bedside, the food and water flasks, and the beverages on the iron nightstand close to the six-spring bed I was lying on made me knew that I was certainly in a hospital.
One look at my mum whose head shot up the moment I moved my hand that was lying close to where she had rested her head on the bed, told me that I had not been there for a few hours or just one day, but for several days. Her bloodshot eye-evidence that she had wept for many days-and the bags that had developed under her eyes from lack of sleep confirmed by suspicion.
She stood quickly, “Let me go and call the doctor. Thank God you are alive,” She said as she rushed out of the room.
Not too long after she left, she returned with a doctor in tow, who I could see was surprised that I had woken up at all. With a smile plastered on his young and handsome face, “Aha! It’s good to have you back, madam,” he said as he tried to check my vitals.
I let him do his work while I tried to recollect what had happened and how I ended up in a hospital bed with a battered body that everyone thought I wasn’t going to survive.
As if on cue, the painful memory came flooding through my mind like a tsunami.
The first time I set my eyes on Tony, I felt my heart flipped several times with joy. He had all the physical qualities I desired in a man. Over 6-foot tall, chocolate in complexion, broad-chested, and with a voice that could resurrect the dead.
I was more than thrilled when he finally asked me out on a date. I discovered on the second date that Tony had the physical looks, but was not somebody I should think of spending the rest of my life with. He was self-centered, a sadist, and a misogynist all in one. He believed that the man was always right and women shouldn’t talk when the man was talking, should not dare look at a man in the eyes and should docilely do whatever a man asks of them.
A gentle voice told me to run away from him and never look back, but another voice told me that I could change Tony. I decided to go with the second voice, believing that I could transform him into the man I had wanted him to be. Plus I was already 31 years old and was getting tired of hearing, “When are we going to eat your rice?” From people at work, church, and weddings, and even from family and friends. My mum, too, wasn’t helping matters as she was always asking when a man was coming to “knock on the door” and ask for my hand in marriage.
In less than a year after meeting Tony, we tied the nuptial knot. I knew the moment the marriage started that I had made a disastrous mistake as Tony didn’t change like I thought he would, but became abusive both emotionally and physically.
I complained to my friend, Joy about it and she said I was an ingrate for daring to complain when I should be grateful to Tony for upgrading my status from Miss to Mrs. “Look Lara, you don’t even know that no matter what a woman achieve in this life, as long as she is not married, nobody will ever respect her, she said in a voice laden with anger. “You don’t know what a lot of women would give just to be in your shoes. You think it’s easy to be a Mrs., right? She continued, “A woman is nothing without a man, Lara. Please, just watch the movie War Room, then upgrade your wardrobe, be very submissive and do whatever your husband wants. He will change. Believe me.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as all I could do was gape at Joy as my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth in shock and I couldn’t utter a word.
I called my mother after one of the beating episodes and explained to her that I felt that my life was endangered for as long as I was married to Tony and I wanted to file for a divorce. “You want people to laugh at me, abi? Who do you think will keep a divorcee in the house?” She said. “We have given you out and will never accept you back again. You better submit to your husband and make your marriage work. My marriage to your father has not been perfect, but I have been very submissive to him and that is why we have been married for so long,” she said dismissively.
I was gradually losing my mind when I decided to pay a visit to our pastor to beg him to put a sense into Tony. The pastor said that Tony was my cross and that I had to carry and had no right to put it down for as long as Tony was alive. He reminded me of how much God hates divorce and that it was my duty as a woman to submit to my husband and make the marriage work come what may. Even if it meant putting my life on the line since I had sworn an oath to stay with my husband for better, for worse.
Tony staggered home, drunk one night, and beat me up for daring to go to bed when he was not yet home. He threw me out on the street in the middle of the night. I trudged to the nearest Police station to file a complaint. “Madam, this one nah husband and wife case o, we no fit put mouth for the matter. Abeg, go settle am with oga. No dey make am vex nah,” the lanky Policeman told me, chuckling.
Despair washed over me as I left the Police station that night.
The Doctor’s voice brought me out of my reverie when I heard, “We tried all we could to save your baby, but it was too late. It’s a miracle that you are alive,” he said matter-of-factly, with a furrowed brow.
I stared blankly at the doctor and felt my world crumbling in that instant. I didn’t even have an ounce of energy to let out the cry that was bottled inside of me. I felt a mingling of rage, grief, and disappointment all at once as the devastating reality took root in my already broken heart.
I know that one thing was certain; I would never go back to that hell I once called marriage. I am not sure I was going to survive the next beating from Tony.
I don’t want to be submissive to the point of losing my life neither do I need to be a Mrs. to feel accomplished in life.
I felt as if a weight was lifted from my shoulder and a streak of light shone through the closed shutters of my heart, as I closed the old chapter of my life and looked forward to beginning a brand new chapter.
Roselyn Sho – Olajide works with an Audit Firm in Jos, Plateau State. She loves reading and writing and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org