I whistled happily as I packed Bisi’s bag.
Bisi is my only child and daughter in my marriage of fifteen years to Otunba.
Seventeen years ago when we met, he was a handsome and intelligent young man and I, pretty and brilliant in my own right. We soon became a couple on a rollercoster kind of love affair, two years after our first meet, we were married. Happy. And perfect too.
It’s been ages since I last wrote you, now my hands wobble for shame and guilt.
Dear Friend, I never forgot you. Marriage took the better of me and before I knew it, I lost track of time.
I know you’d be wondering why I didn’t reply your last letter, well, my only excuse is marriage.
You remember Otunba, my husband? Of course you do, you were my chief bridesmaid at our wedding.
He became a shadow of his old self three years into our marriage. I thought it was the birth of Bisi, so I bore his harsh treatment with a smile on my face and soon it escalated to wounds on my back.
I wore submission like a robe-it was overflowing, yet, I couldn’t satisfy him. He would complain of white soup , which used to be his favourite, then when I switched to black soup, he’d call me a witch.
I became a punching bag, where he always exercised his manliness and like a lamb led to its slaughter, I bore it all.
I couldn’t talk back. I couldn’t cry , for if he saw my tears, mother said he’d call me weak and in Africa, a woman is not supposed to be weak. So I stuffed it
I served him like a god – a dreadful one at that. My place was in the house, I had no friend. None came visiting, and I wouldn’t dare look twice at other women as they passed or I’d incur the wrath of my god.
I thought of leaving. Yes, I did. But this is Africa, a woman who was once married is like a filthy rag fit to be trampled upon by all, so I stayed put. Hopeful.
I have lost my essence of womanhood and now worse than an eye sore to be looked upon. Black eye upon black eye. Scars upon scars. My tears never dried before a fresh pool would rain down my swollen eyes.
My legs hurts for the many nights he forced his masculine strength on me as he devoured me like a hungry lion. I have been pregnant four times and four times have I lost them to his beatings and unfair treatment.
Do I sense pity rising within you? Let it go. I am a strong woman. Just like mother says.
Tomorrow, Bisi will be coming over to your place for the holiday.
I heard you never married. Otunba taunts me every day with it and forbids me ever mingling with a cursed woman as you.
She should be with you till my torment has been settled and my shame put to a stop.
I am a strong woman, mother always says. Today, my strength shall be tested.
Do take care of Bisi, like your own.
Dear Rukayat, I never forgot you. And never will. Even in death.
Yours mentally deranged Friend,
I sealed the letter with my spittle, walked into the room where Bisi slept. I looked at her longingly as tears trickled down my swollen cheek.
Shutting the door behind me, I walked into our bedroom. Otunba, my husband slept peacefully like a man with no worries -did he have any?
He who has lost every touch of humanity.
I wiped the tears from my eyes. Released the kitchen knife from its shield. It was new and glittering.
As his chest rose and fell in his sleep, his snores, loud enough to drown the noise of a moving train, I drew the knife into his heartless chest. I stabbed the heartlessness out of him. As he wriggled in pain, I relished his helplessness till he was lifeless. I smiled in victory, my strength has indeed been proven.
I had a change of clothing, wrapped the knife in a brown envelope and shut the door behind me just as mother always said.
I took Bisi to the bus park, paid her fare, gave her some cash and a brown envelope and a white one for her aunt, Rukayat.
I strolled aimlessly back home and took a detour towards the third mainland bridge to end the pain, never again to be pained and shamed.