Everything looked blurry as I wrenched in pain on the floor of our bathroom.
My head jammed against my skull, my eyes burned and I could feel the blood dripping from my lower lip. Thinking to myself that I must have lost a tooth, I began to feel my shaky hands blindly around the small space.
I grabbed unto the white bath tub to my right – the tub that now looked like a fog. Holding firmly, I pulled my weight off the floor. There was a wall mirror right ahead, if I could just get to it, I would be able to tell the level of damage he apportioned to my face…
Hobbling, I put my left foot in front of the right foot. Holding out my arms, fingers shaking, I could barely see a thing. Blindly, I took a second foot forward, as I took the other, my heel touched on some stagnant water, I staggered, trying to maintain my stand but the water under my feet overpowered my strength and sent me slipping backwards, to the floor, with a sickening thud
It was dark when I woke up. I opened my eyes to a throbbing headache, much worse than it had been in the morning. It took me a while to realize that I was still on the floor of our bathroom – no one had come for me, no one probably even knew that I was here – not even Adesua.
I remained still.
The memories of the argument that had started that morning crawled back into my head – there had been yelling, breaking of furniture…
I tried to walk away from him – like our pastor advised me to do every time he got upset. I turned around to leave but he didn’t stop. He stomped after me, “how dare you walk away from me!” he barked.
I increased my pace, marched, he marched too. Feeling him closing in on me, I took to my heels, dashed into the bathroom, tried to push the door close but he grabbed the knob and pushed it hard against my fragile hands. The door came wide open sending me staggering backwards. I crawled hastily to the wall, with nowhere else to run, I curled into myself, lifting my hands to shield my face
“How dare you walk away when I’m talking to you, you fucking prostitute!” he pulled me by the wrist and sent the first punch across my face that sent my eyes to the stars…
I jerked back to reality.
The sound of someone knocking faintly followed. I strained my ears to listen, to be sure…
“Lillian!” That was Adesua’s voice, “Lillian!” she was now banging at the door, “Are you in there? Lillian!!”
I had to get to her, she was at the entrance of the house, I had to get to her.
Languid but with a better vision, I sat up first… “Lillian if you can hear me please open the door…” I pulled my body off the floor. With the strength of a wounded soldier, I trudged out of the bathroom, into our bedroom and out into the hallway.
The sound of her knocking grew louder as I drew closer to the front door that led into our house. Then the knocking stopped.
I unlocked the door and pulled the heavy wood open with the last drop of energy in my bones… “Jesus!” Adesua exclaimed. Quickly, she dropped the phone she was operating into her bag and breezed to my body that had glide to the floor, in a sitting position.
“Ah no no no no no!” she exclaimed bending over me, looking here, looking there, “Ah this is it, this is it, ah Jesus!”
Hot tears welled up into my eyes, my lips quivered and the pain in my heart jumped down to my cheeks in the form of tears
“No no no no” she tut–tutted, still regarding the bruises on my body, “You can’t take this anymore, you just can’t. Get up, let’s get you to the hospital” She took my arm and I groaned in pain, “Ma binu” she said to me.
She helped me to my feet, dropped my arm over her shoulder, paused to close the door before hobbling with me to her car.
If you are lucky, life gifts you a friend. A friend who loves you selflessly, a friend who supports you, selflessly. A friend who would stop at nothing to see you happy and satisfied, a friend who is more than a blood relation – that friend for me was Adesua.
As I watched her slice different fruits into a bowl for me on the table in her large kitchen, I thanked the Lord for blessing me with a friend like Adesua. Only three years of friendship and she treated me better than most people I’d known all my life. She took me to the hospital and saw to my treatment to the very last dime, but that won’t be the first time she would be nursing me back to health, she had done it many times before. Now recovering in the rich ambiance of her beautiful mansion of a home, I could not help but feel extremely lucky to call her friend.
“Oya, take” she said, pushing a bowl of sliced fruits to my front, “Eat everything, after like 30 minutes the chef would have your Oha ready” She wasn’t even Ibo yet she cooked me Ibo meals.
“Thank you” I said gratefully, sliding the bowl of fruits further to my front
I fetched a fork full into my mouth while she sucked on an orange. Together, we ate in silence, each of us lost in her own thoughts. We hadn’t talked about the events of Saturday, there was really nothing new to say, nothing she hadn’t said before every time Nonso beat me up…
“I think you should divorce Nonso” she said, breaking the silence.
I said nothing, only chewed on the fruits inside my mouth.
She shrugged, dropped her finished orange into a tray, clasped her fingers on the table and looked me directly in the face, “You deserve better Lillian. It’s been four years of constant abuse, he is either hitting you,” anger laced her tone as she began to gesticulate with her hands, “ insulting you or doing something to bring you down. I’m not even going to ask what happened this last time because nothing justifies what he did to you. It’s so bad that they know you – us in that clinic, for Christ’s sakes!…”
I shook my dropped head, “I love him Adesua, I love him, maybe if I didn’t give out my number to my hair stylist and he didn’t call me when he did, maybe this wouldn’t have happene…”
“Oh so that’s what this is about? He beat you because your hair stylist called you? Hair stylist?” she repeated in astonishment.
I dropped my eyes and nodded.
She exhaled loudly, obviously trying to calm her raging nerves. She reached for my hands and took them both into her soft palms, “look at me” she said.
“It is not okay to continue to stay in an abusive marriage. You have two kids, two kids that are currently with your mum under the guise of the holiday but we both know it is to avoid the toxicity of your home. Lillian you can start all over again, you deserve a better life, a peaceful life, you deserve to live for your children. You could die, do you understand that?,” she nodded to drive her point in, “One day he would beat you up and you may not make it out, god forbid but this is a possibility, a high one at that. What would happen to those beautiful twins? What would happen to your mum? Do you think she would even survive it?. This isn’t love my friend, not from him it’s not. This is not how a relationship should be, you don’t hurt the ones you love, not deliberately you don’t. If a man can watch you cry over the same thing and he still does not change then he does not love you. You love him, I know that but a relationship cannot thrive on the feelings of just one partner, it takes two to tango – to build, to sustain otherwise the one putting in all the efforts would be worn out …”
“Where do I start from? I interrupted, “I don’t have a job, no savings, he is everything to me, to my mum… where do I begin?” I questioned teary eyed.
Her gaze stayed locked with mine as if assimilating my question. She opened her mouth to speak but Michael’s voice spoke instead,
“Babe” he called, walking into the kitchen.
Adesua slowly let go of my hands and turned to her husband who was advancing to her side, “hi babe” she grinned up at him.
He bent forward and kissed her lips, “I don dey find you since”
“We’ve been here o,” she replied, “just having breakfast”
“No wahala. Still up for our date later tonight? I have a meeting to catch up on which I’m not sure how long would last but I would make sure to be back on time to pick you up”
Adesua squirmed her face and threw a glance my way, “I would have loved to but I don’t want to leave Lillian alone”
“Ah noo” I objected, “Go on, you guys do your thing. I’m fine. I’ll just watch Tv, relax… eat plenty food” I joked and we all chuckled.
“You’re sure?” they chorused – they were so in tune with each other that they even spoke similar words, I wished for their type of marriage .
“Sure” I replied, I’ll be fine”
“Aii” he kissed her one last time and said to me, “Lillian, you take care okay? Stay strong”
“Bye babe, I’ll call you from the office”
“Okay, take care”
We waited for him to completely step out of the kitchen.
“I’m so happy for you guys” I mushed to Adesua
She nodded, “1.5 million” she said, holding my gaze
“Hmn?” I was confused.
“I will give you 1.5 million naira to start your life again. Get an apartment; move your things, the kids, just start all over again”
My jaw dropped in pleasant surprise, “You will give me 1.5 million?” I reiterated her offer.
“Yeah,” she nodded, “And I would get you a SAN to handle your divorce, all expenses on me. Just say the word because I honestly can’t sit back and watch you continue to suffe…”
I jumped from the chair and sent my arms around her neck, “Thank you” I hugged her tightly, “Thank you, thank you thank you!!” I shed tears of joy.
“You’re welcome” she cooed, hugging me back.
I didn’t go back to my home with Nonso. At the advice of Adesua and her husband, I remained with them.
Nonso called me several times to beg like he always did every time he beat me up, but I stayed strong this time – I refused to go back.
When the school holiday was over, Adesua and her husband were kind enough to let the kids stay with me in their house. She had no kids of her own yet she welcomed mine and was like a second mother to them.
I felt blessed.
With her help, solely her help as she was richer than her husband, I was able to be represented by a good lawyer – a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who convinced the court to grant me the custody of my twin girls as well as a divorce. By this time, I had moved into my own apartment, with my girls and even brought my mother along – all thanks to Adesua.
I was also running a mini supermarket in the same neighborhood which was flourishing very well.
My angel in human form – Adesua helped me heal. Not only did she support me financially, she stood solidly behind me emotionally, every step of the way.
I never thought of her as anything but an angel in human form. A strong woman who had my back like it was a mission of hers on this Earth.
I sat in my supermarket one Thursday evening when I called Adesua’s chef. I had not heard from her in the past two days and when she didn’t pick my calls, I called Michael who didn’t pick either. I became worried so I dialed the chef’s line.
What he told me sent my heels to Adesua’s family private clinic.
I barged into the ward, “welcome ma” the chef greeted but I was too confused to pay any regard his harmless greeting.
My Adesua was sleeping on the small iron bed – a bandage over one obviously swollen eye, red patches on her fair skin, a red bruised neck and a bandaged leg hung up on stirrups.
“How long has this been going on?” I asked the chef, frozen in my spot.
“Ei don tey ma”
I spun around to face the young man, “What do you mean ei don tey?!” I hurled at him in disbelief, almost feeling insulted, “Are you saying I don’t know my own friend?,” I pointed to my chest “She is my best friend, if something like this had been going on, I would have noticed…”
“Ah madam, she dey hide am. She dey hide am, she go con rub powder, tell everybody for house make dem no talk. Ei don tey” he snapped his fingers repeatedly above his head, “Na hide she dey hide am o, although ei bin never reach like this before” he gesticulated towards her body.
I slowly turned back around to look at her.
It didn’t make sense, I didn’t understand.
I sat down on the chair besides her bed, and the chef excused himself to go home and prepare her meal, leaving me alone with a sleeping Adesua.
Still shocked, my mind began to wander in a train of thoughts…
How did I miss this, just how? Why did she stay? She was the one who advised me out of my abusive marriage, she gave me all the support I needed, convinced me and even though I had two girls as a product of that marriage, I took her advice and I left. Yet, she was experiencing the same thing, all these while. A rich woman– rich in her own rights with no kids yet she stayed… she even hid it from me
But why? Why didn’t she tell me? I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand any of it.
Could I have made a mistake by leaving Nonso? Should I have accepted him back? Why did Adesua keep this from me? Why didn’t she save herself like she saved me?
My mind agonized.
I looked over at her sleeping face, confusion wrinkling my forehead…
It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense at all
She has to give me answers….. I will wait for her to wake up.
She must give me answers.
Written by Kylie Joy Terundu