Two days after the incidence, when I came back from the hospital, I packed my belongings and left his home. I was going home to narrate my ordeals to my parents. I was going to tell them that I wanted a divorce. Just ten minutes after I arrived at my parents’ house, Fred arrived with two of his friends, apologizing. He was on his knees. He wanted me back.
Mum was the first to sight Fred and his friends. She began to shout and curse Fred, “Come and see this stupid man who thought my daughter was a punching bag. Shameless idiot! If you don’t want to marry her again, must you kill her for me?” Mum kept raining curses on Fred and threatened to arrest him if he opened his mouth. I was not surprised at Mum’s reaction. She was such an action woman who never took any nonsense from anyone. She was full of energy and never feared anyone. I didn’t take after her; I took after Dad who was a direct opposite of Mum. Sometimes, I wondered why two of them exchanged roles. Mum behaved more manly than Dad. Mum’s voice must have attracted Dad from inside the house.
When Fred saw him coming out, he gave his friends a sign and they all knelt down wordlessly. At this time, Mum was still shouting at Fred. Dad kept quiet and merely stared at Fred. After about twenty minutes of silence, Fred opened his mouth and said, “Daddy, I am sorry”. In my heart I retorted, who is your daddy? Now you know that he is your daddy. Stupid man! I remembered the reckless way he pushed me to the floor and the meanness on his face when he was beating me with his belt. I felt like searching for a strong stick and whacking him with it, but I knew Dad won’t support that. I had been standing close to the door. My hatred for Fred seemed to have increased since setting my eyes on him in our compound. I didn’t want to do something unreasonable. I controlled myself by hissing and walking into the room.
I sat down on the bed and began to think what to do about this matter. Many ideas were coming into my head. I did not know which one to accept, but I was sure I wasn’t going to marry him again. This marriage won’t work! I could hear myself saying. I wanted to cease the opportunity of him being in our compound to slap him, since he wouldn’t have the guts to retaliate, but I changed my mind. I could still hear Mum’s voice floating all over the compound. Some neighbours began to come in to ask what was amiss. I heard Mum explaining to a woman what Fred did to her daughter and how Fred made her daughter to lose her pregnancy.
The woman screamed, “Jesus! That is already a bad sign.”
As if Mum had been empowered, she raised her voice even the more, “and this wicked idiot has the guts to beg for forgiveness”.
The woman turned to the man and asked, “Young man, why have you done this to your wife now?”
Mum did not want her to call me Fred’s wife, “she is no longer his wife”.
“Mummy, sorry, it was the devil that caused it” Fred begged again.
“Which devil? Who is your mummy? So, you still have the boldness to open that your stinky mouth? Ah, because you have not been arrested for attempting murder.”
One of Fred’s friends intervened, “Please Madam, hear Fred out first.”
“Ok, let him speak the rubbish he has to say” resigned Mum.
Fred stammered “Jane is my wife and I love him with all my heart. I can assure you that what happened was devil’s handwork. I accept all the blames, and I promise it will never happen again.”
Dad, who had been silent spoke up, “Young man, stand up”. Fred and his friends, thinking Dad wanted to order them out of the compound, began to beg again. But dad surprised everyone when he called me and said, “Get chairs for your husband and his friends.” I obeyed Dad but with great reluctance. I wanted to go back to the room, but Dad said I should sit down with them. This too was a difficult thing to do, but I did it because I didn’t want to displease Dad. I dared not! Fred tried to look at me, but I particularly avoided any form of eye contact with him. I observed him only with the side of my eye.
Dad cleared his throat and continued, “Young man” he didn’t want to call Fred by his name, maybe because of what he had done. “It is obvious that you are taking my family for granted.”
Fred shook his head and said, “No sir! I’m sorry.”
After about thirty seconds, Dad continued, “what I gave you was a wife, not a slave. But you turned my daughter into your slave. You hit her as if you were hitting a bag of sand. In less than one year of your marriage you have imprinted ugly marks all over her body.” Fred wanted to kneel down again, but Dad prevented him. “Sit down, let’s talk as men.” Dad began to speak to Fred, teaching him how to become a good husband. On his part, Fred was nodding at everything Dad said and promising it would not happen again.
Dad turned to me and said, “Jane, you must forgive your husband.” I didn’t think I heard right. I wanted Dad to repeat what he said. “If there is no offence there cannot be forgiveness. No one is perfect, you know.” I wanted to speak but Dad motioned me to be quiet.
Mum fled up immediately, “Nna anyi, why do you speak this way? How can you be so quick to forgive somebody that almost killed your daughter? This is more on the side of foolishness than Christianity.” My heart sank when Mum made that statement because she meant that Dad was being foolish.
As if Dad heard my thought, he sprang up from the chair and approached Mum, “So you mean I am foolish? Eh? Adorie, you are insulting me?”
Mum raised up her two hands remorsefully and apologized, “I didn’t mean you are foolish, I only meant that this man needed to be taught a lesson he would not forget.” By this time, Dad had gone back to his sitting position. Mum came closer to him and said, “Nna anyi, on a serious note, I think Jane should not go back to this man.”
Dad looked at her in the face, “Will you marry your daughter? Why would you prevent her from going back to her husband? This does not show love, you are only being emotional”.
Mum didn’t believe Dad, “Nna anyi, reason with me. I don’t want my daughter to go back to this wicked man. No! She shouldn’t go back to him.”
Dad frowned his face and pointed his index finger at Mum, “Woman, you have no final words on this matter, as far as I am concerned, Jane is going back now with her husband. I believe things will get better.” I was really worried about the disagreement between Mum and Dad. I didn’t like what Dad was saying, but I was scared of disobeying him. I prayed for him to change his mind.
Mum got really mad at what Dad said. She bumped up again from the chair and hit her hand on the wall of the house, “Never! Not when I am alive will Jane go back to this killer.”
Dad gave out a loud cackle, the type you do when you want to make mockery of someone, and pulled out his finger for Mum to bet with him, “Let’s see who takes the final decision”.
Dad turned to me and said, “Jane, get ready to go back with your husband.”
But Mum challenged him, “Not in this house. Jane, you are going nowhere.” Tears tickled down my cheeks. I looked at Fred, the cause of disagreement between Mum and Dad and hated him with the last drop of my blood. I was so confused. I didn’t have courage to disobey my Dad, yet I didn’t want to go back to Fred.