It was the first Saturday after our holy matrimony, and Marilyn and I were at home. We had both taking leave from work, a popular custom among newlyweds. Her head was covered neatly in a pink turban, which she laid against my lap, and she jerked whenever I screamed at the footballers playing codswallop on the television screen.
“Do you think they can hear you, or do you want to enter the television?” she asked each time I shouted, clearly irritated that I was distracting her from reading one of her numerous books.
When the doorbell rang, we sighed wearily. When I realized that her, lifting her head from my lap, was not in effort to get the door. I went for it.
It almost came as a surprise, yet it shouldn’t have been, “Abena, again!” I thought on seeing the chubby looking woman smiling at me.
“What brings you here Abena?” I asked politely.
“Why the cold shoulders? I am here to see my friend. Or I cannot visit her again?”
“You can, come in.”
And that was how the day went. Abena took control of the remote as she sat down, I tried to watch what she wanted us to watch, but she kept conversing with my wife about people I had never met.
“Marilyn you wouldn’t believe it. Remember that woman that has been under oppression just because she couldn’t give birth? She has delivered a baby, and now you need to see the husband smiling like a He-goat at her and acting all nice, like he was not the one raining abuses on her and threatening to send her away. Men are trash. They will never seize to amaze me.”
My wife said, “Well that’s because she didn’t marry a good man.”
“They are all the same, forget that. In the beginning they don’t reveal it, watch and pray my friend, even…” she turned to look at me, cleared her throat and changed the topic.
The next few days that followed, my wife and Abena became best friends, they had begun working together on a campaign against women’s right violation and a fight for social equality, and this among many others united them. Marilyn had developed a habit of mentioning her in every of our conversation, she said things that suggested that Abena was a typical modern day woman, courageous, and very aware of her rights and self-worth, after every journey they embarked on together, I saw a growing admiration for Abena in her.
There was a night I came home late from work, only to find empty dishes and pots. Marilyn had not cooked. I mentioned it in passing that I was very hungry but assured her that it was alright if she had a really busy day, my wife looked at me strangely, as if shocked that I expected her to cook.
Some days later, she suggested that we go see a movie, which I agreed to, at the end of the evening, I became aware that she had seen the movie already and only wanted me to see it since it was portraying domestic violence in an unconventional way.
“Did you enjoy the movie?”
“Yes.” I answered.
“Did you learn anything new?”
“Don’t get me wrong but I needed you to see it. Domestic violence is not always physical abuse, it’s trying to take control over me emotionally, trying to make me feel guilty…”
“Shut up, and let’s go home.”
“Oh my! Abena was right.”
The drive back home was silent, Marilyn was still in shock that the man she married was just like any, and every other man out there. I was concerned about how bad things must have been for the person who was responsible for making her think like this . Immediately, Abena flashed in my mind.
It had taken me so long to realize that this could only be the handwork of Abena, then and there, I thought to pay her a visit.
At her house, Marilyn and I rang the bell severally, before we noticed the door was left unlocked and we went in. It seemed empty and without live at first, but on a second look, I noticed the broken pieces of glassware lying on the floor, then I saw Abena coming out of the kitchen with a knife pointing forward.
“I told you not to come back here!” she yelled.
That evening Abena had supposedly sent her husband away. Spending her time on campaigns, was just her building courage to leave him. It explained to me the long hours she spent with my wife warning her about men, and marriage with the stories of others. It also explained the blood dripping down her face, and the bandages she wore every month or two.
Photocred: Raising Hope, 2016 – Abe Odedina