“And next on the news at 9.00, His excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, extends the lockdown to another two weeks. This directive is majorly for Lagos state, Ogun state and the FCT. The president deeply sympathizes with those that lost their relations or loved ones due to the virus and urges us to…” she switched off the television and rushed to the kitchen. Chineke! Her beans was burning. She put down the hot pot using the hem of her dress. She poured out the good part of the beans and washed the burnt part vigorously with an iron sponge. She then began to make the tomato stew for the beans – rice finished just yesterday.
The smell of the frying onions, canned tomatoes and grounded Camerounpepper tingled her already dried up nostrils. She turned her face half way round and downwards to clean her sweaty face with her right shoulder. She moved to the bathroom to wash away kitchen smell when she finished with the stew.
Chinonye poured a big cup of the half bucket of cold rain water on her naked body and whimpered a little with her eyes closed tight. She opened her eyes to look at her body. Her hips and a little bulged stomach, with liny faint lines of stretchmarks had fatter lines like tire tracks, red and swollen. Her huge fallen breasts had strips of red color as well and a little circle by the side of her right armpit. She could feel the cold water on her back, peppery and stinging. She touched her face, both cheeks and left eye still hurt.
Memories like shattered mirrors began to flood her mind. Flashes of the past, her youth and once upon a time a beautiful body, made her smile but her mouth still hurt and could not spread her lips. She was once admired and seen as the most beautiful of her age grade in the village. Brown shiny skin, soft pronounced firm breasts and beautiful sharp eyes that made her late grandmother call her “Ugo”. Flashes of the early times of her marriage made her smirk. Her handsome husband with charms that could sweep any lady right off her feet. The flirts, erotic hideouts and gatherings they went to as a couple. Then the latter times made her tight her eyes again.
These latter flashes felt like a horror movie and each scene was fresh like it was yesterday, sending shivers down her spine. There were memories she felt she could not erase but they caused her sleepless nights. The memories of losing her unborn child, not once or twice, but four times. Definitely not due to hormonal imbalance, or deficiency in feeding or an infection. But, firstly because of an argument she could not even remember the source. The second and third loss was due to his drunkenness and the fourth was because she could not go to a party with him because she was feeling weak, which resulted to a beating. The uncontrollable thoughts made her cry in the bathroom. She slowly poured more water on her skin, wincing and at the same time, savoring the stings. She bit her upper lip, enjoying the mixture of saliva and blood in her mouth. Finally, she wet the end of her dress to clean her nostrils of dried mucus and clots of blood.
30 minutes after her bath – 11.15pm, Chikwado returned. She dared not ask him the reason for coming late. Yesterday was enough lesson for her. The backlash was for making two opinions. First, he had to stop coming home late to avoid security issues. Ever since the lockdown, security men walked round the streets to arrest violators of the directive and they are bailed with ten thousand naira after spending a week in jail. Chinonye did not have such amount of money for something that could be averted consciously. Secondly, how could he let her provide for everything? He said there was no money but still went out to drink with Clement. Those utterances left marks on her.
Without being told, Chinonye served the beans and stew when he sat on the cushion after undressing. “Chii, the rice finished yesterday and I had no money for rice,” she explained before he would start talking. “Later, you would hang your shoulders, claiming a self-sufficient wife that can make more income than her husband”, he murmured audibly and began to eat the food. Chinonye went back to the bed and the lights went out. She lay there in the dark; her eyes open so wide just like thoughts, as she stared into the dark. All she did was breathe in and out. Mama Sunday and her family at the next compound were clapping hands and thundering the Holy Ghost. “It’s already midnight” she muttered. Her neighbors were her clock.
Still breathing slowly through her mouth, she felt wet hands grab her waist hard, hurting her bruises. She gasped and tried to move away but Chikwado turned her forcefully and grabbed a handful of her inner thighs under her dress. Her whole body was on fire and he cared less. “Chii stop, you’re hurting me.” He hit her hard right on her face, “What do you mean?! You’re my wife and I paid your bride price in full.” He ruffled her dress to bare her breasts. Chinonye struggled but he parted her legs, subdued her arms and roughly munched on her poor nipples till they bled. Chikwado hit her again and she became limp and surrendered helplessly. Seeing her hopeless mode, he smirked and thrusted deep into her dry insides, feeling all powerful. Her eyes became wet and she looked away. He humped, thrusted and groaned loudly, biting her neck on intervals. She just closed her eyes tight and wished for everything to end. After some minutes that felt like hours, he left her like a dumped waste to lie back and snore off to dreamland. Chinonye still laid there like a frozen corpse, oblivious of feelings.
She began to think about everything. Her mother named her Chinonye; god is with you. Maybe her god had left her, for her to be in such situation. She thought about running, but there was nowhere to run to. Her parents were in the village with the mindset that their daughter is living well in Abuja, the FCT. She could not visit or seek for help from her friends because everyone plays the ‘perfect life’ with their husbands. Also, because of the compulsory lockdown of the state, no visitation was allowed. She was so certain that her chi had left her. She thought about seeking help from social workers that advise and showcase their numbers in case of any domestic violence. Even if Chikwado is put in prison, his fangs are still in her veins, seeping her of energy and depriving her of peace and sleep. She silently prayed that Chikwado dies, maybe, just like his name, his god prepared a place for him. However, how could god answer her prayers when he had left her already. She felt helpless and lost all hope for help from anybody.
Suddenly, Chikwado’s snore awakened a powerful surge of rage and hotness inside her, flooding all her veins. Her heavy breaths heaved her chest up and down. She sat up and stared at her husband. She restrained the thought of stabbing him on the throatwith a pen knife. She sniffled continuously and laid back to bed but never blinking an eye.
Three hours passed like minutes and as if hypnotized, Chinonye stood up abruptly, went to the kitchen and took a pen knife. She came back to see her husband snoring slowly with a smile, like he was dreaming. The room was luminescent enough to see his face which made her boil in such a rushing anger that she went to him, sat on his belly and with an unimaginable strength, she struck him hard on the chest. Chikwado widely opened his eyes and screamed loudly, hitting her arms, tummy and breasts. She withdrew the knife and blood sputtered out of his mouth and his fresh wound. She arched her back in a bent position and slowly drove the knife again into his throat. He gagged and stared widely into her eyes. She stared right back with a smile and kept on staring till his hands grew tired of fighting back. His legs stopped shaking and his pupils dilated, as if it was a robot that had been shut down. The room was peaceful and serene. Chinonye licked the splattered blood on her face and started laughing loudly and victoriously. She stood up and looked at the man she had always loved. Funny enough, the smile didn’t erase. She went back to the bed and placed her head on his chest. She placed his hands on her back and waist the closed her eyes. She had never felt such peace in a long while. Lying like a newlywed couples on their honeymoon, she sighed pleasantly and moaned. The quiet early morning was gradually intercepted by the street spokesperson, making his announcement with his microphone in his Volvo.
Ugwu Ogochukwu Lilian is of the Department of English and Literary Studies. She loves to write and her aim is for the world to hear her voice and feel all that she pens down. She enjoys being in the department because it widens her eyes and she sees things clearly in a different way. She writes to express and to send a message.