I got this in my mail today and really enjoyed it. I hope you guys enjoy it too.
I remember that day like it was just yesterday.... The day Aunty Caro, my mother's best friend came to our house, grinning from ear to ear like she had just won the lottery. She came bearing good news; her nephew Ovie had returned from the U.K after so many years. They had all but given up on him returning and now he was back! But this was not the reason she was smiling like that and swinging her hips in dance. She was smiling because Ovie, being of age, was in search of a bride and after listening to the long list of requirements for his "wife material", she thought of me. Apparently I had all the qualities Ovie was looking for in a wife.
On hearing this my mouth flew open. Why me? I had an elder sister Ese who was in tailoring school, why not her? You see, I had such big plans for my life. I was going to the Federal polytechnic in
Auchi. After which I would work for a while, save money and then go to the university and get a proper degree to use and earn money. Then, I would be able to free I and my family from the shackles of poverty and move us out of the slums of Iyara in Warri. I immediately declared my refusal and in detail, I pointed out why. But to my surprise Aunty Caro started laughing like she had just heard the joke of the century. She laughed and laughed till tears came out of her eyes, then she looked at me and said, "Ejiro my foolish pikin....you nor know say wetin we when be your senior dey siddon see, even if you climb that mango tree you no go see am?".
Apparently, Ovie was the very rich son of her super rich brother-in-law. He was also my family's ticket out of poverty. With a little pressure from my Mum and Aunty, I succumbed. We were introduced and he said I was just what he was looking for. Honestly, I was relieved, because Ovie was a man that any woman would be proud to call Husband. So without further ado, a date was fixed for the wedding.
Things went so well and I was suddenly the envy of all my friends and even my sister. I had snagged a rich one, something that was so rare.
We went on our honeymoon. He took me to see London and France, and shopping in Dubai. Things I never in my wildest dreams dared to imagine would happen to me. He showed me the world. ME, Ejiro! From the innermost part of iyara one of the dirtiest slums in warri. My love and gratitude knew no bounds. Ovie was my savior, lord and master.
And then we got back and everything changed.
My husband became a stranger. At the slightest provocation he would beat me mercilessly. I remember one day after beating me I lost a tooth, thankfully it wasn't any of the front ones. After enduring several beatings, emotional abuse, neglect and constant name-calling, I decided I had had enough, I packed my bags and went home to my fathers house.
I thought to myself that even if we don't have money at least we are happy. I was wrong. My mother listened sympathetically to my story, all the while using a hot cloth to press my body and comforting me with gentle words. After I finished narrating my ordeal in the hands of Ovie my husband, she said something that changed my perception of life. She said, "Ejiro my pikin, nobody when e no hard for...you even get luck say your Ovie get money... the people when their husband no get money nko? and dem they kpo kpo them everyday... stop to dey make your husband vex make e no dey beat you... our people talk say if you hungry and you see cherry when fall near shit, you go take leaf cover the shit, pick the cherry chop". Hmmm.
Later that evening when my dad got back, they took me back to Ovie and begged him to take me back, they had talked to me and I won't misbehave again. Of course that night I got another round of beatings for my insubordination.
In the fourteen years I have been married to my husband, I have gone through so much, I can't even begin to you. Is it the beatings or the insults, or the girls he brings to the house that I have to cook for and make comfortable, in my own home.... Is it the rape I endure every Thursday in the name of lovemaking, or the Tuesday night rituals when he ties me up and whips me with koboko while brutally fucking me at the same time... is it the financial deprivation and constant threats to my life... Or the constant mockery and taunting that I would be nothing without him?
Yet I stay on....
Why? You may ask
My answer is this. I have no where else to go to, no one to turn to. I stay for my kids, my twins. My only source of hope and joy, even though they are now in boarding school, I have to stay because Ovie has assured me that if I leave I will never see them again, and I believe him. I stay for my family. My mother now has a big supermarket, always fully stocked and an envy to other supermarkets in Warri. My sister, a big fashion house. My dad, a fleet of cars he uses for town service. And, my brothers are in the university in south Africa. All thanks to my darling husband Ovie, who has assured me that if I leave, they will all be taken away and we will be back to our one room apartment in iyara....
I am Ejiro Sadjefe and this is my story.
This is Sonia Onunwor's (beautiful) first attempt at prose and I'm looking forward to reading more of her works. Remember you can send in yours too.