by Aromeh Ameh
The Jaws of Death
That night after Amarachi had left; Lawani had tied my hands behind my back and punched me in the stomach for three hours. Afterward, I crawled to the bathroom and vomited blood, i managed to drive myself to the hospital
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Each time i returned to him, my decision was confirmed as a good one, because i was rewarded not just with a temporary peace, but with the return of the man I’d fallen in love with. “We’d have this honeymoon period where he was nice to me again. I couldn’t help myself; I fell for it,
Lawani would come straight home from work, sometimes with flowers in hand, “and we’d have family time. He’d crack us up and laugh. Or we’d work around the house…all the things that happen in a normal home.”
Most important, He doted on me. There were date nights followed by lovemaking, with Lawani holding me all night long. “I got enough of a glimpse of what a normal life could be like,” Look, he can be a family man; we can do this,” I’d say to myself.
Amarachi at this point was very upset with me, she was the only one I had told about the abuse, and she kept urging me to leave him,” do you want to wait until we come get you out of there in a body bag” she’d say, I was a woman still intent on saving my marriage, what amarachi advised only made me foolish, and I began to alienate myself from her and others, even my own parents, in my mind at the time they were the enemy, my justification was that they didn’t know lawani the way I did, they basically didn’t understand, my mum had visited once and discovered some swelling on my chin, she expressed concern and I simply told her we had an argument and I had provoked lawani too much, and when she insisted on having a talk with him, I was quick to remind her not to meddle in the affairs of my home. She in turn spoke to amarachi about it, and well amarachi being the hot head she was, came to my house and confronted lawani, oh how I wish she hadn’t done that, because after she left he felt very upset and humiliated, and yes you guessed right, I payed for it.
That night after amarachi had left; Lawani had tied my hands behind my back and punched me in the stomach for three hours. Afterward, I crawled to the bathroom and vomited blood, i managed to drive myself to the hospital, there I met the matron on duty, Matron Tamasi, I came in stooped and limping, showed the matron the evidence of my beating ,my arms bruised black from wrist to elbow, a belly the color of a rotting plum.
He could’ve killed you!” the matron exclaimed. i knew she was right. And when, one month later, another fight began brewing in our house, the matron’s words reverberated in my head and prompted me to run across the street and call my friend to pick me up.
It was the third time I left.
I stayed away with Amarachi for about a month. But while my life was free from abuse, it wasn’t peaceful. Lawani was a constant: badgering me, surprising me when i least expected it, and — perhaps worst of all — threatening to discontinue our adoption process, don’t judge me, I wanted a child so badly so I was willing to put up with as much crap just to get a child, and somewhere in my mind, I believed with the arrival of the child, things might get better, I mean children are supposed to be blessings right? At the same time, he was trying to woo me back by asking me out on dates and by renovating our home exactly the way I’d wanted, even hanging up my cherished family photos. “I got a glimpse of the person I married: the romance, the hugs and sweet things.
Meanwhile, my friend never complained about hosting me, but she were clearly on edge — especially when lawani would call to accuse her of breaking up his home. As time passed, I felt like a burden on amarachi. In despair, i went to a shelter to explore my options and was dismayed to learn it would only be able to house me for 30 days. “Then what?” I asked the counselor, who had no reply. I couldn’t see a way out.
Here I was with no job and no life. “And then here’s my husband, with our beautifully remodeled house and all the things from the life we had built, and he’s saying, ‘You can have all this if you come back, so i meekly called lawani to say i was moving back in — feeling “scared to death, sick to my stomach, frightened out of my mind, and hopeful that things were going to change” — i made note of a valuable lesson I’d learned.
My arrival back home was greeted with a very familiar “seize fire” regime, lawani was all over me, doting as usual and being the “perfect man”, but this time I was very careful not to be taken in by the his usual tricks and pageantry.
I would stare at him for a while and try to read him, he had mastered the art of switching himself on and off at will, it was like he had the jerkyl and hyde syndrome, one minute he was this big teddy bear, appeared not being able to hurt a fly, the next moment he’d transform into a rabid wolf, foaming at the mouth, treating me like prey, ”yes that was the only logical way to describe my husband.
I woke up to lawani smiling over me, looking like a little boy in a toy store, he asked me to come downstairs, saying Christmas had come early this year, I put on my robe and followed him downstairs, and when I got downstairs I was stunned, my legs went limp,I half expected they would give out under me, sitting in the living room was a woman, but she was not alone, she was holding a little girl, she was 14months old, my heart skipped a beat, I turned and looked at him, he smiled and said “congratulations it’s a girl”.
The lady I later discovered was from an orphanage and lawani had pushed the adoption process faster and we had gotten this little girl, this little angel, this wonderful innocent human being, I took a step towards them and stopped to check myself as if to be sure I wasn’t dreaming, I moved closer, picked her up, held her close to me and turned to lawani and said “her name is Morenikeji-which means I have found a companion, he smiled and accepted the name, I refused to put her down, as if putting her down would be the end of life itself, it was a wonderful feeling, I didn’t care that I was not her birth mother, but the thought of her being my child was the best feeling I had in a very long time, once the documents were signed and the lady left, lawani and I took keji (shortened) upstairs and spent the whole day getting to know her.
Life seemed to stabilize for a while, so far this was the longest stretch of peace I had experienced in a while, lawani even agreed to let me start my own ad consulting agency, things were looking up, or so I thought.
Then the worst happened, I had a meeting with a client, he came in later than the agreed time, so I stayed out later than usual, after the meeting I raced home, because I had left keji with the nanny, immediately I drove into the house I saw lawani’s car parked outside, fear enveloped me.I tried to compose myself, I knew something was wrong, I walked into the house, the nanny was gone, lawani and keji were in the living room watching a cartoon on television, I started to talk when lawani dismissed me with his hand, I made my way to the kitchen, everywhere was spotless, my heart was racing, I thought it was going to explode in my chest, I made my way to the bedroom to change, and when I came out I saw lawani taking keji to bed.
I went downstairs and waited for lawani, and while I waited for him to come back down I said a short prayer “O lord my father, if what I am passing through is not from you, have mercy on me, deliver me, save me, have mercy on me”.
Lawani walked calmly into the living room, sat across from me, stared directly at me and he lips parted and the words I dreaded came out, ”where have you been”, I began explaining what had transpired during my meeting and what had caused the delay, he seemed to be getting relaxed up until the point I mentioned the client was a man, his eyes went dark and he jumped up, and in a split second he was beside me, and before I could blink he had hit me across the face, the impact sent me tumbling over, he pulled me up by my hair and punched me in the face, I stumbled over again, begging him to stop, this enraged him the more, he called me a harlot, and hit me again, this time I tasted blood, suddenly from the corner of my eye I saw him pick up something from the table, he struck my head……………..i passed out.
To be Continued
Arome Ameh is a former Banker turned Screen Writer/Producer/Blogger. He has written both True Life/Fictional Stories Via his blog www.ameharome.WordPress.com.