E2: MOTIONLESS RACE
It was a the about 9.50am last week Tuesday morning, my phone was on the third ring when I picked it up and the caller ID was an unregistered number. I knew how much I deal and interact with people on daily basis so I didn’t have to wonder who was calling other than put up my best attitude to receive the call because it came at a time I least wanted to talk to anyone let alone answer the phone. “Hello, good morning,” I said.
“Good morning to you sir,” the caller sounded. “How are you and the family?”
“Very fine and you?” I responded to the friendly beginning. The female voice sounded heavenly and I was sure the caller wasn’t a total stranger but I couldn’t place the voice. I ran my brain into a quick scan like a computer trying to detect virus so I could figure out who was calling.
“I’m fine, thank you.” She responded. “I don’t know if you’ll be disposed to see me, I’ll like to talk to you about something.” She went straight to the point.
Who could this be? I couldn’t stop wondering and my scan wasn’t yielding any good result. “Hmm…yes, sure.” I replied, looking at my table and the pile of work that laid there but my curiosity to know who that was and what she’s got to say got the better side of me. “That’s fine. You know my office?” I questioned, pressing the phone closer to hear if the sound of the voice will strike a match in my scan.
“I’ll be on my way immediately if you’ll text the description.”
“Right, I will do that right away.” I waited till the call was disconnected and still couldn’t figure out the caller. My impulse to know the person gave me no hesitation to send the address and at about 45mins later, the receptionist came to notify me of a visitor waiting for me. Getting to the reception it was a familiar face I see at church almost every week but we hardly ever had anything to talk about beyond usual pleasantries. She looked as pretty as I have always seen her. Beyond having a son of about 6years old, comes to church and goes with her mother, I know nothing more about her. I couldn’t hide the surprise on seeing her because I wouldn’t think there’s any reason for her to call me let alone visit but I managed well not to spill. “This is a pleasant surprise,” I said with kind smile and reached out for a handshake. She took it firmly as I took the next seats to hear what brought her.
“Do you mind if I can talk to you?” She questioned and looked around.
“Oh! Sure, not at all,” I gave back and stood up, having understood the looking around the reception as a way of asking for privacy. “Come with me please.” I led her to my office which is a corner in the school library. It was class session for the students so talking in the library wasn’t a problem since there’s no user around. “How’s your son?” I mentioned as I pointed the seat across my table to her.
“He’s in school. Actually, I do notice you always in church and I think I could talk to you. That’s what brought me here. I just want to seek help and avoid losing my mind, for the sake of my son, if not anyone else.” She began before I could ask why she sought me out.
“I hope I’ll be able to help,” I said.
“I need help, my life has been stagnant for so long and I’m dying inside.” She spilled. “It’s been about five years I left my husband because of abuse and I’ve been hanging since then, raising my son all alone with little help from family and friends.”
“Why did you leave him, if I may ask?”
“Well, lemme start form when I met him.” She adjusted on the seat and lean a little forward with her fingers locked. “I attended an event with my sister in Lagos and he was friend of a friend at the event. We talked, exchanged contacts and things developed from there. Over time, I visited him in Lagos- he’s very popular in his Estate at Jakande, I met his family and he came to Abuja a couple of times too to meet my mum. Six months after, we were set to marry- I had become pregnant. I had some folks complained about the pregnancy before marriage, my sister felt the time I’d known him was too short, I really don’t know how all happened so fast; although I felt six months doesn’t really matter because my sister’s relationship of almost nine years ended up in vacuum.” She paused.
“Please, sorry to break in and pardon my manners, would you like a drink?” I offered.
“No, please. Let me just vent.” She responded. “Well, the wedding took place and the signals started beeping on my face from the day of Introduction to wedding, and thereafter. I insisted he moves out of family house and we got our own small apartment, I didn’t mind the humble beginning. After some months, I became uncomfortable when he’d hardly provide for house needs. He’d claim he’s owed at work but his friends would testified otherwise. I see them on Facebook posts partying at beach and clubs and I was told he foots the bills most times as the big boy of the ring that he is. Sometimes I had nothing to feed my tender baby because I had problem lactating well due to my own malnutrition. I’ll soak garri and sieve the water for my son to take instead milk he deserves. Anytime we had something to eat was because my mom sent us money which he always frowns at, insinuating that my mom is ruling his home. There was a time he had sexual infection and my mom, being a nursing matron, gave him medications. Those times he was on drugs, I wouldn’t let him touch me so I won’t be infected and that was the time physical abuse joined the equation. I endured many other things because I was scared being a single parent will become generational menace as it’s prevalent in my maternal family. Also, I found out after wedding that he lied to me about his academics but I still didn’t make any fuss until he’ll practically hinder me from traveling to write my exams- I was running a degree program with Open University and changing Study Centre was difficult so I had to travel for exams. The peak of it all was the day he slapped and hit my head on the bathroom wall over the rules he wrote out for me to strictly follow. My sister rushed to Lagos when I told her in the morning and she made sure I left with her back to Abuja. Here’s what my face looked like after the night incidence.”
She brought out her phone and scrolled her gallery to show me. There was her picture with map of the world on her reddish bright cheek, so glaring and frightening on her very light complexion. All I could do was sigh. She told me to scroll and I saw a couple more of other bruises on her arms. I handed handed the phone back.
“Couple of weeks later, my sister called him- severally, but he wouldn’t pick and later she sent him a message that we were coming to pack my stuff. We went there, it wasn’t easy but we got through getting my stuff. Since then, five years counting, I have been living with my mom here. I have graduated from Open University but haven’t gotten a job yet, I just manage on petty businesses. I have sort help from lawyers to file for divorce since we did registry so I can move on with my life but the only lawyer who took my case pro bono, tried severally to reach serve him court notice but he’s nowhere to be found. I don’t know what legal options are available for me because my life is just there hanging. I’m just like a motionless athlete on the track.”
“Hmm…” I sighed again. “You have quite a story there, my sister and it’s great you decided to let this out. Thanks for talking to me. I will also say it’s a wise thing you did, leaving the house because your safety and that of your son, now already a big boy, would have been compromised. Life gets to throw us lemon every time but we won’t stop making lemonade out of it- staying strong and keeping our heads up from drowning in the oceans of life. If you don’t mind my sister, let me make consultations on how we can proceed and let’s find a time again to talk.”
“Not at all. I just knew I could talk to you from what I’ve heard around about you. I think you can be the brother I don’t have.”
We both laughed over the remark and she asked to be excused to go home and sleep since she couldn’t get enough sleep all night and it would soon be time to go get her son from school. I agreed she needed the rest then walked her to get taxi.
What advise would should I give her?