Weddings are social and family gatherings. Parents, family, friends and well wishers are usually in attendance to witness the rituals and the taking of vows by the couple. This way, the couple is married before both God and man. The role of these witnesses however does not end after the social ceremonies, they still have a responsibility towards the success of the marriage after the wedding.
When things go wrong between the lovers, parents and elderly ones are expected to intervene and help settle any squabbles. The ultimate goal, being the preservation of the union. However, there have been cases where those who are expected to nurture have turned out to be the clogs in the wheel of love and where parents have had to take drastic decisions in order to save lives. Some years back, when my little cousin, Bimbo was assisted by her parents to walk out of her marriage, like many, I thought they were overzealous and pampering her.
More so, they never liked David from the onset. He was different, a street wise guy, while they were what we call, “spirikoko Christians”, the born again ones. Bimbo, their little angel had broken all records in a whirlwind three months romance to marry David. And they never hid their dislike for the man who embarrassed them to the heavens. So, when the news broke that Bimbo had returned home not quite a year into the marriage because her husband had beaten her up, many of us were not surprised.
A good excuse to kick the guy out of their saintly daughter’s life for good. It was from this perception that I watched Bimbo and her family from a distance, until fate brought us together under one roof, almost five years after. But after listening to Bimbo’s side of the story, I have no doubt in my mind that I would take a similar decision should I find myself in her mother’s shoes. Her story raised many questions I could not really rationalize, neither could I apportion blame to anyone, except perhaps, to David’s mother. Today, David is married to the girl he brought home that fateful night. He had in fact, been dating her before he met Bimbo. Though a very turbulent marriage due to the character of the duo, they are still weathering the storm together, like two thieves would. Bimbo has however continued to raise her two sons at her parents’ home.
“I couldn’t have been able to leave him on my own. My parents had to take me away for fear that he might kill me one day. David and I met at a friend’s birthday party, in fact, my friend is his cousin. Prior to our meeting, she used to talk so much about him. To her, he was about the best thing that ever walked this earth. They were quite close, though he was older by a few years. He was not so handsome, but he was very composed, dressed well and had some money to throw around. Many girls in our circle of friends had been dying to meet him, but no one thought he would pick me out of the group. He could really have had the pretty ones if he’d wanted, but he chose me and we all wondered what it was he really saw in me. David and I did not really start on a good note, because I didn’t know what he wanted with me. But I was flattered and convinced that it must be love. So, I was very determined to make the relationship work. I had finished secondary school and was working as a clerk in a reputable company and taking a secretarial course. He had graduated from the University and was working in a bank. I threw myself into the relationship and barely three months after, I was pregnant.
He was terribly angry when I informed him, asking what I planned to do with the baby as he was not ready to settle down yet. I was angry too, and I insisted he’d promised to marry me, so I must keep the baby. That was the first time he hit me. We did not see each other for almost three weeks. When he finally showed up, he apologized but insisted we must terminate the pregnancy. Still, I refused. He told his cousin about it, and luckily she was on my side, so he could not have his way. The pregnancy was almost seven months before his people paid my parents a visit. To say that my parents were annoyed was an understatement as I had brought them shame everywhere, church, family, friends and neighbourhood. To make matters worse, I had my baby at home two days before my wedding day. Then my ordeal began.
The David I married was not the David I thought I knew. David turned out a real monster. He would never come home straight from the office, he always had one party or the other to attend. Since he loved to party and womanize, he naturally loved to drink, and I didn’t know which I preferred of the three. The slightest complain earned me some beatings. It had started with a few slaps across the face that would leave me crying in a corner or clutching on to my baby. He would insist that I had been responsible for his anger. Then, it got fiercer and more frequent. I became so afraid that I had to watch his mood before I said anything, just to avoid trouble. Soon, that did not help much as even my silence seemed to annoy him too. The matter became more complicated when I became pregnant again barely three months after the birth of our first child. I was just contemplating on the type of contraceptives I could use when it happened. Children are said to be a source of joy in a marriage, but David thought otherwise. He would call me names like pig, dog and so on, just because I got pregnant as if I did it alone.
I didn’t report him to anyone initially because I was too ashamed. More so, we’d barely been married a few weeks. I was worried about what people would say. My parents would have been proved right that he wasn’t the right man for me. Telling them would have even caused more problems. However, I was forced to tell his mother the day he beat me up after bringing home a girlfriend to spend the night. (Hmm! Some women can be daring sha!!) I felt really humiliated and wept all night as I could not sleep. It was a Friday night, so, they slept till very late the next morning. I’d heard such stories before, but never thought it could happen to me. It was as if I was watching a movie with myself in it. And though I knew I was playing with fire, I did not care. The lady managed to escape as David and I were fighting. But he got the tongue lashing of his life from the neighbours.
Their action encouraged me to report to his mother. His father had died a few years before we met.
David was his mother’s favourite, the apple of her eyes which she never failed to tell everyone. But I never guessed that she would take sides with him even in such a matter that could ruin his marriage. My mother-in-law saw nothing wrong with what her son had done. She said since I knew him to be short tempered, I should not have reprimanded him in the presence of his guest. I should have been patient for the girl to leave. My sister, all the respect and affection I had for the woman disappeared at that moment. Till today, I still pray that God will punish her for what she did to me.
In the seventh month of the pregnancy, we had another fight and I was forced to finally pack out of my matrimonial home. He’d flared up in anger simply because I’d asked him for money to buy things for the unborn baby. He said I’d dared to raise my voice at him, so he slapped and pushed me down.
Luckily or unluckily for us, my mother came visiting early the following morning. This time, he was the one reporting me. He started by calling me names, how disrespectful I was, how much he spent on my son and I, and how much he hated seeing me because I disturbed him too much. As he spoke, my mum was begging him at intervals, trying to sweet talk him to take things easy especially as he knew my condition.
As if this was what he needed to go crazy, he just jumped up and charged at me shouting “what condition, what stupid condition”. Instantly, he gave me several slaps across the face and in my attempt to block him off, I fell off the chair to the floor. He was not satisfied he kicked me twice in the stomach and only stopped when my mother held him by his belt.
She started shouting for neighbours to come and help her just as she was asking David what she had done to deserve such a treatment from him. She said it was true that they had given me to him as a wife, dead or alive, but they did not expect that he would kill me by himself. She said she was convinced that we could not live happily as a couple and her heart would never be at peace knowing my condition. I was then asked to pack all my belongings immediately . To make matters worse, he never showed any sign of regret and had the guts to abuse my parents, accusing them of trying to ruin my life.
For several weeks, I did not venture out of the house. I was ashamed to face everyone. Secretly, I prayed and hoped that the incident might make David a changed man, and he would come and plead with my parents for my return home. But it did not happen. He did not even show up when he was informed that I’d had our baby, another boy. Neither did his mother. But he turned up about five months later, not to beg for forgiveness but to inform me that he was moving house and I should come and pack the rest of my things. He never bothered to ask after the children. I knew then that it was all over.