The hands of the clock pierced through the silence. It was twelve noon. He had left her that morning, with a hot slap on her face as a parting gift. She was rewarded for refusing to go down on her knees and sing to that manhood, an object she had whispered to all night long. She was awakened that morning with water pouring on her face. It ran from her head down her body. She ran her right hand over her face, trying to wipe the water from her eyes so she could see. She had been dreaming of running under the rain and dancing to bad and boujee. How she could dream of such in her precarious situation was bewildering to her. She blamed the neighbor Etim. Since that song hit the airwaves she had not heard anything else playing loudly from his speakers. She finally opened her eyes and there he was, standing over her holding his penis in his hand and spraying his pee all over her. Her body stiffened and her mouth a bit ajar as some drops fell in. Done, he shook his penis and smiled. He held her by her hair and shoved his penis into her mouth. Gagging, She struggled to push herself back, but his hands held steadfast to her head as her attempt at screaming went right down her throat. She was going to throw up. He thrust deeply back and forth. Every thrust digging deep into the back of her throat and her innocence. Each swing harmonising with his breathing. He moved back and holding her hair in his hand flung her to the wall. She screamed at the treachery. her throat itched from the burn of the urine that had trickled down her throat, she held her stomach and tried to squeeze hard. Maybe just maybe she would throw up everything. her body soaked up with his concentrated urea, oh the stench she thought. She cornered herself to the wall and hugged her knees, tears pouring down her eyes, a faucet with a broken tap. She shriveled from the thought of what he would do to her, for her refusal, what could be the worst she thought, he would probably beat me to death or to a pulp. Death never seemed more appealing. He stood there and laughed, taking in her strong-willed foolishness. You amuse me! There’s no one here to cry to, it’s just you and me. He walked tall towards her, yanked her up with both hands, and tore at her clothes, using one hand he squeezed her left breast, an orange being squeezed of its juices. A loud scream burst through her mouth as she clenched her breasts. A fish had been brought out of water. Holding her with one hand and using the other, he gave her a resounding slap and walked out of the room.
Sun rays hit her face almost blinding her as she opened her eyes. Dress torn and stinking. She was not dreaming.
She was a moth that had been touched, wounded. My dust falling to the ground and there it shall remain. Light no longer calls me but darkness. My colors are drained. She knocked on all the doors. Is comfort home?
She knew he had gone to uncle Emeka’s house. He always went there during the afternoons. She got up and made her way to the bathroom. This had become a daily ritual since her mother was absent. She sat on the toilet seat. Spreading her legs, she used the left over water from yesterday in the pail and washed herself trying to get to the blood on her thigh without pouring so much water on the floor. She squeezed her thighs from the burning itch she felt on the inside, which one is this one again she thought as her brows furrowed. She pulled down her pant, took it off and folded it in her hands. She wondered if she would ever be free of this man. When would she be able to speak to someone who she could trust? She did not cry as much as she used to. Her fountain of tears were running out begging him to stop. Now she just laid there limb and let him do the despicable things he does to her. She had not bleed for that month, and the month before that. She must be pregnant she thought. She felt something tighten around her chest, suddenly she felt the strong need to throw up. This would be the first time she would be getting an abortion, she had heard Ngozi the house help talk about her friend getting one a while back although she suspected it was Ngozi herself that had gotten one. She would have to ask her.
Ndubuisi always took the long route to Emeka’s house to clear his head. Besides, he didn’t mind seeing Ifunanya’s pendulous breasts everyday. Thank God she never wore a bra. He had discovered this route with his friend Emeka and ever since he had always found a reason to clear his head. He walked past the police station smiling benevolently to the police officers and dashing out waves here and there “maazi kedu” shouted Ifeanyi a police officer. ” Odimma o” he responded, stopping briefly to exchange pleasantries. He made sure to greet them every morning. During Christmas and other important days, he never failed to supply them with food and drinks, sinking deep into their good graces. Ndubuisi was a strong catholic, never missing mass, he would come to church on time and sit on the front pew. Father Emmanuel always looked out for him and his wife Ella during mass and give his one sided smile. On rare occasions when Ndubuisi missed mass the first telephone call at the house would be from Father Emmanuel. His towering presence was ever felt during harvest and bazaar as Ndubuisi would lead every group dancing down the altar with an array of gifts presented to the church. Traditionally, Ndubuisi was not lacking. He had helped the village of Umunna dig the only borehole in the village. people from neighboring villages walked distances just to fetch water. “Oge eruola mgbe ndi b’ anyi ji enweta mmri di Ocha Kara ihe ha na enweta ugbua “You know time has come when our people should get cleaner water than what they get at the stream, an air of pride floating around him like several halos as he commissioned the borehole. Not long after he was given the Ozo title for his great contribution to the community. “I believe in an upright society where things work, he said. We might be part of a country where our leaders fail us, but we can do our best in our little corners”. He was a jewel to his village.
He continued down the un-tarred road and took the usual left turn after the post office kicking every stone in sight. He walked in a haphazard way that got his slippers cut so often and had him buying a new slippers every week. His white shorts were already dirty from the dust he had gathered from the back of his slippers. His wife Ella kept a stock of jik at home. She had travelled to Owerri on church duty for a week, he hoped she would not be back soon. Passing the White House with zinc fence he slowed down a bit hoping to catch a glimpse of Ifunanya, she was no where to be found. Oh well he thought, I hope Emeka has put my beer in the fridge, weather na di hot, he soliloquized. Humming unconsciously to his remixed version of bad and boujee he made his way quickly to Emeka’s house. He had one hand in his pocket, head bent a bit as he climbed the fleet of stairs leading up to his friends house, EMEKA! he bellowed, “Anom na parlour, wetera m mmanya ahu juru oyi” saying Emeka should bring the cold beer to the sitting room. Which match dey on he asked as he reached for the remote. He cleared a space on the chair and sat in the clutter. stretching his long legs he kicked used coke bottles off the table. Emeka’s house was always a mess it was unbelievable but Ndubuisi could care less, he was just grateful Ella was organised. Emeka joined him with the beer and they watched the match in silence.
The only bucket in the children’s bathroom was broken underneath. It was always a struggle to bath with it. She walked outside bare feet, red dust struggling to find space under each sole as she walked aloof to the tap. She filled up the bucket and began the race back into the house. By the time she got to the bathroom half the bucket was gone. She quickly took off her clothes and jumped into the tub. Using her two hands as quickly as possible she rubbed soap all over her body. She quickly filled the pail with water and poured it on herself, hard water rinsing away the soap with one pail, not much getting to her back.
Looking in the mirror she could see a reflection of herself that was not her. She touched the residue his hands had left on her face. Covering this would be a waste of time she thought.
She laid out his food on the shaky brown table. Her mother had complained several times about that table. It broke her favorite glass but it seemed any complaint she made regarding the table went in one ear and out the other. She and her mother well knew he could afford to change it but just would not. She had made his favorite ofegusi and pounded yam. At least I won’t hear any complaints she thought. She had pounded the yam herself as he could not stand the powdered things they sold in the store. To be honest even her preferred the pounded yam. She cleaned the sitting room, picked up the TVs’ remote and set it on the television, abject misery trailing behind her like a shadow as she moved. She fluffed the pillows the way he liked them.
She sat by the window, sunlight hitting one side of her face. Silhouette. Her eyes a lighter shade of dark chocolate, a broken window to a dark turbulent soul. Her high cheek bones clearly defined it could cut through anything. She liked to see herself as a younger Genevieve in her alone time. Caramel skin so smooth one could taste it. She would run her hands over her hairy rough marked skin and pose in front of the mirror in her pant and bra. She would arrange each breasts to create a cleavage and stand examining her waist, thighs and bum as if to answer a nonexistent question. Her natural hair packed up in a puff. She ran her hands through her puff examining the curls and length. It would lie beneath threads tomorrow. She had always wanted to relax it like the other girls in school. They could flip their hair and wind could blow right through it which made her so jealous but her mother had constantly refused. She had given up asking.
She stared out through the broken louvre at nothing but red earth. Rain had not fallen in two weeks, she thought as she wiped sweat off her forehead. My clothes have been drying though she thought. she looked towards the black gate. He would be back soon. Why he always hurried home by three she never understood. Yes, he had poultry businesses across three villages, but they were handled by Promise who came every evening to give reports. He also had three supermarkets scattered around the village that were doing well. It’s no wonder he could buy the loyalty of the villagers. Even if she attempted to talk, she would be shut up. She wished a trailer could hit him on his way back and sink him into the ground. She was never one to have evil thoughts about people but this was different.
It was 2:49. She felt like she was on a plane going up and then down. Descending.. descending.. descending…crash and feed my flesh to the earth. It feels safer. Three o’clock. The hour of divine mercy. Ndubuisi’s hands pushed the gate forward. Her father had returned.