In the one year of their marriage, Atinuke had been to the hospital not less than four times, all because she was married to Chike Benjamin. She always lied to her colleagues about the injury she sustained from the beating, but she was sure they didn’t believe her. She wouldn’t believe such stories either. Her parents died in a car crash shortly after she got married. Chike had promised to be a father and mother to her. But he had reneged on his promise. Instead, he became a brute, hitting her for no reason. She had reported him to his parents. They called him and talked to him. He got home and beat her for reporting him to his parents.
They went to a party together where she met a guy who was an old classmate in school. They talked whilst her husband flirted with other girls at the party. As soon as he parked the car at home, he started hitting her, right from inside the car. The gateman had tried to beg on her behalf, he got his own punch for butting in.
There was a day she was so ill, she could not go to work. She called Chike and asked him to please take her to the hospital. He did not come. Thankfully, her neighbour was home and took her to the hospital. She was admitted for malaria, for two days, Chike never showed up to find out how she was doing. She called his mother who came to help her and took her home when she was discharged. He was home and his mum was really angry with him for leaving her at the hospital. When his mum left, in her still weak condition, he beat her so bad, she landed in the hospital again.
Her sister-in-law, Uche, came to see her at the hospital. She knew her brother beat his wife, but since Atinuke did not want to admit it, she kept mute. But the last time she was admitted because of his beating, Uche came to see her again.
“Atinuke, are you going to let my brother kill you before you leave him? Remember your parents are no more and you have no siblings to fight for you. Chike is my brother, and I love him, but I cannot sit and watch him do this to you. You need to help yourself.”
“What do I do? I can’t divorce him, you know that is against our Catholic religion.”
“Well, if you can’t leave him, then fight back. That is all I will say. The rest is left to you.”
Atinuke did not think she had it in her to fight back. She was not as strong as Chike. How could she fight back? But she was tired of being his punch bag. She knew she had to do something before she got killed.
Two weeks later, on a Saturday, Atinuke went to the salon. She was delayed because there were quite a number of customers waiting for their turn before her. By the time she got home, she knew Chike would be angry.
Truly, he was waiting for her. Belt in hand demanding to know where she had been. She opened her mouth to explain, before anything came out of the mouth, his belt landed on her. Luckily she was able to run into the kitchen, and the first thing she sighted, was the pestle she used in pounding yam. He walked into the kitchen expecting to see her cowering in a corner, like always, but the moment he walked in, she hit the pestle, with all her might, on his right shoulder. He fell back, and she hit him again on the same hand. He dropped the belt and held his hand in pain. She picked up the belt, using the metal side, she began to hit him. She kept on swinging the iron side of the belt, not caring where she hit. She screamed as she hit him. He tried rolling away from her crying and yelling for help. But she kept on hitting him and screaming like a woman possessed.
The neighbours banged on the door, trying to enter, but she did not stop hitting him. Atinuke was in a blind rage. She remembered the number of times he sent her to the hospital, she remembered the promises he made to her, and she remembered his cruelty toward her. She just kept hitting him, until she felt someone hold her. The neighbours had managed to break down the door. One held her, while another person dragged Chike away from her. She just kept screaming, and crying at the same time. Chike was crying like a baby in the corner where he was dragged to by a neighbour. His shirt was torn and bloodied, his face covered with blood. His right arm, hung by his side.
When she finally calmed down, she tore herself away from the neighbour and walked to where Chike was. She looked at him with so much contempt. She didn’t need to say anything to him. She knew she had sent a message to him. A message he would never forget in a hurry.