“Mummy, let us run away.” Chiamaka cried as she held on to her mother’s legs.
Even though she was just six years old, she was tired of the situation she and her mother found themselves in. The past twelve months had been traumatic for both of them. “Mummy.” Chiamaka said as she shook her mother.
Kelechi rang the doorbell. Tope rushed to open the door and smiled. “Welcome darling.” She said as she hugged him. Kelechi refused to hug her back and she stepped back to look at him. “Is something wrong?”
Kelechi ignored her as he walked into the living room of their two bedroom flat and slumped into the couch. Tope looked on as she wondered what the problem could be. She walked into the living room and sat beside her husband. “Kelechi, what is the problem?” She asked.
“Please just leave me alone.”
“Ah…ah, Kelechi. How can I leave you alone when you are looking this way? Tell me please. Did something happen in the office?”
“Woman, I said leave me alone.” Kelechi snapped.
“Okay, okay.” Tope said standing up. “Are you ready to eat now?”
Kelechi nodded a response.
Tope dished the food and put it on the table. She called her husband to have his meal and left to clean up the kitchen.
The next day, Tope woke up at 6:00a.m as usual. She had her bath, woke her daughter, Chiamaka and got her prepared for school. At 7:00a.m, Chiamaka asked her mum. “Where is daddy? He hasn’t come out of the room. Isn’t he taking me to school today?”
Tope looked at the clock on the wall. Kelechi should have been out of the room by now, dressed for work and ready to drop their daughter off at school on the way to his office.
She went back into the bedroom and saw Kelechi still sleeping. She sat on the bed and tapped him. “Darling, you are late for work and Chiamaka is almost ready for school.”
“I am not going to work today.” Kelechi said as he turned his back to her.
“But you did not tell me you are going on leave. We always planned for it together for Chiamaka’s school vacation period.”
Kelechi turned to look at Tope. “Look Tope, can you please leave me alone?”
Tope’s jaw dropped as she looked at her husband. “What is going on?” She thought. She took a deep breath. “Your daughter is ready for school.”
“I am not taking her to school today.”
“Kelechi, what is the meaning of all this? I have been asking you since yesterday what the problem is and you have refused to say anything?”
Kelechi stood up from the bed all of a sudden. “You want to know, abi? I have been sacked. Sacked, do you hear me? Sacked?”
The next twelve months, Tope had done her best to take care of the family. She paid their daughter’s school fees, provided for the home and made sure they lacked nothing. She was a school teacher in a private secondary school. Her salary was not fantastic but she managed whatever she received and prayed that Kelechi would get another job to relieve her of the financial strain.
Kelechi went out every evening and came back home drunk. Initially, Tope complained and each time she did, she got beaten. She was reminded that the fact that she took care of the home did not make her the head of the house. When Tope got tired of being beaten, she stopped complaining. She left the door unlocked every evening for Kelechi to come in whenever he decided to.
Tope had been so tired when she got back from work that she forgot to leave the door unlocked. Kelechi rang the bell so many times before Tope opened it. As she did, dozens of slaps landed on her face.
“So you have the guts to lock me outside now, ehn?” Kelechi shouted breathlessly as he continued to pummel her face.
Tope screamed but the more she struggled, the more kicks and slaps she got. When Kelechi was done, he walked into their bedroom breathing hard and slumped on the bed. In a few minutes, he began to snore loudly.
Tope sat on the floor as she cried. She was tired of getting beaten every time. Everything she did or said was used against her. She thought of leaving but what would people say. What would her friends say? What would her family say? What would her church members say? All these questions bothered her.
She crawled into her daughter’s bed and folded into a foetal position as she cried to sleep. Chiamaka woke up at about 6:00am and saw her mother lying beside her. There were bruises all over her face and body. Chiamaka burst into tears.
“Mummy, wake up and let us run away.” Chiamaka said as she tapped her mother. “Mummy, wake up.” She cried.
Chiamaka stood up from her bed and opened the door of her room. She could hear her father snoring loudly from the bedroom opposite hers. She walked to the main door and opened it. She stepped out and banged on the door of the flat opposite theirs.
Kola walked to the door groggily. He opened the door and was shocked to see Chiamaka standing before him. She was still in her “Dora the explorer” pyjamas. Kola bent down and looked at her. “Chiamaka, what are you doing outside at this time of the morning? Where is your mummy and why are you crying?”
Chiamaka wiped her cheeks with her hands. “I have been waking my mummy up so that we can run away but she is not answering me.”
Kola took a deep breath. He understood what Chiamaka was talking about. He had talked to Kelechi once about it but Kelechi had told him to mind his business. He even told him that his inability to mind his business was the reason why he was still single.
“Let us go and see your mummy.” Kola said as he held Chiamaka’s hands.
Chiamaka led him into the house and into her room. Kola was shocked when he saw Tope. He lifted her up and carried her out of the house. He placed her gently in the backseat of his car while Chiamaka eased in and sat beside her mother.
“Are you taking us far away from this house?” Chiamaka asked Kola as he eased into the car.
“Chi, your mother needs to see a doctor first.”
“Okay sir. But we don’t want to come back here and I don’t want my daddy to know where we are.”
Kola sighed. “Okay Chi.”
A week later, Tope was discharged from the hospital. Kola took her straight to her parents house. Her parents welcomed her back with open arms. They hugged Chiamaka with tears in their eyes. They were grateful to her for saving their daughter’s life.
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