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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Captain's Woman-Episode 2

The Captain's Woman-Episode 2Ene


I glanced at the clock on the wall, noting the time: nearly 12 midnight.

"So late, yet Harry's still out," I muttered. I decided not to wait for him any longer but to go to bed as I had to go to work the following day.

It had been that way for a while now- keeping late nights. After work, instead of coming home as he used to do, Harry would prefer hanging out with some of his friends and colleagues at the Mess and other haunts of their set.

"What's wrong in relaxing after work?" he would retort any time I complained about his late nights. "Do you know how stressful my work is? So, you want me to die of stress?" he asked belligerently.

The issue had been causing arguments between us, yet Harry would not listen and mend his ways.
"He'll come and meet me in this house today," I said as I made my way to the bedroom.

I had already drifted off to sleep when banging on the door brought me rudely awake.

My phone rang at the same time.

It was Harry.

"Come and open the door. And be fast about it!" he said peremptorily. I got up to let him in.

Instead of the thanks I was expecting, it was a shove I got as soon as he stepped inside.

"What took you so long? Do you know how long I have been waiting outside?" he queried angrily.

"But I came as soon as you called!" I protested, feeling piqued at his attitude. He smelt of alcohol and I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

"So, you're calling me a liar! How dare you!" he said, his eyes flashing in anger, his right hand raised as if to hit me.

He was obviously tipsy for he swayed a bit on his feet. Seeing his condition and to avoid a quarrel, I bit back the angry retort on my lips and went to the kitchen to get some water.

"I'm talking to you and you dare walk out on me? Come back here, you silly...!"

***

I know it might sound crazy but sometimes wonder if it had been better if the promotion did not happen. For since then, things had changed for us.

For the worse.

The promised change that would usher in a better life for us had become a mirage. Our relationship, for instance was no longer as it was in the past. From being so close and living peacefully together, we now quarreled often.


Mostly over his late nights, drinking and nagging ways. His attitude towards me had changed, from loving and caring, not being able to do enough for me to complaining about nearly everything I did or did not do.


My dressing: 'you should upgrade your looks to fit our new status. Change your hairstyle and your wardrobe.'


My behaviour: 'you don't respect me anymore! You talk back at me!'


My cooking: 'there's too much pepper in this stew! Do you want to give me ulcer?'


And there was the beating.


The first time it happened, I thought it was a mistake that won't be repeated.

And it was all because of catfish pepper soup!


That evening, he had returned from work (early for once) and I had served him the soup.
"Ene!" I heard him call from the kitchen where I had gone for some water.


"What's this?" he inquired, pointing to the plate of soup.


"The soup you requested for," I replied, dropping a bottle of water on the table.
"And this looks like the catfish I wanted?" he questioned again.


"Oh that! I couldn't get catfish to buy so I decided to use chicken instead," I explained.


"That has always been your problem. Stubbornness! You never obey simple instructions. When I want catfish, you give me bloody catfish! Not chicken! Not beef!" he said angrily, pushing the plate away.


I did not understand what the fuss was all about and I grumbled as I picked up the dish.


"What did you just say?" he asked, glaring up at me.


"What's the difference between the two? All na pepper soup!" I rationalized.

"You dare justify your mistake instead of apologizing? Stupid bitch! How dare you!" he fumed. The next I felt was a resounding slap on my face, followed by a blow that sent me slamming against the wall. I screamed in pain, the plate of food dropping and shattering on the floor.


Harry came after me fully then, hitting, punching, slapping me till I was lying on the ground, crying, curled up in a protective foetus position so as to save my unborn child...


It was no use. I lost the baby. I was three months pregnant and it was gone because of Harry's brutal beating.


After my discharge from the hospital, my elder sister, Sarah took me to her home at the Ojodu area of the city.


"You are not going back to that man! Look at you! What if he had killed you that day? What kind of man will do this to a woman he claims to love?" she stated furiously.


I did not know nor care. I was too tired and weak in body and soul; all I wanted was rest to recover from the emotional trauma I felt over Harry's behaviour and treatment of me and the pain of losing my baby.


He kept calling on phone and in person to plead with me to return to him.


"Baby, I'm so sorry! I don't know what came over me! Please forgive and come home! It's not the same without you!"


It was about six weeks after the incident that I finally relented. My errant heart, that loved him despite all he had done to me, forgave him and longed to be with him again.


I missed him.


On the day I returned to Harry, Sarah had a chat with me.

"Have spoken to Harry and he seems repentant. He's promised not to lay a finger on you again. Hope he keeps to his word because the next time this happens, the police will be involved. And I don't care if he's an Army officer!


I don't know what they teach them in the military nowadays. Is it to beat their women or fight wars?" she asked rhetorically.


"Anyway," she added. "I'm keeping my eyes on him. Another thing, it's time he married you. You've been together five years? That's more than long enough!

Right now, you are just his woman not his wife. You know in our society, there's a whole lot of difference in the two. It's time he met our parents to do the needful like paying your bride price and performing other rites..."


***
It was good to be home again with Harry. He was like a different person. No, not really different but his old self when we just met and fell in love.


He was a Lieutenant then, at the bottom of the Army ladder, still making his way up. He was loving, kind and really handsome especially in his uniform.

My first day back, I saw a card and a bottle of perfume by my pillow.


I stood admiring the card, smiling a little at the wordings, including Harry's written plea for forgiveness.


"I mean every word there," he said, coming into the room.


I turned round to face him, noting the contrite look on his face. I stared at him saying nothing.


Then he stepped forward, took my hands and raising them to his lips stated:


"Never again, Baby! Let's put this behind us and move on, ok?"

"Promise?" I said.
He nodded and hugged me tightly and I gave in fully.
Placing me on the bed, he undressed me and kissing my stomach said:


"Don't worry about the baby. We'll have many more."


He moved up and kissed me and the old fire was reignited and for a while, all was silent in the room...


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