"Next time put more make up on, the bruises are showing!" Tunde hissed at me and his grip tightened around my wrist, his calloused palm hurting my skin.
I nodded timidly and followed him into the eatery. His friend had invited us to a party. I had to make myself pretty for Tunde, I didn't want to risk annoying him a second time. I had already annoyed him earlier by serving him rice without meat. I had used my money to prepare that meal, Tunde had lost all his savings playing Bet9ja.
"Are you stupid? Do i look like a child to you"
He had barked before his hand blinded me. The force had thrown me against the wall. My left cheek was swollen from the abuse, stinging even as I dusted brown powder over it, making sure no one would ever know.
"Laura, what happened now? Why is your face like this?"
My friends would ask me but I would fake a smile and wave it off with a lie. I always praise Tunde in their midst. I tell them how lucky i am and how happy I and Tunde are. I shut out the ebbing pain in my heart. I forget the belt whips and rampant slapping. I forget the constant raping and the incessant name calling.
No, Tunde would change. He is my heart. Deep down inside he is a good man. He will change!
"You cannot change the stripes of a cheetah, no matter how hard you try" My mother had said. She was the first one to see through Tunde.
But I ignored her advice. Even Peter had sensed something off about Tunde, the first time i introduced them.
Peter was a good friend and a colleague i had known for years. He had asked me to date him in my fourth year but I rejected him.
I had wanted Tunde. Tunde had all the traits i admired. He was tall, broad-shouldered, well-built and articulated. He had beautiful pink lips complemented by a charming beard. His eyes where dark and captivating and his nose was pointed. Peter was everything Tunde wasn't.
Peter was of average height, pale, thin-lipped, wiry in build and he couldn't speak fluent English.
"Laura, you are slimming down. Are you not feeding well?" Peter had later asked me, visibly disturbed.
I was not feeding well. Tunde drained me and stifled me. He did not let me continue with school when his GPA dropped below 1.0.
"You will not use this certificate for anything! A woman's place is at home, fending for the children and houseware. If you love me you will follow me to lagos. I am going to join the music industry. Baby, i can make it. A music producer wants to sign me. Very soon, I will be swimming in money!"
I was gullible at that time and I would have done anything to be with my Tunde. Tunde had a hold on me I could not explain. Whenever I was not with him, I felt empty, rejected. I felt he was my better half, he completed me.
But I saw peter again that night, years later, after the waves in my life had bashed me and tossed me about like a buoy at sea. I was drowning but managing to break the surface every now and then for a gasp...
And seeing Paul again that night was like seeing a forlorn ship that was too far to reach. A ship that had already sailed.
Paul gazed down at me softly, and I wished I could go back in time and choose him. He had become a successful pillar of the community, owned his own company and car. Tunde was a driver now and he used all his salary in ponzi schemes and gambling.
I had thrown away the man that had loved me genuinely. I had chased outward appearance and popularity, and now my life was ruined and my life source slowly draining away at the hands of a beast.
"You can call me if you need anything, Laura. Just for old times sake" Peter had said warmly.
For a brief moment I felt safe. I felt i could tell him everything and pour out my soul to him, but then the next thing he said made me numb with regret.
"This is my wife, Bisi." He smiled introducing a younger version of myself.
She was everything I was when I was much younger and he had asked me out. Energetic, kind, eager to change the world with profound goals.
"You know it's never too late to start again. I and Bisi have had rough years. Our company went bankrupt four times but we still picked up the pieces and started again." Peter had said kindly during our friendly dialogue. His words stuck with me...
That night, I sat in my bed and cried all night while Tunde was somewhere in another woman's bed. I didn't care about his incessant infidelities anymore, we were not married and my fore finger still bore his three-year-old engagement ring. I had become accustomed to it.
After getting on my knees to pray after three years away from any church, i made a decision to myself that night.
I was going to pick up the pieces and start again. I was going to return home to my parents in Akwa Ibom and beg their forgiveness. I was going to make something out of what was left of myself.
I left the next morning for home. I left feeling like a different woman. I left Tunde a note.
" You ruined me but i have decided to pick up the pieces and move on" I said in my note.
There are some women that choose to remain in abusive relationships because they are scared to start again. Scared that what is left of them is not enough to start again on their own.
Never be scared to leave abusive relationships. It's not too late to start again.
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Blurb of Letting Go:
Secondary School was a hard time for most of us if not all of us and it was no different for Edima. And from that hell of taunts, self doubt and low esteem, Edima emerged a fiery character filled with loath and self-appraisal until she meets a face from her past; one of the boys that made Secondary School a living hell for her...
One my recents, a romantic story with a tang of action, politics and grudges. I'm positive you would enjoy this read.
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