She is staring at the woman in front of her. Her face is a rainbow of mottled blue and purple.
She is spotting a black swollen eye that feels painful to look out.
Amaka rotates her neck and the woman does the same.
She touches her face as the woman in the mirror does the same.
The woman staring back with a blackish purple eye the vivid hue of those native pears, ube, is her.
✨◾ ◾ ◾ ◾ ◾
Last night Dayo had flown into one of his customary rages and punched her in the face.
The argument was a harmless one or had at least started off as one until he snapped and proceeded to pummel her like a pugilist in a KO match.
Then after his fit had ended,he had come back to beg and enclose her in his arms.
She had wept in his arms while he had stroked her hair and promised for the umpteenth time he wouldn’t do it, he was sorry, he wouldn’t hurt her again.
He had gently tended to the bruises he had inflicted himself and drawn a hot bubble bath for her.
This morning he had continued in the role of perfect husband and brought her breakfast in bed, with a side of painkillers. He had stroked her sore face tenderly and promised never to lay a finger on her again.
She had lain in bed long after he left, fingering the lank strands of her braids, remembering that this wasn’t the first time he had made this promise.
◾ ◾ ◾ ◾ ◾ ◾
Now he is off to work while she hides inside, like a vampire afraid of the sun.
She doesn’t want the prying pitiful looks the neighbours will give her and the stammering excuses she will have to give them.
She stands up and winces as she attempts to stretch her sore joints.
She has to use the toilet and hobbles painfully to the Italian tiled room with its antique shower head and clawed foot bathtub.
Her husband has always liked luxurious living.
She washes her hands when she is done and stares at her reflection in the mirror for a moment.
She touches her bruised face and winces.
Suddenly she is fed up of this…this craziness.
Amaka looks back at the woman in the mirror, touches her swollen eye and split lip and makes a decision.
She opens her wardrobe and searches for the burgundy handbag she took to church last Sunday.
Last Sunday was thanksgiving and Dayo had insisted on their attending the service ,even though his fists had met her face the night before after a drinking bout with his friends.
She had woken up early to prepare and don the mask of makeup required to hide her bruises.
She had tried her best but some bruises stubbornly refused to be hidden. Subsequently, she had worn a big hat and kept her face down during the service.
The woman in the navy blue suit, the one with the puffed up shoulders, the kind she and her sisters had often sniggered at, calling them “choir mistress suits“, kept on staring at her during the service. She had stared until Amaka began to feel uncomfortable and pulled her hat down lower.
After the service, when Amaka had rushed to relieve her bladder, the woman had waited for her outside the restroom.
Amaka had started walking away when the woman tapped her. She turned and the woman had smiled kindly at her before stuffing a pamphlet and complimentary card into her hand.
Before Amaka could ask her anything, she turned away and melted into the crowd milling around the front doors of the church.
Amaka didn’t read the pamphlet that day or even the next.
She had forgotten about it until Wednesday when she stumbled upon it when she opened the bag to pay for her groceries at the supermarket.
She had read the pamphlet in the car before driving home. It was for a NGO advocating against domestic violence. The woman in the navy suit was it’s director apparently. The NGO’s website was listed and when she got home,she had immediately looked it up.
She had read stories of women like her who had suffered violence in their relationships silently and had finally spoken up and left such abusive relationships. The NGO had aided these women by way of counselling, rehabilitation and providing legal services for those who required it. The director’s number was listed on the complimentary card and Amaka had stared at it for a long time, toying with the idea of dialling the number before dropping the card back in her bag.
Today, there was no debate as to calling the NGO.
This camel’s back has already been broken by the final straw.
She reaches into the bag and takes the card out.
With suddenly shaky fingers, she dials the number.
The call is picked and a warm female voice says softly :” Hello”
With her breath catching in her throat, she begins to speak.
Written by Miracle Eme
Published by Great Opara