tHe DeViL iN mY cLoThEs

To Mamie Efua; one of our amazing readers. You are just awesome… Xoxo  

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The Story begins:  

 

That time I dread has come again; the time to lay down to sleep. The mere thought of waking up drenched in sweat from those nightmares has me gripped by fear and always on edge. I wish I could call them mere dreams but no, they are very real; a part of my life I dare not speak of.  

I can still hear her screams in my head you know? Each time I close my eyes to sleep I see her curled up on the staircase sobbing silently for fear of being heard by any of us kids. I still see her made up face to cover those blisters and her smile that never reached her eyes to make us think everything was alright.  

I have something to share; the story of the deepest and darkest part of my life. The story of why we have become like we are:  

The early days of my childhood had mother as a beautiful soul, filled with so much life. She was the spark that lit our family together; there was never a dull moment with her. Her marriage with father was the talk of the town; none went anywhere without the company of the other. I remember her always humming softly the tune, “it is well with my soul” with father whistling along whenever she dressed us for school and church. As the eldest of the children, I had the privilege of enjoying those beautiful moments with them the most.  

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Father was a prim and proper man; the favourite person of the society, the role model all the young men wanted to be like. He was a high profile member; a church elder. The first to arrive at weekday and Sunday service to begin bible discussions, the one to spearhead all church evangelism projects and fundraisers. Everybody called him “Elder”.  

If you wanted the perfect gentleman to open the car door for his wife and hold her purse wherever they went, it was Elder. The man who would hold her hand affectionately and kiss it with so much passion just to make other women gush, coo, be jealous and wonder what kind of woman could receive so much attention from a man. I idolized the man; I wanted to be just like him when I grew.  

At age 11, different winds began to blow in our home. 

It began with name-calling and yelling at her in front of me and my siblings. Then the “accidental slaps” as a result of a slip of the hand like he called it, followed. Next came the nasty bruises we would find father cleaning on mother’s face in the morning every other week. The melodious humming stopped, she lost weight, her church attendance became irregular and we barely saw her at home. If and when we did, she looked disheveled and afraid; the usual glow in mother was fast deteriorating. 

It wasn’t long till people began noticing the changes and started asking questions but the answer was always the same. “You know how Akua is…” he would say “…She is always losing her footing and bumping into things.”  They believed him too! 

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No one ever had a cause to question him because he was the “Elder” and moreover, mother was known to be a clumsy fellow, sometimes forgetting people’s names, where she put things and tripping over her own shoes.  

I strongly believe our neighbours knew exactly what was going on. I doubt they ever prayed for us, maybe they did, but I guess they did not pray hard enough. They could have at least made an effort to counsel or seek counsel for us but they did not. Maybe they wanted to mind their own business but I think keeping silent sometimes is the worst decision we can ever make in certain instances. 

Father travelled on missions for a year and a half. Everything returned to normal with Mother back to her happy self, full of life, and us kids? We had the time of our lives. I was fourteen and a half by then.  

Our joy was short lived though; Elder was back soon enough. There was peace and quiet for a couple of months then the gloom resumed. I realised he had started hitting her again because the bruises resurfaced. One night, he beat her so much I believe he kicked her down the stairs because Fiifi and  Frances, my siblings, found her unconscious at the foot of the staircase the next day. 

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Home felt like hell during those times. I remember us being so afraid to go home after class or service because the church and the school seemed to be our only safe haven. We wished to grow up in our neighbour’s house just so we could have some peace of mind and feel safe.

I tried drawing my grandmother and uncles’ attention to the situation but no one would believe the words of a fourteen year old boy who was believed to be full of teenage exuberance. No, I highly doubt that was true reason. They simply refused to listen!  

I was sick of it, I was angry, I was bitter; I cannot seem to find the right words to describe the exact feeling. I just needed answers! I needed to know why he hit her; why she was never allowed to fight back. I was going to confront him. This was equivalent to embarking on a suicide mission but what did I care?  

Mother and I barely spoke in those times but you know what they say; a mother always knows. She knew of my intentions but turned a blind eye.  I remember the day I manned up to speak my mind. Boy did she slap me! That slap made such a resounding sound I could swear I felt the ground vibrate underneath me, I could not even remember my name for a good 30 seconds. You know the funny thing? She never said a word but I sure as hell knew that was a strong warning to not attempt it. 

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Father was not on drugs; neither was he a drunkard, no. He was never “high” or however you want to put it. He was very sane; in actual sense, he never ever went near alcohol to talk of drinking it. Each night when I laid down, I would hear his loud laughter behind every punch, kick, slap… I remember it all, as if it was yesterday. He was always in his right mind every single time he did those things. In short, that man was a sadist, a monster.  

Mother always knew but I guess she did not know the hands of death will come in the form of Elder, clutch her throat and suck the very breath out of her. Well, I could say she knew but just chose to turn a blind eye to it. I blame myself for her death you know? Day after day, I have to live with the torture that I could not fight for her; that I did not try enough. I blame myself because instead of fighting for her or finding her help, I was foolish enough to go by her wishes. Sometimes I wonder why I did it; whether it was because I loved her too much or whether it was because I was too afraid. 

The day she died, I lost it! I was in for blood and I know he must have sensed it …

THE STORY CONTINUES…

WAIT FOR IT!!!

© 2017 Naema 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Dela says:

    Oh! Just as I was enjoying it slowly….. Next time please don’t keep me in suspense.
    When is the next episode? This week wai.
    Lovely piece. Thumbs up!

    Liked by 1 person

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