I still hurt from being beating. But let me tell you my story.
met my husband at the Model College when we were in secondary school. I am from the East and he was a Yorba boy. We started out being classmates at secondary school and afterwards, we went our separate ways to university. I finished in a Teacher’s training college and he went to the Uni. We met often during the holidays and before he went for his Youth Corp Service, he told me he would marry me.
I had over the years known his family and because I was not from their side, I was always treated like I would never belong to them. Even though I speak their language fluently. I was born and raised in Lagos, yet, they regard me as “Omo Ibo” which is one born by an Igbo person.
They were not openly hostile to me, though. I just knew they didn’t like me much. The younger brother of my husband who was years younger than me had told me I should always call him “Broda.” He said if I were to marry into their family, I would have to show him respect as per in-law. I found it difficult to call someone younger than me Broda because I and his elder brother, who later became my husband, were age mates and he called his brother, “Broda Sunday.” Why couldn’t he call me “Aunty Sandra?”
What is in a name?
And because we all went to the same school, I was like, “Why do you want me to call you Broda, I am 6 years older than you.”
Their mother was not even a problem. She was welcoming but sometimes, I know she got impatient with me when I did something she didn’t like.
Sunday and I got married and had a set of twin girls. Things became difficult for us. I was teaching at a private school that didn’t pay me much and my husband was working for a Chinese company that didn’t pay much either but demanded his time 24/7. They were heavy taskmasters. He would wake up at 4 am, and leave the house at the latest by 4.30 am for his job on the Island. He got back around 10 to 10.30 pm every day. On very bad days, when it rained and the traffic was mad, he got home at 1 am and still had to leave by 4.30 in a few hours.
He worked hard. I also did too. I sold small items on the side to assist my husband with household expenses. I also tutored privately on the side though it is against school regulations.
To make matters worse, his rude younger brother lived with us. He worked for a fast-food joint. We suspected his brother was doing drugs. You know, he was often erratic. We all lived in our two-bedroom flat in Lagos state Housing Estate.
He prepared to japa
Then one day, one of my husband’s elder sisters who japa-ed many years ago told my husband to consider also japa-ing. I never met her because she had been abroad a long time ago. She was the one who sponsored my husband’s education at the university.
Anyway, I welcomed the idea because you see, we were working hard but not making ends meet. Nigeria is hard! We always needed money to pay rent and feed our young children. Many times, we couldn’t even afford basic items. If you live in Nigeria, you don’t need me to give you a long explanation.
When my husband came home one night and told me his sister sent him money to get a passport, I welcomed it hand and foot. And the idea of my husband going abroad became not just talk. Life would be better for us, wouldn’t it?
When his passport was ready and he began to fill out an application to Europe for a visa, we were fasting and praying that he would get a visa.
At this time, too, I had told my parents. My parents loved my husband like he was their son. They agreed to assist in any way they could. My father had a few lands in the East. When he sold one, he gave us all the money to assist us with my husband’s travels.
My husband the gentleman
My husband too, you know, he was a complete gentleman. Even though we had our issues, he never for once disagreed with me in public. When we got into our room, he would say, “Sandy, you shouldn’t have responded to my brother like that, next time, just keep quiet when I get back home, I will sort things out.” But in the presence of his brother, he would warn him to stop harassing me and tell him he would send him away if he continued to be disrespectful to me. You see, in the eyes of his relatives, I had given him a love potion that didn’t let him see right from wrong. But I never gave my husband any love portion, it was real love and respect between us.
Anyway, he got the visa and we began to plan for him to travel. He would start work and send me money and maybe one day, one day, we would go and join him. That was it.
We sold a few things, so he could have money to hold while he hunted for a job abroad. Even though he was going to stay first with his sister, we knew it was better he didn’t have to depend too much on her for money.
My husband was also happy that he wouldn’t be leaving me alone in the house, his younger brother, though my arch enemy, was still living with us and would act as protection for me and our children.
It was a mistake
I didn’t know my brother-in-law had poison in his mind for me.
When my husband left to go abroad three months ago, he begged his brother to take care of me. He promised his brother he would send him nice things. He also begged me to ignore his brother’s wahala for his own sake and just manage him until things get better for him and he would send for me and our children.
That was the plan.
My husband hadn’t gone up to three months when the trouble started. One of my daughters, Taiye, was stooling and vomiting. Food poisoning, right? I needed to separate her from her twin so I wouldn’t have two sick children on my hands. So I asked my brother–in–law to mind Kehinde for me. He told me he wasn’t my nanny. I told him that if I didn’t keep the girls apart, they would infect one another and I would have two three-year-olds stooling and vomiting and it would be difficult for me to cope with housework, school work … all of that. He just walked out that day and didn’t come back until late.
So when he came back that night, I didn’t rush to open the door for him. I wanted him to be outside for a while before going to open the door.
When I eventually did. He just rushed at me, hitting me, beating me, as if I was a mad dog. You know the way you beat rabid dogs…
I was beaten like a mad dog
I began to scream for help. I was shouting for the neighbours to come to help me. It was one Yoruba woman, who came to my door and when she couldn’t get it open, she went to call the security guards that manned the estate gates.
They broke the door…by that time, I was soaked in my blood. The woman was screaming, she said she would go and report to the police that my brother-in-law is a madman. The woman helped me with my children because I couldn’t even see well, again.
My screaming and the violent way I was being beaten made them cry. They were frightened.
The woman took photos of my bruises and my two eyes that were swollen shut. I have never been badly beaten like that in my entire life!
As for my brother-in-law, the security guards took him away from the house. But he returned the following day and said nothing to me.
Ok, so you see, I couldn’t tell my husband about this because though he had been gone for close to three months, he still hadn’t landed any good job. He was doing warehousing shifts. Time difference also contributed to us not being able to talk every day. So what he was earning wasn’t even feeding him, not to talk of sending us anything but I knew these would change in time. Give it one year, maybe even two…we would be in better living conditions. I didn’t want him to worry about me and his children. When he called, I would say, “I am fine, everyone is fine…”
I didn’t want to report to the police
The woman I told you took pictures of my bruises had been urging me to follow her to the police station to report what my brother-in-law did to me but in the last few days, I have been unable to. What would I tell my husband, that I got his brother arrested?
I spoke to my husband just last week. He complained about the weather. He was also very positive especially when I reminded him that if he was here in Nigeria with us, things would have become worse. I didn’t want to give an additional emotional burden.
Then a few days ago, it would have been his third month abroad. I got a call from his sister that he was sick. I thought, “Ok, maybe the cold got to him.”
Then she called me again, crying. I couldn’t even hear her properly. She cut the phone and called back the following day that my husband had died in the hospital. I mean, what kind of news is this? Someone is sick, and after a few hours, they call back that he has died!
Abled-bodied men do not just die like that.
There was no long sickness. My husband and I talked every four days, on the days he was off work. We would talk for long into the night…I spoke to him just two days before this horrible news and he never once mentioned being sick, just the cold.
Death came and stole my joy
Even so, now, nobody has been able to tell me exactly what happened to my husband. My brother-in-law had known the very day he died but he never said anything to me because he knew I was going to report him to the police.
I have no one to turn to. Even the bruises I sustained from the beating he gave me still hurt. My eyes are no longer swollen but there’s blood in one eye. My children are too young to even know what is going on. I am in pain both in my body and in spirit.