Abeke’s Story

“I have something to tell you.”

“What is it? You know you can tell me anything. Nothing you say would change the way I feel about you.”

We sat facing each other and holding hands. Her fingers gripped mine tightly as she shared a chapter in her past with me.

“You know that I was once married but I never told you about my life then was like. My husband was an older man. He was a friend of my father’s. I was nineteen when we met. He took an instant liking to me and he wanted to court me. My parents liked him. He was well respected so they had no objections even though he was twice my age. I was flattered by his attention but I didn’t love him. We saw each other for a while and then he asked my parents for their permission to marry me. They readily gave it. I accepted his proposal and we were married in a lavish ceremony.

“A couple of weeks after the wedding, we left Abuja and moved to Kano where he was from. At first things were good between us and I settled into my new life. Then, a couple of months later, he complained that I was putting too much salt in the dinner. I didn’t think I was. I tasted the food and it seemed fine to me. One night when we were having dinner, he suddenly stopped eating and pushed the plate away.

“Is something wrong with the dinner?” I asked.

“It has too much salt.”

“But I tasted it and it was fine.”

That’s when he got up and dragged me to my feet, muttering, “I will not have you disrespect me.” He took me into the bedroom. “I repeatedly told you that the food had too much salt in it but you wouldn’t listen. Well, I’m not going to tolerate any disrespect from any woman–least of all my wife.” He beat me and left me there on the bed, shaking like a leaf and went out. I don’t know where he went. Maybe he went somewhere to have something to eat. He didn’t get home until after mid-night and he forced me to have sex with him. I stopped putting salt in the food and there were no more complaints.

“I was afraid of him after that. He had turned into a monster. He beat me for different things after that. It seemed like no matter what I did, he would find a reason to correct me. Several times I wanted to pack my things and leave but where could I go? I couldn’t go to my parents. I realized that after I told them about the beatings and they said that husbands had a right to beat wives who argue with them, burn the dinner, go out without the husband’s permission, neglect the children or refuse sex. I reminded my mother that my father never beat her and her response was that she never transgressed against him. I lost my respect for her.

“I had no one I could turn to. I continued to suffer in silence. I wasn’t working. I was a house-wife. He beat me while I was pregnant. I had two miscarriages and a stillbirth. After that, I prayed that I would never get pregnant again. I didn’t want to have any more children with him. I didn’t want to expose them to the pain I went through almost everyday. I didn’t want them to think that it was okay for their father to beat me because it wasn’t. I prayed that my younger sister would never end up like me. She was the only one who felt sorry for me and she told me that she prayed for me everyday. She was the only one I kept in touch with.

“One day I told my husband that I was going to visit my sister but he told me that he wanted me to stay home. We argued. He beat me until I was unconscious. When I came too, I was lying in a hospital bed. I ached all over. He was standing over me. “Do you know why I beat you?” he asked.

“I didn’t answer.

“I told you that I didn’t want you to leave the house but you insisted so I had to correct you. I’m your husband and I will not have you disobeying me. You will visit your family when I say you can.”

“I didn’t answer. A couple days later, I returned home. The beatings continued. He blamed me for them. He said that I drove him to it because I deliberately provoked him and challenged his authority.”

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I sat there listening, feeling sick inside. She told the story with her eyes–her beautiful eyes which were filled with painful memories. Anger towards her husband, her parents and the complacent Nigerian government rose in my throat like bile, almost choking me as she continued speaking.

“You know when the police showed up at the apartment to tell me that my husband had lost control of his car and it ended up on an embankment, instantly killing him, I didn’t shed one tear. All I could think about was that I was free. I was free from him and our marriage.”

“After the funeral, I sold the house and used the money to start a new life. My sister and I came here. I got a job, helped to put her through university and now she’s happily married to a wonderful man who adores her. And I met you.”

“Baby, I promise you that I will spend the rest of our lives loving you and treating you the way you deserve.”

Her eyes became watery. “After eight years of living in hell, I have finally found my paradise.”

Posted for September 2020 Writing Prompts – #24 – She told the story with her eyes

This story is fiction but in Northern Nigeria, Section 55(1)(d) of the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria provides that an assault by a man on a woman is not an offense if they are married, if native law or custom recognizes such “correction” as lawful, and if there is no grievous hurt. The problem with this kind of provision is that can promote or perpetuate violence against women and girls. Such laws should be struck down. 

Source: Equality Now; Susty Vibes; The New York Times;

21 thoughts on “Abeke’s Story

    • It’s not archaic, really. The dark desire to treat women like slaves still lives in our so-called 21st century.
      My physical origin is South-West Nigeria.
      Unfortunately, this kind of monstrosity is prevalent in the country.
      A senator was caught on camera repeatedly slapping and hitting a woman.
      The security agent that came with him, of course, did nothing except to make sure no one stopped his “boss”.
      Despite the pleadings from another woman on the scene he kept assaulting the woman.
      There was an outcry from Nigerians for the removal and prosecution of this man.
      His wife claimed it was not her husband on camera — when we can all see that indeed it’s him. (Women like her are the reason women are being suppressed, that just makes me sick)
      There were protests. The assaulted lady went to court.
      They dragged the issue until other matters came up — this was before the pandemic — then a judge tossed the matter out. Claiming the man has “apologised” therefore there’s no basis for trying the senator.
      It was done so quietly and quickly that I doubt many Nigerians who knew this story, know it has been tossed out of court in favour of the woman-beating senator.
      Oh, and by the way. He’s still a senator.
      I had to give you a from the top, example to give you a clue how bad this is.
      Do you think he and any other senator like him will pass a law/bill that will stop violence against women?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow. Thanks, Ade, for sharing this story about the senator. That judge should be thrown off the bench. And as far as the senator is concerned, he should have been arrested and thrown in jail for assault, not to mention be removed from office. Until the laws change, these kinds of things are going to continue to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know this is the norm for many cultures, which is indeed deplorable that woman today are still treated as something lesser than human by men. Sometimes it is allow due to religious beliefs which to me is by far disturbing, for what God would condone such behavior on his creation. It is perhaps time that woman unite and fight against this and show it will not be tolerated, I know that it is easier said than done, however one must start somewhere. A woman’s march? Do woman vote in your country? Are they allowed to run for an office? If so perhaps that is where to start. A March would bring international attention to this issue. It truly saddens me to hear this still goes on and is allowed. Sending peace and love Sister

        Liked by 1 person

      • God would never condone such behavior. Women were created in His image too. They should be treated with love and respect. And I agree that women should come together and fight for their rights–fight against this injustice. And while it is easier said than done, it isn’t impossible. A woman’s march would be good and if they can vote, then, they need to use their votes to make the changes they want. And if they can run for office, they can put legislation in place that would protect them. It’s time to take action.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you. Protests are resisted in Nigeria at the moment.
        Women could protest, but I haven’t seen it give the desired result.
        It’s tough for the few women who contest for political office.
        Women would mostly vote for the men.
        You can’t imagine my horror when a female senator managed to present a bill for Gender Parity.
        I doubt it passed the first reading as it was shot down by the male-dominated Senate.
        That wasn’t the horror, as that is expected. The horror was the eerie silence of women me included.
        I expected the women protest in support of the bill and demand it be passed but nope.
        What will my husband/boyfriend/parents/society say about me? Shut the vast majority up.
        We just talked about it on one or two radio programs and that was it.
        I get angry anytime I remember that incident.
        Where were the women we looked up to as heroines? I didn’t hear them.
        It’s a pathetic situation really.
        By the way, I think it’s more of the traditional religion that has influenced other religions in the country to suppress women.
        Women were powerful figures in the Bible.
        I remember during the time of Moses, some women asked they be given the inheritance of their father. And God told Moses to grant there request provided they marry whomever they chose from their father’s tribe so that the inheritance will remain in their father’s house.
        But of course, in a patriarchal cultural society, who would read Bible passages like that?
        As a woman who wants to grow and learn you have to “study and show yourself approved”. Otherwise, one would be fed scripture read out of context with the intent to manipulate, blackmail and enslave.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s so disheartening to hear, 🥺. Fear is a problem but at some point one must over come the fear or nothing will change. Yes I know all about Biblical stories and quotes taken out of context.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You’re right. Fear is a problem. It cripples people and the perpetrators feed on it. It is what they use to control and bully their victims. Fear can be overcome. Faith is the solution to fear. More people need to step out in faith. It’s the only way things will change.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. If Nigerian women got their acts together. And stop pandering to the base desires of the men. It’s a painful thing for a woman like me when this is a daily occurrence in my country. And I don’t know what I can do except pray, determine that I will never allow such a thing happen to me or my daughters when they come. Added to that I’m learning self-defence techniques.
    There’s an aura that a woman who is capable of defending gives that repels predatory men. Like a mosquito repellent.

    Liked by 3 people

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