BATTERED by Eunice Oguru. Episode 4

You missed episode 3? Click here.

 
EPISODE 4

Jennifer was chatting excitedly with her pals for life at their rendezvous, totally oblivious of the pair of eyes that seemed to monitor her every move. It’s been three weeks since her mother-in-law whisked her away to her house and assumed the position of her guardian angel. Her mother-in-law made Michael’s effort to see her abortive, stressing on the need for ample time and space for Jennifer to clear her head and decide on whether to continue with the marriage or not. The saga brought them really close in a short space of time. Mrs. Obiora on her part treated her like the daughter she never had and went as far as making her understand that she will never blame her for whatever decision she made as regards her marriage to her son. Jennifer with her mother-in-law’s indomitable spirit and encouragement became more confident and eupeptic, rapidly rediscovering herself.

Unable to restrain himself anymore, he walked over to her booth with an air of confidence and exchanged pleasantries with the ladies before settling himself into the seat that Jennifer occupied.

“Hello Jennifer don’t you remember me?” he asked flashing his sparkling dentition.

Jennifer peered into his face for a while and exclaimed.

“My God! Ethan! I can’t believe this is you. Mehn… it’s so good to see you. When did you get back?” Jennifer replied grinning.

She had met Ethan, a young fresh graduate during an annual fellowship conference in Calabar where he was one of the speakers during her undergraduate days. They had exchanged contacts and became friends before he left the country in pursuance of his masters degree a year later.

“I returned about three months ago. Looking at you from my table, I said to myself that this has to be Jenny or her double. You are still as beautiful as ever,” he said with a million dollar smile.

“Thank you. You are not looking bad yourself,” she replied with a smile.

“I have been searching for you ever since my return. It seems you changed your line. What do you say, we hang for dinner and catch up on old times?” he asked not taking his eyes of her.

“Well I’m married now,” she said waving her left hand to show off her wedding ring and suddenly realized that she forgot her wedding band for the first time in two years. She felt completely embarrassed and tried to lighten things up by promising to have him over for dinner for him to meet her husband. He promised to honour her invitation and left but not before collecting her number. 

The ladies didn’t even wait for Ethan to exit the building before probing her on the turn of events.

“Babe, have you finally made up your mind to call it quit with Michael? I mean, leaving the house without your wedding band at such a crucial time speaks volumes,” Sarima stated with a look of concern.

“I don’t how it slipped my mind but I sincerely forgot it,” Jennifer replied rubbing her ring finger.

“That’s the irony of life. Michael has failed to love and appreciate the drop dead beauty he married while other men are drooling over her. Need I mention that he is sooo handsome?” Melody said emphatically while smiling sheepishly.

“Here comes the matchmaker. What makes you think he is drooling over me?” Jennifer asked Melody, trying to look serious.

“Na for my mouth you wan hear say coke black? My sight is still in perfect condition,” she said, swinging her index and middle fingers from side to side in front of her eyes. “Blessed is the lady that will say I do to him. Well, I would have recommended Sarima to him if not for her engagement to Louis,” Melody replied winking at Sarima with a hint of sarcasm.

“Ladies let’s be serious. Sweetheart, have you finally made your decision regarding your marriage?” Sarima asked staring at Jennifer.

“I met with Michael and Pastor Damian briefly last Friday and made it clear that I would only continue with the marriage on the conditions that firstly, he severes ties with Mabel and secondly, that I continue staying at my mother-in-laws’ until the counseling sessions are over. I can’t risk being pummeled again,” Jennifer informed her friends who admired her resolution and further encouraged her.
It’s been four months since the inception of the counseling sessions and Michael and Jennifer put in their best in redeeming their marriage. They hung out a whole lot, paid each other visits and spent quality time together like newlyweds but Jennifer maintained her stand in staying away from their matrimonial home for the mean time. Jennifer had not set eyes on Michael for a straight week due to his tight schedule and he always sounded stressed out over the phone. She walked into the house on Saturday afternoon intending to give her husband a huge surprise visit. She scanned the initial rooms without Michael in sight and headed to the bedroom hoping to find him there. With a ravishing smile, she paused in front of the door and was about to call out his pet name before turning the knob when she heard voices. She was sure the other voice belonged to a woman but she could not figure out who she was. She pressed her ear to the door so as to get the words clearly in order not to jump into conclusions.

“Don’t even bring love into this. There is only one woman that I am in love with and that’s my wife, so get that stupid thought out of your head,” he barked unable to keep his voice down.

“I am pregnant for God’s sake. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” she replied with so much frustration.

“I should have known you had it mapped out when you seduced me Mabel. My God! I should have seen it coming,” he replied pacing the room with one hand on his waist and the other rubbing his head.

“Seduce you? How convenient for you to heap the blame on me. It was mutual remember? Michael, I will not get rid of the baby if that’s what you are thinking. You better man up to your responsibility,” Mabel said nonchalantly.

The creak from the door caught their attention temporarily halting the heated argument. Michael was wide eyed to see his wife in tears and knew within himself that he had come to the end of the road all because he yielded to Mabel’s ploy. Jennifer was irate but in control of her emotions. With tears cascading her pretty face, she walked towards Michael managing a smile.

“Thank you so much Michael. Thank you for everything. Congratulations anyway,” she said in a calm manner that surprised not only Michael but herself and made for the door. Michael couldn’t imagine losing his wife and took hold of her hand as he tried to make her understand that it was a onetime mistake, pleading that they fight through it together but got an unexpected slap that briefly knocked the air out of his lungs.

“Forgiving you is not a big deal but this is one hell of a scar that will always remind me of your betrayal. How do you expect me to feel when the child comes around? Don’t tell me you intend to stay away from the life of your own blood. For two years I fought hard to save my marriage with you as a wife beater but what I can’t stand is infidelity. You have just crossed the rubicon Michael and there is no going back,” she stated matter-of-factly casting one final look at them before using the door.

Mabel, who had been tongue-tied all through the saga, brought Michael back to reality by snapping her fingers. “What do we do about the baby now that your wife is no longer in the dark about it?” Mabel asked standing akimbo.

“You bitch!” Michael cursed as he could no longer stomach her attitude and raised his hand in an attempt to slap her but Mabel was swift in getting a hold of his hand in the air with a don’t even try it stare.

“That I still have feelings for you does not give you the right to lay your hands on me. Don’t you ever try it with me. I am not Mabel,” she said and walked away not giving a hoot about how he felt.

BATTERED by Eunice Oguru. Episode 3

You haven’t read episode 2? Click here

EPISODE 3

The weeks that followed ushered in a new beginning for Michael and Jennifer. They began to relive their honeymoon, strengthening their bond on a daily basis. The counseling was still in progress but in a different dimension with each of them having separate sessions with Pastor Damian. Although their love for each other soared with the progress recorded from the counseling, they had resolved to put intimacy on hold in order for Jennifer to heal emotionally. Jennifer’s joy knew no bounds as her marriage became peaceful once more and she saw less of her mother-in-law who stayed clear of their marriage in order not to pick a fight with her son. She became her once cheerful self and hung out more with her friends and family.

Jennifer lay in the couch on a cool evening totally engrossed in watching the suspense-filled, emotion-awakening movie, “Twelve Years a Slave” without waiting for Michael, who went to the loo, to rejoin her. Just then her message alert came on, causing her to temporarily pause the movie as she quickly picked up the phone from the side stool by the side of the couch and tapped on the message icon to reveal the content of the message. She stared at the message for seconds unable to believe what was glaring at her. That was when she realized that she mistook Michael’s phone for hers due to their identical make and colour. With calculated steps she mounted the stairs to their matrimonial room with her pulse racing way too fast. She sat on the edge of the bed waiting for Michael to emerge from the lavatory while trying her possible best to keep her emotion under control. Michael was startled to see Jennifer gawping at him with his phone in her hand and made an attempt to find out what the problem was.

“What’s wrong sweet?” he probed.

“I’m sorry dear. I unintentionally read your message thinking the phone was mine. Here it is,” She said apologetically.

“Is that all? That’s no problem at all,” he said and read the content of the message while walking away.

“Don’t you think you owe me an explanation?” she quizzed, maintaining her cool. 

“An explanation over what?” Michael asked obviously confused.

“An explanation on your relationship with Mabel that warrants such correspondence,” She replied.

“Come on babe. It’s nothing or do you think I’m cheating on you?” he inquired looking surprised.

“What do you take me for? A fool? You expect me to believe that there’s nothing going on between you and your ex when you still call each other pet names like “baby” and “my love”. And as if that’s not enough, you still meet up. Telling me you have nothing to do with Mabel is an insult on my intelligence and I don’t like that,” Jennifer replied visibly shaken with anger.

Michael paced the length and breadth of the room trying to control his anger. Jennifer found his silence rather annoying and sought to get to the bottom of it. 

“Michael your silence is not helping matters at all. It is rather aggravating the issue,” She added.

“I can stand any accusation from you but not being labeled a cheat. I meant no harm at all. We are just fond of calling each other such names. And about meeting with her, it was for old time sake. She’s been away in the states for three years and just returned of recent,” he explained.

“How does such an explanation sound to you? Even a five-year-old would not buy that. I remember the day I ran into an old friend in a mall and exchanged pleasantries. What did you do you? You could not even wait for us to get home before landing me a slap in the car just because of a harmless hug. If I had done as much as this then I believe you would have skinned me alive. Just when we are trying to rebuild our marriage you decided to cheat on me?” Jennifer replied losing control of her voice.

“Don’t you dare talk to me in such manner,” Michael cautioned.

“Or else what? I guess the truth is bitter huh! You should have thought about that before rekindling your romance with Mabel,” she retorted.

Michael landed a slap on her face for a start and made sure he beat the allegation out of her before storming out of the room. Jennifer dragged her assaulted body to the wall in a sitting position before punching Sarima’s number into her small phone to inform her of her ordeal and picked up few items leaving for the guest room.

Jennifer looked in the direction of the door and was happy that she followed her instincts to have it locked. Michael had camped in front of her room all night apologizing for going out of control while convincing her to open the door in order to hear him out. From the look of things, Jennifer was sure he would not go to work and the thought of it troubled her a lot because she figured she needed ample time for herself if she had to survive. Just when she was about to give up on ever leaving the room, she heard Mrs. Obiora’s voice urging her to open the door. She wondered what her mother in-law had up her sleeves this time. She opened the door to see the face of her mother-in-law laced with pity and surprise and suddenly started imagining what had gone wrong with her. Mrs. Obiora pulled her along like a child and examined her properly to see the extent of the damage before proceeding to strike up a conversation with Jennifer.

“I know I have never welcomed you as a member of this family, always making sure that you are seated on a keg of gun powder. I am truly sorry for everything I have done against you. Jennifer my child please find a place in your heart to forgive me,” she pleaded on her knees.

Taken aback by her sudden change in attitude, Jennifer pulled her up and embraced her as a sign of forgiveness.

“My child I may have been the definition of wickedness but I am definitely not in support of my son’s violent attitude towards you. How could you bear to stay married to a man whose hobby is to abuse you to the extent of making you lose three pregnancies?” she paused waiting for Jennifer to say something. 

Jennifer realized that her mother-in-law was genuinely concerned and decided to open up but was at loss of what to say to her with tears streaming down her face. 

“So it’s true. Here I was blaming you for being childless while my son has been occupied with the task of killing the fetus and you kept me in the dark all this while. As if that is not enough, he laid his hands on you last night. Jennifer you would not spend another night in this house until he comes back to his senses. No sane man hits his wife,” she spoke with her voice threatening to raise the roof. 

“But how did you find out ma?” Jennifer questioned.

“It means you had no plans of telling me. I would not have known if not for Melody.”

Mrs. Obiora was about to say something when Michael walked in surprised to find his mother discussing with his wife. He greeted his mother and proceeded to know why she came visiting so early.

“I came to rescue my daughter from the jaws of death. Michael, I am your mother and I know I raised you up properly but never in my life could I imagine that you made a pact with the devil. How could you beat up your wife to the point of her having a miscarriage?” she thundered.

Michael was totally confused as he looked from his mother to his wife and was at loss of what to say.

“But mum she was not pregnant. I swear she was…” he was still talking when his mother landed him a deafening slap.

“Are you remorseful that you beat her to a sorry state or that you failed to terminate another pregnancy? Despite my excesses, your father never laid his hands on me, a fact which you can attest to. Michael, I rue the day I had you and I would not leave this house without Jennifer,” she said angrily. 

Michael was flabbergasted at his mum’s new behaviour as she led Jennifer out of the room to their matrimonial room for her to pick some of her personal effects. Realizing the enormity of the situation, Michael pleaded with Jennifer who did not even look in his direction, only paying attention to packing her stuff. His plea to both women fell on deaf ears as he watched them drive out of the premises leaving him in the arms of loneliness.

 **Please drop your comments and share**

BATTERED by Eunice Oguru. Episode 2

You haven’t read Episode 1? Click Here.

 
EPISODE 2

Her mother-in-law stared at her for what seemed like an eternity from her position on the dining table. Jennifer was sure she came prepared for what she does best – taunting her. She had become accustomed to her schemes but didn’t trust herself to condone her hassle this time. As if on cue, Mrs. Obiora looked at her son and demanded to know if they would ever give her a grandchild. Michael, sensing what was coming, informed her that they were doing something about it. If Michael thought his response would deter his mother from prying further, he was mistaken. Turning to Jennifer, she continued, “My daughter did the abortionist do a perfect job when you went in for the procedure? Your constant miscarriage is a pointer to the fact that your womb has been tampered with or am I wrong?” Mrs. Obiora asked Jennifer with a smile.

Jennifer could not stomach it anymore and for the first time, she walked out on her straight to the separate room she now occupied after the incident. Michael was hysterical and fought pretty hard so as not to sound disrespectful to his mum. 

“Mum I’ll appreciate it if you keep your distance from my marriage. I know you care about us having kids but right now Jennifer and I are going through a difficult phase and I would not want you to mess things up,” he warned as he stormed out of the dining, praying his mother had not put more strain on their relationship. He stood at the door of her room indecisive on the next move to make. Banishing his fear of being rejected, he allowed himself into the room and sat on the edge of her bed and was about to say something when Jennifer put up her right hand in the air signaling him not to go ahead with whatever he had in mind.

“Please don’t. If you don’t mind, I’ll like to be alone,” she said without even looking him in the eyes.

Michael could hardly find his feet. He looked at the woman he married who was now a shadow of herself and realized that he deserved whatever treatment she meted out to him. 

Sitting across Sarima and Melody in their favourite booth in Spicy Treat restaurant, Jennifer was hesitant in divulging more information to them. She wished she could boycott the question but was sure her buddies would eventually make her spill it all out. The three friends go way back to their undergraduate days in Unilag where they were labeled “the three Musketeers” because they were an inseparable pair and upon graduation strengthened their bond all the more. Hence, they could read themselves like a book, seeing right through the façade to the pains.  They both knew Jennifer well enough to know it was worse than they expected but waited patiently for her to spew everything. Her withdrawal from them spoke volumes making them realize that something was amiss but always met a brick wall whenever they tried to be her confidants. 

Sarima observed that she was fidgeting with her hands and wrapped her hands around her for moral support.

“It’s okay dear. You know you can always confide in us. How long has this been going on?” Sarima asked after reassuring her.

“It’s been going on for more than a year,” Jennifer replied with her head bowed. 

“And you kept it all to yourself? When last did you take a good look at your reflection in the mirror? You have bags under your eyes and you look way older than your actual age. I am highly disappointed in Michael. Tony is not perfect but he has never lifted his hand on me ever since we exchanged vows. No genuine Christian lifts his hands on his wife,” Melody exploded unable to contain her rage. 

“Melody, please get a hold of your emotions. How can we be of help to her if you carry on like this?” cautioned Sarima. Turning to Jennifer, she probed further. “Has his mother any knowledge about all of this?”

For fear of letting her emotions loose, she shook her head in the negative. Sarima took hold of her hands and squeezed them as a way of giving her solace.

“What has his attitude been like after the incident?” she further questioned. 

“Well he’s been feeling dejected and frightened of loosing me. Right now he’s just more of a vulnerable child that can be waylaid at any minute.  To be candid I have never seen him like this,” Jennifer replied.

Melody cleared her throat, drawing the attention of the other ladies refusing to allow Jennifer’s heart soften so much.

“Babe, do you remember Belema Davies who got married during our third year? Well she died some months back as a result of domestic violence,” Melody said looking in Jennifer’s direction.

“What! How did that happen?” Jennifer asked in shock. “I heard her husband pushed her down the stairs and she forcefully landed with her head during one of their fisticuffs. My dear I know you are at crossroads right now but before making any decision, you need to realize that your life is of equal importance too,” Melody advised.

“Sweetheart you know that by being Berean you cannot divorce your husband except on the grounds of infidelity. I’ll advice that you attend the counseling sessions with an open mind believing that God will step in. We will be praying for you and always remember that your happiness lies only in God and not in your husband,” Sarima said.

Michael could tell that there was something different about his wife of late. Gone were her monosyllabic responses and withdrawal. She had suddenly become receptive and full of life once more, obliterating every trace of the pains and sorrow of the past weeks. He was sure something had occurred in her life but could not place his fingers on it.  Pastor Damian said a short prayer asking for God’s direction and took a brief exhortation from Ephesians 5: 22 – 29 admonishing them to let God’s kind of love be at the center of their marriage. He studied them for a while and could not help but notice the joy that radiated through Jennifer and the sober look on Michael’s face causing him to praise God silently. The clergy then gave them room to bare their hearts out to one another before proceeding with the counseling. Michael quickly went on his knees with tears in his eyes seeking her forgiveness for his violent and hideous attitude towards her.

“I know I have hurt you beyond measure. I’m not even deserving of your forgiveness and love. Your being cold and withdrawn these past weeks really got to me and have given me a glimpse of what I put you through all this while. I’m truly sorry my love. Tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it but please don’t cast me away,” Michael appealed to her.

Jennifer, who had been quiet all through, helped him up to his feet before addressing him. “Where is the Godly man that chided me when I told half truths? The spirit filled man that saw sin for what it truly is and eschewed lies and deceit, the man that loved me to a fault and would never afford to see me sad. I want him back baby. That is the man I crave for,” Jennifer responded holding his hands in hers.

“By God’s grace I’ll be that again. Don’t give up on me I beg you,” Michael pleaded.

“It’s okay baby,” she replied, all smiles, giving him a hug.

“You’ve been unusually happy in spite of everything. What is going on?” Michael asked.

“In my quest to make our marriage work, I sought to please you in every possible way because I thought my joy comes from you thereby making God come second in my life. But I recently discovered that my joy and peace does not come from you or any other man but from God. Therefore I can’t displease God in order to please you. Please don’t misunderstand me baby. I love you so much but henceforth God comes first in my life, I mean our lives.”

**Please encourage. Drop your comments and share with friends**