The look on Barry’s face scared me. I knew something terrible awaited me in the living room. I wondered if it was the police or worse still Samsudeen. I wondered if whatever lay ahead would signal the end of the fairytale life I lived. I wondered if Barry would stick with me regardless of what he had heard or was gonna hear. His silence was deafening.
“I love you Barry”
It was a silent, gut-wrenching plea. It was a desperate affirmation of what we shared and a subtle reminder of the vows we took.
Barry held me hand and squeezed it softly without saying a word and then I opened the door and walked into the living room with a deep breath suspended in my lungs…
Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I let out the air in my lungs in a loud whoosh as I ran to Siki’s side.
“OMG, Siki were you in an accident? Are you alright? Is that a hand print on your face? Who did this to you? Oh God!”
Siki had been battered. Her face was red and there was a distinct hand print on her cheek. Her clothes were torn and she had cuts and bruises in several places. She groaned in pain, unable to answer my barrage of questions. Her eyes were wet with tears and filled with regret.
“Babe let’s take her to the clinic. That’s why I needed you to dress up”.
I was startled by Barry’s voice. I had forgotten he was behind me. No wonder he had looked so grim when he walked into the bedroom. This was obviously domestic violence and Siki’s husband was his very respected boss. I guess Barry couldn’t fathom how a man so cultured could batter his wife but I knew many men were two faced monsters. I felt really bad for Siki.
Barry and I had to carry Siki to the car. She had no strength left in her. At the hospital Barry called Siki’s husband and the doctor informed us that Siki had three fractured ribs and would be admitted. I quickly called Amaka and Zainab. I didn’t call Mamus, I figured Azeez would still be at her house and didn’t wanna risk seeing him again. Siki’s husband arrived at the hospital very alarmed and making a whole lot of fuss. If I hadn’t already found him guilty in my head, I would have believed he was innocent. He made quite a show and some of the nurses began to sympathize with him. An older matron walked up to me and whispered that many wife batterers were good actors. I guess she saw the confusion in my eyes. She eyed him coldly and walked off.
Siki’s husband walked up to us and shook Barry’s hand thanking him for bringing his wife to the hospital. Barry asked him what had happened with the last shred of civility he had. I knew Barry was protective about my friends and anti-domestic violence. Siki’s husband sensing the accusation in the air, swore that he had just gotten home when he got Barry’s call. As we were talking, Siki was wheeled past us on a stretcher enroute the theater. Apparently the doctors needed to perform a procedure and as she saw her husband her eyes widened with fear. He ran after her but the matron who had spoken to me earlier blocked him and asked him to take a seat.
Three hours later, we were still there and Barry and Siki’s husband were struggling to keep their eyes open. I told Barry to go home that I would stay here till Siki was stable and suggested that Siki’s husband take him home and get some rest himself. The men protested but I told Barry that the wine I had drunk earlier in the evening had me very alert and that I would be fine and besides both of them had work the next day. They finally agreed howbeit reluctantly. I had other motives for wanting to be alone with Siki. I needed to hear the truth. Just then Amaka called and said she and Zainab were on their way and that they had had to pick up Mamus hence the long delay.
Siki finally came out, weak but alive and she was bandaged up in so many places that if I could find the humor within I would have likened her to an Egyptian mummy. How did we women get ourselves into such situations? I wondered if this was the first time her husband was beating her. I wondered if she knew of his violent streak prior to marriage. I reckoned she did, these days it was all for the money. I held her hand and she opened her eyes and gave me a painful smile.
“Siki who did this to you?”
There was a long pause and she turned her head slowly to see if there was anyone else in the room.
“I knew it, that evil son of a…Na God go punish him. Ah! Men can be so wicked…”
Siki raised her hand as if to say no;
“My first husband”
I opened my mouth and closed it and opened it again. No words came out. What was Siki saying?
….to be continued