SO NOT LOVE
I was helpless and I didn’t know what to do. Daniel had kicked me out of the car and I had left my purse behind. No cellphone, no ATM cards, nothing, I was in despair. I waited on the side of the road, hoping that a car would soon come my way and perhaps a good Samaritan would help me get home and rescue me from this dangerous dilemma that I was in. Soon enough, my wish came true and a pair of bright headlights appeared. I moved to the road and began to wave my arm in order to flag it down. Luckily, the driver slowed to a stop and I rushed to the other window to talk to him.
“Good evening… Please can you-”
He didn’t even let me finish before he interrupted. “This one don pass evening o. You no dey see time? Na 12:56 a.m. o.” (It’s past evening already. Don’t you know the time? It’s 12:56 a.m.)
I nodded. “I apologize but please I’m really stranded here and I need your help to get home”
He suddenly cut me off again and this time he shook his head and laughed hard. “Na wa o. Wonders shall never end! See ashawo wey dey speak English. My friend, forget that nonsense foné,
I was taken aback by his statement then looked down at my outfit before I said in an offended tone. “I’m not a prostitute.”
“Abeg make I hear word!” (C’mon, stop that pretense!) He dismissively waved his hand towards me. “No be all your breast full outside so? See all your lap sef! In fact, the blood wey dey your nose and the way wey your left eye don red, e be likes if you been thief person money, dem come beat you throw-way you for here.” (Aren’t those your breasts that are exposed? Even your laps too. In fact, the blood around your nose and the way your left eye is blackened shows that you probably stole from your customer and he beat you up and dumped you on the road.) He accused.
Hmm! I couldn’t blame him since the way I dressed up was the way I was addressed.
“I’m not a thief and neither am I a prostitute!” I yelled in frustration.
“Oh! Na me you dey raise voice for? I no blame you, sebi na because I still dey here dey follow you yan…” (Oh? Am I the one you are raising your voice at? I don’t blame you, I blame
As soon as he left and I straightened up, a strong waft of breeze hit my face, blowing my hair backwards and I cringed when I saw lightening brighten the clouds in the distance. That sign was soon followed by a distant rumble and I knew that it was going to rain soon. I waited, anxiously waiting for another car to come along. After waiting for like ten minutes and trying to prevent the strong wind from blowing dust into my eyes and mouth, another car slowly crawled to a stop beside me and the window whirred down slowly to reveal a fat man with a paunch.
“Hello baby!” He called out and I could immediately tell that he was from the Eastern part of Nigeria.
“Hello sir.” I said to avoid saying good evening when it was already part one a.m.
“What is a beautiful girl like you doing here at this time of the night?” He asked and I could see his eyes ogling my body.
“Sir, I was robbed.” I lied in order to gain his sympathy.
“Robbed?” He raised his voice in surprise. “Oh, this country! I’m very sorry about that my dear. I think it’s about to rain, what do you say, that you follow me to my guest house to recover from your trauma.”
“Guest house? Sir, I’m actually going towards Dauda lane.”
“It doesn’t matter where you are going to. What actually matters is that you leave this place. This place is not safe at all. You are a beautiful girl and anything can happen to you. Hop in baby girl. Hop in and let me help you out of this situation.”
I hesitated. “But sir, I’m a married woman.” I lifted the back of my hand to show him my ring.
He frowned then suddenly smiled again then assured me. “Well, it doesn’t matter. You are not a child, you should know that being married shouldn’t stop one from enjoying oneself. I am married myself. We can just help each other out, you know? This weather is called a weather for two my dear.”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry sir but I can’t do such thing.”
His smile slowly faded. “You would rather be stranded here?” When I said nothing, he shrugged and turned the key in the ignition. “No problem, suit yourself, God knows that I tried to be helpful.” He said and zoomed off.
Three minutes later, the first drops of rain poured from the sky and it came with a cold breeze. Goosebumps spread on my skin and I wrapped my arms around myself, I was shivering. I glanced down both sides of the road and realized that it was totally dark. There were no cars in sight. In despair, I took off my shoes and began to walk. I didn’t know how I intended to do it but I had made up my mind to walk home. The rain poured heavily now and in seconds I was completely drenched. My lower lip trembled and I regretted wearing this crap I called a dress. It barely covered my body because of it was an alter-neck style. My feet soon got muddy and my wet hair flattened against my head and face. I was a total mess. I was still trying to walk home when a pair of headlights appeared from around the bend. I didn’t even turn to look at it. All I knew was that if it were a man, he would simply want to sleep with me like the other two.
I noticed that the car did not try to zoom by but instead, it slowed down behind me. I glanced over my shoulder at the car but I was blinded from seeing the driver because of the bright headlights. I didn’t know why he was slowing down but if it was to talk to me, o have had enough of perverts for one night so I continued walking. The car honked but I ignored it. It honked twice but I wouldn’t stop nor look back. The car slowly moved along side the road till it reached me and I heard the window wind down halfway.
“Hey!” The driver called but I ignored him. “Hey!” He called louder.
“Please just go on your way and leave me alone!” I snapped without looking at him. “I’m not a prostitute!”
I heard him chuckle and he said next, “What the hell are you doing here at this time of the night? I thought you left almost an hour ago.”
Just then, I knew that whoever this driver was, knew me. I turned to squint at him and that was when I recognized him. “You. Chris right?” I continued walking and he still followed alongside with his car.
He smiled. “I’m glad you still remember my name.”
“Yeah, right…” I rolled my eyes.
“You know it’s pouring heavily right?” He said.
“Isn’t it obvious enough?” I gestured at my drenched body.
“Why are you here? Did your car break down or something? Where’s your husband?” He asked.
“Too many questions.” I mumbled.
“I’m just really surprised to see you here all by yourself and at this time.”
“Thanks for the concern.”
“Are you stranded?” He asked.
I swallowed hard. “No.”
“Then why are you walking?”
“I just want to do a little exercise.” I lied.
“And what kind of exercise is done in the middle of the night, on a dangerous road and in the rain?” He quizzically asked.
“My kind.” I answered.
He simply shook his head and said, “it’s high time you get out of the rain or you are going to catch a cold.”
“I’m very much fine, thank you.”
“Your being stubborn is at your detriment. I insist.” He said.
“Please, you are the very reason why my husband ditched me right in the middle of nowhere.” I told him now, my shoulders sagging.
“No, I’m not. Simply agree that you married douchebag who treats you like crap!” He said. “Get in the car.
When I refused and continued to walk, he stopped the car, got down in the rain and hurried to me. “C’mon, stop being so hard-headed, just get in the car already.” He pressed.
“No, my husband would only get more angry if he sees me with you. He already accused me of having an affair.” I mused.
“And you feel this way all because an a—–e whom you caught s——g a w—e in car falsely accused you? From the look of things, it’s not the first time you have caught him cheating.”
“It doesn’t matter. This is what the society accepts. It’s born in every man to cheat.”
“Pardon me but I’m going to have to tell you to shut the f–k up! It’s not an inbuilt trait! Words like these are the very reason men think they have the right to cheat and it’s appalling that even women have surrendered and accepted that bullshit! Cheating is a choice, goddamnit!”
I simply sighed and asked, “Does it matter? This is a patriarchal world anyway where men are allowed to get away with a lot of things and women are at the receiving end.”
“I know right… Well, we are not going to debate over that standing in the rain, let’s just get you in the car first.”
“I don’t want to worsen my situation, Chris. I don’t want you to be the one my husband sees when he opens the gate, it will only justify his accusation.”
“So you are just going to punish yourself in order to please that idiot of a husband who dumped you here despite knowing how dangerous this road is?”
“Please Chris, enough of the name-calling, the man you are insulting is still my husband.” I said sternly.
“Well, get in the car. If you think I’m going to leave you here, think again.” He wouldn’t give up easily.
I paused now to ask. “What’s is to you? Why do you want to help me so bad? What do you want from me?”
He hesitated then shrugged. “I don’t know… I really have no idea.”
“Well, I think it’s high time you stopped hitting on me. You and I, can never happen. I AM MARRIED!”
“I get that fact but I would have cared all the same if it were to be some other stranded lady, so please, let’s get this over with. Let me take you home.”
“No!” I remained adamant.
“Don’t make me use force.” He said.
“You wouldn’t dare.” I uttered.
“Fine, that’s it!” He stated. “You had your chance!” Before I could say anything, he suddenly bent and scooped me up into his arms. I protested and asked hIm to set me down but he refused and simply carried me to the car where he set me down in the seat next to the driver’s then he hurried back in the rain to grabbed my shoes which I had accidentally dropped before he came around and joined me in the car. He automatically wound up the windows and when he noticed that I was still shivering, he took off his t-shirt and gave it to me and reluctantly I slipped it on and it made me a bit warm even though it was partially.
As he drove off, he glanced at me and shook his head when he saw my mascara running down my face. “You look a mess.” He noticed the dried blood in my nostril and also the black patch which was beginning to form around my left eye where Daniel had hit me. “He did that to you, didn’t he?”
I simply lowered my head but said nothing. Soon, I told him the name of my street and he drove me to the gate of my house. The rain had already reduced to a drizzle. I got down the car and thanked him profusely then walked towards the gate. He nodded and slowly drove away. I was all alone now and I could hear our neighbour’s guard dog, barking. I knocked on the gate and waited. When nothing happened, I knocked yet again and I could hear movements on the other side and then a flashlight came on.
“Na who be that?!” The gateman yelled.
“Musa!” I called out. “Na me.”
He recognized my voice immediately. “Oh! Madam?!” He quickly opened the gate. “Na you? I be dey wonder why you no follow Oga come back.” He moved out of the way and I hurried in.
As I walked to the door, my husband who must have heard us, came out to the porch. I tentatively approached him now, totally forgetting that I was still in Chris’ shirt. “What are you doing here?” He asked me as he leaned on his elbows on the railings.
I paused. “Please Daniel, I don’t have the time for any drama tonight. I’m very tired.” I started for the main door but he suddenly grabbed my arm and shoved me back and I staggered but quickly regained my stamina.
“Go back and sleep in your boyfriend’s house.” He spat.
“Daniel, I’ve told you that I’m not cheating on you! Just let me be please!” I said wearily.
He advanced towards me. “If you don’t leave my house now, you’ll die today!” He threatened.
I knew that it was not the first time he was saying such to me so I ignored him and attempted to go around him to the main door but he suddenly grabbed me by my hair and punched me in the ribs. I cried out in pain and double over on the ground.
“Do you think I’m joking?! I’m going to kill you, bury you and nobody will do a thing to me!” He suddenly grabbed me by the back of Chris’ shirt, roughly dragged me to the gate as he yelled at the gate man to open it then he pushed me out. I fell and bruised my knees but I was still unable to straighten up because of the pain in my ribs. I crawled to the gate, crying and begging him to open it but I heard him yell,
“Musa! Do not let that s–t in! If you let her come in here, you’ll follow her out! I’ll fire you!”
Half-sprawled on the wet ground, I leaned my shoulder against the gate, weakly banging on the lower part, calling out to my husband and pleading with him to let me in.
“Madam, no vex…” I heard Musa say from the other side once my husband and returned inside the house.
My ribs were hurting like hell and any slight movement worsened the pain. Just then the taillights of a car parked two houses away came on and the car reversed to my gate. I recognized the car at once. It was Chris and he hadn’t left like I had thought. He got down the car, walked around the back and came to me. He squatted on his toes before me and pursed his lips as he stared at me for a moment.
“D–n, you are in one f—-d up marriage.” He finally said.
I could not reply him, tears just kept spilling from my eyes. Then I saw him look up at the gate. “If I had the chance, I’d give your husband a serious beating. No good man treats a woman this way! Who leaves his wife stranded on the road and then kicks her out of the house into the street in the middle of the night? I don’t know why the hell you are putting up with this shitty marriage but you had better get a divorce!” He stated angrily and then carried me again in his arms. When I winced in pain, he handled me more gently. He carried me to the car and gently placed me in the back seat then he got into the car and drove away. I had no idea where he was taking me to but somehow, I trusted this stranger whom I hadn’t even told my name. Slowly, I Feel asleep, hoping the pain would go away.
I woke up the next morning feeling so groggy. I blinked several times to erase the blurriness of my vision and when it finally cleared, I looked around and noticed that I was in a strange place. At first I was confused. I almost jolted out of bed but the pain in my ribs quickly stopped that. I grimaced in pain and placed my hand on my hurting ribs. I swallowed hard and simply looked around. I noticed that I was in a beautiful room which had the touch of manliness in it. I stared down at myself and realized that I was in a clean oversized shirt and I gasped. Where were my clothes and who had taken them off?! I was trying to recollect what happened the previous night when I heard footsteps.
The door handle turned and the door opened. When I saw him, my eyes narrowed in disbelief. He was wearing no shirt and only had a pair of shorts on. Protectively pulling the duvet up to my chest, I asked
“Did we have sex?”
He scoffed. “God, no!”
I sighed, visibly relaxing. “Thank God!” I breathed and began to scan the room for my clothes. “Where are my clothes?”
“Um… I washed them… They are actually on the line drying.” He answered.
My eyes fell on the wall clock and I realized that it was past 9 in the morning. I panicked now. “Jeez! I have to get going now! My husband must be very worried about me now!” I started to slowly scoot to the edge of the bed.
He stopped me. “No, no, no!” He shook a finger at me. “You are not going back to that monster!”
“He is my husband!”
“Oh, please spare me that crap! Do you think the meaning of a husband lies in the title alone?! This man is going to kill you! Just look at yourself, you are a total mess! Have you even checked your ribs, you are badly bruised! What kind of a man hits a woman that way or even raises his hand at her at all?!”
“It’s not his fault. I was stubborn. I brought it all upon myself, Chris. If I hadn’t dragged him out of that car, he wouldn’t have hit me, I’m sure that he didn’t mean to.” I defended him.
“Oh, so you’d rather watch him screw another woman?! Gosh! What has the world done to you?! You are so susceptible!”
“You can say all you want but my marriage is for better for worse!” I retorted.
“I’m not letting you out of here until you break out of whatever spell your husband has you under! When will you realize that this guy doesn’t love, respect nor deserve you?! I’m not letting you go back to him just like that and I’m prepared to lock you in here if it requires that!”
“You wouldn’t keep me against my wish! That’s tantamount to kidnapping!”
“Say all you want but forgive me saying this, you are the most vulnerable woman I have ever come across! You have been treated so badly that you don’t even know your worth anymore!”
I frowned at his stinging words then I felt tears swelling at the back of my eyes again. They pooled at the bottom of my lids and spilled down my cheeks. He stared at me then heaved a sigh. Approaching me on the bed, he squatted in front of me and took my hand in his. “Hey, I never meant for you to cry…” He said softly. “I just don’t like the fact that you still haven’t realised that you are in a bondage in disguise of a marriage. I don’t wanna know how you met the dickhead, what I’m really concerned about is setting you free. You are so weak that you have just chosen to relax and accept whatever life throws at you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Not for you or anybody. Everyone deserves a good chance at life and you are denying yourself just that.”
I gently pulled my hand from his and he let it go. “You hungry?” He asked. “You must be hungry!” He concluded then straightened up. “I prepared breakfast. Can you get out of bed?” He asked.
I swallowed hard and slowly nodded. He took my hands again and gently helped me to my feet. I stood for a moment, gritting my teeth and trying to deal with the intense pain coming from my bruised ribs. Slowly, he helped me walk out of the room and down a flight of stairs.
“I don’t remember going up these stairs.” I told him.
He smiled, “I had to carry you. You were fast asleep.” He answered.
He led me past the sitting room to the dining room where he pulled out a chair and helped me sit before he sat down at the head of the dining table, very close to me. There were several balls of hot pancakes and two bowls of already-made pap, not to mention the two tins of peak milk set by each bowl.
“Did you go out to buy bean cakes?” I asked as my mouth watered at the sight of the food and that was when I realized that I was indeed very hungry.
“No, I made them myself.” He answered then glanced at me as he punched two holes each into the tins of milk and began to pour the milk on my pap. “Surprised?”
I smiled shyly for the very first time that morning. “Most men do not cook.”
“Well, I guess I’m part of the minority who sure knows how to cook.”
I took a spoonful of pap and milk and brought it to my lips and he quickly warned. “Careful, it’s hot.”
I nodded, blew some air into the spoon of pap before I put it into my mouth. As we ate, I noticed that he kept glancing at me. When we were done with breakfast, I attempted to clear the table but he refused, packed up the dishes and walked to the kitchen. Somehow, I decided to tag along but he made sure that I sat down on a kitchen stool so that I wouldn’t strain my injured side. As he busied himself with the dishes at the sink, I decided to ask him some questions about himself.
“Since you know so much about me already, do you mind telling me a little about yourself?”
He glanced over his shoulder at me. “What do you wanna know?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m an architect.” He replied, “And I also run a spa on the island.”
“I see…” I slowly nodded. “So you live in this big house all by yourself?”
“Why aren’t you married yet?”
“Married?” He scoffed. “Just haven’t found the right one.”
“Some stupid tradition which says the oldest daughters must get married first before the younger ones. I went to see her folks but they said that I would have to marry her elder sister who’s already thirty-eight years of age.”
“And that made you quit?”
He paused to give me a look. “Are you serious right now?”
“Yeah, I mean, you could have just done a court wedding or something.”
“I am not going to marry into a family where I’m not wanted. I can’t do what they ask of me, I’m no Jacob who married Leah when who he wanted all along was Rachael. I’m not going to let anyone play a fast one on me.”
“So you guys broke up?”
“Well, she is married now… She met up with some dude whom she talked into impregnating her and her family had no other choice than to just marry her off to the dude. The little problem I have down at the village after my Father’s death also contributed to her hasty decision but let’s leave that. That’s a story for another day.”
“Well, you should have done just that… I mean impregnated her if it would have made you have your way easily.” I teased.
“There’s no way I’m going to stoop so low. I ain’t getting any child out of wedlock.” He stated firmly and by this time he was done washing and rinsing the dishes and he set them in the rack and the utensils where they also belonged then he joined me, pulled a stool and sat opposite me, leaning his elbows on the counter. “You know that I’m yet to know your name, right? I’m tired of calling you hey.”
I smiled. “It’s Victoria.”
“Perfect. My mum’s namesake.” He grinned. “But she’s late.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” I said.
He shook his head. “It’s nothing. She died years back when I was in secondary school…” A short silence passed between us and he slowly lifted his hand and reached out to gently caressed my bruised left eye with his thumb. “Does it hurt?”
“Not really, it’s just numb. Feels heavy.” I answered and slowly drew my head back out of his reach. The way he was treating me like I had never been treated before by a man was slowly getting to me and I knew I was bound to fall for him soon if I wasn’t careful. “I should go take a bath.” I said, cooking up an excuse to stay away from him. I needed some time alone to clear my head before I did something foolish like kissing him. I needed to remember that I was married and shouldn’t do anything that would jeopardize my marriage.
“You can use the bathroom in my room.” He said as I got off the stool. “Need some help?”
“No…” I blinked. “I can very much take care of myself.”
“You can grab a shirt in my closet if you need to change into something new.” He told me and I simply nodded and walked out of the kitchen even though I could feel his eyes boring into my back.
As I took a shower, I thought of him. He occupied my mind all through and as the water gushed out of the shower head and cascaded down my body. Shame suddenly engulfed me and I began to cast out the devil who was implanting such thoughts in my mind. I was married and it was inappropriate for me to be daydreaming about any other man besides my husband.
“It’s okay to daydream you know?”
I was suddenly startled by his voice and I turned to find him sitting on the bathtub. Although the glass walls of the shower had grown foggy from the warm water I was bathing with but I felt totally naked. I quickly squeezed my thighs together and wrapped my arms around my body to conceal it from him. “What are you doing here?” I asked him through the glass.
He had his head down and was not staring at me. “Forgive me, I just found myself being worried may be you are alright”
I turned off the shower and eyed the towel I had hung on the rung outside the shower, he seemed to have read my mind and he simply rose, grabbed the towel, opened the shower glass door and threw it towards me with his head still hung down. I carefully collected the towel from him, making sure that our fingers didn’t meet. Quickly wrapping the towel around my body, I stepped out of the shower and asked, a little bit annoyed.
“Do you invade the privacy of every female guest you have?”
“No, just you.” He answered and I could tell that he was being sincere.
“How do you feel now?” He asked.
“Refreshed.” I answered and started for the bedroom and he followed. I found a big t-shirt spread neat on the bed with the bold writing on it: HE IS MINE. “What’s this?
“A t-shirt.” He answered. He had his hands in his shorts’ pockets now as he watched me.
“I know what it is quite alright, I meant why this t-shirt and whose is it?”
“My ex… Don’t worry, she never even got the chance to see it. We broke up before I could give it to her.”
I stared at the t-shirt for a moment, contemplating whether to wear it or not. “The words on it are inappropriate.” I complained.
“Yet harmless.” He countered.
I sighed then said, “Fine, could you are least give me some privacy?”
“Sure.” He turned to leave when I said:
“And please, put on a shirt please.”
He paused and partially turned to look at me, “Do I intimidate you?”
“No… Not really…” I stuttered. “You are all ripped and-” I trailed off andI kept mute immediately
“I get it.” He said in understanding and walked to the closet. He soon emerged, dressed in a almost body-hugging red t-shirt. “Better now?” He asked.
“Yeah, sort of…” I said and he walked out of the room. Immediately he was gone, I heaved a sigh and sat down on the foot of the bed then I ran my hand over the printed letters of the shirt as I thought of what next step to take concerning my husband. Should I go to my parents and beg them to follow me down to my house to help apologize to Daniel on my behalf? Or should I go to my sister-in-law and hope that she could help settle things between us.
To Be Continued…