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Petra was mad at Aneesah. Who would have thought that her friend would make such a rash and impromptu decision like that, without consulting anyone?
She had just resumed from the semester break where she went to Enugu, her state of origin, only to discover that her friend was already engaged to this Faisal. Aneesah didn’t even think to call and tell her. They were together in Petra’s room at her hostel which was exclusively for medical students.
“Petra try to reason with me, I had no choice. My mum convinced me and sincerely speaking, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with Faisal…”
“Then why do you doubt your decision?” Petra cut in. “Why are you second-guessing yourself? If Faisal is the right person for you, why are you so scared of him?”
Aneesah became quiet. Somehow, she couldn’t respond to all those questions.
“Aneesah, it’s important that whoever we marry is our friend, someone we can relate with, someone who understands you. If you’re not sure about Faisal, you can still call the engagement off”.
“No Petra, I can’t”. Aneesah sat up from the bed. “It would kill my mum.”
“But you’re the one getting married Neesah, not your mother. Eventually, it will be just the both of you. Don’t make any decisions you’ll come to regret later. Call it off if you’re not sure.” Petra was firm in her advice.
Aneesah however was lost. Her mum wouldn’t accept any decisions to call off this engagement and how would that make her look before Faisal’s family, who had already come for the marriage talks? She couldn’t afford to disappoint everyone.
“Neesah, think about yourself. Just be selfish for once. Think about your future.” Petra said as if she could read her heart.
“I am thinking about my future Petra,” Aneesah replied poking a finger to her chest.
“Alright.” Petra gave up. “You can do whatever you want. How’s your blog?”. Petra asked subtly changing the topic even though she wasn’t pleased with her friend’s decision.
A bright smile lit on Aneesah’s face. “Oh very fine. Surprisingly, I’m having a lot of followers. You’d be surprised at the number of women facing domestic violence. It’s disheartening.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“And guess what, an NGO wants to partner with my blog, they want to help women to come out of abusive relationships.”
Petra was happy for her friend. “That’s really great. Neesah, you know I’ll miss you when you leave school right.”
“If you don’t want me to cry now, please change the topic.” Both girls burst out laughing.
Aneesah rushed home quickly, her heartbeat soaring higher with every step. She couldn’t explain what was happening to Petra. All her mind could think of was Faisal and the neighbor. The only person that came to her mind was Samir’s mother. Perhaps she wanted to have a talk with her with regards to Samir. However, something in her mind kept telling her it was more than that.
Her steps were light as she approached the house, gently she went in through the front gate and was careful to observe the presence of another human. When she went into the living room, the huge frame of Faisal dominated the surroundings. He was sitting comfortably on the custom made raffia chairs that adorned the living room. However, there was no neighbor.
“Why did you call me?”. Aneesah began, trying to act calm but deep down she was scared. Her legs were shaking.
“Sit down.” His voice was firm and low.
Aneesah promptly sat down. “Why did you call me and where’s the neighbor?”
Faisal threw a piece of tablet on the table. “Maybe you could explain to me what this is.”
Aneesah gasped. It was her family control pills. How did he find it? She placed her hands across her mouth.
“Aneesah what is this meant for?” His low voice came again sending shivers all over her body.
“It’s nothing.” Aneesah tried to adjust herself, but she couldn’t. She hoped Faisal didn’t know what the pills were meant for, however her reaction might have given her away.
“Don’t take me for a fool Aneesah, what are these pills for?”
“Faisal, you don’t need to know..”
His reaction caught her short. Faisal started to chuckle. “Aneesah I swear to God, I’ll kill you if you don’t tell me what these pills are for, and don’t you dare lie to me.”
Aneesah stood up. Her heart was threatening to burst out of her chest. She was sure Faisal would carry out his threat.
“The pills are just for cough and…” She was interrupted by a slap across her cheek. Faisal reached over in the blink of an eye and grabbed her hair and pulled it roughly. Aneesah screamed as she felt her hair being pulled away from its roots. He hit her on her mouth heavily for the second time causing her to fall on the floor. Aneesah could taste the blood in her mouth, fortunately, the fall made him release her hair.
He squatted beside her. ” You think you can play with me right? I’m not going to ask again. What are these pills for?”
Aneesah couldn’t answer, her head felt like hot water was just poured into it. Tears dripped from her eyes. She tried to stand when Faisal hit her on the knee with his legs causing her to sink back onto the floor.
“Aneesah what are those pills for?” He shouted again. “Oh you don’t want to talk right? I have just the thing for you”. With that, he went in into his study.
Aneesah quickly crawled to grab her bag from beside her, it felt like it took forever to take her phone from her purse. She quickly tried to text Petra. SOS.
She heard Faisal coming out, brandishing an old telephone wire from his study. She quickly pressed sent and hoped that it went through, she closed her eyes and accepted what was to come.
Petra wasn’t at ease since Aneesah left without any reasonable explanation. She tried to find out why Faisal wanted her home, but Aneesah had seemed very afraid to keep him waiting. She wished they had concluded their conversation before Faisal called.
What had Aneesah been trying to say about things not been the way they seemed. Was her marriage falling apart? She remembered the pills she’d seen on Aneesah’s table. Was Faisal even aware Aneesah took birth control pills? There were a lot of things going on with her friend, she concluded. Time will tell.
Her phone buzzed. Incoming text. Petra hissed assuming it was the telecom providers who insistently reminded their customers of their services. She was however surprised to see it was her friend.
Something must be very wrong. The only time she’d sent Aneesah such a text was when she was almost robbed at the school ATM six years ago. Quickly without thinking she grabbed the car keys and drove out.
Getting close to Aneesah’s house, Petra sighted Faisal driving off roughly in his car from the house. This made her quickly park and go in. She was met by a very disturbing sight. Aneesah wasn’t bleeding except her mouth, but her entire body was riddled with huge marks of wire lashes.
“Oh my God, Neesah.” Petra checked her pulse to ascertain if she was alive. Aneesah was unconscious and couldn’t respond. She quickly checked to see if she was hurt anywhere. Blood was dripping from her head like a tap that was turned off.
Satisfied, that there was no sensitive injury, she brought a wet towel and dapped it around her friend’s face.
She searched the house for a first aids box and treated her friend’s injury while placing a call across to Dave. Petra was mortified. This explained the purple bruise she saw on Aneesah’s face. How long had she been facing this from Faisal? This was what she definitely wanted to tell her.
Instead of feeling angry with Aneesah, Petra felt immense compassion for her friend and thought about all the women Aneesah had helped through her blog, but couldn’t find the courage to help her self.
She was walking through a field of sunflowers. Their yellow colorfully bright lightening up the whole arena. It was a beautiful day, though the sun was hot. As she walked she caressed each flower lightly as she would do to a lover. The flowers were rough and coarse to her tough. She looked closely only to see small sharp thorns growing from each flower, making her gasp. When did thorns ever grow from sunflowers?
Amid the field, however, something held her attention. It was a very bright and large purple sunflower.
Color your life.
Someone whispered to her and Immediately, she woke up from her sleep.
“Neesah, calm down. It’s me Petra. How do you feel?”
Aneesah tried to gain an understanding of her environment, she saw that she was at Petra’s home. Holding her head between her hands, she felt a sharp pain around her occiput. Her knees also hurt.
“Neesah, you’re at my place. You’ve been out for six hours. How do you feel?”
“My head is aching me”. Aneesah muttered, she was feeling extremely thirsty. Without been told, Petra brought a glass of water. As soon as the liquid hit her throat, Aneesah realized how hungry she was.
“I’m so hungry”.
“I know. Just calm down for few minutes. I made some noodles for you.”
After Aneesah had eaten and laid for a while, Petra engaged her in conversation. “How long have these been going on?”
“For a while”. The sadness was evident in Aneesah’s voice. Petra noticed and came closer to hug her.
“Don’t worry Neesah, I’ll take care of you”.
The two men were by the grill side along the ever-busy main road that led to the outskirts of the city.
They had just been served with the grilled fish they’d ordered, and were set to start devouring it. Within his heart, one of the men was troubled and angry at his friend. He was further infuriated by the nonchalant attitude of his friend who behaved as if nothing had happened in the past few days.
“Faisal, I’m dismayed at your character, when did you become a wife-beater? This is not you.”
Faisal stopped short in his mastication and dropped the huge piece of fish he was holding. He used his little handkerchief to wipe his mouth and looked at Dave.
“Listen, I’ve apologized to Aneesah several times, and I’ve made it clear to her that I’ll never hit her again. Believe me, I didn’t know what I was doing the entire time. It was like the devil just took hold of me…”
“Don’t blame the devil for your lousiness Faisal, if it had been left to Petra, Aneesah wouldn’t go back to you. I don’t even know why Aneesah accepted and believed your apologies. You should have been made to apologize some more.” Dave remarked with disgust in his voice.
“Come on Dave, you’re my friend and a man. You should be on my side.”
“Just stop right there.” Dave was angry, trying hard to keep his voice down not wanting to attract attention. ” I can never be on the side of a man who beats his wife for any reason. For any reason. Wait, are you even trying to justify your actions?”
“No Dave, that’s not what I’m trying to do,” Faisal replied adjusting his self. The conversation was making him uncomfortable. It had been three days since the episode with Aneesah and he had remarkably regretted his actions. “But I was just mad and wasn’t thinking. Why would Aneesah take birth control pills without my knowledge?”.
“Because no one would like to have kids with a wife-beater or a psychopath. Looked Faisal, I don’t know you from Adam. We knew each other because of the friendship between our wives. Irrespective of that, I’m not going to let you take advantage of your wife. For God’s sake Faisal, your wife is a public figure. She inspires women and children suffering from domestic violence. How would the world react if they find out that she is a victim of domestic violence?”
Faisal was quiet. He didn’t know how to respond. Dave continued. ” Petra asked me to let you know, that you’ll suffer the consequences of your actions in the hands of the law if you ever try to hurt her friend again. Believe me, I know my wife, she isn’t kidding.” He finished, taking a sip of Pepsi. He hadn’t touched his fish, he wasn’t here to eat.
“Alright, thanks. How has Aneesah been?”
“Stop asking as if you care about her.” Dave retorted making Faisal sigh.
“Dave, believe me, I’m sorry for what I did. I was just angry and I couldn’t control myself. That’s not going to ever happen again. I just want her back.
“It better not repeat itself,” Dave muttered. Davido’s risky played in the background. Looking around, it seemed only the two of them were involved in a serious conversation. All the other customers were laughing gaily and enjoying themselves.
“How is Aneesah?” Faisal asked again.
“She’s fine. Petra’s been taking care of her injuries and got a few clothes for her. She should be back home now though when I left she was trying to get ready”.
Faisal sighed heavily and cast his eyes down. “I can’t thank you and Petra enough for what you did.”
“Oh, you can actually,” Dave replied with a mischievous look. ” Just take care of your wife”. He said helping himself to some of his grilled fish.
Aneesah went into her room quietly. She saw that Querah had taken time to sweep and keep her room clean. That was a bit strange, Querah never came into her room. She shrugged it off and sat on the bed. It had been three days since the ugly incident since she’d almost been killed by her husband. The brand of the lashes against her skin sounded continually in her ears.
Aneesah knew she wouldn’t make her hair for a long time. But still, despite Petra’s opinion, she was glad to be back. She was amazed at the passionate way Faisal had begged to have her back. Maybe he still had an atom of love for her, she thought as she accepted his apologies.
During her work on helping women suffering from domestic violence, Aneesah had seen women who against all odds continued to remain with abusive husbands, or demanded to go back to their husbands after they’d been separated. It had never ended well on both occasions.
However, Aneesah had a little ray of hope within her, that Faisal had meant what he said. This way, she could concentrate on her blog. Aneesah reached out to remove her laptop from her navy blue bag that always contained her belongings. Her hand felt something small, she brought it out and saw that it was the purple crayon.
On her Google search engine, she typed the word”purple”. Different suggestions sprinted up but nothing that looked or was related to Aneesah’s scenario.
Color your life.
She racked her brain for the meaning of those words and gave up. The meaning will show itself later, she thought. In the meantime, Aneesah went on her blog and began to respond to different messages from women around Nigeria who were seeking clarity about life, relationships, and marriage.
A message from her stalker.
A chameleon can only change its color but never change its skin.
Beginning today, color your life.
Aneesah was stunned. This was more of advice than a puzzle. This person was trying to compare her husband to a chameleon. Aneesah knew that it had to be someone close to her, someone, who knew what happened and that she was back. Petra? No, Aneesah shook her head sideways. She could count the number of times she saw Petra with a laptop. Dave? Somehow that didn’t add up. Dave didn’t know anything about her room.
As she was trying to figure out the text, she heard the front door open and Faisal’s car drove in. It was past 7 pm and she knew he’d been out with Dave. The old familiar fear reared its ugly head again threatening to burst open her heart.
She hoped she wouldn’t regret coming back to this house. After a few minutes, she felt a hesitant knock on her door. To open or not to open, Aneesah contemplated within her heart. She couldn’t bring herself to walk up and open the door. However, Faisal made the decision himself and opened the door slowly. Faisal looked truly repented as he came to sit down beside her on the bed. Aneesah faced her laptop refusing to spare him a second glance.
“Aneesah, can we talk?” He began. “please.”
“I know I’ve apologized countless times, but I still feel that’s it’s not enough. No apologies will be enough to cover for what I did to you. I’m really sorry Neesah, I promise never to let it happen again. I was just angry you were taking birth control pills without my knowledge.”
Aneesah was quiet and continued to scroll and type on her laptop.
“Neesah please look at me,” Faisal begged, covering her left hand with his. Aneesah stopped working and faced him.
“Neesah, I’m sorry our marriage turned out like this. I’m sorry for the distance between us. But starting from today, I want us to work things out, to live like a couple once more. Please give me one single chance to show you how much I love you.” As he said this he came closer to her on the bed and hugged her from behind, kissing her slightly on the cheeks.
Aneesah couldn’t stop the tears that dropped from her eyes. Was this really Faisal? Or was he just fooling her? She hoped not. Deciding to be optimistic about her relationship with her husband from henceforth made her breathe a sigh of relief. If he wanted a second chance, she would give that to him. His kiss greeted her cheeks wiping the tears away. Aneesah couldn’t remember the last time they’d been in an intimate position like now. Sex for her and Faisal had always been boring and mechanical. He took what he wanted and left. They even lived in different rooms. She decided to be hopeful and wish for the best. She fell completely in his embrace as she felt his fingers working on her zip.
Do you think Faisal has changed, or it is all a pretense? Tell us in the comments section.
Next Episode (28th February)