She woke up the next morning in pain. If you had asked her which hurt more, the physical or the emotional, she would have been hard torn to give a straight and correct answer. It was a bit of both, one she could see, the other she only felt, and yet the scars ran deep.
The previous evening had begun easily enough. Okay, to be honest, it had been full of love and highs! As most evenings with him were. The plan was simple. Go for karaoke, and come home. But the most simple plans sometimes crumble. And the most charming people sometimes become monsters at night.
For if he was anything, it was charming. Her father would invite him in and smoke a cigar with him on the porch. OR at least, they would want to, but with the rate of armed robbery going on in the area, more often than not, they simply watched television together and criticised the leaders.
Her mother would ask when he was coming and make a meal for him. Or to be honest, would want to make a meal for him, and end up getting pizza instead. You see, unlike the ideal woman in that commercial that was on air for a while, her mother was a real woman, who could not do it well, and would not allow people make her feel less human or woman for that.
Her brother loved to shoot the breeze with him, although, he ended up always speaking about some girl or the other he was currently in love with. Her brother loved to fall in love, it was on his list of ‘hobbies’, and if anyone ever wanted to pay him for it, he would gladly take it up as a profession. That evening, her brother had spoken about Julie. Luckily, not the same one Shank had sang about. As far as her brother was concerned, this Julie was the one. Or in this case, the one after the one after the other one that was forethought of as the one.
So, this boy was charming and the family loved him. One more week, a few more dates, and she would likely have been picking out aso-ebi, and possibly wondering where they would live.
But best laid plans...
He had come in the evening bearing gifts. He loved to buy her gifts. Although he would find a way to ruin the gift for her the next week or so. Like that time he had bought her chocolates, then one week later complained that she had put on weight. And when he bought her some c.ds then threw them out the car window because he felt ignored.
You could not say there had not been warning signs. He had told her once, matter-of-factly, that she was stupid and should be grateful he found time for her. This was after she had worn a dress she did not like and had refused to read his mind and change it in time.
There were signs, but she weighed it, and the good and the bad seemed to either be at par, or the good was winning. I mean, how many guys remember silly things like the anniversary of the day i first admired your new haircut?
Yes, there were signs. But signs where signs. Or like Darey sang, Style na Style.
He came to pick her up. Advised her brother to take Julie out with his friends first to see if she would get along with them, watched television with her dad and proclaimed that Nigeria should become a course in the colleges ( i mean, where else does the president rule from another country, a rich boy try to blow himself up, and people queue for fuel when there are refineries), and ate the pizza her mother had ordered even though her mom had forgotten he did not like olives. She knew he would mention it at some point between the first song at karaoke and the drive home. But she could handle that. That’s what love entails, managing and handling.
And the drive was pleasant enough. They listened to some of their favourite songs and sand out loud to each other. The swapped stories about their day, and they fell more in love than they were yesterday.
But then karaoke began, and for some reason, today his voice was not on point, and he seemed to pick the wrongest songs. Who takes on Frank Sinatra unless they are sure? So of course, people giggled. She didn’t, but people did. And that upset him. So he wanted to go somewhere else. But she was sort of having fun. So he stayed.
And then he nagged the whole journey through.
And somewhere between the name calling and the general absurdity of it all, she snapped.
Because she had a fantastic dad who had brought her up with love. And she had a gentle brother who treated ladies well (then let them break his heart). And she had been in loving and respectful relationships in the past!
She wasn’t desperate. She had a good job, loving friends, and other ‘toasters’. So why should she sit in this car and listen to him rant and rave.
So she didn’t. She tried to put the radio on, and that’s when she realised there is always a thin line between verbally abusive and physically so.
It wasn’t even the slap that stunned her. For that came after the twisting of her arm, so she was prepared for it. It was the kick. It was so unscripted and out of place. Who kicks a girl?
And what kind of girl allows herself to be one of those girls that are in abusive relationships?
We sometimes sit and stare and talk. We wonder how and why it happens. And how and why they let it happen. But everyone of us is a step away from being an abuser or the abused.