It first started in the evening of that day when I and Joe, my boyfriend, went out with a couple of his friends. I was on my phone because I had no business with the conversation going around me. After a little while, I grew bored of WhatsApp and was about to exit it when Joe, who was sitting in another chair beside me, suddenly spoke up.
“Yinka Facebook!” He said with aversion. “Which Yinka is that?” He asked with a hint of annoyance.
I was surprised because I didn’t know he was watching me and could see my chat. I opened the chat with the person in question but unfortunately it wasn’t his picture he used.
“He's a friend of mine”, I answered.
He snorted as if he didn’t believe me.
“Let me see his picture”, he ordered.
I quickly exited the app and went out on Facebook to get a picture of the guy. I searched but didn’t see him and that was when I remembered he wasn’t using his real name and the other name he used, I couldn’t recall.
“So you can’t show me a picture again? What’s your problem, Cynthia? Must you give out your phone number to every guy that asks for it?” he said with growing anger.
“We have been friends for a long time.” I tried explaining.
“Give me your phone.”
I gave it to him and for the next five minutes he was going through my chat with the guy. After a while he exited it and went scrolling through all my contacts, opening any suspicious conversation. He noticed me watching him and he moved his chair away from my side.
A friend noticed us and jokingly asked what the matter was and I replied him by saying, “He is playing detective.”
I knew he'd find out nothing from my phone and knowing Joe almost two years, I also knew he'd turn it into trouble. He might tell me I deleted some chats which was true, and that was because I was avoiding trouble with him because I knew how nasty he could get whenever he was angry. But I was not dating alongside him which made me confident he wouldn’t find anything.
I think twenty minutes passed and he was still with my phone, smiling to himself at times. I was beginning to get frustrated and annoyed so I picked up his iPhone which was on the table and told him to unlock it so I could peruse it like he was doing mine. I was ignored totally. I sighed and dropped it back on the table.
He finally gave me back my phone and grew quiet. I discovered he had not only checked my WhatsApp but also my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook messenger. I smiled and shook my head.
We had an issue during the last year when he opened my phone one day and found a chat I had with my ex-boyfriend who I claimed to have ended everything with and ever since then he has been having trust issues.
But this time around, I knew he would find nothing on my phone not because I was smart but because I was faithful to him even though he was not.
Just that morning, I overheard his conversation with a girl he had denied having anything with vehemently. He puts her on his status every time and whenever I confronted him, he would tell me it's nothing.
“She put me up on her status and I am only reciprocating babe”, he'd say.
But as fate would have it that morning, she called him and sensing my ears were on the ground, he told her he would call her back. Then, he went out after a while under the pretense of going to see a friend in the same compound. I knew he was lying but didn’t say anything.
He went out of the apartment and went to the back which luckily for me was where the toilet window was. I covered the water cistern and stood on it carefully to keep the plastic cover from breaking.
The generator was on and so I couldn’t hear everything he was saying, but the pieces my ears picked made my blood run cold. They talked about how the girl moaned during sex. I think she told him something about missing her period and his reply made me shiver.
“Baby, please, get pregnant for me.” They told themselves how they missed each other and how they were going to have great sex whenever they saw during the weekend, when I was to go back to school. I couldn’t take it anymore so I just got down as quietly as I could and went into the room to cry.
I cried so much. I trusted him with my life and even when all the signs were there to show me he wasn’t faithful, I still trusted him and told myself he couldn’t be cheating on me because he loved me so much. It took him about fifteen minutes before he came in but I had already washed my face and was going about making breakfast like nothing happened. I decided not to confront him about it yet, even though it was tearing me apart. I was heartbroken.
Movement on my left brought me back to the present. Joe was on his way to the car. I figured we were leaving already so I bid his friends goodnight and followed him. He hardly let me close the door before he put the car in reverse, jolting me. I knew he was pissed but the reason, I didn’t know.
“What is wrong? Did you see anything on my phone? Why are you quiet?” Those were the questions I asked him as he drove but I got no reply.
We eventually got to where he was going. It was a familiar open place, by the roadside, where a mother and her daughter sold herbal concoctions and ofada rice, respectively. There were a lot of guys there who specifically came for the herbal drink, sitting and standing.
We ordered for food and when it was delivered, we ate separately. I ate in the car while he sat on one of the tables. I tried to talk to him but he still wouldn’t answer me so, I just shrugged and ate my meal.
When we finished eating, he got a cup of the herbal drink and told me to leave the car to come sit, on the table where he ate, with him. I did. Not quite long, a dark, tall and handsome guy with beards came to sit with us. We exchanged pleasantries and he ate his food.
Joe finished his drink and stood up without saying anything. He went to the car. I, thinking he was leaving, quickly followed him to avoid being left behind only to realize he was just going to pick something.
I went back to sit down and when he didn’t come back, I searched around for him, only to find him at the herbal drink stand.
“Hello, good evening”, the guy at the table greeted.
I pretended not to hear at first.
“Hello, I am talking to you”, he repeated and waved.
“Good evening”, I answered stiffly to keep him from talking to me because my boyfriend might see us and read another meaning to it. I already had enough on my plate.
The guy didn’t take the hint though. “I am John.” He introduced himself.
“I am Susan.” I lied. “Please leave me alone.”
I prayed in my heart as I looked towards the direction of my boyfriend.
“Where is your boyfriend?” He asked.
“Right there.” I said, pointing at my boyfriend who was already on his way back to the table with another cup of the mixed drink.
Joe sat down without a word to me and brought out his phone. A few seconds went by and I got a WhatsApp message from him. The contents of it made tears spring to my eyes.
“You are crazy. You are a whore and a bitch! Why don’t you give him your number like you give all your male Facebook friends and come back to Ibadan to fuck him when I travel to Abuja?!”
The words cut deep through me and got me so angry. With tears blurring my vision, I typed furiously back to him.
“What is wrong with you Joe?! He wasn’t asking for my number but you! What do you take me for?”
He didn’t reply back. He stood up and went to the car. I followed and we started the drive back home. He drove with so much anger. He sped, we almost got in an accident twice. When we were almost home, he hit something so hard and he was forced to stop to check it out.
He came down and I did the same to avoid him back lashing at me by saying I didn’t care. There was a small dent on the side of the car and the way he hit the top of the car and muttered something like ‘dammit!’ made me realize, he was intensely angered. Joe treated his car like a baby and disliked it when something happened to it.
We got back into the car and not knowing what else to say I told him ‘sorry' not forgetting to tell him to reduce his speed so he wouldn’t hit something else.
We got home safely, much to my relief. He still wasn’t talking to me so I thought I’d just let him calm down before I talked to him.
Little did I know I would end up in much trouble than I could imagine.
I undressed, got my phone and earpiece from my bag so I could listen to music to calm me and lift my spirits because I was so down.
I laid on the bed and was almost falling asleep when I suddenly felt two legs push me roughly to the ground. I panicked and slowly stood up, holding the cover against my body. I instantly knew Joe had pushed me off the bed out of anger. I just thought he didn’t want me sleeping beside him on the bed so, I went around to the other side of the bed. The floor there was more spacious. I laid the cover on the rug covered floor, he watched me all the time.
As I made to lie down, he sprang up from the bed.
“If you dare lie down there, I’ll make sure I step on you and that your empty head.”
I was taken aback by his words. “What did I do again Joe?” I asked close to tears.
“Are you asking me what you did? You stupid girl!”
Before I could say anything he jumped down and pushed me on the bed. He dragged me from the bed to the floor and began to rain blows on me. My face and my ribs were not spared. I tried to block his blows but he was so strong and I could only do so little.
I resorted to begging him with God and everything I could think of. But deep down I knew I was being taught a lesson. I saw all the signs which was enough to send a girl running from him but still forged on with the relationship because I thought he would change.
I continued crying and pleading, as the blows came in torrents. He stopped and jumped over the bed to his wardrobe. I knew he was getting a belt so I quickly stood up and ran to the door with the hopes of escaping, but I was unlucky. The key got stuck and I couldn’t open it in time.
He dragged me back and I landed on the plastic chair he used in his room and we both went crashing on the floor. He hit me on the head and everywhere with the belt. I cried and screamed for someone to help. It was fruitless. All the three generators in the compound were running. People wouldn’t hear me over the noise.
I stopped screaming and just absorbed the pain from the impact of the belt on my bare skin. He dropped the belt at a point and started kicking me with his feet, I thought my ribs would crack.
He said vile words to me as he beat me mercilessly that night.
Just as he stopped and I thought, maybe, he was finally tired, he pulled me up and dragged me to a corner of his room.
“Sit down there!” He thundered and I obeyed immediately.
He was breathing heavily, my head was spinning and my tears just stopped flowing. What else could happen to me tonight?
“How many guys have you fucked? How many guys have you travelled to see?"
“I have travelled to see no one. I swear”, I managed to say between hiccups.
“Cynthia, don’t lie to me!” he looked around and saw an empty beer bottle lying down. He went over to pick it up. “I swear to God, Cynthia if you don’t answer all my questions truthfully, I am going to break this bottle and cut you. I’ll spoil that beauty that is making you feel like you can fuck around!” He said and I didn’t doubt his words.
“I swear. Please, don’t hurt me anymore”, I begged, my tears flowing again.
If he made true his threats, what would I tell everyone back home and at school?
I promise, I’ll run as far as possible from this relationship if I survived this night.
“Haven’t you hurt me? You cheated on me last year. I saw a lot of chats you cleared and I also saw how you were distributing your number on Facebook!”
“I didn’t distribute my num__”
I hardly finished my statement before he pounced on me again. This time, he hit me with the bottle in his hand. Never in my life have I been treated this way. I have existed for nineteen years and nobody, not even my parents, ever hit me this way. I deserved everything I got from Joe because my parents thought their daughter was in school.
He stopped after a while and got off me. I was in pain as all my body ached me. I couldn’t even move so I just laid there and sobbed silently. I was still crying when I heard him exit the room. He didn’t come back till I finally fell asleep.
I write this as I lay on my bed in school after a week in Ibadan. It was slowly driving me insane so I decided to pen it down. I can’t bring myself to tell anyone, not even my best friend, what Joe did to me because she thought he was a nice guy. Maybe I would someday.
My bruises were healed by the time I came back and even though my buttocks and my ribs still hurt, the only obvious one was on my left arm- a nasty dark stain on my skin. I told my friend, I fell from the stairs when she asked.
Joe apologized the second day after the incident. He insisted I stay till I was fine. I guess he didn’t want the world to know what a monster he was. I agreed and stayed for three more days. I finally told him about the conversation I overheard and he didn’t deny it. He begged profusely, asking for forgiveness. I forgave him but my decision was made. I was going to leave him.
I didn’t make my decision known to him till the second day after I arrived back in school.
“I FORGIVE YOU BUT I AM LEAVING. AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE? KARMA IS A BITCH!”
I sent him the text and proceeded to block him from my life in anyway I could think of.