Amina held her four children tightly to her bossom as she sank to the ground in one corner of their bedroom. She could hear him outside,chatting loudly with his friends. She knew that wouldn’t be the case when he entered the room.
This wasn’t what she had bargained for when she married him. They lived in a filthy slum with their single room right next to a mosque and a stone throw away from a church that never ceased to have services. The only thing that separated her room from the mosque was the choked algae infested gutter whose stench had taken much time to get used to.
‘Mummy, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?’ Abu, her seven year old son, asked.
Amina sniffed hard, she hadn’t realized when the tears streamed down her fatty cheeks. She grabbed one end of her cloth, quickly wiped them away and blew her nose loudly. Sternly, she shushed her son.
She wished her children wouldn’t see what was about to happen. She wished she had had time to send them out like the many times past. She didn’t know he would be returning that night-he hadn’t informed her.
He never informed her of anything. He left when it pleased him and returned when he felt the need to satiate his sexual hunger for her. She didn’t know where he went, and she was too frightened to enquire. Friends had whispered that he had other wives whom he visited when he wasn’t with her, not one, not two nor three. They had claimed they couldn’t keep count of his many wives.
She could hear him rounding up the conversation. She wished the wall would swallow her up but it didn’t. Her eyes desperately searched their overcrowded room to see where she could hide the children for the night.
The bed was too rickety. The bed frame was on the verge of collapse and the wooden planks left in the sad frame were halfway on the floor leaving the mattress,that they held, no other option but to comply to the angle that was formed. She couldn’t push them there.The old wardrobe, whose doors had been removed from its hinges, was overflowing with their clothes. Her heart raced, she needed to keep her children safe. Amina didn’t want Abu lifting a finger at them the way he did to her before and after he had had his way with her.
Then it dawned on her!
The only furniture in the room, which functioned as it was supposed to, was the door. The lock to the door had 3 keys, Amina had two in her possession with one acting as a spare, Abu had the last one. The last time he had come around, which was over a month ago, he had banged hard on the door because he had left his key at wherever he had come from. Thankfully, before that visit, Amina had had the strong urge to send her kids away so she bundled them to her mum who lived at another side of the slum.
Letting go of her children, she quickly run towards the door and with shaky hands locked it, pulling the key out after. With all her might, she pulled the dusty couch in the room to block the already locked door and retreated to her corner.
Abu banged hard on the door.
‘Amina! I know you are in there! Open this door!’
Amina held her children tight and let the tears flow. She refused to hold them back. Her children began to cry too, they didn’t understand what was going on but they disliked seeing their mother cry.
Everyone had warned her about Abu, but she had refused to see the signs. She had shut her eyes tight when she caught him fondling other ladies. She had looked the other way when he used to visit her drunk. She had turned the other cheek every time he had slapped her.Amina had kept assuring herself that he was the best thing that had ever happened to her and that he would change-yet Abu never changed, He had become worse!
‘Ammmminnmaa!’ Abu screamed.
Her body quivered in fright. All her neighbours had turned a deaf ear to Abu’s shouts of Amina’s name.
After what seemed like forever, the banging stopped.
Amina exhaled loudly.
She had won the battle, at least her first.
Dedicated to Leo Armah. (I hadn’t planned on posting anything today but…lol)
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