Slowly she applied and massaged her body lotion onto her left arm. She was seated at her side of the bed wrapped in a white towel and hair held in a net. Esi felt relaxed and enjoyed the silence of the house. She had managed to finish cooking and cleaning up. A long, cool shower had helped relax her tensed body and cause her to smile as the water run down her body. She knew Jake’s mum would not be happy with the images she had forwarded. It wasn’t like she cared. She was tired of hiding behind broad smiles especially on Sundays. They looked like the perfect couple to everyone else. A couple of church members had gathered the courage to come and ask for help with their supposedly ‘big’ marital problems. Jake had always referred them to Esi who was most times amused with the kind of problems other couples faced.
Take for instance the Mensah’s. Mrs Mensah was consistently getting annoyed at her husband for leaving the seat up after peeing. She felt she might opt for divorce if her husband didn’t start getting tidier. Esi had had a laughing fit in her head but managed to keep her outward composure sympathetic.
‘See this woman o, come and meet my husband who comes home drunk, rapes me, leaves his clothes on the floor, is selective of the meals he eats from me and my list continues yet I haven’t opted for divorce.’ Esi had said to herself.
Outwardly as an answer Esi had encouraged the lady to be patient and realise she couldn’t change her husband in a twinkle of an eye. She had told Mrs Mensah to find a good time after a meal and speak to her husband and to also make a conscious effort to ignore this tiny blunder. Esi had finished off her advice with her personal famous quote which had gotten Mrs Mensah beaming with smiles;
‘Marriage is a rose. There is no rose without thorns, so in spite of its beauty there are vulnerabilities that would prick and hurt us but that doesn’t mean we should let go of that beautiful rose.’
Esi’s peaceful moment of recollection was rudely interrupted by her husband’s loud entrance into the room.
‘What did you do that for?!’ he cracked his knuckles and began to move closer to the bed.
Esi’s hand dropped onto her lap and her smile vanished.
‘Why did you send those images to my mother?!’ He demanded, he had moved closer to her.
Esi tried jumping onto the bed so she could use the other end as a route of escape but Jake was too fast. He grabbed her right wrist and began to twist. Esi gave out a high-pitched shout of pain.
‘Answer me! Why did you send it?!’ he demanded.
‘I am sorry.’ Esi pleaded.
‘No you are not! First, you sleep with your boss for a promotion and now this…What nonsense!’ he bellowed and let go of her hand to grab her face.
‘I didn’t sleep with anybody.’ Esi whimpered under the pressure on her face.
‘Shut up woman! You forced me to marry you and have that bastard of a boy and now you want to destroy my image before my parents!’ He threw her onto the bed, pinned her down and began unbuckling his belt.
‘Monster!’ Kojo cried from the doorway.
‘Get out!’Jake turned to his son and shouted at him. Esi used the opportunity to free herself from his grip and crawl across the bed. Her towel fell off but she wasn’t bothered. She darted to the door with Jake closely at her heels, grabbed her son and run to Kojo’s room, locking it behind her.
Mother held son against her naked body and wept while Jake banged against the door demanding that she come out immediately. Kojo wailed loudly making his mom forget her pain and try to calm him down. Eventually, he calmed down and began biting his lip. A signal Esi had learnt to interpret as hunger. She sighed loudly and got up from the floor behind the door. Her eyes scanned the room in search of a cloth to wrap herself with. She saw one neatly folded on her son’s bed and walked towards it. She remembered bringing in that cloth a few hours earlier because she had washed Kojo’s cover cloth and didn’t think it would dry by the end of the day.
After covering herself up, she sat on the bed and carried Kojo onto her lap. She cuddled him and began to sing a lullaby to him. Esi was afraid to step out, she wanted to be sure Jake had left the house before she ventured out of Kojo’s room.
Minutes later she heard their bedroom door being banged and that of the front door. She sighed deeply and sat still, waiting to hear Jake spark his engine and drive out of the house. She didn’t need to wait for long. Esi rose, carried Kojo on her hip and walked to the door to unlock it. She waited a while before stepping out to the kitchen. She needed to get Kojo food to eat, he had begun sucking his thumb after he realised biting his lips wasn’t filling him up.
Esi had locked the bedroom door and was pacing around the room. She didn’t want to go to her mother’s house but things were getting out of hand. For two months Jake hadn’t eaten in the house, came home drunk every Friday night smelling of smoke. These past six months had been unbearable. At least after the first six honeymoon months, he had tried eating her food twice a week, drawn a timetable for when they could make love and spent more time at the neighbour’s end or at work.
The phone vibrated in her hand and startled her. She swiped the screen to answer without looking at the number.
‘How disrespectful can you get as a married woman?’ The voice at the other end demanded.
‘Pardon?’ Esi took the phone off her ear to look at the number but she couldn’t recognise it.
‘When you have issues with my son who happens to be YOUR husband kindly keep it between you two. Did you think I was going to lash his bum like a small child for having some fun?’ The voice continued.
‘You don’t understand …He’s…’ Esi tried explaining.
‘I do understand, you lured my handsome son to marry you with the excuse of being pregnant and now you don’t want him to have his freedom and release all the stress you are building up in him.’
‘Please allow me to explain…’ Esi pleaded.
‘I don’t want to listen to you. Keep me out of your marital issues, make my son happy and clean that dusty house of yours!’
The line went dead.
To be continued …