Madam Amaka stood up from the bed, dragging the blanket with her. I let go of it and reached for the pillow to cover my own shrunken penis which was curved downwards like a dying plant.
She walked to the brown wardrobe and leaned on it with her back. Her head stared piercingly at the ceiling.
“Wale, you want to remind me about what I have forgotten. You want to draw me back to what I have been struggling to let go off for years.”
“Tell me. I want to know. What did men ever do to you? What did Tunde do to you that made you hate men so much.”
“Wale. You will not understand. You won’t understand.”
“Believe me I will. I have been wanting to know all my life. I will understand.” I said firmly.
“Wale. I loved Tunde with all my heart. I married Tunde when he was Jobless. I married him when he had nothing. Do you see this house?” She said pointing round and looking at every single property in the room with her eyes.
I followed her hands with my eyes too. “These are all my property. That fool used me. He made me work and make so much money which I invested. I bought this house in Tunde’s name. I bought the cars outside there in Tunde’s name. Every single property I ever owned was bought in Tunde’s name.
Tunde would always say he was the man of the house and needed to be given due respect. I gave him all the respect he deserved. I let him take the credit while I suffered and worked to keep my home.
While men like your father worked and took responsibility in their home, I was taking Tunde’s responsibility. I gave him my body. I made him use me like a rag. Yet I never complained because I loved Tunde so much.
Then one morning, one faithful morning, Tunde had the guts to tell me that he was tired of this marriage. He had the boldness to tell me that I was useless in his house.”
Madam Amaka paused for a while and broke down in tears. She slowly brushed her back on the wardrobe and sat on the floor.
“Why was he tired? Why?” I asked in disarray.
“Because I could not give him a child. Tunde wanted to divorce me because I could not give him a child After ten years of marriage.” She threw in tears.
“But…But I thought….. I thought…”
“You thought wrong Wale. Anike is not Tunde’s daughter. Anike is my daughter. I had her a year before I married Tunde. I had her out of wedlock. Anike is not even Yoruba. Her father is an Igbo man who ran away when he found out that I was pregnant. I never saw him. I never heard from him for years.”
I heaved a sigh. All along I had thought Anike was Tunde’s daughter. I thought she was Yoruba. I never knew she was Igbo. More mystery was unveiling before my eyes. And there was many more yet untold. I could see the look on Madam Amaka’s face.
“Then why name her Anike? Shouldn’t she be bearing an Igbo name just like her father?” I asked.
“Yes I thought about that. That should have been the normal trend. But I hated him so much. The hatred I had for Uche made me hate every Igbo man that ever approached me.
Giving my daughter an Igbo name was only going to make me remember that the idiot who got me pregnant was an Igbo man. Yes I am an Igbo woman too. But I didn’t want to give him that pleasure.
“So you named her a Yoruba name?” I asked in a soft tone.
“My mother named her Anike. My mother was a Yoruba woman. I told her about my intentions not to name my daughter after her fathers tribe. My mother understood with me.”
I heaved a sigh and bent my head towards the floor.
“So tell me about Tunde. What later happened? How did you handle the situation when he said he was tired of the marriage?”
“I tried to beg him. I pleaded with him. I suggested that we adopted a son for us. But Tunde refused. He said he needed his own child. His own blood.
Months later, Tunde began flirt. He followed and brought in different types of women into the house. I tried to warn him. But instead he beat me and kicked me hard on my belly. He slapped me when I try to stop him. Tunde changed. He became an animal. He drank like a fish and lived like a bat- only going out at nights and returning early in the morning drunk.
I prayed. I prayed. I really prayed for him to change. I cried every single night. There was no one I could share my problems with. Even your mother never knew of my problem with Tunde. I fasted for days. I prayed, hoping that God was going to change him. But every single day Tunde got worse.
I became a devoted christian woman. Always going to church. I met several pastors. I invited Tunde for counseling but he refused. When the church came to visit us, he would beat me after they left. He would say I went to report his bad behaviour to people and was tarnishing his name.
Guess what Wale. Guess what happened next.”
“What. Tell me. I cannot guess.” I replied.
“Tunde brought me a divorce later. He asked me to leave my own house. He said I owned nothing. He said not even my clothing’s belong to me, but he was going to let me go with them.
Every single property I worked for. Every single Item I ever bought in my life was about to be inherited by Tunde. My own money. My own property. Even the business I owned was bought in Tunde’s name. If Tunde divorced me, I was going to be nothing but a poor divorced woman, who was thrown out by her husband because she couldn’t give him a child.
I begged Tunde to walk away. I begged him to leave instead. I tried to make him understand that I owned everything. But he refused. He insisted that I left his house. My own house. My own cars. My own wealth. Just because I was married to him.”
“Did you kill your husband Tunde?” I blurted in shock. I spoke without even thinking. The words just escaped my lips. Somehow I began to wish I could take them back. But at that moment, that was all I could think off. That was what came to my mind.
“You would have done same too right?” She asked pointing at me with a smile covering her face. You see, that was why I never told my story to anyone. I was glad I never did. People would have suspected me. His family would have suspected that I killed him.”
“Did you? Please tell me.”
“Tunde deserved to die. It was my only way out. I made his death slow and steady. I poisoned him and watched him die slowly. He was a fool. A wicked fool. He thought he was a devil. I only showed him that I was Jezebel.”
Everything was now clear to me. All through Uncle Tunde’s illness, he was never taken to the hospital. When ever Mama came to greet him, Madam Amaka always told her that Uncle Tunde was sleeping. She said it was nothing serious and that he was getting better.
Unknown to us, she had poisoned her husband just to secure her wealth, and what she laboured for.
I stared at her piercingly. I began to wonder if her actions was that of evil or simply pure wisdom?
What kind of woman kills a man she married? What kind of woman has a heart to kill another human being? What would taking yet another persons life mean to her now.
If she could kill a man she lived with for ten years, killing me was going to be like eating the laps of a broiler chicken.
Fear gripped me instantly. I dare not try to provoke her. She must have meant every words she said. She must have meant it when she said she was going to kill me if I dare leave her.
Who would I tell my story to? Who was going to believe me. I felt like running to the police, but that would only worsen the problem. Who knows the harm she could do to me when she finds out that I was having such plan running through my mind?
I was finished. I knew I was finished. Madam Amaka had let out the biggest secrete she had in her life to me. This time, she was never going to let me go easily. She was going to make sure I remained faithful to her for ever. This was to ensure that her secrete would be protected.
I felt like a Joseph being thrown into a dry well where he could not climb out. I felt like a child starring at a hungry lion in the eyes and yet could not cry out. I felt like a mouse surrounded by a giant Anaconda and yet could not runout. Madam Amaka was my biggest problem now.
“Wale. Wale.” Madam Amaka Voice called out, Jolting me from my own reverie.
To be continued….