She froze. She knew that smile; knew what was coming.
“Go to the corner.”
As she dragged her feet to the corner of the spacious moderately furnished living room, she let out a heavy sigh and tried to remember a time when things had been different.
She couldn’t. Not really.
She sank to her knees.
I remember the first day I met him. I had gone for counseling and prayers on a Monday. I didn’t go to meet him specifically but he was on duty and was free so he was assigned to me. I poured out my heart to him, telling him about my past, and how i had lived a wayward life as a runs girl. I told him how the guilt was eating me up and how i was sure that i was being punished because i was approaching 30 and no one wanted to marry me. I wept like a baby in his office that day. He held my hand and prayed with me.
That Sunday in church, he walked up to me after the service and said, “God told me that you are my wife.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. He’s of average height, plain looking and a little bit fair in complexion. And i felt absolute nothing for him. I’d been in love before and i knew how i was supposed to feel.
But he was a pastor so that meant he was a good man. Plus i wasn’t getting any younger; my 30th birthday was in a few months. Age was catching up with me and it had begun to show on my face and formerly taut body.
I don’t deserve such a man, i remember thinking, I should be honoured.
Besides, he had said that God told him.
My mother was elated. “Thank God, you’ve finally found someone that will marry you. And a pastor for that matter. Your story will be like that of Hosea in the bible.” So it was settled.
She raised her hands and closed her eyes.
I remember the first time he asked me to go to the corner. At first i thought he was joking. I laughed it off and continued taking off my clothes. We had just come back from a fund raising dinner for the new church building. On our way upstairs, he had accused me of laughing too loudly at the event when Pastor Matthews cracked a joke. That it was not befitting of a pastor’s wife. I said i didn’t know what he was talking about. He said he would show me.
“Awele. Go to that corner. Kneel down, raise your hands and close your eyes.”
I looked at him. He wasn’t joking. I thought he was crazy and i told him as much.
I did not not see the slap coming. I cradled my face and looked up at him in surprise, “How dare you… thwack!
I received the beating of my life that night.
That was the first and last time he beat me.
But the punishments continued and i knew better than to question them. Most times i would kneel and raise my hands for about an hour but sometimes he would ask me to squat and fly my arms or pick pin. On one occasion when ‘i had behaved very badly’, he made me do the frog jump in our bedroom. My first child, Uloma, who was about 4years old then, walked into our bedroom and saw me. I stopped immediately and he sent me a look that made me resume.
Mummy what are you doing?
I could not reply, the tears just rolled down my face. My husband told her that we were playing a game.
But Daddy she’s crying.
I will never forget the look in her eyes that day.
It is all so humiliating. I feel so…so…Sometimes I wish he would beat me instead.
Perhaps this is my punishment? After all God said he should marry me, right?
I should be lucky he doesn’t beat me. I’m even lucky to be his wife.
Why then do i feel so wretched and worthless?
“Your hands are not straight.”
I quickly straightened them.