BusinessDay

To live or not to leave

I knew from an early age that my father could disown me if I ever did contrary to his instructions. He was a very strict man and his word was law. What we had for him was beyond respect, we were afraid of him.

My mother was the youngest of his three wives. Anyone would think that she enjoyed the benefits or privileges of that position but her case was different. First of all, she was too young to be married to such an old man but she had no choice in the matter. She was in a forced marriage… something she had come to terms with.

I had seen the way my parents lived and I wished that I would never end up in such an arrangement like that. Yeah, it was merely wishful thinking because life was about to spring a surprise on me. Just like my mother, I was “shipped off” to Papi, a man who as far as I was concerned was older than my father. He had two wives and his children who were all older than I had left home to be their own so he needed a young companion. Preferably a young virile one.

I was his social wife. I went everywhere with him and I was supposed to do everything he wanted, whenever he wanted it, wherever he wanted it and however he wanted it. I lived to pleasure him. My life revolved around his whims and caprices and I was not allowed to question his authority. Whenever he commanded me to jump, my response was to ask him how high and not why. I was always at his beck and call. Papi was just like my father.

He would flaunt me before his friends and I could see the raw lustful look in their old randy eyes. I was his trophy wife. As long as I did whatever Papi wanted, he was alright with me but all that changed as soon as I found out that I was pregnant. He vehemently disapproved of the pregnancy.

Well, I was excited about having a child. I have nothing in this world, so having someone to love and take care of as my own meant so much to me. I was lonely in my sham of a marriage so having this child was the best thing that could happen to me but Papi was angry. He made it clear that having a child with me wasn’t what he signed up for. He wanted me to terminate the pregnancy but I refused. From that time, he became very aggressive towards me. He looked for every opportunity to hit me. He detested me for being naive and allowing myself to get pregnant. I was confused. Why should having his child be a problem?

I had a difficult pregnancy and I was sick most of the time. Papi’s second wife was somewhat understanding and she did her best to take care of me. She began to show empathy when she realized that I was in a forced marriage and it wasn’t my choice to be there.

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Two months after I had my son via cesarean section, Papi started making his demands on me and he would ask that I take my baby away from the room while he was at it. After all I had been through, I needed my body to heal properly but he would have none of that. He would pummel me if I refuse to let him have his way.

One time, he smashed a bottle on my forehead and I passed out. I woke up on a hospital bed and discovered that I had seven stitches on my forehead. I made a formal report at the police station but they advised me to go back home and settle with my husband because it was a domestic issue.

Papi continued to abuse me and I have physical and emotional scars to show for it. Every time I ran to my father’s house, he would chase me away saying it was an abomination to come back when my bride price had not been returned. I felt so alone. I did not deserve the kind of treatment I was getting from Papi, my father and even my mother, who was too afraid to do anything to help me. My only crime was that I had a child and I had to be punished for it for the rest of my life. I continued to endure Papi’s wicked behavior towards me until he began to take out his frustrations on my son. There was no way I could sit back and watch that happen. Papi could mess with me and I’ll wait for karma to do its job. But when he messes with my child, I will become karma.

On one particular occasion, I caught Papi trying to force feed my son and the poor boy almost choked to death.. he was barely nine months old when his father tried to kill him. I became very cautious afterwards and rarely left him alone by himself.

On one fateful day, it was a cold evening in December. Papi had forced himself on me after taking his aphrodisiac. I was sore all over and begged him to let me go. I also needed to attend to my son who had woken up in the next room and was crying. Papi was irritated and ordered me to drop the child and return to bed but I refused. He hit me a few times before he stormed out of the bedroom and returned with a bottle of kerosene which he emptied on my son, he was about to light a match when I picked up a side stool and smashed his head. One hit was all it took to knock him out and he lay unconscious on the ground.

When I saw the blood oozing out from his head, I screamed for help and people rushed in. They tried to resuscitate him to no avail so he was taken hospital but Papi was dead on arrival.

I was arrested and charged with murder. His first wife testified against me while the second wife, who I thought was the nice one refused to show up in court as my witness. I was sentenced to 25 years in prison while my child was sent to live with my mother. Then I was released after 15 years for good behavior.

A lot has changed since I got out of prison. My parents are dead. Papi’s second wife is also dead. I’m surrounded by people who hate me. Even the ones that know my story do not want to have anything to do with me.

I have tried to establish a relationship with my son but he does not want anything to do with me. He hates me because I killed his father and he doesn’t want to hear my side of the story. The worst thing to happen to me is my son’s rejection. If Papi had killed him, I would have lived with the pain for the rest of my life but I killed Papi (albeit unintentionally) so that he can live and now I’ve lost him.

I spent my time in prison, counting the days, weeks, months and years. Waiting to be reunited with my son but now I have nothing. I don’t have anything to live for. Prison life was not good. The outside world isn’t any better. What is there to live for?

There’s nothing here for me anymore.

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