When I got home, I did’nt see Mama, Najma or Baba, so I headed straight to my room, it was very much the same as I had left it, only that the furnitures were covered with clothes, Ladi got to cleaning right away, that’s the thing about Ladi she always knows what to do, and she never asked questions nor made any suggestions, she would just do what she was expected to do. At times I find her boring but most times she’s more than useful.
I woke up to the smell of Gharoud, Baba’s signature perfume it was mixed with Mama’s AL Farakhti oud, I was wandering where I was then I remembered going home. The smell mixed together was not pleasant and I ran to the toilet and started puking. When I came out of the toilet, I met Baba’s stern face and Mama’s cultured expression.
‘You left your husband’s house without his permission.’ Baba bellowed.
‘Baa ba.’ I stuttered, I was surprise to see him, when I didn’t see him the night before I anticipated he was at Nana’s place since he alternated days, Mama usually got more days. Baba was angry, I needed to do something fast, Gharoud smell hit again and I ran to the toilet, this time I retched loudly so they would hear, I opened the tap as I examined my face in the mirror, the black eye Asad gave me was fading, but it’ll still do.
I went out and deliberately fell on the floor and shut my eyes. Baba ran to my side and tried lifting me up but he couldn’t. ‘Help me,’ he screamed at Mama. Together they struggled to put me on the bed, Baba dialed the doctor’s number and he came in no time. All the while I kept my eyes shut and my body limp.
He examined me,I still kept up the pretense.
‘I’ll have to inject her with…..,,’ I couldn’t catch what he said next.
What was I hearing, I hated injections, oh my, I needed to stop pretending immediately. So I coughed and opened my eyes gradually.
‘She has come back.’Baba said relieved. I saw him looking at my black eye crucially.
‘The first trimester is very critical, so try to avoid accidents.’ Dr Abu said, as he picked up his stuff to leave.
Baba went to see Dr Abu off, obviously to ask the meaning of first trimester, I could see his blank expression when Dr Abu said that. Soon he was back.
‘How are you feeling?’
‘Better Baba.’ I said faintly.
‘Why did you leave, without permission?’ It was just his version of saying why did you run away, he had said that to Halima and Noora before.
I burst into tears, ‘Asad was beating me, I was afraid he’d kill me, I did not want to loose my baby.’ I sobbed. When I didn’t even know I was pregnant until Dr Abu told me. My father got up and left, Mama left too. I was alone till Ladi came with breakfast.
I was looking outside the window when I saw Asad’s silver Cadillac making its way into our estate like compound, it was followed by a Lincoln navigator jeep, and I knew Asad had come with his father to resolve the issue, something they’d rather not do because of the negative publicity and above all it’ll crash Asad’s ego, that he couldn’t rein in his wife. Baba too would be hurt that he didn’t train his daughter well else come what may, she would stay at her husband’s house.
I peeped into the key hole and watched the drama, Asad’s Father was inaudible but I heard Baba and Asad clearly, he was really bashed for beating up his pregnant wife though he tried to defend himself, his head hung low. Even his father was against him, it was just farce, for I could remember the countless times Baba beat mama mercilessly most times she would end up in the hospital.
Asad’s father was not innocent either, his youngest wife had a scar on her forehead which is rumoured to have been given by him, how could they now reprimand another person for doing same thing. Immediately after they Left Baba called me and mama to the study.
‘Raliyah didn’t you teach her the norms?’ He barked. Mama was silent, her face betraying no emotion.
‘Dont ever run away from your husband’s house again, and if you decide to , don’t you dare step foot in my house, unless with your husband. If you do so you and your mother will leave this house forever.’ He said furiously.
I was shell shocked, where is the love, or is it that his reputation was much more important, Mama was silent as usual, no words, no emotions to hint what she could be feeling inside. That evening Asad came to get me, we drove home in silence each buried in our own thoughts. But he changed drastically after that incident, he grew ruthless.
Time passed, I had my baby, a son whom Asad named after himself as Asad junior, we were happy, then some years on I had a set of twins two lovely girls, Shazia and Nazia then another son, Amir.
Asad’s perfect image was tainted by his temper which rose up fiercely like the ocean in storm, its waves hitting the rocks mercilessly and sometimes he’d cool down and be so calm like clear skies, and the love in his eyes for me diminished gradually like an ember loosing its life and gradually turning to ash.
Our lives became what you would call “complicated”, many a times we’d be happy especially if I was expecting a baby, but more times I had to see Asad’s dark side for menial issues, like leaving the room in mess, or messing with Asad’s things. He could fire a worker because of dust, he was overly obsessed about cleanliness.
He grew very authoritative, his demands was that I obeyed him always, at first I refused to be subdued, but as time passed and Asad battery was becoming too much and I had nowhere to turn to I had no option but to bend to his will.
My only source of solace came from foreign trips, shopping and cruising in expensive cars, even at that there are times I’d feel something was missing, something I couldn’t place my hand on.
My friend Tanveer was throwing herself a birthday bash. Tanveer is one person you cant make a mistake around, she’d broadcast you, even CNN is not as fast as she was, whenever she was not there people referred to her as AL Jazeera. Also do not offend Tanveer else you would have to pay in ten folds what you did, no one escalates a matter in the way Tanveer does, and don’t ever dress lightly to a party organized by Tanveer, you just have to look your best. She is Al Jazeera after all.
Well I was dressing for Tanveer’s party, I wore a rose colored dress with a crazy slit, we’d dress any how to our parties, it was usually just us ladies. After dressing I realized my ruby ear ring was missing, I had no other option but that one, besides my ruby never goes missing it’s in the wardrobe, so I surfed through my things, I got careless and I must have strewn my clothes around the room. In my haste to make a grand entrance at Tanveer’s party with ears and necks shimmering with Ruby I forgot to tell Ladi to clean up the mess I did.
I came back home at around 12:30 am in the morning, I met Asad in our living room with a stern face, And I just knew something must go wrong tonight, timidly I walked inside, I had grown to fear Asad.
‘Stop there, what time is it.’ He asked cooly.
’12:30 am.’ I said glancing at my Chris aire watch.
‘Is it the time for a married woman to come back home, Is that what you were thought by your parents.’
‘Asad please you don’t have to bring my parents into this.’
‘Really, why shouldn’t I, tell me.’ He said getting up and advancing towards me, I moved back but soon I was backed up against the wall. He dragged me by my hand to the room, lo and behold my mess.
‘You know I cant tolerate such things, yet you still do it, is it to torture me he snarled.’ By then I was shaking with fear.
With force he hurled me down and I fell in the pile of my own clothes, I cursed him, he bent over and gave me a dirty slap, the force of the slap rammed my body against a stool or something, when I recovered from the shock, I got up and slapped him back, well that did it for I woke up in Nia the following day with Ladi by my side watching Africa magic.
I was in the OBGYN ward, I had a miscarriage. That was my first but not the last, as I have woken twice more to the same environment and the same story.
Now its time to change the script.