It’s been five months since the burial of Rasaq’s father. The whole town had come for the Burial. Some of the poor people who came to the burial ceremony were one of those who had spoken ill of him at his back when he was alive. That’s the way people here behave. Because of what you can get from a rich person you tell him what he wants to hear, then at the rich man’s back you’ll laugh and discuss all his shortcomings.
A lot of things have improved since when we came back from London. Our relationship had grown stronger. Rasaq had really turned a new leaf since London. I still wonder what had changed him in London. He now treated me as a partner and not as a sex slave like before. We had renewed our marriage vows and the party we had thrown was a very small one. I was very happy. I remember that day vividly like it was yesterday. He had promised me to always treat me like the beautiful queen that I am till the rest of his life. He promised never to leave me for once. He said so many beautiful things…
He also created a bank account for me. I had protested when he did so, but I really have no choice. He deposited some certain amount of money into it from time to time. Also, I could speak English fluently. Ever since I got back from London, my dream of becoming an activist had become fuelled. The passion had been increasing. Now, I’ve been receiving special courses from my home. Rasaq had set up some sort of live courses for me. He is a genius. I planned to travel to USA next month for some courses on political science.
My family is now doing better. My parents are now living in a new, big house which Rasaq had bought for them. My dad believes he had made the right decision to have made me marry Rasaq. I was glad I had listened to him then. He had been right. Being with Rasaq is complete in every way. He satisfies me financially, emotionally and sexually.
But the happiness wouldn’t last long…
It all started the day I went into Rasaq’s study to pick up something for him. He was late for work and he had forgotten a file on his desk. He wanted to rush up to take it, but I had offered to take it for him. As I was taking the file from the desk, my hand brushed a book that was also on the table. The book opened right into a page filled with different envelopes. What is inside those envelopes? Curiosity got the better part of me. But I reminded myself to quickly give the file to Rasaq. I walked out of the study without taking up the book. I intend to come back to the room when he’s gone.
Rasaq kissed me and said, “I love you” I smiled and said, “I love you too… Have a wonderful day.”
I rushed back into the study. I needed to know what was in those envelopes. I had always minded my own business by not asking him too much about his work, and I have never bothered to check any book of his, but today I was so curious. I wondered why. My heart started to pound harder. I didn’t care, anyway. There’s only one thing in my mind. It was those envelopes.
I opened one of the envelopes and it turned out to be an official letter. I shook my head and I was about to pack the envelopes into the book when, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw what was written in the book. I picked it up and I looked at its cover. It was his diary. I didn’t know that Rasaq kept diaries. I’m invading his privacy; I knew that as much. But what would a husband be keeping from his wife? I was about to find out. I turned the book to a very recent date, and I read with incredulity.
May 2nd, 2014
What is this? A time to pay for my past mistake? I’m not sure she knows yet but I think she’ll soon figure it out. She’ll soon figure out that I was the one who raped her that one night. Oh Lord! What shall I do? Please help me! Teach me what to do.
What? I dropped the heavy book on the floor and it sounded with a loud thud. Some torn pages flew out and started flying about, but I couldn’t care less. My heart exploded and it shattered into tiny pieces. Tears started dropping from my eyes. I wiped them with the back of my palm. It explains a lot. There was a particular night I dreamt of that incident of my rape once again. In this particular dream, the man who attacked me had faces. Firstly, it was a disappointed and angry Austin’s face. After the face had spoken about how hurt he was when I left him for Rasaq, the face morphed into Phillip’s, Rasaq’s home staff in London. Then, it morphed into Rasaq’s. The face told me about how he loved me and this was a way of showing me how he loved me. It was then I screamed and woke Rasaq who was sleeping beside me. Rasaq asked me what had happened. I told him it was only a nightmare and that I have dreamt about it for so many times in the past. I assured him it was nothing
“Are you sure? You sound like you’re being tormented by demons from hell”, he said, then paused before adding, “tell me about it.”
Then I told him about the masked man who had kicked me and almost knocked me out before raping me on a particular rainy day. He listened attentively slowly absorbing the information. “I never felt like such in my entire life. I lost my virginity to this man. He stole it from me. Still, I’ve been tormented by images of his deed since then. If I have the opportunity to meet this man again, I’ll spit on him and assault him just like he did to me. I would make sure he suffers. I …”, my voice trailed off and Rasaq hugged me and begged me not to say any more. He looked at me and he had a face that sympathises with me. His face did more than what a thousand ‘Sorry’ could do.
“Do you understand the pain? I have to remember everything about the devilish act for the rest of my life. It happened on the 3rd of June, 2012. I remember that night to be a rainy one. I was wearing a red dress and a black hijab. It happened very close to a mosque, I have forgotten what it’s called. Ah! yes, it means the noble ones in English.”
I looked at Rasaq’s eyes and it was wet. It seemed he would cry. He stared at me with his mouth open but words were not pouring out. I’m sure he’s pondering about what to say. After a minute, he finally said, “It’s hard to imagine you had to go through something like that. I’m so sorry, Halema. But you have me now. The man who did this is gone You can close your eyes now because the next time you’re going to open them you’ll see the man who loves you and wouldn’t let any harm happen to you”.
I shook my head and my thoughts came to the present. That sonofabitch! I married the rapist! He raped me. Rasaq raped me. He must suffer for it. I’m going to break his spine. My brain started processing about a million images at once. He said he loved me. But he raped me. I can’t believe he did that to me. I can’t believe he is the reason I don’t enjoy my sleep at times. He had told me on the wedding day that he only wanted one thing from me- to satisfy him sexually like a wild animal. I felt like he had taken so much from me. His mere existence had robbed me of so many things. Adrenaline pumped and with anger I tore his diary into pieces but I saved the page where he confessed about the rape. I stood up to look at the mess I had caused but I couldn’t care. I left the study with the door left ajar.
I began to plan on ways to make Rasaq suffer. My mind didn’t bring up anything so I decided that I will flee. I frowned at the déjà vu. Just last year I was convincing myself to run away from home. A lot of things have changed since then. I have been to London, I can now speak fluent English and I now have millions of Naira in my bank account. I was grateful for the money Rasaq had been depositing into my account. I now considered myself stupid for not wanting to accept the nice gesture from him. It’s time to act!
I went to the ATM machine and I withdrew a few thousands. It’ll last me a few days. The next step is to pack my loads. I went home and I packed a few items. I started rehearsing on what I’ll say, but my mind didn’t provide any meaningful things so I just drifted asleep.
Rasaq came home earlier than usual today. He was wearing a smile that shows happiness and a good life well spent. I wondered if I could go on with my plan. He got in and planted a kiss on my forehead and I shifted away from him. He’s repulsive!
“What’s wrong, Halema?”, he asked. He was utterly confused and he ran his hands through his hair.
This is it! I removed the page I had torn earlier and I showed it to him. “What is this?”
He looked at the paper with a look of recognition. “You were searching through my stuffs? No I cannot take that. I never search through your things.”
“Well, Yes I did and look what I’ve found. You bloody bastard! You’re the one. You’re devil incarnate. You bloody raped me and you still touch me with that vile hands of yours. Who could have thought it was you all along? I shared with you my past, present and future but I didn’t know you were the one who ruined my life in the first place”, I shouted. The wall of frustration and fear and anger that had been built since morning came falling down.
He hid his face in shame. He never knew what it was I had found before he raised his voice at me. Now that I shouted back at him, he crawled into his shell like a tortoise in danger. He dropped to his knees and began to beg me. “I’m so sorry. I never knew it could have been you. I hated myself for what I did and believe me, I still do. But that particular day, I was at a party with my friends. It was my best friend’s birthday party and I got so drunk that I didn’t know what I was doing. How I had the strength to carry out the evil act escapes me. When you told about the incident, the facts agree with mine totally. I realize I was the man. The hate I bore for myself came alive again and I just didn’t know how to tell you that I committed such crime against you. Please forgive me.”
I looked at him as though he was a complete stranger. “Did you just say I should forgive you?”
He’s out of his mind, I concluded. He’s begging me to forgive him?
“I can never do that. I’ve packed all of my belongings. I’m leaving tonight”, I declared and he looked as though he just received a death sentence. He raised his hands on his head and ran his hands through his hair. His eyes never left me once.
“But I’m your husband. If it’s about your virginity you’re concerned about. You lost it to me, can’t you see?” It was in that moment I knew I was capable of murder. Imagine the nonsense he’s saying!
Then I told him in a thunderous voice, “You can never touch me ever again. The image of you hitting me and punching me in that night would always run through my mind. It would do us both good if we never saw each other again. Good bye and I beg of you, do not try to stop me.”
I spat on him and I slapped him on his left and right cheek then I packed my bags and I left him on his knees.