“Ekaboys <mother of boys>, you no go understand, forget say I forget my hand for im face, that one dey, but she sef, no fit argue, I dey craze for am o…”
Rising from the couch for the umpteenth time, he tried calling her again and, like before, the phone was switched off.
Two hours ago, while my hair dresser was still preparing attachments for my braids, “She” walked in, her curves making a bold statement.
Her face, however, was a canvas of emotions. Looking around, she found a seat, replied my greeting, the ghost of a smile playing across her lips, and without making small talk, began to converse with my hairdresser in the local dialect—Efik.
“Ekaboys I cannot again o, my whole body is swollen and in pain, but, see, I still love him…”
“What did he do this time? I told you that guy is rough na!”
“Eh, but what can I do? He always apologise afterwards and, besides, he loves me.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Talk to him na, see, yesterday, he hit my head on the wall several times, stripped me naked and pushed me out into the cold.”
“Hah that’s serious o.”
The conversation continues to flow freely, because they both believe I don’t understand Efik, and I am not about to dissuade them; so I listen as she narrates how she was beaten last night by her boy friend and how her husband nursed her, after she fed him a bag of lies on her ordeal with fictional thugs.
She continues to complain of her teenage daughter who has been overtly rebellious and how her second husband still sweeps, cooks, cleans and washes dishes before leaving for work in the morning.
An alarm rings, it’s 2pm.
She rises to her feet, and sways; she’s taken a full card of Panadol, she says, and the headache is not letting up since last night. Her voice is thick with unshed tears.
She needs to go home and cook, enough for her family and her boyfriend. If she returns later than this, her husband will be worried. She knows the “boyfriend” will come by the salon shortly, she doesn’t want to see him, but she has to, she explains to my hairdresser, whom she calls “Ekaboys”; to say goodbye, but as the words leave her mouth, they hang heavily in the room, interwoven with the unsaid promise that this would not be the last “goodbye” and is undoubtedly not the first.
As he enters, the salon suddenly becomes demure, and my hairdresser eyes him warily before offering him a seat.
Chuckling, he sits, and unlike her, he pays me no heed, answering my greetings with a wave of dismissal.
Despite Ekaboys’ attempts to assuage the conversation, till I am out, he wants to talk, and talk he will.
With full-fledged pidgin, he asks if he’s now a criminal just because he “forgot his hand on his girl’s face”.
Ekaboys’ anger is so fierce when he reaches to caress her face in supposed greeting, some strands of my hair are taut in the wake of his straying hand. Her hand is shaking and her voice rises an octave as she warns him to never touch her.
Sighing, he sits on the couch, then begins to paint the woman he loves in black.
He caught her in a dicey position with another man, who is not her husband, and was angered, so he brought someone else home to make her jealous when she visited. She reacted like he expected, and then some more, so he slapped and beat her into submission.
He’s upset that she’s not here waiting, as he was held by work for two hours and couldn’t see her earlier.
“Did you tell her you’ll come late?”
“No, she sabi wetin dey, she no fit think say I go drop wetin I dey do come here, because say she wan see me, I no be woman wrapper o, you reason am na. I been dey try find am gift sha.”
With a look of pure disbelief, hairdresser-cum-counsellor, Ekaboys, explains how it works for her and her husband, and besides, she says, their situation is complicated, as the lady is married too and has an ex-husband, still interested in her. So he can’t expect to treat her like trash, and have her come grovelling, just because she loves him.
And then He says to Ekaboys “…you no go understand, forget say I forget my hand for im face, that one dey, but she sef, no fit argue, I dey craze for am…”
It takes quite an effort for me to remain neutral, but I do. He doesn’t notice my change in demeanour anyway.
He glances at his phone for a minute, as if waiting for the right time, then dials her number. It is switched off. I listen to him rant some more on how lucky she is to have him, and proudly recount the four other times he gave such an epic beating.
Somewhere in my mind, it registers that today is 26th of December and somebody was given a mayweatherly Christmas gift yesterday… For love? Or…?
Adapted from a true story.
©G. G. Joseph
#life #hope #love