Caught in the middle 1: Life’s unpredictable twists
As a little girl, Nnenna’s fear was being married to a violent man like her father. She witnessed the way her father, Odogwu treated her mother and shook with fear whenever he was angry.
When she was seven years old, her father beat her mother so bad that she lost hearing in her left ear. Nnenna was just a child but she managed to save her mother from further beating when she started singing to her dad. He loved to hear her sing because she reminded him of his dead mother.
Odogwu stopped dead in his tracks with his huge, coarse hands suspended in the air. He looked at his wife Uloma crying and whimpering at the corner of their tiny room and dropped his hands. He glanced at Nnenna again and shook his head in anger.
His heart was beating so fast and his fist still twitching because he wasn’t done punishing his wife for burning his dinner. That wasn’t the first time he raised his hands on his wife. He beat her all the time. He claimed it was corrective beating because she acts like a child.
Uloma got married to Odogwu when she was 16 and became pregnant four months later. When she was pregnant with their first child, Odogwu beat her so much, she lost her pregnancy. He came back home angry and poured out his frustration on her but she told him to calm down and stop blaming her for what outsiders did to him.
But that was a wrong move because she suddenly started seeing stars as Odogwu pounced on her and beat her till she was rescued from his grasp by their neighbours. Uloma knew that if it wasn’t for her neighbours who intervened, he would have killed her.
The women in the village blamed her for talking back at her husband. They told her that if she wanted to stay married for life, she should never challenge her husband because he was a god to her. They told her that marriage was endurance and she had to overlook her husband’s mistakes if she wanted to be a good wife.
Uloma knew that was not the kind of life she wanted for herself but she knew better than to voice her feelings out to anyone. Her family won’t even hear of her sighing about her violent husband. She was an orphan who lost her parents within the space of six months. Her Uncles didn’t want to be responsible for her, so they gave her out in marriage to Odogwu in exchange for two plots of land. They told her that it was better for her to be married than to go to Lagos like she had planned.
Uloma became pregnant again but was careful around Odogwu. She would agree to everything he said without protesting. She would serve him his food at the right time and open her legs for him whenever he wanted to have sex. She was being a good wife but that didn’t stop Odogwu’s explosive temper from surfacing once in a while. Fear became her food.
The fear of being beaten kept Uloma safe from Odogwu’s flying big hands which he sometimes forgets on her face whenever she offends him. One day, she was so tired that she told him she couldn’t have sex with him but he grabbed her neck, pinned her down in her pregnancy and had his way.
Uloma never forgot that day. She shook with fear anytime she remembered how he took her by force even in her pregnant state. She vowed to stay alive for her unborn baby even it meant having sex with Odogwu every night no matter how uncomfortable it might be for her.
One day, Odogwu was chasing round the house to beat her when his mother held him. While he was struggling to break free from her, she fell down and hit her head so hard on the floor and fainted. That evening, mama died from her injury and Odowgwu blamed Uloma for that.
The fear that he would kill her once they got home and were alone forced Uloma to go into labour. She was taken to the mid wife’s place and Odogwu was pacing up and down in the front of the compound, biting his lower lip till they were bleeding. He didn’t mind the pain at all.
Uloma gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who looked just like Odogwu’s mother and he named her Nnenna. He fell deeply in love with her and took care of her like his life depended on it. Uloma was at peace. That fear of being beaten was gone because she saw how the birth of Nnenna made Odogwu soft and tender.
You see, Nnenna was the apple of her father’s eyes and he would melt whenever she was around him. So, when she started singing to him, he let her mother go. He took his clothes and left the house. Nnenna rushed to her mother’s side and started wiping her tears. She saw fear in her mother’s eyes. Uloma lived in fear because of Odogwu’s itchy hands and her daughter knows this.
Stay tuned for part 2