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WHEN THE DAM BROKE

Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet. – Psalm 140: 4

But who will protect you from he who you should be safe with?

Tope dwelled on her thoughts as she stood by the kitchen sink doing the dishes. A lone tear crept down her cheek as she thought of Harry. Harry, who should have been her protector, her rock; he should have been her anchor. Instead he became her nightmare. Her waking days were spent in fear of him and her nights didn’t bring respite.

She shifted her weight and winced. She could feel something loose as she massaged that spot. This was a result of the latest beating she got from Harry. He hadn’t always been like this, Harry. But she couldn’t tell when exactly he turned from the well-mannered – if a little distant – man she married into this monster.

They were having a heated argument the first time; she couldn’t remember what it was about. The smack across her face sent her sprawling across the sofa where she sat frozen in shocked disbelief. He stormed out of the house and returned hours later with gifts and apologies. He promised to never lay hands on her again. But it was as if that singular action broke a dam inside him and let out all the sadism that had been lurking beneath his mannered façade for years. It happened a few more times again; after each time, he would bring her more gifts and effusive apologies. And then, it became an almost daily occurrence. Then the gifts and apologies stopped coming.

She got beaten for any and all offences, from serious to mundane. Like the time he was in the sitting room discussing with his friends with a match showing on the television. She picked up the remote and switched to a news channel for a quick peek at the headlines, thinking it safe since the match was a replay of the live match he watched the night before. He shot her a glare so full of hate and malice, that she whimpered, her sudden fright causing the remote to fall out of her trembly hand. She thought he would let it go, but she was disabused of that illusion when his fingers coiled into her hair later that night, dragging her out of the shower stall. She simply curled into a fetal ball, having already learnt that fighting back always made things worse. Dark skin was excellent for hiding bruises, she had read somewhere. And so, she was thankful for her honeyed complexion.

Her lot would have been better if she had someone to talk to, someone to run to. Her mom had died a few years after she married Harry. And she had always been a loner, seeking solace and companionship in the pages of the books she loved so well. Harry had taken those away from her too. She had mistakenly ruined his best shirt as she was doing his laundry, and he had exacted his revenge by burning her books. She had come back from the market one evening to find Harry standing in the front yard beside a smoking pile that was her library. He had looked at her with a victorious smile, the kind that was usually reserved for a particularly buggy cockroach that had just been squashed.

“You are still washing dishes?” a voice growled behind her.

She froze. She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard him open the front door, nor had she heard his heavy steps as he approached the kitchen.

Harry’s beefy hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around to face him.

“Did I not…” The rest of the sentence caught in his throat as his eyes widened with shock. He gasped and his grip on her shoulder loosened a little. He looked down and his eyes got even wider. Then he looked back up to her and said in a voice strained with pain, “Why?”

Tope was confused. What was happening, she wondered with mounting incomprehension. Harry was looking down again, so she followed his gaze and whelped at what she saw.

The kitchen knife she was rinsing when Harry spun her around was lodged in his stomach up to the handle and her fingers were slowly being covered with his blood as it seeped from his midriff and around the blade.

“Oh my God…” she gasped as she began pulling the knife out of him.

It made a wet sucking sound as it slipped out of his stomach. The crimson stain the knife left behind was spreading rapidly on Harry’s white shirt. He gave a strangled croak, as his fingers clenched and unclenched involuntarily where they were still clasped on Tope’s shoulder.

“How could you…” he choked out.

The words caused something inside Tope to snap. A red mist descended over her eyes as she first stared at her husband, then down at the knife. Then, she grabbed a handful of his shirt and slowly slid the knife back into him. He made a choking sound at the back of his throat that was half growl and half cry as he tried to push away from her.

But Tope wasn’t done with him. She went after him with a snarl, and both of them went toppling to the ground as he crashed into the kitchen chair, the knife clattering on the floor. They grabbed at each other as they struggled on the floor. Somehow, Tope came on top. Harry grabbed her throat in a chokehold and his fist crashed into her face, splitting her lips and knocking out two incisors. Her vision dimmed as he throttled her and her hands swept over his body, looking for something to hold on to, something to grab. When she connected with his knife wound, she stuck her fingers in it and pulled. Harry let out an agonized howl and let go of her throat, grabbing her arm with both hands as he tried to pull it away. She made for the knife, grabbed it by the handle and stuck it through his rib cage under his arm. He tried grabbing the arm holding the knife, but he was growing weaker from losing blood. She stabbed him again in the stomach, then on his chest, on his neck and arm.

He had stopped moving, but she still stabbed at him again and again, a primal cry of rage ripping its way from her throat with each strike. Harry’s blood spritzed upward and about. Her face, hair and clothes were covered with blood and gore. The kitchen floor was a wet, crimson mess.

Tope didn’t know how long she continued stabbing him, but by the time she stopped, Harry was an unrecognizable mess of blood and shredded muscles. Finally her tormentor was dead. Harry would never hit her nor torture her anymore. But he was also all she had in the world, and now she was alone.

She slid out from his body, mewling as she moved. She backed away from him, into a corner and let the knife clatter to the floor. Her eyes were blurred with tears, but they were not tears of sorrow. They were the tears of a caged animal getting its first puff of fresh air, catching an errant ray of sunshine. She let out a long shuddering breath, as the tears came faster. She wept as one thought crept into her mind and resonated. She wept when she realized that she was finally free.

Written by Miguel Uchenna Chude


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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46 comments

  1. ladies, if your man beats you, divorce his sorry ass. better to be single & alive than married & dead

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Yet another reason why the hold marriage has on society should be weakened. When women think of wedlock as the be all of their lives, they will endure anything to stay married.

  2. One beat just one even if it is a day to the wedding or a day after……ayam out!!! cz once the hands are raised,it will always be!!!

  3. Adeleke Julianah

    .
    He got served.
    It’s said that, when you push a goat to the wall and it’s cornered without escape route, it will turn and bite.

  4. Hmm, not a bad story, it flows well as you read. So Chude, you believe it’s not right to beat a woman? What of raping her when it seems like she is asking for it? What’s your views about that?

    • You’re jerking my chains, right?

      • Actually I’m not. Remember your unpopular views on the stacey Dash article? The one she blamed women for rape? Well, you did say rape was definitely bad but still went ahead to say you see from Miss. Stacey’s point of view. I’m paraphrasing of cos. My question thus goes if the woman in this story did deserve the beatings or are loose women the only ones deserving of molestation?

        • *sigh* Jesus, fix this!

          How anyone can bring up this your line of argument after reading this story is seriously beyond my comprehension.

          My story is about an abused woman who snapped and killed her husband. She might have been the most promiscuous woman on earth, or she might have been the most chaste and loyal wife but I didn’t see the need to add that silly detail because I assumed that every thinking human knows it is inexcusable to abuse another human sexually, physically or mentally.

          • Maybe you have to go read your comment again on the stacey Dash story. Maybe you seriously have to. I’m not saying you have to have stated if the woman was a saint or not.
            This story is OK, it’s helps speak out against the domestic violence women go through and just how easy it is for a woman to be pushed over the edge. I not taking away the seriousness of the subject matter and from another writer, I would not raise an eyebrow but from you, I’m sorry that I’m finding it hard to reconcile. Here is your comment anyway.

            “There is no single reason under and above the sun to take advantage of any person, male or female. Rape is vile and disgusting, and I think rapists should get not less than ten years jail term when convicted.
            That said, and I’m about to get unpopular here, there is a little bit of truth in what she said. Based on rape accounts I’ve heard, a small population of the girls are “naughty girls” who went too far for their own good.
            A lot of these things can be prevented if humans have a bit more respect for themselves and others.”

            So I ask again, where do you stand? For or against domestic violence or is it OK when the lady is a “naughty girl”

          • And next time, please understand the question and answer appropriately. Don’t get condescending with your replies, it in no way makes a discussion healthy.

  5. I used to wonder why abused women stay with the abusive person. I think i’m slowly understanding it.
    Sometimes it’s the feeling you won’t get anyone better. Sometimes it’s pure shame. Most times it’s simply fear. Of anything at all. Of being alone.
    I have an aunt that was severely abused by husband. The advice fellow women gave her was ‘remember your children’. She was humiliated over and over again. At some point her husband accusedher of cheating and cut her hair. With scissors. And she carried it that way without a scarf.

    She is still married to him. It’s probably a testimony now. To her. And she will also use her story as an example to a young wife who is being abused.

    We still have a very long way to go.

    • I have two aunts with the same problem and every time my mum says “remember your children” and I’m just like “mum please let them just get a divorce”. But I’m glad one of them has finally left her husband, I just hope they don’t do their stupid family meetings to try to bring them back together.

  6. Damn! That happened so fast! Don’t know if I should agree that he deserved it but it felt so good to feel her freedom. He was a monster and he had to be stopped…..
    It is sad.

  7. He got served, though not in the most pleasant way. (Did she stick a finger into his knife wound? Yuck!)

    Marriages have ruined so many people, and women are almost always the ones at the receiving end of the fist. But they stay. Why?

    Love.

    Foolishness.

    Fear.

    Hope.

    The funny thing is, one day, all this will mean nothing. And it’s always too late, then. Always.

  8. But is she really free though? She just killed her husband, won’t there be a jail term for that? Cause I hardly think the judge will give a her a congratulatory card for killing her husband because he abused her…

    • Self defence, Cassie, and she has the injuries to prove it. Nice read, Miguel. This happens everyday in families all over … may we learn

    • Cassie, there is this tiny detail called Crime of Passion. She would be looked on a bit leniently if it is proven it was a case of crime of passion. She needs a good lawyer to make it stick, though…

  9. Wow. Great write. It’s important to study the personality of a person as much as we can before entering into marriage. Often times, an abusive partner doesn’t just become a monster. S(he) must have had this trait but faked it to get a partner. After marriage, however, the true self manifests.

  10. Jeez!
    Just like that? Most times I wonder if it ever ocurs to these abusive husbands or boyfriends that the woman could strike back. I mean, she cooks your food, sleeps with you etc. She’s got ample opportunity to get back at you. Yet..

  11. No woman should endure abuse…not even for her children.
    Now yes she’s free from being abused but has the death of her husband on her hands plus if she has kids for him, would forever have to deal with the fact that their mum murdered their father. All these minus the likelihood of being jailed.
    All avoidable.

    • You shouldn’t bear abuse BECAUSE of your children. If you die, do you think the abuser will care what the next wife does to your kids? Like I keep saying, threat of abuse is more than enough for me to find my square root.

  12. Thank you, everyone!

  13. Your Comment
    ….but then the court wouldnt rule dat she was abused, for crissake she murdered d guy..thats the more reason women are advised to leave abusive relationships. .even if u feel he is ur all in all…trust me there are better guys out dere….like me *winks

    • Will u get married to a divorced lady with kids??? And for this sort of reason

      • shakespeareanwalter

        Cest moi, I think perhaps he was kidding. 🙂

        • Y should he kid this is a very serious case study here…( Walter I’m really mad at u for taking this stand for him) you don’t know what married women face when they leave their husbands house, how this society of ours look at them, who caters for d kids- if any. The only consolation is if she gets married again and who amongst u guys will want her especially once she mentions d divorced part and d child part…. Please this should not be taken lightly. If he can get married to someone like her oh Ill applaud him cod he is on in a thousand in this society of ours.

          • shakespeareanwalter

            Cest moi, my apologies for riling you so. I do not think lightly of this matter. I would like to think any regular visitor of MMS would know this by now. I simply thought you’d misunderstood the fact that he might have been expressing humour on the issue. By pointing it out, it doesn’t mean I endorse any triviality expressed toward domestic abuse and the consequences of it.

  14. Good riddance… Great read.
    Welcome back, Miguel. You should write more often.

  15. That’s what the sucker gets

  16. Free ke? Abeg haul her ass to prison. Whatever happened to divorce?

  17. ………..And then she went to jail.

    What a sad tale

    • She killed him in self defence and she has the wounds to prove it. If she gets a moderately good lawyer, she can get off with manslaughter at most.

      • Err … Manslaughter still carries jail term. Plus it is not bailable. Think of all the time you will spend in prison while waiting for the trial to come to judgement. Best bet is still to jaa!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      LOL. Elsie, na so person dey take go jail?

  18. People let’s also talk about emotional abuse and passive rape….. @Walter cook up something I can add spice (not write the full story)

    Whatchu Say?

  19. Nice story Uchenna. The main reason why most women stay in abusive relationships is the Society. We need to get rid of the mindset that a woman can only be “complete” when she’s married. The only way women can freely leave abusive relationships is when our society stops viewing divorced women as “failures”

  20. Beautifully written.. Didn’t have time to read it yesterday.. A**
    I love stories like this 🙂

  21. By the way I would have dumped his sorry ass the day he burnt my books. MY BOOKS!! Him dey craze?

  22. Interesting story, and even more engaging comments. I didn’t know Miguel writes this well. Thumps up ,man.

    Walter, thank for the tag.

  23. The dude got what he deserved.
    Domestic violence is inexcusable…it should not be condoned or hidden. Women who leave abusive relationship are not failures, on the contrary they are a success- it means they know their worth and how they deserve to be treated ; they are strong enough to walk away from undeserving husbands…
    If such women desires to marry, they will find men who appreciates them and knows their worth; that men do not like to marry a divorced woman with children is a myth, just like telling a child that swallowing orange seeds will make an orange tree grow from his head. They have been used for ages to get people to conform to society’s wishes…

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