Adeola was doing it again.
She was closing up, fixing broken pieces, all by herself. She was locking herself in, thereby, shutting him out. He tried to wonder why, yet he knew. No matter how hard he tried to assuage her fears, they’d always be there.
He stared at her back as she went on slicing the potatoes as if he wasn’t there.
He decided to try again. He limped towards her and placed his right hand on her shoulder. Her skin was so cold that he nearly jumped.
“I won’t have dinner until we’ve talked about what’s slowly eating you up, Ade mí.”
She faced him and tried to laugh, but she gave up even before a smile formed. She turned to the potatoes.
“I will make yours anyways,” she said, “You could wake up hungry in the middle of the night. And I want to be so dutiful a wife to always have food ready for my husband.”
His anger was just on the surface; he tried so hard not to burst from the swelling within. He gritted his teeth and let out his breath in a whoosh. His words came out between clenched teeth. “Adeola, duty is not what I want from you! If you would perform duties without love, then I don’t want you to be dutiful!”
She slammed the knife on the counter and rubbed her temple with her forefinger and thumb. He was stressing her again and he knew it. Rather than have them iron out the issue, she would lock up again. He wasn’t expecting her to, but she spoke up.
“But, Ola mí, I love you. You know I love you, Olamide. And if I cook for you, it’s from a place of love. And duty.” She picked up the knife and began to peel potato skin off.
Olamide grabbed the knife rather carelessly and tossed it in the sink. He grabbed his wife’s right wrist and pulled her to the dining area. He made her sit down. Then, he pulled another chair and sat down before her.
“I know you loved me. But, these days, Ade, I’m not so sure.” He felt the tears coming and he tried to blink them away. “If you love me like you’ve said, you will believe me. You would trust me when I say that all that happened that night does not matter to me.”
Adeola looked away. Olamide turned her chin back to face him. “I don’t like this, Ade mí. I don’t! I’m losing you to you and I don’t like this one bit!”
Adeola didn’t try to hold back her own tears even as she stared at her husband. “Ola! Olamide, how can you say what happened that night does not matter? How can you say that you’d close your eyes to the fact that I was raped by four men in your presence? You helplessly watched four men take turns on your wife and you say it doesn’t…”
Olamide stood up in a fit of anger. He staggered. “Stop, Ade! Stop this minute!”
Adeola gave a brittle laugh. “It does matter after all. You want to close your ears and eyes to this fact. But, we can’t ever deny that that night happened.”
Olamide went back before his wife. He wiped the tears on her cheeks with his palms. “It wasn’t your fault, Adeola. Don’t carry this guilt. It’s not yours to bear.”
“It doesn’t matter whether it is my fault or not, Ola. What matters is that that night happened. Four different men who were not you had their ways with me. That isn’t something to be ignored, Olamide. That isn’t something I can just forget never happened. Because daily, I remember. Daily, I see the lust in the masked faces as they had their way and took their pleasures. Daily, I remember that four men… And my husband was so helpless… I remember that you live with the scar, even today…” She glanced at his hurt leg. With that, her voice broke off and she rushed into the kitchen again.
Olamide stood up to find his knees wobbly. He sank to the floor. It’s been three whole months since that night. Would they ever forget? His wife hadn’t even let him touch her since then. And he couldn’t blame her. She was hurting, and she wouldn’t even let him bear half of her pain for her.
It wasn’t his fault that those cursed robbers were not satisfied with the money and gadgets they’d stolen. It wasn’t his fault—or Adeola’s— that they couldn’t take their eyes off his beautiful wife.
Though he tried to forget, he remembered that night all too well. Though they were masked, their eyes could be seen. And he saw too well. Many men lusted after his wife, and he’d recognized that look and stance well, even from masked people.
He hadn’t given up without a fight, but they had shot his left leg. Adeola had pleaded with her eyes and he understood. She’d rather have men sleep with her than have him shot to death. And he had pleaded back. He’d rather die than have his wife subjected to rape while he watched. He tried to struggle to his feet and fight the muscled man who held him strongly.
The robbers had other ideas. They thought it more fun to have him watch than killed. And so they made him watch, as each of them soiled his wife.
Could either of them ever leave behind the hurt of that unfortunate night?
He walked into the kitchen again and met Adeola’s drooped shoulders. He was afraid to leave her alone. He didn’t know what she was capable of. He feared losing her to death, to herself. They were only married for two years! He gingerly placed his hand on the small of her back. “Adeola, let’s see a therapist.”
She turned abruptly to him and he watched different emotions play on her face. Then, she turned and left the kitchen. And he knew she wasn’t coming back that night. She would cry herself to sleep, as usual.
He heard their bedroom door slam and he sighed heavily.
There was to be a football match today. So, he went to the living room and turned on the TV. He had the volume at the highest. He went to the kitchen to continue preparations for dinner. And he let himself float on the football commentator’s deep and rich voice.