Conjugal Beast

The scars a woman have to bear in a dungeon society has ordained her to live forever in.

Bzzt BzztMy phone vibrated against the top of my desk for the second time that evening. I knew who it was, but I couldn’t afford to listen to the caller yell about how late I was. His terrifying voice was enough to send shivers down my spine. Besides, I was busy with the computer in front of me. The phone rang again, and this time, I used the opportunity of the turned-on backlight to glance at the time.

‘It’s not even five yet, and he’s calling.’ I cursed under my breath. ‘This man won’t kill me before my time.’ He was the reason I left home early that morning, forgetting my wristwatch, just to get to work in time and get the work on my desk done before noon. Only then can I return home at the agreed time. I was lucky that morning to have escaped his rage. All thanks to his heavy and deep sleep due to his late-night drinking.

Yes! The man I married was an alcoholic. Drinking was his only job from dawn to dusk. I can’t say I regret the day I married him because I knew him before getting married to him. I only thought I could change him. Ever since we became a couple, he had never done a single thing to generate income for the family. All he says is there is no work outside, but I did get one, and I had to fight him before he made me accept the job. Of course, after he almost beat me to death. That was the first time he laid his hands on me. I knew he had a bad temper. On that very day, I had thought he was driven by jealousy. So, I forgave him, but it was only the beginning of my worst nightmare.

From that day onwards, we both came to an agreement that I left for work at 7 AM, not after I had done the necessary chores around the house. My twins were too young to assist me with any of the chores, and my husband wouldn’t help. He would just lay down like a log of wood, smoking, and drinking. My workplace was just about 30 minutes walk from our house, and I always trekked the distance every morning. I had no money to spare for transport. My monthly salary as a computer operator wasn’t enough to put food on the table, cloth on our necks, let alone a roof over our heads. Each day, the same routine except on weekends when I had to wash all the dirty clothes, help my children with their assignments and still clean the house all by myself. Not to mention the usual cooking.

My nights were the worst. Not a night goes by that he doesn’t make love to me in the most brutal way, under the influence of an energy booster drink. He cared less about how tired I was, just to satisfy his selfish desires. If I refuse, then I’m in for deep trouble. He would wipe me all through the night, which was more agonizing than the former, so I always just gave in. On this particular day, I left for work as usual. Though, earlier. I had planned to finish the previous day’s work, as it was the end of the month and my boss had told me the failure to complete the work is equivalent to a deduction from my salary. Our only means of survival was that money, and I just couldn’t afford to lose any right now. The debts my family owed were too much, and I had already calculated how to settle them, especially that of Mama Chidi, who sells alcohol down the street. I, however, don’t blame my boss for his decision. I was the only one who closed from work as early as 4 PM just to avoid the anger of my husband. He had given me strict instructions to always return home on or before 5 PM. That evening, I knew I was in trouble. Not only because I was late but refusing to pick up his calls; that was a whole new grave I dug for myself. I feared what he would do when I returned, and this gave me chills.

At exactly ten minutes past 5 PM, I left my workplace, which was approximately 1 km from my home. Well, I still had to use public transport. Trekking in my dire situation was suicidal. So, I flagged a bike man, and off we went to No. 3 Olalade Street. I alighted and paid the bike man, after which I ran into the house as if my life depended on it. I think it did depend on that little run I made

On entering our one-room apartment, I met my husband in the living room, seated on the only available couch. “Where are you coming from!?” he yelled with his usual thunderous voice, and I was unmoved. I just shut the door quietly to avoid unnecessary attractions from our neighbors. Then, the sound of shattered glass reverberates through my left ear. He had thrown the bottle he was previously holding. I was lucky it’d hit the door instead of my head, which I suspected he aimed at. Still, I could feel the broken pieces against my skin. As I touched my cheek, where the pieces had pierced, he yelled and stormed towards me with a loud thud.

I stuttered and fell to the ground in fear of the beast in him. That didn’t stop him from charging forward like an unleashed wolf, ready to attack. In this game of hunt, I was the prey. His hand struck across my cheek on the same spot the broken bottles had pierced. He dug it further into my skin with the slap, and it felt like my cheek was on fire. “Where are you coming from!” he kept repeating as if he didn’t know where or probably my answer would quench the rage inside of him. “You are 20 minutes late, young woman. That’s twenty times dead!!!” “Frrrommm Worrr Work,” I managed to say, with my palms covering most of my face to avoid another slap. Well, I knew he would soon switch to punches. This wasn’t the first time I’m experiencing this. Scars from the previous beating were still fresh on my skin. I was only trying to avoid being hit on a spot everyone would notice.

My eyes shut, shivering at the corner where I crouched, expecting his fists to rain down on me like I was a punching bag. Instead, I heard the sound of bottles breaking. I opened my eyes in time to see him coming at me with a bottleneck. The smooth end, safely in his palms while the rough broken end was meant for me, I guessed. I was right! He grabbed me by the neck as I made to scream for help, choking me on my breath. With his innovative dagger raised high in the air, he asked slowly, “Tell me where you are coming from. Else, this goes into you.” I knew he meant what he said but of what use is my response. He was going to do it anyway. So, I didn’t quit screaming, as that was the only thing I believed could save me. The more I tried, the more he choked me. With time, I gave up. It was of no use. My neighbors wouldn’t respond. They all knew the kind of man he was.

True to his words, he dug the sharp end of the bottle into my thigh. I tried to scream but couldn’t. His palm was tightly wrapped around my neck. He dug it again into my side and told me to be quiet. I didn’t stop mumbling, as that was the only sound I could produce. While I was at it, he tore my clothes off with his free hand, muttering gibberish as he did. He was obviously balderdashed with no remorse. After that, he left me and returned to his sitting position. I was losing blood very quickly and had lost all strength to call for help. No one would come either way. I thought it was over.

Several minutes passed, and I lay on the floor, helpless. He looked my way frequently. I knew I was going to die if I didn’t help myself up to get help because he wouldn’t help me but add to the agonizing pain. I winced as I tried to stand on my feet. This drew his attention, and he said something which I had never heard. Then I saw him remove his belt from around his waist. He wound it around his arm, and within seconds I felt the intense pain of the metal end on my body. I fell with a loud thud, and he didn’t stop. I did stop moving but still felt the pain until I passed out.


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