Lara will be buried on Friday. It’s been a long week for me and I am still confused. My somehow scheduled and organized life has gone berserk, since the day I found the neighbourhood gathered in front of our house. They said she just had her bath and she tripped and fell down their expensive staircase. But I knew that wasn’t the story, I can bet my life that the story was different. So I rushed to their apartment to ascertain if my friend and only neighbour; the landlord’s wife was truly dead.
I met Tade, the deceased’s husband in tears. Our eyes met, he looked down to look up again and confirm that my friend had truly died amidst tears and a bout of vigorous head shaking. Lara couldn’t be dead; I looked around and my eyes went to where we sat two days ago analyzing the movie we watched about abuse. Lara couldn’t be dead, even if she was dead; her death was too cheap. Lara whose face is a picture of every child’s innocence and whose friendship had come to mean a lot to me.
I felt her death was too cheap. With this conclusion, I decided to take control of everything amidst my anger, pain, confusion and annoyance at the deceased whose corpse had been taking to the mortuary after the unfortunate incidence. I waited till the mourners left, and took Lara’s children to our flat.
I bathe them and fed them and took them to the children’s room to rest. I knew Kishi was attached to his mum and would understand a bit of what had happened so I allowed him to sleep as he was not ready to talk to anybody. I went to sit beside Simi’s bed and asked quietly “Simi did you see mummy fall”. And quietly she said. ‘’Daddy slapped and push mummy at the top of the staircase and she hit her head on the wall, mummy tripped and fell down, then she slept.
I felt cold. It was a cheap death because two months to this event, we both laughed over this possibility and she said Tade was a very good and noble man and would never do such.
His beatings had become a ritual, yet no one knew. He was very discreet, very cheerful and conservative; the man who conserve all his energy and aptitude to beating his wife.
They were a wonderful couple, everywhere. He was a wonderful husband as we saw. A good father and a good landlord who at one time I had drawn a comparison with, to the amazement of my husband who said he could see beyond his extra cool facade. Tade was an epitome of a good man in every area, yet he was a wife-beater.
Is it possible to understand a dangerous situation and yet live with it, by it and for it? That was Lara. She lived with it and died by it. No one can understand why some women don’t leave. Not because they don’t want to, but they believe they just couldn’t.
In Lara’s case, I believe she had the idea that it was bad to leave her husband. Yet I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t bad that he was beating her. She was culturally wired to believe that, what she has worked for all these years will go down the drain if she walked out.
Lara had a good degree, she knew and must have discussed during her days in the university that she will never condone violence or abuse on women. However, when it came to her, she could not leave. She put her degree aside and thought more of her social disgrace and alienation until she landed herself in the grave.
In my own case, I believe telling her to get out was not enough. I should have done better. This is not a guilt trip, but I should have done better.
Kishi refuse to talk about the death of his mother, Simisola kept asking when mummy will come. But give or take 2 years she may forget about her whereabouts and remember a mother that once cared. Will Kishi take after his father? It is tucked down their memory, will they do it? Won’t they do it? Only God can tell the effect of that which they saw.
Lara, I am sorry I didn’t go to the police with your story, even though you told me you would deny it.
Lara, I am sorry he finally killed you, much more I am sorry he killed the little angel you carried within you. She was just 12 weeks and four days when she snuggled down the abyss of her father’s violence. Adieu Lara.
As we mark yet another day for the elimination of violence against women all over the world, I hope we will be concerned to give more than a little thought to the bruises we have seen, the silent cries we have heard for help around us and help to stop the indiscriminate violence against the defenceless and against women around us.
This is a social consciousness story by Funmi Akerele, Founder of Pink Ambition
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