She pleaded as he made for her. She would make it worse if she dodged his lunge for her. It was always better to stay and take her punishment with dignity, he’d say. But today, today she pleads with him to be quiet, the children are around, and her little brother has come to spend the long vacation with them. He had looked forward to coming to Lagos and she had promised to take him where the waters rise and rise like he had seen in TV. She told him that he may not see people riding the waves though, like he had seen people do in Hawaii. Sometimes when he talks about Hawaii you’d think he had been there. He is so in love with the beaches so much so that he said he was going to be a life guard when he was grown up. She had laughed. It means you will have to relocated abroad. “Yes!”, he had answered with glee, “to Hawaii!”
She had laughed. She loved the enthusiasm with which children viewed life. Hope was a very strong thing, you hope, you live. Hope made living worth it.
He reached her and put a hand over her mouth while he raised the other to hit her across the face. Reflex made her raise both her hands up to deflect the blow. Big mistake. His hand came down and struck bony arm. He winced with pain. He pushed her hard and she hit the wall and bound off it back towards him, he cut her journey short with a slap and she fell on the bed. Bells rang in her head and she swallowed her screams. The children must not hear her. Nobody must. Especially not her brother.
“Please”, she ventured again. “The children”.
“What about the children?!” He thundered.
“They will hear”
“And so? What if they hear? It may teach them a lesson or two, to not take things for granted, and to not take shit from ingrates”.
Somehow she winced. The words hurt more than the slap she had just received, sometimes she preferred the beating to the verbal abuse some times, like today, she got them both. She almost always healed from the physical abuse, but the words, no matter how much he’d tell her they were just anger words, she couldn’t forget them