The air was dry and still. Esosa could feel the back of her throat go dry, itching with thirst. Sweat dotted her forehead and heat prickled at the nape of her neck. The sun beat down furiously and she wondered if it was aggravated from the world’s sins or just the gravity of hers alone. She sat on what looked like an abandoned brick with her head in hand, wondering when her thirst will be quenched while praying for rain. She seemed oblivious to the scurry of pedestrians around, only looking up when a danfo bus stopped by and she watched as people hopped off while others fought to get in at once, causing a ruckus, but at last, they all found their way in, seated body to body, packed like a tin of sardines. All of a sudden, her dusty feet began to ache and her attention was brought to the cracks on her soles and the mild cuts on her feet. She looked away quickly, tying the scarf that had begun to droop down her face.
“Sista, where you dey go?” A light skinned man with several chains around his neck, shirt buttoned down to reveal curly and sweaty chest hair, tapped her lightly on the shoulder. His yellow wasn’t the fine, refined yellow, It was what she and her sister liked to call “struggle yellow” – almost orange.
“Bros, abeg, you get pure water?” She begged, deaf to his question.
“See the way as you come sit down for here since morning. You come beg abi wetin you want?”
Since morning? How long had she been there for? Where is she even going? All she knew was that she was running and she had to run as far away from him as possible…from what she had done. The roof of her mouth itched, her lips felt dry and cracked, she could feel it peel as her tongue swept across her lips and her brain registered the sharp tangy taste of blood.
“Bros, abeg, you get water?” She asked once more. She tried to get her vision to focus, but the sun blinded her so that the man seemed more of a memory now. He hissed and walked away. She heard him murmur to a friend, who was nearby, that she was deaf, mad or maybe both. It was then she realised that all eyes were on her. People looked at her as they walked past, the sellers across the road peeped once in a while and she imagined what could be drawing their attention. And right on cue, a car drove past and she saw her reflection on the doors, unable to recognise herself. She’d fled to save her life without stopping, never looking back.
Esosa wore nothing but the torn, blood-soiled clothes and a limp scarf. She looked at her hands, nails darkened from the blood that stuck on to her; a constant reminder that her hands were not clean. Suddenly her heart began to race, she could hear her blood pump and she began to tremble. Flashes of the horror on his face, disbelief in his eyes and all that blood flowing on that ground, like a stream, came all together at once and her head began to spin like the world was revolving till she was transported back in time to the early hours of that day.
It had escalated too quickly. Somehow trying to defend herself had turned into one hell of a tragedy. The knife had gone in too easily, almost as if she was poking a fat chunk of meat. She should have stopped but something had taken control of her. Her blood pumped, her heart raced as excitement took over and she laughed. She poked again, harder this time. She leaned in as her grasp tightened, staring him dead in the eye as she stabbed, over and over again and with every grunt of his, she laughed till he fell to the ground.
“Behold, Olympus has fallen” she remembered saying, till reality dawned on her and her whole body began to shake. She dropped the knife and took a look at what she had done. She panicked and the first word that came to her head was: Run. So, she ran past the gates and the streets till she could run no more. In retrospect, it had happened too easily and it was invigorating. For once, she had the upper hand and every stab was for all the men in her life who had shown her that love was equated to pain.
Esosa had played the role of the doting wife, who never complained or aired dirty laundry outside. She had been told that love is not pain, but all her life, the men who claimed to love her had shown her much pain. Her mother, who had experienced one of their episodes pulled her aside and warned her not to leave her husband. It was the price to pay for having a runny mouth like hers. It reminded her of how her mother had shunned her when she found her husband- Esosa’s stepfather- canoodling her in a corner one night against her will. Her mother blamed it on her mami water eyes and called her a man-eater. So when her stepfather snuck into her room later that night to insert his seed in her, she made no noise because it was her fault and the price she had to pay.
All her life, she had let men step on her and watched her self-esteem dwindle with every blow, till it became non-existent and she was nothing more than a shadow of herself. Esosa thought she was capable of handling it, just like her mother and aunt had dealt with abusive men all their lives, but unfortunately, she had a breaking point. Fortunately, she realised that she was nothing like her mother.
She jolted back to reality and her awareness of everyone’s eyes on her grew more intense. Her eyes darted back and forth, fear taking a grip of her soul and she stood up quickly. Somehow she heard the whispers. Did they know? Of course, they knew! It was written all over her. She heard them whisper and laugh. Perhaps they asked one another why she could not endure the physical abuse like most women learned to come to terms with. Perhaps if she had tread carefully and not tried to provoke him, it wouldn’t have resulted to this.
She panicked and ran quickly, bumping into people who yelled curses. She had no destination, but she knew she couldn’t go back. So she ran in a race to outwit time as if she could be transported back in time. Soon enough, everywhere blurred out and she couldn’t make out faces or buildings. How long had she been running now? It didn’t matter. She could not stop, they all knew. So she ran till she felt the breeze of cars speeding past, till she saw flashing lights and heard the horn.
For the first time that day, she felt her body be at peace with itself as she closed her eyes to feel the crash. She too will pay for her sins just like the earth had done today with the raging rays of the sun. The world went silent now. The whispers had gone, the flashes faded out, and the last thing she remembered was the drop of rain land heavily on the bridge of her nose.