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2f926-2015-01-112b14-40-30

People had different names for what was wrong with her husband and how he behaved.
In high spirits. No
But high on bottles of spirits.
He was battling with something, his own demons maybe.
Talking was no use
He spoke with his fists and eyes.
I didn’t help her situation that evening.
If only she had told me beforehand,
I wouldn’t have tried to lock her door to stop him from coming in.
I glanced back at her, hoping she would join me.
She didn’t.
She just stood by her bed.
The cloak of fear wrapped around her did nothing to stop the shivering.
I tried to lock the door but for some reason, the key wouldn’t turn
He was shouting
I couldn’t hear what
He went silent
I was still trying my luck with the key
My body pushing from behind
He was stronger, pushed his way through.
It was unexpected,
just like the slap that landed.

I could have sworn
I went blind for seconds.
Another one would have kissed my cheek but a sound stopped him.
He looked at where the sound came from, then me.
It wasn’t his wife at the back of the door.
He didn’t say a word but left the room.
I looked at my friend. I wanted to help her, take her away & see her smile again.
I hugged her.
Not a word escaped her lips.
I told her I’d come again.
Soon. I said
I don’t think she heard me;
I took one last look at her before I left her room.
She used to be so happy.
Teardrops crawled down my cheeks.
He saw me leave but no apologies came from him.
I left their house. Wiped my tears as I drove off. Why this was happening to her was beyond me. She would have to explain everything.
My plan was to come the next day when he wasn’t around so I could take her away for a while.
She didn’t have to live that way.
I wanted to see her happy again.
I went to the house as planned, I did not drive in. I rehearsed different things to say to her just in case she didn’t want to leave. I pulled out my phone from my pocket to call her so she could come and open the gate but realised it was slightly opened so I went in. Her husband’s car wasn’t in the compound.
That was a good sign.
The front door wasn’t locked too. Something seemed off but I still went in.
I shouted her name several times, no one answered. I checked everywhere downstairs she wasn’t there. No gateman, doors opened. My heart started pounding, I couldn’t think. I ran upstairs to her room, but she wasn’t there. I was shaking so much I had to put my phone back in my pocket so it wouldn’t drop. Where was she? What could have happened? Did he drive her somewhere to get rid of her?
‘Don’t be ridiculous’ I whispered to myself.
Then I remembered. The bathroom. That was the only place I hadn’t checked.
‘You silly girl, she is probably having her bath’ I said to myself then walked towards it.

***

The bathroom.
That’s where I found her.
In the bathtub filled with water.
She was in her nightie and covered in bruises.
Her eyes were closed.
She was still.
No movement.
My heart broke into a million pieces. Waves of emotions made me light headed.
I screamed and ran to pull her out. I managed to put her in a sitting position. Her head slumped sideways. I felt the pulse on her neck.
‘Why??’ I screamed
‘Tola please don’t do this. Don’t die. Don’t go. I will take you away from here. I promise. I swear. Please live.’ I was crying and screaming. I wished for powers, I wanted to bring her back. I should have arrived earlier. I blamed myself for visiting her the day before but I had to see her because it had been awhile since I heard from her. If I hadn’t tried to stop her husband from getting in, she might have lived one more day. She would have explained everything to me and I could have helped her. Just yesterday before her husband came in, I tried to make her explain what was wrong and why she was looking so down but she wasn’t talking instead she stared ahead. The sudden change in her behaviour when she heard his voice gave me a little hint that he was her problem or part of it. That was why I went to the door. I shouldn’t have.
‘Oh God, I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, please come back’ I whispered.
But it was too late.
She chose to search for peace on the other side. The one she couldn’t get on this side.
Tola was gone.
Memories flooded my senses.
She was one of the sweetest people I knew
I remembered the sound of her laughter, the way she couldn’t stop even when she tried.
It was contagious and we would laugh with her.
It almost put us in trouble one time.
We called her laughing gas.
She could laugh for Africa.
Looking at her now, there was no gas.
No strength.
I sat down on the bathroom floor, trembling as I stared at her lifeless body.
Tears ran.
I called the hospital.
I texted our friend Shade.
“Laughing gas is dead…”

 

 

Muhsinat Kamardeen

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