LOUD WHISPERS: If Only

 

If only Boma had understood how wrong it was for her boyfriend of just one month to yell at her. In public. She had met Sam at a cocktail organised by the chambers where she worked. Sam worked for one of the top banks and he ticked the right boxes – handsome, charming, good prospects. Four weeks later, they were both at a birthday dinner for one of his friends. There was a heated but friendly conversation about the state of insecurity in the country. Some of the guests, including Sam, thought the government was not doing enough to make citizens safe. Boma sided with others who felt that the situation had started deteriorating under the previous administration with huge amounts of sums earmarked for security ending up in private pockets. As the lively exchange was going on, and Boma was speaking, Sam yelled at her in a thunderous tone ‘Shut up!’. Everyone was taken aback at this rude behaviour. The conversation stalled, and the guests made awkward attempts at small talk, but the damage had already been done. The evening was ruined. Later on, Sam accused Boma of trying to impress people with her intelligence, just to let them know she was a Lawyer. Boma said she was only expressing her opinion to which Sam replied, ‘I had already stated my own opinion. Why should your own opinion differ from mine?’. Boma’s friends discussed the episode with her and she told them that Sam was only behaving the way most men behave, they want to be seen as the boss. It didn’t mean that he did not care for her. If only.

If only she had told her friends about the first time he slapped her. She only told them the third time he hit her, and that was a week to their wedding. They had argued over something minor, and she muttered under her breath that he was so sensitive about everything. He asked her to repeat what she had just said and she claimed not to have said anything. All of a sudden, she was spinning from the blow he dealt her and that scary tone of his, ‘So I am now a liar?’. Her committee of five friends were divided. Two of them advised her to leave the controlling bxxxxxd and forget about the wedding, someone better would come along. A man who has not married you and is already beating you will do worse once you become his wife. Three of them told her to let her Pastor know. Boma was in love. She had a wedding to plan. After the wedding there would be plenty of time to talk to Sam as carefully as she could about his behaviour. He always apologised when he hit her and would promise not to do it again. He couldn’t be that bad as to continue, maybe he was feeling insecure because they were not married yet. She did not have time to start telling long stories to their Pastor, who would only advise them to pray and for her to submit to him wholeheartedly, which she was already prepared to do. She did not want to involve others because she did not want to give Sam another excuse to attack her before the wedding. It was too close to risk getting bruises that makeup would not be able to cover. Boma’s older brother David would have been another option, but he lived in Abuja and Boma did not want to have the conversation over the phone. Both her parents lived in Ibadan, they were Professors at the University. That was another sore point with Sam. His father was a civil servant and his mother was a teacher. He accused Boma of acting as if she was superior to him because she felt her background was more illustrious than his. She kept saying this was not true and wondered why he would think that way. So Boma did nothing and said nothing. She focused on the wedding not the forthcoming marriage. If only.

The honeymoon was uneventful, unless you want to count the kick in the thigh she received when she did not get out of bed quickly enough to open the door for room service. Months passed, then years, three in all. The days, weeks and months were all a blur of fear, tears and blood. After the beatings would come the pleas for forgiveness, gifts and promises. Till the next time. She lost her first pregnancy. When she called her mother from the hospital to tell her what had happened, her mother demanded to know the cause of the miscarriage. Boma told her mother that she didn’t know, the doctors said things like that happen. She did not say anything about the fall as she was trying to escape Sam’s blows. Her mother-in-law came to stay with them for a few weeks when their daughter Tiwa was born. When the woman was leaving, Boma clung to her as if her life depended on it. When Sam’s mother was around, the beatings stopped. Mama Sam was a very religious woman. She advised Boma to be more prayerful and hopefully he would change, just as his father had done. Mama Sam went up the mountain to do a special one-week vigil and fast to ask God to soften Sam’s heart and watch over his young family. When Boma’s mother was around, Sam did not show that much restraint. During one encounter with his wife, when Boma’s mother intervened, Sam asked her to leave his house and take her daughter with her. If only.

Boma stopped working when she was pregnant with Tiwa. Sam had managed to convince her that the stress of commuting to work was a threat to their baby. Boma got too weary and scared of arguing with him about it. Without a job she felt trapped even more, but she soldiered on. Her parents and brother attempted to stage an intervention, but it did not work. Boma was too afraid to leave Sam because he had threatened to kill her if she tried. By this time, her committee of friends operated at a safe distance, through WhatsApp and the few phone calls she could manage in between the times Sam raided her phone to check for ‘unauthorised communication’. They had all seen their smart, beautiful friend shrink before their eyes and they felt powerless. They each had their own issues to deal with, so Boma’s violent marriage was sad, but it was her problem. If only.

Boma stared at her photograph. Her image smiled back at her, though she didn’t like the shade of lipstick she had used when the photograph was taken, and the foundation was a shade too dark for her skin tone. The fresh flowers were lovely though, her favourite pink roses. She looked around the church. David’s wife was holding Tiwa’s hand, while David had his head bowed for most of the time. She wondered why her parents where not there, then she realised that they couldn’t be there. She saw her friends, as well as old colleagues from work. After the service, she followed them to the cemetery, and watched as they lowered the casket into the ground. Her friends were no longer trying to comport themselves like they did in church, they wept openly. Hot tears of regret. Tears of ‘If only’. David fell to his knees, his wife held on to him with one hand, clutching Tiwa with the other. Boma watched the casket going further into the ground and felt herself being drawn higher up as if she was in sync with the casket lowering device. It came back to her in flashes. The yelling. The familiar blows and punches. Tiwa crying at all the commotion. The choking. She had fought back to try and get away and that is when the push came as if the devil himself was the force that propelled her over the railings. She felt herself suspended in mid-air for what seemed like an eternity, till she crashed and struck her head hard against the floor. Then everything went black.

As David walked away from the graveside, feeling as if he had stones tied to his feet, he took comfort in the fact that Sam was not allowed to attend the funeral, he was awaiting trial without bail. If only he had done more to protect his sister. He looked back at the grave. ‘Look up’, Boma wanted to shout out to David, but she couldn’t. Then she saw a bright ball of light speeding towards her. If only.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

 

 

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17 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: If Only

  1. Cordelia James September 17, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Babe, please runnnnnnnnnnnnnnn… no man is worth dying for. watch the signs and run oooooooo

    Reply
  2. Lilian September 17, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Oh God.
    Have mercy. There are so many Boma’s out there. Dead in the name of love.

    Reply
  3. olajumoke September 17, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    how can a man be beating a woman to the point of death? The woman he proclaimed love to? how!!! God help us

    Reply
  4. Omorosa September 17, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    I wish women would listen ooo

    Reply
  5. Glory September 17, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Women run. Leave that man. Don’t quit your job for anyman. Runnnn. This is the reality o.

    Reply
  6. Kikelomo Alamu September 17, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Unfortunately, so many ladies are entwined in this “if only” web. Lord grant us speed to flee before it is too late.
    Hmmmmmmmm

    Reply
  7. Nwafor Charity September 17, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Women,try and have your voice. Please I’m begging us.

    Reply
  8. Unyime Favour September 17, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    I wish women would learn and leave a violence relationship once they notice the sign.

    Reply
  9. Femi Diipo September 18, 2020 at 12:05 am

    It is sad that there are still women like Boma. Continuing to endure this kind of miserable life for religious, traditional, financial or whatever reasons.
    It is simply not worth it. A man like that is not a man but an animal and only deserves to live with other animals in the zoo (prison).
    We need to train our boys to be better and our girls to not settle for an animal no matter how charming

    Reply
  10. Temitope Ilori September 18, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    The story of the typical woman blinded by supposed love.
    It’s sad there are still lots of women like Boma out there.
    We need to do better with training our boys.

    Reply
  11. Bisi Alawode September 19, 2020 at 8:00 am

    we are telling them again ooo… will they listen? hmmmm

    Reply
  12. Akinkolade Kukoyi September 19, 2020 at 8:01 am

    na wa ooooooo. women. women. this is pathetic oooooo

    Reply
  13. DSEED September 19, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Must they wait until this happens? So many times these signs are always there earlier in the relationship but they ignored it. Notwithstanding Nothing is too late. All they have to do is to walk away. No one deserve to die in this manner.

    Reply
  14. Bright Vincet September 22, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    will they listen? that I always the issue. They love without their brain. No man should beat a woman.

    Reply
  15. Peters September 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    There are so many Bomas out there. We hope they listen

    Reply
  16. Favour Dinma September 22, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Our women, living is better than dying ooo. hian!

    Reply
  17. Olakunle Olajide September 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    This is just the reality, a lot of women are suffering in silence in marriage. Be it physical, emotional or mental abuse..

    Like my friend will say. Love yourself completely before you love someone else, so that you won’t be blinded when they misbehave.

    Reply

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