Inspiring Change Through Literature and Media
Tell me who doesn’t have one!
Skeletons in our cupboards,
Secrets to our success,
Secrets behind our beauty,
You just name them!
In all probability, and for best known reasons, there is something each of us isn’t telling everyone else…
And often, the big questions arise such as
To tell or not to tell…
Whom to tell…
How to tell
What might happen if we ‘told’?
But are there any secrets really? Is anything ever hid under the sun?
Hasn’t even the Master Himself said that there is nothing hidden that shall not be made manifest?
Well, for me, there are no secrets anywhere! But only time will tell.
Besides, evil thrives in secrecy; and in cases where confidentiality defies safety and sanity, the earlier one figures out and activates the process of ‘telling’ the better.
And that includes discerning the right party to ‘tell’ of course!
Now to our story…
Adebimpe sighed starring endlessly into space.
It’d been a week since her ‘domestic accident’ and she had since been discharged from the hospital.
However, she was yet to resume work as she hadn’t regained her balance and composure. Only God would keep her from losing that job because she had already exhausted all her leave days for the year – including her sick leave days.
According to Domestic Violence Statistics, domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone. (The figures must be close for a populous country like ours but unfortunately, there are no accurate statistics regarding this.)
Her arm still hurt badly, and her heart? Broken into many pieces!!! She actually doubted her own sanity at the moment and the heavy influx of thoughts kept bringing tears to her eyes.
She had looked forward to another romantic evening on that fateful day. Soji had just returned from dropping off Angela – who had stayed over for the weekend, as she did not come with her car.
The funny thing was that she couldn’t even remember details of the root cause of the quarrel. All she could recall was that there had been a slight arguement, and as with almost all cases of domestic abuse, one thing had led to the other and SOJ had pushed her off his way in anger.
Regretably, she had responded by asking if he would do that to his sister.
“How dare you bring my sister into this?” was SOJ’s sharp response.
Bimpe had been very angry at his insensitivity. She was pregnant for crying out loud! However, she should have known better.
She had gone ahead to ask in annoyance whether his mum forgot train him on how to treat ladies with dignity.
And that was the height of it!
SOJ had lost total control and given her a hot slap for ‘insulting his mother’.
Adebimpe had countered his slap in self defence- and like a lunatic, SOJ had pounced on her and beaten her blue, black, yellow and red! In fact, she saw even colours yet undefined!
That was how far she could rememeber. She came round in the hospital hours later…
Agreeably, from every angle, it was painful! And like a doughnut with a hole in the middle, the whole experience had left a big void and vacuum inside which nothing on earth could ever fill!
Conception hadn’t come so easy for the fact that she had been constantly disturbed by SOJ’s violent tendencies, which in fact had increased since they got wedded the previous year.
Probably because SOJ knew too well that she could be secretive to a fault! Adebimpe was the type that wouldn’t tell even if she was dying! Talk about ‘shuffering’ and ‘shmilling’in the Nigerian context.
Possibly, this could have fueled SOJ’s indulgence unconsciously! Otherwise, someone of his ‘timbre and caliber’ should have sought
whatever- before ever tying the knots with any woman.
Thanks to secrecy anyway, because no sane parent would have given a precious daughter in marriage to an ‘SOJ’ – at least not without rehabilitation in view…
We’ll get back to SOJ.
As for Bimpe, she was a total mess. A bundle of confusion. Totally void of direction!
And now everything was gone- her confidence, her peace, her health, her dignity, her joy- and worse still, her precious little baby…
She recalled a picture of herself screaming so loud when SOJ had stepped into her hospital room the following night. The pain had been too much to bear.
“Leave… and just go…I don’t want to ever set my eyes on you again” she had screamed so loud that Dr. Ibrahim had been compelled to force SOJ to leave.
She had declined every attempt by SOJ to see her ever since.
What was she to do now?
Where would she start from?
She wished she could just forgive, sweep it all under the carpet and move on, in line with Christ’s commandment to forgive seventy times seven times. Only that Jesus never said to sweep issues under the carpet unresolved!
And truly SOJ could be nice to a fault- but for the fact that he would rather use his fists and mouth than his head when provoked! Negotiation did not exist in his dictionary at such times.
The worst problem with the guy was that being overly nice and generous in his ‘sane’ moments was his unconscious cover up mechanism for his violent tendencies. He had never for once considered the possibility of seeking and getting help!
Hence, his unnecessary and excessive display of romance and generosity every now and then, which in themselves were traps enough to keep any woman addicted to such a guy.
However, Bimpe could see reason now. This was her third time in the hospital in the past one year, though she had tried to ‘shield’ the real cause of the earlier two visits from Dr. Ibrahim, who hadn’t been fooled one bit.
This third attack was it. Things were beyond forgiveness now. It was a matter of life and death, and she sure needed something other than love and forgiveness to stay married to SOJ if she was to live out half her days.
And the worst part of her story was the fact that her “well-kept” secret was now screaming out even louder than a newspaper headline. How terrible open secrets could be!
Family- home and abroad.
In fact, tell me who wouldn’t have heard by now…she wondered.
And yet, everyone would keep pretending not to know a thing except those bold few whose love defied the fear of being tagged or stabbed.
Talking about people like Reverend Tunde, the General Overseer of 20, 000 congregation Praise Assembly who had taken time out of his busy schedule to attend to this matter personally; Pastor Joe, her Supervising Pastor, and Mrs. Idris- her Branch Manager at work who was doing everything within her power to get official covering for her absence from work while still shielding her case from the prying eyes of curious colleagues.
She had even called to check on her again that morning.
Each of these people had rebuked her sharply for putting up with such treatment secretly for that long. Every slap in marriage should be reported to a pre-agreed trusted ‘senior’ friend or mentor.
They all however counselled against involving family formally immediately, as this would definitely trigger over-reactions which could totally destroy their young marriage.
The truth was that Adebimpe and SOJ were very much in love, and should by all means stay married. However, they needed help if Adebimpe was to live out half her days.
Indeed, some friends stick closer than brothers!
But meeeeeeeennnnnnnnn!!!! It ain’t funny to be the subject of hot juicy gossips! Much less for a lady! Adebimpe mused.
But whose fault was it to start with? If only she had been wise enough to get help earlier during her courtship days when all she paid attention to was joint fastings and prayers.
She had obviously been totally blinded by love to see the trend of violent behavior trailing SOJ’s life.
To be sincere, SOJ was from a good family. Moreover, he was a very ‘matured’ and well grounded Christian who had been born again and committed to God for years. He never pressured her for sex throughout their courtship. He was very romantic and had always been generous to a fault. It was just his violent and abusive tendencies, which in fact seemed to run in the family…
Bimpe had once erroneously crossed the paths of Sade, one of SOJ’s tongue talking sisters, who pastored a branch of one of the largest Church networks in the country. In response, Sade had lashed out at her like the proverbial wild bear robbed of her whelps in verbal abuse, and would have practically torn her apart – but for obvious societal constraints.
That was the effect of strict upbringing on SOJ and his siblings, which actually was too extreme. Their parents never spared the rod one second, and the children grew up with the erroneous view that the solution to everything was punishment, violence and more punishment!
Of course, Bimpe had taken it as her own fault – the typical ‘pretender’s’ response to abuse. She had been too blinded by love and spirituality to seek counsel… too scared of being asked to leave the love of her life to get help, and had gone ahead rather blindly into marriage with SOJ despite those warning signs, unanswered questions, few slaps and verbal abuse during their courtship days.
She should have at least told a trusted someone, like her pastor.
However, she had blindly gone ahead, believing that SOJ would change if she treated him better, prayed a little longer and binded the devil a bit harder – oh… that‘pretender’s’ reason for staying on…
Hmmmmmmmmmm… talk about being naive, timid and confused!
It isn’t that guys like SOJ are not eligible. No one is perfect you know. Only that marriage to such people needs very careful negotiations, with processes in place to forestall potential damage to someone else’s precious life in future.
Bimpe had resigned to Angela’s home upon her discharge from the hospital.
This was in line with Reverend Tunde’s recommendation, since there was simply no headways in her marriage yet.
Both parties were still languishing in deep pains and shame.
Not that the Reverend supported separation- he simply did not trust their ability to handle the complications at hand if left to themselves with their differences still unresolved.
Besides, he wished to defer family involvement in the meantime as that might complicate matters and threaten the marriage even further- he didn’t want to risk finding out how protective and defensive family members might be- especially Bimpe’s, and he did agree with every sense of responsibility that they had every cause to be!
The Reverend had suggested that a trusted and more mature couple keep an eye on them in the mean time, and Bimpe, still insisting on secrecy had chosen to stay with Angela’s family since they were already in the know, while the Reverend had offered to look into SOJ’s case himself.
Unknown to many people, Reverend Tunde personally headed an ‘uncelebrated’ group of elders which addressed cases of Intimate Partner Violence (IPVs) in his church. In fact, the group was attending to quite a number of related cases at the moment.
Being a legal practitioner by profession, he never treated such matters with levity- and unfortunately, SOJ, one of his hitherto trusted leaders would soon discover his other side, as he didn’t plan to take this lightly with him at all.
Actually, he might even activate some legal action if need be.
Growing up, he had been a victim of abuse from tongue-talking believers who wouldn’t be responsible enough to get help for their excesses, and would keep misbehaving under the cover of grace thereby misrepresenting Christ to the world and dragging His worthy name in the mud.
However, for him, everything was pardonable as long as no human life was at risk.
In his responsible and close- to-fifty -year old opinion, such matters shouldn’t be swept under the carpet.
Just the way peace is NOT an absence of trouble but the presence of God, Reverend Tunde is an advocate of the fact that sometimes, a little ‘uproar’ or ‘unrest’ might be necessary to help snap man back in alignment with God’s original intention.
Or of what use is peace on the surface while there are cracks on the inside, and the whole set up is doomed to cave in and crumble in the nearest future? It is better to rock the boats now for a more fulfilling tomorrow!
Bimpe was somebody’s daughter- like millions of other Nigerian women who live under the death sentence- silently and shamefully undergoing physical torture by the very set of people they look up to for protection.
The sad reality was that Bimpe was as liable to getting killed or at best permanently disabled at any given time as any other victim of domestic violence.
Over three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends daily in the US, according to Domestic Violence Statistics. No one knows the exact figure over here. Everything is treated with levity and swept under the carpet in nations like ours where the right of women is not actively addressed.
Honestly, he had done a great deal of research on this subject and wouldn’t wish any lady he knew be a victim the defective thinking patterns which make women stay on in such abusive relationships.
The Nigerian woman should be better protected from abuse by the law. And he had vowed to see to that as long as he lived!
As the pastor of a 20,000 congregation church, he had vowed not to tolerate any form of abusive or violent behavior especially against women in his church. As a matter of fact, he was of the opinion that the Christian community should be more vocal against the abuse of women in Christendom.
And while he silently prayed for God to raise up men like J. Lee Grady who is set to reach out to male violators and help minister healing to the victims of domestic violence via The Mordecai Project, he believed strongly that much more than spiritual intervention is required to curb such behaviour in this nation.
‘Barbaric’ men should be made to face the legal consequences of their actions if only that would jolt them into rising up to the responsibility of owing up to their moral decline and getting help.
And actually, he was currently trying to set up an NGO to help defend the rights of women, as well as offer counseling, therapy and rehabilitation to ‘barbaric’ men.
The guy must be made to face the consequences of his actions, accept his moral decline, agree to his need for help. Furthermore, a rehabilitation process must be activated for him.
Once that was in place, they could take it up from there- but everything depended on Bimpe’s cooperation- see how much unwarranted secrecy had cost her already…