Two weeks later, my in-laws came to spend the Easter period with us. My husband’s younger brother and his younger sister came to the house and I was almost relieved that at least with the presence of his siblings, he would minimize his ill-treatment towards me and hopefully his chronic philandering.
One morning, I was cleaning the sitting room with a wet rag when the brother whom I was just a year older than came in carrying a pile of clothes in his arms.
“Victoria.” He called me and I paused my work to look at him.
“When you are done, I want you to wash these clothes.” He dropped them on the floor.
I stared at him in disbelief. “What happened to your hands?”
He frowned. “What kind of question is that?”
“Last time I checked, you are not handicapped, which means that you are well enough to do your own laundry.”
“And why would I be in my brother’s house and still wash my own clothes?” He asked.
“Why should I wash your clothes when there’s also a washing machine for you to use?”
“I don’t want the washing machine, it doesn’t wash my clothes clean.”
“Then simply use your hands. If you cannot do that, go and call your girlfriend to do it for you. I’m not your maid.”
His eyes narrowed in anger now. “The very day you married into this family was the very day we owned you. I’m your in-law and a man for that matter and you owe it to me to treat me the same way you treat my brother.”
I scoffed and then clapped my hands in disbelief. “If you are so desperate to be treated like your brother, why not go and get married. After all, your mates out there are already taking up their own responsibilities instead of feeding off their brothers.”
All of a sudden, he advanced towards me and struck me on the face with his hand. Stunned, the rag dropped from my hand as my hands flew to my face. “You slapped me?!” I asked in shock.
“Yes and you’ll get a severe beating if by the time I return and my clothes are still unwashed. You gold digger! I wonder why my brother is still putting up with you? You are classless! You should be happy that we even accepted you into our family, you wretched-slut!”
I was about to retort when my husband came down the stairs and soon his younger sister who must have heard us, appeared from her room too. “What’s going on here?” My husband asked.
My hand was still on my face as I stared at him with tears-filled eyes. “You brother slapped me.” I told him.
He turned to his brother. “Kenny, is that true?”
His brother quickly explained to him and told him that not only had i refused to obey him, I had also insulted him. My husband simply pulled my hand away from my face and scrutinized my cheek. “It’s not that serious. He didn’t leave a mark.”
I gaped at him in shock. “Your brother just slapped me and this is all you have to say?”
“What do you want me to say? Do you want me to send him away from my house all because of a harmless slap? Is that what you want, to cause a rift in my family? Listen Victoria, before I ever married you, I had my brother and there’s no way on Earth that I’ll do anything negative to him all because of you. You are at fault here. How would you refuse to wash his clothes? What kind of wife are you? Just clothes and you are proving so stubborn.” Turning to his brother, he said, “And Kenny, you can’t just do things like this. I understand that she can be very stubborn and unnerving but next time you want to slap her or lay your hands on her, seek my permission first!” Then he dismissed his brother and simply turned and walked out of the house without another word to me while my eyes followed him in speechless shock. I knew he was going out and soon I heard his car leave the compound.
When both men were gone, I stood there numb and the sister sympathetically approached me, took my hand and led me to the couch where she made us sit and the first question she asked was, “Why are you still here?”
I gave her a confused look. “What do you mean?”
“Despite how my brother treats you, you still choose to remain here, why?”
I sighed. “I’ve no where to go.” I mumbled.
“What do you mean by you have no where to go? Can’t you gather enough money and get out of this city? Fine, I know that he’s my brother and I have tried talking to him several times but even me cannot tolerate this nonsense that you are taking from him from any man. He doesn’t love you, he doesn’t treat you right, he cheats on you and doesn’t even care to hide it, he beats you up at the slightest provocation and yet, you’re still here, do you want to go to an early grave?! Can’t you grab any cash and disappear?!”
“I don’t have any money of mine. Your brother did not let me have a bank account of my own. He gives me only cash and for only specific reasons such as hairdo, clothes and groceries, besides that, he doesn’t give me any other money.”
“And you can’t save the least you can savage from such money he still gives you?! You are a graduate for Christ’s sake and yet you have refused to go take up a job all because my brother asked you to be a housewife and promised to give you a certain amount of money monthly, now where is that money?”
“He sends it to my parents monthly.” I answered.
She was taken aback. “What! Why would he do that?”
“It was my father’s idea. He claimed that the family needs the money more than I do since I’m already being taken care of by your brother.”
She heaved a sigh again that was of despair. “All these happening to you is the fault of your parents. And honestly, if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t even have agreed to get married to my brother in the first place just to please my parents. I wouldn’t jeopardize my future for any body, not even my family. Look, they are over there enjoying everything, while you are being treated worse than a slave here all because your parents chose to sell you for their own selfish interest! You had better find a way out of this stupid mess you have found yourself!” She finished and rose to her feet. She walked to the spot her brother had dropped the clothes, packed them in her arms and said, “as for these stupid boy’s clothes, they are going into the washing machine. You are not his slave!” With this, she started to walk away then paused. “Victoria, a word of advice from a sister to a sister, anytime you find anyone who can make you happy or treat you better than my brother, go for it, you have my full backing. It’s better to be with a poor man and be happy than with a rich man who never fails to remind you that he picked you from the gutters!” Then she walked away.
A month’s later, on a Friday night, after my in-laws had left three weeks earlier, my husband called me from the office and asked me to dress up that we were going out for an outing. I was surprised. He specifically instructed me to wear something sexy and that was just what I did. He came home at 9:30 p.m. that night and honked outside the house and I had to go out to join him in the car. When he saw how I looked, he nodded in satisfaction and drove off.
We soon reached the the place and the way he was hailed by the bouncer and some of the men inside the place made me know that he was regular in that place. The men all gave me curious glances as we walked past them. My husband took me to a couch facing the dancefloor and the bar and asked me to sit down then he summoned a waiter to get us a bottle of wine. The place felt choky and too crowded with people. A lot of people were dancing on the dancefloor and the music was almost deafening. The different smell of sweat and perfumes had mixed up in the atmosphere to form something that would have made me light headed and faint.
I saw a lot of girls in seductive and revealing clothes. Some clothes were too tight or were almost nothing. Sensitive parts of the body could be seen through some transparent tops and showing off of navels was the reigning thing. I tried to be comfortable as I watched girls dancing seductively in front of their male partners. My husband lit a cigarette and began to smoke and I stared at him in shock because I had never seen him smoke before. He pretended not to notice my expression and simply focused on the dance floor. I realized that his eyes were fixed on three girls who had come alone without partners and were dancing on the dance floor in order to get the attention of the men.
After watching them for a while, he got up, leaned down and whispered in my ear, informing me not to leave my spot then he approached the girls. He focused on the chubby one who was very busty and began to talk to her by speaking into her ear due to the loud music. Soon, he was busy dancing with her and running his hands all around her body. I swallowed hard and tried to look for something else to get my attention off him. I sat alone for the next fifteen minutes, trying to entertain myself by watching all that was going on around me and that was when my gaze locked with his.
He was seated at one corner of that place and he held a bottle of wine between his index finger and middle finger. The way he stared at me made my stomach flip and I have never felt such a feeling in my gut for a very long time, not even for my husband. I nervously broke our gaze and tried to look away but I found myself sneaking glances his way and sometimes someone would dance into view and severe my sight of him for a moment. When the person danced off my path of direct view again, I realized that he was still staring at me. I had never seen him before and I didn’t know who he was but there was something captivating about the way he stared at me as if he could see right into my soul.
I became very conscious of my looks just then and was concerned about if I looked decent enough or like most of the other girls in the club. I was trying to pull the hem of my gown down towards my knees when I saw him rise from his stool, his eyes never leaving me. My heart began to race now as I saw him move towards my direction, gently maneuvering his way through the dance floor with his eyes still fixed on me as if I was a prey and if he dared blink, that I would disappear. My chest swelled with both dread and anticipation.
I placed my left hand on my knee so that my wedding ring was in view, hoping that he would notice it from afar and turn back but he didn’t. I doubted he even saw the ring since he wouldn’t stop staring at me right in the eye. I glanced around for my husband and discovered that he was gone with the girl. Only her two friends remained on the dancefloor and I speculated that he had probably taken her to the corner for a quickie. As the stranger drew nearer, I thought of rising and quickly dashing out of the club but somehow, a part of me refused to let my feet move so I remained put till he finally emerged from the dancefloor and I could see a clearer picture of his features now.
Be Continued… Watch out for Episode 5.