THE DARK GLASSES : BEHIND CLOSED DOORS


"Benjamin, stop staring out of the window during lessons," the teacher said, "Pay attention to me."
Ben turned his face from the window and looked at his teacher. However, his mind wasn't on her nor was it on what she was saying. He was re-living last night.
The image of daddy and mummy fighting couldn't leave his mind. He had heard them last night. Unlike other times, this time, they had been really loud. His brother and sister were also awake. They were twins and shared a bed. They had been whimpering in it. He had whispered to them to stop crying.
"I'll be right back, okay?" he had said reassuringly. He had been very scared but, had tiptoed out of the room. Luckily, the door had not squeaked the way it had the day mummy had caught him going outside to play instead of taking a nap. She had scolded him then, for being naughty and had sent him back to their room.
His parents had been in the living room. He had walked very softly, along the corridor which linked the bedrooms to the living room. He had been chilled to the bone by what he had seen.
Daddy's right hand had been around mummy's neck. He had backed her into a wall and he had been squeezing her neck.
"Stop," he had wanted to cry, "Please stop." He had found that the words couldn't come out of his mouth. He had been terrified. Soon, there had been a puddle at his feet. He had realized at that instant that he had wet himself.
He had thought to himself, "Oh, no! Not again! Daddy's going to be angry with me". His father had yelled at him the other day for wetting his bed. Ben hadn't wanted to reveal that he had been too scared to get up from his bed to ease himself in the bathroom, after he had heard their raised voices.


Last night, he had been petrified. As he watched his parents, his mother had bitten his father's arm. Daddy had let go of her immediately. Daddy had been bare-chested and mummy had scratched him many times. Her hair had been tumbling down her face, in disarray. She hadn't looked like mummy at all. Mummy's hair was usually neat. He had also never seen mummy that angry. She had tried to fight daddy off. She had scratched him and had hit his chest a number of times.
"I would never again, quietly take this from you," she had cried over and over again. Soon, daddy had drawn back his fist and had hit her face. Her body had slammed into the wall and she had crumpled on the floor.


Ben had heard daddy muttering to himself. Daddy hadn't gone to help mummy up. Ben had wanted to go help his mother but for some reason, he had found that he couldn't move at all.
"Get up, mummy," he had silently cried. He still hadn't been able to get the words out. But, mummy had heard him somehow, because, she had got up from where she had lain. She had turned around then and had seen him and had lifted both hands to her mouth.
"Ben," she had called out.
At that moment, daddy had turned and had seen him too. Ben hadn't answered mummy. He hadn't been able to answer mummy. He had turned and walked back to the room he shared with his siblings. His stomach had been churning and he hadn't wanted to make a mess on his clothes. He had known that he needed to use the toilet and very quickly too.

Last night hadn't been the first time Ben had seen his father hit his mother. However, his parents didn't know that. It was the first time he had seen mummy fight back, though.
"Maybe, daddy won't beat mummy anymore," he thought now as his teacher showed examples on multiplication on the board. Ben wasn't interested in multiplication; he just wished that the fights at home would stop.

"Ben used to be one of my best students," his teacher said, "But recently, his grades started slipping very badly. He doesn't pay attention during classes anymore and he's suddenly very quiet. He never seems to have a lot to say to anyone, too."
"How long has this gone on for?" Jane, Ben's mother asked.
"It's been over three weeks and in that time, he's turned in incomplete homework, more often than not," the teacher replied.
Ben's mother had been called for a parent-teacher conference in school to discuss her son's progress. She was ashamed to realize that she had been so engrossed in her own problems that she hadn't noticed her son's. She usually supervised his homework but for weeks now, she hadn't. She had been too depressed, really, to pay attention to any of her children. From the time frame the teacher gave, she realized that Ben's new behaviour started about the time he had witnessed the last fight between his parents.

"In my experience, whenever a child’s behaviour changes so drastically, something must have triggered it," the teacher was saying now. "I've carried out a little investigation here and have ruled out bullying in school. Nothing else here, seems to have affected him negatively too. Is everything alright at home?"
"Yes, everything is fine," Jane responded too quickly. She promised the teacher to look into the cause of her son’s new behaviour. She also promised to start supervising his homework again and quickly left with her son.

"I'm not paying them to ask about my home," John raved, "All I want from that teacher is for her to teach my son. How dare she ask if everything is alright? What could be wrong?"
"You can't possibly mean what you just said," his wife responded, "The tension at home is palpable. We haven't been happy for a long time and Ben saw us fighting, remember? Our six-year old saw you trying to choke the life out of me. He..."
"Oh, shut up! And please, cut out the theatrics. If I had wanted to choke the life out of you, as you put it, you would have been in the morgue now," he yelled, cutting her off. "You gave as good as you got. I still have the scars to prove that. It's entirely your fault, too. If you had supervised his homework, we wouldn't have some stupid woman asking about what goes on in this house."
"That's all you've ever bothered about, right? All the time, all you've ever cared about is what people would say. You're nothing but a hypocrite. You..." A slap cut her off this time.
After a few seconds she quietly said, "You slapped me?"
"I would do worse to you if you say another word to me. How dare you run your mouth, so carelessly, without letting the fact that it is me that you are speaking to deter you? Maybe you need reminding that you were nobody before I met you. I picked you from absolutely nothing and I gave you a good life. I've made sure that you’ve not lacked anything and if I decide to throw you out of my house now, you would have nothing. Do you hear me? Nothing!”
He stormed out of the house while she cried.


"Madam, abeg Oga say make I no open gate for you. E say make I call am first if you wan comot for house today," Abdul said, "Abeg no vex. No be say I no wan open gate for you but my Oga go drive me for this work if I no do as im talk. Madam, you sabi say I get four pikin and my wife come get belle again sef. If Oga say make I no work for here again, I fit no find anoda work. Madam, if that one happen, na very bad tin o because I no go fit send money to my wife for our village."
"Abdul, what nonsense is this? I have to take my children to school. Open the gate, immediately."
"Abeg, madam, no vex. I no want make oga vex with me. Na beg I dey beg you. My oga say make I no open gate for you today except if I call am first. Madam, no vex. I go call am now. I sure say by the time I tell am say you wan comot, e go talk make I allow you pass."
Jane had packed frantically as soon as her husband left for work. She had wanted to be gone with Ben and the twins before John came back home but the security man wouldn't open the gate. That made her very angry because she realized that his intention had been to keep her a prisoner in their home. She felt completely insulted by the fact that he had involved Abdul in the matter. That made her more determined to leave him. Michael had informed the security man that he would come back home as soon as he could. So, Jane did not bother unpacking their bags because she planned to leave immediately he came back.


"Oh, so you thought you could leave me? You forgot, very easily, that I know you very well. I could almost smell the desperation on you this morning as I left for work. You were just like a rat that had been cornered and was looking for a way out. You’re really a stupid, stupid woman for believing that I would let you leave me or take my children away. You know that now, right? You’re going nowhere and if I ever wanted to cast you away from me, I would never let you take my children."
"They are my children too and I would not let them grow up with a monster like you," Jane replied
"Oh, I'm a monster now, right?" John said as he walked menacingly to her. He was removing his belt from his trouser as he came towards her. She was shocked when the first lash landed on her body. She screamed and hurdled on their bed, protecting her face. He made sure that the head of the belt made contact with her body as he hit her again and again.
Suddenly, the door of their room opened. Ben ran inside and to his father.
"Leave my mummy alone," he cried, holding his father's leg. Stamping his feet on the floor, John tried to shake his son's hands off his thighs but Ben wouldn't budge. John bent now and using his hands, forced Ben's hands off his thigh, shoved him away and turned his belt on his six-year old son.
Jane couldn't stand the sight of that. She jumped from the bed and unto her husband and pummeled him with her fists. Like an enraged bull, he flung her off his body. He threw his belt down too and after looking at his wife and son in disgust, he flounced out of the room.


"Are we not going to grandma's again?" Ben asked his mother two days later.
"No, we're not, sweetie," she replied. "We can't."
Looking at him with sad eyes, he asked, " Why mummy? Why can't we go? I love going to grandma's house. She always fries plantain for me and tells me lots of nice stories. Why can't we live with her? You said we would. Daddy won't be there too."
Jane was very sad when her son spoke about his father. Both of them had welts on their bodies from the beating they had received. Ben couldn't go to school till his disappeared because Jane didn’t want anyone asking him questions about them. She was tired of her miserable life but she truly didn't know how to get away from the situation.
Moreover, after thinking carefully, she now realized that John was right; she was nothing without him. She had never worked so she had no money of her own and couldn't possibly take care of her children without John's financial support.
She had resolved to take her mother's advice and accept that John's temper was a part of him she couldn't change.
She would also hope that as his mother had said, he would 'grow out of this phase'.
She would also try to 'watch her mouth' better like his father had suggested.
While she was lost in thought, Ben sadly left her.


"I told you to give me that car, didn't I?" Ben asked his four-year old brother.
"But, it belongs to me," Jeremy insisted, holding on to the toy.
Ben shoved him to the floor of their room and took the toy car away.
" Why did you push my brother down?" Susan yelled. "It's our car, after all."
The twins were very close and always stuck up for each other. So, it wasn't surprising for Susan to speak up in Jeremy's defense.
"You had better not speak to me in that manner again," Ben yelled back at her.
The door to their room was open so Jane could hear her children very clearly. They fought a lot now and that bothered her a lot. She was particularly concerned about Ben. Besides bullying his siblings at home, he now had a reputation of being a bully in school. Jane had been summoned, to the school’s head teacher’s office, for another parent-teacher conference just that morning. Yesterday, Ben had fought with a classmate. During the fight, he had wrapped his hand around the boy's throat while saying continuously to him, "I could just kill you."
The head teacher had suggested that Ben start seeing one of the school’s counsellors but Jane, knowing what Ben’s reaction to that would be, was quick to refuse.
“Madam, if you do not want him to receive counseling here, I suggest that you get some professional help for him from elsewhere. He’s only six years but your son is a deeply troubled child, from all accounts and it’s your duty to try and make things better for him. If his bad behavior persists, the school will have no choice but to ask you to withdraw him from here.”
When she heard that, Jane had barely been able to control her emotions but, immediately she came home, she had broken down and cried for a very long time.

When Ben saw his mother coming into their room, he immediately tried to leave. Jane grabbed his arm but, he shook her off and walked away. She called out to him but, he ignored her and kept going.
She knew that could force him to come back since he was just a little boy. But, she didn't bother to try because she felt really defeated. Instead, she sat on his bed and cried while the twins silently watched her. She knew now, that her little boy had lost his innocence.
When John came home from work that evening, Jane waited till he had dinner before asking him to have a chat with her. He had wanted to watch a movie so he had been irritated with her. “Since you insist that whatever you have to say can’t wait, I will listen to you but you have to be really quick,” he grumbled.
She told him about her discovery in their son’s school and suggested getting professional help for Ben.
"There is nothing wrong with my boy," John said. "We have a system that works just fine in this family. We may have few problems. Hey, who doesn't?! I'm not going to allow you bring strangers into our home and that's final."
“I don’t believe that you haven’t noticed the change in our son, John. No matter what our problems are, let’s be courageous enough to so the best by our boy.”
They argued vehemently for a few minutes till he hit her twice in the face for 'forgetting her place.'

The next morning, he apologized to her and the apology seemed sincere. She also apologized to him for 'getting him upset'. She made his favourite meal for breakfast and they all ate together on the dining table. There had been no uneasy silence at the table; the kind that always followed their fights. She followed him outside the house as he left to play tennis and hugged him when they got to his car.
“Have fun, baby. If you can, please get some ice cream for me on your way home.”
"I'm sure I’ll have fun,” Michael responded, smiling. “I’m really sorry about last night. I'll make it up to you. I promise. I don’t think you need ice cream, though. You’re getting fat. I’ll get some healthy snacks for you instead. Would apples be alright?"
Self-consciously, Jane looked down at her body. She didn’t think that she had gained any weight but she smiled gently and said, “That’s alright, apples would do just fine."
“I’ll get a basket of apples for you, then,” Whistling, Michael entered his car and drove off.
Jane didn't try to pack this time. She took only very important items. She hurriedly dressed her children and without a word to them about her plans, she bundled them into the car. Abdul waved to them as he opened the gate for her to drive through.


Jane took off her dark glasses thirty minutes later, to reveal an eye almost swollen shut. The two cops that had been taking her statement gasped. One of them went to get a superior officer.
Very quickly, the one that was left with her said to her," I have worked here long enough to know that you would not get the justice you seek, in this place. While my colleagues may privately sympathize with you, you would be advised to go and reconcile with your husband because it is a 'domestic matter'. He may even be called to come pick you and take you home."
"But, I know that is wrong and you have little children too so, that is unacceptable," he continued. "My elder sister wasn't lucky to get out of her hellhole of a marriage unscathed. The last time her husband beat her up, he busted her face with his fists and when he threw her down the stairs, she broke one of her legs and ruptured a spleen too. She almost lost her life. Now, she limps and is blind in one eye. I will give you a number and an address. Go there and get help. It's an organization that helps victims of abuse. They would give you the support you need to successfully press charges."
He gave her the number and address and before the other cop returned, she left.

"Stop it, both of you. It's wrong to fight."
Jane smiled when she heard Ben reprimand the twins. Her son was almost completely healed.
It had been a little over a year since she came to First Aid. They had provided a temporary accommodation for her and her children and had helped her successfully press charges against John. She and her children had also received intensive counselling.

She didn't know how she had finally been courageous enough to leave John but Jane was ecstatic that she had. There was a lot to smile about now.
The children were very happy now and doing very well in school. They hadn't changed schools because John had been ordered by the court to keep paying their expensive fees and had also been made to provide a home for them.
Six months ago, John had finally decided to start seeing a psychologist. The loss of his family and the negative publicity that followed had shaken him to the core and made him want to get professional help.
Jane worked with First Aid now. She was an administrative assistant and enjoyed her job thoroughly.


Jane's mother said that Jane was the first one in their family to leave her husband. She didn't understand why her daughter would choose to bring shame on the family that way.
John's mother said Jane wasn't a patient woman. John would have grown out of that habit eventually.
John's father said Jane was bad news. After all, things like that happened all the time without strangers getting involved.


Jane didn't care. She was free and she was safe.

P.S.

To read the first part of this story, please go to THE DARK GLASSES

6 comments:

  1. Sugar8:12 am

    "Some Mothers do have them", its all I can say

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  2. Jayden's mommy10:07 am

    The serenity prayer is all we need to learn and constantly say. Fiction, yeah but it made me cry

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  3. This is beautiful, mainly because she left and there is a happy ending after all.......Say no to domestic violence umu nnem!

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  4. Colettoo3:14 pm

    Ola nwababy! This is a reality in many homes today! And the most affected are the kids too cos
    they witness this! Women shld wake up and know their rights! Better safe than never! Divorce is not necessary but permanent seperation is highly recommended until the pounding madness \psychosis has been dealt with in the man! Good one my sis!

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  5. Ogonnaya6:38 pm

    I'm so glad she left cos that ain't a marriage as far as i'm concerned.
    Yeye parents being selfish as usual. they don't care about their daughter's safety

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  6. Sugar; Oh well.... :(

    Jayden's mummy; This particular story is fiction but IS the reality for a lot of women. I understand your tears.
    Just found the full version of The Serenity Prayer... Interesting

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.
    Amen.

    --Reinhold Niebuhr

    Ng, Saying no with you, my sister 'cos, sadly, not many people get that happy ending in reality

    Coco; Better late than never, sis.

    Ogo; The funny thing's that they don't even consider themselves selfish. So sad.

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