By popular demand and a lot of begging (hehehe)..here's the continuation of Escape, hope you guys will enjoy reading it. You can find the beginning of the short story here
It's a long one cos i didn't want to break it and risk the likes of LG begging me to update and conclude the story...Have a nice read
My performances in front of the mirror were judged by myself, I couldn't trust anyone to come into my sanctuary. The only person I informed about the audition in my family was my older brother who advised me to be careful. I was a bit disappointed because I expected more from him. A week to the audition, I checked myself in the mirror and the only thing missing was the hairstyle. I had cornrows and was
sure no artist wore them except the old fashioned ones. I begged Sikira to buy me a wig out of the savings I had in my kolo, she almost refused but I gave her a tip. She asked what I needed it for; my response was that she should not bother. She gave me a quizzical look and shrugged. It was none of her business!
I went for the audition under the pretext that I was visiting a friend. When I saw the calibre of people that came for the audition, I knew I stood no chance. Some of them were at least twice my age and really beautiful. They exuded confidence and I felt tiny, I felt lost.
I decided then I should have come with my brother for some encouragement. I sat alone trying to keep my confidence and pretending to read a book I was holding. The
only problem was I had been reading the same line for about an hour and still could not remember what I read. At least, it was better than staring at the experienced ladies.
When I heard my name, my heart jumped out of my chest and I walked to the podium with legs that almost seemed replaced with lead. I was shaking uncontrollably and one of the judges told me to calm down. I took a deep breath, accepted the microphone that was offered and in a few minutes I was pretending to be one of the popular artists that sang on TV. I transported myself to my sanctuary at home where there were no judges but me and sang my song. I noticed as I closed that the judges and my fellow contestants were on their feet clapping for me. I remember one of the judges saying ‘young lady, your voice is bigger than you!’ I smiled as I left the podium knowing I had given my best. Ola was one of the judges and he flashed me a smile as I left, my heart skipped a beat. I saw him whispering to the other judges and I became confident that I would hear my name when the winners were announced.
Two hours later, winners were announced and I heard my name. Three of us were going to join Ola’s group as back up singers. I was ecstatic. My only problem remained how to convince my parents it was a right move but I was determined not to miss the opportunity. This was my chance to become a successful singer and nothing was going to stop me. I headed home and the only thought that ran through my head was how I would tell my parents.
My parents had a habit of listening to the 9pm news on NTA so I sat with them pretending to listen to the news. Immediately the broadcaster finished, it was my turn. I broke the news to my parents and I saw my father’s face go ashen. My mother immediately shouted ‘lailai, over our dead bodies’. My dad’s only words were ‘no daughter of mine will join a music group and that is final’. I went on my knees begging my parents to understand how this was a dream of a lifetime and telling them how much it meant to me. I watched as my father got up and went into their room; my mother also got up and followed him not forgetting to tell me ‘see what you have caused’.
For several days, I woke up everyday to kneel before my father and explain what it meant to me to join the group and promised I would not let him down. I saw my mother soften and try to talk to my father but he had a wall around him that could not be penetrated. After several attempts, I devised a plan to run away from home. I told my brother who advised me against it but he cooperated with me when he found out that my mind was made up.
The day I left home, both my parents were out and my brother escorted me to the hotel where Ola was staying. It was the day he would leave with those of us that were lucky to be chosen. I couldn’t make his performances as I was not allowed. His face broadened into a smile as I entered his hotel room. He looked at me and said ‘I was beginning to think the best of the lot would not show up, what took you so long?’ I was flattered and could not find my voice. After a few minutes and smiling politely, I introduced my brother to him. They chatted for a while and I heard Femi; my brother say: “please take care of my little sister”. Tears rushed to my eyes, what was I doing running away from home? Was I making a mistake? Should I pick up my bag and go back home with my brother? It was not late yet, my parents were not aware and I could go back home and pretend nothing had happened. But on the other hand, this was my opportunity of a lifetime, my claim to fame. I refused to give in to my childish thoughts.
I walked my brother out of the hotel and we embraced. He told me: “Tope, you know it’s not too late for you to change your mind. Are you sure this is right for you?” I held on to him sobbing and told him I would definitely keep in touch when I reached my destination. He knew my mind was made up and told me he would expect to hear from me waving once and not turning back. I watched him leave till I could see no more trace of him, then I walked into my future.
Joining Ola’s band was initially a lot of fun; we travelled a lot, met people, slept in hotels and bought nice things. I sometimes missed my family but I was learning a lot about my career that I pushed it to the back of my mind. Once I settled down, I had called my parents to apologise for disappointing them and that I loved them. My father told me it was ok, I had chosen my own path. My mother said she loved me and if I ever wanted to come home, they would be there waiting for me. Of course there was no going back; this was my claim to fame.
Ola started to pay me more attention than he did the other ladies. After performances, he would ask me to come and sit at the same table with him, telling me how beautiful I looked and how I was the best singer he had. I was flattered. A lot of times I saw the other ladies look at me with jealousy. They would give arms and legs to be his girlfriends and here was I not even trying at all. I was indeed flattered.
Ola wooed me gradually, and the day he asked me to be his wife was a very memorable one. We had been into the relationship almost a year, he treated me with respect, opened the car door for me, bought me nice and expensive gifts and I was the envy of all ladies. He asked me for sex several times but I told him no I wanted us to wait and do it properly on our wedding night, he obliged.
I informed my parents I was getting married and my mother tried to reason with me that I was too young and should give myself time to become more matured. I was nineteen at the time. It was two years after I left home. My father was very displeased with the news but they were at the wedding ceremony all the same. It was a quiet ceremony at a registry with a small reception. Later in the evening though, Ola entertained a lot of his friends in our new home, they made noise and drank too much. I didn’t like it but I couldn’t complain. I knew Ola himself drank a lot but I was head over heels in love.
We went on honeymoon for only a few days as we had performances lined up. When we got back, I prepared myself for the trip and was packing when I heard him say: “what are you doing?” I told him I was getting ready for the trip and he said he wouldn’t want his new bride on the road. I needed to get used to life as a married woman so I should stay behind. He would be back soon he promised. I was sad but I thought he had my interest at heart.
Ola was gone for two whole weeks and boredom became my best companion, my only saving grace were the few novels I bought. I devoured them quickly and watched a lot of Television feeling useless. The past two years of my life had been spent on the road and when we were not performing, we were rehearsing for the next performance. The rest of the time, I was with Ola.
I was ecstatic when he came back. He bought me many gifts and gave me all the attention for the first day. On his second night back, he said he had been invited to a friend’s party, I asked to be taken along and he said no; “a woman’s place is at home”. This shocked me, before we got married, we went everywhere together. I waited for him for several hours and about 12 midnight, he called the house, sounding very incoherent. All I could gather was he was not coming home anymore that night and I could go to bed.
It occurred to me I had made a mistake in marrying him and that I should have stayed with my parents and gone to the University after all. I was not going to tell them we were having any problems though and whenever I spoke to them on the phone, I always lied that things were very fine.
Gradually I found out that Ola did not want me to accompany him on his tours anymore. I was relegated to the home front now, and I could not even go out anymore without seeking his permission. This was not the life I dreamt of; I was supposed to be living in pure bliss with my knight in shining armour and making waves as a singer. When I tried to talk to him about the issues we were having, he told me I was only being stubborn and that if I would just be a dutiful wife and not make complaints, life would be good for us.
I spent many lonely nights, crying into my pillow and begging God to show me a way of escape. Tales of Ola’s randy lifestyle came back to me but I chose not to dwell on them. My whole life since I left home was one big mistake and I was waiting for the day I would be able to make a break and start all over. I was too proud though to ask my parents for help. On the one occasion when they visited, my mum called me aside and tried to find out how things were and I gave her a very fake smile. “Ola is such a good husband”, I lied through my teeth.
I had very few friends who were not allowed to visit, except Ola was not around and we had to make it secret, I was not sure if he had people watching me or not. Out of boredom, I registered for a media course online and whenever he was not around I would settle down to do my assignments. The shipping address I used to get my materials was my friend’s house address and she delivered them to me when I told her it was ok to. The books were kept very safely in the store, hidden in different parts so he would not see them. This was the second year of our marriage and I could count the number of times we had been under the same roof together. My marriage was a prison.
In the third year of our marriage, I got pregnant but miscarried the baby. He was away on a trip and I had to cope with the loss by myself. When he came back, he pampered me a bit and told me we would definitely have another one.
‘Don’t worry yourself my dear, is that why you’re acting like a widow? These things happen. You will have another one. My three sisters, you know the story, they all lost their first pregnancies, look at them now breeding like rats....’’ I tuned my mind off not wanting to listen to his insensitive ramblings.
He made to hug me after delivering his speech but even that felt very cold and he ended up patting me on the back instead. I lost a baby; our fist baby when my husband was away and that was all he could say to me. It made me sad that I wasn’t wise enough to see this side of him before I foolishly gave in to his advances.
It felt as if a part of me died all over’ it died when the baby died but my husband helped to kill it again.
To him, life seemed to be a big joke and nothing apart from keeping me for himself seemed to matter to him. He treated the matter so casually that I wondered for a while if he ever wanted the baby, although I later found out, he only did that to mask his feelings. He wanted the baby more than I did. I found out one night he was drunk.
‘My silly wife, just a child, the only thing I thought she would be good for was baby making and look what happened. She lost the baby. That baby would have been the most important thing to me’. I was shocked at his words because as the Yoruba adage says ‘nkan toti ba ba ninu eyan lo n pa’yan ba’. That was what my husband thought of me. I made up my mind not to get pregnant anymore until I was sure of the direction my life would take. With the help of my friend, I got some birth control pills that I kept safe in my wardrobe.
This was the 5th year of our marriage and I had completed my online media course. There were a few occasions where I was almost found out but providence was on my side and he never was so inquisitive, he only made reference to the fact that my computer was at least a good enough companion when he was not around. I remember on one occasion he snooped behind me and the next thing I knew he was staring into my computer, I was so sure I had been found out and instinctively, my hand found its way to the hibernate button. I was shocked when he treated the matter with such levity. I’m sure he never thought I was capable of doing anything phenomenal.
‘Why are you closing your computer? I wonder what you’re doing on it but it’s ok, you don’t want me to see what it is right?’ Just as soon as he said that, he moved on to another conversation and for once I was very grateful that he was a flighty person.
The idea that I could escape this prison began to brood in my mind and I began to devise the plan. So it was on this day that I called my brother and opened up to him, he told me I should have called earlier and didn’t need to suffer in silence. I told him I needed to be sure the direction my life was taking and that now I was armed for the future with a degree and a will to stand on my own. We agreed he would inform my parents that I was leaving my husband; the jailor and the home I had known for five years. I got a call from my parents the evening I called my brother and I can still remember the conversation.
‘Tope, why did you not tell us all this time? Why? I somehow knew things weren’t right between you and that husband of yours’
By now, I could hear her sniffing, my mother was crying and I was ashamed. Remorse washed over me. I should have listened to my parents and obeyed them. We were both crying now
‘‘I will speak to your brother, we will arrange where you’ll stay once you leave that prison, and we will all stand by you. My mother declared with authority in her voice. Your father is here and he said I should tell you he is not angry with you'’
That made me cry the more; the prodigal daughter was going home to her parents
‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry’, was all I could manage to say on the phone.
For several minutes after I finished making the call, I just sat down there and wept, for the lost years and for what my disobedience had made me go through.
I waited till he went on his next trip; I was more than happy to see him leave. He told me he was going to be away for two weeks and I pretended to be the loving wife who hated to see her husband go. I told him leaving me at home all the time wasn’t fair
‘Ola, you know it’s not fair to just leave me at home all by myself all the time. We’re trying to have a baby, yet you won’t even stay at home, all you do is get on the road and you won’t even take me with you’
He looked at me and didn’t respond to what I said which was typical. I decided to make things hard for him so I sulked for hours. I knew the right card to play was the pregnancy one. I knew how much he longed to have his own children so it was only a matter of time before he responded to me.
‘Ok Tope dear, I know it’s hard to be home alone by yourself all the time, I promise we will go together on my next trip. Even if we’re unable to spend all the time together, we can spend the evenings in our bed’. He winked at me. I felt like grabbing a knife to castrate him. That was the only thing I was good for to him; the idiot! Well, I had achieved my aim; he would never suspect what I was up to.
The evening he travelled, I called my brother and all I told him was ‘it’s time’’ and he understood.
‘‘I’ll meet you in half an hour’’, he said and disconnected the call. My brother had come to town the previous day and was staying in a hotel not too far from our house. We had agreed he would not visit so as not to arouse any form of suspicion. My family members did not visit often. I set to work and finished packing my bags, a routine I had gotten used to in all my married years, I had done it on countless occasions, the only difference this time was that I was actually going through with the plan,.
I sat down watching the clock and hoping my brother would arrive earlier than he said. I was very anxious. What if Ola showed up and said his trip had been cancelled. What if he had sent a spy to me? My mind was in turmoil. Five minutes before my brother said he would arrive; I heard the door bell and ran to the door. God had answered my prayer and my brother was early.
What I saw when I opened the door made my heart skip several beats. Standing at our doorstep was not my brother but Ola’s friend; Joseph. His friends usually came over when he was away but not the next day. I knew he sent them as spies to check on meI but I wasn’t expecting one this early, that was part of the reason, I had planned my escape for the day after his departure.
I greeted Joseph with the best smile I could put up and refused to step aside for him to come into the house. I didn’t like Joseph, he was a very lousy young man and all he did at our place was eat and drink, then drink some more. A lot of times, he and Ola would get drunk together and I would have to clean up after them. We both knew there was no love lost between us.
‘I am sorry Joseph but I can’t entertain a guest now. I’m getting ready to go out’
He gave me a quizzical look
‘Is that the way to welcome your husband’s friend? You want to turn me back at the door?’
I was determined not to let him in as that would only jeopardise my escape. My boxes were already in the living room and it would be obvious to any idiot that I wasn’t taking a vacation, I was leaving for good.
‘What are you doing in the house that you won’t let me in? Oh you are entertaining a boyfriend and you’re afraid I will tell Ola? Well everyday is for the thief, today is for the owner. You will let me in and I will call your husband immediately’
‘No you cannot come in and if you try to touch me, I will scream at the top of my voice’. I knew that would not help much because our house was fenced all around.
I was silently praying that he would leave and that my brother would not come while we were there.
Joseph was not going to budge easily because he stayed rooted there and shouted to his driver to park the car properly. I saw my brother’s car in the driveway and I removed the key from the lock, stepped outside and closed the door. I suppose I was too fast for him to comprehend what was happening.
‘Well the reason I told you I could not entertain you is here; it’s my brother and we plan to go somewhere together’. I was not going to let my brother meet us at the door. I left him at the door shouting at the top of his voice
‘Ola must hear this, you shameless woman, you prostitute’. I got to my brother’s car as he parked and as I stepped in, I commanded him to move the car.
‘What’s going on Tope? Where is your luggage?’ I didn’t answer and he asked no further questions. He just drove.
I explained what happened to him once we got out of the compound. We agreed to stay together all day and delay our plans by a day. My brother checked out of his hotel and we took a room under false names in another part of town since we were not sure if Joseph had carried out his threat and if we were being followed.
Later that night when it was dark, my brother went alone, we agreed it was safer to move my things. I paced the room up and down till I heard his knock on the door. We had agreed he would knock thrice before I opened the door. I hugged him in broke down, tears of joy and relief flowing from my eyes.
We talked into the night about the fateful day he helped me to leave home, the last 5 years of my life and my plans for the future. By 5 am the next morning, we were ready to leave; I stepped into the car, armed with a degree in Media studies and into my real future. My brother drove away and I did not look back.
* kolo – A traditional form of piggy bank for kids
*‘nkan toti ba ba ninu eyan lo n pa’yan ba’- a drunk man’s ramblings will be inspired by the thoughts he has had before
I hope you guys liked the story...please feel free to let me know what you think. Have a fantastic week!