Ezinne paid for the bus ticket from the money she had been saving, her daughter’s ticket was half of hers. She almost burst out in tears when she was told the price for the ticket, because it was almost all the money she had on her, what she had left could barely sustain her daughter and herself for a week. How were they going to survive? Panic shook her heart, she was going home to meet her aged father who was not working and who she couldn’t exactly tell how he had been faring all along. Thank God for Obike and Hanselem, her brothers who had been catering for his finances, how else would her aged father have survived?
The Sunday afternoon bus was waiting to be filled, and hawkers were scattered everywhere merchandising their wares. The stares directed towards her were unbearable because she was hoping to disappear, not to be seen and watched. She was sure someone had taken a picture of her, the young guy had placed his phone in an awkward position and she was sure he wasn’t just looking at the phone or reading something on it but was taking a picture of her. She sat Chizaram on the seat in the waiting area, placed her bag on the girl’s lap and told her to wait for her and not talk to anyone before heading towards the room that had the bathroom sign on the door. She was almost at the door when it occurred to her that someone may ask her daughter some questions and the child would innocently say something that would get her in trouble. With the recent increase in mobbing and mob killings, she was sure that no one would hear her, let alone reason that she had stabbed her husband in self-defense. Of course she felt the stab of guilt pierce her heart but the guilt was not enough to feel sorry for the man who had made her life a living hell these past 4 years. She reflected on it as she walked back towards her daughter, 4 years? And it had seemed like an eternity. A part of her longed to call Titi, her new friend but the guilty part said no, how was she going to explain to Titi that she had killed her husband and where would she make that call with all these people itching to know what was happening with her. She pushed the thought aside, trouble for another day. She was supposed to be scared for a woman who had just stabbed her husband in cold blood, but there was no fear only uncertainty, anyway she hadn’t exactly stabbed him, only defended herself. She collected her handbag from Chizaram and helped her up.
“lets go to the bathroom, you want to ease yourself right?”
“yes” Chizaram replied in her small voice “where are we going mummy?”
“We are going to the bathroom dear, that’s what I just told you.” Ezinne replied evasively, surely she understood her daughter’s question but she was avoiding being asked about daddy or why they were leaving him. It would raise more suspicion, that was if the people did not already suspect that she was running from him. They probably all thought that she had been in a fight with him and he had injured her, she hoped no one could see through her, that no one would guess or suspect that she had stabbed him. She scooped Chizaram unto her shoulder and walked briskly to the bathroom.
One look at the mirror she understood the quizzing looks, the blood had dried against her skin but it still showed a drag of finger from beneath her hair to her cheek.
“Mummy why is there blood on your face? Did daddy hit you?” Chizaram asked in her innocent voice, her big eyes considering her mother’s face, she hadn’t noticed the blood in all the rush and now that everything was calm her curious nature was beginning to resurface.
Ezinne took a long look at her daughter, a form of calmness settled in her heart knowing that her daughter would not be seeing her mother being hit again. Even if Chukwuma survived this somehow she was never returning to him. That line had been crossed and from what she knew of him, he would never come to beg her or make peace. Rather she could predict that he would demand for a return of his bride price. Well he couldn’t get that back, after all she had slaved for him these past 4 years, even a paid servant would have made much more than he paid as bride price.
Chizaram shook her head like she understood, Ezinne was not sure she did but it gave her some measure of joy that she had a partner and friend in her daughter. The girl had grown more than her age. She smiled to herself, for the first time in a long time she felt some victory. She got the child, didn’t she?