Following many visits to hers I found a safe forum to express my fears and doubts. Only, the visits became quite regular and aroused suspicion so I’d have to make the excuse that my hair needed doing to go to hers.
It was during a visit there, I was introduced to this other young lady who was studying ‘medical informatics’. That had a nice ring to it and created an excitement in me. I don’t think I slept much after this bit of news. So there was a course I could go on to get me out of the house?
What did that even mean?
I had a first degree in health disciple so why would I not quality? The mind boggles…
“Wa pa mi” would echo in my head from time to time. It meant “you will kill me” in Yoruba, a native Nigerian (West African) language. Someone was pleading that the beating stop or else they would be killed, just to make the aggressor stop.
So is it then difficult to understand that growing up in an environment like that It seemed normal to tolerate physical conversation rather than verbal?
Without divulging too much, there was a parental separation that spanned years, punctuated with bitterness and pain, denial of access to my mother for years. I think comments about me having me more energy, drive and force in the way I got things done were probably a reflection of growing in a dominant male environment. But the constant criticism, anger at estranged parent did little for my self esteem and confidence. So I think, in spite of a good educational background, I had little emotional maturity to handle adult relationships let alone romantic like Ines…
I remember saying in conversation to an aunt, later, that my siblings were forming great relationships and subsequently getting married whilst I was pursuing higher academic accolades.
We moved from the ‘Barbara’ area, with 2 children, to another home, north.
It did not get easier then, because I was soon isolated again with ‘no friends’. But, I discovered another hairdresser, Rose.
She was such a kind lady and I marvelled at her audacious nature. She ran a hairdressing saloon with a few workers. She was talking to another customer about how she had to break free from ‘his’ interference. Her husband was controlling, wanting to know her every move so they had to come to some arrangement. They no longer lived together and she was happier! What? And a christian? Is that even allowed?
Another single mum!
Why was I ever running into these types of women?
Not long after, I accidentally ran into a school friend who was shocked at how ‘soft’ I had become. She told she remembered how bold, strong and daring I had been back at school. She concluded that I was hiding something and behaving like an ‘abused wife’! Alarm bells were going off in her head as I began to open up to talk. She shared how her own ex had run her into debt, beat her and then left. (I think). In any event she had come to this area to start over. Oh no… not another woman who was managing on her own.
Were all these encounters warning signs for me to heed so I could make a decision to choose ‘safety’?
Where were mum and dad in all this? They were far away because in my excitement to show that I didn’t want interfering parents, they had been somehow cut off! They did not have a phone number for me – another story.
Anyway, I now had a hairdresser I could talk to and an old friend, but I still needed good excuses to have access to seeing them. Rose once asked me why I put up with the verbal abuse directed at me, at home. I did not have a sane answer for such a soul searching question and brushed it off somewhat. It however did not stop me thinking that maybe something was wrong with my thinking. In those days, I did not care how I looked or dressed and I was happy to wear ‘his’ tops and shirts and leave the house without cosmetic make up.
Attending Church services became a chore and an opportunity to make excuses about so many things…because there were people who noticed things and asked questions. Well I was getting good at avoiding conversation as I would explain that I had to leave quickly to feed the kids or some other convenient ‘lame’ excuse.
Another Lady who saw the ‘signs’ commented on how she had overheard a conversation at her workplace about a mother who talked sadly of how she could not contact her daughter because she did not have a phone number or address for her. And after asking me what my maiden name was, she found it to be a match with this woman’s. We began to talk some more and she started to relay details of my conversation to my mum.
Copyright ©Arinola 2017
Want story in print?: buy book: here