I am a flower, brandishing petals beneath the sun. I am the beauty under it. But every now and then, I am snatched and sucked and withered to a gallimaufry of sour nectar and slime. I will learn to start the cycle again as a chameleon changing colours with teeth and forked tongues dripping venom.

“Daye, you cannot continue like this. Ah! This is the third time since you married that useless man, ” Sifon said with her head and neck veins pulsating.

I stared at my sister like comfort could be drawn from her words, placing my hands over my aching bandaged head and leaking tears from a red swollen eye. I imagined myself in the past, lying on a bed not unlike this one, turning to reassure her:

“He’ll change.”

This time the words could not come. It clogged up in my throat like tenacious mucus as I tried to force it out, as if even my subconscious placed a mute button on this lie I told myself. My mind wandered to the other lies — the ones I told others: where a bruise from clenched fists was a fall from the stairs, where three miscarriages was the work of the devil, where tears on Sunday services was the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Kuyik was a chameleon, a big fat one;  the  kind that camouflaged to eat women alive and whole.The animal that lured and trapped me with a sweet tongue and pretentious Godliness, only to suck the life out of me.I would sit like a proud wife in church, smiling at the cameras while watching as his treacherous lips preached the word of God, how it curled and rounded at :

“Glory be to Gaad.”

I would follow his steps with my eyes, his bounce and stomp from one end of the pulpit to the other under the unction of the same God I served. I would watch from where I was as he trembled in the Holy Ghost and jumped with spontaneous episodes of klazomania. I would watch as his eyes lingered on the chest of women, fornicating in furtive cursory glances and his accompanying bouts of:

“Hallelujah, the Lord is Good, ” shaking his head from side to side.

Sifon expected me to end it this time;  a third miscarriage because of him was more than enough reason. She wanted me to say something like:

“I’m not going back. I cannot continue this anymore.”

I was the kind of person you only had to look at for an answer like YES or NO was bodly written on my face; so she knew. She sighed in utter disbelief.

“This is not Daye, the tigress,” she must have thought. “The same girl who bulged her eyes and stamped her feet when she talked about Aunty Martha and her horrible husband.”

“Never!  A man cannot treat me like that. I would divorce him faster than the snap of a finger,” I’d say, throwing my hands in the air.

But here I was with a man that cast some spell on me and made me feel worthless while boasting about how much of a true man he was; the kind that conquered and subdued women. I bore it because I was a Mother and a Christian. The one and only Mama of Holy Ghost Ministries (HGM).

There are more than a dozen times I would have left him but the thought of my child growing up without her father broke me. I know what it feels like. So each time he came pleading on his knees, swearing Heaven and Earth to never lay a finger on me again, I accepted him.

I am in the hospital now with my sister, Sifon. I left Seobong, my daughter with him. The thought of this separation, this rift,  was unbearable. I knew that whatever happened, I would endure it for her even if I had to live a life of ironies with Kuyik for the rest of my life, especially the irony of a smile, an adaptation I wore in public. The Mama of HGM was a happy woman of God with a Holy-Ghost-filled Papa as her husband.

I did not die. I did not die after all the nights he came home late reeking of semen and I was made into a punching bag. I did not die each time I met Sister this or that crouched shamelessly beside his desk after counselling hours, or the times he ripped my clothes and poked furiously into me like a necessity, after all the miscarriages, after dozens of ‘accidents’. If I did not die then, why would I die now? I was ready to live through it all for my daughter.

I returned for her, dead and alive, bleeding and broken. Then

I stumbled upon his naked body,  his bobbing head, his scarless glossy skin soaked in sweat as I peered through a keyhole. l listened to the shameless moan from his hypocrite mouth and gasped in horror as his figure like an oversized mountain pressed against my only child, my only daughter, his hips rising and falling in a furious pell-mell as she struggled. That was it, the final dose for my unnerving. I deliberately walked to the kitchen to pick a knife. This time I was the chameleon, a chameleon that ate men. I opened the door and ran with fury to him.  And I stabbed the nape of his neck as he yelped; all the pain and anguish pouring in.  Stab, Stab, Stab. Another stab on his back and another on his face and another on the despicable ‘male’ thing. I ended the Devil and sent him straight to Hell.

By Inimfon Inyang (Instagram: @Inyangik)

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