“They shot him! They shot him! They shot him!”
“Calm down, madam. Be calm.”
The Police officer, who seems to be the head of this response unit, holds me as I blurt out the one thing I have been repeating since they arrived few minutes back meeting me bent over the body of my husband, weeping and inconsolable.
“Explain slowly what happened madam. Calm down and explain. Slowly.” His voice has a soothing at odds with the meanness of his face.
I sniff and explain. Slowly.
“I am sorry” I blurted, my cheek smarting from the slaps he had given me.
I blinked rapidly where I cowered, my vision blurry. Lights filtered into my eyes enough a minute later to see him seated on the lemon chaise lounge, his face in his palms.
“Big Apple, I really am sorry.”
“You killed her, right?” He said the words slowly.
I flinched. Each syllable cut my heart into a thousand pieces. I stood, my dizziness increasing. More from the words than the slaps.
“What do you want from me, Anita? What?” His face was still in his palms.
I had no answer.
Femi – Big Apple in his political campaigns – was a good man. I deserved everything he did to me.
I had told him I killed what would have been his first child while he was away campaigning.
He looked up at me, but his eyes were far away.
“I want you to have a happy life. I want the guilt to remain on my conscience, Femi.” I meant it and he knew.
His hand moved to wipe a tear rivulet that had formed on his face, defeat was etched on his face. I could picture him carrying the child. He was calling it ‘her’ already. Femi would make a great father.
“I’ll give you a better child. A healthy one.” I couldn’t believe I said that.
He didn’t either.
“What! I do not want a better child. I want her!”
“You have always been unreasonable, Femi. I cannot give birth to a ‘sickler’!” It was his turn to flinch.
He stood and began to pace.
“Anita, you are the devil yourself! When I was in doubt as to our eligibility to marry, you were the one who kept saying God is the one that gave us the go ahead to be husband and wife and as such will take care of our incompatible genotypes. I consistently doubted, but you kept assuring me like a woman of great faith. I relied on your faith! I had faith because you made it sound so possible! Now, I have lost my family’s support because I believed and refused to heed their well-intentioned idea not to marry you! You were too loving, too believing, too forgiving. I thought you were the best thing since ATM. I was wrong.”
He paused for breath. Femi wasn’t a man to keep up a tirade. I waited for his next words. A dam had broken in him and he was keeping nothing back.
“Your secret is out. You enchanted me with all you had because you needed me. You needed me to pay your way through your nursing degree. You needed me to help your poor family from my father’s wealth. You married me to be your gold mine in life. I knew all of that, you pathetic daughter of a poor, hopeless wretch of a mother! I am your life in case you have forgotten. Now, you have achieved your life’s dream of marrying me. And now, because the scan says that child had an SS-genotype, you think you can lose that faith so conveniently and decide which child you will have for me or not? Smell the espresso woman, you can’t! I own you! I decide what you do! You have made the only decision you are capable of making: marrying me. I make every other decision. I decide everything. I own your life! I am your life!”
Saliva spewed as he paced and raved. His neck muscles were taut. He ranted on but I could only hear babbling. My dam had broken too.
He was right. I needed him. I needed him to make me the woman who could give him all the love he deserved. I needed him to educate me to be her. I needed him to make my mother be at peace that her daughter is in good hands. He was partly right; I wanted to marry him, but that was because I really loved him. But, he didn’t own my life. No.
Femi wanted his ‘daughter’ so much. And his daughter he would get.
I ran into our room while he paced. He must have thought I was too ashamed because I heard him shout after me
“Come back here! I am not done with you, shameless bitch!”
I came back under a minute. Femi’s gun in my hand. He had gotten it when he began his political career two years ago. I pointed it at his face.
He froze in mid-babble. His eyes were on me, wide and very afraid.
My voice was calm as I spoke the last words he’d hear:
“Your child is alive, safe in her mother’s womb.”
The shot I fired blew his face away.
“You said you didn’t see anyone?” The Police officer asks when I told him what happened.
“I couldn’t have sir. Like I said, we were sitting on the sofa together; he heard a sound by the window and went to check what it was. I even told him it was the wind blowing the window. The next thing I heard was a bang and my husband falling, his face a mess. I screamed and screamed but our neighbors won’t come for fear of being attacked, I guess.”
“Ok, madam. Just calm down. We will make sure we bring whoever the culprits are to justice.”
“You really must sir! They can’t get away with this. Is it a crime to want to serve one’s country? Is it a bad thing to want to be a politician? I am afraid for my own life too sir. What if they thought I saw something? WHAT IF THEY COME BACK FOR ME????”
I must be putting up an Oscar-class act; the look on his face says it all.
“Ok, madam. You will follow us to the station now and we will have a chat with the DPO. He is a good man. I am sure he will provide protection for you till our investigations are over.”
“Thank you sir. Thank you. God bless you. Anyone that says you will not live to see your children become something will meet God’s judgment!”
I pat my stomach as I say these words:
“I am carrying his baby.”
That seals it. The look on the Officer’s face says it all.
* * *
As we make our way out of the secluded bungalow that is our house, I take another look at the window for the hundredth time that evening. Shooting your husband is easy. Setting up the murder scene to fit your cover up story isn’t so difficult either: break the glass window from the outside with a stone, tear the window’s net with your hand to make it jagged. Then call the police. And wait.