FORGIVENESS: A Twisted Tale Of True Love

“Hit me again, you fool! Hit me! Do it now!!!” She charged with bloodshot eyes. Thwack. The belt landed again, this time more heavily than the first. She staggered for a minute and fell to the ground. He paused, sweaty and spent.

“Why are you stopping, you coward? Keep going. I said keep going!” Her voice was less strong now but she didn’t stop talking.

As he kept hitting her, she kept screaming and screaming, until she lay still and could scream no more.

“Our iyawo… e don tey wey we see you o” Zanum stopped in her tracks. She had been seen by one of the people she was meticulously avoiding.

“Oh..Iya Bayo! Sorry I been no know say na you dey there. Good morning Ma,” she started. “Good morning my dear. Come greet me well na.” She walked towards the older lady, something with the semblance of a smile perched on her face, to deliver a half-hearted side hug. Iya Bayo was her fiancé’s neighbor.

“Ah..our iyawo. See how you don black pass me, and you don even “mashate” finish. Wetin dey happen na?” Zanum just stared at the ground and said nothing. She had lost a reasonable amount of weight, no doubt, and she looked terrible as a whole but she hated people pointing these out.

The tone of excitement Iya Bayo initially presented was replaced by one of sympathy and understanding. She reached out to stroke Zanum’s shoulder.

“My dear, sorry. I know say e no easy but na so woman life dey. E no good to leave your man no matter how he dey behave. Just dey pray for am to change, and try forgive am abeg. Na so God too dey forgive us everyday.” Zanum looked up and nodded, tears in her eyes now.

Iya Bayo hugged her and let her cry freely, with the understanding of a woman that had worn similar shoes.

She hadn’t expected Azeez to notice her the day he did. She hadn’t expected that they’d be buds, much less lovers. She hadn’t expected he’d propose to her in a very short time and in the manner he did; rose petals and balloons were not the sort of things one would expect a non-romantic to be bothered with. The day the first slap came she also wasn’t expecting it. She couldn’t even recount what happened. All she remembered was that when she woke up she knew she had been slapped.

“Wait oh, babes! Na because of that stupid cheap ring wey kukuma ugly wey he thinks say he fit start to treat you like this?” Atinuke hissed.

Atinuke and Zanum were the most mismatched pair on earth. They were different in every way possible. It was a surprise to everyone that they had been best friends for over 20 years.

“Atinuke, see…” Zanum began

“Oboy shut up first” Atinuke continued, having no regard for her gender. “Shebi I’ve told you before that these men are just not worth it. Once you decide to take them seriously, they start using your heart to play draft.” Zanum closed her eyes and held her head in her hands. “So what do I do now?”

“Leave that man alone. No even reason the bloody fool again. This one be say una never kukuma marry oh. What will now happen after marriage? See ehn once they start like this, they can never change. Take it from me”

This piece of advice wasn’t unexpected because Atinuke was a renowned olosho, a hoelosho as some called it, the Yoruba term for prostitute. And there was nothing she was prouder of. It wasn’t circumstantial; it was by choice, and it stemmed from “seeing good women treated like trash by men.”

Zanum spent that night and many other nights with Atinuke. She swore to herself that she’d be never again visit Azeez, unless he decided to act right.

“I forgive you Azeez,” Zanum said, looking into his eyes for the very first time that day. Both families had called a meeting to sort out their issues, and everyone was staring daggers at Azeez who was kneeling down solemnly.

Azeez let his mind wander back to how it all started. He remembered how the very first time had played out; the day he came home to find her with a sharp pair of scissors, furiously snapping off chunks of her long, dark hair. She had blood running down her hands.

He stood wide-eyed at the door, mouth agape, incapable of forming words.

“I will kill myself” Zanum had said. “I will kill myself if you attempt to touch or help me.”

His brain was trying so hard to process the picture but nothing was making sense. “Wha…how…what exactly is going on? Zam please put down the scissors. You can talk to me. Please what is going on?!” He managed to say, approaching her cautiously, one hand raised, like a negotiator would a suicidal person.

“Hit me. If you don’t I’ll hit myself and hurt myself some more. And you know I’m in your house. You’ll take the fall for it.”

Confused didn’t even start to explain how Azeez felt at that moment “Zam, babe, what the hell are you saying?!”

Snip, snip… and more blood.

“I said hit me!”

Whether it was obedience or desperation to end the mutilation that drove him to hit her, Azeez would never know. But he hit her at that moment, and so it continued. And he was trapped in that parasitic relationship with her, selling off pieces of his morals and values to satisfy her distorted cravings.

“I forgive you, Azeez. I will come back into your life.” Zanum’s voice filtered into his thoughts, jolting him back to the present.

He smiled at her with tears in his eyes. “Thank you so much, baby. I love you deeply.”

Zanum’s uncle made a careless statement about how he understood that northerners were used to acting like animals but he ought to make conscious efforts to treat their daughter right, seeing as he claimed to love her and he was a Christian at that. Azeez just smiled and nodded.

He alone knew how much he had to go through for her sake. He was seen as a woman-beater because of her but that was okay by him. He was likened to an animal in the presence of people that previously considered him reasonable but he didn’t mind that as long as she remained his. Anything to have her by his side forever. Of course he could never bring himself to tell anyone that the cherub that graced their view, albeit unknown even to her, was just one of multiple personalities, the most predominant of which was dangerously suicidal and thrived on being battered. He could never bring himself to take her to the psychiatrist and watch them label her as mentally disturbed. Only he would forever experience what he unknowingly signed up for in the name of love.

His heart began to chant the daily mantra, the only thing that had kept it beating through these perilous times. I forgive you, Zam. Because I love you, and I will do so for as long as I have to breathe.

Because I have eyes only for you.

Because I cannot imagine a world in which you do not exist.

Because you mean more to me than life itself.

Heck, because you are life itself to me. My very own twisted love thing; a mess for myself alone to cherish forever.

©Egeonu, Erica Oronne

Mikaiah Sunday Oyepintemi
Mikaiah Sunday Oyepintemi also known as One Micaiah is a Medical Laboratory Science graduate of the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, a writer of poems and short stories and a lover of life. He is a believer of love and true friendship. Writing, to him, is the only way he can speak without talking. He hopes to write and publish as many books as he can, while alive. He looks forward to meeting new friends too. Please follow him on Twitter