It was my first time out of the country, and even though I was stunned speechless by the harsh and unforgiving January winter, I was so excited about finally making it to the U.K. at last!
Ejiro and I spent the weekend in London, and he continued spoiling me rotten, taking me for shopping at high end stores almost daily and pretty much giving me any thing I desired. The following Monday, we made our way to Coventry. As expected, he insisted on my getting accommodation off-campus, and had paired me with his colleague’s wife, Kike, who was working on her Ph.D. Even though it was a nice flat, with lots of space and great accessibility both to school and the town centre, I found myself wishing I’d insisted on staying on campus instead.
The next day, he followed me to school and helped me get sorted, and didn’t leave for Nigeria until the following weekend, in which time he met most of my classmates, ascertained the places I would frequent the most (grocery store, Church, that kind of thing), and their distance from both my apartment and campus. I knew it was so he would be able to do his own mental math to figure out how long it would take me to get from points A to B.
When he left, I felt happy and free enough to really enjoy my new life as a Postgrad student of the University. Even though, at 30, Kike was about eight years older than me, we clicked and became fast friends. She had been married to Sola, a Reservoir Engineer with Shell now based in Holland, for almost a decade and had recently decided to return to school when having kids was taking longer than either of them anticipated. Rather than be sad and depressed about not yet being a mother, she was happy-go-lucky and free spirited, and a lot of fun to be with.
On the academic side, I was amazed by how much easier it was than I had thought. Having been an average student as an Undergrad, I was amazed by how much better I was performing. Maybe it was because I didn’t have any of the distractions of Unilag, or the fact that I had all the books and material I needed at my disposal, or the fact that the classes were so much more detailed and interactive. Whatever the case, within a few weeks, I was one of the standout students of my class.
Overall, life was good.
And it got even better when, from nowhere, on Valentines Day, I got a surprise email from Pere.
Hi Isio! Just reaching out to wish you a Happy Valentines’ Day! It seems odd not being able to do that with you, after having spent so many of them together. But c’est la vie! I’m sure you’re having a wonderful one, and that your man is there with you. Mine is going to be spent solo. No time for any woman this final year. I’m determined to make it out of this school with a 2:1. Fingers crossed!
I smiled as I read the mail. It felt so nice reading from him, and it gladdened my heart that he was finally taking school seriously. But I deleted the mail without hesitation, not wanting to risk Ejiro happening on it when he logged into my account. I thought about replying him from my school email account, but immediately thought against it. Who knew if Ejiro could somehow find a way to hack into that as well?! So I decided to create a brand new one, and replied him immediately.
Hi Pere. Nice to hear from you. I got your mail on my former account, but I don’t use it frequently, as it has been overtaken by spam. How have you been? Yes, Ejiro arrives later today, so Valentines’ Day will be a nice one. Don’t be a dry boy oh! Try to have fun today 😉
Isio, thanks so much for responding. I wasn’t sure you would. Glad to read you’ll be having a great Valentines’ Day. And I have to be a dry boy oh. How else do you expect me to get the kind of grades that will give me the same kind of big-money job as your Ejiro guy?!
LOL! I didn’t know that was your ultimate goal. You could always be a Yahoo boy na. Those ones have even more money. Or you could join your cousins and be a Niger Delta militant!
Very funny, Miss Isio! Very funny!
And that was how our banter continued. Every day, I looked forward to receiving his emails, which were always humorous accounts of his day and what was going on with him in general. I, in turn, also shared with him all about my daily activities. Before long, his emails were everything I looked forward to.
“Whose emails are you always reading, with that smile on your face?!” Kike remarked one evening she was in my room. “I know it’s not Ejiro, because he only just left.”
“It’s actually my ex.” I responded, and laughed at the incredulous look on her face. “Relax! He and I are just friends. You can read all the mail we’ve exchanged, there’s absolutely nothing incriminating in any of them.”
“Interesting, because even though you say you’re just friends, I don’t think I’ve seen you smile that way when Ejiro is around.” she teased.
I assured her that she couldn’t be more wrong, and proceeded to tell her the full story of the Pere and Daisy saga. In the end, she seemed convinced.
Life continued as normal. I continued to excel in school, Pere and I continued to email daily, Kike and I continued to bond…even up to the point of her providing input to my wedding planning and accompanying me to town, and even London once, to window shop for bridal paraphernalia. Life was good. I was happy. Ejiro was happy. My family back in Nigeria was happy. I couldn’t have asked for more.
That summer, for reasons best known to him, Ejiro decided against my coming to Nigeria for the holidays. Instead, he opted to take me round Europe, giving me the time of my life in Paris, Monaco, Ibiza, and a host of other places, capping it off with a weekend in Amsterdam, with Kike and Sola. I had the time of my life, and was finally able to do plenty of shopping for my the wedding. By the time we were finally back in Coventry, I had no regrets about not visiting Nigeria for the holidays.
Clicking open my secret email box, I saw several unread messages from Pere. With Ejiro breathing down my neck the entire holiday, I hadn’t had time to even squeeze a reply to him once. Now, I finally had the liberty to. Ejiro and Sola had returned to Coventry with Kike and I, and the men were watching a football match in a nearby pub, giving me the freedom I needed to send the mail.
Hi Pere. So sorry you haven’t heard from me. I was away on holiday. I only just got back. Hope you’ve been good?
His reply came almost immediately.
Hey Isio. I was scared you had forgotten all about me. Oh holiday? Nice one. Where did you go?
Paris, Monaco, Barcelona, Rome, Ibiza, Venice and Amsterdam.
There was a pause before his reply came.
Wow. Sounds like it was a lot of fun. You and your guy?
Yeah. It was nice. What about you? What did you do this summer?
Summer? Which summer? LOL! Trying to finish school, that’s what.
I head Ejiro’s voice in the hallway, and quickly shut my laptop, not wanting to attract any suspicion.
“Hey. Back so soon?” I said, trying to sound casual.
“Sola has some work to catch up on, and I wanted to spend some time with my Queen.” he said, kissing my neck. “I can’t wait for you to be done here, so I can have you all to myself!”
I giggled. “Are you going to keep me at home all day long? I’ll still go to work, won’t I?”
“Hmmm. That, we’ll have to talk about when the time comes.” he said, shocking me.
“You don’t want me to work? So why on earth am I wasting money here, if you only want me to be a housewife?!”
He kissed my lips. “It’s my money to waste, Isio. And you’ll be comfortable. Trust me.”
I opened my mouth to argue, but decided against it, choosing instead to pick my battles and have that conversation when the time did come. By the time we went to bed, all of it was forgotten.
Which is why I was stunned to be awoken abruptly, later that night.
“You have been emailing your ex boyfriend? You created a new email account and have been exchanging emails with your ex?!” Ejiro bellowed, his eyes red with anger.
My eyes widened in shock that he had found out, and fear over what he would do…and the look on my face confirmed to him what he had just seen.
He grabbed me by the back of my head, pulled me off the bed and dragged me to my study table, where my laptop was.
“196 emails! 196 emails exchanged between the two of you….starting as far back to February!” he squinted at the screen. “Since Valentines Day, even. Oh, how romantic!”
“It’s not what you think, Ejiro. They are very platonic messages. Click one open and see. Pere and I are just friends.” I said, trying to squirm out of his strong grip, but he held on tight, his fingers digging into base of my skull.
“So why did you create a new email account for this? His emails are the only ones here? If you had nothing to hide, why couldn’t you communicate from your regular email account?” he shouted, turning my head so that we were looking each other, eye to eye. I had no answer for him.
In his fury, he hit my head on the table repeatedly, and as I slumped to the floor, continued to kick me. “After everything I’ve done for you! After everything I’ve done, this is how you repay me?!!”
“Ejiro please!” I bleated, willing myself not to black out from the searing pain I felt in my head, and from the crushing impact of his kicks on my chest and abdomen. I reached out to push his leg, but angered by that action, he knelt over me, pinning my hands down with his knees while he punched me repeatedly on the face.
“Help me…” I bleated, my voice too weak to carry anywhere far. I could feel myself beginning to lose consciousness and the blood in my mouth was starting to trickle into my throat. I knew I wouldn’t survive much longer if his assault continued.
With strength I didn’t even know I had, I pushed him off and made to run to the door, but he grabbed me by the waist as I approached the door. But not quick enough to stop me from pounding on it.
“Kike! Kike, please help me!” I screamed.
He flung me across the room, making me slam into the opposite wall on impact. He then reached for my laptop and threw it at me, and if I hadn’t moved just in time, would have borne the full impact of the machine. Instead, it smashed into pieces next to me. But thankfully, the noise was finally enough to bring Kike and Sola to our door.
“What is going on in there?!” Kike shouted. “Ejiro, open this door!”
He stood over me, glaring at me, his fists clenched, while I whimpered, a bruised and battered frightened mess.
“Ejiro, if you don’t open this door right now, I’m going to call the Police!” Kike shouted.
“Ejiro please! Please, open this door. If anyone calls the Police, you know that won’t be good for you!” his friend, Sola pleaded.
Reluctantly, he walked across the room to open the door, and Kike and Sola rushed in.
“My God!” Kike exclaimed, at the sight of the carnage that met them, and when she saw the state I was in, she screamed. “Sola, call an ambulance! Call an ambulance right now!”
“Kike please. Let’s be careful with this. If we call an ambulance, the Police will get involved, and Ejiro could lose his job!” Sola pleaded. “Why don’t we call that Nigerian medical student friend of yours to come and have a quick look at her? Tomorrow, if there is need, she can go to the hospital.”
“Are you crazy?” Kike screamed like a banshee. “Can you see the state of her? If you don’t give me the phone right now, I’ll make sure you are arrested along with him!”
I blacked out at this point, and awoke in the hospital the following morning. Kike was seated by my side and I could tell that, not only had she not slept a wink all night, she was still as mad as hell!
“Thank God you’re awake.” she exclaimed. “How are you feeling now?”
I opened my mouth to talk, but no words came out. From the weight on my head, I could tell my forehead was heavily bandaged, and my face felt like it was twice its size. I touched my right eyebrow, and felt the stitch that had been put in place. I ran my fingers across my swollen lips, feeling the very many lacerations. My neck was also in a brace. Sliding my tongue across my teeth, I was relieved to find that they were all there. I honestly thought I would have lost a few.
“That man is a devil! Look at what he did to you! Thank God the doctor said there’ll be no permanent scarring, and that there are no internal injuries!” Kike exclaimed later that morning. This time, Sola was with us in the room. He was quiet and clearly didn’t know what to say in his friend’s defence.
Later that day, the Police came, and despite what Ejiro had done to me, I didn’t want to be the reason he lost his job. So, I lied it was some random boyfriend, and gave them a fictitious name, much to Kike’s chagrin.
“You should have given the Police his name! You should have allowed them arrest the fool!” she retorted.
“Thank you, Isio. You did the right thing.” Sola said gratefully. “Ejiro will crumble if he loses his job! You did the right thing.”
“He should have thought of that before beating his own fiancé to a pulp…and for what?! A few harmless emails?! If he had seen the boy with her, what would he have done?! Killed them both?! The guy is an animal!” Kike retorted.
“Where is he?” I asked.
“Back in the apartment.” Sola answered. “He wanted to come, but was worried about the Police. He said to tell you he’s so sorry, and that…”
“Tell him to be gone by the time I get back.” I said, my voice firm. “I never want to see him again. Tell him if he ever comes near me again, I will report him not only to the Police, but to his office as well. Tell him I will send them pictures. Tell him I will finish him if he even as much as breathes my name again!”
Sola nodded sombrely, and Kike hissed. “I’m going to throw him out today. Who has time to wait for when you return home! The man is a beast, and you’re far too kind to be showing him any mercy. If it was me, I would have destroyed his life!”
As she spoke, my mind drifted…and my own anger started to build. I was lying on a hospital bed, maimed and battered, with my school laptop destroyed. I hated myself for not going with my gut instinct to leave him when he hit me that first time in Nigeria…and for not recognising his over possessiveness for what it was…an unhealthy obsession.
If I had, I wouldn’t have almost lost my life.
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
Catch up on our other series here: