Here’s the concluding part of Bedroom Slippers. Read part one here.
We didn’t have honeymoon. We had planned to honeymoon in South Africa but John wanted to ‘tie one or two things down’ in his business before we left.
He continued to tie one or two mysterious things down and kept postponing it until we no longer talked about the honeymoon. Actually, we talked about very little. Because of the traffic between our apartment and his shop, John woke up by five and left for shop before six. He never bothered with breakfast. He didn’t come home for lunch. He returned for dinner but ate so little, painfully little. Few weeks into our wedding, he stopped eating completely. I confronted him.
‘I am not hungry,’ he said.
‘I am tired of cooking food that nobody eats,’ I said. He said nothing. ‘I am not going to cook in this house again,’ I shouted. He didn’t even look at me. He was busy on the television. I went and put the damned thing off.
‘What is the meaning of this?’ he said.
‘You know what it means! I am tired of been treated like trash in this house…’
John stood up and walked into the bedroom. I followed him, shouting. He laid down on the bed, I snapped out the pillow and threw it at the wall. I wanted to quarrel, let him beat me if he wished. But
John didn’t think I was qualified to quarrel with, nor worthy of a
beating. When I got tired of
screaming I moved my things into the guestroom; I wept my eyes out, that night. I continued to cook for him.
I didn’t know the nature of the trade John did—he dealt in the wholesaling of electronics, this was all I knew. I knew he was involved in a countless other businesses. I heard him making calls every time, even in the dead of the night, shouting that sixteen televisions should be supplied to Abuja, nine DVDs for Nkechi had been delayed, Mekus hadn’t paid for the decoders, and a hundred other references that made little sense to me.
‘How is business today?’ I would ask. ‘Fine,’ he would reply. Nothing more.
One day, John was arrested by the police and locked up. It was Nnamdi, his closest friend who told me about it and took me
to see him. I asked him what
offence John had committed but he wouldn’t tell me. ‘Just chill,’ he said, ‘we will get him out.’
When John finally came out after four days, he wouldn’t discuss his police problem with me. He slept most of the time and only came out for his food. After a few days he was ready to resume business. I blocked his way. ‘I want to talk to you.’
‘I am late for shop…’
‘Shop can wait.’
‘What is it?’
‘I am your wife for God’s sake and I don’t know a thing about your business; I have been to your shop just once and I don’t even know your warehouses, your assets, your employees, your associates, nothing. I
don’t…’ I choked. John was looking at me like you would look at a child who suddenly appeared on the highway on oversized Road Safety vest, directing traffic.
‘Why do you want to know everything about my business?’
‘Because I am your wife!’
‘And so what?’
It was like a stab on my belly. I shut my eyes. But I wouldn’t give in to despair yet. I opened my eyes. John was already at the door. ‘What if anything happens to you?’
‘If that is your prayer it will not work in Jesus name.’ He was gone. I decided to confide in someone. We lived in a flat in a big estate occupied mostly by young couples like us. I chose a housewife who lived three apartments from ours. She was in her early thirties and kind-looking, my church member, also.
‘I am having problems at home,’ I said.
I nodded, tears streaming down.
‘Does he beat you?’ No.
‘Does he fail to provide money for housekeep?’ No.
‘Does he keep late nights?’ No.
‘Does he drink?’ No.
‘Does he fool around with women?’ I don’t know.
The woman sighed. ‘What is the problem with you?’
I left the house.
Eight months into our marriage I was no longer trying to love my husband, I was fighting not to hate him. We were total
strangers now, making puny
attempts at polite tolerance. I was tired of staying at home, living boring days without end, waiting for a husband that wouldn’t come back to me; I was tired of my company, I needed to do something to divert my mind from this monotonous circle before I went crazy. I have a diploma in accounting and I applied to a tobacco company across the
road. They invited me for an
interview but John wouldn’t let me go. ‘I am capable of feeding us. If you need anything ask me.’
‘I just need to be busy,’ I said.
‘Busy doing what?’ I had no answer for that, I shelved my diploma.
Two days later I entered our bedroom and overheard John in the bathroom talking over the phone. ‘Yes,’ he was saying,
‘you are right; if she becomes pregnant it will keep her busy.’
Now, I was sure, I hated John.
Now he came to me in the guestroom every night. I would just lie there with parted legs and let him do his press-ups. But it was eating me up, the whole sex stuff. That was my duty but that wasn’t my only duty; I had no say in this house, except to be available for sexual intercourse which I had no control over. So last night he came to me and I told him to go to hell. He tried to force me and we had our first fight. My strength amazed me. Perhaps it was anger that gave me such brutal energy, I don’t know. But I gave John as much as I received. I tore his singlet and designed his face with my nails. I had a swollen eye and red cheeks but I was victorious, he didn’t use me. I was asserting my independence with violence.
This afternoon, our pastor and his wife came to see us. I was surprised to see them; John hardly attended church, it
beats me how he could convince the number one family of our church to come in
such short notice. I tried to be
in my best behaviour. I liked the pastor who seemed an open-minded person; I also liked his pretty wife whose smile broke hostile fences. I served them
malt. In no time John came back and the meeting began.
They scolded John for beating me. I was his rib, a part of him
and how would he fight himself? Women would definitely do annoying
things but he as the man, the
head of the family must be patient, tolerate all idiosyncrasies. He mustn’t allow his anger rule over
They turned to me. My husband
wasn’t a bad man, he was better than most husbands they know. He played his role well; he never let me lack—many women would do a lot to have John as husband. They told me about submission as being the divine key to a woman winning over her man. They said many things which I can no longer remember. Finally, they came to the issue of bedroom. I became alert.
‘Move your things back to your matrimonial bedroom,’ the pastor said. ‘That is your rightful place in this house,’ the wife added. ‘When your husband comes to you at night, oblige him,’ the man of God continued. ‘Sex is designed by God as a gift to mankind.
Marriage is the only time to enjoy this gift. Sex is more than the avenue for procreation; it is a tool for communication and building of stronger intimacy and lasting relationships…’
Before they left they made us apologise to each other, and made us promise to build a godly family. I moved back to
John’s bedroom. Tonight he came to me. This time around he helped me undress and was gentle in the art, with highhanded restraint that was almost an insult. After the exercise he fell asleep. No conversation, no romantic words, nothing. Asleep. Soon, he was snoring.
Now I understand. He had brought the pastors to help tame me, to secure his sexual dominion, and he had gotten
that. They didn’t ask him to
discuss his business with me, to talk to me and treat me like a partner. That isn’t my role, opening my legs every night is. I see everything clearly: I am a pair of slippers for John, something he uses only in the bedroom, nothing more. He may be gentle with me, he may treat me with respect but that doesn’t make me anything better than slippers. I am a pair of slippers, and at best I will be an expensive pair of bedroom slippers
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