He stumbled out of the house in shock. He could
barely see where he was going. He just
get out from the house far away from her….
her dead body.
You could almost hear his heart beating from down
the street. He wasn’t scarred, no, he was just tired
and short of breath. He needed to breath clean
So he staggered down the street like a drunk,
ignorant of his environment and the vehicles that
went out of their way to avoid him.
Suddenly he fell on his face, unconscious. The sun
and the sky playing a game of hide and seek on the
back of his unconscious body.
Richard hummed under his breath to the music
playing on the radio as he drove through the neatly
tarred streets of Enugu, His fingers taping gently
on the steering wheel. Occasionally, a presenter
interrupted the music to make an announcement.
Annoyed by the interruptions, Richard changed to
“Better” he said to himself after changing to a
different station, “this is more like it.”
He had just dropped his four year old daughter,
Nnenna, at his sister’s place. She needed the
change and so did he. Coming to Enugu was
probably the best thing he had done in recent
times. He felt lighter and somewhat relived, even
happy. He anticipated an evening of silent
relaxation. No friends. No family. And certainly, no
child. Richard felt a little guilty for thinking of
Nnenna as a burden. He loved his daughter dearly,
almost to the point of stupidity, but a man needed
a break once in a while.
“Caring for a child is not a man’s job,” his mother
had told him countless times.
“Marry another woman, who can take care of you
and my grandchild. Or better still, come down to
Enugu. We can get you a good job here. That noisy
Lagos, that is full of thieves and low life, is not a
place to raise a child. Inugo (have you heard)?”
Richard heard but he didn’t really listen. The truth
was that he didn’t want to listen and agree with
what everyone was telling him.
“You must go on living. Life must go on.” One
person will say.
“It has happened and there is nothing you can do.
Thank God that you’ve collected back her bride
price” another person will say,
“There are many fishes in the ocean. If you catch
one and it is not good enough, throw it back into
the ocean. You will definitely catch a better fish
before sun down.”
He took all the advices with a ready smile and a
heart burning with anger and frustration. They
spoke as if they understood or even cared -even
though it was obvious that they didn’t. A deep
urge ran through him to punch the twinkling stars
out of whoever was giving the advice. But he held
himself. Over time, the smile became a permanent
part of his countenance, using it in place of words
to the numerous unsolicited advice and sympathy.
It soon began to hurt and feel like a huge burden.
So he started avoiding people and places he knew.
Thankfully, Lagos is a big place.
But his boss, at the telecommunication company
he worked at, had had enough of his fake smile,
sullen face and dispirited attitude towards his
“Go home. Take a vacation. Find a wife. Visit
family. And come back when you have lost that
nasty smile and don’t forget to retrieve your voice
wherever you kept it,” his boss had told him, his
burly stomach shaking as he spoke.
That was three days ago.
Bored with life, irritated by the blue painting of the
walls in his flat, hurt by the way Nnenna looked at
him –as if she was scared of him- he had called
his eldest sister, Margret. He was duly informed, by
a visibly angry elder sister, that their parents were
not in the country.
“Were did they go?” Richard asked
“Why? What happened?” he pressed on, ignoring
her contemptuous voice.
“Nkeiru have given birth. A baby boy and she
stupidly named the poor child Richard, of all names
“She had a child? How come nobody told me?”
“Yes she had a child three months ago,” Margret
replied, her voice richly spiced with sarcasm. “While
you hid yourself and avoided everybody. Are you
happy? You almost made mama to have a heart
Richard patiently held the phone as his sister
shouted. Margret continued shouting into the
phone for a minute or two.
“How are you?” Margret asked in cool voice after
she was done chastising her younger brother.
“Come to Enugu and spend some time with us. Or
send Nnenna over. She can go to school with her
“Ok sister. We’re coming. Tomorrow.”
“Yes. Nnenna can stay in your house, I’ll stay in
Dad’s house. You’re with the house key?” Richard
The feeling was mutual, between Nnenna and her
father. She quickly settled down with her cousins,
laughing and playing like a normal kid. It broke
Richard’s heart that his daughter appeared to be
happy with his sister’s family than with him. But
he understood. His pains were infectious and his
morose life was unsuitable for a child as
rumbustious as his daughter.
“She loves you. But she really needed a change of
environment, with the divorce and all the drama.
Glad you came,” Margret had told him as she saw
him off to the car she had loaned him.
Honestly, Richard was glad he had left Lagos and
his flat with its annoying blue paint. The air was
clean here and life was evenly paced. He could
hear himself think and pick out the lines of his
thought. He felt alive, relaxed and young. And for
the first time in almost six months, he was singing
and happy. Yes that’s what he was feeling, happy.
It’s a good feeling, a refreshing feeling that he had
As he waited for the traffic light to change to
green, the radio changed to an upbeat afro beat.
He clapped his hands and sang along. Despite the
fact that he was singing off tune but it felt good to
sing. He hadn’t sang like this since… since Ifeoma
Ifeoma. That’s her name. A very beautiful name
that rolls over the tongue effortlessly, as if it was
dipped in a bowl of red oil. She was even more
beautiful than her name suggested. Tall with skin
the color of ripe pawpaw, eyes a light gray shade –
almost cat like, and elegant with a well-structured
teeth –which she always put on full display. She
had this way of speaking that was so engaging,
almost mesmerizing, and she gave off a slight lisp
that sounded unintentional but in actual truth, it
was intentional. She was ambitious and strong will,
little wonder she was rising quickly through the
ranks of the bank she was working with.
Everyone, including Richard, had thought that it
was a union made in heaven. Ifeoma dazzled
everyone with her wit and infectious laughter. She
seem to exude a sort of sexual magnetism without
actually being flirtatious or seductive. Even
Richards’ mother, who had an uncommon intuition
and a hugely conservative African woman, fell for
Ifeoma. Thus, six months into their courtship,
Richard proposed. Ifeoma accepted.
Denying the fact that he sometimes felt stifled by
Ifeoma would make Richard a bare faced liar. She
had a way of controlling him without, him, actually
knowing that he was being manipulated. She
accentuated her every request with a kiss or a
touch, on certain sensitive body parts. Being a
hopeless romantic and a true believer in the
Shakespearean tales of romance, which he now
considers idiotic, Richard did all he could to make
Their wedding was a big affair. And if weddings
were parameters to decide how successful a
marriage will be, then Richard and Ifeoma will be
married till thy kingdom come. But it wasn’t and it
would never be. Slowly the threads of whatever
that held them together began to fall off and with
it came the wool that had covered Richard’s eyes
for so long. He began to notice changes in his
wife’s behavior. She became more controlling and
aggressive. Countless times, Ifeoma accused her
husband of keeping a mistress. Richard denied. But
she wouldn’t believe him.
“Am pregnant,” Ifeoma announced one evening a
few months after the wedding.
Pregnant have never sounded so good nor looked
so beautiful. It was as if her energy and beauty
was multiplied. She glided through the nine months
effortlessly. And in that nine months marriage
tasted like honey to Richard.
The first year of Nnenna’s birth, were the best in
Richard life. He felt young and loved. Nnenna, like
her mother, was a beauty. Her eyes were gray and
engaging. Ifeoma was totally enwrapped with her
child, so much so, that Richard was relegated to
the back. But he didn’t mind. He was proud of his
small family and all he wanted was to see them
happy even if it means being relegated –once in a
……. ……. ……..
“Who is she?” an angry Ifeoma asked Richard one
“Who?” Richard asked, the smile on his face
frozen. The question was thrown at him
immediately he stepped into the apartment. Ifeoma
had yet to greet or welcome him before confronting
him. Her face was wild. You could almost see the
blood taste in her gray eyes. It scared Richard.
Never had he seen his wife like this.
“Who is she?” Ifeoma screamed, pulling at her hair.
“I don’t know what you are….” Before he could
finish, Ifeoma lunged at him, grabbed him by the tie
in an attempt to strangle him. Richard was
shocked at first, but he quickly recovered and he
seized her hands. Placing his left leg between her
own legs, he tackled her to the ground.
“What is it?” Richard inquired in a soft voice. He
pulled her up and gathered her into his arms.
“I don’t know. I saw you leave her car, she dropped
you… the car…“ Ifeoma said in between tears.
“Now? That was Charlie’s wife. You know Charlie
my good friend at the office. His car was broken,
so he called his wife to come pick him. I decided
to hitch a ride with them instead of taking a taxi.
Didn’t you see Charlie in the paasenger seat?”
“Am sorry,” Ifeoma whispered. “Am tired of staying
at home. I need to start working. Nnenna… she’s
tiring me out and… and staying with her all day
long, is a torture. Am tired of her. Am tired of this
“But I thought you quit your job so you could stay
at home till baby begins school?”
“I said am tired,” Ifeoma snapped, pushing herself
off Richard’s body. “Or didn’t you hear what I just
said? If I stay with her alone in this house for one
more hour, I’ll kill myself. Why are you so selfish?
And her name is Nnenna not BABY.”
In other to keep peace, Richard agreed. They got a
house help to look after Nnenna whilst Ifeoma
went back to her old job. But the job didn’t solve
the problem. She became more cantankerous and
authoritative. Numerously neighbor had come to
quell the fight between the young couple.
Afraid of being seen as a failure by his family,
especially his father, Richard kept his problem to
himself. He tried as much as he could to avoid his
wife and keep her happy. But Ifeoma was
On a Friday, Two weeks after Nnenna’s third
birthday, Ifeoma stormed into Richard’s work
place. Richard was telling a joke to a circle of
friends. He looked relaxed in his brown Ankara
traditional attire. Ifeoma rushed at him, without a
word, she seized his trouser at the waist.
“That your witch girlfriend, where is she? Show me
the useless Charlie that works in your office? Liar!
Show me the useless man that allows you to frolic
with his wife?” Ifeoma screamed into Richard’s
“Are you mad?” Richard asked in a voice that was
little more than a whisper. He was confused on
what to do. Attack her verbally or physically, and
the whole world would call him a wife beater.
Ignore her, and he would seem spineless.
“Me, mad?” Ifeoma inquired. Richard saw it. The
madness and the hate in her gray eyes.
“Am Charlie” someone was saying from behind, but
Ifeoma wasn’t listening. In what seem like a film
trick, at least to Richard, she tore through the light
fabric of Richard’s attire and attacked his penis.
She squeezed his penis and scrotum together
shouting like a woman at the onset of madness.
Richard felt as if a part of his body was being
pulled out as Ifeoma tightened her grip. He was
too shocked, and honestly too much in a pain to
strike at her. Thinking about it, he often regretted
not punching the life out of her with his free hand.
He screamed out in pain, begging her to stop.
Strangely, the more he pleaded the more Ifeoma
tighten her grip. To ease the pain, Richard bent
slightly, as if he was kneeling. He could almost feel
his testicles melting away under the crushing hold
of his wife.
Ifeoma lunged at his nose, as he bent a little below
her height. She increased the pressure on his
penis. Richard scream out in pain. Ifeoma bit into
his nose, as hard as she could. He felt something
like sweat crawling down the sides of his face, only
it wasn’t colorless, it was bright red in color.
Instinctively, Richard struck his wife on her throat.
She scream out in pain and freed his penis and
nose. She put both hands on
The last thing Richard remember before he fainted
was seeing Charlie tackle Ifeoma to the ground.
.……. ……… ……….
Richard turned into the street that his parent lived
all his life. The street was empty and deserted as
usual. He liked it that way. Too tired to open the
iron gates, he packed in front of the fence that
enclosed the bungalow building that his father had
built years ago.
“Later I will come and drive it inside” Richard
As he opened the door, he felt something.
Something was out of place but he wasn’t sure
what it is. He was uneasy.
“It’s probably the after effect of being home alone”
Richard said to himself as he chuckled. He turned
on the light and the television before going into the
kitchen to pour himself a glass of juice.
The three o’clock news was being shown on the
television. A youngish woman with a brown
spectacle balanced on her nose was reading the
news. As Richard stepped out of the kitchen, he
heard her say:
“… The owner and chief herbalist of a traditional
home in Njaba local government area, was this
morning attacked by three persons, they are
believed, by police, to be mental patients in the
healing home. However, reports reaching our news
desk has it that two of the assailants has been
arrested and the third, a female, is still at large. In
Richard froze. It all started falling together, in
Richard mind, why things had seem out of place
when he came in. Ifeoma was here. He could feel
her presence. The smile of coconut butter cream
which she used on her hair hung in the air. He
hadn’t noticed it before but now… now he could
perceive it, as strong as he had perceived it five
years ago. He had always liked the smell.
He wasn’t scared of her –he was just scared of
what she would do. This time around, he would
not hesitate to smack her as hard as he could. She
still tormented his dreams. In them she was,
always chasing him with a blunt kitchen knife.
Which she used to cut off his penis and then she
would plunge the bloody meat into her mouth. And
as he shouted, Ifeoma sawed through his man
meat with a salvage energy and laughter. The pain
of the blunt knife was indescribable, even in his
dream. Blood lined her hands and mouth, giving
her the appearance of a vampire that had just
received his worst Christmas present from his
human friends. He wasn’t sure why he never raised
his hands against her in his dreams, something
was always pinning him down and holding his hand
down. But that was a dream. Reality is far much
different and, for all intent and purposes, he
planned to strike hard and fast.
He heard her footstep as she came down the
stairs. Richard walked back a step or two. His
heart beating a fast staccato beat. She came into
view. She was so beautiful, more beautiful than
she had actually been on her wedding day. Her
long natural hair had been cut short, thus giving
her a school girl kind of look. Her lips were painted
a bright red and her eye lid was neatly lined with a
black eye pencil. She was wearing a long red gown,
that she had split into two and as she cat walked
down the steps, Richard could see her slim, long
legs. Those legs stirred something ancient in him.
A desire to have her there and then. To make love
to her till she was incoherent and speaking
gibberish. But he suppressed the feeling.
“Richard!!!” Ifeoma shouted when she saw him. Her
face was lit by a beautiful smile. She pulled up her
skirts and ran down the stair. “Oh darling I’ve so
missed you, how are you…” she halted on seeing
the look on Richards face.
She came a step forward, and Richard took two
“Richie am so sorry. I didn’t mean to attack you. It
was that stupid woman, I think she was in my
head, she told me that you were cheating on me
with Charlie’s wife. Am sorry. I shouldn’t have
listened to her. I promise I won’t listen to her
again. Can I hug you?” Ifeoma asked. The look on
her face was beyond innocent and sweet, so
innocent that it would have made an angel jealous.
“No,” Richard said in a deep voice, he narrowed his
eyes and looked straight into her eyes. “Don’t
come near me. What are you doing here in my
The innocent look disappeared from Ifeoma’s face
and was replaced by look that was akin to devilish.
“I see you didn’t miss me. She was right –the
woman in my head. You were cheating on me with
that black witch and I know that you don’t love me
anymore. She was right. And I made her go away
because I wanted to believe you“. Ifeoma
screamed. She stamped her foot on the floor and
then looked up as if something just occurred to
“How is my daughter? Nnenna?” she frowned and
then laughed, “I never liked that name, Nnenna, is
like a song and a useless repetition of redundant
names. Father mother? How is that a name? Who
answers that?” she smiled an evil smile “but you
liked it, and I had to like it too so you would be
“D–k, I like that name, it suits you more than
Richard. Richard sounds too mundane, and my
God! What a boring name. But then you’ve always
been too traditional, conservative and boring. It
drove me out of my mind along with that baby’s
crying every second of the day. You know she’s is
just like you, Nnenna, too boring and ultra
conservative. I guess you all get it from your
mother, my dear, dear mother in-law.
“Where is she, by the way? I’ve been waiting for
her, wanted to have a chat with her. So she could
tell me what I did wrong. I know she was the one
that fed those ideas into your head. She told you
to f–k that woman, Charlie’s wife. And she told
you to put me out of your house, our house.”
“How do you know that?” Richard whispered in a
voice that was a little more than a whisper.
“The woman in my head, she told me. She knows
everything. Don’t look so shocked sweet D–k, I
know you f—-d her too,” Ifeoma said in a drawing
voice. “She told me that she loved you, but you
broke her heart. She warned me that you’ll do the
same to me. But you don’t expect me to fold my
hand and watch you break my heart? Did you,
sweet D–k? What a nice name. I know your
mother have turned Nnenna against me. She never
liked me and I tried to be a good daughter in law.
Where did you say she went again, sweet D–k?”
“I don’t know. Please come let me take you back
home…..” Richard began
“Don’t you dare patronize,” Ifeoma screeched, she
pulled at her short hair and jumped up and down
hysterically. “Don’t you dare lie to me? You think
am crazy don’t you” she stopped smiled and
started removing the sleeves of her gown, “let’s do
it here on your mothers cushion. Let’s f–k, like we
used to do”
“Ify calm down. Maybe later. We’ll do it…” Richard
started to say
“I knew it. Liar. You never loved me. You still want
her. Ahhhhhh” Ifeoma screamed. She ran towards
Richard, but he hurriedly stepped aside. Ifeoma ran
into the kitchen shouting. Richard went after her.
Yes he was scared, but to his utter chagrin, he had
discovered that he still loved her. And wanted her.
Seeing her like this, like a crazy woman, had broken
his heart –despite his earlier resolve. He wanted to
reach out and touch her and hold her close to his
chest. But once bitten, twice shy.
Ifeoma stopped at the kitchen sink, smiled and
raised up her hand. A knife gleamed in her hands –
the one he had seen in his dreams.
“Ifeoma stop, don’t play with a knife. STOP,”
But Ifeoma kept on walking towards him. Slowly at
first. She stopped for three seconds, smiled again
and then she rushed towards Richard, knife raised
high, poised to strike. Instinctively, Richard reached
for the pestle that his mother always kept by the
door, near the cupboard. He swung. A strong single
A red blobby matter spattered on the kitchen wall.
The knife dropped from Ifeoma’s hand. Her head a
red mess. Ifeoma fell to the ground and breathed