Faith is one of those things one cannot explain, not even to one’s self.
My cousin Dee told me a story I will never forget, not even if I contract amnesia.
It was the year 2000. A young girl was moved to Lagos from her village in Benin, to marry a vagrant who is my cousin’s cousin. Her husband to be had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and his mother thought settling down and having kids would curb his self destructive ways. The young girl was beautiful by any standards; flawless skin, striking features and a figure so perfect, she looked sculpted. Stunning though she was, the most beautiful thing about her was her disposition. She had a heart of gold; always joyful, always positive, ever loving, ever forgiving.
Three years into the marriage, her husband, who had managed to hold down a job in that time, in spite of his demons, was made redundant. He decided he’d worked enough. He’d much rather stay home drinking, smoking and sniffing anyway. Never mind that he had a wife and three young children to support. His wife set up a little kiosk outside their house and would wake up early, fry akara (bean cakes) by the bucket load and sell them out her kiosk. Business was good.
Her husband on the other hand convinced himself that the only reason she was doing it was to get the attention of her predominantly male punters. Forget the fact that they needed money to survive. Forget the fact that he needed to fund his habits somehow. Every time she came home from the kiosk, he would beat her till the neighbors intervened. Over a four year period, he broke every bone possible in her body. After each beating, my cousin Dee and her sisters would beg her to run away with her kids.
Each time, she would respond, tears pouring from her eyes, ‘my Jesus will save me.’
They told her there was a difference between faith and madness, she told them she certainly wasn’t mad. One day, she was sitting outside the house frying a batch of akara over an open fire. Her husband as usual was standing behind her hurling insults she had become a dab hand at ducking.
‘Am I not talking to you? Answer me!’
She ignored him.
Before she realised what was happening, he’d picked up the pot of hot oil and poured it over her.
Her screams could be heard for miles.
The neighbours ran out to find her burning up, her skin and clothes, melting, fusing into one. Convinced he had killed her, her husband fled the scene. She was rushed to the hospital and when my cousins swore they would make him pay for his action, she pleaded through her burnt lips, ‘Please don’t hurt him. Please look for him and tell him I’m okay. My Jesus will not let me die. Please look after him for me, my Jesus will save him.’ She wouldn’t let them have him arrested, wouldn’t let prosecute him.
Everyone was convinced she had gone mad but reluctantly, they did as she asked. It was the only way they could put her mind at ease and at that point, her well being was all that mattered.
Fast forward nine years.
My cousin Dee who had since moved out of Nigeria returned home for a family wedding. She was chatting away with her mother when she noticed an attractive couple walking towards them. The guy was good looking but the woman was stunning, like drop dead gorgeous. Judging by the diamond earrings hanging from the woman’s ears and the cut of the guy’s suit, they had money…lots of money. They looked familiar but it wasn’t till they stood in front of her she realised who they were. It was the vagrant and his village bride. She couldn’t hide her shock. Her cousin smiled at her and said, his twinkling, ‘He saved me. She was right, he saved me.’