Rosa watched his sleeping form beside her, how peaceful he looked now, unmarred by the demons that haunted him in his waking hours. And she wished that he could stay asleep forever. At least he would be at peace that way. Supporting herself on her elbow, she lightly traced a finger down her husband’s face, taking great caution not to actually touch him. She could see the now many scars that adorned his handsome face, feeling ashamed because some of those scars were from her nails. Cephas groaned in his sleep as he turned and Rosa almost fell off the bed as she scrambled back into her side, snuggling herself inside the blanket in milliseconds. Her heart beating furiously, she wondered how it all came down to that. When did the young couple who were so much in love and full of optimism about marriage turn to be these bitter strangers, fighting every day and loathing each other?
Fighting back tears as she usually did when she thought about them, Rosa let her memories wander to the past. She first laid eyes on him while she was on campus. She was in the second year and he was in his final semester. Theirs was a whirlwind romance. Envy of many. Their first meeting wasn’t a cliché either, actually, the moment they laid eyes on each they each concluded they hated each other’s guts, Rosa outspoken and outgoing was the opposite of Cephas reserved and anti-social. They meet in a line outside the finance department as Rosa was trying to manoeuvre around the crowd, Skipping the line. Cephas hated how she breezed in and headed to the front line like she was untouchable. And he let her have his peace of mind. She listened, smiled and then went ahead and passed him on the line leaving him flabbergasted. The nerve of that girl.
As fate would have it the following weekend after the cats were over, Rosa was invited to a house party, only to find out that Cephas was her friend’s roommate. The initial first minutes were filled with tension. Then as glasses started changing hands the tension was all but forgotten. By the time they were getting to truth and dare, Rosa and Cephas were inseparable. They had their first kiss courtesy of the spin of the bottle. After that the rest is history.
The months that followed were like a fairytale. They went together everywhere. He showed up for her drama rehearsals. She stayed up with him as he revised for his exams. He wasn’t ashamed of piggyback riding her across the campus hostels. Every girl wanted to be her. Every man was envious of him.
Her fondest memory of him was on his last day in school, after his exams he had arranged for a picnic at the school’s botanical garden. Halfway through however she had gotten her menses and messed her skirt. Embarrassed, she couldn’t face him. But he had taken it in stride and arranged to have her best friend bring her another skirt and some tampons, upon getting back to his room his luckily was a single person room, he surprised her with scrubbing her clean, and massaging her back. Then cuddling her till she fell asleep.
Tears were flowing freely now, biting her fist to avoid making a sound. Rosa wondered where the kind man who used to pamper her like that went. And in his place a monster, who was beating her black and blue every day. She loved him, she couldn’t picture a life without him. That’s why she stayed. She has seen his good side. It was hard to reconcile the man she met at the campus with the man lying next to her. Two years in marriage, one of those, blissful and the other one full of tears and anguish.
She can’t tell when exactly things changed, there were no subtle signs that she had ignored. Or maybe there were. But hidden behind love, Cephas could do no wrong in her eyes. Then one evening as she played with his phone, a text message has buzzed “honey, what time are we seeing you tomorrow, your daughter misses you. I hope your trip is going alright. Be safe. We love you.”
And the world had come crushing on her.
The pain of betrayal she felt a cut Sharper than any knife she has ever known. Her mind closing itself up. It couldn’t process. She felt like her intestines were being ripped apart. And the guttural sound that escaped her mouth was like of a feral wounded animal. It hurt so bad she couldn’t breathe. She thought she was going to die. She couldn’t cry even if she wanted to. Her body just shut down.
She woke up in hospital hours later. To more bad news. She had suffered a minor stroke, nothing she couldn’t survive though and with no long-lasting effects- lucky her. However, she had lost her three weeks of pregnancy. Shocked, would be an understatement. She didn’t even know that she was pregnant. And lying there in that hospital bed, Rosa wept. She grieved for a baby she never knew she had and she grieved for her relationship.
She was in so much pain she had to be sedated. Two weeks later she was released from the hospital. And Cephas took her home. He came clean that he had a daughter with his ex. Gotten while Rosa was still in campus and he was working. And he swore to never see them again.
But that night he didn’t come back home.
Or the following night.
Or the night that followed.
Rosa spent sleepless nights wondering what exactly she did wrong.
Why wasn’t she enough?
And when he finally showed up, he was drunk. Upon asking where he had been Rosa was met with a scalding slap. And the beatings followed.
“Enough is enough,” Rosa pondered. An abusive marriage was not among the woes that befell a woman after falling into the serpent’s trap, and eating the forbidden fruit. It is more painful than giving birth. And even more painful than crushing the serpent itself.
God knows her destiny but she was convinced that that was not it. So, they broke up a fortnight later. That was enough patience and the medicine seemed not to work, theirs was a dying dog- a marriage doomed. A marriage failed. A family broken. Trust broken. Hope shattered. But another chapter in her life; of being single again, trying to be happy- this time without a man, a man who shettered her dream (of being a married woman), a man who was her world, and assuming that that was just a furnace she had to pass through to brighten the gold in her.
And as she walked away, from where she had called home for more than two year- away for good this time round, Rosa wished her next time will be more better.
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