Josephine turned in her bed for the umpteenth time. It was one of those sleepless nights she had come to get used to. She wondered what she could do to get some sleep. Go out and count the stars? She asked herself and remembered it was raining outside. She remembered her pastor that whenever she lacked sleep she should count to a hundred, then start the same procedure but backward. She tried that. She counted to a hundred and then from a hundred to one. It just didn’t work.
What else pastor, what else did you tell me? Oh yes, say the longest prayer of your life. She started praying. She prayed, prayed, prayed and begun again, but it was all futile. Indeed it was a bad day for her.
She sat up, drenched in sweat. She wondered why she was sweating and yet it was raining and cold. She hated life, oh how she hated life! She hated it with a passion bigger than life itself. She hated the very day she was born. Her life was utter misery. Before getting married, she had been the local beauty queen. A real jewel. Beautiful, clean hearted, killer figure. The very epitome of real beauty. Everyone admired her, some girls were jealous and men from far and wide all came to try their hand on her. No one succeeded.
Then ‘he’ came along. She had only been eighteen years then. She did not want ‘him,’ she protested and cried, saying there was no way she could get married to a man that big, but her father would hear none of it. Wasn’t the man a big man, a member of parliament? Wasn’t the man rich enough? Plus, hadn’t she already been paid dowry for? “Yes my daughter,” her mother had whispered to her, “incase you did not know, that man you do not want is the man every girl in the village is dying for” “But my education!” Josephine had wailed. “Forget it. You will have everything you desire in the house. Now, prepare yourself, for very soon you shall be the wife to a very prominent person in this land.” Her father had said with a finality she knew only too well. And that had been that. Josephine had given in with a final heart.
All that, all that pomp and richness! Look where it had gotten her! She had been right. Look what had become of her. Her beauty was fast fading. She was wallowing in misery, shame and self pity. Five years. Five long years that she had been married to Ontii. Five painful years. Everyone who had known her before the marriage knew she was a changed person. She no longer smiled. She was always moody, temperamental and ready to explode. Those were characters that she never used to posses. So she had everything in that house, but she lacked the one important thing she really wished she had.
Happiness. It eluded her as if on a mission. She wasn’t happy because she wasn’t loved. She knew it. Everybody knew it. You see once Josephine had gotten married to ontii, she had started teaching herself to love her husband. She had forced herself to, reasoning with herself that after all it was better to love him, considering she had no option, than to live in denial. But ontii did not love her. If anything, he despised her.
As these memories and thoughts were going through her mind, she heard the gate opening and a car drive into the compound. She knew it was her husband. She grabbed her phone to see what time it was. 4; 35am. She could feel her body trembling. Everyday, ontii would come at any time he so wished and go straight to bed. Of course Josephine always heard him arrive, burning silently with a mixture of furry and desire. She after all, was a woman who needed to be made to feel like one. But indifferent ontii never even noticed her. She heard a key turn in the door. Today, she thought, today I will tell him what I feel. He will have to listen to me. Josephine sat up in bed, pensively; anxiously waiting for the confrontation she knew was inevitable.
Ontii entered the room and closed the door quietly behind him. He kicked his shoes knocking an object in the process and cursed loudly. All the while, not realizing that his wife wasn’t asleep. He removed his jacket and hanged it in its usual position. Josephine heard him mutter something about political opponents who wanted to finish him, but she wasn’t sure she had heard rightly. Josephine watched him, her heart beating wildly, her whole body trembling. Her husband’s temper was legendary. Nobody crossed his path as they were scared of him. Somehow even she as her wife was always constantly afraid of him.
However she knew there was no turning back. She had to get over and done with this whole thing once and for all. She sat up even straighter and cleared her throat twice. Mildly at first then abit louder. Ontii did not as much as look at her. He stretched himself and went to the wine cabinet. He poured himself some wine. Martini. It was always a martini. “Good morning ontii.” Josephine said quietly. Ontii turned sharply. “You are not asleep.” It was a statement and not a question. Josephine put her legs across the bed, her toes touching the floor. “Not yet, I have been waiting for you the whole night.” She looked at him quietly, not really seeing him in the dark. Suddenly, she went to the switch and turned the lights on and then as suddenly, turned to face him. “Where are you coming from?” He squinted from the sudden light, not knowing what to say. A minute passed. A minute of silence. “I repeat, where are you coming from?” Ontii looked at her, surprised. “That is my business woman, not yours” She took a step towards him, her nightgown shining. “You’re wrong. Part of my business as your wife is to know where you have been three quarters of the night.” “What is it Josephine? Are you sick, some malaria maybe? This is not like you at all. Is there anything you want from me? Say it and I will give to you.” He moved closer to her and touched her arm. Josephine moved away, brushing his arm away angrily. “I asked you where you are coming from!” she said angrily, her voice rising high. “Since when did you start questioning me?” ontii asked, his jaw tight. “Since today. Since now. You will tell me where you are coming from. You have to tell me. What do you think I am, waiting every night for someone who is out with other women, or is it at the witchdoctors place, trying to work out how you can retain you ministerial post?” Ontii opened his mouth and closed it again. Josephine stared at him, waiting, watching. “You are going insane.” He said disbelievingly. “Is that it? The juju man?” “I will not have you insult me like that.” He said darkly. Josephine ignored him. “I am tired of this life ontii. I am tired of living like a slave, tired of living with a man who doesn’t love me. Is not enough to you that I married you against my wish but still went ahead and learned to love you? Am I not an ideal wife? I am tired, honorable ontii, of tossing in bed every night of my miserable night. I am tires I dare say, of living with a man who can rape my own sister and have no qualms whatsoever about it. And yet I still forgive and love that man. Who do you think you are, doing this to me? Making me suffer for I don’t know whose sins. Those women, those women who you spend you hard earned money and time on; those women do not love you. They love your money, your flamboyancy. The moment you lose that they will be gone. I am leaving ontii. I am leaving and I am never coming back. I deserve a better life than this. You ask me what right I have to ask you where you have been the whole night. Don’t I have a right to know? Of course I do> I have a right to know because it’s me you sleep with every time you want to. It’s me you have unprotected sex with. It’s me who bears the grunt of your outbursts. It’s me who, when your down and beaten politically you come running to, to hide you from the world.”
She paused and took a deep breath. Ontii was breathing heavily, almost painfully, Josephine thought. “I am not ready to die. I am too young to die of a virus that I know nothing about. I don’t want to die because of some foolish mistake I made.” Ontii stared at her; not believing what he was hearing was coming from his wife’s mouth. He shook his head slowly, trying to clear it. However Josephine was not done yet. “Above all, I cannot continue living in luxury while others are dying of hunger. My conscience will not allow me to continue eating the poor people’s money. Stealing, that’s the word, no? Let me warn you,” she pointed a thin finger at him. “Your days are numbered sir. You are so corrupt, what with all those scandals you are involved in. I hate corruption as I hate looting from the poor. I cannot continue being a part of it, albeit indirectly.” Ontii, who was now beginning to recover, moved towards her. “Are you finished?” he asked with a sneer. “You bustard.” Josephine said bitterly. “I cannot believe I actually loved you.” “But you actually did, didn’t you?” ontii asked, laughing quietly. Josephine looked at him, saying nothing but seething with rage. “Well, if you don’t have something to say, I do. If you want to leave, fine. I will not stop you. First thing in the morning pack your things and go.”
He turned away to fill his wine glass. Josephine noticed his hands were trembling. “I hate you. Do you know how much I hate you? Oh God I hate you Mr. Ontii!” her voice rose in a sharp crescendo. “Be quiet!” ontii said threateningly, his teeth clenched tightly. “Oh really? Or else what sir? What will you do? Hit me? You have done that before. But it did not kill me. Will you do it this time round, will you kill me?” “Yes. If you do not stop shouting, I will kill you.” “Then go ahead mister. Kill me.” She shouted now, all worked up. Kill me ontii. Honorable ontii, go ahead. Go ahead and kill me you coward. You bastard, why are you staring at me like that huh? Kill me you sexual molester. What has it-“
She did not get to finish that sentence. It was as swift as it was unexpected. It was a furious blow that caught her right on her jaw. Blood sputtered out of her mouth. Mrs. Ontii held her mouth, not shocked but feeling the pain. She moved her hand a bit, not wanting to believe what she was sure had happened in her mouth. Three teeth came out, all bloodied. She spat them and bent to pick them up. Before she could get up a sharp kick landed on her buttocks, missing her spinal cord by an inch. She sprawled on the floor, wanting to throw up but not being able to. Ontii pulled her up with a jerk. He was powerful, so powerful. “bitch.”
He spat at her and pulled her harder towards him. Releasing her temporarily, he hit her so hard on her face; blood erupted out of her ears. She fell ungracefully, and he knelt down, kicking her sharply and he hit her on her stomach. She rolled in pain. Her nightgown was covered in blood, her face a bloody mass. “I.. I ha..t…e you.” She managed to say. “This t-ime round if- will no—t cry.” She fell down in a heap, in pain and pure agony. Her statement only served to infuriate ontii who rained more blows on her. Josephine shut her eyes tightly, weakly trying to say a prayer. But she was slipping. She was slipping and she knew it. She prayed that Jesus would be waiting for her in heaven tonight. “You will not tell me such bullshit again. Never again. I work hard to put food on the table. You go shopping wherever you want and instead of thanking me, this is what you start telling me. Crap. Do you know how many women want to be in your position?” he kicked her full force on her stomach and she let out a small gasp. “I will teach you a lesson bitch. Ill teach you who is head of this house. Eti you want to go. Go where? Who wants a wreck like you anyway? You question my integrity and you can’t bear me kids. Barren woman!”
He hit her again and again on her back. He was in frenzy now. Every time he had hit his wife, he never stopped till she became unconscious. This time though, he overdid it. His wife lay there, soaked in blood, barely breathing. She had a deep cut on her leg that was bleeding at an alarming rate. She moved a bit, trying to get up but ontii shoved her back to the ground. “y…o…u will re…g…ret this.” She muttered. It required an effort. Ontii took an armchair, and blinded with rage, hit her on the chest. Josephine coughed blood. “I only asked what I did out of love. Now I have only confirmed what I already knew. How can you hate me this much? What ever did I do to you? Are you a lunatic ontii? Do I deserve such battering?” “Liar! You have contempt towards me and you claim to love me?” he shouted. Josephine rolled to her side. She was in anguish. She was in a state she had never been in before. She had this feeling……. “My husband you have killed me.” She said in a whisper and went limp. Ontii stood up and wiped sweat from his forehead. He knelt down again and tore the loosely hanging gown, panting heavily. He removed her underwear and pushed her legs apart. He mounted her, riding her like an animal, his breathing heavy. He climaxed, letting out a small sound of triumph. He got off her and lay on the floor beside her, breathing in short gasps. He had just had sex with a corpse. His dead wife. Well, welcome to the world of ontii. That was ontii all right. Honorable ontii. Member of Parliament for Omondo constituency. Minister for foresight affairs. * * * That murder case was never solved. Infact there was no case in the first place. The story just ran in the papers that ontii’s wife had been killed by their dogs. Nobody asked anything. Those with suspicions kept them to themselves. But obviously a few whispers did the rounds. The question that everyone had but dare not asked, “How could her own dogs have killed her?” I mean, come on, it was all bewildering. No investigations were done. Money had changed hands.