Ugochi drove into her compound at exactly 10:30pm. She parked the car at the slot in front of her apartment, got out and locked the car.
She tried her door, found it locked and unlocked it with her keys. Ikem is probably asleep, she thought. He would have locked the door when he was going to bed; she didn’t think it was likely though. He rarely slept before she got home.
She went in, and saw him seated in front of the TV. He didn’t turn around, or acknowledge her entrance in any way. Ugochi skirted the small dining table with just two chairs, and narrowly avoided stumbling over a pair of shoes as she walked up to him.
“Hi dearie. You’ve been waiting for long?” she asked as she sat beside him. She saw he was playing with the DSTV remote in his hands.
He dropped the remote as he turned to her, and she was momentarily taken aback by the cold look in his eyes. “Where the heck have you been?” he demanded coldly.
She drew back, alarmed by the anger she felt emanating from him. “I told you I was going to have dinner with the girls now. Today is Dawn’s birthday.”
“I told you I was going to have dinner with the girls now.” He mimicked. “You were having dinner with the girls till this time? And you expect me to believe that?”
‘Why not? It is the truth.”
He stood up suddenly and leaned above her. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Who were you with tonight? You think I’m a fool? You think I don’t see what is going on here?”
Ugochi stood up too, alarmed. “What is wrong with you, Ikem? Please don’t start your crap with me tonight.” She made as if to move away.
“Crap? Did you say crap? Are you talking to me like that?” he grabbed her arm, swung her back, and before she could adjust her stance, gave her a resounding slap. The force of the slap knocked her back on her seat.
She sat there staring at him with a palm pressed to her stinging cheeks, too stunned to do anything other than stare, tears streaming down her face. He stood over her, still vibrating with anger.
“Ikem, did you just slap me?” Ugochi asked incredulously
“Yes, I did. And if you provoke me further, I’ll serve you the second round.”
She stood up, her palm still pressed to her cheek, staring at him, dumbfounded. “What has come over you? Where is all this coming from, Ikem?”
“Don’t ask me stupid questions. I am the one with the questions here. Which guy did you go out with this evening?”
“I don’t have to stand here and take this from you. Excuse me.” she sniffled as she walked past him.
He wanted to grab her again, but he refrained from doing so, and watched her go while a myriad of feelings passed over his face. The final one that settled in was guilt. He didn’t know what just came over him. He usually does not react with such anger, but this time around, he just couldn’t stop himself from hitting her.
The anger had started to build in him when his friend, Donald, called him this evening to tell him he spotted Ugochi in a small café with a man. Donald said they had looked very cozy together, and he just wanted to inform her as the good friend he was. Ikem didn’t believe that for a moment, he knew why Donald called, it was to rub it in his face, to throw his absolute faith in Ugochi back in his face. He had constantly bragged about how faithful Ugochi was, now for her to throw this in his face? It was intolerable.
He took a minute to think of the many years they’ve been together and how in all those years he had never had a reason to doubt her. He thought of the look of hurt in her face as she walked out on him, and how much he loved her. Could he be wrong here? Is it possible what Donald saw was entirely innocent, or could Donald have been lying? What reason would he have for lying? All these thoughts streaked across his mind as he paced around the living room. Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?
Ugochi lay on the bed as silent tears trickled down her face. What just happened here? It was as if I was talking to another man entirely. What could have prompted this sort of behavior from Ikem? I can’t believe he actually struck me. She thought miserably.
In the three years they’ve been together, Ugochi had never had a reason to complain about Ikem. Sure, they had their differences like every couple but it had been nothing that couldn’t be resolved quickly and easily. Their relationship had been good, and as comfortable as an old pair of pajamas.
Six months ago, when Ikem asked her to move in with him, she hadn’t hesitated. She had been happy he suggested it as it had been on her mind for a while, but she hadn’t brought it up. She had not had any reason to doubt or question his feelings for her, until now. Now, she couldn’t believe he could raise his hand to strike her. It feels like a dream she would wake up from very soon. This couldn’t be happening, could it?