By Yetunde Arebi
There are always two sides to every story or event, especially when it involves two or more persons. Our perception may depend on which side of the account we hear. We forget that disputes occur when people disagree on issues, especially when they fail to see things from each other’s perspectives, regardless of what is right or wrong.
Unfortunately, the loudest or most popular arguments may not always be the correct or true account of events. And for this, we all often make grave mistakes and take unwarranted actions.
This was perhaps the case with the story of mummy and daddy Samson, my neighbours until a couple of years back. I considered the duo, one of the most beautiful couples around the neighbourhood. A tall, curvy, fair complexioned, Calabar lady married to a very soft spoken, tall, dark complexioned Yoruba guy who works in one of the second generation banks.
Together, they birthed four children, two boys and two girls. Two of the girls and the first boy, already took after their mother’s good looks. To me, they seemed like a perfect ideal couple, until that fateful night. I was already half asleep when I began hearing the noise. It was obviously coming from the compound. I strained my ears to be sure the voices did not belong to strangers and also, to ascertain what the thrust of the argument was about.
Once I was able to figure out that the voices were those of mummy Samson and her husband, I concluded it was a lovers tiff that would soon be resolved and the whole compound could retire to bed peacefully. But I was wrong. The voices not only became louder, but threatening too. Mummy Samson’s voice rang out more, renting the silence of the night.
She rained abuses and curses on her husband and father of her four children, insisting that he must kill her that night. After listening to the drama for almost an hour, it occurred to me that I was not hearing any other voice besides theirs. In a compound of four flats and a BQ, I definitely could not be the only one awake at that time of the night at a little after midnight. And even if I was, the noise was enough to wake anyone asleep. So, why had no one bothered to come out to settle the fight between the couple?
Though I had only moved into my flat less than six months then, I was aware that the family who occupied the flat above the fighting couple’s were quite close. Their young children attended the same school and after school lesson, so, why were they ignoring the commotion going on downstairs? I decided to go and see exactly what the matter was and if possible, assist in bringing peace. Besides, I knew whatever the problem would be of benefit to me. So, I scampered into my clothes and made my way down the stairs. Hmm! my amebo just no de gree me rest!
As I had suspected, they had left their flat and were outside the door, accounting for the loud tempo of their voices. Mummy Samson was holding on to her husband’s knickers, demanding to be killed. As soon as they both saw me, it appeared as if their energy instantly became recharged and they launched at each other again. Mummy Samson threw up her loudest wail yet and still holding fast to his waistband, dealt him a hard blow with the other hand.
Instantly, her husband tackled her to the ground with slaps and blows of his own. I winced realising how painful that must be for the woman, especially imagining what she would look like after the wrestling bout because of her very fair skin complexion. I rushed towards them, shouting at the husband to stop, else he might indeed kill her. But just then, I realised that the slippery substance on their bodies was not sweat but blood and I was forced to pull back.
Personally, I am averred to any form of violence because of my zero tolerance for pain of any sort. So, I steer clear of conflicts with anyone, either verbal, psychological or physical, no matter how close or remote the person might be. The scene before me was therefore very difficult to handle. My voice must have attracted other neighbours and so, one after the other, they began coming out. At the end, each flat was represented except for the couple’s friends.
Daddy Samson stopped beating his wife and stood up, but she continued to hold on to his shorts, shouting very vicious abuses at him. The man began apologising profusely to everyone, especially me, insisting that he was sorry to have caused me such distress. He declared that everyone was aware of his wife’s silly behaviour but that I was the only one witnessing her tantrums for the first time.
The elderly of the two men informed me that he only bothered to come out after hearing my voice and that he had told them after their last boxing bout that he would never interfere in their matter again. The couple from BQ expressed the same view, which only made Mummy Samson angrier. She lashed out at them immediately and announced that she was not surprised since they were birds of the same feathers and were actually encouraging her husband to be unfaithful to her.
She turned to us, (myself and the other woman) and asked if we could take it if our husbands brought girlfriends to the place we call our matrimonial home. Perhaps, the expression on both our faces gave her the answer she wanted. She told us that was exactly what happened. The husband interjected that she was lying and we should pay her no attention. According to her story, she had been hearing stories about her husband and a certain young lady in the neighbourhood for some time.
She said she’d confronted him but he’d naturally denied. But later, her children told her that their daddy was bringing a lady to the house anytime she was not at home. She said she laid several traps but never caught them and that perhaps gave him the guts to get bolder with his dirty acts without regards for her and the children. She said, that a few days before, she walked into her husband’s room early in the morning and found tell tale signs of a woman having been in his bed.
An empty condom pack as well as several pieces of tissue paper laid on the floor. She said he insisted that he had masturbated in the course of the night because he did not want to disturb her sleep. So, what was the condom for? Perhaps so the bed spreads won’t get stained! It was at that point that she became convinced that something very terrible was going on in her home and resolved to catch the woman who was so bold as to be sneaking into another woman’s home in the dead of the night.
Her siege paid off that night but her husband held her and allowed the lady to escape. She shoved out her thigh, indicating where he had stabbed her because of his lover. Once again, she launched into another round of slaps, biting and curses. We turned to daddy Samson but all he had to say was that she was lying and had only imagined things based on what Samson had told her.
To everyone’s surprise, he blurted out that he was tired of the relationship and wanted his wife to pack out of their matrimonial home. He said it was obvious that they could no longer live peacefully as husband and wife and it was apparent that he was wasting his time, thinking that he could be a good husband and father to their children. He said she was fond of pitching the children against him and encouraging them to be rude and disobedient to him.
He insisted that everything that happened that night was engineered by Samson and his wife and he no longer felt safe living under the same roof with them. He asked why no one is asking about the stab wounds on them and disclosed that it was Samson who had stabbed him on the orders of his mother during the scuffle and that had he not managed to wrestle the bottle out of his hands and stabbed his wife in the thigh with it, they both would have killed him.
Realising that he’d overpowered them and might kill the mother, Samson had surrendered and he’d managed to lock all four children in one room so they would not have to watch their show of shame. He said his wife had never been faithful to him which was not a secret to many in the compound. He was only paying her back in her own coin he concluded. He apologised once again to me because I was the stranger in their midst and told everyone to go back into their flats as nothing could change his decision from then on.
As he spoke, mummy Samson kept interjecting all through, revealing one family secret after another. At least, so it appeared to me. She said she wanted to have more children but he refused to allow her on the excuse that he could not afford it, only to start talking about taking another wife. Is it not children that she would bear for him, she asked. She revealed that he would sometimes deny her sex for several months while chasing some dirty girls all over the place.
She claimed he refused to give her money to improve her business and even refused to refund all he’d borrowed from her. Apart from the stabbing bit, I must admit that I began feeling sorry for mummy Samson at that point. Not many women would condone what she was going through in silence. Going by Samson’s age, one might be correct to say the couple must have been together for about 14-15 years at least.
The two made a very beautiful sight to behold, I called them ebony and ivory. I’d always thought of mummy Samson as a beautiful and respectful woman, along with their equally lovely children, so, I was really surprised by all that was unfolding. And as I listened to her stories, a resentment for daddy Samson began building up inside of me. How dare he treat his wife and mother of his four children with such disrespect?
If he must have affairs, why bring the women to his matrimonial home and bed? Was it that he could not afford a hotel room? I know that such things do happen, but not when the wife is a stone’s throw away from the house such as theirs. (mummy Samson’s shop is on the next street)
He claimed to be a good father but parades his other women in front of his children with disregard for the psychological implications of his actions on them. Besides, what sort of low life woman would allow herself to be led into another woman’s den in the dead of the night? Daddy Samson was a terrible man and ought to cover his face in shame. At least, so I thought. But was this true? Let’s meet here again next Saturday please. Do have a wonderful Easter celebrations.