TOUGH LOVE - Episode 2

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - dinner, father’s angry and drunken return, alcohol, wife, protective of her children, children, husband, drinking, friends, Love is not easy, days of drunkenness, the dark and dingy pit of alcoholism.

“I don’t mean to bother you Bernard, but I think we should talk. Please, could you hear me out? Our marriage is no longer what it should be. I don’t like the idea of you smacking me like an animal whenever you return from your numerous drinking adventures with your friends. First, you are spending too much on drinking. Second, we have little to live on due to your drinking when you finally get your salary. Third, drinking puts you in a terrible mood, which makes you treat me and the children like nothing. Finally, please could you stop beating me up. The entire neighborhood laugh at me and other children make fun of our children. Please, could you stop drinking and stop treating me like a piece of rag?” He stared at her derogatorily for a moment. “Who are you to tell me whether I can drink or not?” “Apart from how it makes you treat us Bernard, your health is being affected. Remember, the last time your blood pressure went whacky, the doctor asked you stop drinking, but you turned a deaf ear on that. We love you and want you around for long.”

“If you have nothing to do Juliet, then shut your mouth. No one tells me what to do, okay? You should be thankful I am in a happy mood today, else, I would have slapped the hell out of you,” he threatened. She looked at him and an overpowering sadness came over her. She retreated to the bedroom, lay in bed and cried.

Bernard went out as usual for an evening night out with Kevin and company. “What is it mom?” Ogemma asked her mother. She walked in and found her crying by herself. “Mom, stop crying. I know it is about dad. You try to hold it all inside because you want to take care of everyone. Stop crying mom. It will be alright, although I still think we should all pounce on him one of these days when he returns home drunk. It is for his own good. He will probably die from drinking if we don’t rescue him.”  Despite their young ages, Juliet’s children had matured quickly. The financial struggles of their family as well as witnessing their father’s inhuman treatment of their mother had instilled maturity in them, beyond their various ages. Juliet continued to cry. She recalled how warm and loving Bernard had been when they got married. All the promises of love and joy had snowballed into a giant, never ending nightmare. She was only in her mid-thirties but it seemed as though she was over fifty years of age. The palms of her hands and the soles of her feet were rough, and hard times had carved deep wrinkles on her face.

Suddenly, a wave of strength rushed through her. I have to be strong for myself; for my children, she concluded. I can no longer stand and watch Bernard treat me like a non-entity. I have to end this for good. No more will I let myself be treated this way, she concluded. “Go and call your brothers for me,” she ordered Ogemma. She scampered outside and fetched Chudi, Onyenna and the youngest of them all, Uchechukwu. “You sent for us mom,” Chudi said to her. Ogemma had told them that their mom seemed troubled, so they had a worried look on their faces. “Chudi, I want you to take Uchechukwu to Mama Emeka’s house now.” Uchechukwu was only five, so Juliet wanted him out of the way when their father returned. “Why mom? Is everything okay?” Chudi asked anxiously. “Everything is going to be alright. Do as I have asked you. When you return, I will tell you what to next to do. Uche, stay there until we come to get you okay?” “Yes mom.” Chudi dropped Uchechukwu at Mama Emeka’s and dashed back home quickly. Juliet dished out specific instructions to them afterwards.

It was nearly midnight when Bernard finally arrived home. He banged on the door as always. There was no answer the first time. By the fourth time, the door opened. He was reeking of alcohol. He could barely stand. His legs shook as he tried to reach out and slap Juliet for not opening the door soon enough. She was expecting it. She stepped backwards. Bernard fell to the ground at the door. She dragged him inside the house and shut the door. “Stupid woman, what took you so long?” he said to her. He could not rise to his feet. He was far too drunk. “Idiot, lift me to my feet!” he ordered her arrogantly. “Rise to your feet by yourself idiot,” she replied. “What did you say? I am going to kill you,” he snapped, but he could not lift himself. “If you call yourself a man, then rise to your feet, stupid drunk.” “You call me stupid drunk?” “Yes, because that is what you are.” He tried for nearly fifteen minutes before he could get himself to sit in an upright position on the floor. If I reach you, you will be dead.” Juliet stepped towards him. When she was close enough, she slapped him hard on the face. “Ayoo!!” he exclaimed in pain. “You slapped me?” “Yes, and I will do it again.” She delivered another ferocious slap to his face.

A rush of rage went through him. The rage seemed to afford him some fresh energy. Holding the wall, he managed to rise to his feet. Juliet stepped away from him. Bernard charged at her. Chudi rushed out from the bedroom and tackled him. He fell to the ground. “Don’t touch him!” Juliet ordered Chudi. Chudi wanted to pounce on him, but Juliet did not want them involved any further unless she was overpowered by Bernard. Reluctantly, Chudi stepped back. Juliet stomped and punched Bernard. It was as if she was letting out years of anger and frustration.

Smack him mom!” her children shouted. “Shh!” She instructed them to be quiet. She did not want the neighbors to hear the rumblings in their household. She continued to pummel him until he begged for mercy. “Please stop Juliet. You will kill me Juliet. Please stop, I will never touch you again.” “No, I want to kill you! You promised to love and protect me when you married me, but all I have gotten from you is pain and suffering. I have kept quiet all these years for God’s sake. I have begged you to treat me right. I have asked you to consider our children but you love alcohol and your irresponsible friends more than your family. I will kill you with my bare hands today. You are a stupid man. I want to teach you the lesson of your life. Has the alcohol cleared from your mind now?” She continued to talk to him through tears as she pummeled him.

“Please stop Juliet. I will never touch you again,” Bernard pleaded with her. “Children help me please. Your mother is killing me,” he implored his children. “It is okay mom! It is enough mom, please stop,” Ogemma pleaded with her mother. She was crying by now. Even Chudi and Onyenna felt it was enough. They jumped in and pulled their mother away from their father whose face had been bruised extensively. “You took my quietness and obedience for weakness. The next time you touch me, I will skin you alive,” she said as they dragged her away from him. She walked into the bedroom, clutched her Bible to her chest and cried passionately. “God, I hope you understand with me. I could no longer watch this man destroy my life and our family,” Juliet said as she cried. Chudi and his siblings helped their father to the couch. As his drunken stupor diminished, he stared at his children and began to cry. “I am sorry for how I have treated you my children,” he said through a wave of tears. “It is okay daddy,” they echoed. Ogemma rushed to the kitchen and returned quickly with a bowl of cold water and towel. She wiped his face while Onyenna offered him a glass of water.

After several minutes, he pulled himself together and they helped him to stand. Chudi held Onyenna and Ogemma as the three of them cried, largely out of relief. Bernard walked into the bedroom. Juliet was at the base of their bed crying with her Bible close to her chest. He dragged himself to her, and wrapped his arms around her. Her tears were like a broken dam that had no bounds. They flowed uncontrollably. It had been years since the last time he put his hands around her. “Please stop crying Julie,” he begged her. The last time he called her Julie was around when Chudi was born. Emotions and memories overwhelmed her. She raised her face, but her eyes were drenched in tears. She could barely see anything. She put her Bible aside and wiped her face. He held her to himself.

Without saying a word, she responded almost instantly. She melted into his arms and held him very firmly. She was still crying, and not even the tough Bernard could stop crying. He too rained tears uncontrollably. After a few minutes, he gently let go and fell to his knees. “I am sorry Julie. I will come to church with you from now on. I will no longer lay my hands on you. Please forgive me. I promise to quit drinking and to love you like I used to. I will no longer spend time with bad friends who have led me on a terrible path,” he begged her.

“I forgive you my Bernie. Please don’t put us through such hell again!” “I will not. I promise.” From that day, Bernard began his hard fought battle to quit alcohol. With the help of his loving family and pastor, he gave up alcohol and friends who loved it more than their families. Like a flower previously starved of sunshine and rain, his family began to blossom and flourish. Home became a place to look forward to, for them and their children. “Love is not easy. Love does not always bring sweet emotions,” he said in church at a thanksgiving service four years after the night that Juliet and their children took the fight to him.

“Love is not just beautiful words and splendid cards,” he continued. “Love is beyond all the beautiful things we make it to be. No doubt, it can be all that, but sometimes, it is sad, hard, tough, ugly, and mean. Truthfully, love would not be love if it were not tough. In love, sometimes we have to make tough choices. To fight a good fight to help our loved ones cross over from a dark side to the light. There is a place for turning the other cheek, and there also a place for fighting to save those we love. I am saved and alive today because my wife and children fought for me, against me and with me to show me who I had become, and who I ought to be. In my days of drunkenness, they fought against me. First they turned the other cheek, and when that didn’t work, they took on their armor and fought me into submission to the will of God. I am glad they did. Most of my drinking friends are not here today. They have succumbed largely to alcohol-related diseases. I wish they had someone to fight for them. I wish they listened. I thank God for my family and most of all, for their love. Juliet, I will love you until my dying day. Thanks for fighting to save me from the dark and dingy pit of alcoholism!”

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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TOUGH LOVE - Episode 2
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - dinner, father’s angry and drunken return, alcohol, wife, protective of her children, children, husband, drinking, friends, Love is not easy, days of drunkenness, the dark and dingy pit of alcoholism. An African Literary Blog
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