Wayne started beating me five months into our marriage. Initially, it was simply an unexpected slap or a punch to the kidney. It was so unpredictable and out of character that I deemed it my fault. I reasoned that I must have brought it on myself, and that I deserved it. That naïve perspective changed when the abuse became far more regular and intense. After two further months of humiliating, soul-wrecking beatings, I finally walked out. I left with only the clothes on my back and firm resolve burning in my heart. I moved in with a friend, but I knew I needed help. “Speak to Mr. Eden,” Sinead advised me. “You know he's always been kind-hearted to us and helps everybody without hesitation,” she added persuasively. And that's how I ended up outside his office the next morning, clutching my college bag and courage firmly to my breast. Mr. Eden was the College Counselor, and one of the most unselfish men I had ever met. Not a single student had ever been turned away by this gentle, unassuming man. And I was about to ask him to not just go the extra mile, but to also go out on a limb for me. How classically clichéd. “Marina, come inside,” Mr. Eden invited me the minute he saw me. “Have a seat. How's life been treating you?” he asked innocently, but his tone and the innocuous question triggered a flood of sobs. I was embarrassed; I chastised myself for making such a spectacle of myself. Mr. Eden instantly took charge, soothing me with encouraging words and a soft tone. He offered me a bottle of water, which I gratefully accepted. I confided completely in him. I was surprised by the first words he said, but I shouldn't have been. “We need to get you into a women's shelter today. I know a place near the college. I will take you there after I've called them to give them a heads up, all right?” As if that wasn't enough, this amazing man then spread the word – with my permission – on the college WhatsApp group that a student needed donations of clothes, toiletries, food; the works. The response was overwhelming! Mr. Eden took me to the Saartje Baartman Women's Shelter, and they agreed to house me as well as try to resolve the problems Wayne and I were having by giving us marriage counselling. All absolutely free of charge! I received so many donations of barely-worn clothes, brand new underwear, toiletries and even money that I could give some of the things to Sinead to thank her for having granted me a safe haven when I had needed it. And the best thing of all? Wayne is a changed man. The couples therapy had opened his eyes, even bringing him to the point where he apologized tearfully to me for ever having lifted a hand to me. “You are a treasure, Marina,” Wayne said to me on the first night I returned home. He was holding me gently in his arms while he spoke in a voice shaking with emotion. “I nearly lost the most precious gift I had ever received, but I will never again be this careless.” “If not for Mr. Eden, both of us would have lost each other,” I said and smiled, feeling the heavy burdens lift off my shoulders like fog burned off by the warmth of a rising sun.
The man and the woman, a union ordained for bliss Bliss ethereal yet tangible, like the honeyed taste of a kiss But this bliss is sent to hell, when the man says he is a beast Of course not with his mouth, but when his pride becomes his fist. Iya Bisi said "For my children I will stay". "I need to be around to get the daily bread in place". Really, she had hidden fears about what people would say If she fled for her safety, away from Baba Bisi the Great Should we wait until her eyes are swollen and black? Before we see that our vision is blurry and dark Mandela's hands in the air spoke of a freedom age Why do the hands of our brothers speak of bondage? Zainab swore she would go to the university But Hassan came with naira for his bride Thus scissors went into her private princess parts Another child has become wife. Bolanle's oranges were neither ripe nor exposed And her thighs were warmed by a baggy pair of clothes She was three days in as the latest teenager on the street Then three rounds of rape sent her hanging on a rope. The pandemic strolled into our world Then quarantine drove us into our homes But Ogechi's home was a prison, and she was a detainee She lived in a ring with a stronger opponent and no referee In fact if their common name was Floyd, He would be Mayweather and she would be George. She was one woman with one thousand responsibilities. Everyday came with reasons to stretch her abilities. But even elastic strings have their limits Maybe hers would be the day her heartbeat is quiet. This message to our society must go viral. We must wake up to cherish our women. We are blessed to have these living, breathing temples Who are we to desecrate deity?!
Last night, I felt impressed to write a letter to the President of the United States of America to share with him three points I needed to get off of my chest. The first point was to thank him and his family for putting our country first. Regardless of political beliefs, President Trump has convinced me that he and his family really do want America to be the greatest country in the world, which is something I can support. The second point was to ask why are there reports stating dead people received COVID-19 stimulus money? How come there is not some sort of regulation in place with the government that cross references social security numbers of those just written on a death certificate to the government agencies that send money? Obviously grieving families do not always tell the IRS or Social Security Administration that their loved one just died. And, let's face it, there are a lot of crooks in the world who do not want these agencies to know a person is dead. The third point I felt like I needed to share with the President of the United States was to ask for his prayers. He and his family appear to be the kind of people who pray to the Christian God, and since that is the same type of faith that I share, I hope he will take the time and utter a quick prayer asking for God's favor to finally shine on my life, so that I, too, will recover from this pandemic. I honestly do not know what else I am going to do if I do not find a job. I know people think that "white privilege" is a real thing. And maybe it is for some, but not for me. Reputable jobs want to check credit. Okay, fine. Just only use my recent North Carolina credit history and ignore everything in Georgia. I barely escaped my home state with my life and the clothes on my back. My former husband knows my social security number and when I left, he made sure to ruin my credit in hopes of forcing me to stay with him. When that did not work and I left anyway, he tried killing me by making it look like an accident (See photo. That story will be told at a later time). If I do not get a job, I do not know what I am going to do. I have worked everyday since I was fifteen years old. I do not know anything but working. I have never even filed for unemployment before now. All of my life, the people in it have told me that I would never amount to anything and would accomplish nothing...I do not want to think that they are right. That the decisions I have made in my short forty-four years on this planet were all for naught, especially on that first day when I wake up with zero dollars in my bank account, has made them be able to say, "I told you so". With a future so uncertain, where does one go from here? How does one recover? Hopefully, I will get a job before I need the unemployment benefits. If I cannot finally establish a career because I am discriminated against due to my lack of color, disability, or credit report, then, my back-up plan is that maybe I will receive unemployment benefits which will help supplement my income until I begin the local community college in August and find a part time job on campus. Even though I have over twenty years of experience in the office administrative and legal assistance industry, apparently employers are looking for education as well, which is why I will be getting my degree in Paralegal Technology so that I can pass the State and Federal exams. In the meantime, I plan on writing to help pass my time and keep my mind occupied. And maybe, just maybe, something else will come out of this experience and I will wake up one morning in the near future to realize that I am finally living my America Dream.