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“I didn’t come here for you to pity me” Sylvia had said, her jaw set as though she was ready for a fight and Ify wondered when she had become the enemy
“I am not your enemy” she calmly replied, trying hard to wipe every hint of pity from her voice
Sylvia had unsurprisingly remained silent , she needed someone to be angry at, and using her was the easiest way. She studied Sylvia, as she sat on the couch, breastfeeding her 6 month old baby while her two year old son played in the living room, making a mess of everything he touched, her sister looked older than her 29 years, her eyes were swollen and purple, her skin ashen, her once full and shiny black hair looked unkempt, she had lost so much weight. It had been a while since she heard her sister laugh, and Ify didn’t know if it was because she had no reason to laugh or because she was ashamed of revealing her disjointed dentition.
“Let me take your bags inside” Ify let out a helpless sigh and made to pack the bags on the floor
“No need to do that, he will soon be here” Sylvia didn’t look up to meet Ify dazzled gaze, she feigned total concentration on the baby suckling at her breast
Ify was weakened by her sisters stupidity, she could not believe that Sylvia would be willing to return back to the house of a man, that had made her to become a shadow of herself, she knew it was useless to try to talk her out of her sham of a marriage, she wanted to mind her business, but she could not help her self
“Are you crazy?, look at yourself! He is going to kill you one day”, Ify was surprised at her angry outburst, she didn’t expect to feel that much anger, the outburst startled Sylvia, she was clearly taken aback , it was a miracle the baby did not fall to the ground, but even the little one was confused by the shouting and he began to cry, Sylvia tried to hush her crying baby as she gently patted his back and swayed her body back and forth, she called out to her restless toddler, adjusted her cloths and picked up her bags
“I don’t need your pity Ify and I will not stand for your insults,” her voice was shaking it was obvious she was trying hard not to cry, “we are leaving” she added after a brief pause
“I am not your enemy!!!” Ify screamed after her sister, as she hurriedly made her way to the door with her hollering baby and restless toddler, she banged the door loudly, while Ify stood there, mouth agape
Three weeks later Sylvia returned , this time she was weeping uncontrollably, her hair was a mess and she was bleeding from her nostrils, she had told Sylvia to leave her husband and it had fallen on deaf ears, her mother told her to mind her business, she had never been married, she had no right interfering in her sisters marriage, their father would be turning in his grave at what she was doing, punctuating her statement with huge sobs, her mother wanted Sylvia to stay in her marriage, what would people say if she left? had been her mother’s closing remark to her tearful speech. Yet Ify refused to give up.
“There are organizations that can help you prosecute him, you don’t need to worry about your children they will be safe” she was beginning to sound desperate, her conversations with her sister sounded desperate these days, she felt like every conversation with her, might be their last
“I took an oath!, what will people say? That I arrested my own husband? Tufia!…”Sylvia sounded weak, her words sounded rehearsed, like something their mother would say
“Sylvia” Ify continued, refusing to give up, ”plea….” She stopped when Sylvia, raised her hand signaling her be silent
“this is not your fight Ify” Sylvia got up to her feet and gently steadied herself, as she swooned, it would be useless to stop her from leaving him Samira Ify knew “I am going, my children need me” Sylvia limped to the door, leaving behind an exhausted Ify.
It was raining that day, she didn’t hear anything the pastor said, neither did she see the crowd of people gathered around her, when the coffin was opened for people to pay their last respects, she walked like one in a haze and stared at the lifeless body of her sister, how frail and white she looked, even death could not hide the bruises on her body, her face was expressionless and she could taste bile in her mouth knowing that if her sister could wake up now, she would still go back, she hated her sister’s husband for finally killing her, she hated society for placing ludicrous standards in marriage that did not benefit women, she hated her sister for not saving herself, she hated her mother for being too afraid of gossip rather than caring for the life of her child and finally she hated herself the most, for not trying harder to save her sister. She didn’t realize how long she had been standing there, until a hand gently tapped her, she jerked out of her reverie and slowly proceeded, she did not cry all through the burial ceremony of her only sibling. Not until the young reporter approached her and asked why the family had not reported to the right authorities in time, and what was going to happen to the young children of the deceased, she turned to the woman who was eager for an exclusive, with blank eyes she said as a lone tear rolled down her cheek “It was not my battle to fight”.