The sound echos in the hollow room.
We look at each other and you blink,
I refuse to rub the cheek you just struck,
Refuse to spill the tears welling in the rims of my eyes.
“I didn’t mean to do that”
“You made me so angry”
“I couldn’t control myself”
“It will never happen again”
The first time you hit me,
It was my fault,
I was clumsy,
I got in your way.
The second time you hit me,
I had smiled at your friend,
“You were jealous”, you said.
“You saw red”, you said.
“The third time you hit me,
I hadn’t opened the front door immediately you knocked,
“What were you doing since?” you asked with a smile,
Just before you knocked out my front teeth.
The fourth time you hit me,
I had forgotten to kneel to greet your mother.
“Hit her well”, she said.
“That will teach her sense” she said.
You hit me when I served you Egusi instead of Ogbono,
That was the fifth time,
Then I stopped counting,
It no longer made sense.
Today you changed your son’s diaper,
I went to the market,
His wails made you commit an unmanly offense, you said.
“Isn’t he your child too?” I asked.
The slap shouldn’t have tingled,
Hadn’t you twice slapped me for saying ‘good morning?
This one wouldn’t leave a scar,
It wouldn’t bruise my skin.
My son babbles in his language
Throwing his fists in the air
His tiny face creasing with laughter
“Come and play Mummy” he seems to say.
I look at your face,
The handsome face that used to make my heart skip,
He looks like you, exactly like you
The child we made seems to be all yours, down to the dimples.
My son will not become you,
My child will not become a monster,
He will not become you,
Even if I have to kill you first.