Lillian Badmus used to be Miss Lillian Ola-Wright before she married her husband. Lillian was dark, willowy and polished, a remarkable sight she was. She had the same look, which her paternal grandmother -who passed on when she was ten-had when she was also young. She had the subtle look of her father, which made her his favorite. Lillian’s attitude had been like her looks; very calm and restrained, but she could be very stubborn if she wanted to be, and that she had gotten from her mother.
Lillian was a very decent girl with a good family background; she had grown up to do everything her parents asked her to do except what seemed to be the last order. Lillian had wanted to become a human right activist, but her dream of being one hit the tree when she got married.
Richard had told her not to work. Lillian spent the first twenty years of her life with her parents and brother. She had met her husband at the teen age of nineteen, and married him at twenty against her parents wish. She had thought falling in love was a good thing, and foolishly, thought marriage was the best option to keep it growing. But unfortunately for her, marriage did not turn out to be a bed of roses, at least not after the second year.
When Lillian told her mother about the proposal, she refused blatantly. Lillian was stunned at her mother’s refusal because she confided in her all the time. Her mum was more than a mother to her, she was a friend and the sister she never had. Lillian told her anything, everything. Had she really given her parents’ refusal a thought, she would have probably known that the future would be as objectionable as it was, but now that she didn’t and was encumbered, she knew she would have to bear the brunt alone.
Few days after she got out of bed and treated herself of malaria, Lillian received an unusual call from her mother to come. The call did not sound so urgent but she knew she had to go as soon as possible. It was on a Saturday, her husband was at home. Her mother would always give her prior notice if she wanted her to come, but that was different.
“Richard,” she started almost certain that he would not allow her. Before they got married, he had told her jokingly that he was going to steal her away from her friends and family, and ever since they got married, he had actually been true to his words. He barely allowed her to go out on visitations, but anytime she went, he followed her.
He was sitting relaxed on the couch with a Newspaper that he held with his two hands. “Yes,” he answered offhandedly without looking up; he took a sip of his juice, which he had forgotten until he had his name.
“Mummy called.” She stopped. They both knew she would not have told him her mother called if she did not want to make a request.
“How is she?” He asked the same way he had first answered her, as if he did not care.
She heard his question; she knew he did not care if she was fine or not so she replied with what she wanted to tell him. “She wants me to come over,” she announced sharply before she could have problems in the middle of the sentence.
He dropped the paper on his legs and folded his arms. “Why.” he stared at her as if she had just said the unimaginable.
His stare made her uncomfortable, she had to look another way to get the words out of her mouth “She misses me” the words came out more bluntly than she had intended.
Her candour worked as magic for her this time. He stared at her for a long time and gave his permission in an amusing way. “My greetings.” He chuckled.
Lillian went inside to freshen up. She called one of the house helps to tell the driver to get the Lincoln Navigator ready. For a while, she had difficulties choosing what to wear, memories of the past swept her off as she remembered when she would ask her husband to help her out. Whenever they wanted to go out then, he would tell her his opinion on what she was wearing or wanted to wear, he would tell her if the cloth looked good on her or not. Now, even if she wore rag, if he cared, he did not show it.
“Madam Lilly say make you get the car ready.” She laid emphasis on the “Lilly” because she knew it was only her husband that called her that.
“Which of the cars?” He rose from where he was sitting.
“The Lincoln Nafigator.”She turned to leave, but his laughter made her turn back.
“Why you laffing?” She was looking at him like a moron now that his laughter did not stop but intensified. She knew she had made another mistake.
Still laughing, he managed to correct her. “It is Navigator, okay?” When she hissed, he laughed again. He knew she would not take to corrections, and whenever she made such sound mistakes, he wondered from what part of the bush they had picked her.
“What is happening here?” he got behind them unannounced.
“Nothing sir, Aunty sent her to me,” the driver answered quickly. The smile and laughter on his face died instantly.
Whatever message his wife sent him, he did not ask, but he knew she wanted him to drive her. “Anyways, you are taking me out now,” he stated authoritatively.
“But aunty wants me to take her somewhere,” he had finished the sentence before he knew he was not supposed to say it when he saw the butchery on his face.
“Well then, make sure my car gets back here without you, Idiot.”
Lillian came out with Mary who was carrying her handbag. “Are you ready?” she asked the driver. She did not fail to notice her husband who was moving towards his new Pencil Camry.
“No, Madam,” he said slowly. He wanted to tell her why he would not be able to take her, but he knew that eventually she would know. He was not in the position to tell her.
Why, did you not get the message?” she asked almost angry, but she was not the type that got angry easily, especially not over issues as trivial as that.
“He is taking me out.” He opened the back door of his new car.
“But he is taking me to mummy’s place you can at least drive yourself today.”
“He is taking me.” A cold glance accompanied the words, and for someone like Lillian who knew how the eyes talk, she did not need an interpreter before she knew that the note on which he spoke was final.
She sighed heavily. Her last option was to get angry or argue but she did not even have the nerve for that. “You can at least drop me off,” she asked half as a statement and half as a request, not minding that she might choke, riding with him.
“We are not taking that route. Get inside you” he ordered the driver who slipped into the car immediately. “You can take any of those.”He pointed to the other cars in the compound.
Her gaze followed his hand. Apart from the car her husband was taking out, there were three others. A Ferrari which he was driving when he was still a bachelor, a Honda Element jeep his mother gave them as their wedding gift and the Navigator jeep he bought few years later.
She laughed quietly at her own self. “I can’t drive and you know it,” she declared. She knew he was mocking her, but still she tried to sound not offended as much as possible maybe that would change his mind.
“Get a taxi, dear.” He hopped into the back seat. “Zoom off,” he commanded the driver who did as instructed.
Lillian watched the car zoom off and right there, she died of embarrassment. Her own husband left her standing as if she was a piece of shit. Maybe she had eventually become that to him. “Get a taxi, dear.” The words rang in her ears.
Lillian was not the type that got angry easily, but now she felt her stomach sweltering, he had humiliated her again, now before their driver. Their house helps were used to seeing him do that to her, even worst things. She could not look them in the eyes, else she would get more embarrassed, and she knew she could not do anything but to get a taxi as he had said.
She would have postponed the visit, but her mother would be angry and she might not even be lucky to get an exodus the next time. She thought of what her mother would say if she got there in a taxi and she concluded she was going to have to tell a lie. A lie; which she was not even good at telling.
“Aunty” Mary called her. “I could get someone that will drive you.”
She did not give the offer a thought because she knew she would be spelling doom on herself if she took it. She told herself she was only paying for her folly. When she was eighteen, her father had told her to learn driving but she had refused, she enjoyed the pleasure she got at the back seat, she never thought she would face such humiliation, at least not from someone who she called her husband.
“Do not worry, I will get a taxi. My bag” She could not remain there for long. The earlier the better if she was still going.
“I will wait until you get one.” Mary followed her out of the compound. She had been surprised as much as her Madam had been embarrassed. She knew her Oga was not much of good man, but she did not think he would humiliate her that much. She wanted to say something, to tell her not to worry but she knew it was not the time to say something because already she was wearing that unusual mood.
They both kept mute until she boarded a taxi. Mary wanted to follow her so she could explain everything to Mrs Ola-Wright, but of course, she felt she had done enough by calling her.
She had been serving Lillian for years; she knew what she would and would not do, and she knew she would not tell her own mother anything until they force words out of her mouth. She admired her for her long-suffering and tolerance but not at all times, especially times like that. She had seen Lillian grow to become a woman of all season, adapting to just anything without objection. However, after that night, she was not ready to let her continue that way, so she called Debra.