My Best Friend’s Betrayal Part 3: Fire in that House

By Marion Williams Akena

It took me a whole month to find out what Ritah was up to. She was never around during the weekend, when she claimed to be with her friends. With or without her around, my husband never noticed me again. I struggled to find out whether my husband’s love for her was true or if she had charmed him. With each day that passed, my husband’s reaction towards me worsened. Whenever I tried talking to him, he told me he didn’t have time to talk to house help. “Stay away from me you disgusting woman, you look so dirty and horrible. I don’t want to cross paths with a pathetic vagabond like you. Avoid me in this house.” He shouted at me with so much anger. I ran to my bedroom in tears. Praying and hoping that one day he would love me the way he used to. It didn’t make a difference to him whether Ritah was around or not. He couldn’t even greet me or look me in the face. He treated me like trash. The fact that my tradition didn’t allow me to go back to my father’s house because this man married me made me so helpless. Because if it wasn’t for that I would have returned home. But I had to endure all that humiliation till I could get my husband out of Ritah’s trap. For we had a baby on the way.

One month after my husband had been following everything Ritah told him to do, I bumped into a friend from the village. I had gone to buy some beef and greens (boo) to prepare for dinner. I was standing at the stall for the greens when I saw Daisy close by buying tomatoes. I called out to her and she came to where I was buying my greens. We got done there and started moving around looking for ingredients. As we circled the market, she told me she saw Ritah in the village every weekend. She expected to see us together since she thought Ritah was staying at my place in the city. She was always surprised to see Ritah alone in the village. So all the weekends that Ritah was claiming to be catching up with her friends was just a cover to go to the village. But what I couldn’t understand was why she would lie about this. My instinct told me that Ritah had been up to no good. If I really want to find out what she’s up to, I must travel to the village, I might just find some clues there, I thought to myself. Daisy was in a hurry so we couldn’t catch up much more. I too had to rush back home to cook dinner for Ritah and my husband.

When I got home, I prepared beef stew alongside greens (boo), one of our local foods loved by my husband. It was seven in the evening and everyone was home, Ritah was back from doing her shopping and my husband had returned from work. I served the food and they all came down for dinner. Since I was now taken as a maid, I sat and ate my meal on the ground while they ate at the dining table. It was always uncomfortable for me because the pregnancy was growing bigger every day, so kneeling, squatting and sitting on the ground was becoming harder but I had no choice. This was a horrible experience. I ate while tearing up, unable to know how I was feeling because the pain was too much to handle. Though there was one feeling I was sure of and that was disgust for both of them.

After dinner, I collected the plates and cleaned up the kitchen then came back and sat down. I told them that I had to rush to the village to go see my sick uncle. Ritah got up and left the dining room yelling.

“You can go if you want to, I really don’t care what you do with your life. Nobody is holding your legs here.”

My husband got up and followed her silently. I had already told myself that I would go to the village at any cost since all I wanted was my husband back. The thought of seeing him every day with Ritah always broke me down. Sometimes when I was done with all the house chores, I sat and thought of all the love we used to share. How he would carry me up to the shower and kiss me all over, all the nice words he would tell me. All those good memories with him gave me hope that one day things will be alright again. But at the same time I had this fear that things might never be okay. I just hope things really turn out well just for the sake of my baby, I thought to myself.

Early the next morning, I left for the village. It took me a while to reach the village with our bad roads. When I got there, I went straight to my father’s house. It was still the same old small house that I had left. My room seemed untouched from the way it was dusty. Nothing had really changed. The environment was green and full of peace. I narrated to my father and my mother how Ritah snatched my husband right before my eyes.

“Have been seeing fire in that house, Ritah shouts and orders me around anytime she feels like,” I told my parents. “I have become a maid in that house. Despite being pregnant, I wash everyone’s clothes, clean the house, and cook food every single day.”

My parents were so sad on hearing this, they couldn’t believe it. “Ritah will never have peace in her life for doing this to you my daughter, it shall not be well with her,” Dad angrily said. My mum didn’t say a word, I knew she was in total pain. After eating the food cooked by my mom after such a long time, I took some rest because I was tired from the journey.

Early in the morning, I took a stroll around the village to check on my friends. Within a few minutes, I once again ran into Daisy. I escorted her to the market, and on our way we talked about a lot of things, including Ritah. I confided what I could not tell her last time we met in the city, how Ritah had turned my marriage upside down and snatched my husband from me. Daisy was so surprised. “Believe me, if I had heard it from someone else I wouldn’t have believed it, who didn’t know how you were best friends in this village. Let me show you where she goes every weekend.” She lamented in a slow tone as we continued moving on that bushy road. “I can’t believe she did such an evil act on you. But don’t worry my friend, God will surely judge her for her deeds. She will eventually be punished one day. ”

“Believe me, if God Himself had told me that Ritah would one day do this to me, I would not have accepted it. But well, that’s what’s happening right now. I replied to Daisy while shaking my head as we slowly approached what Daisy needed to show me.

“Don’t worry my friend, it shall be well with you. I believe things will be alright one day.” Daisy consoled me. We arrived to the place where Ritah would go whenever she came to the village. Shockingly, it was a shrine of a well-known witch doctor that lived down in a forested area near River Aswa. Like most witch doctors, this shrine was in the bush and under a tree with many idols placed all over it. This confirmed my suspicion against Ritah. Normally, witch doctors help in different ways. Some do things for the good of others, such as curing diseases using local medicines. But others do evil things to get money. For example, they can charm people with their powers and even kill for money. For Ritah, I knew she was up to no good.

I rushed back home as though someone was chasing me. I told my parents that I had to hurry back to the city to save my husband. I told them that I didn’t have time to explain. The good thing about being accused of witchcraft in my country is that the person being accused is required to take an oath before the great god of our land in order to prove his or her self innocent. Once the oath is taken, if you’re guilty the great god strikes you dead or makes you run mad; if you are innocent, you’re not harmed in any way. I knew that if I accused Ritah, she would have to take this oath: if my accusation was true, then everything she’d done would become undone.

I took an evening bus that day because I couldn’t wait till the morning to travel to the city. The bus left around three pm and reached the city around seven pm. My main aim was to convince both my husband and Ritah that they were needed in the village for something important. I wanted to make sure Rita reached the village without finding out that I knew the truth so I could bring the case up in front of the elders. I knew if she had known why we were going to the village, she might outsmart me.

Little did I know that she was one step ahead of me. After I got home, I was in my bedroom trying to freshen up and get some rest because I was feeling tired after traveling while pregnant. I suddenly ran mad and started acting crazy. Talking to myself and laughing at anything. Nothing made sense, not even the words coming out of people’s mouths. My mind was just in another world where no one could understand it, not even me. Everything seemed funny, and I began to feel my wrists being tied up with ropes. That’s when my nightmare became more terrible than I ever could have imagined.

To be continued…………..

25 March, 2023