“Stop, Fred! Fred, please, you’re going to kill me. Please, you have to stop hurting me this way; you just have to stop!” came the pleadings, amid sobs, from twenty-five years old Clara, a famous Nollywood actress, to her abusive husband of three years, Fred, as he punched every part of her body with rage.
Clara couldn’t recall being happy in their marriage since after the wedding night. She never knew Fred was an alcoholic and a drug addict until a few months into their marriage.
They had met at a location to shoot a movie and, immediately, there were flowers blooming in her heart. It was love at first sight. They tied the knot three months into their relationship and, ever since, it had been days, weeks, months and years of pain, bitterness, regret, sadness and pretence. She had suffered four miscarriages and, the last time he beat her up, she had spent two months in the hospital. But what could she do?
Being a professional actress, she always managed to put up a good smile for the camera and her fans, but she was so tired of all the pretences, and badly wanted out.
In a day’s time, they would be attending an important event together at a five-star hotel, and her face was already signed with his punches and she could barely walk. What if someone sums things up?
On the day of the event, their photoshoot was scheduled for 12 noon. Her makeup artist, costumier and photographer arrived at her elaborate house at exactly 10 30 am. They hovered around her like she was in labour. Her makeup artist took great care to conceal every blemish that could reveal something fishy about her reported perfect life.
From a corner of the house appeared Fred, all done up like a peacock, with a smile revealing all thirty-two lovely teeth, hands clasped with excitement and eyes glittering at the sight of his beautiful wife. He walked toward her like a gentleman, nodding with satisfaction, and planted a deep kiss on her lips. She just sat there bemused, taking in the whole scenario; no doubt she was used to it all.
In their designer’s outfits, against the splendid background of their home, they posed for the pictures with just the right gestures. His hands on her hips in a sexy way, giggling smiles and eyes devouring each other to show their affection. With the pictures filtered and sent to her smartphone, it was time to give her fans, lovers, haters, competitions and whoever cared something to drool on. She opened her Instagram page at “Clara Wifey Goals”, posted four pictures and captioned them: #Hubby’s pride#, #Don’t you wish your Boo was hot like mine? #Steer clear BITCHES! cause he’s totally mine#, #Wifey Goals (thumbs up)#.Fred opened his at “Fred Odinkwa,” posted three pictures and captioned them;#My Ego Oyinbo#, #Better Half#, #Partners in crime (tongue out) #.
“Oops!..we are gonna be late, Red Carpet starts by 5:00,” Clara announced as she rushed to pick her purse and shoes. Fred busy on his cellphone, played deaf, walked out of the house into his car and drove off, leaving her behind.
Clara picked up her X10 and starts a conversation with nobody to mask the obvious. “Oh my God, do know I forgot you needed to pick up Don Jazzy before we leave. Mmuah! Waiting, baby boy.”
In her mind was a gathering storm and a quest for courage and a truck load of questions.
When am I going to shun all this falsehood and embrace reality? In whose interest is my false image on social media? I dare not breathe a word about his attempt to disgrace me today, because I’ll definitely get a pounding. Why am I fooling my over five million followers? What if Fred kills me one of these days with his flurry of blows? Will my wasted life justify my craving for “likes” and reassuring compliments on my newest posts? Where do I even begin? How will it affect my followers and rating? How can I just let them know I’m human just like them? Can I trust them and share with my fans, my depression, my moments of hunger, my rejection, disappointments, and health issues? After three years of my fake fantastic life on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, who will believe me? Those celebrity gossips will swoop on me like vultures. All the other legions of fame whores will keep away and loneliness will kill me. Who else will admit everything’s not going for them and that the perfect life on Instagram is a hoax? After all, perfection doesn’t exist. Nobody is perfect and perfection is unreachable. How do learn to embrace my imperfections, to renounce this fake life, to face reality, appreciate my uniqueness, make real friends and enhance my self esteem. How do I explain that not all that glitters is really Gold?
This was not the first time these questions were stacking up in her mind, stalking her and making her pop those calming pills.
As the sedatives took hold, she admitted, “I’ll never be brave enough. I’ll never be bold enough, nor strong enough. Maybe I should pop more of those pills, drink the whole bottle and die, before Fred or shame kill me first. As sure as hell, this fake life is killing me.”
In the morning, she woke alone with a hostile headache. She posted some enviable stuff on social media, poured herself a full glass of gin and waited for Fred to return home.
•To be continued