WHAT IS LOVE?

Episode 3

One-day, Sarah showed up at her parents’ house crying and she told them everything. They sent for Mark as they didn’t believe that he could treat their daughter so badly.  Of course, When Mark came,  He denied everything as she blamed Sarah for all the troubles their marriage was facing.

“I have stood by my wife all these years,  we have been married for 3 years now and no child,  other men will have gotten another woman pregnant but here I am supporting my wife, standing by her but she doesn’t give me peace or even respect me” Mark said shedding crocodile tears and Sarah’s parents believed him and they reprimanded their daughter instead.

Mark blamed EVERYTHING on Sarah and she couldn’t stand up to defend herself, tears rolled down from her eyes without ceasing as she watched her parents take sides with him.
“EVERYTHING was her fault, there is something wrong with my wife,  I believe its because she had not conceived and she believed that I will leave her but no I’m here for her and I’m not going anywhere, I don’t know why she is always doing something wrong” Mark said as Sarah picked her jaw,  she was shocked at how lies came out from his mouth Easily.

Sarah’s parents were convinced that their daughter was at fault. They advice her to take care of her home. “A wise woman builds up her home, while a foolish woman scatters her home” Her parents told her. Back home, Mark told her That she was never good enough. That she could never meet his needs and that he would leave her for another woman who could.

Emotionally, Sarah was broken. She couldn’t get over the fact that when they were dating Mark was only pretending to be sweet and caring, She blamed herself for ignoring all the red flags she spotted,
“assuming I listened to my gut feeling, I won’t end up with this horrifying and abusive monster” She thought as she wept.
Sarah saw the red flags beforehand but she ignored it.

Before they got married, whenever they had a misunderstanding, Mark used to say he’ll beat her up but she overlooked it. Sometimes he’ll give her soft slap; but few years, after their wedding it became hot slaps.
Sarah started surrendering space to Mark and giving in, even though it hurt, because it felt better than fighting. She stopped checking out his phone or whether he was cheating on her or not.

Sarah started becoming used to not being seen, not being able to have boundaries, not being treated with dignity and respect. She became used to feeling shut down and drained. She looked forward to times Mark worked outside town so that she could get enough sleep, be alone with her thoughts, do what she needed to do for her health and well-being, she wished she could feel like herself again.

Sarah started to show her husband more love, support and respects, she thought if she shows extra love & support, Mark will change but the more she was loving and respectful, the more Mark misbehaved.

Things had really gotten sour between Sarah and Mark, Sarah recalled that From the beginning of their relationship, everything just didn’t feel right but she brushed aside all the signs because it’s was difficult for her to admit that Mark was not suitable for her. He was successful and was an engineer and he was ready for marriage. Her parents liked him immediately they saw him and Mark’s Parents too liked her, immediately he introduced her to them. The major reason why she ignored those Red Flags was  because She didn’t want to go through the complication of finding someone new. She wished she could go turn back the hands of time, she wished she had turned down his marriage proposal. She wished she listened to her friend Florence.

Staying married to Mark was not only emotionally taxing, but also physically. But she can’t do anything about it but to remain with him till death, do them apart. Mark was not carved out for marriage and being entangled with such a man was a very huge mistake on Sarah’s part.

Not long their marriage became emotional slavery, it’s was no longer marriage. It’s was no longer something worthy of being celebrated. The pain of marrying the wrong person was a pain Sarah carried in her heart every day.
She was constantly afraid of her husband due to the countless beating she had received from him and at the same time, she was damaged and unfulfilled, she couldn’t conceive and bear children. Nothing was going right in her marriage.

Few months later, She got the biggest blow of her life. News got to her that her husband’s mistress was pregnant, she tried to wave it off but couldn’t, she summoned up courage and strength and faced her husband. “Yes she is pregnant, what would you do about it?,  what you couldn’t do, some one else will do it,  do you think I will wait for you forever” Mark replied . Hot tears rolled down from her eyes. She felt like dying. She was broken

The next moment, Sarah saw her self raining curses and insults at Mark. “How could you do this to me? You are a wicked man, God will judge you, useless man” and then Mark stood up and gave her resounding slaps, pushed her to the floor and gave her the greatest beating of her life.
“if you are tired of this marriage you get out, no one is forcing you to stay here,  you are useless” Mark uttered as he kicked her on the floor, He descended on her with more blows and punches.

Few minutes later, Sarah was sighted on the floor, crying bitterly.  she had bruises all over her body,  her face were swollen but still Mark was still hitting her,  she managed to flee from Mark with her last strength and ran to take cover in the kitchen and she became frightened when she saw Mark walking into the kitchen with more rage in his eyes.
“I will kill you today, you have the gut to curse and insult me, I will give you the greatest beating of your life and then I will kick you out of this house, you will either leave this marriage, disabled or in a body bag” Mark said as soon as he caught Sarah where she was hiding in the kitchen
“Mark,  Please leave me alone” she pleaded as she was exhausted due to the beating,  she had already received.

Mark dragged her up with one hand and hit her with the other, she screamed out in pain and fear. Her sight wandered to a wine bottle on the table,  she reached out to the bottle and smashed it on Mark’s head and he slumped instantly.  Few minutes later, Sarah tried waking Mark up when she noticed that he was not moving.
“Oh my God,  what have i done? What was I thinking? Mark is dead, I killed him” She said as tears fell uncontrollably from her eyes.
She moved closer to Mark, poured water on him and did everything she knew that could wake him up but still Mark was laying lifelessly on the floor. Sarah gave a loud scream of pain and shock that alerted their neighbors.

Sarah wallowed in regrets and sorrow as she watched her husband’s lifeless body, and then suddenly she heard a loud knock on the door and in fear, she ran to unlock the door and lo and behold there was two police men on the door.
“Good morning madam,  we are from the Area police command, some one called us last night that a man has been beating up his wife, the entire night and with your swollen face and black eye, we presume you must be the one” One of the police men said calmly.
While Sarah nodded at intervals as tears roll down from her cheek .
“Where is your husband?” the other police man asked.

Sarah lost words and the two police men, who were so eager to see the supposed wife beater, walked into their living room with Sarah just staring bemusedly at them, the Two police men searched everywhere for Mark but he was no where to be found and the other searched the bathrooms and finally headed to the kitchen while the other was engaging Sarah in a conversation but still she was finding it hard to utter a word. The policemen had thought that Mark was hiding.

Episode 4

Then the other police man who stepped in to the kitchen gave a loud scream, while the other police officer who was with Sarah rushed to the kitchen to know why his colleague screamed. Sarah was not shocked.
“The police men had found Mark’s body” She thought.

Immediately, the policemen returned to the sitting room. One of the police men said “You are under arrest for the murder of your husband, whatever you say would be used against you In the court of law”
“Officer, it’s self defense, I didn’t kill him deliberately, he was hitting and kicking me,  look at my swollen face, take a look at my body, my husband’s intention was to leave me disabled or killed” Sarah said as she sobbed

The police men ignored her as they handcuffed her and took her away.
Sarah was locked away in a tiny cell for months and finally she was taken to the court. After several hearings. She was sentenced to death by hanging. And then she gave a loud scream that brought her back to reality. She had been dreaming the whole time. That evening that she invited her friends to celebrate her new Job and when Mark proposed to her in the presence of her family and friends, She gladly accepted because she doesn’t want to embarrass Mark.

But all through that same evening she was restless as if she had made the biggest mistake of her by accepting Mark’s marriage proposal. She felt scared and unsettled and all she could think of was to pray. That night she poured her heart to God and she fell asleep some minutes after and she dreamt about the future with Mark

After she woke up from the dream that felt so real, she became frightened but was grateful to God for revealing the deepest secrets of a future with Mark and for giving her another chance to make the right decision. That night she sent a text message to Mark, “Mark,  please I don’t think we should go ahead with our wedding plans, please. I need more time to sort out some personal issues”

And then she fell into a deep thoughts.
“Lord, Thank you for revealing to me that Mark is not the right person for me,  I’m so sorry Lord, for sleeping with him, for committing abortion and for ignoring all the Red Flags,  Lord i Hope on you to script my love story, you are the ultimate script writer. Please help me Lord” Sarah prayed in her heart as tears rolled from her eyes.

Mark’s odd behavior had been giving Sarah hints and clues of his obsessive and violent nature, but she was too blinded in love to see that his behavior towards her was far from what true love truly was. But after she had the dream that felt so real,  She was determined to let go of Mark.
“I don’t mind if all my friends are married or engaged, I will not rush into marriage, especially not after this dream” She thought.

When Mark got Sarah’s text that night, he was so shocked that he came straight to Sarah’s house, the next morning.
“How could you turn down my marriage proposal after you have accepted to marry me last night, in the presence of your loved once” Mark thundered, you could see rage from his eyes and if not because of Sarah’s parents were at home, he would have given her a thorough beating of her life.
Sarah’s parents and siblings were shocked. “What’s going on between you two?”Sarah’s father asked,  Mark reluctantly told them everything and about the text he received from Sarah.

When Sarah’s parents inquired from her why she changed her mind, She was speechless and that got Mark even more angrier.
Sarah was dumbfounded and didn’t know the reply to give to her family. “How could i explain to my parents that I changed my mind because of the dream I had last night?”She thought. And then Mark walked out of Sarah’s house in anger.
When he left. Sarah finally opened up to her parents.

“Dad,  mom I personally don’t know what comes over Mark at times. He can be the sweetest person if he wants but change entirely to a horrifying monster in the next few minutes, I’m honestly confused and afraid” Sarah soberly said.

“Does he hit you?” her mother enquired, “No, but he always threaten to hit me, and his behavior at times makes me scared that he might hit me when we get married, he is always so violent” Sarah said.
And also told her parents about the dream she had last night.

Her Parents were frightened and finally they decided to support whatever she decides. They also advised her to be careful and follow her heart in whatever decision she wanted to make concerning her relationship with Mark. Sarah nodded her head at every thing her parents told her but her mind wasn’t there at all,  her thoughts went to the horrifying dream Especially the part where she was arrested for Mark’s murder and sentenced to death by Hanging. She kept thinking on what to do.

One evening, Sarah arrived home from work to her worst nightmare(Mark), Sitting at thier living room. One look at Mark and her whole body shivered in fear. Mark got up from where he sat and held her hands. Sarah did not utter a word as she stared at him helplessly.
“Babe I’m sorry that I let my emotions get the best of me the last time,  I was just angry that you turned down my marriage proposal after you have accepted to marry me, i felt disappointed and broken,  why would you play with my emotions like that,  it’s so unfair” he said in a low tone.

Sarah was still staring at him in fear, without uttering a word
” I have been asking myself over and over again why you changed your mind, you know I love you and I can’t function properly without you” Mark added

Sarah’s heart melt, She began to cry and then Mark knelt down in front of her. She was confused and didn’t know why he was kneeling before her. “Why are you kneeling down, please get up” she manage to say
Before she knew what was happening, Mark held both of her hands and said “Sarah,  please marry me, I will make you happy, I promise” Mark entered

Sarah was dumbfounded and didn’t know which reply to give to him. Deep down in Sarah’s heart, she was extremely in love and wanted to get married to him but Mark’s violent nature and the dream was the main reasons why she was afraid to marry him.  Mark was still kneeling and waiting for her reply while Sarah’s mind was occupied with so many thoughts, She felt like she would be making the biggest mistake of her lifetime if she ignored her gut feeling and the dream and accept his proposal.

Sarah looked into his eyes and she politely told him to get up from the floor
“Baby I’m so sorry, but I can’t accept your proposal now. I’m scared of what you are capable of doing when we become husband and wife,  you don’t listen to me,  you don’t take my advice, you are too hot tempered, I’m scared of how your eyes glows in rage,  whenever you are upset, and I’m scared of the unknown that could happen later. I love you so much but I can’t ignore all the red flags” Sarah finally said.

Episode 5

Mark felt rejected; he was heart broken and was sobbing.
“I need you in my life, I know that I’m not a very good person but I love you, you should know that no one is perfect but I could change for you, I could become a better person for you” Mark entered
“Mark, I don’t want you to change yourself for me but for yourself. Do it for yourself, change your self now” Sarah entered
And finally Mark insisted they get married first and promised he would change himself after marriage but still Sarah refused and Mark walked out on her in anger.

Six months later, To spite Sarah, Mark got married to someone else when Sarah got the news It’s was painful for her, That news of Mark’s wedding got her thinking about her love life, There was no doubt that she loved and wanted to be with him, but that was not enough reason for her to forget all the wrongs Mark had done or the dream. “Mark does’t even love me truly,  he couldn’t even wait to see if I will change my mind, he didn’t even try to change himself and see if things will get better between us, He rushed and married someone else, I guess she was one of her too many girlfriends that he cheated on me with, well, it’s for the best” she thought

she was so broken. She felt so much worse everyday. It was not easy for her to forget everything just like that, cause he dated Mark for Two years.
All she needed was relief, some sort of lifeline and Something that will give her the strength to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.
Sarah decided to get so busy with work that she would have no time to be sad

She then channelled all her energy into her Job. She was lonely but she was also elated for not ending up with a man like Mark.
She was not as desperate as she used to be, she lived life, one day at a time and she hoped on God for her ordained spouse.

One Friday Afternoon, Sarah was at work but was on lunch break, She had been attending to lots of customers all morning.
She was taking a bite into her snacks, When her mobile phone rang, She looked into her phone and smiled when she saw that the caller was no other but her friend Florence. She sipped her drink to avoid being choked and then,
She received the call “Hello girlfriend” She greeted
“Babe,  how far?” Florence said at the other end of the phone
“Babe I’m good and you?”Sarah responded
“I’m good too. I just called to remind you of the wedding, it’s tomorrow oh”Florence said calmly

“Which wedding?”Sarah asked
“See this girl oh,  you mean you don’t remember that tomorrow is our friend’s wedding, Sandra’s wedding is tomorrow na, you and your work, you don’t think about any other thing, apart from your Job” Florence said
“Oh, sorry, it skipped my mind oh,  I don’t think I will be attending the wedding, I’m not prepared at all” Sarah entered

“No way,  Sarah you have today and tomorrow to get prepared oh,  you are coming with me, and moreover, what are you preparing for?, you are beautiful already and all you need to do is to dress up and off we go, you have beautiful dresses to choose from,  please let’s go to the wedding please my friend, let’s go and have fun, most of our friends will be attending the wedding”Florence insisted.
Finally Sarah agreed to attend the wedding and Florence was excited.

The next day, the Two friends were sighted gorgeously dressed for the occasion. Florence’s husband drove them to the wedding venue. In no time, Sarah and Florence arrived the wedding venue and they sat down together while Florence’s husband left for an important work.
An hour later,  Sarah was pressed and told Florence that she needed to use the bathroom, Florence nodded and Sarah left.

She hurried down to the bathroom and was returning to the hall when she bumped into someone.
One close look at the person, Sarah almost dropped dead, she couldn’t believe her eyes
“Francis?” Sarah said in disbelief
“Sarah?  At last, I found you… for so many years I’ve been looking for ways to contact you, I’ve searched for you on facebook but no, I guess you are one of those people that are on facebook with thier Nick names” Francis said as they both hugged each other dearly
“wow Sarah you look so beautiful” Francis added
“Thank you and you are looking good too” Sarah entered

Francis was Sarah’s first love bumping into him at the wedding, triggered old memories and finally they went thier separate ways after they both exchanged phone numbers.
“Sarah I will call you, I would have love to take you to a nice spot,so we could catch up but I just got a call, it’s important and I’m rushing down to a very important meeting, but I will call you tonight” Francis had said and they bid each other goodbye.

As Sarah returned to the wedding ceremony, her thoughts were on Francis, She reminisced on how they met for the first time, many years ago.
The first time he met Francis, was in Secondary school, Francis was a new Student, every other students refused to lend him, thier note books except for her and from that day, they became friends, they were about to sit for thier final exam in secondary school, when Francis asked her out, due to the feelings they have for each other, Sarah did not hesitate to date him. They were both young but they knew exactly how they felt about each other.

After they both graduated from Secondary school, Sarah sat for her entrance exam into the university while Francis who was from a wealthy family sat for an international exam, his parents wanted him to study abroad but because of Sarah, he refused but his parents insisted. Francis thought that if he failed the exam, that his parents will have no choice but to admit him into the universities around, he didn’t prepare for the exam as he should but to his greatest surprise, he passed.

Sarah just got admission into a prestigious university in the country, when Francis told her that he would be leaving the country to further his studies, She felt shattered but Francis consoled her and
He promised to keep in touch with her but one thing led to another, After Francis travelled that they lost contact with each other, it took Sarah five years to put herself together.

Sarah was having mixed feelings about the whole situation as her thoughts were on Francis.
“Francis might have moved on, 7 years is not 7 days, I’m sure he would be in a serious relationship with someone else by now, there’s no need to raise my hopes up,” She thought.

That night Francis did not call as he promised and that confirmed her fears.
“I said it. Francis had moved on”Sarah thought and waved off every thoughts that told her to call him instead. “After all, I have been living my life without him for years” She told herself.

Episode 6

The next day,  out of the blue, Sarah got a call from Francis, She almost collapsed due to shock but when she received the call, she comported herself and sounded normal. They talked for a long time and they agreed to see each other again that evening at a very popular but fancy spot in town and then he hanged up.

Sarah called Florence up immediately to give her the news and her friend was so excited, Florence was a true friend, Who had advised Sarah to never rush into marriage or she would rush out, “Love is in air” Florence teased her while she blushed.

“What if Francis is already Married, please I don’t want to raise my hopes up for nothing” Sarah said Calmly .
“You are going on a date with him tonight, that’s an opportunity for you to Find out important facts about him, don’t just assume, please enjoy this moment, I wish you all the best my friend” Florence said and then they hanged up.

Later that evening, . At exactly 7:00pm, Sarah arrived at the popular spot as planned – It was a fancy restaurant, Francis waved to her,  the moment he saw her walk into the restaurant and then he
smiled. Sarah walked closer to him. When she got to the table,  Francis hugged her and then she sat down.

“Its so nice to see you again ” he said and she smiled . They placed their orders and at first Sarah felt nervous, She had never went on a date with Francis,  When they dated in secondary school, all they did was to send love notes to each other, hide to meet each other and exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day.

In few minutes, the Food they ordered was served and they ate as they talked about everything, thier past and present

On the date Sarah was amazed at how comfortable they were, having not spoken for so long,  Francis and Sarah talked non-stop that night,  it was obvious that they missed each other so much. That evening, everything between them, just felt right

Sarah had been fighting within herself, she was looking for a perfect timing to inquire about Francis’s love life but on a second thought, that evening she had stopped herself.
“I don’t want to give him the impression that I’m still interested in him” She thought
But on the other hand, Francis was  really happy to met Sarah again.
And was wondering If Sarah feels the same, Francis wants a relationship with Sarah and was thinking if she would say yes.

“I don’t even know if she is in a serious relationship or not,  I would have to find out before I make a fool of myself” Francis thought.
He took a deep breath, he had been staring at Sarah the entire evening, Sarah was looking enchanting and attractive that he couldn’t stop himself from staring.
Sarah was taking a sip from her drink,  when he finally said
“Sarah, you have always have a special place in my heart, that when we lost contact, I was broken, I looked for ways to get in touch with you but it was futile, I always prayed to God to bring you back to my life and I’m glad God answered my prayers, all my previous relationships had always been unsuccessful, I guess Its because I always compared you to the girls I dated,  you are my first love and my purest form of love”

Sarah stared at him, Francis had indirectly answered the Question that had lingered in her heart all this time.
 “Francis is not in any serious relationship, wow what a great relief” She thought as she reminisced on their past and how much they meant to each other. She remembered thier first hugs, cuddles, sweet whispers, long drives, late night conversations, and romantic strolls they had together. The beautiful memories of thier once-in-a-lifetime experience had always lingered in her heart and mind.

Francis held her hands passionately and Sarah smiled as it was obvious that they were both overtaken by thier emotions and feelings of love. They both talked about thier past. They smiled to themselves as they both realized how much they both have grown
” We’ve both grown up a lot” Sarah said calmly and Francis nodded in agreement and there was silence for a while and then Francis broke the silence.
“Sarah, Are you in dating someone?” He asked softly
Sarah took a deep breath and said “why do you want to know?”
“Sarah, I want you back in my life, I know that we have been away from each other for so many years but seeing you again, triggered old memories and feelings. And I know that I still love you” Francis said calmly and lovingly.

Sarah was speechless, she was feeling the same way for him.
But at the same time, she wants to be careful not to appear desperate or rush into another relationship.
“I still love you Francis but I need time to digest the whole situation, you just came back into my life, after 7 years,  please let’s not rush things, let’s enjoy our little reunion and gradually we will see what life has in store for us” Sarah entered and Francis agreed with her.

That evening, they had a nice time and after the date, they went on so many dates nights together before Sarah finally agreed to date Francis again. Their relationship was beautiful, everyday, they loved each other more. Francis was just a gentleman and he knew how to treat a woman. It’s not like they don’t have disagreements, most times they do but Francis was not like Mark who was always violent and selfish, he always looked for a way to express how much he loves Sarah.  Sarah was so glad that she didn’t settle for less with Mark. She was so grateful to God for saving her from an horrifying future with Mark. Francis and Sarah dated for 2 years.

One look at Francis and one could suddenly tell that Francis was special and alot different from Mark. Francis was not just Sarah’s first love, he was her best love and the love of her life

on Sarah’s 30th birthday, Francis knelt down on one knee with an expensive engagement ring in the presence of her family and popped the Question, “Will you marry me?”
Sarah was extremely excited as she yanked him off the floor and screamed a big “yes!”, Sarah kissed him and they cuddled each other.
A week later, Francis decided to introduce Sarah to his family. Sarah drove to Port Harcourt with him, to see Francis’s parents and to Sarah’s utmost shock, Mark was there, Mark and Francis were cousins. Mark was older than Francis.
At first,  Sarah was terrified, She had dated Mark for Two years and had aborted five pregnancies in those years and the worst was that She almost ended up with him.

But to Sarah’s utmost surprise, Mark was happy to see her and he did not mince words in telling his cousin that he made a good choice though Francis’s parents were curious to know how Mark knew her. “Sarah was once my colleague” Mark lied but everyone else bought the lie. Sarah was not surprised that Mark came up with a brilliant lie. She knew that he was a blatant liar.  At the same she almost died of guilt.

End of Episode 6
To Be Continued

By penhouse

Jaja Godspower is a creative thinker and business strategist. He an award winning writer, blogger, author and a film maker from Nigeria. He is motivated with the desire to grow brands and businesses through adequate branding and visibility with his writing expertise. He is the founder of Penhouse Initiative, one of the largest growing writing hub in Africa.

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