This is How to Kill a Man by Joy Anosike


Three years ago, I met Jude.

Jude was the kind of man everyone, especially ladies, wanted to be friends with. A broad shouldered man with sparkling white teeth. He was that good and friendly, but nobody saw him as boyfriend or husband material, because I didn’t notice a girlfriend or wife hovering around to protect her man.

We met at a mutual friend’s wedding party, and were both on the bride and groom’s train. He was a good dancer, and I noticed how easily people approached him to talk to him, or how different aunties wanted his help with one thing or the other.

When we finally had the opportunity to speak, I wanted to be his friend, or maybe something more.

Our hands grazed, and I longed for his touch more than I wanted the egg salad in front of me.

Who would want an egg salad when they could get a touch from this firm but tender hand? I wondered.

His voice, though slightly nasal, was deep, with a little mix of an accent that was hard to decipher. I would eventually find out that he grew up in Port Harcourt.

“Do you want to eat something other than an egg salad?” He asked, like the gentleman he was.

You. My mind screamed.

“No, I’m good for now. After the next dance, I’ll eat Efó or Jollof.” I replied, after realizing he was waiting for an answer.

“Do you want us to hang out after the wedding? I think I would like to see more of you after today.”

While I tried to comport myself outwardly, -so he wouldn’t think I was eager to give him an answer- my mind was doing a break dance.

“Uhm, okay sure.”

“Thank you, see you later.” And off he went with another helpless aunty.

We never saw each other after the party.

One day after work, three months later, a strange number called and I answered.

“You no longer want to hang out.” I could recognize the voice, because I had been having dreams of it.

“Jude. Long time.”

He got my number from our mutual friend who was now three months married, after stating several reasons why he wanted it.

We hung out that weekend. It was a date, but he said ‘hang out’, as if saying the word ‘date’ would make him look desperate.

I fell in love on the fourth date, if we are to count in terms of when he used the word ‘date’ to ask me out, it would be the third date.

He asked me to be his girlfriend a week later, and I agreed. Who wouldn’t have? So far, he fit everything I wanted in a man.

Our one month anniversary was the first time I saw him like that; angry, brutal and cussing.

Jude never cussed, at least not around me. I have forgotten what I did wrong, that memory is a little hazy now.

He walked up to me in his sitting room, -while I held the cupcakes I had brought to celebrate- and gave me a resounding slap.

The cupcakes went in different directions, I was on the floor and couldn’t see clearly for a minute. The slap probably tampered with my vision.

When my vision cleared, Jude was nowhere near. I stood up and hurriedly left his house.

He was sorry the next day, a big bouquet of fresh white roses and a little note that said, ‘Babe, I am sorry. Please forgive me.’ were delivered to my office.

Of course, I had layers of makeup on. I couldn’t call in sick because there was a huge meeting with a client that morning.

No one heard about what Jude did to me, and since he was now sorry, I went back to him.

There was warmth in his touch as he promised never to do it again. I believed him.

Five months together, and my body had marks that the designer clothes he bought to apologize covered. So many marks, I had to stop counting. I felt like a child again, the helpless child that mummy whips.

I was tired now, exhausted even. I couldn’t live like this. We were not even married yet.

I still couldn’t tell anyone, no one would want to believe that Jude, the saviour of the aunties and every helpless person would do a thing like that.

I had to come up with something, it was the only way I could be truly free.

He wasn’t going to let me break up with him.

Whenever I visited him for the weekend and I did something slightly wrong, there would be a new mark on my body to show for it. Like a trophy for a good match, only this wasn’t a match.

In the sixth month, he still didn’t change, even after the promises he made. That was when I realised that he would never change.

Every morning, (after he had put his marks on my body the night before) I gave him a glass of his favourite drink with a smile on my face, as if to thank him for giving me a correction the previous night.

What he didn’t know was that I added a drop of the agbo drink I had purchased just for him. The best name to give it in English will be ‘the lily of the valley’.

“Hope it’s not for you, ehn madam?” The seller asked, not an ounce of worry on his face as I purchased the agbo. As if it was a regular thing people did.

“It’s for stubborn big rats.”

“Just add five drops on the bread or cheese you want to use as a trap for the rats. Twenty drops of this thing fit kill any human being wey woman born.”

I knew very well what the drink could do. I saw it from a murder series I was watching at the time. Only that the white people didn’t call it agbo.

It didn’t take very long to get to fifteen drops. It was like Jude was out to kill me. He had lost a contract at work, and somehow I had to pay for it.

Five more drops and you’re free. I encouraged myself.

The morning he took the final glass, there was a glow on my face. If you ask the policeman that took my statement later that day, he will tell you that I looked like an angel even though he had never seen one.

Jude started to choke halfway through the glass. I fought the urge to rush to him and help him.

I watched him choke, gag and gasp for air. I saw him become darker as air left his lungs. I saw his eyes lose their rich chestnut colour. I saw his firm but tender hand shrink to something I couldn’t recognise.

Then he fell to the floor and I screamed. 

“I just killed a man.” 

Author’s Bio:

My name is Joy Anosike, popularly known as Sekhani. I am in my twenties, and I like to think that the twenties are not the best years of our lives as most people claim.
I like to navigate life with writing, when I’m not writing you can find me singing, marketing content or reading.

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram: @sekhanibaby

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.