I read about the death of a certain Dr. Hestianna Thomas. She was until her demise, a surgeon at the Lagos University teaching Hospital. I never met the doctor but as I read her story online, I quickly scrolled down to see her picture, as if that would tell me why she died such a brutal death. Her picture didn’t tell me anything. What I saw was a man, a woman and two adorable children; picture perfect family.
Days after the story broke, there were agitated calls for her husband’s head. Many claimed Dr. Hestianna Thomas was a victim of spousal abuse. I looked for the family picture again for answers. The man looked years older than his wife. Uh huh. Does that mean he beat her to death? However, the noise for the husband’s head soon began to eerily subside because; the doctor’s family came out to dispute the story saying instead that she committed suicide. I looked again at the picture. There’s a baby there. Could the Doctor have become depressed after child birth, post-partum depression they call it. Is that why she jumped to her death?
Did she even jump?
A typical Fela Anikulapo’s response would be- oro pe si je. The matter at hand has swallowed every reasonable answer.
The picture hasn’t told me anything and I’m not interested in the forensic findings, let the police worry about that. I know who killed Dr. Hestianna Thomas. It’s you and you and you too. Yes, all of us killed her. Every one of us who encourages this culture of silence is guilty.
“Don’t talk about your problems, just trust God”
“He’s beating you? Pray he doesn’t divorce you because that is worse, just bear it.”
“You are feeling suicidal after child birth? The devil is a liar, rebuke it.” How many times did Dr. Hestianna call for help one way or another and met with shushing up as these?
I know a woman, thankfully she’s alive to tell her own story but let me tell you because like the late Odimegwu Ojukwu told us …I’m Involved. This woman was always the chief bridesmaid but never the bride. She was way into her mid-thirties with a dozen nephews and nieces from her much younger siblings and the butt of jokes at family gatherings.
“Marry nah, it doesn’t matter who, just marry.”
Shuo! As if it marriage is a button you just press.
Her mother would be at the background, wiping imaginary tears and looking heavenwards whispering, “Who have I offended?”
So one day, she met this vagrant and married him.
The first thing I told her was, “You can’t go feeding in the dustbin just because you are hungry”. But she wanted to get married badly. You see, she told me things would work out for him, that I should be positive. Ok, o.
She practically wedded herself as she bought all her bridal requirements by herself. The long list of traditional bridal items were bought by her.
EHEN and on top of that, she made her family pay for the wedding and reception because you see, the vagrant, like I choose to call him, as he will never qualify to take the name husband, had no job, not even a roof over his sorry head.
They moved into the woman’s father’s house and lived well…the woman’s family was sponsoring their upkeep, I know for a fact that when this woman had her children, her family paid the hospital bills and school fees for a long time.
Then the vagrant got a hard on, he began to beat her to ejaculate. He said she was getting too proud. The beatings continued over every excuse. She called out to her family but was told she brought this on herself. So, she took the beatings and remained silent. Her friends asked her if she wanted to be single again, she said no, they said, bear it. “No marriage is a bed of roses.”
Then one day, she called me, she was bleeding she told me. The vagrant she called a husband had descended on her again over something she said about his mother. And as she had just been discharged from the hospital after giving birth through a CS, I did the first thing that came to me, got my car keys and went straight to get her out of the house.
“It is only a bad woman who will go and carry another woman’s load from her husband’s house.” One woman told me later. I got a lot of reprimand for my rash action.
“She was bleeding, he beat her so badly. If I didn’t take her away, he would have killed her,” I tried to defend myself.
“It doesn’t matter; you shouldn’t have gone to carry her away. It’s not your business. You want her children to be fatherless?” She charged at me. None of our friends defended my action.
I became contrite and did nothing when she moved back.
Then I heard, a few years later, the same woman had died from injuries she sustained from her husband’s battery.
Somebody dropped the ball.
Dr. Hestianna’s troubles did not start on the day she died by whatever means. She must have confided in a few people. What help did they render?
Did they tell her that she would be shamed at the hospital if she walked away?
Did they tell her depression is not an African ailment?
Or did they point her to the nearest church for deliverance?
Who knows? What we know is that Dr. Hestianna Thomas is dead and we killed her.