“ .. I was innocent. I was naïve. I was a virgin. Well, I used to, up until he robbed me, and ripped me apart, and devoured me, and shattered me. The me I‘d ever known was martyred that morning, in between those sheets. the girl died.
I swore high up to the heavens. I didn’t deserve a fate so cruel. No not me!
Why heavens would sit in a conspiracy of silence, and see through the slaughter of a faithful daughter I couldn’t just fathom.
I wailed, and cursed, and cursed, and wailed. Nothing.I only had my own tears for comfort. The soothe in the tepid streams of salt water, pouring in torrents from fountains violently burst.
The girl died. The girl was ME! Yet the sky didn’t fall. There was no eclipse. The sun did set as ever. How could that be?
I preached Chastity. I lived it. I vowed my life and existence to it. I was dead serious. I took an oath to celibacy, (I went that far).
Right on the morning of my 15th birthday, I had stripped stark naked in my room, with my bible in hand, and placed myself under every named curse in the Holy book, should I open up my laps for any man other than my husband.
I’m sure fate would have guffawed and scorned me from behind the scene, while I was at it, knowing fully well the mischief it had in store for me.
Folks in the neighbourhood knew me with my custom-made white ‘PROUDLY VIRGIN’ shirt. It was a bold inscription in black block letters upfront.
The shirt was a campaign souvenir we came up with in the Teens‘ church . It was a pretty ‘Tm’ branded polo. It was my favourite outfit for Fridays. I loved it, and flaunted it.
It did of course become one of the first items I got rid off my wardrobe. I burnt it. It went up in flames alongside my pride and my everything – all I’d ever stood for. I was not a virgin after all. No, not anymore. A shamed broken pot more like!
My journey to gloom and doom I’d say, started a couple of weeks after grad from high school, when Mom had it arranged that I move in to live with Pastor ’B’.
Pastor ‘B’ was our church’s associate Pastor. He was particularly highly revered for his prowess as a fiery prayer warrior, and seasoned deliverance minister . His reputation had fetched him several ministerial engagements outside the church. In church, he was simply a demi-god.
Folks in Church practically worshipped and licked his feet. So popular was he among the laity, he was often regarded as even more anointed than the Senior pastor himself.
Pastor ‘B’ came into the picture to become a really close family friend, in the very ugly grieving period that followed Dad’s tragic death, aboard the ill-fated EAS Airline BAC 1-11 plane crash in Kano, in May 2002.
He really stood by us through the significantly traumatic period. Life was hard. Pretty hard on Mom especially, who had to grapple with the reality of bringing up a full grown girl, and three hefty boys alone. (I was the first child).
There was the harsh economic climate to wade through and survive, and perhaps the most worrisome –having the unsolicited company of her very nasty, pesky unwanted in-laws who would never cease to vex with their ill motivated, over-zealous interest in Dad’s properties, always sniffing around for what more of the booty they could cart away, after stripping us of a huge share of his estate already.
Mom really had to play the man at that point. To stand her ground firm, so she could salvage something tangible for herself and our upkeep. It was a really tough battle, in and out of the court room.
The experience was to say the least most devastating. It never left Mom the same. I lost the Mom I’d always known to a severely paranoid and highly superstitious state.
For every buzz of a mosquito, the chirp of a cricket, a squeak or screech, there must always be a spiritual undertone. It would be something with a strong link to some mystical agencies on delegated assignment from her village people, or worse still – her mischievous devilish in-laws.
Our simple, serene family life never escaped unscathed. There was always a combatant Vigil in the house, or some special prayer and deliverance ministrations for us, most of which were facilitated by Pastor ‘B’.
And so it was simply nothing but answers to prayers, when Pastor ‘B’ offered that I come over to his place after high school to come live with the family, so I could relieve Mom a bit, and then prepare adequately for the requisite matriculation exams, for admission into the University.
As part of the arrangement, I would enrol and attend preparatory classes(which he actually paid for) from his place, and would be strictly supervised to study adequately, and all these under an atmosphere of guaranteed spiritual monitoring and cover, in the man of God’s house.
It was a deal too good to be true for mum. She was super excited. Me, I was just indifferent.
But then I knew better. The real reason behind Mom’s excitement at the offer was one – her unfounded fears of me turning ‘promiscuous’. She had always told this to my face. She thought she perhaps wouldn’t be able to curtail my tendencies all alone, as a helpless hapless widow.
But what Mom actually called ‘promiscuous’, was only the fact that I had mature into a nubile, fully endowed lady really fast, and peaked a buxom stature already by my third year in high school, (much ahead of my peers), I had boys always flocking me in droves, my seniors especially. I was an object of chase, and fight, and hot chase. Though I never agreed to date any of them.
Now there was a fun part to being chased, but it usually gets all messy for me when some bad boys attempt taking a pull or poke at my chest, or some ‘manhandling’ – a grip or slap on my backside from behind.
Trust me, I got a whole lot of that, and that got a whole lot of them into trouble, for I was always reporting those to the Principal(who had an ‘eye’ on me himself), and the consequences of course were never short of grievous.
I kept Mom abreast of my many struggles with being the small girl with mighty assets. But she thought by being ‘ free’ with guys, I was and would ever be the orchestrator of the frequent harassments.
True thing- I loved the company of boys, perhaps because I grew up among them. I liked the stimulating conversations with guys on politics, Tech, Cars and sports.
I wasn’t well cut out for the conventional gossip mill girls run. And really,I did enjoy the healthy friendships I cultivated with some very decent boys around, and things were cool.
But Mom would have none of it. She hated the very sight of me in the company of a boy. She was always putting them on the run, persecuting and even threatening the somewhat ‘stubborn’ ones she perceived were too close for comfort. This of course got Mum and I fighting so many times.
I never really saw eye to eye with Mom growing up. She was always beating me as a child at the slightest negligible mistake, saying she was grooming and beating me to shape for womanhood.
I had had cause to wonder to myself if she was really my mom or a surrogate.
Thanks to Dad – sweet Dad of blessed memory. He was always there for me -to ‘deliver’ and hold me up, (when he isn’t away on a business trip). He would have none of corporal punishment for me. He loved me. He believed me, and believed in me. He was the first man I fell in love with, as a little Daddy’s girl.
Pastor ‘B’ had just a child– a 12 year old boy, together with who he lived with his wife in their tastefully furnished four bedroom flat, so that I easily had a room to myself.
In just three weeks of staying in Pastor B’s, his strange moves under the shadows were already playing out. But I guess my extreme respect for his person made me turn a blind eye.
I did often feel his lustful glare from behind, sternly focused on my pendulating hips, while I went about chores in the house; not to mention the intentional ‘accidental’ collisions with me upfront -a calculated effort to brush over my breasts.
He would of course say ‘sorry’, that he never saw me coming.
Well, I chose to believe him nonetheless. And never in my wildest imagination did I see the rape coming.
He had had it all well planned out and executed. His wife and kid were out. We were alone in the house that Saturday morning.
He made me clean up the mess in the room after the ordeal, and to dispose of every possible incriminating evidence and trace to his crime. And then he threatened to make life miserable for me should I breathe a word of it to anyone, or do anything to arouse suspicion.
And so for three weeks, I acted ‘fine’, while I died daily on the inside.
I could bear it no more. There was only one person I could open up to – Mama Oyedokun : a retired headmistress who happened to be my Sunday school teacher, in my days in the children’s church. I couldn’t tell Mom, that was death.
Mama Oyedokun was a much respected elder in Church. She was the coordinator of the Children’s church, a responsibility she had held for several years, so that she was endeared to, and won the confidence of the vast majority of teens in church, most of who had once been under her motherly care as toddlers. She was particularly fond of me, and in fact her pet name for me was ‘Princess’.
There just seemed not to be any better person to talk to.
I told Mama everything. I poured it all out. I even cried. Mama didn’t look too convinced, though she had shouted ‘yeepa!’ with her hands on the head amidst repeated sighs.
She however promised to work on it, while consoling and reassuring me all would be well. I made Mama promise me not to tell anyone, not even my Mom. She gave me her word.
But Mama betrayed me. When Mom sent for me the following Sunday after church to meet her at home urgently, I knew trouble loomed.
It was a one-way trial. My judgment was set already, no defence could change anything. Mom told me she had it on good authority I was having amorous feelings for the man of God, and already attempting to blackmail him.
I just went dumb and numb. I was too weak to speak. Life just left me. And when I did attempt to say something, the words trying to fall off my lips were greeted and returned to their oral base,with a quick succession of routine slaps.
“Ashawo!”she screamed, heaving and pacing all over the place. She dealt me some more slaps with her slippers.
Then she broke down herself weeping. She got really hysterical – lamenting on why God would allow her enemies catch up with her, and do her so much evil as to influence her only daughter into whoredom, and make her attempt chasing away a timely God-sent helper with her prostituting tendencies.
It was a horrible scene. I didn’t know which to do. To hate this woman or pity her miserable state.
At the end of the day, to pacify a miserably ‘helpless’ weeping widow, I had to agree to follow her back to Pastor B’s. To apologize and promise to be a good girl. It was the only thing that could appease her. She would have none of whatever I’d got to say.
Sincerely I wondered what it was we were apologizing for. No particular offence was mentioned. But we still had to apologize. Even Pastor B feigned befuddlement and embarrassment at the scene.
I had to shove my bleeding internal wounds aside to do Mom’s bidding, just to make her happy, she had been through a lot, with us and for us, even though she was ignorantly literally feeding me to the lions by so doing.
At the end of it all, the slate was wiped clean…there was no rape..there was ‘nothing nothing’.
So, did the beast come again? Of course! He came again and again and again . He practically finished me off. I had lost my mind.
My resistance at each episode was getting weaker and weaker. I was sinking by the day into a bottomless pit of despair. There was nothing more to keep, nothing to lose either. He was having his way with me at will – in and out. Whoever I had become at that point was entirely strange to me myself! I was just existing in an alien, accursed body.
Things got so bad I woke from my siesta one Saturday afternoon, while lying on the sofa there in the parlour, to find Junior – his now 13 year old son getting his hands ‘busy’ on my chest, acting funny.
I felt like squeezing the very life out of the brat. But again the man in me grew weak and paralyzed. There was nothing worth fighting for anymore. I had kuku become the family slut.
The poor boy was just there, lying prostrate on the floor apologizing profusely, begging me not to tell Daddy. Inside me, I laughed in tongues.
I pitied the poor boy though. He was only a chip off the old block. I let him go.
At that point, living had no meaning to me anymore. I was only 17, a freaking 17 year old High school school leaver. Yet I was so dirty and old within, so old I felt myself drawn close to the Spirits of the departing aged..
And so I was scaling down and down the place of the dead. I couldn’t help it.
Within the hearshot of hell, I could hear the devil and his cohorts chanting excitedly in chorus- ‘Come on..come home, baby!’…..”
(to be continued)