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Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog: Lagos, Surulere, Olodi Apapa, Ajegunle, Foluke, Boundary Market, Rape, Pound, Fufu, Naira, Oyo State, Escape, Kidnap Malia and Michelle Obama, Harmattan.

I could not contain my emotions the very first time I set my eyes on her – I guess I should say the second time I saw her. She looked exactly like me. I wondered if she could tell the resemblance between us on seeing me. She was more like Malia Obama who got most of Michelle Obama’s looks – she definitely got mine. I was observing her from a shop on Ogunlana Drive in Surulere, Lagos. I could no longer sit. I rose to my feet, pushed the door open and entered the street. My heart was smashing tirelessly against my poor ribs. It was a rather cool afternoon in the middle of harmattan, but my palms were sweating profusely and even my feet were oozing out sweat as though I had been dancing all day long. 

Her long black braids glistened under the gaze of the sun as she sauntered across the street towards her car. I was meant to just see her – just to find out what she looked like after searching for her for twenty years. “Where are you going?” Maryjane asked. She was a bossy plump nurse who had been helping me with the search. Just when I thought I had lost her for a moment, she appeared from the shop and followed me down the street. “I…I…Should I say something to her?” I stammered. “Not today…not now. I thought we had agreed on that?” She asked angrily. She had no idea what emotions were running amok within me. After twenty five years, I was seeing my daughter again. The last time I saw her, she was wrapped in baby swaddling. Through tears, I had handed her over to a couple I barely knew. Now, I see her again and I am being asked to wait! “I know how you feel,” Maryjane said. I wished she truly did. “We must wait so as not to scare her away. What if she does not believe your story and decide never to see you again? We need to orchestrate the meeting with her carefully,” she explained. I could see the point she was making but I still wanted to dash across the street like a mad woman and hug my daughter.

Twenty Five Years Prior…
“We’ll take good care of her,” the couple said to me with a smile. Tears rained down my face like a monsoon. I wanted to take my baby home with me. I wanted to care for her, protect her from this evil world and love her, but I was only fifteen. I needed protection and loving myself. To add insult to the injury, I had been impregnated by my father’s best friend…well, at first.

We lived in an old battered house in Olodi Apapa. People in my area made frantic efforts to distinguish my area from Ajegunle, but even the blind could tell there was hardly any difference between the two. The streets were dirty and noisy. Naked children ran from one end to the other and the smell of raw sewage gushing seamlessly from the back of toilets was a constant in the air. My mother sold fish at Boundary Market while my father was a commercial motor bike rider – Okada. Every Friday night, Uncle James as we called him came around to spend time with my father. He was a tall, kind man – well, so we had thought - who always made time to ask my sister and I how we fared at school. He always bought us gifts, so we liked him the most amongst my father’s numerous friends. 

One day, my father returned from work and announced that he and my mom would be travelling to the village. “You grandfather is dead,” he announced. “Can I come with you?” My sister and I asked him. “No, we don’t have enough money to cover your transport fare. You two should take care of your younger brothers. I have instructed Uncle James to stop by to keep an eye on you,” he explained. We nodded sadly. We loved our grandfather and would have loved to pay our last respects to him. The next morning, my parents left for the village. They left us with money. They also made sure there was enough food in the house – well, the amount that they felt would last long enough. 

Every night, Uncle James stopped by to check in on us. He bought us bread and gave us extra money. We looked forward to seeing him. Because he offered money to my younger brothers, they all felt comfortable with him. He would sit in the living room with my sister and I while my brothers played in the front yard with other children after accepting a few notes from Uncle James. He told us stories and jokes. Usually, he’d leave around 11:00PM. One evening, he came around earlier and usual and asked me to come with him to the Boundary market so he could buy us some yams for us. My parents had been held back in the village, so we were running low on food. 

I remember the moment his hand came upon my shoulder. I wish I knew enough at that age to resist his evil plot. I neither did nor said anything to stop him; after all, it was the loving and kind Uncle James – my father’s best friend. He made sure that we took a dark, poorly illuminated street. His hands wondered all over me as we walked down the street, yet I said nothing. He is just being nice, I thought to myself, although I was afraid. One night, he went a step further. When we returned from the market, he sat beside me in the living rom. My sister, Linda was sleeping on the other old ragged couch in our living room. My brothers were snoring away in the bedroom. “How are you doing for money? I wonder if you and your siblings still have money for feeding. I know I bought you a few things, but I still think you need more money. Come with me to my house. I will find some more money for you, okay?” “Yes, Uncle,” I obliged him. We had no money left in the house really, so his offer was a heaven sent succor.

When we reached his house, he gave me one thousand Naira. “Thank you very much Uncle,” I thanked him effusively. “It is okay. Your father is my best friend, so it is my job to take care of you and your siblings when he and your mother are not here. If you ever need anything, just let me know okay?” “Yes, Uncle. Thank you very much. I will be leaving now.” “Yes it is late, but first, come here. I need to show you something,” he said. I was standing by the door at this point, so I walked closer to him and he…he made me sit beside him while he touched me. I was lost…I had no idea what was happening to my body. Before I knew it, he was gasping over me. A wave of confusion, fear   and shame descended heavily on me as I walked home later that night. The next night, I avoided him when he came over. I prayed that my parents would soon return from the village. 

One afternoon, I was cooking when Uncle James stopped by. “Why are you avoiding me?” “He asked. “I am not avoiding you,” I lied. “Look, if you mention anything to your parents or anyone, I will cut off your neck and kill your parents too,” he threatened. I knew he had some dangerous friends – my father told me that even though he had stressed that James would never harm his family, so I never mentioned that encounter to anyone. “James and I have come a long way, you see. We grew up here in Lagos together,” my father had stressed. Anyway, James made several attempts to lure me to bed yet again, but I refused. A few weeks later after my parents returned from the village. That was when I began to notice changes in my body. I worried that I might be pregnant. I was petrified. I could not bring myself to tell my parents what happened. Somehow, I felt it was all my fault. A friend of mine helped me to undergo pregnancy test at the hospital. My eyes were covered in tears when the nurse told me that I was pregnant. “Poor little girl,” one of the nurses said. 

“How are you going to cope? You are so young,” the older-looking nurse asked. I had no idea what to do. “We’ll find a way around this,” my friend Foluke told me. She was my age too, so I wondered what plan she might have. “I know someone who can help you,” Foluke said as we walked home. “I don’t think I can do an abortion, Foluke. I am too scared,” I answered. “Don’t worry, my friend, Benjamin can help us. He did it for my friend, Ifunanya. You don’t have to do an abortion, but you must be willing to go away to have the baby,” Foluke explained. I wanted to keep my parents alive because I really believed that Uncle James would kill them, so I ran away from home. 

Foluke helped me to escape to a village in Oyo State, where Benjamin kept me in a secluded house. I cried almost every day because I missed my family. I felt sorry for them because they were looking for me all over the place, thinking I had been kidnapped, perhaps by ritual killers. I was sure not to take anything with me when I left home so they would not suspect I had planned it all along. Foluke and Benjamin provided some of the things I needed. In the first few weeks, Foluke visited and Benjamin was nice, but then, a few weeks in, things turned sour. “She is refusing to sleep with me,” I heard Benjamin complain to Foluke one night. They thought I was deep asleep. “I paid you to bring her here and I thought you explained to her that she’d have to service me for helping her out!” Benjamin shouted at Foluke. “She is my friend, there was no way I could explain that to her. It is your job to do that. She is stressed now. Give her time; soon she will give you what you want,” Foluke replied.

It dawned on me that Foluke had sold me off to Benjamin for pleasure – for the time being. I was too afraid to confront her or Benjamin, so I kept quiet, although I began to think about an escape. I did not know where I was going to run to though. I had little money on me and I was tired all the time. To make matters worse, I was fed unhealthy food by Benjamin with little essential nutrients and the portions were miserably small. I had to cook for him too and clean the house. I had hoped that Benjamin would harbor me until the baby was born. He was going to arrange for a couple to adopt my baby after which I would return to Lagos and make up a kidnapping and escape story to my parents. After overhearing his discussion with Foluke, it was obvious other plans had been made behind my back. The next morning, Foluke returned to Lagos. Benjamin walked into the room and sat beside me on the bed. I pretended to be sleeping, but he would have none of it. He turned me over and forced himself on me. Afterwards, it became a daily routine. He did as he wanted with me. Each time I resisted, he slapped and punched me into submission.

One night, he pounded me like fufu. He had left me locked in the room while he went into the market in the nearby town. He returned from market slightly drunk. “Come here and serve me…you are my wife now,” he said. His breathe reeked terribly of alcohol. Besides, he had gone for a few days without taking shower. It was as if he and water were at war. He showered once in nearly two weeks. I did not answer him. I sat on the edge of my bed with my hands shaking and my heart conducting a loud orchestra. Before I knew it, he leaped from the chair towards me and kicked me in the face. I fell backwards. He forced himself on me like a ravenous lion attacking a wildebeest. When he rolled off me, I could feel blood on my side. Despite the searing pain that was burning through me, I got up to check myself. More blood raced out of me like a borehole that had been turned on for the first time. 

I had a brutal miscarriage. I still wonder how I survived it. The bed was full of blood in minutes. Benjamin left the room and returned with dirty rags. “Clean that mess,” he hollered at me like a feudal Lord directing his subject. I made an effort to clean myself and the room, but the smell of blood hung in the air for what seemed like eternity. I went to the bathroom and showered over and over again, in an attempt to rid myself of the smell of blood – all to no avail. It seemed as though that smell followed me everywhere, which was practically one room, the kitchen and the bathroom. 

Benjamin would stand outside guarding me like a hawk when I cleaned up in the shower. If you deliver me from this, I will never let you down,” I prayed to dear God, but it was as if He was not listening. Benjamin showed me no mercy. Despite the pain of the miscarriage, both physically and emotionally, he continued to rape me like an unsaddled horse, day in day out. Several weeks later, I lost my period! I wondered where God had gone. I hated Uncle James after what he did to me. He was a green snake in green grass, so carrying his child gored at me like a mountain goat pummeling an opponent in a fight over mating rights. Carrying Benjamin’s baby was even worse. He was a sadist; a monster in human clothing. Each time that baby kicked inside me, I wished an earthquake would rumble through town and destroy me. Living left a sour taste in my mouth. 
Story continues...

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Nigeria's Leading Fictional Story Blog: Lagos, Surulere, Olodi Apapa, Ajegunle, Foluke, Boundary Market, Rape, Pound, Fufu, Naira, Oyo State, Escape, Kidnap Malia and Michelle Obama, Harmattan. An African Literary Blog
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