“Chii? What’s wrong? Are you okay?” She asked, touching my temple. I just stared at her because I didn’t even know what to say to her. As I opened my mouth to speak, I burst into tears. Amidst my tears, I told her everything and even showed her the bruises on my wrists, my forehead, my neck and my thighs. When I was done, I looked at her face expecting a reaction – any reaction. Anger, sadness, hatred, pain – anything. Instead, I saw disgust, disbelief and betrayal.
“What exactly is this you are telling me?” She said, letting go of me and moving away
“Mummy, Mr. Kevin raped me! He raped me!! I was…”
“Common shut up your mouth! Foolish child!! I am very disappointed in you. I knew you never like him but I never knew you would go through all this.” she said before turning away from me.
“Keep quiet. I need to call the pastor please. I can’t handle this alone. Ah ah, can you imagine?” She said as she walked out of my room. About two minutes later, I heard her on the phone with our pastor asking for an appointment for deliverance because she felt “her daughter has been possessed by the devil himself. I felt weak, I suddenly had a throbbing headache that forced me to my knees. I slowly sat down on the floor and I was totally blank. I didn’t know what to think or say because if my mother didn’t believe me, then there was nothing I could do again. It couldn’t have been a dream because the red and purple bruises on my arms and thighs were a constant reminder of the reality of that night.
The pastor had asked my mum to come with me and Mr. Kevin the next day by 4 pm for the deliverance session and she couldn’t wait to get the devil out of her house. She locked me in my room and only opened the door when she had to give me food. Each time she came into the room, I would look at her face thoroughly in search of a small hint of emotion that I could hold on to. I kept searching for proof that this woman who dropped a tray of jollof rice and a sachet of pure water on my bed was actually my mother, my best friend.
The time for my deliverance session finally came and by 3:30, he was already outside horning impatiently for my mother and I to come out of the house because, he had left work for this “nonsense” as he referred to it, yesterday when my mother told him about my offence
“Ngwa wear your skirt, let us go please. Don’t waste my time!” she barked at me.
I wore my skirt and walked out of the room while she followed. Throughout the trip to the church and during the deliverance session when the pastor kept pushing me down and picking me back up only to push me down again, I felt his eyes on me. Those evil eyes that stared back at me through the mirror that night. After the deliverance, the pastor assured my mum that the devil was out and that she should bring me here every other Saturday for follow up prayers until he was sure that the devil wasn’t going to come back again. The ride home was a very silent one. I felt empty and blank. I was supposed to go and stay with grandma for my NECO exams in two weeks time and I had three more papers to write. I made up my mind to survive these two weeks and I couldn’t wait to get out of that house.
Two weeks had gone by very fast in the house. I hardly spoke to anybody, I slept with a letter opener and I avoided him as much as I could. Avoiding him was difficult because, a week after the deliverance, he went on a two-week leave from work. I was going to grandma’s place the next day and I couldn’t wait. I had already packed my clothes and my books and set them by the door just for them to serve as a reminder that I was going to leave this scary place very soon. Mum went to the market to get food stuff for soup and she asked me to mop the kitchen and wash some clothes. I had already mopped the kitchen and was about to wash her clothes when Mr. Kevin called me to the sitting room.
“Chinda!” He yelled a second time.
“Yes sir, I’m coming!” I answered but I still sat there. I remembered the letter opener under my pillow and felt safer; I just had to figure out how to sneak it out of my room before going to the sitting room where he was. I tiptoed through the kitchen, tiptoed past the lobby and dashed into my room. I ran to my pillow, took out my mum’s old letter opener and stuck it behind my skirt and went to the sitting room. I met him on the long sofa, legs crossed with a newspaper in his hands and his glasses on his nose.
“You called me” I said impatiently and obviously irritated.
He turned to me, and motioned for me to sit down. After hesitating for a while, I sat on the sofa farthest from him. After I sat, he closed the newspaper he was reading, took of his glasses and stared at me with that same smile I saw on his face that night. The monster I had been avoiding, the monster that had been the lead actor in my nightmares was back again.
“I noticed you have been avoiding me since the incident. Did you think telling your mother was going to make things right? I married your mother because she’s so gullible and desperate. Even if you had a video tape, she wouldn’t even believe you” he said
All the while I just sat there thinking about the letter opener behind me and the annoying man in front of me.
“I hear you’re going to see your granny tomorrow” he said standing up from the long sofa “I will miss you” he said walking towards me.
I immediately got up from my chair and slowly walked backwards. The smell of his familiar cologne that filled the room that night suddenly started choking me. I looked in the direction of the sitting room door and it was locked. The feeling to just stop and let him get it over with crossed my mind and distracted me. By the time I regained my focus, he always already stretching his hands towards me and I ran.
I ran towards my bedroom and pushed it open and before I could close it behind me, he stuck his hand through the door. I was so scared and brave at the same time. I could literally feel my heartbeat in my eardrums and my feet felt so weak and my head felt light. I couldn’t go through that again, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. With a strength whose source I didn’t recognise, I slammed the door hard on his hand with all my body weight. He yelled and withdrew his hands and kicked the door open. It didn’t work! Why didn’t it work? He stepped in and immediately rushed after me, I jumped on the bed to cross over to the other side so that he could follow me and I’d probably have a shot at running out the bedroom door. Everything was happening so fast and I was so terrified and scared.
As I tried to cross the bed to the other side, he held my left leg and pulled me back towards him and there it was again, the cologne, choking and weakening me with memories. He pulled me and turned me over and in that split second, I felt a jab on my lower back – my letter opener. He straddled me and had begun tearing my blouse viciously.
“If you struggle, it will hurt you more my dear” he said pausing to stroke my chin and then I did it so fast. I forcefully jabbed the blunt letter opener into his left thigh. He groaned in pain and rolled off me and that’s when I ran out of the house through the back door and out of the compound. I ran down the street with my torn blouse and I didn’t look back. I just kept running until I got to the main road and then I paused and finally looked and he wasn’t there.
I was confused, exhausted, terrified and lonely – I missed my mother. That’s when it hit me: grandma’s place! I wasn’t alone after all, but I didn’t have any money on me and I wasn’t even sure if she was at home and my mum was going to be back from the market any minute so I continued walking down the main road until I saw a keke napep down the road and I boarded it. It turned out that grandma was at home and she helped pay the impatient keke driver and took me inside. Grandma was 67 years old and lived at Elelenwo in a small two-bedroom apartment where my mum had grown up. She usually just sat on the porch separating palm nuts or knitting sweaters for the kids in the neighbourhood. She also ran an ice-block selling business on the side to keep her days busy too. Today she was knitting when she saw me walk into the compound with my shredded blouse and a terrified look on my face.
Grandma wasn’t a talker so she just silently led me into her room, went outside and paid the keke driver. When she came in, she got me a wrapper, some food and some water and watched me eat. When I was done she then sat down and ordered me to tell her what was happening.
“..and so I stabbed him with the letter opener and ran out of…” I paused when her phone rang.
“It’s your mother” she said showing me the phone screen.
…To be continued