“…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.
“Mama please don’t tell her that I am here. Please I don’t want to go back there. Please” I begged hopelessly.
“Hello” she said into the receiver. I couldn’t hear my mum on the other end but from what I could hear, there was something about a robbery, someone going to the hospital and a police report. When mama was done with the phone call, she looked me in the eye and asked me if I was telling the truth.
“Mama, I swear, that man is a monster! See my neck” I said, showing her the faded scars on my neck and thighs.
“Your mother just called me to tell me that armed robbers attacked her husband and stabbed him. She said that she has gone to file a missing person’s report for you because her husband thinks the robbers may have taken you” mama explained.
“Jesus! It’s a lie mama. He tried to do it again! He’s lying! He’s lying” I screamed with tears rolling down my cheeks “He’s a liar!”
“Shhhhh. Stop crying Ndaa. Clean your eyes. I will go there and talk your mother out of this foolishness. Did she take you to the hospital at all?” she asked taking my wrists to examine the scars. I shook my head in reply.
“Okay, I will give you one of my old small blouses to wear and then we will go to the hospital and from there we will go to your mother’s house.” grandma said
I didn’t have a choice so I went with granny. There, my urine and blood samples were collected and tested. The doctors also did a rather intrusive physical examination. At the end of the tests, some drugs were administered and grandma paid for them.
We left the hospital and headed for the house. She chattered a taxi and it took us there. During the ride, my palms were sweaty, I had a headache and I had a sick feeling in my stomach. When we got there, granny knocked on the gate, I was so scared, I didn’t know when I reached out and held granny’s hand for support. She squeezed back and turned to smile at me. She knocked on the front door twice.
Someone finally opened the door and I saw him again. He first looked at granny, looked at me, looked at granny again and finally smiled.
“Mama, good evening. What a surprise” he said as he stepped back for us to step into the house.
“Where is my daughter?” Grandma asked ignoring his pleasantries.
My mum came out of the kitchen almost on cue and rushed to hug me.
“Chii, I was worried! Why didn’t you tell me you went to grandma’s place? Did you see the thieves that attacked daddy?” she asked, pulling away from the very stiff hug. I didn’t reply her. I didn’t even look at her face.
“I need to speak to you alone please.” Grandma said to my mum “Nda, go and get your things.”
“Oh, okay. I will be in my room. Mama welcome” Mr Kevin said as he left the living room. I entered my room, shut the door behind me and put my ear to the door. I heard my grandma’s voice in hushed tones talking to my mother who also replied in hushed tones until I heard it.
“- and so? And so what mama?! After all the things I have gone through for that girl after her father died. She owes herself the responsibility to stay safe and stop seducing men!” she spat out .
“He’s not a perfect man! Besides men are not like us; they can’t control their urges! She probably threw herself on him for all I care!” She yelled. When my mother tried to interrupt her she continued “ehn – ehn! Mama abeg! Don’t even start that nonsense. If you feel you can take care of her better than me, then please take that ungrateful child out of my house! I have tried biko” she yelled even more.
I stood behind my door and heard a woman who used to be my mother feed me to the wolves. I heard her walking towards my room and I stepped back. She pushed the door to my room in, violently, grabbed my bags I had already packed by the door and took them outside yelling and screaming. I had just seen a ghost because that woman was not my mother. I stepped out of my room and saw my grandma on the couch head bent.
“Ndaa, let us go. Your mother has been charmed. They have done juju for her and this house is not safe for you anymore. Let us go” granny said as she grabbed my arm leading me to the door. As she walked me out, I turned back and saw the monster smiling at me as he waved and mouthed “Bye”
I quickly turned around, scared, and I followed granny out of the house. My mum had thrown my bags outside and had gone back into the house. I didn’t even sound right in my head to call her my mum. I picked up my bags and caught up with grandma who stomped out of the compound angry and disappointed. Before I finally stepped out of the compound, I turned around to take one last look at the house and I saw my mum standing there, arms folded and with a straight face. I didn’t know if my mind was seeing what it wanted to see, but I thought I saw a tear roll down her cheeks. Did this mean she’s still in there? Somewhere inside this hardened, stubborn and ignorant exterior? Was there a chance that she still existed? The ride home was a rather silent one with grandma occasionally shaking her head and muttering “tufiakwa” to herself.
The NECO exams went by very fast and mum had not called or even visited to know how I was doing.The first few weeks at grandma’s place were sad, slow and rough but I soon got better and gradually started getting over my experience at Mr. Kevin’s house. I badly wanted to talk to mum but I wasn’t sure of who was going to pick the phone: the woman whom I knew or the cruel stranger who practically kicked me out of her house. The date for the post UTME for UNIPORT was fixed and I started reading past questions and text books for the exam because I couldn’t afford to stay at home for one whole year. Mum’s sister, Aunty Tina had heard about what had happened and decided to fund my education because my mother didn’t even bother to ask how I was going to go about it. The day of the post UTME finally came and granny prayed for me before I left the house. I went about 30 minutes early for the exams, revised my past questions and when the time for the exam finally came, I wrote well. I was so happy and couldn’t wait to tell grandma the good news. I ran into the compound and saw a police van. A police van? I stopped in my tracks, too scared to enter the house. What was a police van doing in grandma’s house?