Feb 14, 2011.
It was an extremely bright day and the sun burned my skin as I trekked down the narrow, dusty road that led to the town market.
I hate going to the market in the afternoons, I had argued with Aunty Laraba to help me so I could go earlier and return soon before the angry sun was out, but she insisted I stayed till now. Aunty Laraba was quite strict and took things farther than I expected which was to my disadvantage as I had nowhere else to go but stay in her house.
Mother and Father had died in a car accident last year while I was only 13 years old. No other relative was ready to accept 2 young children into their home, but Father’s immediate elder sister, Aunty Laraba reluctantly took us in.
A couple of months after my parent’s death Yakubu my younger brother died one morning when Aunty Laraba punished him for not fetching water from the well into the house. She made sure that Yakubu was not eating in her house so I only shared with him the little meal she managed to serve me and one day as I crept into the store where he was locked up to give him my remaining food, I found my brother lying lifeless on the torn mat on the cold floor. I screamed till I could no longer recognise my own voice but he was gone.
The past year has been the worse year of my entire life. Living with Aunty Laraba was like living in a mini apartment with the devil. She would send me on all sorts of errands, not minding if I’m fine or not. The sad part of these errands is having to run some of them in the dead of the night. One time, at quarter past 10 in the evening she sent me to give her documents to Mr Ojono who lived about 20 minutes walk away from Aunty’s house. He was supposed to take her documents and help her submit it at the Ministry of Education for a job.
When I got to Mr Ojono’s he refused to take the documents from me except I entered his house, I had turned down his offer, but he insisted, saying he won’t take the documents, I couldn’t bear to think of returning home with the documents because Aunty Laraba was capable of killing me with her bare hands. I entered the house and Mr Ojono looked at me in strange ways that I can’t explain because no one had ever looked at me that way before. I lied that my friend was waiting for me outside; I ran out of the house as soon as I got the chance to. I kept running down the street as fast as my little legs could carry me.
So, on this beautiful but sunny Monday afternoon as I walked back home with lots of big, black nylon bags filled with food stuff, I got home quite earlier than I expected, the market wasn’t so crowded. I walked briskly into the house and found Aunty Laraba sitting on a couch with her legs stretched in front of her on the wooden stool at the centre of the parlour. “Good Afternoon Aunty! I’m back from the market. I said as I headed towards the kitchen. She simply replied by nodding her head. I quickly arranged the items in the kitchen in their rightful place and ran to the back of the house to wash my legs and face.
10:30PM that Night,
“Maria! Maria! Come here o”. I heard Aunty Laraba shouting from the back yard. I hesitated as I was trying to think of what she was about to nag about this time. She kept shouting, “Maria, are you deaf? Can’t you hear me calling you?” I stood up immediately and ran to the back yard before I received my own death punishment. “Stupid girl”, she mumbled as I went towards her. “Mr Ojono is with my employment letter. He got home some minutes ago. Go there now and get the letter for me. You better walk fast. Don’t delay me; I will be waiting for you. I looked at her a little longer, turned my back at her and walked gently out of the gate. “Is that how your mother taught you to walk fast?” I heard her say this as I quickened my steps.
The journey to Mr Ojono’s house that particular night was horrifying. I kept looking back because I thought I was being followed, but when I looked back I just saw darkness so I walked faster. “Mr Ojono, I’m here to collect my Aunty’s letter oo.” I shouted from outside. “Mr Ojono!” I didn’t get a reply, so I moved closer and shouted again. “Mr Ojo…” I heard the door creak; I looked up and saw a huge, shadowy figure grinning at me. “Ah! Yes your Aunty’s letter. It is with me already. Come inside and wait for me”. His smile was getting wider and I was getting scared. I looked around, but I was surrounded by total darkness. “No, No sir… let m…me.. just wait outside he.. here. I have to get back home on time…” I stuttered. “No o. Outside is not safe for a young beautiful girl like you especially at this time of the night. Come on in you are in safe hands”. He said all this as he led me inside the house.
The house was unusually quiet and semi lit. I scanned the house and was able to find a small stool in the corner which I sat on. Mr Ojono locked the main door with a key and went into a room covered with curtain. He was in there for so long; I got nervous again and shouted “Mr Ojono! Mr…”I felt a think, hefty hand on my shoulder; I looked back in horror as Mr Ojono pulled me towards him and pushed me on the floor. The floor was cold and hard”. You are such a beautiful girl you know?” He breathed on my face, he held my hands down against the floor, I winced with pain as his whole weight was on me now. “Stop it sir, you are hurting me. My hand is paining me”. I managed to say. He tried to kiss me but I moved my head to the opposite direction. He kissed my neck and I could fill his full lips go down towards my chest. I was so scared, I was panting heavily. I tried so hard to push him away, but it seemed like my little strength and rebellion gave him more strength. I tried to scream but then I felt his large palm cover my mouth. I was sweating profusely but I blinked repeatedly to keep the sweat from entering my eyes.
Before I knew it, I felt him remove his trouser and I knew something changed. I felt different. I felt used and worthless. He stood up almost immediately and walked away. I sat up on the floor and cried in pain. The drops of blood on the floor made me shed more tears. I was in pain. I saw him walk back towards me, I moved away in fear and he handed me a white envelope. “That is your Aunty’s letter. Get up and leave immediately”, he said quite calmly. I struggled to stand up. I walked out of his house and every step I took was more painful that the previous step. I staggered all the way home. Monday, February 14, 2011 was the day I lost everything I ever had.
Now, I think it was safer outside than in any of the houses I had entered and I have to find comfort in my pain.
Written by: Adesola Adesesan.
Photos from Google Chrome Images.