Their bickering woke me up. My aunt and her husband are always at loggerheads but this time, it seemed more intense than usual.
The frequent fights were as a result of the little knowledge that they had about each-other before walking down the aisle. At least, that was what I thought.
I threw off my blanket, got off the bed with my sleep-laden eyes and walked out of my room stumbling on almost everything. I went to check the Girl first but I didn’t feel her on the bed. It had become a habit for me to always check on her.
It was a habit I developed while my sister was still alive. After her death, my attention shifted to uncle Duke ‘s “supposed” distant cousin. Girl ‘s bedspread wasn’t on her bed. It wasn’t laid. A part of the bed was wet with sweat. I checked her bathroom, she wasn’t there. I mumbled her name. No response. Checked everywhere I thought she could possibly be but I couldn’t find her. I knocked on my aunt’s room door but the noise wasn’t coming from there, it came from the sitting room downstairs.
“How on earth are we supposed to drive out of here by this time?
They didn’t turn on the lamps nor switch on the generator. Everywhere was dark.
“Err..Aunty Adaku, do you know where Girl is?”
My aunt didn’t answer me. I moved closer to ask her again because I thought my voice was not loud enough. She and her husband became quiet all of a sudden. I waited for them to talk but they said nothing to me. I couldn’t see them well but I knew they were right in front of me. When I moved closer then I noticed they both were preventing me from seeing something. They both were too close and moved at the same step and pace.
He was fast asleep. It was too early in the morning. I entered his room, hit him hard. No response. He was breathing heavily. I hit him again. He answered reluctantly and mumbled some words in Hausa that made no sense to me. He took his time to position himself on a seat. With his hands on his jaw, he looked at me angrily.
“I am sorry, but please switch on the generator”.
The reflection of light from his room reflected his twisted lips on the wall. I stood with him as he turned it on.
I was about to enter the house to turn the switch when my aunt held me back.
” You do not have to do that, don’t worry, Girl is okay”, she said.
“Let us take her to the hospital…”, I heard them whisper to each other.
“Take who to the hospital?”, I asked with my voice filled with curiosity. I waited for them to answer only to notice after a while that I was alone in the room.
Aunt Adaku?, I called.
“Girl is in her room’ She said sharply. She shut the door loudly behind me. She had never spoken to me in that manner before. Her tone was cold. It was obvious she was mad at her husband for reasons unknown to me.
I went in to check her, I could feel her on the bed.
“Girl, are you okay..?”
She said yes even though she was breathing heavily. I needed my glasses and a flash-light but at the same time, I did not want to leave her alone. I carried her along with me to my room. She was too weak to get up. I placed her on my bed. I was shaking and shivering at the same time. She was on the plus side and I was a size 8. A shaky size 8.I locked my room and turned on my flashlight.
My bed was stained.
I asked her what happened but she couldn’t talk. Her body temperature was high and she looked tired. She asked for water. She drank the water weakly; as if her throat was pushing it back. I placed my pillow up so she could sit straight. She felt pain all over her. Yet she couldn’t touch her own body.
She was irritated.
I wanted to know what happened as I could see clearly that she wasn’t just beaten. She couldn’t say anything. She was hurt and drained. I sat beside her and tried to remove her clothes without adding more to the pain she was going through. I heard footsteps and then it stopped.
She groaned as I touched her. Her left hand was swollen and the skin covering the injury she had weeks earlier was opened again but this time it was deeper. I wanted her to take a shower but she couldn’t move. So, I carried her again. I was still clueless as to what happened. I, however, pushed my curiosity aside. There was no power so I couldn’t use the heater, I had to use cold water to bathe her. She screamed and it was evident that the cold water cut deep into her opened the wound and increased the pain.
She was about to step out of the bathtub when I noticed she was still bleeding. I had no one to call. Ola’s cell phone was switched off; he was the only person I knew could help at that period. I left him a message hoping he would see it when his phone comes on. A part of my mind wondered where my Aunt and husband were and the seemly callousness they were exhibiting.
She had been violated.
She looked used; flat out of energy. She slept without turning.
“Chisom….I’m thirsty…, She said slowly and quietly. I filled a container with water. She couldn’t hold the bottle; I held her head up and gave her the water. She finished the water and asked for more. I got her another one and she could not stop drinking until I refused to give her more. Asked her how she was feeling and she said ‘weak’. I patted her back and placed my hand around her loosely. She smiled with tears in her eyes. I told her she would be fine with tears clouding my eyes. She was just fifteen.
“You will talk to me in the morning right?I asked. She nodded.
I mumbled some words of prayer on her behalf. I was tired. It had been a rough night. Everywhere was quiet again. I tried to sleep but I could not. I could not fathom why my aunt and her husband did not want me to know what had happened. It was when I put all the pieces of past events together that it occurred to me, it was not the first time.
I woke up and found out Girl had left the house. My aunt had no explanation as to when she left and where she went to. I placed all the blame on her.
Weeks passed, months passed, still no sign of Girl. My mind was unsettled. I thought about where she could have gone and what she could be going through. The people I told about her got tired of searching for her and after a short while, she was forgotten. The police got tired of my incessant visitations. I took the courage to tell my part of the story but it brought out no punishable results. Mr Duke had his way like he usually does and used his influence to wave off the case. It was rubbed on my face that I had no business and the ‘supposed’ uncle decided to let the case die.
The police got tired of my incessant visitations. I took the courage to tell my part of the story but it brought out no punishable results. Mr Duke had his way like he usually does and used his influence to wave off the case. It was rubbed on my face that I had no business and the ‘supposed’ uncle decided to let the case die.
I was pained and my thirst for the truth drained me. Though I wanted the truth to be told I was shut out.
I moved out of my aunt’s house to stay alone, keeping an eye out for a glimpse or news of Girl.
My last day in school bore no excitement. Ola understood. It had been rough on me and I haven’t been nice to him. Any time he tried to start a conversation, I bring up Girl’s issue. I knew he was tired but he never showed it. Silence started creeping in between us and I knew I was to be blamed. I told him to give me a little time. He knew not finding Girl or rubbing in the guilt would not give him the smile he always tickled to have back. I barely laugh and anytime he had to go through the stress of tickling me to get it out, I make it count for him.
I loved him but Girl had me.
She was like a sister.
My frequent calls to Ola reduced but he never stopped calling like he used to. It got to a point his calls became disapproving and I hoped he called just a few times in a week or even months. Months passed and I stopped picking his calls. I knew things would never be the same but he never stopped calling and dropping messages just to check on me. I never replied any until last week.
” A girl was found in Ogun state…call me”.
Ola had been searching for her. I called him although it came with some guilt. He was in a meeting. I was uneasy. I wanted to leave for Lagos to see him just so he could take me to her. Pacing up and down in my room and formed speeches and words I would say to Girl when I see her. I created happy moments in my head and imagined her in my every thought. In it, I thought about how she would get silly by pretending to be so mad at me for not being there for her or in all sincerity, she was angry with me for taking so long to come get her.
Ola finally called me and I snapped out of my thoughts. For a moment I was sad and at the same time glad I would see her. Ola came to Abeokuta in the evening. The girl had been so close yet she seemed far away.
” How could she be found here when I have searched here for her”, I said to myself.
“I missed you”, Ola said.
I looked at him quickly and carried my face away. Feeling sorry for him. Though I pushed him away with no reasonable excuse he stood back.
“I’m sorry”, I mumbled without looking at him.
We parked beside a building close to a Local Government Secretariat. A woman that lives in the house had been taking care of Girl.
I saw Girl. She looked lean. I was excited to see her but the expected warmness was not there.
I smiled at her but her face was blank.
She could not remember me. Ola read the disappointment in my expression but he did not say anything.
“You are welcome”, the woman said.
I asked her about Girl’s welfare. They now call her Blessing she told me. I felt a little sharp pain. Not for Blessing but for how I never gave her a name. I always knew her as Girl and she seemed to like it.
Blessing stood opposite me. I handed over the cookies I brought along but there was no “thank you”.
She must have developed some attitude, I thought to myself. Her countenance though did not bear anything close to being rude.
“How bad is her memory?”, I asked the woman.
“I took her in when I realized the government could not do much for her. She was sick at that point and I guessed those in charge of her care saw no use in continuing to do so. They thought she was going to die…”, the woman said before I cut in.
” How bad was her health?”, Ola and I asked simultaneously.
” It was terrible….she was used out of the little right she thought she had…”, she said.
I blinked to conceal the coming tears. I knew she was raped back at home but I had no chance to ask her by whom before she ran away.
” The guys raped her and after they realized she was pregnant, they aborted it. They wanted to continue having her”.
I was blank. She got into wrong hands after running from one back at home. I looked at Blessing. Blessing smiled at me. She had no idea what we were talking about. She had been violated beyond the recognition of her very self. Her memory was gone.
” Blessing, can you remember me?”, I asked smiling with tears that bore the pain.
“Nne is hungry. Rice”.
Those were the only words she could utter.
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This story was inspired by the life of Girl; named Blessing.
This girl was found 2 years ago along Benin/Shagamu express road with a deep cut on her head n a red piece of cloth tied to it. She remembers nothing and is just learning to speak again. Her words presently are “Nne is hungry and Rice”. She has been sexually molested by many due to her helpless state and receives very little care and attention from the Local Government.
We need to reunite her with her family.Do you know her or have a compassion for her? Reach out to her via….07066148252,08057108095 Shagamu Local Govt.
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Written by Makanjuola Olayinka
Also written by Olayinka, Check out
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