After the incident we began to talk and play as kids’ do, I even started to hang out with Obiri and the rest of her friends whenever Aunty Edith was out as she often was. Sometimes I will follow her and Kemta her side kick to kuramo near the motor park on the other end of Paradise to go hustle. We go there to sell ‘Igbo’ weed or stolen phones which had been appropriated from handbags and pockets of careless commuters unlucky enough to have let their guard down while in Paradise Island, my duty was to stand watch near the road by the okada commercial cyclists to watch out for Police or ‘Askari’ as Obiri calls them in street parlance.
Sometimes i will follow them to Audu the Mai-Suya in front of Ghana High for barbeque ﬁsh with coke to chase it down, this was a luxury and only happened once in a while. I love coke but could not afford to buy it save the few times we made some money and will treat ourselves to one bottle each or share between us. Sometimes on these trips kemta and the other girls will steal off with the commercial motorcyclists, the okada men going towards the far and dark part where the beach huts faced rumbling waves of the ocean. They would be gone for 15 perhaps 20 minutes and then come back, the okada drivers adjusting his trousers and the girls counting money. I did not understand what they were selling but never asked not once although i never saw Obiri go with them.
Paradise island a complete contrast to its name one of the most deprived and violent ghettos in the city. It stood alone set apart from other areas an island standing aloof as though in deﬁance of constituted authority, that might be open to debate but most of the inhabitants were certainly in deﬁance of society. We made our own rules lived by our unwritten commandments. “Thou shalt not steal from residents” or a tire round your neck, a box of matches materialize as if from thin air and the culprit is reduced to cinders all in minutes. You are permitted to steal from outside never in Paradise…
The Island concealed a rich gaggle of hardened criminals, inexhaustible supply of mild mannered and well-spoken fraudsters alike, I was yet to ﬁgure out the most terrifying monsters were not battle hardened villains carrying guns waylaying innocent people, they were those much closer to home sporting the beguiling smiles endearing manners.
This Friday evening as usual Aunty Edith dressed up to go out only this time she laid out a pretty dress on the bed, she asked me if I liked it and i was extremely thrilled when i realized it was for me.I tried it on and it was a little short and revealing but I did not care so much about that. This does not happen every day so I was happy with my new dress, giggling with childish excitement. After a while we heard a knock and aunty opened the door, as soon as I saw his face my heart sank to the pit of my stomach, not even the excitement of my new dress could remedy the unpleasant mien that had sullied my happy mood, of all Auntie’s friends and customers I resent the man standing in the doorway the most. I constantly felt a strange sense of unease how Uncle Sammy stares and ogles me with those bloodshot eyes of his, piercing eyeballs which seem to bore right through me, searing as though stripping me naked. He is obese and very dark in complexion, always sweaty with a lingering body odor that trailed after him, not unlike mama’s He-goat back in the village.
Once, when Aunty was not looking he grabbed my bottom but I quickly pulled away from him, since then I am always mindful of being near him. He stepped inside Aunty greeting him and both exchanged ﬂeeting looks I did not understand but dismissed as something adults do. He sat down and like Aunty had tutored me, quickly rushed to our small fridge to fetch the bottle of beer reserved for him as i uncorked it he made a half-hearted effort to grab me and I jumped back alarmed, he laughed heartily as he busied himself ﬁlling the glass to the brim and gulping down to the dregs lips smacking in contentment. He must be giving her a lot of money because she never entertains any of the others, not even with ordinary water or biscuit, unless they brought out their own cash. Ah!!! Aunty never jokes with money.
I sat down in a corner soon lost in my dreams my girlish fantasies though still self-conscious in his presence tried to cover the exposed part of my body due to the revealing dress. Aunty left with him later but instructed me to leave the door unlocked. It must have been no less than 30-45 minutes after I had been in bed I heard a creak in the door, before I could react I felt a massive sweaty palm clamp over my mouth. The overpowering odor the weight on top of me, even in the darkness I instinctively knew it was Uncle Sammy.
In blind panic i tried struggling free the distinctive odor of cigarette assailing my nostrils but with little success. He was on top of me now breathing heavily noxious scent of beer and whiff of nicotine bellowing out with his every breath, ever present stale sweat as he continued slobbering all over me, while I tried twisting my face away from his terrifying assault. I made an effort to push him off and scream but he had planted his lips directly over mine, almost swallowing my lips and tongue in his slobbery and slimy assault. With his shoulder and part of his chest pinning me down to the bed one of his hands was fumbling and squeezing my immature and barely formed breast, rough and mauling touch really painful mentally more so. It felt like an eternity of his terrifying assault before he brieﬂy paused to undo his belt .Then I saw a fleeting chance to free my right hand, as i grabbed an empty bottle sitting on the side of the bed and smashed it on his bald head as hard as I could with what little strength i had left, the bottle did not break but his yelp of pain as his hands instinctively went up to his head holding and massaging the point of contact was satisfying indeed.
This created a small window of opportunity to quickly slip out from underneath him as i ran outside the room into the darkened corridor darting out as fast as my legs could carry me. He lumbered outside the bedroom after me cursing loudly and trying to grab hold of me but I was already outside, holding my torn nightie tightly with one hand to my chest and racing towards the main road. I looked around for any sign of Aunty but she was nowhere in sight so crossed over to the other side, and after a quick look to make sure he was not following ducked and hid my small frame on the other side of a disused sand dune. I sighted him after some minutes shufﬂing out, still massaging his head and smoking as he continued muttering audibly even in the distance. He lurched off into the night the dark already cloaking his dark thoughts and designs with the enveloping anonymity darkness affords the vile and evil. It was in this state shivering with fright that omoefa had accosted me. She led me back to her own room lending me a shirt to wear over my torn dress, and then gave me her bed to sleep in until the next morning when Aunty will return. The next morning before I left Omoefa warned me not to accept opened drink or food from any of Auntie’s friends. I returned back to our apartment with a new resolve to return back to the village with the little money I have saved going out with Obiri and Kemta. I know mama can use the money to start something and we would have enough at least to feed.
To Be Continued……………………..
By Bunmi olaniyan
Read Part 2 HERE