24 years later and I am all grown up, through murky waters and bitter nightmares I have emerged, with the love of an uncle and aunt who took me as their own, watching over me and never giving, for 24 years they gently chipped away the anger and hate, their love, patience and prayers was just what the doctor ordered.
As I lay there deliberating my friend Omoefa’s coarse and loud voice rang out as she shouted my name from outside startled me out of short lived reverie. I got up from the bed still in my pant and bra holding my head which had subsided a bit, just by sheer will and effort managed to put on a pair of Jeans and tee shirt. I slipped on a pair of slippers and stepped into the slightly darkened corridor crisscrossed with other rooms adjoined leading out to the compound.
I beheld one of the older girls who also worked in our compound Cindy and friends dancing near the window but ignored them only extending a brief greeting to Deborah one of the girls as I moved on, I heard from Omoefa’s roommate Cindy was from a good home, had even been sent to school a real secondary school but had run off with an older boyfriend her father’s pension safely tucked in her bag. The boyfriend swindled her and traveled out to Spain, leaving her with just a letter I suppose as memento or reminder I don’t know. Some have feet and shoes to wear on them, some have shoes but no feet, others possess neither shoes nor feet I wish, i wonder….
I met Omoefa sitting in a corner with the girls smoking ‘Igbo’ weed as they all shuffled to the music emanating from the stereo. I went towards them and as soon as they sighted me, they all shouted as if on cue hailing AREA HOW FAR NAH? Happy Birthday!!!
Tinuke Omoefa’s room mate passed me a cup of “Tombo liquor “as I joined them on the bench Omoefa passed me the smouldering wrap of ‘Igbo’ she was smoking. I held it between my thumb and foreﬁnger the embers cackling, sparks emitting from the tiny embers of the seed as i tapped the excess ash off. I put the cup to my lips and swallowed a mouthful of the local gin, my eyes watered slightly as the ethanol hit me full in the chest, oblivious to my pain charting a burning path down my throat traversing relentlessly down, a ﬁery passageway to the pit of my stomach. I took a long drag of the ‘Igbo’ weed inhaling holding in the smoke as long as I could thankfully, it was not the highly intoxicating kanaku hybrid.
The smoke circulated slowly coursing through internal oriﬁce, oh so soothing…swirling as in creating an artiﬁcial smokes screen, cloud-induced interface alongside sudden No stark reality of the life i existed in. It was all I could do not to lean back in relief my headache slowly receding as though dancing backwards, evaporating into nothingness…air, just like the smoke emanating from my slightly parted lips and nostrils drifting up into oblivion. I watched it all swirling upwards towards a stack heap of forgone memories where earlier introspection, niggling conscience end up never to harm or hold my thought process in a choke hold leaving me free to indulge in my vices, my excesses with no recourse to conscientious thoughts.
The ﬁrst time omoefa and I met she had accosted me hiding behind the sand dune crying profusely on a Friday night. I was tucked away in a darkened corner hence did not notice my presence until she nearly stepped on me. Omoefa shouted out in fright jumping back “Blood of Jesus” seeing me clearly her initial fright swiftly morphed into anger. She rounded up in anger asking who I was and my purpose for lurking in the darkness, all the while getting ready to smash her upturned ﬁst in my face. Tears still running down my face intermittently casting furtive glances towards the main gate i had escaped from, she must have realized the extent of my disconcert especially at the sight of my torn clothes as I held tightly to cover my half exposed breasts. Her anger turned to concern, as she asked me what had occurred abandoning all her initial resolve and hostility.
When I arrived Paradise Island I was still naïve hence was oblivious to what the girls actually did until much later. I only started to enjoy myself after I met Obiri, a girl who lived in a shack next to our compound. She was my age although looked and acted older, that girl was a real tomboy a ﬁre cracker. I often wondered how she came to be living on their own in the ghetto later after becoming ﬁrm friends, she conﬁded in me that she ran away from home hiding under a lorry ferrying plantains to Lagos.
She was labelled a witch by a man they called ‘Prophet Zephaniah’ in her village, Prophet’s minions tortured then forced her to drink a concoction made out of water droplets drained from a dead body, declaring the spirit of the dead will compel her into a confession of her deeds even against her will. It seemed one of the strongest demons dwelt in her dark heart as she failed to confess, repeatedly maintaining her innocence. This provoked Prophet’s holy anger as he instructed assistants to hold her down, mouth forced open using his holy staff and concoction poured down her throat. Ensuing stomach cramps triumphant validation for prophet Zephaniah.
She had been accused initially by her father of deploying the powers of witchcraft that strong demonic spirit to drain his destiny causing an inability to feed her 8 siblings, he was a subsistent farmer. Her ropes had been untied in the dead of the night by her mother, who urged her to run away or be killed. Rescuing her mother and siblings from her father’s clutches and giving them a better life has been her motivation for hustling. I will make it in Paradise Island one day you watch and see if I don’t she often said with strong conviction and seriousness.
Aunty had sent me to buy some Panadol at baba Oyibo’s chemist not very far from our compound. On my way back, one of the boys who hang around our street accosted me snatching Auntie’s change off my hand. I cried out begging him to give me back the money but he laughed taunting me until Obiri walked towards us and faced him. Looking on steadily no expression on her face bellying her true intentions she asked him to return my money, but he didn’t pay her any heed neither did I to be fair. Request repeated again this time ﬁrmly resolute as calm as you please, or he would get a beating. He ﬁnally paid attention to the irritant quickly surveying her small frame incredulously, unbelieving of the sheer impudence from this tiny runt as he laughed gleefully. Truly Obiri like me was shorter than the boy, by this time his friends had sauntered closer cheering urging him on.
All of a sudden she lunged forward grabbing his neck like a man and raining punches, open mouthed map of disbelief displayed all over my face at the sight “See this small ‘Pelenge’ girl ﬁghting a boy. The ﬁght seemed reminiscent of David and Goliath bored children had begun watching and clapping as the impromptu ﬁght progressed. She landed a quick succession of punches then another slap Ha it’s a miracle!! I stopped counting after nine punches with interjecting slaps, a cut on his thick black lips blood spurted trailing down his jaw line. He was riled seriously angry now, yellow rimmed eyeballs bulging in naked resentment as he wiped excess blood with the hem of his oversize 2pac long sleeve tee shirt, he began pulling up his sleeves. It has gotten much personal no more a random past time but saving face that male ego has to be redeemed forthwith. He deliberately rushed towards Obiri swinging wildly right hand busy, as he made to grab her with his left hand we all gasped in fright but she darted back evading his latest swing, then moved in crouching like Malaika the great wrestler in our village. She grabbed his legs in a seemingly coordinated motion and shoved him backwards. He landed hard on his buttocks the audible grunt of pain sounding like a pig’s grunt. The tides had swiftly turned at this stage everyone turning the boos earlier directed towards the small girl into cheers the now vanquished ﬁghter lying on the ground, smarting from defeat. I watched her beat him back to the ground, even after he unsuccessfully tried to get back up until an old woman drove the crowd away with a long broom. Caught up in the excitement I had forgotten about my dilemma until I felt my cloth tugged from the back i turned around to see her still looking disheveled from the ﬁght and sporting a small bump on her right cheekbone, without a word she shoved the crumpled change in my palm abruptly walking away.
To Be Continued……………………………
Written By Bunmi olaniyan
Read Part 1 HERE
Aunty Edith sauntered into the room and dropped her overnight bag on the ﬂoor. She Kicked off her heels and hung the wig on the rusty hook by the door, settling her considerable girth on a stool in front of the small dressing table as she began to rummage in the small drawer attached, where our toiletries, makeup were kept.
She ﬁshed out some cotton wool and a plastic bottle of cleansing spirit vigorously wiping off the greasepaint off her face, muttering half angrily under her breath “that osho free just used my body till the next morning, then handing me a paltry N5,000 after we had agreed on N12, 000 what am I supposed to do with that chicken feed? She asked rhetorically staring at the mirror masking her audible anger.
She ﬁnished scrubbing and simultaneously slapped a tattered shower cap on her head, then struggled out of the ultra-tight dress throwing it in a corner, as she wrapped a brown threadbare towel round her large frame, getting ready to have a bath. I rose up from the bed stretching and mumbled greetings. She Looked at me scornfully eyebrows slightly raised asking me how much I made yesterday. I rummaged under the pillow and handed her the crumpled folded Naira notes, she counted carefully and grunted as she bent down and opened the bottom drawer of the bedside cabinet where she kept our money putting it away and locking up, carefully tucking the key into her bra.
Aunty Edith had always distrusted banks feeling secure in the knowledge that I was the only one who knew where she kept our money, besides every act of theft in the compound was brutally suppressed anyway. she had informed me that banks held on to people’s money and will not return it complete anytime you needed it back, i have no idea if this is true because I have never been inside a bank before much less owned an account.
I was exhausted from yesterday though I only had few customers and two bottles of imported beer, I spent the most of the night with the old man Ambricose.
He is a constant regular of mine and has been coming for a long time, two sometimes three times a week, even before I arrived ‘Paradise Island’. The kind of ‘Igbo’ weed he brought with him yesterday knocked me out and now, I have a serious headache an after effect of that devils cigarette. I vaguely remember him warning me it was the notorious ‘kanaku Kenya’ hybrid, but the inebriating effect of alcohol induced euphoria had deadened any sense of precaution in me. I must have smoked more than normal, as the ceaseless din reverberating in my head seemed like the blacksmith in our village, hammering and shaping a tool in earnest consistent hammering on and on.
Ambricose had been a frequent customer even before I was brought here hence his shift in attention to me had created a festering jealousy in Airou, who had been his favorite before my arrival. Airou was same age as me, and well admired by many that patronized us she was blessed with an olive skin and a sort of caramel complexion the color of imported sweets displayed prominently in those supermarkets situated along the nice part of the island, her skin looked a cross between the Indians and Lebanese traders who owned sea food shops on the island, her oval face and pointed nose gave an alluring and innocent almost regal beauty seldom found in Paradise Island.
I heard from Obiri my friend who had known of her long before my arrival that she was from a place called Chad in the north, I have no idea where that is as I have never gone past our village and Paradise Island. She had informed me Aunty Celestine whom we all knew as her guardian had found Airou under the bridge, near waterside area being forcefully raped by one of the old disabled beggars under the bridge and had rescued her. She had been unable to communicate verbally then due to her age, but they were able to approximate her age at around 7years or thereabouts. Airou was brought back to Paradise Island and nursed back to health she has been with her ever since, the only real mum she had ever known. It seemed the symbiotic relationship they had, was of mutual beneﬁt and obviously worked well for both.
Even though Ambricose pays well always gentle with me unlike most of the ‘area’ boys, nevertheless often forced me to do things I don’t like. I sometimes wonder where an old man like him learnt all those depraved sexual acts, but cannot ask questions as long as he has paid Aunty who made the decisions.
Today is my birthday.
Instead of feelings of elation and Joy upon this special day, I sit wondering questioning why I am feeling this despondent. I feel much older than I am for some obscure reason that eludes me, maybe it is due to people’s remarks that I am a big woman now. A woman big enough even old enough to satisfy those countless men who have shared my bed, who have passed through me. Who knows if it had to do with experience, checkered history with older men here in Paradise Island which has matured and tested me ‘wiser’ beyond my years, Or maybe I am truly old, am i no longer a child? Or so I’m told. So maybe, just maybe.
Written By Bunmi olaniyan
Each time i returned to him, my decision was confirmed as a good one, because i was rewarded not just with a temporary peace, but with the return of the man i’d fallen in love with. “We’d have this honeymoon period where he was nice to me again. I couldn’t help myself; I fell for it,”.
Lawani would come straight home from work, sometimes with flowers in hand, “and we’d have family time. He’d crack us up and laugh. Or we’d work around the house…all the things that happen in a normal home.”
Most important, He doted on Me. There were date nights followed by lovemaking, with Lawani holding me all night long. “I got enough of a glimpse of what a normal life could be like,” Look, he can be a family man; we can do this,” I’d say to myself.
Amarachi at this point was very upset with me,she was the only one I had told about the abuse,and she kept urging me to leave him,”do you want to wait until we come get you out of there in a body bag”she’d say,I was a woman still intent on saving my marriage,what amarachi advised only made me foolish,and I began to alienate myself from her and others,even my own parents,in my mind at the time they were the enemy,my justification was that they didn’t know lawani the way I did,they basically didn’t understand,my mum had visited once and discovered some swelling on my chin,she expressed concern and I simply told her we had an argument and I had provoked lawani too much,and when she insisted on having a talk with him,I was quick to remind her not to meddle in the affairs of my home.She in turn spoke to amarachi about it,and well amarachi being the hot head she was,came to my house and confronted lawani,oh how I wish she had’t done that,because after she left he felt very upset and humiliated,and yes you guessed right,I payed for it.
That night after amarachi had left, Lawani had tied my hands behind my back and punched me in the stomach for three hours. Afterward, I crawled to the bathroom and vomited blood,i managed to drive myself to the hospital,there I met the matron on duty,Matron Tamasi, I came in stooped and limping, showed the matron the evidence of my beating,my arms bruised black from wrist to elbow, a belly the color of a rotting plum.
He could’ve killed you!” the matron exclaimed. i knew she was right. And when, one month later, another fight began brewing in our house,the matron’s words reverberated in my head and prompted me to run across the street and call my friend to pick me up.
It was the third time I left.
I stayed away with Amarachi for about a month. But while my life was free from abuse, it wasn’t peaceful. Lawani was a constant: badgering me, surprising me when i least expected it, and — perhaps worst of all — threatening to discontinue our adoption process,don’t judge me,I wanted a child so badly so I was willing to put up with as much crap just to get a child,and somewhere in my mind,I believed with the arrival of the child,things might get better,I mean children are supposed to be blessings right? At the same time, he was trying to woo me back by asking me out on dates and by renovating our home exactly the way i’d wanted, even hanging up my cherished family photos. “I got a glimpse of the person I married: the romance, the hugs and sweet things.
Meanwhile, my friend never complained about hosting me, but she were clearly on edge — especially when lawani would call to accuse her of breaking up his home. As time passed, I felt like a burden on amarachi. In despair, i went to a shelter to explore my options and was dismayed to learn it would only be able to house me for 30 days. “Then what?” I asked the counselor, who had no reply. I couldn’t see a way out.
Here I was with no job and no life. “And then here’s my husband, with our beautifully remodeled house and all the things from the life we had built, and he’s saying, ‘You can have all this if you come back,so i meekly called lawani to say i was moving back in — feeling “scared to death, sick to my stomach, frightened out of my mind, and hopeful that things were going to change” — i made note of a valuable lesson i’d learned.
My arrival back home was greeted with a very familiar “seize fire” regime,lawani was all over me,doting as usual and being the “perfect man”,but this time I was very careful not to be taken in by the his usual tricks and pageantry.
I would stare at him for a while and try to read him,he had mastered the art of switching himself on and off at will,it was like he had the jerkyl and hyde syndrome,one minute he was this big teddy bear,appeared not being able to hurt a fly,the next moment he’d transform into a rabid wolf,foaming at the mouth,treating me like prey,”yes that was the only logical way to describe my husband.
I woke up to lawani smiling over me,looking like a little boy in a toy store,he asked me to come downstairs,saying Christmas had come early this year,I put on my robe and followed him downstairs,and when I got downstairs I was stunned,my legs went limp,I half expected they would give out under me,sitting in the living room was a woman,but she was not alone,she was holding a little girl,she was 14months old,my heart skipped a beat,I turned and looked at him,he smiled and said “congratulations it’s a girl”.
The lady I later discovered was from an orphanage and lawani had pushed the adoption process faster and we had gotten this little girl,this little angel,this wonderful innocent human being,I took a step towards them and stopped to check myself as if to be sure I was’t dreaming,I moved closer,picked her up,held her close to me and turned to lawani and said “her name is Morenikeji-which means I have found a companion,he smiled and accepted the name,I refused to put her down,as if putting her down would be the end of life itself,it was a wonderful feeling,I didn’t care that I was not her birth mother,but the thought of her being my child was the best feeling I had in a very long time,once the documents were signed and the lady left,lawani and I took keji(shortened) upstairs and spent the whole day getting to know her.
Life seemed to stabilize for a while,so far this was the longest stretch of peace I had experienced in a while,lawani even agreed to let me start my own ad consulting agency,things were looking up,or so I thought.
Then the worst happened,I had a meeting with a client,he came in later than the agreed time,so I stayed out later than usual,after the meeting I raced home,because I had left keji with the nanny,immediately I drove into the house I saw lawani’s car parked outside,fear enveloped me,I tried to compose myself,I knew something was wrong,I walked into the house,the nanny was gone,lawani and keji were in the living room watching a cartoon on television,I started to talk when lawani dismissed me with his hand,I made my way to the kitchen,everywhere was spotless,my heart was racing,I thought it was going to explode in my chest,I made my way to the bedroom to change,and when I came out I saw lawani taking keji to bed.
I went downstairs and waited for lawani,and while I waited for him to come back down I said a short prayer “O lord my father,if what I am passing through is not from you,have mercy on me,deliver me,save me,have mercy on me”.
Lawani walked calmly into the living room,sat across from me,stared directly at me and he lips parted and the words I dreaded came out,”where have you been”,I began explaining what had transpired during my meeting and what had caused the delay,he seemed to be getting relaxed up until the point I mentioned the client was a man,his eyes went dark and he jumped up, and in a split second he was beside me,and before I could blink he had hit me across the face,the impact sent me tumbling over,he pulled me up by my hair and punched me in the face,I stumbled over again,begging him to stop,this enraged him the more,he called me a harlot,and hit me again,this time I tasted blood,suddenly from the corner of my eye I saw him pick up something from the table,he struck my head……………..i passed out.
Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)
You can view PT1 HERE
You can view PT2 HERE
Hello everyone,below are separate stories of abuse, from the perspective of an abused child.
I was a princess, daddy always said so, and he told me princess get nice things, and special attention from the king, daddy said he was the king, so when it was bed time, he would carry me on his knee and read me stories, he would kiss me, and tell me to open my mouth, it was our special king and princess kiss, then he would put my hands in his pants, and say the princess should touch the king’s staff, daddy was always right.
One night I had a nightmare,mummy was asleep, she was always asleep, daddy came to my room, and lay on the bed with me, he told me he would make the nightmares go away, he said he would use his staff, he said I was ready to become the queen, he took off my underwear, it hurt, he told me not to say anything to mummy, he said mummy didn’t want me to become queen,and that she would hurt me, I was scared, daddy said he would protect me, he kissed me on the lips and left, I cried.
The next morning, I was too sore to get out of bed, mummy came in, she removed my blanket and screamed, I was covered in blood, she ran out.
I didn’t see daddy after that, mummy said he went to a new kingdom, where he would be the queen.
Mum said I was worthless, she would yell at me, throw things at me, she never wanted me around, she said I brought her bad luck, some nights she would lock me up in the house, with some bread and a glass of water, she would always say she hoped I died before she got back.
She always blamed me for all her boyfriends leaving her, she said I was too disgusting to have around, and I was the reason she was lonely and miserable.
One day, in the kitchen, she was drunk, she was always drinking, she put my hands on the kitchen counter, and sliced off my finger, she hit me over the head with a kettle, I fainted.
I woke up in the hospital, a nice lady was sitting next to my bed, she had tears in her eyes, she said no one would ever hurt me again, didn’t see mum after that, doesn’t matter much, I guess am happy now.
Composed/Interviewed By Arome Ameh (The Priest)
Facts on Child Abuse
- A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. A report was just made while you were reading this.
- More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse (even from emotional child abuse)
- Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
- It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates.
- More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
- Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
- About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
- About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
- The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.