She would never forget the first time it happened. How could she when the horror, and the stench, and the shame of it were always with her? And she would never forgive him. Over her frozen corpse. But that was not what brought back these locked up memories, no, it was the sudden realization that her parents thought she was living the glorious life they envisioned when they sent her here.
They—her parents—had wanted the best for her. And with that burning love, she was told to live with her aunt who had promised her all the things she’d only wished for in her father’s house. She had been promised decent food, a nice and comfortable room and most importantly, quality education. Everyone said that she had a bright future, and that required a sound education.
Well, to her credit, her aunt had trained her in the top-notch schools in the area up to her second year in the university. She had treated her the same way she treated her children. But with all the information they gave her about this place, this hell on earth, no one had told her about this monster of a man—her aunt’s husband. He was the perfect definition of malevolence.
As she mopped the living room, she was hit by a tsunami of painful memories. Her mind drifted to the first time he did it. She was cleaning the their room (the room he shared with his wife). So intent was she on her task that she never noticed him as he crept in. Not until he grabbed her by the waist and flung her on the bed. He leapt on top of her and her fight for survival ensued. She flapped her hands on his face and chest, scratching and punching him. But all those her struggles were futile; he was much stronger and with his eyes glazed over by naked lust, she knew that he would achieve what he wanted.
When it dawned on her that she couldn’t flip him over, in a last effort, she pleaded, oh she did plead, imploring him to remember his wife and the fact that he was her uncle. All these fell on deaf ears.
He tore her clothes off her body, and with a superhuman strength, ripped off her underwear. Fear set her hands into a frenzy of punches and scratches. He gripped her hands and pinned them under his knees as he nudged her thighs apart with his hands. Then pulling down his trouser, he brought out his throbbing member.
As he thrust himself inside of her, she felt her womb and her soul shatter into a million pieces. She wanted to die, but she didn’t. He then thrust himself inside again and again. She felt herself tearing apart from head to toe; she felt her blood—the blood of her virginity—smeared on her thighs and dripping in tiny rivulets on the sheets.
After about twenty more thrusts, his body went rigid, and shook with a force he couldn’t resist. Then he went limp and landed on her. With much effort, she managed to push him off her. When she stood up, a most unimaginable pain rippled throughout her being, originating from her battered and bruised womanhood to the very depths of her soul. She had been raped and defiled by the very person that was supposed to protect her.
She picked up her shredded clothes and was about to exit the room when he got himself enough to say, “If my wife hears of this our… little fun, I’ll make sure you never speak again.” Then she crawled out, her whole body filled with pain and humiliation.
Inside her bathroom as she cleaned up, she cried her heart out, bemoaning her ill-fate. Beauty was a curse, she thought. If you are beautiful, no one cared about what you had upstairs when your downstairs was all that mattered, if you are beautiful, you become the object of desire. As she was.
Over the next year, he took her whenever he wanted and however he wanted. Slowly, she became oblivious to the pain, she had no feeling again.
As she mopped, she knew that the thing she dreaded for a long time had come to pass—she was pregnant. What should I do? she thought, who would believe her story? She remembered her parents and fresh tears came in torrents. They believed that she was living a decent life, free of any problems. If only they knew…
Normally, he comes back before his wife who was a banker. So when he came back, she served him his meal. He hungrily pounced on the food.
Without warning she announced, “I’m pregnant for you.”
He was halfway through putting another spoonful of rice into his mouth when the bombshell landed. He dropped the food, and turned to her. “What did you just say? Who are you pregnant for?”
Anger and indignation empowered her as she replied him, “You heard me. I’m pregnant for you.”
The slap when it came was felt but not heard. His large hand covered almost all of her face. The shock of it snapped her head back and she landed with a thud on the cold tiled floor. “Let me not hear you utter this rubbish ever again. So after whoring about with these local boys, you turn to land me with the resultant bastard. If you’re pregnant, you’d better find a way to flush it out, period.”
Maybe it was because of the way he so recklessly dismissed the issue, or maybe it was because he named it a bastard when he was the father, or maybe it was because he slapped her, or maybe it was the way he had shamed her all these times, or maybe it was a combination of all these things, what she knew was that she could stomach no more. She had to end this torture.
She went into the kitchen, and choosing the largest of her instant friends, she came back to where he was still eating, uncaring about the harm he had caused. Standing behind him, she drove the knife into his neck, between his head and right shoulder. The sound of knife ripping open his flesh was like a sound of victory in a war torn soul. And as the blood spurted out, he yelped in pain. She smiled, this was what he deserved. Picking up the knife again, she was about to stab him again, this time in the face when his wife opened the door.
The sight of her aunt brought her back to her senses and she slumped as she started crying. Her aunt shouted for help, and as people trooped inside to take the man to the hospital, some of them pounced on her and started landing blows on her. No one cared to know why she did what she did. She was caught red-handed trying to kill her uncle, what else was there to say? She was evil, the child of the devil.
It was by the intervention of a policeman in her compound that she was pried from the mob who were bent on lynching her. Things happened too fast after that. She was taken to the police station and detained. She wasn’t granted a chance to speak; many labeled her a witch, sent to torment an innocent family.
She stayed in the police cell for a week before she was bailed by her lecturer who she had managed to contact through a sympathetic policewoman. That was when she found out that she had been arraigned for attempted murder.
On the advice of her lecturer, Dr. Mike, she went to plead with her aunt. “At least, she would know what had happened between you and her husband. Perhaps she would drop the case,” Dr. Mike said. But when she approached her aunt, she was nearly maimed by the vengeful woman who called her murderer and a husband-snatcher. No hope then.
The day of her official court hearing was like a scene from a movie to her. As she was led to the dock, she felt herself drifting to a world where no one could harm her ever again. Why was she the target of so much hate from all angles? Would no one believe her own side of the story? When she sat down, she scanned the sea of angry faces, looking for a kind face. She saw none. The myriad of unknown people all seemed to have condemned her to death.
Then she saw her parents, and the pain that contorted her mother’s face was hard to describe. Her father’s eyes questioned: why my daughter? She longed to run into their arms for protection and spill her heart to them. They would understand that she did it in vengeance. He had soiled her too much. As she was sobbing and staring into the forlorn faces of her parents, the proceedings began.
It was a tough battle with the prosecutor twisting everything to make her seem like a demented serial killer who was bent on murdering every member of the family she lived with. Later, her aunt was called to testify. She described how she saw her niece standing over her husband with a knife, ready to kill him.
She just looked at her aunt without as much as making a sound. After her aunt’s testimony, the court was adjourned. Back in her cell, her lawyer frankly told her that her case was as good as lost, unless she agreed to a procedure very unexpected. She asked her lawyer if she could be sent to jail or worse sentenced to death. The reply made her weak to her bones, “You’re nineteen dear, legally you’re an adult. And if you’re found guilty, I’m sorry…”
Did she have any option? Of course she had to agree to her advice. Two days later she was taken to a doctor who performed the tests. A week after, the results came out. According to her lawyer, these would save her head.
The next court date arrived and everywhere was full to the brim. The prosecution whispered something to the judge who rapped his gavel and announced, “According to the report I just got, this case has just become a murder case as her victim died this morning.”
She didn’t know why this piece of information elated her despite the present circumstances. Indeed, there is a God, she thought. Her lawyer then gave the judge the results of the intra-uterine paternal tests she went for. It confirmed that the deceased was the father of the child she four months pregnant with.
The prosecution objected and accused that she might have forged the results or in the very least, she might have seduced the man. That immediately sent a spark of anger up her spine. She was about to retort, if not for her lawyer who silenced her with a look. After her lawyer’s presentation, it was time for judgment.
The whole courtroom was deathly quiet. The judge began, “Chika Jane Maduka, after going over the evidence presented, this court has found you—”
He was interrupted by a woman who bustled into the courtroom, the security guards hot on her heels. “She is innocent!” the woman shouted waving a phone in the air. The whole room erupted in a frenzy of disparate voices. It took twenty minutes for the judge to gavel the court to order. The phone was extricated from the woman who was asked to introduce herself.
“My name is Maureen Ike. This phone,” she said, pointing to the phone now in the hands of the judge, “belongs to my husband. I just saw his chats with this girl’s uncle. The man had been telling my husband how he had molested this young girl.”
At this, there was a collective gasp of “OH!” throughout the courtroom. The judge after reading the said chats, said, “In the light of this recent evidence, the court has changed her judgement and found the accused not guilty. However, the accused will remain in a psychiatric evaluation unit for at least six months pending her dismissal as mentally and emotionally stable. This court is dismissed.”
She was indifferent to the ruling. What concerned her was jumping into her parents’ arms and getting enveloped in their warmth. As she was led out of the courtroom, she looked into the eyes of the people trooping out, some seemed to understand, others saw her as what she would always be, in their eyes, she was the girl who murdered her innocent uncle, she was the spawn of the devil.