Life and General Fiction StoriesNaija Stories

Occupational Hazard

She had intentionally stuck to the end of the line, oftentimes allowing other people who joined the queue to get in front of her. She wanted to be the last to meet with him; she knew that she would take a longer time to finish what she had to say, and she did not want anyone to be waiting for them. She had to tell everything, she had to get it all out of her system.

With the line barely moving, she forced herself to observe the required rituals; she closed her eyes and saw the major events of her life unfold again. It was as if she was watching a horror movie with no way of stopping it until she got to the end. But just as she was about to get to the part that made her to come to this place, someone tapped her shoulder. She turned, and for a fraction of a second, she thought that he was back. She had to blink to regain her composure and waved the man ahead, telling him to step in before her.

With her reflection broken, she muttered a quick “Help me, God,” and watched the people on the line as they met the man and left. She tried to guess what they might have told the man in white and it became a fun game trying to guess people’s sins. Would any of them be as sinful as I am? she wondered as she one girl of about twenty walked away with an expression of relief.

She scoffed, if only it would be so easy for her to just dump her sins on the ears of a man and be completely free of them. But this was exactly why she came to him, because he was a different kind of man, one with a vow to hold on to.

Thirty minutes later, she sat on the plastic chair behind the man, bent her head and said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. This is my first confession in five years. And this is my sin, father: I killed my husband.”

The priest was visibly shaken; despite his training, he was taken aback by the casual way she confessed to killing her husband. Nothing prepared him for this; in the fifteen years he’d been serving the Lord, the worst sin someone had confessed to was a girl who confesses to aborting a child. The girl had been tearful that he had to calm her down before he counseled her. But this was different, this woman did not sound remorseful.

At that thought, Father Matthew chided himself. Who was he to judge anybody and ascertain whether the person was repentant or not? He sighed and said, “My daughter, this is a very grave sin you’ve just confessed to. Why did you do it?”

In response, she sighed; she debated on whether to tell him everything or just skim through the details. In the end she decided to tell him everything; she had nothing to lose. He would tell nobody. The Church had already seen to that.

She stood up, picked her chair and went to sit opposite the priest. She stared at him for a full minute before she said anything.

“I was six when my elder brother started raping me. And he continued till I was sixteen. He was seven years older than I was, and had threatened to kill me if I ever told my parents. When I was sixteen I became pregnant for him and he gave me a concoction that terminated the pregnancy but nearly killed me in the process. It was while I was bleeding and writhing in pains that my mother found out.

“My father was the chairman of the CMO and my mom was the head of the CWO. It was a huge blow to them that such a thing was happening right under their roof, and they arranged to send my brother away. Just that—nothing else for the years of torture he put me through. Of course he was the only son, he was special.

“But a day before the day he was to leave, he was found dead in his room with a suicide note beside him and a plate of rice halfway eaten. The official version was that he had been devastated by guilt and had ended his life. But I knew the truth: I had just added rat poison to his food and had written the note, thanks to my expert skills at forgery.

“I never confessed to killing him and I’m not doing so now because it was the right thing to do. He had to pay for his sins.

“Twelve years later, I got married to a man who would best be described as the incarnation of my brother. To give him his due, he was very nice, he provided for me, was there when I needed him, and when I didn’t. His main problem was that he loved sex too much for my liking. My brother had turned me into a sex-hater, and I had given my husband a timetable on how we would be doing it—twice a month. That’s fair, right?

“Yet it wasn’t enough for him. He was greedy and wanted more than I could give. I would not have complained if he got his sexual satisfaction elsewhere, but he maintained that he married me with his money, therefore he was the lord of my body, and would take what belonged to him whenever and wherever he wanted.

“To be frank, I normally obliged, because he was at least better than most men out there, who are nothing more than dogs. But you see, my husband crossed the line yesterday night. I had come back from work tired and sleepy. I managed to fix him a meal and jumped into bed to get some sleep hoping to wake up in the middle of the night to work.

“But the insatiable incubus started touching me, demanding for sex. I had gently explained to him how tired I was, yet he was unyielding. I turned away from him to sleep and he jumped on me, tore my clothes and raped me.

“Now, I know that I might have been wrong in denying him sex, but after his actions, all I could see was when I was six and my brother was on top of me, sliding in and out of me, shearing me into pieces. So after he had slept, I went to the kitchen, took a knife and drove it into his neck, still with the image of my brother in my head.

“It was this morning that the full impact of what I’d done dawned on me. I knew that I had to tell someone. But I couldn’t go to the police, I can’t go to jail. And I am not sorry for what I did.”

“So why did you come to me if you were not sorry? What do I have to offer you?” Father Matthew asked, still surprised by what he was hearing.

“Silence,” she simply replied.

“I don’t understand.”

She smirked. “You’re a priest. You’re bound by oath not to reveal whatever you hear in confessions.”

Then she stood up, straightened her dress and walked away, without waiting for the priest to give her the penance she would perform.

The priest just stared at her, wondering why God had decided to give him such a test so early in the morning.

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