I have been wondering what I should talk about. I have too many topics all needing a hearing from me. I am still writing about the violence issues. I mean domestic and sexual violence. I got quite a lot of responses and was surprised that the responses were across the sexual divide. A couple of issues came up along those lines. What would be the best vehicle to show these issues? A friend said the medium does not really matter if we keep talking. I watched a television programme in which a popular actress appeared to be interested in promoting the fight against rape and it saddened me. She appeared to have trivialized the issue of rape. I finally understood what Bobby Uttaro meant when he said he was leery of the magic of television.
You can not imagine the horror of being raped, you cannot put yourself in the mindset of someone who has been raped. The first thing is the sense of shame and thereafter is the fear. It has to be handled in such a way as to make you feel able to talk about it. We don’t seem to understand and there lies my own personal frustration with the supposed care providers of rape victims.
Incidentally, rape victims can be male or female, child, adult, and for crying out loud, an old woman being raped by her own son! Don’t gawk, it has happened.I am not going to mention real names here as I have not the slightest intention to embarrass the poor woman
Madam Angelique used to be a lively woman, in her late sixties. She looked after her herself and would be seen in quite fashionable clothes as she went to town. She lived alone except for the occasional visit by her last son who worked outside the town in Lagos. Mama Gelly as neighbors called her would chatter nonstop about this son John and you could tell she was besotted with him.
Suddenly, after one of such visits, it was noticed that Mama Gelly did not go round the neighbors to regale her friends with the last exploits of John. Strangely too, John left abruptly. Mama Gelly’s room was always darkened unlike the bright lights we were all used to. We assumed that she was not home and that was why we saw only the security light on most nights. I had misgivings though as that was not in the nature and style of this lively woman. I decided to be a real nosey parker and went to her front door, knocked but got no answer. I was walking away assuming that the old lady was maybe not in the house but something made me look back, and I was rooted to the spot in complete shock
Mama Gelly was holding, a dirty, bloodied sheets to her chest, her eyes were swollen both from beatings and tears. She swayed on her feet in a strange dance with the horror she was living through. I ran back to her just in time as she folded over like a rag doll in a faint. I led her back to her room and burst into tears. Her room looked like a hurricane just hit it
Three hours later, the story came out in bursts of a tired woman. John had come to visit as usual, but there was something unusual this time about him and his mother sensed it. She asked him if he was having money troubles, but he simply shook his head and would stare at her strangely. Mama was nervous suddenly and kept to her herself thinking if she gave John time he would eventually say what was on his mind
John refused his dinner but kept drinking and she told him she was going to bed. She also asked after Angela his girlfriend and got a snarl in response. Not prepared to put up with such rudeness mama headed for her room.
She must have slept off because she said she woke up to find John’s wandering hands on her person. She talked sharply to him but he was too drunk to reason and a struggle ensued. Mama was quiet and I looked around the room. It was clear, my heart sank and a horror of what she must be feeling shuddered through me.
‘Mama, tell me the worst’ I asked softly, my heart was breaking
‘Can’t you tell? The abomination is complete, you cannot rape your own mother and survive seven days’
We stared at each other, then, she whispered;
‘How do I go on living, after he dies, who will I share my grave with, they can’t bury me next to his father because I am a soiled tainted corpse’
She stared at the clock on the wall. That was the like maybe the hundredth time she had done that. She walked to the front door and looked out again. There was no sign of any car. The road was lonely only the loud ticking of the clock gave an indication that something was happening anywhere. Yes and the very loud thumping of her heart, it was racing and making her sweat. Her throat was dry and she drank water again. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed to a crawl, she pressed her lips together, sat in the chair and closed her eyes. That was when she heard the whimper. The whimper of a distressed infant. Kike opened her eyes and sighed. She wondered if she should go to the room and look again. One thing she was sure about was the fact that she was steadily going mad. It was close to closing time and she knew that her husband would soon be home. That was why she gotten dressed even as she fought her rising anxiety each day. Kike wondered what she could make for dinner because this time she wanted to shoe Deji that she was getting over her loss. That was why she was dressed up and remembered that she sent for dinner from the eatery down the street. She wanted to thank her husband for his patience in these weeks when everything had been just one long blur of pain.
The door opened and she pasted a smile on her face as she turned to say a warm welcome to her husband but was frozen into a stare as she saw nobody. Kike stood up and walked to the open door suddenly terrified. The whimper of the infant suddenly came again and Kike instinctively put her hands to her ears as she moaned. ‘You are a dead baby, back to where you came from, why are you torturing me like this’ A hand touched her and Kike screamed. Deji held her tightly and whispered in her ears telling her it was okay, he was home now. Kike collapsed in tears holding on to her husband.
Minutes later, after washing her face of the carefully applied make up she had put on to welcome Deji, she tiredly told her husband that she really needed to visit her mother in the village
‘You think a visit to the village might help you? Mama left three days ago. Kike, you need to start living again. We can always have another baby’
Yes, we can as soon as this one accepts it is gone. I think the baby is uncomfortable wherever it is right now’
Deji gave his wife a puzzled look, ‘why do you say that it was a stillbirth, it never opened its eyes’
‘They took him’
Deji clamped his lips determined not to be drawn into the conversation that Kike was angling for. He had told his wife he was not buying into any story that there was more to his losing his son than the doctor had told him.
Early dawn, just the mournful call to prayer, and her heart responded in tears. Her face feltstiff and she touched it gingerly. Quietly she removed all her clothes and walked naked to the courtyard looking at the sky. She went to the kitchen and poured water in the calabash. She set it up on three stones and stood in front of it motionless. She remained like that for a while consciously emptying her thoughts of all thoughts. When she felt reasonably calm and her heart had stopped weeping, she took the bowl of water and poured it over her person. The icy cold water brought her sharply awake. She suppressed her instinctive gasp.
With measured footsteps she returned to the bedroom and stared blankly at his drunken huddled form as it snored. She went to the corner of the bedroom and silently picked her clothes , stuffing them in the bag. Her son stirred in the corner and she carried him putting himon her back as she strapped him securely.
She checked her bag, to be sure her ATM was in her purse. She had gone over lateat night and from swollen bloody lips had asked for her ATM which she had kept with Madam Stella her neighbour. She took a long look at Kunle and the screams threatened to escape her lips. She turned him over and tied his hands to the bed post. The she slapped him awake.
He opened his eyes slowly and stared in shock at his wife who gave him a wolfish grin. His moth was taped with her bloodied underwear .
Are you awake now my darling?
He tried to talk but was too tightly gagged, his eyes bulged in wild terror when he saw the knife?
His wife sighed and his eyes pleaded for mercy. She seemed to be contemplating. In a soft voice she read the poem to him as if from a long ago memory.
Do you remember this poem? I wrote it the first time you raped me and you begged me that you did not know what came over you? I warned you that if you drive the sheep to the wall it might turn on you. I am going away. I hope they find you in time. Then she brought the knife, she hummed softly as she worked on him
Five hours later, the police found him. No one knew her name and Madam Stella could only weep for the sweet faced girl who brought her the ATM to keep.
She splayed him out
sang lullaby to his screams
as she tested the knife
against his scrotum
one peel after the other
in bloody art
all the names
he called her
in drunken stupor
through the red mist
as he raped her
and maimed her
for any man.