Bidding Farewell

As they led me away, a wave of peace swept across my soul, a unique one I have never experienced since my existence. Obviously, I may end up in Kirikiri, however, I felt as free as a canary after six years. Seeing him battle for his life gave me unspeakable joy. My face glistened and I smiled. I threw a glance at my mother who was standing by the graveside, totally discombobulated.

My aunt standing beside her kept on screaming as she was held by people. Her screams were similar to my screams in those nights that no one heard. She had been good to us but she failed woefully at the simplest task of protecting us. Another glance at my bewildered mum and I wished I could drive a hot dagger through her throat, to remind her of how her selfishness was the genesis of everything. She has never been worthy to be called a mother.

My name is Miriam and I am 16 years old. I do not know who my father was; legend has it that he got my mother pregnant out of wedlock and died a few weeks before my birth. His relationship with my mother severed the relationship my mother had with her parents, who were against their relationship. My grandparents chased my mother away when they found out she was pregnant for him at the age of 22.

They never reconciled until their demise. I had a younger sister; Julia, whom my mother gave birth to four years later. Some say her father is also my father, while others say her father was Mr. Roberts, who I had seen a few times with mum before he disappeared. This story makes it more confusing because I don’t understand how we had the same father when legend posited that my father died before my birth. I agree with the later story, that Julia’s father was Mr. Roberts. Nevertheless, whoever the father was didn’t matter.

The bond I had with my sister was stronger than the bond twins share. To me, she was the only thing I had in the world and if anything ever happened to her, I was certain, that would be the end of me. I protected her as a mother hen protects her chicks because I had lived all my life unprotected and I didn’t want her to go through that lonely path.

Maybe our bond was strong because I started acting like her mother less than a month after our mother gave birth to her. I was barely five but our mum often left her in my care as she went out early in the morning to come back late in the evening. I would bathe her, feed her with whatever she asked me to and change her diapers to the best of my knowledge.

Carrying her was like holding a doll, though she was heavier and she cried intermittently. Our mother could be called a hustler. I don’t know what she did but I think she sold items. She sold almost everything one could sell. She would leave very early in the morning and come back around 7 pm, most times with different men who we were always told were our uncles. I believed my mum had many cousins and brothers, that I couldn’t count them.

Some of them were kind enough to buy biscuits and fruit juice for Julia and I, others always looked at us scornfully; as if we forced them to be our uncles. When any of our uncles visited, we always had to go to bed at night to wake up to their disappearances. I can vividly remember Uncle Tayo, Jide and Ovie. Uncle Tayo and Jide were our favourite uncles. They never failed to buy biscuits for us whenever they visited. They always had mischievous smiles on their faces and they liked playing with us. Uncle Jide would always throw Julia into the air amidst laughter and joy from her.

Most importantly, we hardly heard them shout at our mum. We did not like Uncle Ovie; he drove a big car and bought us ice cream or juice once in a blue moon. His face was always mean and serious, and he hardly touched us. One good thing about his visit was that it made our mum cook fried rice and he always gave our mum money. This meant we would have new clothes and more money for sister Kenny (our neighbour) who took care of us and fed us in our mother’s absence. The most striking thing about Uncle Ovie was that he was always shouting, chattering and arguing with our mum over many things.

One day, when I was 10 years old and Julia was 6, our mother called us and said we would visit Aunt Gloria. Aunt Gloria was my mum’s only close relative we visited. She was her cousin who lived with her husband, Uncle Solo, in Atipe. They had two sons who were studying abroad. Visiting Aunt Gloria was the happiest moment of our very dull and lonely childhood. She would take us to amusement parks, buy us ice cream and chocolate every day, allow us watch cartoons and ride on bicycles.

Her husband was fond of us, always calling me her second wife, and he spoiled us crazily. We didn’t visit them often except when mum had nothing else to sell. We went to their place to stay for about three days and we left with bags of foodstuff. We were so excited that we were visiting them again and our joy overflowed when mum said this time, we were going to live with them. The night before our departure, our eyes gleamed with smiles and we danced endlessly as David did in the Holy Book.

Mum had decided to move in with Uncle Ovie but we couldn’t move in with her because Uncle Ovie, unsurprisingly, didn’t want us. Mum had the option of choosing between Uncle Ovie and us; she chose Uncle Ovie over Julia and I. Her choice proved that she didn’t love us enough but I was not angry with her because I saw how happy she had been for some days. I couldn’t say if her happiness was because we would be leaving her or because she was going to start living with Uncle Ovie.

However, the most important thing was that she was happy. Julia and I were happy too, that we would be staying in Aunt Gloria’s house where we could slide down the stairs, watch cartoons and have constant ice cream. Uncle Ovie came with his big car, we happily dragged our bags inside and entered the vehicle. His face beamed with a smile, which was rare. He handed a pack of cheese to Julia and I. My mum sat in front while we sat at the back. It reminded me of sister Kenny and her family every Sunday when going to church. It was a sight I always prayed to enjoy one day.

We bade farewell to sister Kenny and her three children who came downstairs to see us off. I promised to visit them often. It was a two hour journey from Jakale to Atipe. Julia slept off as soon as the vehicle sped off. She barely slept the previous night as she was filled with joy. I fixed my gaze on the beautiful houses, adorning the sides of the roads and my mind drifted to the joy and happiness of living at Atipe permanently. I couldn’t wait to start entering the long yellow buses to school with my schoolbag on my back. The thoughts of riding on bicycles in Aunt Gloria’s estate gave me immeasurable joy, and I couldn’t wait to start life afresh in Atipe.

Aunt Gloria welcomed us with a large smile and showed us to our rooms. She exchanged pleasantries with Uncle Ovie but her mien showed her dislike for him. “I am not happy with this arrangement”, I overheard Aunt Gloria tell mummy. She expressed her disapproval for the whole plan, she was particularly irked by Uncle Ovie’s persistence that he didn’t want us, she thought it was disrespectful to mum and she said in clear terms, “I don’t like that man.

He looks so mean.” I wanted to chorus, “yes, he is mean!” but I was wondering how they did not know each other since they were our aunt and uncle. They were supposed to know each other. She told mum that she only accepted us to stay because her husband was eager for us to live with them, and the big house was lonely, that having us around would make the house more interesting.

Aunt Gloria advised mum to make sure she visited us every two weeks as promised and she should be very careful with Uncle Ovie. “Do not hesitate to let me know if you need anything.” Mum agreed, she hugged us tightly, tears ran down my cheeks. “Please, mum always visit”, Julia pleaded. “I will visit”, she vowed. She wiped my tears, told us to be good girls and waved goodbye.

Weeks turned into months and mum’s visit became rarer. We were enrolled in a school managed by the catholic mission. It was fun and interesting to finally enter the big yellow bus every day. During our holidays, our aunt traveled for a conference in the neighbouring country. She told us she would be away for nine days. We were saddened by her temporary departure but we were very happy that we would spend more time with our less strict uncle. That meant more ice cream, more bicycle rides in the estate and more television time, with less focus on studying. My joy about Aunt Gloria’s departure turned into sadness, and it was the beginning of a tortuous journey to hell.

Some minutes past 10 pm, Uncle Solo switched off the television and told us to go to bed. It was uncharacteristic of him since his wife had traveled. He used to let us watch television till 11 pm. We reluctantly went to bed. Later that night, Uncle Solo woke me up and led me to the guest room close to the living room, he slid his hand from my nightgown to my breasts and he fondled them. I felt totally uncomfortable but I couldn’t say a thing. He pushed me down on the bed that was scantily covered with sheets.

He pulled my gown halfway and used it to cover my face, probably to prevent me from looking into his eyes. He pressed my breasts harder, I let out a faint scream, he covered my mouth with his palm, raised me up. I thought he was going to set me free. He removed my gown completely and I was naked. I quickly covered my breasts with my hands but he pushed me again on the bed; this time harder. He was ready and super-charged. I had never seen that side of my uncle. He mounted me, spreading my legs apart and slid inside me. I felt a sharp incisive pain as my uncle kept going, with his palm over my mouth to prevent me from screaming. When he was done, there were drops of blood on the bed. He gave me a towel to clean myself and said: “Nobody, should ever hear about this, including your aunt.”

The walk to my room became very long; every single step I took seemed to increase the distance. My legs were heavier than normal. I saw my Julia lying like an angel on the bed. I laid my head on the bed and many thoughts ran through my mind. I knew what my uncle did was wrong but I was confused on whose fault it was. Somehow, I blamed myself, though I couldn’t find any reason to. Nevertheless, blaming myself made my burden less. I woke up in the morning and it felt as if my body had been cut into pieces. I finally found the strength to cry. I felt numb, like an empty shell with no life in it. All my feelings and emotions sailed away. I saw myself as an outsider.

Three days later; a night before my aunt’s arrival my uncle raped me again. This time, he was more furious and faster than before. As days went by, my torture in the hands of my uncle increased, without my aunt’s notice. At the end of every session, he would warn me not to say anything else my sister and I would be thrown away. My mother hadn’t visited for ages.

Uncle continued raping me. It became a tradition that he would rape me at least twice a week. My aunt was involved in a women business group, so she was absent for some days. I dreaded her absence because it would be another day at the abattoir for me. I wanted to run away, but looking at my younger sister, I couldn’t. If I did, my uncle could bare his devilish fangs on her. Thoughts of that happening drove me insane. Seeing Julia after my ordeal gave me the courage to continue being brave, hoping that my aunt would notice, or that mum would visit, so I could let it out.

There were days I wanted to tell Aunt Gloria but I was scared she wouldn’t believe that a doting man like Uncle Solo would do such evil. If she didn’t believe me, the consequence would be becoming homeless, a risk I couldn’t take, especially for Julia, who had found so much happiness and joy in Atipe. Since we hadn’t seen or heard from my mum for months, because Julia was involved, I had no option but to pray for a miracle.

My grades began to drop in school. Every night, when I was not at the abattoir, I had terrifying nightmares, vivid replays of the trauma. It was as if a legion of demons constantly wanted my soul. Peace eluded me even in my sleep. When I couldn’t find sleep, I lay down on my bed gazing at the ceiling, feeling the presence of a world I was not a part of.

 My teachers wrote to my aunt that my grades had been dropping, I was always absent-minded and moody. My aunt uncharacteristically alluded that I might have been involved romantically with a boy and the thoughts of him were the reasons for my absent-mindedness. She searched my room unsuccessfully to find evidence to back up her outrageous claim.

She became aggressive towards me, hurling abuses and hitting me at any misdemeanours. I had become absent-minded at home too. I started forgetting things so easily; food got burnt when I cooked, plates started dropping from my hand with ease, ironing cloths became a nightmare because, somehow, they got burnt. My aunt threatened to take me to a doctor to verify if I was still a virgin. How I wish she carried out her threat, maybe it would present an opportunity for my miracle.

Seeing my uncle constantly sent shivers down my spine. Every rape felt like a new one. Though the pain was no longer as intense as it was in the beginning, it felt like my soul and energy were being sapped from me. I had forgotten how to smile, play or even dream. I only smiled whenever I lay by Julia; somehow, being with her fueled my mind and gave me the courage to believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel. My favourite time was in the middle of the night, when I looked through the windows, counting the stars with my tear-drenched eyes.

My aunt announced we would be visiting the village for a two week holiday to monitor the building project at the village. I was so delighted for some reasons, but most importantly, I saw it as an opportunity to put a brake on my ordeal. My joy was short-lived when my aunt told me, I wouldn’t be going because my uncle suggested I stayed back with him and start holiday lessons to improve my grades.

I became numb when she told me that. The moment she said it, two weeks seemed like two decades to me. I started imagining the hot charcoals I would swallow in two weeks. Nights became longer and days became shorter. Worse still, my strength and comforter Julia would not be available. On the day of her departure, she gave me a reprieve or so I thought when she said that Julia would stay back because she would be busy in the village and might not have time to properly take care of her.

Six nights after our aunt left for the village, Uncle Solo came into the room, as usual, he touched me and I stood up as a sheep that was ready to be slaughtered. Surprisingly, he started removing my clothes in my room with Julia lying a few feet away. This was not the usual way. He would always lead me to the guest room to feast on me until he was satisfied.

I looked at him in shock and motioned to him that Julia was by the corner, and she would see us, which was the last thing I would ever want her to be exposed to. He ignored me and pounced on me. He placed a pillow over my face and mouth, silencing my screams. I tried fighting him for the first time because I couldn’t stand being raped in the presence of my sister but he had his way. When he finished with me, Uncle Solo went to Julia’s corner and wanted to have his way with her.

Julia started crying as I started fighting him. However the more Julia cried, the more determined and furious he became while Julia’s tears gave me the strength to fight this demon. I started biting him. He hit me ferociously and I passed out. I woke up later to find Julia drenched in blood and water. My uncle had broken me again. He had also stolen my only possession. I had never felt as helpless as I felt that night. I held Julia tightly and we cried till we lost our voices.

Days after my sister’s baptism of fire, she started bleeding heavily and her private started having a foul smell. She became feverish. He bought drugs for her and brought a nurse to give her injections at home. Her condition worsened, I pleaded with him to take her to a hospital for proper treatment and I promised not to tell anyone what happened and that I would allow him to use my body however he desired. He vehemently refused. I was scared to lose my sister. If anything happened to her, obviously, I had no reason to continue to exist.

Our aunt postponed her return and he stopped giving us the phone to speak to Aunt Gloria. He would tell her that we were studying, sleeping or that he stepped out. Julia continued getting worse and my pleas were like pouring water on stone. I prayed to God to keep her alive until our aunt came back. Probably God had many other problems to solve as He didn’t listen to the prayers of a girl who had become her uncle’s sex toy. Julia died some days later.

Our aunt came back from her journey and mum needed Julia to die to be reminded that she had two children. Incredibly, I didn’t shed a tear when she died; I must have wept too much that there were no more tears to weep. I didn’t know what uncle told mum and Aunt Gloria about the cause of Julia’s death. Honestly, I didn’t care about whatever he said.

All that mattered to me was how I would join Julia wherever she had gone. She was buried the next day. As her body was being interred, our aunt and mum wept uncontrollably. Uncle Solo stood by their side with a mournful look, comforting mum. I had no pity for mum; she could cry all she wanted and I wished she would be left to fall in the grave with Julia, so they would be buried together. As her grave was being covered with earth, it dawned on me that Julia had gone forever and the man who killed her was there, also mourning her.

What an insult! With a surge of adrenaline, I picked a spade by my side and in a split second it landed on my uncle’s head. He fell instantly. The memories of how he kept on hitting me till I passed out that night flashed in my face and I hit him repeatedly till I was held by some persons. He was in a pool of blood, reminiscent of Julia’s pool of water and blood on his altar of no mercy. I looked at Julia’s grave, I smiled again and muttered: “This one is for you Julia.”

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By Chijioke Onuchukwu

A humanist trying to find his purpose with a pen and a book

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Dotun Nelson
Dotun Nelson
13/09/2019 11:34 pm


Olamilekan S Akinpitansoye
Olamilekan S Akinpitansoye
14/09/2019 12:33 am

This is so captivating

16/09/2019 6:41 pm

So Touching.
That woman will never forgive herself. It’s hard to trust ones kids these days with relatives, no matter how close. This is yet another story to learn from. Thank God for those mothers who fight hard to stay for their kids, despite tough conditions.

14/09/2019 2:54 am

The innocence shattered, the inhumaneness inflicted, the dearth of hopes and dreams…


16/09/2019 11:55 pm
Reply to  Jack

Its a great story, and an intriguing one. Should it be a true life story, I won’t be surprised.

I hope the perfect cast crew lay hold on this: not some amateur.

Poloma Hannie
Poloma Hannie
14/09/2019 8:33 am

So sad, childhood lost, innocence taken, broken hope…a cry for the future

14/09/2019 10:49 am

This so sad dah man deserved death

Blessing Bawa
Blessing Bawa
14/09/2019 3:44 pm

Am touched…. Only the heart knows what it feels

Eisah Shehu
Eisah Shehu
14/09/2019 5:50 pm

I am craving for more…the vivid descriptions give me life, the suspense and the reverberations of heartbreak and evil meted out that the innocent children had to go through makes me shudder and cold to me bones.
Keep soaring

22/09/2019 12:05 am

Very pathetic story…. I hope the man will die

22/09/2019 12:06 am

Poor child

22/09/2019 10:57 am

Molestation; I wish CCTV cameras will be installed in all the homes.

26/10/2019 6:18 am

So touching..
It seems literally, a fiction but I tell you it’s a daily non fiction that happens every day under many roofs around the world.
Your mercy abound oh Lord!

26/01/2023 4:59 pm

Develop this into a short movie with more details please.

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