Mummy, please don’t leave me”.
“Erene, let go of my dress. I’ll be late for work” Mrs. Imoni said,
Erene’s brown eyes doubled in a solemn plea.
“It’s not like I’m leaving you alone. Uncle Ovie will watch over you till I come back”.
Four year old Erene whimpered as her mother dislodged her hold.
Invisible tears ran down her face as she thought to herself,
”I’m scared mummy”.
Mrs. Imoni, oblivious to her daughter’s pain, gave instructions for her brother, Ovie, to watch over her daughter as she worked the afternoon shift in the hospital. For a split second, she thought she saw something in her daughter’s eyes, a desperate silent plea that went beyond words. Maybe it’s really nothing, maybe it was just her feeling guilt because about spending more time in the hospital than with her young daughter.
“Ensure she has her siesta and does her homework before letting her out of the house to play with the neighbours, ok?”
Her brother bobbed his head up and down and reassured her of his dedication to nanny duty.
“Don’t worry sister, trust me naw, I’ll take care of her” Ovie responded.
He bade her farewell and closed the door behind her.
Though she was paid little, she diligently fulfilled her role as a
Nurse at CSA hospital. She knew the job was a chance for her to be of help to those hurting bedridden patients who had been abandoned by their families.
She provided them comfort as she spent her non-working hours keeping them company especially those brought in from the prisons yet under the watchful eyes of the prison warden. This was the fulfillment she derived from her job, this was why she valued the job.
As she exited the house, she couldn’t help shaking that niggling feeling that she needed to stay home and spend some time with her daughter.
As she made her way to the bus-stop, she shook the
off of her and focused her mind on getting to the office before her 2 o’ clock shift began.
In the bus, she checked her handbag when the conductor asked her to pay up. *******************
Ovie walked into his sister’s room and shut the door. He moved close to the bed and trailed the bed-sheet surrounding the bed frame. He picked up a wallet from the bed, opened it, saw a picture of Mr.& Mrs. Imoni, a wad of 500 naira bills – probably worth four thousand naira – ATM cards and a few complementary cards. He closed the wallet and tossed it aside.
With a noxious grin plastered on his oily face, he made his way to Erene. He knew she was pretending to be asleep coiled up in one corner of the room.
“Hey! My wallet is not here, I must have left it at home in another bag” she explained with a frustrated frown.
“So wetin you wan make I do, heh?” the conductor asked rudely, suspecting her of foul-play.
“Please guy, no vex. If you can, drop me off so I can take a bike home and get money” Mrs. Imoni suggested.
“Hah madam, nor be Ring-road you dey go?” a concerned passenger asked her.
“Stay, don’t worry I will pay for you” she offered.
“Thank you madam, but Ring-road is not my final destination. Besides I haven’t gone very far, if I stop now getting a bike to take me home would cost less. Conductor, abeg no vex” Mrs. Imoni implored.
Grudgingly the conductor asked the driver to stop and he let her off the bus.
She hailed an ‘Okada’ and prayed to still get to work on time.
She fished out her house keys before she got off the bike while explaining her dilemma to the ‘Okada’ man. He agreed to wait a while till she retrieved her wallet and made comments of how being in a hurry can distort one’s rational thinking.
She rushed to the front door as soon as she got off the bike, opened the door and fled to her room.
“Sister!” Ovie exclaimed, sounding alarmed. His voice startled her.
She was about to reply when she suddenly stopped still in her tracks.
He was in her room, in her absence.
While still confounded with this fact, she noticed he was grappling his trouser.
“Why are you….” her words trailed off, as she raised her eyes and saw Erene weeping on the bed, clutching her squeezed dress.
Shock was quickly replaced with fiery anger.
“What are you doing to my daughter?” she screamed.
“Sister, I’m sorry. Forgive me, it was the devil, please” he mumbled, clumsily hanging on to his trousers.
Mrs. Imoni’s rage knew no bounds; she began to swing her bag wildly at her brother, hitting him as hard as she could till the strap of the bag broke.
Thoughts blinded her mind. Lately, Erene had become quieter than usual and she didn’t know why. While she tucked Erene in bed the night before, she had asked what was wrong. She thought Erene looked frightened but her plump faced daughter had said nothing. Now she knew better.
”This is why Erene was begging me to stay, he’s been molesting her, my own brother”
Her heart was racing. She yelled and screamed.
“How could you? How could you do this to your niece? My husband agreed to take you in and treat you like a son. Is this how you replay us for our kindness?”
“Sister, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” he begged, making his way out of the bedroom.
Sure that the beating had stopped, he lingered in the doorway.
She rushed over to Erene, “oh my God, my child, Erene, Erene dear, what did he do to you? Eh? Talk to me, talk to your mother?”
Erene simply buried her head on her mother’s shoulders and wept. Her mouth was sore and her private parts hurt from being violated.
“How long?” Mrs. Imoni asked Ovie. “How long has this been going on?”
“Since last week” Erene replied amidst her sobs.
With that Mrs. Imoni lost her cool, picked up her high heel shoes beneath her bedroom window and chased Ovie out of the house, pounding him with the shoe as long as he was within arm’s length. Ovie fled from the house bare footed and kept running, not looking back.
When the bike man saw how hard she was beating Ovie, he left his bike and held Mrs. Imoni, pleading with her to control herself. She told the stranger what had happened and he advised her to calm down and wait for her husband to come home to settle the matter. As soon as she had calmed down, she paid him off, washed her daughter’s face, dressed her up and took her to the hospital for medical check up.
“Where is the bastard?” Mr. Imoni shouted as he stormed into the house.
“My sister called and said he’s at her place at Airport road.”
“Then I’m driving there right now.”
“Don’t you want to see how Erene is doing? Isn’t she more important to you?”
“Dealing with that brother of yours is just as important, after all, the doctor has seen her shey ba?”
“Yes but he’s worried of the psychological effect this molestation will have on her. We have to stay focused on letting her know we won’t let anyone hurt her. That’s a bigger priority for us as parents. My sister said they beat him up after I told them what happened to make him come to their house on foot.” Mrs Imoni replied.
“This is the last time I ever want to see him set a foot in this house. God! I just want to strangle him. After all the hospitality we showed to him. In short, I’m calling your sister right now.” He went into his room angrily to make the call. After much venting on the phone, he calmed down. Apparently, Ovie was dealt with already in a measure that he deemed fit.
He came out of the room and checked on Erene. He held her close as tears streamed down his angular face. He whispered in her ears, tickled her till she laughed and brought her to the parlour for dinner. He went into his room to change his work clothes, joined his family for dinner and sat close to Erene afterwards on the parlour couch till she began to fall asleep. After bidding her good night, he stayed up watching NTA News, not a word did he utter to his wife who was doing the dishes.
Mrs. Imoni allowed her thoughts wander from what was going through her husband’s mind to her share of blame in the matter. That damned fool, she cursed, why was I so stupid? How couldn’t I have seen the signs earlier? What kind of brother does that to a little child, his niece for that matter? She sighed, put the dishes aside, checked on Erene and headed for the bedroom.
Everywhere in Nigeria, tales of how an older man rapes a helpless little girl who couldn’t defend herself are rampant on the news channels. What really possesses someone to commit such an act and what is it about rape that cuts us so deeply? Ovie claimed it was the devil but is it? Scripture says we are drawn away by our lusts. Lust is a strong desire for something and like all desires it starts with a thought. If only Ovie had disciplined his mind and confessed such ungodly ideas and thoughts to the Holy Spirit, he might have gained the strength and grace needed to replaced them with positive scriptures – scriptures that confirm our satisfaction comes from God alone -maybe he wouldn’t have acted on such an unnatural impulse. I deem it an unnatural impulse because I can’t see what is so sexually appealing about a child whose reproductive organs are far from formed and her mindset so pure that she can’t be blamed for being provocative. The Bible also says that sexual sins like fornication and adultery are sins not only against God but also against our body; that’s what makes it such an abominable violation. For Erene, she’ll probably grow up and forget such a thing ever happened to her unless her parents decide to tell her. But what happens to victims who don’t forget? How does this impact their lives? Beyond psychological issues like a total disdain for sex which can linger on even into marriage, chances are she’ll become sexually active and can swing to the extreme of not valuing her body. No one knows when a predator will strike; neither do we know what or when a normal person will be triggered to act on unnatural impulses. All we can do as believers is pray and ask God for his guidance to know what to do and when to act in the best interest of a potential rape victim as well as His protection from all evil as Jesus taught us to do in the Lord’s Prayer.