Part 2 The Grey Area II
Part 3 The Grey Area lll.
Back in the car, Kate grabbed Amanda’s hand again and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright. You couldn’t have known.”
They seemed unsure of the next move. No one wanted to suggest anything. The sat in the first lights of day, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. Seun turned around to ruffle Kate’s hair and she rubbed his hand and smiled.
“I want to go to the hospital.”
“Okay.” They both agreed too quickly.
“And guys… I’ll be fine, really. You don’t have to walk on eggshell round me. Don’t be scared to say something inappropriate. Just be yourselves. It would help.”
Kate turned suddenly and grabbed her in a fierce hug, tears spilling down her lovely cheeks, onto her well rounded bosom.
“This is me being myself,” she muttered.
This time Amanda let her. “I know” she said simply stroking her hair. This went on for another ten minutes before emotions were reined in and they faced the route to the hospital.
Rayo dialed her husbands number again. Still switched off.
Her sweaty palms gripped the steering wheel and she swallowed hard to keep her heart from flying out of her chest. Something was wrong. She could feel it.
Her father had tried to keep her calm but she could not control the swirling and tumbling raging in her being.
When she called Wale that morning, she thought she could his voice was laced with an unusual thickness. He denied vehemently that he was ill, encouraging her to take care of her ailing father instead of giving herself to worry.
Rayo had decided to cut her visit short and stay a day or two before going back to her husband.
That resolution hit a snafu when Amanda’s mother called her a few hours later with a quivering voice. Amanda’s phone had been ringing without response and Wale’s number remained switched off.
Five hours had gone by and the only difference was that Amanda’s phone had gone out of reach too.
At 4:00pm, she left her parents’ home in Abeokuta. She was not the type of woman to sit and wait. Her mother could manage the home for a few days.
Rayo called a neighbor who claimed to have seen ‘two girls and a young man’ leave their apartment in the morning. The neighbour also gave her a rather disturbing information. He had seen Wale come in around noon and leave the house a few minutes later. He had some scratches on his face and a plaster on his neck.
”Did robbers attack the house?”, she quizzed anxiously.
The reply was an emphatic ‘Not possible’ as she had expected.
A thousand thoughts poured through her mind without any one making sense.
She picked up a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off her palms as she slowed down to pass a police check point.
Like a cloud draping its dark cloak over the sky, she felt a veil covering her chest and constricting her heart.
Something was wrong.
She stepped on the accelerator and through sealed lips, she started to pray.
The General Hospital was a far cry from the police station. There was so much activity, more like a train station as stations go. People were coming and going, sobbing and moaning. And the health workers moved around like crazed zombies, attending to this and then to that, praying for 8am to come so they could begin the cycle again. This time around, Kate paved the way. She didn’t want her friend to tell her story more than she absolutely had to. Eventually, they located the right table. While walking towards it, Amanda stopped suddenly in her tracks.
She looked as though she had seen a ghost. Her sudden stop had caused quite a stir. A nurse that was walking behind her, wheeling a patient to Xray had had to swerve suddenly, toppling his infusion stand which sent another scurrying nurse toppling on her face. Amanda was oblivious. “I remember.” She said again to no one in particular. It was like a dream but she was sure it wasn’t. She now knew what happened to her fondness for Uncle*
Twelve years ago, it was Christmas in a serene village in the Southern part of Nigeria and it was superb because the entire family was together. Amanda was six at the time and already shaping out to be a tomboy. She was boisterous that one! And ever inquisitive. The ladies had a hard time keeping tabs on her, what with all the cooking they had to do. And that was were Uncle Wale became their salvation. She was an adorable child, but when there was serious work or gossiping to be done, she was hoisted off onto her Uncle, whom thankfully she was extremely fond of. They could hear their giggles and shrieks from the kitchen… If only they had known. If only they had known that in between blowing raspberries he slipped his fingers into her private parts. That the shrieks were not always for joy, for the nipples could hurt when tweaked excessively. But they hadn’t, and neither had Amanda, for she was but a child. She only knew she hurt a little. She was not sure of what that kind of play it was. But it was Uncle Wale, her favorite uncle. The following year, Granny had died and somehow the entire extended family had never been together again. In fact, she had not seen her uncle since then, up until the time the twisted fates had brought her to his abode on her hunt for university admission. She only knew she didn’t like him as much as before. She never understood why. But now she did. She remembered.
Kate was staring at her anxiously. She had guided her to a chair along the corridor, leaving not a few miffed individuals in her wake, and poor Seun to apologize profusely and help clean up the mess.
“Are you okay?” Worry lines were already etched across her face.
Where would she start the explanation? “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” She managed a weak smile. Kate had to let it go at that. She was amazed at how well her friend was handling the debacle.
They proceeded on to the table and, to their dismay, met a male doctor.
“Yes, may I help you?” He said without glancing up from the notes he was writing, more like scribbling.
They exchanged glances. Kate stepped forward and did her “community entry” again. He nodded and got up immediately. Went over to the nurses station and consulted with one of the nurses. They could see her shake her head vigorously at first, then her expression softened and she nodded. They returned together.
“This is the head matron. I’m Emmanuel. This place is very rowdy so I will take you to my senior colleague in the residents’ room. SHE will attend to you there. Is that okay?”
They all nodded, grateful. Kate had wondered how they were going to cross the “privacy” hurdle. This hospital wouldn’t have been their choice but with their limited resources it was their best bet. Plus, they were less likely to run into familiar faces here.
They walked towards the relatively quiet innards of the hospital, while Doctor Emmanuel spoke over the phone. A pleasant lady was waiting for them at the door. She looked to be in her early forties but Seun couldn’t help noticing the absence of a wedding band. She asked every other person to wait outside while she went in with Amanda and the matron.
Inside, Amanda narrated everything. There was something about the woman’s soft brown eyes that said “Talk to me.” And talk she did. After a while she said, “Can you help me build a case? With all these things I’ve told you?”
“I’m sorry,” came the sincere reply. “Rape is a legal term. It is not a medical diagnosis. It is my duty to forward your account to the law enforcement agencies. But it is theirs to determine if a rape occurred or not. I’m sorry. But I can give you all the medical attention you need.”
“I understand,” Amanda said but she looked disappointed, like a beacon of hope had just turned out to be a mere firefly. “Let’s continue.”
After much history taking and cursory examination, Dr Akere (for that was what her name tag said) asked for permission to proceed with a more thorough examination. They produced out a dreadful-looking instrument they called a “speculum”. Amanda was instantly on guard. “Where does that go?” She asked with dilated pupils. She was told it would be used to examine her private parts for lacerations, collection of evidence for medicolegal purposes, amongst others. She refused vehemently. There had been too many people and too much activity going on down there. She didn’t want anybody else there. It wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t bring the culprit to book. No. She wasn’t having any of that. Doctor Akere documented this.
Just before she left the office, the Doctor looked at her in a motherly manner and gently asked, “Your parents don’t know yet, or do they?”
Amanda dropped her head in reply. Doctor Akere sighed deeply. “I will advise you to let them know”.
After what seemed like an eternity, Amanda emerged. Her friends were waiting.
“Are you okay? How did it go?”
“Well. I have a cocktail of pills to pick up from the pharmacy, as well as a letter to see the psychologist next week.”
“Okay good. Hope she was … gentle?”
“Yeah. She’s pretty cool actually. The drugs are to help protect me from STIs and HIV.”
“What of pregnancy?” Kate asked. Seun looked at her and she stared back defiantly.
“It’s okay.” Amanda interjected. “That one is there too. Though she did explain that it has a 1% failure rate. And if I fall into that one percent, the baby produced would be malformed. Like have two heads or something.”
“God forbid!” Kate exclaimed. “Pregnant for your uncle!” She visibly shuddered.
“Don’t worry,” Amanda whispered. “It won’t happen.” At least she hoped so.
Rayo pushed the front door open and called out her husband’s name. The house was as quiet as the darkness gathering the day into its folds.
She closed the door and made for the rooms. The sitting room seemed to be in order. Her golden plaques and awards for her works with the ministry of women affairs sat with prestige on the mahogany shelves.
The cushions and the chairs rested in pristine conditions on the chairs. Gingerly, she started the climb up the stairs.
She still felt something was wrong.
Slowly, she went into the bedroom she had with her husband of eight years. Everything seemed to be in place. Except the bed. It was still disheveled.
Maybe the help did not show up. Or she did. And met no one.
She turned and moved towards the guest room.
She stopped short at the opened door and stared at the tumbled sheets. Picking her steps, she walked into the room. Her eyes caught sight of the unmissable red blotch on the yellow rug.
She was trying to think, but she could barely shake off her dread. It felt like deja vu. Like one of the scenes in a case she had handled for the ministry. Yet she could not place her thoughts.
Just then she heard the front door open, and close. She wanted to call out her husband’s name but her tongue remained glued to the roof of her mouth. She waited. Coming up the stairs were two different voices trying hard to keep their voices level.
”Are you sure you should tell your mother just yet? What about his wife?”
”We already went to the police”, came a rather subdued voice. Rayo thought it sounded familiar. She was not sure.
The voices got closer and clearer.
”Either way, I still have to call my mother. I have not done so today, she’ll be worried”
”And what will you say as an excuse? That your uncle raped you? And not the first time?”
Rayo could barely move even if she wanted to. She remained rooted to the floor, shaking and staring at the door.
The beings bearing the voices stepped into full view, and met the still figure with an exasperated gasp.