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SILENT STING

It all sounded like a joke when he said, I will keep Nwaku under my custody until she gives birth to a female child that will replace mine.  Mum, I never thought uncle Amadi was serious. “Who is your uncle, how can you call that beast your uncle”? Mummy, please do something, I cannot give birth now. And marriage will be horrible, Nwaku said, crying very sorrowfully.  

         My dear, it will not happen. I will not allow it since we have lawyers. I will seek justice for you, he will not succeed. Please stop crying; it also makes me cry seeing you like this. What else should I do mum? Tell me what else I should do if not to cry and know if it’s my tears that will make God, come to my aid.

……………………….

       One sunny day, Nwaku had gone to her Uncle’s house and carried the baby for a stroll outside. She was so used to the baby, that at every sight of her, the baby will always leap for joy. Laughing and smiling at the same time; even though he doesn’t have any teeth. A very chubby baby that doesn’t like just anyone carrying him. That day she was sitting outside on the bench that was built for people to hang out on when the baby started his usual tricks of moving around restlessly. Each time he does that, Nwaku already knows that he wants to start playing with her. And she will either throw him up or shake him very roughly. He loves the throwing up part the most. Just when she threw him up, came that voice.

        “The baby looks very chubby and friendly”.

         With the baby still up and her two hands still hanging in the air awaiting the baby to land safely to them.  And the baby still hanging in the air, Nwaku turned to respond to her friend that was complimenting her uncle’s three months old baby. Without giving the baby much attention, as he was already coming down with fast speed; because of how high Nwaku had thrown him. She didn’t turn in time to catch him back in her hands safely. Boom! That was the sound she heard when the baby that weighs about 8kg, fell to the ground. She was so sure the baby was dead. Until she rushed and moved very close to his nostril and found out that he was still breathing slowly.

         Her friend Nnanna had already started shouting at the top of his voice. She was so confused, coupled with the shouts from her friend she got more confused on what next step to take.

         Not until the baby’s mother came running towards them that she decided to move the baby a little bit. But with the shouts from the mother saying “if you touch him again, the gods will strike your entire generation”. she left the baby lying down there. She stood up, went, and stood by the corner.

           The mother had already known what had happened to the baby; because Nnanna was explaining everything while he was shouting on top of his voice.

          It wasn’t just the mother that came, the neighbors too and some of the passersby rushed to the scene. Some holding their hands on their heads and cursing Nwaku saying “may the gods never allow her experience childbirth” some were saying “she was a very wicked child and so shouldn’t hear the cry of her own baby”. Others said, “they are very sure that her mother was the brain behind this act of wickedness”.

……………………………….

          The next few hours would leave Nwaku and her mother in a very confused state. They weren’t allowed to go to the hospital with the child, his mother, and the good Samaritan that brought the car that was used in taking the baby to the hospital. They were so confused that they didn’t know if they should cry at that moment. They were just pacing up and down inside the small room that barely had enough furniture to house two people, a woman of 28 years and a girl of 15 years old.

           They stayed up late. Not until 12am, that they heard the sound of a parking car inside the compound. They already knew it was their uncle that had parked his Volvo white 2005 model car, which makes sound as if the engine had been filled with excess water and engine oil, that it could not carry. And the heavy smoke that comes out from the exhaust pipe, that kind of smoke that when you see, you will think the house nearby is already burning beyond recovery.

         They expected him to say something to them but instead, the garrulous uncle didn’t say a word. They became more terrified because they thought the baby didn’t survive it. Nwaku started crying. Wishing death to come that night. Her mother was consoling her and was also crying too.  

          It was the next morning that he came and made the announcement, he had always wanted to make; since, he noticed how Nwaku’s body had fully developed like that of a fully grown woman even though she was just 15. The way her hips always swung side by side whenever she walked past by his doorpost. And the way her breast that was brighter than the rest of her body would always show a little bit because of the extra-large shirt she usually wears, that always shifts down whenever she bends to greet him every morning.

             “Whether you like it or not I must get married to her and she must give me a son,” Amadi said and stumbled out of the house. The wife couldn’t believe her ears.

“Why would he want to marry a small girl who isn’t yet an adult; even though our son is still alive”? The wife was pondering this question since her husband made his intention known.

…………………………….

           He had been with us since I was six years old. He came to live with us in our home. My parents had thought it wise to bring someone from the same village with us. So, when he came, they said I should be calling him brother Amadi that was a sign of respect in our tribe. I was that kind of taciturn child. I don’t keep friends. It was always school, work, church, and home to me and my parents.

          Eight years into staying with us, my parents had a ghastly accident and immediately kicked the bucket. I was left with him. I haven’t been to the village, so I didn’t know any relatives. Brother Amadi was the only one left for me in this world. I started staying with him in our house. We were staying well until I clocked 15. It was as if they released a beast in him. He started coming to my room every night. Each time he comes he would always force himself on me. He continued doing that to me every day until I became pregnant.

           He didn’t even know that I was pregnant until I was four months gone. He stopped talking to me. Every morning he would keep money on the iron curved table that was kept at the center of the living room and leave, and not come home until midnight. I was so naïve. And he didn’t even make things easy for me. There were times I considered suicide but you kept me going. Each time that suicide thought comes up in my mind, you would kick me so hard and I will forget it and concentrate on the pain the kick was giving me. This continued until I finally gave birth to you.

       Mum. “I can’t believe you went through all these”, said Nwaku. When her mother finished narrating her life’s journey.

       “Why would he do that to you”? she asked with tears already gushing down her cheek. She just couldn’t imagine how her mother could still be this strong even after suffering from such terrible pains and trauma.

………………………………..

         Even though Mama Nwaku had said she won’t allow what happened to her, happen to her daughter. She honestly didn’t know how to go about it.  She was so worried that she couldn’t sleep that night. She watched her daughter sleep quietly while holding her body very tightly. She thought of facing brother Amadi face and to face and pleading with him, but she quickly dismissed the thought. Since he married his wife; he has been begging to sleep with her even if it’s once but she had bluntly refused him on many occasions.

        the morning broke into a very different atmosphere. The compound that used to be filled with the joyful and melodious voice of Nwaku’s singing every morning, was rather filled with the faces of sadness. Nature seemed to be aware of what was happening, because even the birds weren’t singing that morning. The one that tried perching on the big mango tree near Nwaku’s bedroom was singing as though a tiny bone was stuck in between its throat. 

              It was not until afternoon that different voices were being heard in Uncle Amadi’s compound. They hesitated at first from going to know what was happening. But after a while, both mama Nwaku and her daughter couldn’t wait again, because their hearts were filled with sadness, anger and lots of questions. Mama Nwaku didn’t even change from the red wrapper that she was tying very closely to her bosom and the light black blouse she was wearing; the one she had bought during two Christmas ago.

      “It will be over my dead body that I will allow you to marry that child” Uncle Amadi’s wife was saying and arranging her wrapper that was falling off her waist, to show the light silk long brown skirt that served as her underwear. She kept on repeating those words while trying to seat on a chair that was kept just Infront of the doorpost; Uncle Amadi’s favorite position. Her parents and two neighbors were already there when mama Nwaku and her daughter arrived. They still hadn’t heard from uncle Amadi, because he was just seated and refused to say a word to anyone.

          Mama Nwaku and her daughter’s arrival seemed to be the worst decision they made that day. Because immediately they arrived, everyone turned and started abusing them. Even Uncle Amadi’s wife that was shouting at her husband, turned and started cursing them too.  They didn’t even give them any chance of greeting or saying a word. Mama Nwaku just stood there, listening and looking at them. When they didn’t see any reaction from her, they all kept quiet at the same time.

        “How is he doing now”? She asked, referring to no one in particular. Uncle Amadi’s wife turned and said “the doctors said he will be discharged in two weeks’ time; he is responding to treatment.”

      Deep down mama Nwaku’s heart, she wished she could snuff the life out of uncle Amadi. “Why then does he want to get married to my daughter and also impregnate her at this age, when his son isn’t dead”? Part of her was wishing evil while the other part was grateful that the baby was alive and healthy.

          “I will marry your daughter, with or without your consent” that was the only thing uncle Amadi said before he stormed out of the compound.

      Tears were rushing down Nwaku’s eyes like that of a waterfall. She refused to be consoled by her mother, she just ran out and went inside her own room and locked the door. Everyone was just staring at them and didn’t say a word. Mama Nwaku left almost immediately too. She went to the big mango tree near her own room, sat down under the tree, and started crying profusely. She was wondering why her dead parents weren’t doing anything to help her. she had heard so many stories of the dead, helping the living. She used to believe that proverb in her tribe that says “a cow that doesn’t have a tail, the gods helps in chasing away the flies that perches on its body”. But now, she doesn’t believe it anymore.

…………………………….

      I was seven when mama Nwaku’s grandfather invited me to come and stay with them. My parents had just died of a rare disease. They couldn’t treat themselves because they had no money. When I first came, I didn’t like the way mama Nwaku’s father would look at me each time I pulled my clothes off in front of him. He would smile in a very wicked manner and hit my butt. I reported this to his father but he didn’t do anything because he didn’t believe me. I didn’t know what to do, because he was much older and stronger than I was.

       From hitting my butt, he progressed to coming to my room at night. He would kiss me till I no longer had any breath in me, with his mouth that smelled like a seed in our tribe called ‘ogiri’. Shouting was of no use because his father’s room was very far from mine and he was a very deep sleeper. After kissing me to his satisfaction, he would force his penis into my anus.

      “What could a boy of seven years do to a man of 20 years old, whose parent was housing, feeding, and catering for his well-being”?

        I was very slim and tall. With my dark and very soft skin. My face looked so handsome and innocent, that a mere look at it, you will think that I can’t hurt a fly.

      ‘His presence every night in my room, became a norm’.

      I prayed for death to come and take me away but it didn’t come. I suffered this until I became used to him. When his father died, he left to manage his business in the city and left me and the other servants; with me as the head, to manage the business in the village. I was happy that at least I could sleep well and not feel, smell or hear him.

        He used to come and visit us and whenever he comes around, he would always force himself on me even though he was already married at that time. “He calls me his enjoyment baby”. He continued coming to the village until he decided to sell the company because it wasn’t bringing forth much profit again. That was when he asked me to come over and stay with him and his family in the city.

       When I came to the city, he taught me how to run his business. At day he would teach me his business and at some nights he will come and make love to me. I feared that I would turn out to be gay but to my surprise, I started craving to have a woman each time I see one pass by. This continued until one night when I learned he will be traveling to another city for a business meeting. I went to his car and disconnected some wires. I only wanted him to get injured and not die. But unfortunately, the wife went with him and they had a ghastly accident and died.

      That was when I decided to carry out my revenge on his whole generation. ‘Hope you see the reason why I need to marry or impregnate Nwaku’? uncle Amadi said to his son; that was lying on a bed in the children’s ward.

……………………………….

      Two weeks later, the baby was discharged. On their way home, the car somersaulted three times and fell into a river. Uncle Amadi and his wife were lucky because some men who were close to the river came and rescued them. The wife and the baby didn’t sustain much injury. But uncle Amadi’s legs were completely damaged. The doctor said that he was even lucky to have survived. And he will need about five months to recover and when he does recover, he will be aided with a wheelchair.

      When the news got to mama Nwaku and her daughter, they couldn’t contain their joy. They were very happy. Mostly grateful that the mother and baby are alive and healthy.       

  “It can only be the work of the gods” mama Nwaku said, hugging her daughter and crying joyfully.

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