Sunday, 14 May 2017

At the End of the Tunnel #7

Continued from #6

I already knew what I was going to face after the fisticuffs between the duo. Mama Gboyega was full of with anger for the rest of the day and of course,I was at the receiving end of everything.
After everything had quieted and Mama Tayo gone to her house,the gathered neighbours were able to pacify her even though they didn’t know what the course of the free for all show was. And the moment everyone left and we were left alone, she shifted her attention to me.

“Can you see what you have done? How could you be pregnant for my son? When he attempted to rape you,why didn’t you scream so the neighbours could come to your rescue? You want to destroy my family, abi? Tell those who sent you that you are too small to deliver such a message. And that you have failed because that useless thing you have in your tummy is going to be flushed out. Yes,I will make sure it does not see the light of this world, shameless whore. No bastard would be giving birth to in my house. O maa se oyun yen ni(you are having an abortion)”.

 “Kneel down there now.” She commanded.

I had started weeping again because even though I didn’t understand what she meant by abortion, I was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that what she had in mind was dangerous.

“Mummy e jo,it wasn’t intentional. It was Gboyega that raped me and I tried all I could to stop him but my best wasn’t enough.”

Your best wasn’t enough? No wahala, I’m not going to argue with you,I know what to do already.”

We were still on this when her husband strolled in.

 “Haba! Mama Gboyega, what has she done wrong again? You,and this child sha.

“Oko mi,this girl has destroyed me. She has destroyed this family.”

“What are you talking about? How can she destroy this family and with what? Bimbola is a good girl.”

“I said she has destroyed this family, don’t you understand? She’s pregnant for Gboyega.”

“What! This cannot be true? How can Gboyega be responsible for her pregnancy? Bimbo,n gbo you are pregnant and Gboyega is responsible?”

“ Beeni sir.” I answered fearfully. “How and when did this happen?” He asked. And I was forced into the narration of everything that happened that day again.

“What,this cannot be true!”

And where is that son of the devil? Gboyega! Gboyega! He called out angrily but there was no answer. Even in my state, I could see he was very angry.

“Mama Gboyega, see the shame your son has brought upon this family. This is what happens in any family where the husband is not respected by the wife. Can you see what has become of your terrible life? You have failed as a mother. It would have been better for you to be barren than raising a rapist and a criminal as a son. You are a failure and disgrace to motherhood.

And for the first time, I saw my aunty being humbled because she burst into tears and sat on bare floor while her husband talked. And that was also the very first time I saw her husband stand up to her. She has always been the champion.

“Yeh! Mo ku o! Gboyega has killed me. What will people say? How will I face booda mi and tell him that my son impregnated his daughter.”

“Today’s not your day of mourning. In fact, you haven’t seen anything yet, useless woman. You are here shedding crocodile tears after you’ve succeeded in destroying the poor girl’s life with your selfishness. This is your mess, and you must clean it up. You wouldn’t say that I did not warn you to stop maltreating this girl. I am going out now because I can kill you if I stay a minute more with you in this house. But I will not allow you send me to the prison with your wickedness. Mind you, I must not come back and meet you and that worthless son of yours in this house or else…” He said angrily before storming out of the house.

Will he carry out his threat? I will be more than glad to see it coming through. But if he should, where will I go to seeing that I don’t know anyone in Lagos. Those were the thoughts on my mind as I imagine what it will look like for her to be chased out of the house.

She ended up dozing off on the floor and I almost pitied her forgetting my own troubles.  I fell asleep too not too long after and I’m not sure how long I had slept on the couch when I felt a kick on my side. I must have been very tired and worn out that I didn’t remember to pull off my slippers before going off. I didn’t take the first one seriously until the second which came with so much weight that it had barely settled in on my groin that I jump up from my sleep. And I quickly opened my eyes to see who my assailant was. Lo and behold,it was my aunty. The realization got me startled and afraid. Not that I had suddenly forgotten that she was capable of doing so, but I think I must have taken her submission when her husband was lashing out at her to mean she was going to have a change of attitude towards me and probably begin to show me love.

“Does this place look like a bedroom?”She said when I finally regain my balance. “You are sleeping! It seems you still don’t know the gravity of what you have done. And if you think I am going to leave you to give birth to that bastard,it will then interest you to know that something else is coming your way. Get into the kitchen this minute. Abi we’re not going to eat again in this house because you are carrying a bastard in your womb.”

And what choice do I have that could make me disobey her?

“Yes ma.” I said with my knees slightly bent before racing into the kitchen.
I was surprised when her husband came back and all he said was told her to find a solution to the issue on ground and feed him back on the outcome.

What happened to all the threats he doled out before? What kind of a man is this that cannot stand up to his wife? And I was here thinking he will take an action that will save me. It was then I know that I was completely at her mercy.

Gboyega didn’t return home till late in the night. His parents had retired into their room when he sneaked in. the mere sight of him disgusted me and I could have killed him on the spot if I had the chance and the necessary weapon to carry out the murder.

 Night fall somehow gave me a kind of relief. That at least would afford me the opportunity to sleep. I really needed that sleep mainly because of the stress that had accumulated in me from the events of the day and to give me some time to forget my worries while I sleep. But to my surprise, the night was nothing close to what I had envisaged. I couldn’t close my eyes a bit. The sleep itself refused to come and I ended up brooding over everything that had happened.

“What will I do? Where will I go should my aunty decide to send me packing? What was she even planning to do to me?” I asked myself when her words wouldn’t stop ringing in my head: “If you think I am going to leave you to give birth to that bastard,it will then interest you to know that something else is coming your way kept ringing in my head.

The following day was a Sunday but unlike before,we didn’t go to church. My aunty had announced that she wasn’t feeling too well and so wouldn’t go to church. Her stay at home automatically means we are not going either. The day went as usual without anybody saying anything about my predicament. I didn’t even know if Gboyega knew the extent of the damage he had done because I didn’t see him being invited for briefing and that was how everything went for the whole week. She didn’t talk to me about it neither did her husband.

I was surprised when on Saturday of the following week,she called me into her room.
“Why has she invited me?” I hardly entered her room. My question was answered immediately I got in. she was sitting the bed and in her hand was a bottle that I couldn’t see through to know what was inside.

 “You sent for me, ma.”

“Yes, Bimbola, I know you might be thinking that I hate you, but in all honesty, I don’t. 

All I am doing is for you to be great in life. You see what happened between you and Gboyega was only a mistake orchestrated by the devil. I know you still want to go to school and I have made up my mind to let you go. But now that you are pregnant, you should know that it will be difficult. We need to think of what to do. I hope no other person except Mama Tayo knows about your pregnancy?”

 “No one ma.”

 “That’s very good .Take this.” She said and handed me a small which bottle I had sighted when I came into the room.

“What’s inside ma? I asked frightfully.”

“It is called ‘aporo’ and it works like magic.”

 “But ‘aporo’ is used as an antidote to poison and for stomachache.” I countered, still wondering what she wanted me to use it for.

“Yes, you’re right. It is to help you flush out the baby.”

 “Flush out the baby?” I asked.

“Yes or don’t you want to go to school anymore?”

 “Ma, does that mean the baby will die?”

 “We are not killing the baby. It is not even yet a baby. What you have there is just blood. So, put your mind at rest.” She said obviously to allay my fares.

 “I hope nothing will happen to me after taking this.”

  “Nothing, it works smoothly. You won’t even know when the thing will come out. Just empty the whole content into your mouth at once and swallow it. You can take your leave now.”

I left her room feeling worse than I was when I went in. God, I’m so scared. Please let nothing bad happened to me, I pray silently.

I took the bottle to the kitchen and did as instructed. I noticed the content was far from the usual ‘aporo’ I used to know back at home. The one I was given was watery,had an offensive smell and an unbearable taste which I later discovered when it landed on my tongue. I contemplated dropping the idea of swallowing it. But ,on a second thought, I gulped the content thinking it could be the Lagos version of it. 

I didn’t have any strange feeling immediately so I continued with my tasks which lasted till late in the night. I haven’t slept for long when I felt a sharp pain coming from the lower part of my abdomen. I initially didn’t take it serious until I started to feel like my tummy was going to crash. I quickly rushed to the toilet thinking emptying my bowels would make the nagging pain go away and I had barely sat on the toilet seat when I felt a quick rush of blood coming out of my vagina and then followed a large clot. Help! Help! I screamed as much as my strength could allow me and that was all I remember before passing out on the toilet floor.

I bled and clotted pretty heavily and had miserable cramps for almost two weeks. There was abdominal pain, pain in my inner thighs and back. Three times cramping and bleeding woke me out of a sound sleep during the night. I did not get the impression that the after effects would be that bad from what she told me. She had told me on the night of the abortion that I was going to be fine in a matter of two days .Not so! I was absolutely miserable for almost two weeks - clotting, bleeding, extreme breast pain and bloating. I lay on my tummy for two other days because I just couldn't stand it. My breasts were not sore, but actually painful to the touch. In the mornings I could even feel it into my armpits and had to keep my bra on even when I slept because it helped a bit. I became so frustrated when it seemed it wasn't going to stop that I burst into tears every now and then. I spent hours lying on the floor,unable to move and literally crying out in agony. My hip and back muscles went into spasm,so that my body was twisted in an S-shape contortion whenever I stood- a condition that didn’t disappear when my bleeding ceased.

 The abortion was associated with so many emotions. They came at unexpected times, but they always left quickly. My entire world went black. It was as if in the space between breaths, my entire existence lost all meaning.  I began having severe anxiety attacks. I had no idea at the time that this was due to the rapid drop in hormones experienced as a result of the abortion. I wish for death to take me away. Was I even alive? I had died inwardly from the day of the rape. I sometimes wondered if it had been a boy or a girl and on several occasions found myself saying sorry to my baby.  I knew that life begins at conception even in my 17-year-old mind.  I did it for other people not myself and now I’m the one who has to live with this regret and hatred towards myself.

She kept on telling me everything was going to be fine and that I would be relieved in no distant time and will be able to go on about my life, but relief was the farthest thing from what I felt.

“Bimbola, I want you to know that what you did is all for the best. Would you have kept the baby and not go to school? How do you think booda mi and your mother will feel if they get to know that you are pregnant, rape or no rape? How about my relationship with them? That of course will be affected. And you know very well that Mama is now very old and will not be able to withstand a rift between her only two surviving children. You are helping me too and the reputation of my family. What will people say if they find out that my son raped and impregnated you?” She would go on and on whenever she saw me in a dejected state.

I hated myself for following aunty Kubura’s instruction. Maybe I should have run away from home.But,to where? I felt dirty and worthless.  I even told God that it was His entire fault, and I was just so angry in the moment. ”How could God claimed to love me and still watched me go through this? Would He ever forgive me for killing my baby?”

It may be difficult to understand but the violence of the rape made much less of an impact on me than the abortion.  It was the absolute worst experience of my life. Throughout the time of my grief, I became depressed, suicidal, furious, outraged, lonely, and have felt a sense of loss.

 The abortion which was to “be in my best interest” just wasn’t. As far as I can tell, it only saved their reputations, solved their problems, and allowed their lives to go merrily on.

I remember a particular day after the abortion .I was lying on my abdomen as I had been told to when a sound began to ring in my ears. It was the cry of a baby; a thin,high pitched wailing. I tried to cover my ears with a pillow but I couldn’t shut it out. Gboyega’s sister was sitting close by.

 “Where’s that baby crying?” I asked her. She gave me a look that said ‘are you out of your sense’ before answering.

“There’s no baby crying.” She snapped.

“It seems what is doing you is about to turn to madness.” She said,hissed and sauntered into the house.

She’s wrong, I thought. There is a baby crying because the sound came back,again and again and again ,grating my senses.

It was after she left that I realized where the cry was coming from. It was the baby that hadn’t been born, that I hadn’t- that was not allowed to be born. I’d never know, would I? Never!

The sudden wetness of tears trickling down my cheeks jolted me back to my senses and I wept and wept till I drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.

But after some time, I started telling myself that it was going to be okay and I would get through it even though I didn’t sound convincing enough to myself. “You did what you had to do. Did you really have any other choice? Most people would understand what you just did.” I will ask myself endlessly mainly to justify myself and ease my burden.

For many years, I did anything I could to numb my pain. And honestly don't know how I survived, but by the grace of God. I was attending church this whole time, but part of me just felt dead and I still really questioned why God will create people like aunty Kubura and her son.

To be continued.

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