She was really a cheery one, Chimnomso, always dancing and acting scenes from a drama known to only her, a funny sight. She was a pretty girl, very respectful and well mannered, and I admired her spirit. I admired her so much that most weekends, I would sit at the balcony of our house and watch her act out scenes and talk to herself, amidst doing her chores.
She was full of so much life. But what went wrong? What could have possibly gone wrong? I tried to see if I could get the least clue by observing her more closely, from the balcony of course. She was not acting like her usual self, no attempting those funny dance moves, or shaking her head to tunes playing in her head. She always seemed to be in a haste, like she could not wait to be back inside the house, so unlike her. I kept wondering what she had to hasten up to do inside the house.
Months later, as fate may have it, my parents changed schools for me, for a new session, and it happened to be the same school she attended. I was glad that I could finally get to speak with her and be friends with her. She was in Junior Secondary Class 2 (JS 2), and I was in Senior Secondary Class 2 (SS 2), of course I was older. After school that day, I went to meet her introduced myself to her, just for formality sake.
We became partners in walking to school and walking back home. In a matter of weeks, we became good friends. She would always come over to my house to do school works and stay until the evening when her parents would be back from work. One fateful Saturday afternoon, after we had returned from our school’s weekly Saturday Lessons, I decided to go over to her house and spend some time with her.
That was the very first time I stepped foot in their compound. I was about to knock on their door when I noticed that it ajar. I had a gut feeling that something could be wrong. I always followed my gut feelings, so I tiptoed into their apartment; nothing seemed amiss. I began doubting my instinct, but my curious self would not have it, if anything, my subconscious was pecked with curiosity.
I continued my way into the living room, nothing either. As I walked through the corridor leading to the bedrooms, I felt dread creeping up my chest from my stomach, something was really not right. Just immediately, I heard a muffled cry which seemed to come from the far right of the corridor.
Dreadfully, I walked towards the sound, to a jammed door. I quietly turned the handle, cracking open the door, and walked in, only to be faced with a bonded Chimnomso, sprawled out on the bed, with a young man who could be in his late twenties or early thirties looming over her.
I was shocked to a spot, I could not believe my eyes, that young man was having his way with thirteen years old Chimnomso! The look of anguish and helplessness in her eyes pierced my soul, and rendered me void of any emotion, and then, filled me up, slowly, with white-hot fury.
I felt time stop as the young man noticed my presence and turned around to meet my stare. I was frightened out of my skin. He pulled away from Chimnomso and made to climb out of the bed hastily and angrily, with me frozen at a spot, with time. Suddenly, seconds started ticking again, and as they ticked away, fury replaced the fright I felt.
He was charging at me with rage. Next, I saw little yellow-red stars, he had given me a hard slap on the face. I staggered back, trying to clear my vision, but he was relentless. He began hitting me furiously, I heard Chimnomso screaming, and that fuelled my fury as I charged back at him. I bit down on his index finger so hard that he slammed me into a wooden reading desk by the corner.
White-hot pain shot through me as my hip bone made strong contact with the desk. I grabbed the wooden stool jutting out from under the desk and hit him with so much fury, pained fury, and it felt good. That was for hitting me. I hit him again with the same intensity, now that, was for touching Chimnomso. I let the rage I felt take over as I continued hitting him, and then he stopped fighting me. He collapsed onto the floor. He was not moving again. Chimnomso stopped screaming. All became quiet.
What have I done? I took a good look at him and realized that he was the new tenant, who had moved into the other apartment in the compound with his twin brother, just last year. I poked him, and poked him again and again, but got no response. No help came from outside.
We lived in an estate after all, with people minding their own business. I helped Chimnomso out of bonds, and we sat and stared at the seemingly lifeless man on the floor, not knowing what to do. We had no mobile phones to contact our parents. Just then, an idea popped into my head. I had a teacher, Mrs. Peters, who lived in the next estate with her family, maybe she could be of help. I ran off to get her.
Fortunately for me, she was home, and unfortunatelyfor me, I could not bring myself to explain the situation to her, but she followed me still. She was shocked at what she saw and forced me to tell her everything that had happened.
Chimnomso could not utter a word, so I basically stuttered every detail out. Mrs. Peters was our Biology teacher, and so she had knowledge of vital signs and how to check for them. We watched her check him and poke him, all the while, listening. Her face gave away no expression as I eagerly searched for one.
She stood up and left the room to make phone calls. By the time she came back to the room, Chimnomso was already asleep, and I was on the verge of sleeping as well. I woke up, and in an instant, all that happened earlier crept back into my head. I searched for a wall clock with my eyes and saw one above the bed.
It was half-past seven in the evening. Chimnomso was still in a pained sleep. My parents should be back from work by now. As I got down from the bed, the door creaked open, and Chimnomso’s mother stepped in. I could tell she had been crying, and her response to my greeting prove it. She told me my parents were in the sitting room.
I thanked her and left the room, and practically ran to the sitting room. I was so relieved to hear my mother’s voice. She pulled me into a tight embrace, and I could not help but break down in tears. I cried for Chimnomso, I cried for me, have I killed him? That, I still don’t know and do not want to know. But curiosity was my middle name, after all, so I asked my father, and he gave no response. His silence was an answer enough.
I was drowned in the chilly pool of fear. He was dead. I killed a man. I took a life. I would be killed too. I would be arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, and if they were kind enough, they would just hang me to save me from the agony. So many scenarios played out in my mind, all ending in my tragic death.
My mother’s voice asking my father if I would be arrested snapped me out of my thoughts. I waited for his response, but he said nothing again. Why wouldn’t he just say something? Had he given up on me? Mr. Kenson, his twin brother, walked into the sitting room, and at once, his eyes landed on me. I was terrified for myself; he would press charges, I killed his twin after all. I am done for. He would have me arrested, and I prayed that my cellmates would not be too harsh and mean to me.
But wait, according to Mr. Temple, my Government teacher, only adults were imprisoned. I was just sixteen, and according to the law, I was a juvenile, so I would be reprimanded. Or, so I thought.
My father tapped me, and spoke for the first time, telling me to excuse them, they were about to have a serious discussion. I went back to Chimnomso’s bedroom. She was awake now, cradled in her mother’s bosom, with her father standing beside them. I informed them that Mr. Kenso and my parents were about to begin their discussion.
Her father nodded and walked out of the room, and her mother reluctantly dropped her on the bed and walked out as well. I sat on the bed and reached out to touch her, she flinched. I had many questions to ask. Was he the reason she changed drastically? Was he the reason she always hurried back into the house? He definitely should be the reason, but I had to ask, and I was glad I did.
She gave me every single detail, from the first day he touched her girly bump. She also said this was the second time he had his way with her. I was dumbfounded. Why did she not tell anyone, not even her mother? Later that night, after the discussion, my mother told me that Mr. Kenson would not press charges. I tore with relief. She told me that Mr. Kenneth, his twin brother whom I killed, was a pedophile and a rapist, but his family had always covered up for him, they have had to relocate severally in order for him not to be apprehended.
And so, they would not ruin my just beginning life because of a man who deserved to die, not minding the fact that I would prove innocent in the court of law, as I only killed him in self-defense in the presence of an eyewitness, who happened to be his victim too.
I was not going to be charged. Even if I were charged, I would be found innocent in the eyes of the law. But I was not really relieved. I would live with the guilt forever. I could not forgive myself. But hopefully, I will.
In as much as we love our friends and our relatives, we should not cover up their atrocities. We should be able to let the laws do justice to them. Concealing their horrendous acts does more harm than good for them, for us, and society. We should say No to Rape, to Sexual Molestation and Abuse, to Sexual Harassment. In a bid to be strict and disciplined, our parents tend to push us away. We get too scared to talk to our parents, too scared to tell them about that uncle, or that aunty, that smacked our bums or touched us in funny ways. Most times, our parents do not give us thorough attention and time we need.
They are always engrossed in their businesses, in making money. We don’t get to spend ample time with them. Mondays to Fridays, we go to school by 7 am, and they go to work as well, and we return from school by 4 pm, while they return from work by 6 pm. We have dinner and proceed to do school works, and go off to bed by 10 pm or so.
We are now left with weekends. But our parents have tons and tons of meetings and engagements to attend to. They believe that once they provide the money, we go to good schools, do homework, and be well-mannered children, then everything is fine. It is not always fine. Make time for your children, get to know when things are not right with them, you are supposed to be their best friend, they are supposed to run to you when things are going wrong with the conviction that you will not get too upset and act all stern and strict.
Finally, control your temper. Do not let your temper control you.
About the Writer
Odelia Anaele is a medical student who loves nature and literal art.