I took in this girl because at that time, I was losing my sight to glaucoma. I had been told way back in my early 50s that my eyesight could go suddenly because I hadn’t been taking care of it. They said it is hereditary, this glaucoma thing. I remember my father lost his eye sight at 60 but I never thought it would happen to me. I didn’t even know it was a condition to be prepared for.
Anyway, I got to know one day when I was preparing to go for a wedding, I invited these girls that do makeup and tie gele.
You know, as iya oge concern. I wanted to look great. The girl did me a lovely makeup, I usually want it light. She attached false lashes. She used glue that got into my eyes. I didn’t think much of it but throughout the party, my eyes watered ceaselessly.
The following day, it itched and became red and blotchy, so my husband advised me to go see a doctor. My husband was even making fun of me, telling me, I should suffer for wanting to look good. We joked about it. But when I got to the Ophthalmologist the following Monday. I went through some tests…it wasn’t funny anymore.
I had glaucoma. The stage I was at, I had lost more than 60% of my eyesight…I didn’t know. I thought those blurry moments I had, was me getting old…one eye was completely gone. I apparently was using just a part of the other eye to see…yes, I wore glasses…
Anyway, the doctor said there was no cure for glaucoma but he would give me eye drops to reduce the progress of losing my sight.
I began to get used to the fact that I would eventually lose sight and so I began to prepare for it. Remember I told you my own father lost his sight at 60years. thankfully, I have no children to pass it on to.
Unfortunately for me, I lost my husband a few years after the glaucoma diagnosis. So “my eyes” was gone. That’s why I hired a house help.
Now, at the time I hired her, I could only see shadows. I couldn’t tell who was who and I had long stopped going out.
I usually only go to see my doctor for my general health and the ophthalmologist. I had a shop where I sold dry and frozen food but that stopped because the house help I thought would help was stealing me blind, literally.
If we bought a dozen supplies of macaroni for instance, I would only be able to account for 5 sold…it was that bad.
Whenever I accused her of stealing, she would become hostile towards me. She would vent her anger anytime at me whenever I sent her on an errand. Many times she would go for such a length of time, I would get worried she had been kidnapped!
Many times, I would call but she never responded, especially knowing I couldn’t see. In fact, it got to a point I would be afraid of calling her for anything. Even when I needed help to cook food or to carry anything, I would be afraid of calling her. I would rather stand outside, if I heard a familiar voice, maybe my neighbours, I would ask them to buy me food or help me get something in the house.
She knew my routine, so she took advantage of it.
I usually finish my evening prayers, Isha, at about 7.30pm. Afterwards, I would take tea or pap or custard and go to bed. But there was this day, I was unable to sleep. So I came out of the room to go round the house and check the doors. Risi, my house help, I suspect had snuck out…as usual.
As soon as I stepped into the corridor, I smelt a body. This same smell was often faint in the morning but that evening, it was strong. I knew it wasn’t my house help, there was somebody else in the house with us.
I stood there and called out.
“Who are you?”
At first, the figure didn’t move…I feared that I may have run into a robber about to rob us.
But I stood my ground and I asked again, “who are you and what do you want?”
He answered, “it is me”
I said, “Don’t you have a name and what do you want in my house?”
He said his name is Mumuni, he was Risi’s brother…Risi is my house help’s name.
Risi…of course, I could see she was lurking around….I may be legally blind but I see shadows and my other senses are heightened.
Risi was close by, she said, “Yes, he is my brother, my father sent him to come and check on me.”
In my mind, I said, “These ones think they are talking to a child” Two weeks ago, it was her “uncle” who came. Days back, it was her “mother’s sister’s son…”
If I gave her money to cook three different soups for us to store in the freezer, two days later, she would say, “no soup, we ate it all up…”
So I would go hungry for the next few days until I got money from my pension to feed us again.
I said, “Aha, so if you come to someone’s house, won’t you acknowledge the owner of the house? But it’s ok, I hope your people at home are ok? Greet them for me.”
I had to pretend not to know what was truly going on because if these people decide to kill me in the house, nobody would know for days. I am childless, like I mentioned earlier. So I played it cool.
I told Risi, “Make sure you give him food, let him rest in one of the rooms, ok?”
At this time, my heart was racing like mad. I called my nephew who lived in V/I to tell him what had happened that night. I mean, just in case these people let Satan use them against me. I called to let them know I was on the phone with someone who could trace them…
That may have been how I saved my own life because when I eventually came out of my room the following morning at about 5am to observe the Fajr Morning Prayer, there was no sign of Risi or her so-called brother.
They had left, stealing everything they could lay their hands on. My phones, my pots, jewelry, geles, shoes…
They locked my gate from outside and took the keys. Thankfully, my nephew came; my neighbours, too. That’s how I was rescued.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)