There are brothers and they claimed to be my friends but some friends sha. They are my neighbours who claimed all they were offering me was kindness but they will suffer for what they did to me; this is only just the beginning.
I couldn’t go home to be with my parents before the lockdown. Frankly speaking, I didn’t even understand that the lock down would be so long, that we wouldn’t be able to go out at all, even in the evenings. I just thought ‘lockdown’ meant we would stay indoors during the day, then at night, we could just stroll to the nearby kiosk or suya joint or night market and buy things as the need arose…
So you could imagine my shock and panic when I discovered this was like a lockdown we had never had before as in, no movement 24/7 for days. After the first 8 days or so, I ran out of food supplies; my roommate was caught out of town and so, I was alone in our boys’ quarters two bedroom apartment and I was broke because again, I thought I could just stroll to the nearest ATM and get money and buy food…in fact, I was telling myself, “No be naija government? They will soon open the gates and tell us all to go about our lives after a few days…” that of course, as you know, didn’t happen.
Now, after the first few days of lock down, my neighbours, who were brothers would usually come to their balcony and drink and eat all kinds of food; asun, chicken…all kinds. My roommate was quite friendly with them and whenever they cooked, because their kitchen backdoor overlooked our own front door, they would call out to invite me to eat, especially as they knew my roomie wasn’t in town.
I would decline; now, I wasn’t trying to be difficult neither was I playing hard to get; I just had my own issues; so while I was polite, I respectfully kept my distance.
But hunger is a bastard! There I was, staring starvation in the face, so I spoke to myself, “You better be friendly with these guys or you will starve.”
Yeah, friendly but not overly because I also understood that some people can misconstrue it to mean something else. Again, I just wanted food, maybe I could also render some sort of help in exchange, I don’t know. So when next they invited me over for a drink , I accepted, immediately because all I did was sit in front of my door and pretend to be reading.
I went over to their flat and watched movies with them and ate…I always thanked them for the meals and washed the dishes afterwards, there were times I even cleaned up their kitchen. For me, I felt it was the least I could do. I told them how their kindness was saving me from starvation and we all laughed over it. They began to call me everyday, from then, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I made sure I swept their living room, did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen…
One week after ‘our arrangement,’ which was a silent arrangement, you know. They didn’t ask me to do the dishes but I did, they began to leave the dishes and their living room for me to clean…I did. Because like I said, I had nothing at home for food.
I would stay a bit in their flat and after a while go back to mine, I lived in a two bedroom boys quarters; one Friday; I was at their place for a movie and this wouldn’t even be the first time I would be there for movies and sometimes when it ends late, they would ask me to stay over…I’m like for what? I have a whole bed waiting for me, why sleep here?
Now, one of the brothers, I knew liked me; the younger one; he was about my age-mate; in his late 20s.
Even before the lock down, he was the one who would greet, he was the one who introduced himself to me when I moved into the house; and he was the one who, you know, generally was literally making himself likeable.
But you see I didn’t “like” him back because I just wasn’t into relationships because things are quite complicated with me…
Anyway, that night, even before the movie ended, I was feeling really drowsy…I told the guys I wanted to go to my flat…they said I should wait until the movie ended that they would see me off…I lived in the boys’ quarters, like I said and they lived in the main house in front.
I felt there was nothing to be wary off, so I let myself be persuaded; I struggled to stay awake but must have slept off. Now I didn’t know if the drink they gave me was spiked. I mean, that day wouldn’t be the first time I would stay late at their flat but I never dozed off. I was always alert and I will tell you why, later.
So I was shocked that when woke up, I was in bed with the two brothers! I was naked from waist down and I felt soooo raw!
I had been raped…again!
You know; I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t even whimper…I just picked up my skirt…wore it and silently walked out of that room.
I refused to get up in the morning when the younger one came calling me for breakfast; he acted like nothing happened. Like I didn’t find myself half naked, like they both didn’t rape me!
I told him to go away, that I didn’t want their food.
He began banging on my door, telling me to get up and come upstairs. He didn’t mention the rape.
So I accused him, I came to the window and accused him of rape! He denied it!
His brother too came to my door and denied it!
They said, I was going to repay their kindness with rape accusations!
Ha! See mad men!
For a moment, I thought, maybe I dreamt I was raped, maybe it didn’t happen maybe I actually slept in my own bed…but it was no dream…my rumpled clothes and missing underwear were enough evidence…I even had semen running down between my legs, did I produce that myself?
Anyway…I decided that since they both wanted to deny it; I would also not tell them I am HIV positive. I will keep it from them that they most probably have been infected already; I will not mention a thing to them…we would all carry on pretending that nothing happened.
Meanwhile, I went back to eating their food until the lockdown ended but I never stayed to watch any movie and the rape issue never came up.
I am still living in the BQ and pretending that all is.
If they can pretend, so can I.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)