When I was young, I was raped at the age of 15 by someone who didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, I was just unfortunate to be in a friend’s house, he came by, saw I was alone there, asked where my friend was, I told him I was waiting for her.
He looked behind him, slammed the door, yanked off my skirt, covered my mouth and raped me and left; I struggled but was no match, I bit his hand on my mouth but he slapped me so hard, I couldn’t even cry out; everything couldn’t have been more than say, maybe 5 to 7 minutes.
How did I know? I got to my friend’s house at a few minutes past noon, we agreed I should be there by 12 sharp. He must have seen me sneaking in from behind the building and followed me.
I went to the friend’s house, during school hours, we were meant to sneak off to a party. I went there to meet with her so we could go together. Her parents had gone off to work, the house was empty.
Where was my friend? She went to buy something at the supermarket not far from the house.
At that time I couldn’t even tell my friend nor my parents because remember, I was meant to be in school. So I was too scared to tell anyone anything. At fifteen, I was still a virgin!
I didn’t know his name, couldn’t even properly describe him but two things struck me; he had a peculiar smell; a nauseous odour not just of sweat but one that several days of scrubbing would never remove except the person doused himself in powerful perfume and his face had been imprinted in my head since then.
I suffered many years of trauma, I had no idea about getting pregnant nor did I fully understand that I ought to report so I could be treated; thankfully, I never got pregnant but I never felt clean since then. His odour remained in my nostrils for years. It taunted me, it haunted me, it traumatized me for years.
Then I met my husband; after several years of trying to bury this pain; I found someone I could confess to. My husband understood my trauma, he tried to help me move on.
Now, my husband is from what I will liken to a polygamous home; his mother had married three men and six of her children belonged to these men.
I am no judge, I don’t know the reason why mama ended up with three husbands, I just know she gave birth to a super human being, who is my husband. When we were about to get married, it wasn’t possible to get everyone on board, so there were some family members I never met; either my husband lost contact with them or he just didn’t deem them necessary for me to meet.
Two years ago; one of my husband’s long lost brothers who had been in Libya came home; he was said to be on his way to Europe, went through Kano, traveled through the desert…you know all those people who are looking for a less obtrusive way of entering Europe? Yeah, he was one of them.
He was not particularly a brother the family was fond of from the the few things I heard about him. At some point, I think the family thought he had died in the desert since they didn’t hear from him for years, then suddenly, they got a mail that he was in Libya, and wanted to come home.
His siblings wired money and the prodigal returned.
Weeks after he returned to Nigeria, my husband told me he would be visiting us; he made me prepare a feast for his brother, you know, just like the prodigal returning home; two of their other siblings were also going to be coming along with him, this was meant to be a happy reunion.
I was happy for my husband, he told me many sad stories about this so called brother, older than him by five years; he’d had it rougher than the rest of his siblings; had lived with his father when their mother parted ways with them and had suffered neglect, joined bad gangs and was lost for a long time.
When they got to our house; I was of course still busy in the kitchen, cooking up a storm, wanting to be the good wife…
I have to pause here a bit…it’s still a raw thing for me…
I swear to you, when my husband called out for me to come meet his long lost brother, I had a tray with me, my husband took the tray from me and said he wanted his brother to see me properly not one tired wife carrying a tray laden with food. Good thing he did, I got to the sitting room and that smell, that odour I fought so hard to keep down rose immediately to my nostrils.
It can’t be!
I drew closer to them; long lost brother got up, I looked at his face…it was the same bastard who raped me years back…
my head began to throb immediately; I saw that day play again right before me. I was shaking like a leaf and gasping for breath. I couldn’t talk…the bastard, of course didn’t recognize me, how could he?
I began to back away, I kept backing away, everyone was looking surprised, what is the matter? Are you ok? I didn’t respond, I walked like a zombie to our room.
Somehow, my husband knew, when he came after me in the room tge first thing he said was: ‘Babes, my God, was it my brother who raped you?”
I was just crying, this was a cruel joke, you know?
But I have a great husband; he held me, he calmed me, told me to stay in the room. Told me he would dismiss them…I didn’t want him to, I told him ‘but its more than 25years ago, I can cope.’
No, o. he told his brother to leave and the rest of his siblings left, too.
This has caused a rift between my husband and I on one side and my husband’s sibs and my mother-in-law on the other side. I heard that even when my husband told them what his brother did, they said it was a long time that I should learn to forgive, even the so called brother had no recollection, though he admitted he was neighbours with my friend back then, he claimed he was on drugs for a long time and didn’t recollect the rape. I don’t believe him or could be he had raped so many girls, I was just another number but that is beside the point.
I feel bad my husband can’t be with his long lost brother, I feel bad that his siblings are treating him like he’s the ‘unreasonable one.’ I feel bad for being responsible for the rift in the family. I have kids too; I don’t want anyone to come between them when they grow up but I can’t have this guy in my house. I haven’t bridged that part, yet. I just can’t!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)