My best friend, Thelma and I have been together for more than 30years.
We practically grew up as siblings because our mothers were besties when they worked together at one of the government parastatals in Lagos then after marriage they gave birth to us just a few days apart. Thelma and I went to the same schools, primary, through secondary even through to the university. No we didn’t study similar courses but we were in the same faculty; I studied Linguistics, she, Literature.
So you can see that we could easily be twin sisters.
We supported one another through different relationships; heartbreaks and breakthroughs. When we got married too, we were one another’s chief bridesmaids; though our husbands are not as close as we are, still they got along pretty well.
Our children were very close. Thelma’s holidayed at our home regularly because we chose to raise them together. For instance, if my kids find me difficult over an issue, they would call and report to Thelma; she would talk to me and I would relent. If her kids find her difficult to handle, they would tell me and I would sort things out for them; same with our husbands, they report us to one another. I had to give you a background to my story so you understand where I am coming from and perhaps to understand my story better.
Like I had earlier established, Thelma’s kids and mine holidayed together, I have a boy and a girl, she has a boy and two girls and their ages are about the same; 18-11; while mine are 17 and 15; her’s are 18, 16 and 11.
Now, my son is an introvert, you would hardly find him getting into trouble. I always thought that if any of my kids gave me problems, it would be my daughter who is such a wild thing. She is the one who has friends everywhere, the one who gets party invites, the one who can crack the password code to the house’s Wi-Fi, the one who almost got suspended at school because she was named among girls who had boyfriends among their classmates at school.
So, my constant worry was for my daughter not to bring disgrace to the family. She is the one I was constantly admonishing, constantly checking her phone, constantly checking her school work, screening her friends, ensuring her screen time was monitored, my eyes were so focused on her, I didn’t see my son coming!
My son, obviously had come in contact with porn. Ask me how? He has a phone; we have Wi-Fi. He was studious, he was mostly an A student, he usually never went out, had few friends, was always obedient. I can’t remember the many times I have asked my daughter to try and emulate her brother’s good behavior.
Unknown to me; my son had some friends he met online, friends who introduced him to porn; the hard core types that even we his parents would shudder from. Unknown to my husband and I, this boy was already experimenting with stuff that I can’t even name, not to talk of describe to you. If I told you the site, I would be popularizing it and I will never be a party to that, because sites like this are destroying young lives!
Anyway, apparently, they had asked him, my son, to go have sex with a virgin or something or maybe he just decided to, in order to belong, I really don’t know but that’s my understanding of all that has happened. He was somewhat compelled to have sex, then again, I reasoned, you can’t be addicted to hard core porn and not be tempted to experiment with the things on the site.
It turned out that he had been showing the site to Thelma’s daughter, who is was 15 years at that time. They had watched a few things together and so he thought she was game on the violence and the sex…
You know, what galls me looking back? It’s the fact that I always thought the kids were safer at home; that by not encouraging them to go out to join bad gangs, we were keeping them safe. I was happy my son was an indoor person, I didn’t know the atrocities his mind was conniving. I absolutely had no idea.
Anyway, that day Thelma brought her kids to sleep over…which was nothing unusual. Her daughter as usual went to my son’s room; they must have been petting, you never know with these kids. I thought they should understand that they are like brother and sister. That’s the impression I thought we put in their minds; we never thought they could ever be romantically involved because they were practically raised as siblings, like us their mothers. I was wrong; we were wrong!
That was the night my son raped my best friend’s daughter.
I found her, Peepee, that’s her pet name, I found Peepee huddled at the end of the corridor early in the morning. Thank God it was I who did and not my husband. I eventually got her to tell me what happened; when she did, I died. I practically died. Peepee is like my daughter, my own flesh and blood. I grieved for her. I went to my son’s room, he too was huddled in a corner, crying and asking me to help him!
I called Thelma immediately, I briefed her but didn’t tell her the full story. I didn’t tell her on the phone that my son raped her daughter, you can’t tell such things on the phone. I wanted her to come and see for herself.
Thankfully my husband had gone jogging shortly before Thelma came, he usually left the house as early as 6am and wouldn’t return until about 9am being a Saturday…yeah, he goes to the stadium.
When Thelma came, I told her everything, of course at this time, I was crying; she too broke into tears…she was just repeating, ‘It shouldn’t have been Tj’, that’s my son’s name… ‘it shouldn’t have been Tj or Peepee.’
After us crying, berating TJ, mulling over the incident, I heard Thelma say, ‘We have to report this!’ “Tj is my son but we have to report this!’
Hummn, do you think I never thought about this? I cried harder. I began to beg Thelma, I begged Peepee, I begged mother and daughter as we were all crying, Tj included. We were all crying in the room, the other kids came but I drove them away but not before swearing them to silence.
Peepee would forever be haunted by this incident, I have a daughter too and if this had happened to her, I know she would never be fixed. Peepee was also like my daughter, so I greived for her. Tj was shattered. He was groveling, he was jerking as if the reality of what he had just had just got him. He was asking for both our help. He turned to Thelma, he calls her mummy, too.
‘Mummy please forgive me, help me beg Peepee, please forgive me, Peepee. I hear noises in my head, please help me.’
Thelma was distraught, she moved away from Tj and held her daughter tight. I drew closer to my son and tried to hush him to silence. Yes, Peepee would be traumatized for life but Tj is marked for life. If Thelma goes to report, he would go to jail, nothing to it. He is my son; his life is shattered; A – student or not. Whatever drove him to this has to be exorcised. I as a mother know too well what this can do to him if we neglect him; I followed Thelma to the car begging, crying, asking that we kept this between us. I held Peepee, she is also my daughter too. I begged her to let this be just amongst us all, not to reveal to her father because I know, if he ever gets to hear, my son will go to prison.
You ask if I have done right? I haven’t, and I know it; but I am a mother begging for her son’s life; he was just 16years then.
I begged Thelma; “for the sake of our long years of friendship, for the sake of both our mothers, for the sake of the fact that these kids are our god children, for the sake of the love and labour we have been through for more than 30 years, for the sake of the fact that these children both call us ‘mummy’ and know we love them silly…for the fact that this thing, this rape has come as a result of us not paying much attention, for the sake of it all, please, don’t tell your husband.”
We all wept bitterly that day, I still do, and I know Thelma still must, what of Peepee and Tj? I know their tears will not stop for a long time
Thelma so far has kept her part. She hasn’t said a word, we both meet to help Peepee with therapy, I am as much committed to it as she is.
As for Tj, he still suffers, I had to tell my own husband after sometime; he was mad as hell and insisted we told Thelma’s husband. He said if it was his daughter that was raped, he would ensure justice was served; I said to him, ‘Then your only son rots in jail or has a jail record for life. Is that what you want?’’
He was silent, has remained so, for now…
My relationship with Thelma will never be the same; Peepee will never be the same, Tj will never be the same; I call Peepee, I remind her how much I love her, and I do, she is my god-daughter, still. Thelma and I are no longer as close. We see regularly particularly for Peepee, but she doesn’t want to see Tj, which is ok by me. As for me, I need to ensure my son gets help. We’ve tried to stabilize and remove all devices that would take him back from that porn site and we hope for his own sake he remains off the site.
We are all waiting with bated breaths…I know one day, Thelma’s husband will find out, because it’s only a matter of time before he begins to notice something is wrong with us all.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)