I’ve heard people deride others about the existence of the devil. Yes, I mean the red being with horns and a dragon’s tail. Old folks will tell you not to eat with this two faced liar and if you must, use a loooooong spoon.
I don’t know who dined with the devil here, nor who invited it in the first. I do know however, of this woman, the one with four hungry mouths to feed who lives in a tottering zinc house somewhere around Ilupeju. Her zinc house is on an abandoned property; the type left behind by a man who didn’t write a will and so his children are fighting over it and the matter has been in court for decades.
So this zinc house is rusty and filled with holes from top to bottom; it is extremely hot during the dry season and extremely cold during the rainy season and because really it poses no threat to anyone in particular, it stands…until the court case is resolved
Now, this woman, the one with the four hungry children is church rat poor as you can already guess. Her husband, she said, left her and the four children years back. In telling her story, she said she had been warned against marrying him but she stuck with him and four children down the line, he walked…that may not be the whole story but this isn’t even important.
What is important is that her son, the second of her children, a 20-year-old turned out to be smart, sharp as a razor. Let’s call him James.
James was, to all purposes, his mother’s hope; the son who would rescue her from the extreme poverty they live in. You see, he had seen how badly his mother suffers raising him and his siblings, he has wept many nights with her when their roof leaked water in several places and they all couldn’t sleep because the unpaved floor quickly gave way when the rains came. Forget the many nights when the rain brought to their doorstep all the filth from the surrounding gutters.
On sweltering hot days, the zinc roof and walls did little to protect them from the scorching menace of the sun. Many times they sought refuge outside their home during the day for fear that they may one day be roasted alive.
So, James studied hard, he learned quickly that education is the best way out of their quotidian nightmare. He succeeded at his school cert exams but flunked his JAMB exams; but the task of raising the money required for JAMB was solely on him as his mother just couldn’t afford it. So he did menial jobs for people in their local church.
Soon enough, one particular family took an interest in him. They let him do menial jobs for them then after he had proved himself they hired him on a more permanent basis with a promise to offset what was left of his tuition fees when time came for him to resume higher institution.
And everything was good, his mother heaved a sigh of relief, finally, her prayers were being answered…
Then one day, the devil paid James a visit.
That day, James’ employer’s little girl, a five-year-old precocious kid came to the back of the house, to the Boys Quarters. She came looking for her nanny. She wanted nanny to get her bicycle so she could ride around the house. The bicycle was locked somewhere at the back of the house and nanny was nowhere to be found.
James called out to Nanny, perhaps it was one of those days the nanny had escaped to see her boyfriend down the road. This wouldn’t be the first time she had gone AWOL; he had even thought of reporting her to their master.
That thought gave way that day. It gave way to another thought that had been on his mind for sometime now. Since he began to earn a few notes; he had been able to buy a second hand phone from computer village; an old Techno. Nothing fancy, just good enough for calls and data. He now had a Facebook account, he could Whatsapp and even be on instagram.
The best part was, he had access to a whole new world he stumbled on…porn.
It had become a source of escape for him for weeks now. He could hardly believe the extent to which people would go to gratify all kinds of sexual perversion. He was fascinated, he was enthralled, he was delighted and he was constantly turned on.
Wanking off several nights in the zinc home he shared with his mother and siblings had proved a tad difficult. Twice his mother had called out to ask why he was groaning in his dreams, he lied that he was having bad dreams.
Those bad dreams gave way to a sinister thought; this is where the devil came in. James stared at the little girl who was clad in nothing but a flimsy gown and his thought grew wings. He lured the child into the store room, shut the door while assuring the child he would get her the bike but on one condition…
He zipped down his trousers, brought out his privates, pulled down the child’s dress and panties…
That was when he heard furious footsteps. He didn’t know who was coming but the steps were close. The child still had her panties down and his penis was still out when the door burst open!
He heard screams. At first he thought he was the one screaming then he realised it was the nanny, she screamed again and again causing the child to burst into frightened tears.
Nanny’s screams brought the neighbours running and the violent outburst shocked James who struggled to pull up his trousers but the neighbours came too quickly it seemed to James.
They interpreted the scream, took in the scene and descended on him with blows and belts, tearing at his shirts, trousers and stripping him naked in minutes.
James sits at Alagbon; still wondering what possessed him. What made him imagine he could rape his bosses’ five-year-old and hurt the very person who promised to help him?
It’s the handiwork of the devil!
His mother is speechless; I met her mumbling and rocking herself back and forth on the bench at the supermarket. She had come to run an errand for her employer. But she was lost in desperate thoughts.
All the people she turned to for help have turned her down.
‘Your boy’s case is bad. The Lagos state government frowns on things like this, what do we do?’
‘Nobody will help me, even the church has turned it’s back on me,” she wept.
As for James, only God can help him now.