At daybreak, some youths were sent to drag her to the village square where people were already gathered at. All her pleas fell on deaf ears as she was pushed and rough handled by the young men whose sense of judgement were clouded by hatred. They refused to even allow her walk normally but kept pushing her on. They kept at it until they got to the village square. The Igwe had left the judgement to the people, not wanting to taint his hands just in case she was really innocent.
Obumneke and some other elders were also there. She was made to sit at the centre of the circle they had formed.
1st Elder: “We are giving you a chance to confess your sins Madam Obianuju the wife of Mazi Nnamdi. Chai, you committed an abomination, you are a disgrace to womanhood despite the fact that you are as barren as the sahara desert” he contorted his face in a way that showed his disappointment and disapproval of what he perceived was her crime.
2nd Elder: “What on earth did you do to Nnamdi for him to have remained married to you and only you till now?”
He leaned closer to peruse her eyes properly and like an owl, she stared back defiantly. She was done pleading for mercy, she was done trying to prove her innocence. They could do what they want for all she cared and so she was unmoved by the hatred sputtering out from their mouths.
Obumneke: “You all know Mazi Nnamdi was a very good friend of mine. It is unfortunate that the other two of our friends died so untimely but Nnamdi is the only one I can call a close friend now. He told me a lot about this woman. He told me how he always felt helpless when it came to her, how her words had always been final for him even when he knew he should object. He felt so helpless he always wept like a baby in my house” he looked up to the sky and pretended to be trying to bite back tears.
“She must have bewitched him… she must have given the innocent man love portion. She is a witch” a woman from the crowd spurted out angrily while the rest of the crowd echoed after her.
1st Elder: “Your crime is increasing woman. What do you have to say? Did you try to seduce Obumneke; your husband’s best friend? Did you bewitch your husband or not?”
Obianuju: “I am not obliged to answer any of your questions but I think I will say something anyway. Why am I being tried in the absence of the king and my husband who I am being accused of bewitching?”
“What insolence, how dare you talk back at the elder?” another woman screeched from the crowd and some of them surged forward in a bid to attack her but the elders shouted them down and they became calm again.
1st Elder: “The king gave us jurisdiction over your case and your husband is not expected back anytime soon. Besides, you committed the crime in his absence and that is what we are trying you for” he explained slowly.
Obumneke: “Why are you explaining to her? She is a criminal already. We have to do something about her fast” he said impatiently knowing the Pastor whom he hated so much for his poke nosing attitude could show up anytime soon.
1st Elder: “Are you guilty or not?”
Obianuju: “Think whatever you want but let me ask you all something first. My good neighbours…” she turned to some of the people whom she knew were there that night. “Whose voice did you hear first that night?”
They all kept quiet and seemed to be trying to recollect, it seemed a little vague to them.
“Ever since you have known me, have you ever seen another man grab my waist before? Have you ever caught me frolicking around even when I was younger?” she continued with her query but none of them answered her still.
He slept with a half-closed eye in the tattered one room the two guys who had identified themselves to him as Tolu and AIna lived in. there was nothing in the room except a carpet and a television set placed on the floor. He noticed that they went out very early in the morning, sneaking out so he wouldn’t wake up but he was awake anyway.
They came back at exactly 12noon, extremely excited and dangling one or two stuffs they hadn’t gone out with. He sat at a far corner of the room, clutching his empty bag.
Tolu: “Wetin dey do that wan for that side wey hin dey shake like that? Old man wetin dey do you?” he asked and went closer to him.
Mazi Nnamdi: “Nothing. I am just feeling cold”
Tolu: “Which kain cold be that? If you sick, we go throway you for gutter. Who know you before?” he said in a voice he must have intentionally mastered for his life as a thug.
Aina: “Leave am na. abi na wetin sef. Baba see, tomorrow, you go follow us go work o. see as we dey hustle so, na so you go hustle too. There is no food for a lazy man so you have to hustle to survive” he said as he sat on the floor with him. There was no other option anyway.
Mazi Nnamdi: “That is a good idea but what kind of work do you do? I am ready to learn any job here. I hate staying idle too” he replied with an open-eyed interest.
Tolu: “You go know when we reach there tomorrow. You go prepare fast o, Lagos na first come first serve. You go open your eyes well well or hunger go kill you”
Mazi Nnamdi: “I have heard a lot about Lagos before coming here mistakenly too. I will work hard don’t worry”
He was so excited about finding out he will at least have a job to survive on until he had saved enough money to go back to Onitsha that he forgot he had been feeling feverish. The guys counted their proceeds for the day, gave him N200 to go eat amala and ewedu at the canteen opposite their house and scampered out of the house again.
“Now this is how it begins, I will buy N50 bread with N50 beans and save the remaining N100. Thank You God for getting me helpers in the most unlikely place” he said smiling broadly at the money in his hand.
Sukanmi: “Uhm! Ehnnnn…” he stuttered.
Suzan: “I heard you two talking about US and uhn… finding love. What love are you looking for?” she asked still confused. She had heard their conversation only in bits.
Jerry: “Oh that? Was just gisting him about how easily it is to find love in the US? Even you know how interesting that place can be. Was just wishing he could visit someday”
Suzan: “Oh nice! Was afraid you want to introduce some love to him when I am here. And of course, we will both visit someday, probably for our honeymoon. Now honey pie, let’s go have breakfast downstairs, mum is waiting” She held him by the hand and out they went.
As they stepped out into the corridor which connected to the living room, he heard a very familiar voice which made him have goose pimples all over immediately. He snatched his hand from Suzan’s absent-mindedly and stood transfixed on a spot.
Suzan: “What is wrong?” she asked looking perplexed.
Sukanmi: “Who is the man outside?”
Suzan: “He is my mum’s friend. Come let’s go now” she reached for him again but he jumped out of her reach. He tip-toed towards the entrance to have a better look and lo and behold, stood Abodunrin right in front of him from nowhere…
Question: Lobatan! Will he publicly disgrace him like he had promised he would when he sets eyes on him? what do you think will happen to Obianuju?
To be continued…
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story. If you know anyone that was raped, molested before in respective of his gender please encourage them to share their stories with us.
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