Based on a true life story.
Have you ever struggled to survive? Faced with constant sexual abuse?
Beaten and left for dead?
How did you survive?
It’s central theme is abuse. This true story showcases the various horrible experiences most housemaids are forced to undergo in the hands of their guardians in Nigeria and in other parts of the world. It is a heart wrenching story which must definitely bring tears to your eyes.
And if you were once a housemaid, this story might make you relive past experiences you once had.
It also tries to show how most parents become involuntary accomplices to their child’s plight.
It is based on true events, however names and characters, location and scenes have been changed for personal and security reasons.
I was lying on the hard concrete pavement outside, waiting for Mama to come home. I’d been engulfed by the thick darkness and was therefore invisible to anyone approaching the house.
It was the usual blackout days and I sadly, had no torchlight with me. I would cringe and shiver at the thought of a reptile crawling and munching a chunk off me.
It’s been a busy, hungry and sad day for me, one of those days I was mandated to fast as a punishment for being careless. I’d gotten on my aunt Agnes’ nerve after I mistakenly broke her fancy ceramic plate, which was actually her favorite plate.
She had there and then commanded me to not taste any meal cooked in the house, and had further instructed everyone else not to feed me. That was the usual punishment for my supposed carelessness.
From that morning I’d tasted nothing except for water, even though I’ve been working tirelessly in and outside the house, trying to get every single chore done. This was why I was panting heavily when I finally laid in the darkness, waiting and hoping Mama would come soon and maybe override aunt Agnes’ punishment.
I’d earlier overheard aunt Oby saying Mama traveled to far away Abakaliki and would be back very late. My stomach churned and bubbled at the thought of this, forcing me to twinge in pain in response. I was now very hungry that I could literally eat anything as food.
My aunts and uncle were already fast asleep, enjoying the warm comforts of their bed upstairs but I was forbidden to retire for the night, unless Mama comes home.
Mama I know hates knocking and waiting for someone to open up for her. She always loved the idea of someone waiting up no matter how late it could be. That someone was me!
The weather has changed and I was sure it would soon bless the earth with its showers, and drench my poor self. I therefore intensified my prayers, not only for Mama to come home soonest but for it not to rain. If it rains, I’d have to stay up and fill our empty drums, and my heart skipped severally as I envisioned how long that would take.
As if my prayers were going unanswered, lightning began to cast it’s presence in the sky. I watched and prayed silently in my heart, my mind uncertain of heaven’s plan.
Everywhere was pretty dark and quiet and one could clearly hear the sound of the cringing birds. I couldn’t even see our pawpaw tree as darkness had enveloped it all. I was now very scared and wished I could be called in, even if it is to lay on the floor while waiting for Mama, but I knew in my heart it was just pure imagination.
I waited for over four hours until I heard faint flapping steps coming towards me, I became more afraid as I couldn’t make out who it was.
The steps were very closer now and the sound they made more alarming.
I was dead with fear.
As if a strange voice whispered some words in my ear, I jerked up and ran to a corner for safety. I needed to confirm who it was before making my presence known. There had been recent reports of robbery incidents within the estate and none of the robbers has ever being caught neither could anyone tell those involved.
As the being drew closer, I tried so hard to make out the face but all I could see were two huge white balls floating in the darkness. I was now very much afraid.
“Don’t tell me this girl has gone to bed! ” I heard her say.
That was Mama, my step aunt.
I wouldn’t lie, that was actually the very first time I’ve ever felt this huge and genuine relieve hearing her voice.
“I’m here, good evening ma” I greeted stepping out to carry her bag.
“And why were you there? ” She asked. “So you wanted to scare me, this little brat! ” She cursed.
“No ma” I tried defending my action. “I was very scared when I heard your footsteps so I hid. I didn’t know it was you” I cried.
“You see, that’s why I keep saying you’re possessed! You’re afraid? Of what if I may ask? A little girl that’s presumed to be innocent? What are you afraid of? ” She barked!
I shook my head in plain defeat.
“If you ever try this nonsense again, you’ll sleep outside!” She warned.
Silent now, she roughly dumped the bags on the floor and went inside.
I picked up the bags and turned to follow her but a cold movement on my right leg made me shiver. I shook my leg vigorously and whatsoever it was fell off. A blind closer look saw me staring at my nightmare!
It was a snake!
I screamed and ran inside but my alarm brought Mama out.
“And? What now? ” She asked flashing her torchlight angrily on my face.
I was practically shaking and kept pointing towards the door.
“Snake! Snake! ”
She turned her light sharply to the direction I was motioning at but saw nothing. She walked towards the door flashing her light sideways but again,.nothing!
After silently looking around for some minutes without any sight of whatsoever I was running from, she turned her lights on me.
“What did I say earlier? You are possessed! So your clique came to attack me but got you instead eh? I have power in Christ Jesus and I’m stronger than you, both physically and spiritually!” She screamed.
“No ma!” I pleaded. “There was a snake there!” I cried.
“So you’re still talking?” She barked, and in a moment of rage, snatched her bags from my hands while pushing me aside. She turned abruptly and walked into the door. I tried to follow her but rather felt the door slammed in my face.
“I warned you, so you’re sleeping outside tonight! Idiot!!” She cursed.
And then I heard the same flapping steps as they climbed the stairs. Knocking wouldn’t help as I know Mama would be pissed. I was sure it was almost 11pm and she wouldn’t like me waking the sleeping neighbours.
I’ve never felt this afraid in my entire life. I snuggled by the door frame praying and hoping my nightmare doesn’t come back for a bite, and most importantly for the day to break earlier.
I awoke the next day feeling rather great. Last night’s event actually made me stronger since I couldn’t believe I’d pull through.
I started off my chores eagerly, apparently hurrying so I could be in school early. I had a test to write today.
I swept the compound, the kitchen, the rooms and the staircase. I washed the plates and ran my other usual morning errands. I checked the clock, it was already 7:46am and I knew I might be late, yet again.
I hurried off to have my bath but aunt Oby’s call interrupted me. I ran upstairs, to her room.
“I have no water in my convenience, fill up the buckets” She ordered.
I was calm, awkwardly quiet but my heart was exploding. I looked up at her with so much pains in my eyes but she was too busy with her phone to notice me.
“But aunty, I filled some of your buckets yesterday, I am running late for school and I have a test to write today ” I cried.
I could see her hands pause suddenly, her neck slowly turning and her head spinning towards me. An angry frown decorated her lips and a burning fire present in her eyes.
“Did you say anything?” She asked.
I knew what that cue meant so I just shook my head and walked out dejectedly.
I have lived with my step aunt for the past five years. She has four children who were already adults. They lived together in the house except the eldest who lives in a different area with his family.
With them, I have witnessed every undescribable form of abuse, but denying me the opportunity to be in school early like my mates, hurts me so bad. My younger aunt knows how much I loved school and has always used that as a weapon of punishment on me. I’m sure she feels fulfilled watching me cry to school on an empty stomach, everyday.
I walked to the kitchen and emptied two of the 50 litre gallon in there. I carried the two at once in the fairly good wheel barrow as I was hoping it would make the journey faster.
There has been scarcity of water lately and the nearest borehole was miles away. Thankfully it did work as by the next hour, I was home amidst sweats. I brought down her buckets and filled up some. I hurriedly carried them to her and then proceeded to quickly have my bath.
In a short time I was ready for school though it was pretty late. I still believed that if I could make it to school before 10:30am, I could actually partake in the test.
Many that saw me race to school shook their head in pity, while some motorists who never knew me cursed me and called me lazy.
I got to the school gate around 10:15am and as expected it was locked. There were three students leaning on it, pleading with the security man to let them in. I joined in their quest but it all proved futile. At a point, I sat on the ground and began to cry bitterly. Maybe my tears touched the aged man as he reluctantly let us in.
Stepping into the school compound, our eyes fell on a popular figure.
Boldly standing before us, stood one of our teachers. He beckoned on us to come closer. I was so afraid of being flogged and therefore walked towards him like a skeleton. I was shaking visibly and he noticed my fears instantly.
“Don’t worry, I have a better punishment” He announced to me in particular, “Just follow me”.
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