Uncle Jonathan got our Parish Priest to come and pray with Mama. I tried to pray with them but my mind was too full with hate, anger and fear. There was pain too. I just was not friendly with God at that moment. I wanted the pain to end and everything to go back to the way it was before but life is like a bad movie script. After the prayers, the priest suggested that we take to a psychiatric hospital for proper medical evaluation. Before leaving though, he told me that I should have faith that in time God will reveal why things are the way they are. I barely listened to the man. Where was God when Papa died? Where was he when I was raped and nearly tortured to death?
The church helped us with a bus and we took Mama to Warri. I had to stay with Uncle Maximus in Warri while they made plans on putting her in a Uselu Psychiatric Hospital in Benin. After several days, they managed to get her a room in the hospital. I was not allowed to go and see her. No one knew whether I was still being searched for by the police for the death of Edirin, so they said. I had to stay put and watch Aunty Ebube try to act like everything is fine. She asked me about school and stuff but I gave her brief replies; I was not in the mood for conversation and I had something in my head, something placed in my head many years ago by Uncle Jonathan.
I looked at Aunty Ebube and I wondered if she had a hand in my mother’s mental illness. Uncle Jonathan had emphasized that it was after she had visited us in Benin that Mama experienced the first episode of insanity. I wondered and pondered over it for the two weeks I spent in the house. I also did not eat her food; depending on food I bought with the little money I had on me or going hungry. By the time, Uncle Jonathan and Uncle Maximus were done with getting Mama settled in the hospital, I had lost weight.
The night before I left with Uncle Jonathan for Kano, Uncle Maximus called me to his sitting room. I had been avoiding him since I came; besides the normal morning greetings, I never spent more than five seconds in his presence. I came to the sitting room and sat down
Uncle Maximus: “I will not waste your time. Before my brother died, he had a prosperous business but your mother’s paranoia and stubbornness made it impossible for me to keep the business on. By the time I took over it again, the shops had lost much of its reputation and customer base. What I am saying is that there is not much money coming in at the moment.” He said, then he stopped, possibly waiting for me to say something but I kept my lips sealed. “as a result, I think… no we think that it is better if you look for a job after your WAEC exams instead of pursuing a program in the university as planned.” He added.
Princess: “Papa always told me that he was keeping money aside for my education. The money is there; enough to put me through university.” I replied, staring from Uncle Jonathan to Aunty Ebube.
Uncle Maximus: “I am sorry; that account is empty. There is no money in that account as we speak.” He replied.
Princess: “that is a lie! You have spent it! I knew it…” I shouted, standing up.
Uncle Jonathan: “Princess sit down! The account could only be accessed by your parents; no one else. Your mother spent the money, Princess.” He said softly.
I stared at him, not believing. “Mama would have told me. She would not have used from it without telling me. No! It is not possible. Mama will not betray my dreams like that.” I thought to myself as I sought for an explanation.
Uncle Jonathan: “she claimed to have used it to feed and pay rent for both of you in Benin. I was not there, so I cannot say but that is what she said when we talked about it.” He added.
Princess: “and now I can’t hear it from her own lips; how convenient.” I replied. Uncle Jonathan frowned at me but he said nothing.
I stared at everyone in the sitting room. Papa had sent them all to school with his money. Even his sisters had gone to the university. He was the one that had not gone to school and now his only child will also not finish her schooling. It hurt, I tell you.
I nodded my head and got up;
Uncle Maximus: “where are you going?”He asked, surprised.
Princess: “I am going to get my things ready. I have my final exams to prepare for.” I replied, coolly.
Uncle Maximus: “you don’t have anything to say about what we just talked about?” he asked.
Princess: “Uncle, you have me where you want. I have nowhere to go and no one to call family besides you people. Should I fight you? You have what you want sir. I will do the best I can with what life throws at me.” I replied softly. My words hooked in my throat but I have vowed never to cry again. I walked away.
WAEC came and went unnoted. I gave it the best that I could but my heart was no longer in it. What was the point of reading and reading when the result will sit in a box, useless? I focused instead on learning a trade. Uncle Jonathan placed me with a tailor in town and paid the money needed for me to become an apprentice. I offered no opposition to this plan and went about my apprenticeship with this same lack of interest with which I wrote the WAEC exams.
I met Oke in church some Sundays after my return to Kano. He seemed happy to see me; I wasn’t happy to see him.
Oke: “Princess, long time o. you just disappeared. What happened?” he asked as soon as he drew close to me.
Princess: “I travelled to visit my people.” I replied, looking around for an excuse to leave him.
Oke: “you don’t come to choir rehearsals anymore; I hope everything is okay o?” he asked.
Princess: “abeg am not in the mood for singing joor. Please I have to go. I need to make lunch.” I replied, moving away from him. He grabbed my hand;
Oke: “see Princess, about that day. It is not…” he was saying but I didn’t care to know
Princess: “Oke, whatever you may think of you and I, I really do not care what you are doing. It is your personal life and it does not affect me in any way.” I replied, cutting him off then I walked away.
I could feel his eyes on me as I crossed the road and boarded a bike.
I was home alone. Uncle Jonathan had gone out leaving me home alone. I had called Aunty Ebube earlier to ask about Mama. She had told me that she was going to check on her Sunday. The distance from Warri to Benin was about forty-five minutes, so I would be able to get a feedback and possibly talk to Mama if she was coherent. I had missed her. She was my only anchor in this life and now without her by my side, I felt empty, dead. With thoughts of Mama in my head, I fell asleep.
It was the hand on my breast that woke me up. I usually sleep with just pants and bra most nights, no matter the temperature. I felt the hand try to pull my breast out of my bra and my eyes opened to see Uncle Jonathan staring at me drunkenly. He smiled when he saw that I had woken up. He bent to kiss me; alcohol stink and saliva rubbing my lips. I nearly throw up from the smell but held it back. My head was spinning. “This is night, if I fight him and he throws me outside or I run, where will I sleep? God why me? What do I do now?” I thought trying to free myself from him.
Uncle Jonathan climbed on to the bed and tried to lie on top of me. I pushed him away suddenly. The smile suddenly changed to a frown;
Uncle Jonathan: “what is that? You don’t want to give me what you have been giving that boy since? Why are you been stingy?” he asked, his words slurring.
Princess: “Oya Uncle, wait first, let me adjust myself. Your hand is injuring me.” I told him, trying to be calm.
He raised his weight from me, his eyes watching me. I moved as if I was trying to pull my panties down and he immediately started struggling with his belt and zip. His penis was soon out, already hard with need. I stared from underneath him and the bane of my existence in depression. “God, is this what you want from me; to always be on my back for any man that has a need to deep his manhood into a woman?” I thought to myself. I sighed and stretched my hand to touch the turgid penis. I rubbed my finger over the tip and spread the precum around the head. Uncle Jonathan gasped in pleasure and closed his eyes. I grabbed his balls and squeezed hard. His scream filled the night. I jerked it and he struggled but I was not letting go. He slapped me and punched my face but I refused to let go. The more he hit me, the more I squeezed until he started begging me.
Uncle Jonathan: “Please… abeg… please…” he pleaded, tears in his eyes. The pain was obviously too much.
I moved from the bed slowly, still squeezing his balls hard. He tried to curl into himself. I left the penis and ran out of the room then I closed the door behind me and locked him inside. I went to his room and sat down, breathing hard. Funny enough, I felt no fear or need to cry. I felt stronger than I had ever felt in my life.
I was in his room when I heard the window in our room open and heard him thud outside. I quickly searched through his clothes and found shorts and a belt as well as a t-shirt to wear.
Uncle Jonathan: “if I catch you, you are dead Princess! You will never see your mother again! I will make sure that the police in Benin know what you did to that boy! I will destroy your life! You don’t know me! You better run and run far.” He shouted into the night.
I opened the front door and ran.
Question: Where will Princess go to? Why do some men see women as simply objects of sexual gratification?