“Good evening viewers.
It’s another great time on your best TV show – FROM BROKENNESS.
It is not just a good time for me here but a rare privilege to be sited face to face with this awesome and breath-taking great mind. Someone that has made Nigeria, Kogi state, and Igala land in particular proud. I must not forget to state here that it’s because of the love this awesome personality has for this generation that the opportunity was granted us. So we would be having an interactive tim as usual, and you can send us your questions via mail to the address on your screen and can also call any of the numbers.
So, let’s begin. Good evening Noble one.”
Udale lowered the volume of the TV immediately she entered the sitting room. First, she thought Matthew was being unreasonable by not reducing the loud volume from the TV, then she got closer and realised the remote was far from his reach. Even though his wheel chair was just beside the chair he was laying on, he couldn’t possibly lift himself into it without her help.
Matthew smiled as she came back to sit on the stool beside the settee he’s lying on.
She handed the remote over to him and readjusted his head onto the pillow.
“Mummy, I want to wear my shades.” The four year old boy ran over to Udale, thrusting the plastic eyeglasses in his hands on her legs. “Please wear it for me! Please wear it for me.”
“No. Ocholi, you cannot wear sunglasses in the night.” Udale protested.
The little boy frowned. “I want to wear it to watch aunt’s show. Wear it for me. Mummy wear it for me…”
The boy’s hesitation was beginning to get on her nerves.
“OK! My cute boy! Do you still wanna play Temple Run?” She needed to distract him.
“Yes Mummy!” He screamed excitedly, obviously forgetting his initial sunglasses mission.
“OK. Take my phone from my room. Take it to yours, stay on your bed and play it.”
Ocholi ran off and up the stairs before Udale could finish her last statement. Little children. She never let him handle her phone, ever since she discovered he would always run down her phone’s battery in a bid to play TEMPLE RUN, but she needed to do this now. She needed to wave off all forms of distractions as it seems Matthew was very interested in the TV show tonight.
Why wouldn’t he be?
God knows Udale wasn’t in support of this ‘on air’ thing.
“You really have to make everyone think I’ve snubbed your emails all these while?”
The presenter laughed at this response.
Whether said literally or not, she knows that the guest in front of her has snubbed her mails over and over again. Being a celebrity, it’s permitted to be busy though.
“Many ladies build potentials, in tailoring, in make-up, in event planning. In many other things. When the grand winner for the International Idol Arts festival was announced and Laibe Godwin the winner, I was left to wonder, a woman? Painting? So I would want to ask you ma’am, why Arts? Or better still, why did you chose Fine Arts?”
Laibe smiled shyly as the bright studio light came all over her glowing face. Her natural hair was packed into a ponytail and held to the sides by a glistering red pin to march the white flare gown she had on. Her face was without any artificial touch yet everyone could see beams of beauty radiating from her eyes.
“Uhhhhm! Now, that’s a big question.” She turned to the presenter and they both laughed lightly. “Well, I think the best person to answer that question for me would be Ocholi Onoja. You see, he is not here to defend me now o.” Laibe sounded really jovial as she spoke.
“But on a serious note, Ocholi, much more than being my Uncle’s younger brother, brought out the artist in me.
I got to realise that art is life. That one can truly communicate better the state of one’s heart by a simple representation on paper – be it writing, drawing or painting.”
The presenter nodded, all smiles.
“Wow! Art is life! Caught that. Again ma’am, how did you learn about this competition that brought you into limelight?”
“Eerhmmm! This painting that’s bought and priced highly all over the world now was first done over five years ago.”
“Yes. I was going through a horrible situation and couldn’t tell anyone so I decided to sketch it. One night Ocholi saw the painting and held onto it. The first time he visited me in the village after he learnt I got pregnant, he brought out the painting with sophisticated tools and demanded we do a better painting of the art concept.
This I reluctantly did. He made me do it about two more times after that, alongside others.
I didn’t know what he was up to. He was still running a Master degree abroad then.” Laibe narrated, keeping the smile glued to her face like a plaster.
“You mean to tell us Ma’am that Ocholi entered you into the competition?” The presenter cut in.
“I couldn’t have done that all by myself. I was a shadow of myself after I had Ocholi. I didn’t think I could amount to anything again so I gave up all the dreams that I ever had. At some points, I didn’t even know where my phone was, how could I have possibly seen advert to enter into any competition?”
“After you had Ocholi?”
Laibe could feel the confusion clearly in the presenter’s voice.
“I named my son Ocholi, after the big Ocholi, of course. Big Ocholi used to be my crush the first time I came to Ankpa. My little boy is a little over four years now.”
“Wow. Wow. Wow. So, Mrs Laibe Godwin-Ekele, sorry if I didn’t get the pronunciation well…”
Laibe smiled. “It’s fine!”
“We don’t mean to penetrate your private life, but who knows? They may be someone out there that needs hope and needs life. Can you tell us about the part where you were abused as a young girl and became pregnant at 16?”
Laibe took in a deep breath. She had deliberately avoided interviews and TV shows because of moments like this. Apart from the fact that she doesn’t ever want to revisit her past, she feels it would be dragging her uncle’s name in the mud whenever she tells the whole world about it. The amazing thing was that it’s her uncle that insisted she accept this particular interview invitation. Even when Laibe and her aunty protested, uncle Matthew insisted she goes on air and also that she should tell the story when asked. How to go about it now was an uphill task for her.
She cleared her throat.
“No problem if you cannot answer it, Ma’am!” the presenter’s voice came, seeing she was taking so much time.
“It’s fine. My uncle was a paedophile, or so did the doctors say. Did I say ‘was’? Well, I don’t know if there is any graduation from it as it’s a sexual orientation. All I know is that I started being sexually abused right from my first term holiday in JS 1, I was about thirteen years old then. It, however, only got out in my last days at JS3, over two years later. I was so demoralised by my grandfather’s death that I almost lost my mind in the process. It was in combating with that situation, speaking to a psychotherapist and my eventual pregnancy that brought it out.” She wiped a teardrop off her face.
“I can’t say I know how you feel, partly because I haven’t been a victim of abuse before and as well, it’s too close a family member to even imagine.”
“What is the greatest pain you have felt in your lifetime?” Laibe asked the presenter and that almost sent the latter off balance.
“Me? Well, I guess it would be menstrual pain.”
“I don’t know how menstrual pain feels like, but I know labour pains. At a point I thought I would die and I actually almost did. I couldn’t push and was losing blood. Having the baby eventually was a big miracle.
That… that labour pain was nothing compared to the pain an abused child feels. It’s a silent killer sort of pain.”
She stole a glance at the presenter who was getting lost in her deep words but continued.
“Well, it’s so painful. Imagine groups of people simultaneously drilling into different parts of your bones and joints with rusty tools, not caring about how painful it is and how deadly the tools could be to your systems? Then your mouth is firmly sealed, so much so that you can only scream within your brain? That’s how the mild pain of abuse is for a child. You feel as though your whole world is crumbling and keeps shattering even as you make efforts to gather them together.”
The presenter took in a very deep breath.
She wasn’t sounding as sharp as before again.
“What is your take on laws and orders with respect to child abuse and molestation?”
Laibe smiled, in spite of herself.
“I may not be in the best position to say anything regarding that. Medicine is justifying a lot of actions. I mean, you can’t sentence someone with paraphilia to jail, because everyone believes he abused the child due to his mental case but the sensitization has to take roots from the family before bearing fruits upwards. If you know what I mean. No one should be overlooked when it comes to potentials to abuse. Family members have to care more for one another and be sensitive enough to realise a misnomer, a cold attitude, and any change in the atmosphere as quick as it comes.” Laibe said.
“What makes abused children not able to voice out?”
Laibe shot a look at the presenter and she readjusted immediately. She wanted to continue but Laibe cut her short
“No problem, this would be the last question I would answer regarding abuse.” She says firmly and the presenter nodded.
“Well, I may not know about others but in my own case, I already had issues with acceptance prior to the time. Having my uncle accept me all of a sudden was more than heaven for me. A lot of abused children most times don’t feel accepted by their peers, and even by their own family members, so much so that they welcome love and affection shown them by anybody at all.
You would agree with me that everyone wants to feel loved. Whenever, as a victim of molestation, you want to voice out, something makes you afraid of losing the love and affection you have come to enjoy from this particular person, and that keeps everything you have to say back inside.”
“And…” Laibe cut in again and continued. “…gradually, not being able to voice out moves from fear of losing a ‘seemingly only’ loved one to fear from the diverse threats they would be receiving. But in all, if we pay closer attention to our family, much more than work, career, and the general vigorous pursuits of life, we would be able to tell when things are going wrong or not. It’s that simple. Let us, as parents, hear our little children out. Let’s not be nonchalant, thinking all is well. Let’s try to cut off on some of our busy schedules and create ample time to converse with these children. They probably have so much to say, yet no one to say it to. We all need to stay vigilant to pursue and stop abuse.”
“Thank you very much, Ma’am!”
“Laibe!” She corrected the presenter. “I just turned twenty-one three months ago for Christ sake. Don’t make me feel like a granny yet. My husband won’t hear of it.” Laibe joked and the other lady laughed.
“Now concerning your husband, how were you able to grow past the pain and possibly hatred you must have developed for men over time before meeting him?”
“You are really asking personal questions, yeah?” Laibe smiled. “Anyway, I have always known Omachoko, I guess since I was born. When I was a local girl in the village and could barely speak a correct line in English Language, he was one not to laugh at me but rather encourage me. He has always claimed to be in love with me right from that time, till I went to Ankpa and even after all these incidents saga, he still could propose to me while carrying another man’s baby. What manner of love can be more than that again?”
The presenter smiled as Laibe turned to her, as though demanding an answer.
“You know, I actually had this thick bitterness tied in a nylon of hatred sitting somewhere to the left side of my chest. The bitterness was for men. I remember how Helen Obinna, my closest friend at Aleka Academy, Ankpa then, kept wondering why I easily get disgusted with guys. In fact, I hated anyone with the slightest resemblance to manhood. It was that bad, but Omachoko was different. Omachoko has been the medicine there is to my soul. He made me heal faster than anything else could. When I was done weaning Ocholi, he enrolled me back in a senior secondary school in Abuja here where he now works. Trust me, I was the oldest in the class, but to what do I care. Moreover, my little stature didn’t give away my age that quickly. I just started school of nursing seven weeks ago. It seems everything has fallen in shape for me, after all. I will finally become a nurse… a celebrity nurse now because of this award.”
She winked at the presenter.
“Yes Laibe. You are really a celebrity and I must tell you that a lot of people, young molested and abused ones have drawn so much inspiration from your story. Out of the broken pieces of one’s life, one can still reach the destination he/she desires. Only learn to stretch and allow room for healing.”
“You wanna shout out to your loved ones?” The presenter demanded and Laibe nodded in the affirmative.
“All glory to God who preserved my life in that labour room. It was a miracle, I keep saying that over and over again. I thank God for my husband, Mr Omachoko Ekele, he has been a rock standing solidly beside me through all the hurdles. I appreciate my lifetime friend, Ocholi. I would have still had more crush on him if my childhood wasn’t taken away from me that early.” She smiled and continued immediately. “My cute son, Ocholi – he is my greatest asset ever. I also thank God for my uncle Matthew and aunty Udale. They’ve done a lot for me, even for keeping and taking care of my son right now means a whole lot. For Helen Obinna, she is currently studying Medicine in Ukraine, we both wanted to be doctors together.
I appreciate her big for pushing me to study. I appreciate my best friends, Umali and Ebi, crazy girls. We were an unbreakable triad as innocent girls but now the wind of life has blown everyone to different places. I simply thank God for everything, my fans, the media, my art centre and for everyone I’ve met in my little life. I’ve had a lot to learn from each situation and condition.”
“We appreciate you greatly, Ma’am. Sorry, Laibe, pardon me. You are too noble to be addressed by your first name.” Laibe blushed at that statement. “Any last words for friends, family and fans out there?”
“Everyone out there who have heard, read and possibly experienced my story, I want to leave you with these words by one of the notable great men ever. He said,
The one thing you think you can do better than everyone else – go out and do that.
The light shining out of your eyes should blind people.
You should be on fire all the time.
Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.
Stay hopeful. Remember, there is always sunshine after rain.”
“Hey Goddess, I could hear this sound from the estate gate.”
“Oh! Eehen! So I shouldn’t watch my sister’s show again because I live in an estate?” Jane retorted, throwing her hands carelessly while she spoke.
“C’mon Goddess. I’m sorry!” Dr Max said, dropping his car keys and squatting to kiss Jane’s protruded stomach.
“How is my little princess doing today?” He was addressing the stomach.
“Of all days to come home horribly late, Max? We had an agreement. Look here right, it’s not fair. You didn’t let me work ever since the wedding and this pregnancy just gave you a good point to hold onto. It’s more than three years now that I’m stuck in this room all day like sardine. I’m hell bored. Especially when you come to your house this late.” She rattled on and on.
“I know this is about my missing Laibe’s show, right? You know, I didn’t really miss it. It was playing in the hospital’s common room, only that I was quite busy attending to an emergency patient. That is even why I came this late. I’m sorry, Goddess!” He pulled himself upwards and planted a soft kiss on her left cheek.
Jane smiled. “So, how is the patient now?”
She sounded like she mused those words through her nose instead.
Max felt relieved she finally smiled. “Well, he is there. Should be fine soon. How was your sister’s show?”
“Epic. Thank God we didn’t lose this girl during that scary labour. I blame Omachoko for letting a local midwife attend to Laibe in the first place.”
Max undid his tie and sat on the handle of the chair.
“The only thing I’m grateful for was that Laibe didn’t develop obstetric fistula.
I mean, the labour was prolonged and dangerously long enough for that to happen.
I guess the young lady is a strong woman in her own right.”
“Yes o. That’s why my daughter has to grow up and marry her son, Ocholi.” Jane said, sounding serious. She flashed a glance at Max’s face and she knew what was up.
“Hey! C’mon, I was only joking.” She tried to tickle him.
Max got up, dropped the nylon he’s been holding on the table.
“That’s the goddess’ appeasement, as usual.” He blurted out and started walking away.
“Max! Stop being unreasonable na. It was merely a joke.” Jane dragged herself up and tried to follow after him.
Max turned to face her with red shot eyes. At times, Jane wonders why those particular words get at him this much. He had warned her not to say that over and over again. Typical Jane! She doesn’t follow simple instructions.
“Nothing is more unreasonable than betrothing my beautiful unborn daughter to a product of an abuse, Jane. Nothing.” He said coldly and entered into the bedroom.
Jane paused involuntarily and her eyeballs widened. So wide, it could rival the size of ShopRite’s doughnut. First was about him calling her ‘Jane’ and then the other part.
“Children born as a result of abuse are children and should be treated as normal as that. No one determines how he or she should be born, we can only determine how we should live.” She called out after Max, forcefully opening the door and storming in to meet him.
Matthew turned off the television as the presenter was wrapping up the show. He tried to stand up but remembered he needed his wife’s help to do virtually everything he needed to do, including taking his bath. Maybe it would have been better if he died than living like a vegetable and a liability on the poor woman like this, after all she has been through.
“I told you not to let her go on air.”
Matthew smiled as his wife’s voice came up. She’s been crying all through the show obviously.
“It’s part of her healing process, Udale. If she could speak about it freely then we are rest assured that she is healing and moving on.” He counted every of the words.
“What about the bad name it’s bringing to you. What about your reputation that’s dragging in the mud?” Udale queried, trying to stable her breaking voice.
“I spoilt my name the very first time I yielded to the temptation of sleeping with my wife’s niece. I dragged my name in the mud with my own hand when I molested her secretly and subjected her young heart to untold hardship and torture in silence. I made a mess of my own self when I made her the wife I never married.”
That confusing phrase again.
Well, now Udale sees how one can be wife without being married.
She quickly grabbed Matthew’s hand and held it tightly to her chest as she cried.
“I’m so proud of you, woman!”
Laibe quickly turned around to see Omachoko. He hasn’t stopped calling her ‘woman’, he may never stop even. She hugged the presenter and shook hands with the other technical crew that accompanied her out of the studio, and dismissed them. They had to lead her through the back door because a good number of people, journalists, bloggers and newsmen alike were outside waiting for her to step out before they would launch their questions on her. Laibe had stated clearly that she wouldn’t be talking to any other member of the press again and that was why she waited for her husband to come pick her.
“Guess who I came with?” Omachoko said, immediately they were left alone in the conference room of the Channel’s TV building.
Laibe jerked back as Umali hurriedly opened the door and practically jogged into the room. They ran into each other’s arms and stayed in that hug for quite a while.
“I’m proud of you, Lee!” Umali said, releasing herself from the hug.
“Indeed! We are more proud of you, Umali.
Everybody is talking about your textile designs. Just few years at an Arts studio, and you now design fabrics?” Laibe sounded unbelieving.
“What can the righteous do na, babe? Lagos has taught us how to hustle noni.” Umali made them laugh.
“What are you doing in Abuja and where is prince charming?” Laibe relaxed more into Omachoko’s arms as she asked this.
“You are telling them on air that I was your crush, huh? You want Umali to break your little head for you!” Ocholi said, bumping into their discussion from outside.
Ocholi would never stop being funny in his life.
“Break Laibe’s head on top of man? Can you listen to yourself?” Umali retorted.
“Oh! You can break it on top of woman, right? Oga ‘Choko, tell them it’s now sixteen years in prison without bail o.” Ocholi motioned to the Omachoko that couldn’t curtail his laughter.
“Shooo! Better person jare…” Umali dragged Laibe from Omachoko’s hands. “You know Ebi is so good in her tailoring business now, right? After that her abusive husband was put behind bars for three months – the last time he beat her sore, he had to let her live. Ebi now has her tailoring place there in Kaduna, all thanks to alhaja. So I use her as my stylist. I design and make the textiles and she makes them into admirable styles to be worn by my models for adverts.”
“Ebi makes those adorable styles we see on Glamz Magazine? How wonderful. Why didn’t you ladies tell me all these while?” Laibe queried, feigning anger.
“Because you are now a celebrity o. An international one for that matter, don’t relate with all these local champions again o.”[/b] Ocholi cut in on them.
Umali ran over to him and reached out her fist for his chest but he held it back.
“Why are you always looking for Umali’s trouble, Ocholi?” Omachoko spoke out of laughter finally.
“Because she is my property and mine alone.”
Umali eyeballed him coldly. “God know say I still de single. I am no one’s property. It’s not by how many years you know somebody that makes you his property na.”
Everyone started laughing again.
“I hope you enjoyed your so-called singleness, cos it’s elapsing tonight.
And I didn’t say it includes your role as the sales manager for Wale’s arts studio, what is the name again?” he pointed questioning eyes at Umali but didn’t let her answer before continuing. “ I wasn’t also referring to your position as the CEO of UMALITE TEXTILES. I am only saying your singleness elapses tonight.”
Ocholi stopped as he saw everyone looking at him like he had lost his mind.
“What are you blabbing about, Ocholi?” Laibe called out to him.
“Blabbing? Won’t you commend me for risking my fine life to be with this trouble maker?” Ocholi pecked Umali’s cheek quickly and withdrew like he stole it. The latter slapped him on the shoulder.
“You see what I am saying? She is showing herself already. I was just thinking of asking her to be my wife now o, but I changed my mind.”
They laughed again. He continued,
“I changed my mind because I don’t want you to only be my wife but I need you to be my air, Umali. I love you so much, I can’t live without you.” He drew very close to her and wrapped one hand round her waist while the other went into his pocket.
Laibe and Omachoko’s eyes popped open when Ocholi brought out a ring box from his pocket. It’s about time.
Umali felt like crying as Ocholi’s eyes stared deeply at her.
“Don’t even think I’ll go down on any useless one knee. Better take this ring and wear it on… on which finger again? Just wear it quickly before I change my mind again.”
Laibe and Omachoko kept staring at the strangest form of wedding proposal they’ve ever seen. Umali was smiling broadly through her tears.
“Hey! OK! I’ve changed my mind again.
Everyone here now feels I am insane.” Ocholi said, looking at the presenter that just stepped in. The young woman must have come to see what was going on. They’ve probably spent so much time here as it were.
“I have changed my mind. Umali, I don’t just need you to be my air anymore; be my medicine, cure my insanity, give me everything I need.”
Umali covered her mouth with her two hands.
THE WIFE I NEVER MARRIED
Thank you everyone for following the story to this time. I hope you weren’t disappointed? Not tragedy, right?
Thanks to Grace for sharing the story with us.