Sacrilege – Episode 39
© Adeola Nissi
Teju watched her phone ring out until it finally fell silent. She picked the phone and stared at it. Three missed calls. Teju honestly didn’t know what she was going to say to Hassan. He must be thinking she was still mad at him when in actual sense, she was mad at herself. The truth was that she had overreacted the previous night. All Hassan had wanted was for her to have a good time, enjoy her night; but instead, she had totally ruined the night by letting a stupid movie get into her head. But she knew why she had overreacted. Hassan had been all sweet and charming before they ended up watching the movie. He had tickled her lady spots with his sweet gestures and extreme kindness that she had begun to wonder what it would be like to encourage Hassan’s advances.
But she knew better… she knew encouraging that thought would bring up thoughts of living longer, thoughts of going for treatment; and those thoughts were the exact ones she would like to avoid. She had gone through the pain of knowing her life was being cut short. She had gone through the pain of knowing death was coming sooner than expected, she had cried rivers of tears at her fate, she had mourned her demise until she finally came to accept the inevitability. What you can’t change, you accept and make the best out of it. That had been her mantra for months, engineering her every thought, her every action. Everything she did had been done knowing she had limited time. She had made costly mistakes, mistakes she would take to her grave but now, even as the world tumbled over the decisions she had made to make her last days count, she realized… maybe they weren’t mistakes after all. Maybe that was the way everything was meant to be. All that mattered was that they would all get to be happy… they would all get what they had always wanted. But there was no stopping the pain in her heart. There was the pain of knowing that though she would have the child – baby girl as she had always wanted – she would never be able to have the moments she always dreamt of with her child. She would never get the chance to dress her up, deck her in the finest clothes she could afford, decorate her hair so beautifully and watch her grow into a beautiful young woman that would be the envy of other women. She would never get to have her dreams complete.
After so much heartbreak and failed relationships with men, she had successfully killed every dream of having a perfect home of a loving husband with equally loving and beautiful children. And it was better that way, Teju concluded. She could save herself a whole lot of pain by avoiding false hopes and dreams that lead only to heartbreak. It is better this way; limited hopes, eyes on death.
The phone rang out again and Teju released a sigh and dumped the phone on the bed as she pushed herself out of it. But what harm could come from having some fun with someone who clearly was head over heels in love with her? Since she had just a little time left, why couldn’t she enjoy it? She sighed. With that thought comes the thought to live longer and the inevitable pain she would feel, Teju reminded herself.
As she pushed out of bed, her drugs fell off and she bent to scooped it up. To say Hassan really tried for her would be an understatement. Who was it that said no one can be just a friend after he has asked you out? The person sure hadn’t met Hassan. Though she had turned him down, he still remained a good friend, saying she would come to love him eventually. He didn’t lie though, he came to be so important and necessary for her wellbeing in every sense of the word. Even after she had fallen ill andhe had diagnosed her, giving her the worst news she ever received, he had been ever supportive, almost taking Deolu’s place as her male bestie. Hassan surely deserved better than this, she had to return the favour and make him know she didn’t take him for granted.
Teju set the drug on the table and made for her tiny but cozy kitchen. If only cancer hadn’t made her quit her job, maybe her life would be a whole lot more meaningful, she thought grimly as she grabbed the small accumulated trash from the previous day and headed out to dispose it.
Teju opened the door to her apartment and jumped back in fright, nearly dropping the small nylon of waste she was holding. Her eyes were fixed on the floor in momentary shock as she stared at the recoiling feminine shape that most likely had passed the night her doorstep.
Her heart in her throat, she took a cautious step closer to see her face as the woman pulled up, awakened by her door. “Hello?” she managed. God help her if it was a mad woman ready to bite her head off.
Then the woman turned and Teju had to stifle a groan of frustration. “You?” she let out. “What are you doing sleeping at my door? Is your house on fire?”
Gloria straightened, rubbing the back of her hand against the spittle drool at the corner of her mouth. “I had to make you see me, Teju”
“And you think pity party works with me? Sorry ma’am, I don’t care how many mosquitoes feasted on you while you were at this vigil, neither would it change anything.” She made to close the door.
“Wait” Gloria jumped at the door as it drew to a close, blocking it with her body. “Please… please just listen to me, Teju… please”
“And what else would you tell me that I don’t already know?” Teju’s eyes shot daggers at Gloria. “Listen, Laura already gave me the juicy details okay? She told me practically everything and I am still battling with her plea to forgive you, so you’d better leave it at that; I am not ready for yet another life-altering news. I have more than enough bulls*** in my life as it is”
“I know. I know okay, and I am sorry… I am so sorry” Teju watched as Gloria’s eyes clouded with tears and she frowned wondering what she had said to invite the waterworks. “I know I have been the worst mother, I know you’ve been made to endure so much pain and I have never been there for you, I am sorry, I am so sorry. I know no reason is tangible enough but… I just want to explain why I did. I want to explain what made me drop you off on the river to be led wherever destiny sailed you.” Teju swallowed, seeing the intensity in Gloria’s gaze and the tears in her eyes. “Please…”
“I used to be like every other woman” Gloria began minutes later when she was fully settled in Teju’s room, seated on a chair while Teju sat on the bed, eyes on her fingers, giving her half attention. “I was young, barely a teenager, yet I had a lot of dreams and hopes. Like most ladies growing up, I often daydreamed of having the perfect family. The perfect husband, the perfect children… it was my dream to have loving and wonderful children I could dress up to the envy of others. Then things changed. I was just thirteen but I reached the stage of puberty early. My body was a lot more mature than kids my age and I started getting male admirers so young but I never knew my father… was one of my admirers” Gloria swallowed. Teju’s brows drew together as her eyes slid towards Gloria.
“I was in my room one night. My parents had gone to bed. We were a bit stable financially so we could afford a decent accommodation. My parents’ room was not so close to mine and I was their only daughter. Just as I was about to doze off, my door opened and my dad came in. It wasn’t unusual for my dad to come into my room; he often came into my room to check if I was asleep yet. Many times, I would close my eyes, pretending to be asleep; he would stay a while, I would feel him move around then he’d turn off the lights and leave. If only I had been more cautious. I always thought he was just being so caring, I never knew… I never knew it was a warning signal.
“As dad entered my room, I became fully conscious and stared at him. He… he was sweating. But i… I couldn’t understand the look in his eyes as he looked at me. I was just in my night gown…” she shook her head, her eyes growing dark and distant. “I couldn’t understand why he was staring at my body like that. Why was he looking at me like that? This was my father, he shouldn’t be staring at me like that, he shouldn’t be… shouldn’t be looking at my small breasts like that.”
Gloria pushed off the chair, unable to sit still as Teju stared at her in utter disbelief. “I pleaded with him, I cried, I tried to escape…” she shook her head as she rubbed off the tears from her face. “But there was no escaping him. He raped me that night, rubbed me of my virginity… and that was the beginning of my torment.” She swallowed. “I couldn’t tell mum, she was barely around anyways. She worked in a bank, left early and arrived very late and tired. My father’s job was not so tedious so he was always around. He silenced me with gifts and threats as the molestation went on, becoming more frequent. Every night I cried myself to sleep, every night, I had nightmares… many times, I came so close to suicide; but my mum was in the dark, completely unaware. Then the worst happened; I got pregnant. I was too young. When I fell ill and started throwing up, how was I to know my father’s child was growing in me? I always wanted to have kids but no; I never thought I would be made to carry my father’s child when I was barely fourteen. But my mother saw the signs for what they were and so did my father. My mother was all screams, asking me who was responsible for my pregnancy; you’d think my father would be remorseful…” Gloria shook her head, wiping her tears again. “He took out his belt and started whipping me, asking me to… to confess who impregnated me. Even my mother had to plead with him to be calm but he just wouldn’t. Of course, he had to save face and keep up with the pretense. Then, you wouldn’t believe what he did next” she chuckled bitterly as she glanced at Teju who seemed to have grown white. “He threw me out.” She declared. “That man threw me out of the house into the street, all sick and pregnant with an abomination”
“It was the last time I saw them. My mother didn’t even have the benefit of knowing her loving husband was the one who raped and impregnated her daughter! So young, I was out of school and about to be a mother. I was on the street, sleeping under buses and in empty shops at night at the mercy of reckless men until I met a group of women who picked me up and gave me shelter. But they were the wrong set of women. It was bad that I was pregnant at such a tender age, worse even that I also did an abortion so young. Every dream I ever had about having a perfect home was destroyed. I hated my father; hated fathers… the women pulled me into prostitution and everything I held high about the male gender was effectively shattered. To me, they were nothing but trash. I grew in the business, had series of abortions until…” Gloria turned to Teju; “until I had you” she swallowed as Teju took a deep breath.
“I didn’t want to have a child anymore. All dreams of having kids were totally shattered but I felt something special with your father. When I was with him, it… it wasn’t like every other customer. Something told me he was a good man but when I told him I was pregnant for him, he shouted at me, telling me he wasn’t responsible and asked me to abort it. Then it was like dejavu. He became a monster just like all the men in my life. I wanted to abort the baby, but I couldn’t. The doctor said I could die. But I couldn’t have a baby, I just couldn’t; I was too damaged. God knew a child was better off without me as the mother. When I had you… you… you looked so innocent, so precious. I just… I couldn’t hold on to you. My life was a messed up piece of crap, I just couldn’t give you that kind of life. You deserved better… God knows… God knows you deserve a better mother than me”
Gloria turned her eyes away, unable to bear Teju’s penetrating gaze. “Years after, I met Christ. God gave me beauty for ashes, I found peace again, I started living again. But much water already passed under the bridge. There were mistakes I made that I couldn’t erase or correct. But no day passed that I did not pray for your wellbeing, Tinuke. Every single day, I prayed to God to keep you safe and give me the blessing of seeing you before I die.”
Teju wiped the tears on her face as she watched Gloria struggle. She felt for that little girl who had been molested and abused, she felt for the woman before her who had been made to lead a lonely and helpless life right from a very tender age. No matter how hurt she felt at being abandoned, she never felt that way growing up because she had a mother that cared for her. Would she have been grateful if she grew knowing her mother was a whore and having to endure men taking turns on her mother?
Gloria turned to face, her eyes were intense and pleading. “I know what I did was inexcusable and unforgivable; you could have died. But, I am sorry. All I want is a place in your life, no matter how small. I want to be here for you now, to do all the things I couldn’t do for you… Please”
Teju swallowed. She stood and walked over to Gloria, taking a deep breath, she hugged Gloria, holding the older woman tight. They sobbed and laughed. Forgiveness is a choice and Teju was happy to choose it.
Deolu made sure to keep himself and his car out of sight. The track led somewhere here and he knew Laura and her captors had to be somewhere around. It was a bushy area with few houses scattered all over. His guess was on the incompleted building he had spotted but he definitely wasn’t going to just charge in senselessly without a measure of backup or protecting, putting Laura in harm; no. He couldn’t afford to make costly mistakes now.He could pay any amount for safety but doing that without apprehending them was like giving them an opening to repeat the act in the nearest future.
His phone rang and he picked instantly. “You’re close?” He asked.
Deolu turned and heaved a sigh of relief as his saw his detective friend drawing near. He needed to have someone armed with him if he was to face kidnappers.
Deolu shook Felix when he was at arm’s length. “Glad you could make it”
Felix nodded. “You are too visible. Walk with me”
On the walk, Deolu briefed him on what was going on and how Laura’s phone had led him here.
Felix nodded. “Okay. So, if you drove all the way here, I suppose you have a plan?”
“I do” he said and discussed the plan with him. Felix smiled. “You should be a detective”
“I might minor in that field in the nearest future, teach y’all some tricks”
Felix smiled. “Look forward to that. Okay, place the call”
Deolu took out his phone and dialed the number the kidnapper had called with. He just hoped, they’d go along with his plan and pick up.
They did. “Do you have the money?”
Deolu took a deep breath. “Yes, i have the money, where do I make the drop?”
To be continued