January 9, 2016 at 9:30 am #465541SaintkenzMember
IJE (the Journey)
My name is Joy, funny how my name sounds to me, when I tell you my story, maybe you would understand the irony of my name. I was born into the home of a military officer, and my mother was a trader. The fourth child, in a family of six (as it was back then).
I lived the carefree life most children in the barracks live, and never really knew anything that went on in my family. All that changed, when I turned thirteen. I remember that day, like it is yesterday. I was on my way back from school, and was in a haste to remove my school uniform and join my friend Elizabeth and her brother Moses on a mango plucking spree. I got to our block, and saw my sister, Sister Hope on the ground crying. My father was throwing clothes at her from our house on the first floor, and my mother was pleading with my father. I ran towards Sister Hope, and my father shouted at me to stay away from her or else he would beat stupidity out of my head. I froze, and stood there watching. My younger brother Andrew had been behind me, and he also joined me, wondering what was going on.
Later that evening, my father called my siblings and I into our small sitting room, and announced to us that Hope was never setting foot into his house again, and that if he ever saw or heard that we had any communication with her, we would also join her out of his house. Our first daughter Sister Faith, started crying and my father went on to say that Hope had gotten pregnant and that any of us that gets pregnant would face the same fate. Our mother didn’t say a word throughout that meeting.
Later at night, while others slept, Sister Faith explained to me how a girl can get pregnant. She told me to stay away from boys. Boys were bad. I listened to her lecture and fell soundly to bed. The next morning, I had forgotten all about girls and pregnancies, and Sister Hope came to my mind, when it was time to make my hair. She was the one that weaved our hair.
Three months passed, and pregnancy stared me in the face again. This time, I was the only one at home, when Mama Rose dragged rose to our house. Rose was crying when I opened the door. “Where is your foolish father” Mama Rose asked me. I was shocked for two reasons. First, nobody has ever called my father foolish, and secondly Mama Rose was supposed to be my father’s friend. I know he goes to her bar many times. I told her that my father was not around, but no sooner had I said this, than my father came up the stairs.
The speed at which mama Rose grabbed my father’s trousers, was alarming. Mama rose was a very tiny woman. But apparently, she had the strength of a lioness. Soon my father’s shirt, his favourite shirt was in shreds. All the while, Rose continued crying and all I could pick out from the chaos was….. “cheat”, “mother and daughter”, “wicked man”. Neighbours from my block and neighbouring blocks, gathered. I was still confused, when my father finally extracted himself from the claws of Mama Rose, and ran into our house, locking the door behind him.
My mother was called from her shop, and she came to the house. She listened to Mama Rose for two minutes, and fell to the ground crying. Then she stood up, hit our door for minutes but my father did not open the door. Little by little, neighbours dispersed and even Mama Rose left, but Rose stayed behind.
Once again, a meeting was called but this time, I can’t remember who called the meeting. My mother did most of the talking, and Sister Faith, Brother John our first son talked also. My mother said she was going back to her village, that she was tired of staying with our father. She said she was going with Andrew our little brother and the last child of the family who was seven years old.
My younger sister Peace cried, saying she wanted to go with our mother, but my mother said she couldn’t take care of her. Peace was ten years old. My father was silent, throughout this meeting and Rose was outside in the corridor. The next morning my mother was gone and so was Andrew.
That was the end of life as I knew it. So many changes happened at the same time. Sister Faith left her school and started running my mother’s shop, Rose became a permanent part of our household, and her stomach grew with every passing day, as did her mother’s. I and Peace started hawking pure water and kerosene from Sister Faith’s store.
Years later, my father was transferred to another state and he informed us that we had to stay behind. By this time, Rose had two children, brother John had left the house for Lagos, I was still waiting for all the money he promised to send me when he got there. Sister Faith was still running the shop, and had a room of her own, somewhere in town. I and Peace were the only one at home, with our father and Rose. Father said we would have to move in with Sister Faith. I was sixteen years old.
I left secondary school the same year we moved in with Faith. Life outside the barracks was nothing like the life I had lived. The people in sister Faith’s compound, lived a fast paced life. All the men in the compound, the landlord inclusive, asked me to be their girl friend. I spent a lot of time in Sister Faith’s store, I didn’t have time for any of them. I wish I could say the same for Peace. I started to notice something was off with Peace, when I saw her with a lot of money one afternoon. She refused to tell me who gave it to her, and even Faith could not get it out of her.
Peace started buying clothes for herself, and always had one new gift or another. She didn’t listen to me anymore, and she spent her time in the compound, so she was alone most of the time.
I came back from church that Sunday afternoon, and went into the room. My sister Peace was lying face down on the floor, close to the door. There was blood everywhere. She had not followed me to church, because she said she wasn’t feeling too well. I screamed, and grabbed hold of her, she was very weak, and the blood coming out of her was scary. She was crying in pain. She gave me a bloodied piece of paper while I screamed my lungs out, for help. When help came, and we finally got her to the hospital, the doctor said DOA dead on arrival. She had died from an abortion that wasn’t properly carried out. The doctor said she might have ingested something in a bid to remove the baby.
When we got back home later that night, the bloodied paper was on the floor by the door. Peace had scribbled a note. I gave the note to Sister Faith read it, and wept.
It told a tale of how she had slept with five men in our compound, and that our landlord raped her. when she fell pregnant, she didn’t know who was responsible, neither did she even know she was pregnant until one of them told her she was. She didn’t say who, she also didn’t say who gave her the concoction. But she listed the men that slept with her. Peace was only fourteen years old.
My elder sister went to the police station the next day, and reported the case. All the men including the land lord were arrested. Two days later they were bailed and the landlord gave us the remainder of our rent and sent us packing. The matter died at the police station. I decided that I was going to become a lawyer.
I never got over the death of my sister. For years I would close my eyes and see the blood and imagine the way she must have dragged herself on the floor in pains, trying to get to the door. I swore off men, I realised that all the problems that came to my family had to do with men and pregnancies. I was having a battle with getting into the university, to fulfil my dreams of becoming a lawyer.
Sister Faith got married, and that was the beginning of another phase in my life. her husband was a never do well. I could see it from the first day I met him, and I always wondered why she couldn’t see it. Our father wasn’t even present to take the bride price, it was his younger brother that stood in for him. As for our mother, it seemed like she had jumped out of this world with our brother Andrew, that morning they left us.
Two months into their marriage, Uncle Amos raped me. That day my world came crashing down. I have never been of a big stature, and it was very easy for him to overpower me that evening when my sister sent me home from the shop to make dinner. I lay on the floor weeping, until my sister came. She asked me what had happened, and when I told her, she took me into the bathroom and bathed me. That was the end of that incident. We never spoke about it. It was like it never happened.
A repeat performance followed the very next month. This time, Sister Faith blamed me, saying I was seducing her husband. That was the beginning of the end of my life in that house. I soon found out I was pregnant, and the house became a place of torment. Uncle Amos wanted me to have the baby, stating that my sister had not given him any yet. This was barely four months into their marriage. My sister said that would happen over her dead body. I was scared and felt trapped. I didn’t want to end up like peace, and I didn’t want to have a baby, least of all for the devil called Amos. I had dinner one night, and went to bed. A sharp pain in my abdomen woke me up, and I was bleeding.
My sister and her husband quarrelled In the middle of the night, while I bled out on my bed. That night, I stared death in the face, but in my suffering, I refused to die. I was not going to end up a failure and refused to die so young. Uncle Amos accused Sister Faith of giving me something to remove the pregnancy, and Sister Faith said God was vindicating her of the evil she married. They went on for hours.
By morning, I had stopped bleeding. I knew Aunty Faith was responsible, but I was simply glad to be alive. Two days later, she sent me to live with her friend in another town. Her friend owned a saloon, and I was to learn the trade. I asked her what about my plans for school, and she asked me if she had a university education?
Madam Linda was older than I expected. I wondered how exactly Faith knew her. I spent one year and three months with her, working like a slave. She was a miser, and giving us food to eat was a hardship. She had six of us under her in the saloon and we all shared a room in her two bedroom flat. That was my first experience living without family. I became close to Gladys. We confided in each other, and were counting the days till we would free to leave. I learnt everything there was to learn, saving all the tips I got, with dreams of opening my own place after my days with Madam Linda. Dreams I shared with Gladys.
You can I imagine my Joy the day we ended our apprenticeship. Gladys invited me to stay over with her at her uncle’s house, until I got a place of my own. We set out that evening, as Gladys said it was not far from where Madam Linda stayed. We got on a bike, and stopped at a junction. When we got there, the bike man said he did not have change and Gladys went in one direction to look for change.
When five minutes passed and she was not back, the bike man asked me to go and look for her. I went in that direction, and asked people of her and I was told a lady of her description, had gotten on another bike there.
I couldn’t believe it. I had only five hundred naira in my pocket, as my money was in the bag Gladys had with her. It had been her idea for us to use just one bag to pack our things, since we were going to the same house. Thirty minutes later, I had to accept that Gladys had played a fast one on me. I was penniless, homeless and alone. I walked around the area, until shops closed then I looked for a corner by one shop, and wept.
I wondered what I had done to life to deserve all this misfortune. I thought about my life, and my family. Things were not supposed to turn out the way they had. I was twenty-three years old, and it seemed all my dreams were never coming through. That was the longest night of my life. I wondered the usefulness of my existence and if there was ever a time I felt there was no God, it was that night.
The next morning, I sat deep in thought, wondering what I was going to do and where I was going to go. I knew I wasn’t wanted in Faith’s house and I didn’t even want to go there. I had nowhere to go. I was wandering around the area, deep in thought, when I was hit by a car.
I woke up in a hospital, and stared into the eyes of a very beautiful woman. She was smiling down at me. She was the one that hit me, and brought me to the hospital. She told me her name was Mrs. Anna. She was an elderly woman. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks, I had two fractures. Mrs. Anna came to see me every day and she consoled me after hearing about my misfortunes. When I left the hospital, I moved in with Mrs. Anna. That signified another turn in my life.
Mrs. Anna was a widow and she had children older than I was. While I was with her, she enrolled me in jamb lessons, and my life was back on track. That year, I got admission into school but not for law like I wanted, but mass communication. Mrs. Anna paid my tuition and I resumed school. It was a happy time for me. Then the devil struck again and my benefactor died. I was just getting into two hundred level. I got a call from one of her sisters and I went home to see the house overrun by strangers. After the burial, the house was locked up, and I moved into the school hostel.
I started making hair for students, to carter for myself and it was taking its toll on my studies. Three hundred level was a very difficult time for me. I could barely feed myself, and buy books. I had some offers, to join girls to go for those types of parties where you are paid for coming. I always declined. Not because I was spiritual, I was never a spiritual person. But because I didn’t want to go through the pain of having a man touch me. I had vivid dreams of being raped by Uncle Amos regularly.
Then I met Daniel. I was in my final year in school, and still struggling to make ends meet. I went to a cybercafé in school, with the aim of searching for my siblings on facebook. I found John, but didn’t find hope and Andrew. I sent John messages, and I was excited about hearing from him, after all these years. In my excitement, I ran into Daniel. He was coming into the café while I was going out. For the first time in my life, I felt an attraction to a man. Apparently he felt it too. We exchanged numbers, and became fast friends.
Daniel was not a student, he told me he had finished his university education three years before. Our love blossomed. For the first time since the death of Mrs. Anna, I didn’t have to worry about money. Daniel catered for all my needs and he became my world. I told him about my life and he was very understanding.
Three months into our relationship, I spent the night with Daniel and he changed my perception of men. The next morning, we were awoken by a cold bucket of water, being poured on us. I didn’t understand what was going on, until I heard Daniel apologising and pleading. Daniel was married and at closer look, I found my missing sister Hope…. Daniel’s wife..
Kindly check back before 1PM today for the concluding part. Thanks thanks & happy weekend to you 🙂January 9, 2016 at 9:37 am #465548SaintkenzMember
Classiq peepz .. Y’all need to see this!! IJE -Weekend Special
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@Jokqees @VictoriouschildJanuary 9, 2016 at 10:00 am #465576sapiensMember
What misfortunate ! Nice story you got thereJanuary 9, 2016 at 10:04 am #465584AHMAD (Feed,me,more)Member
chaii!! This one is strongJanuary 9, 2016 at 10:16 am #465594SoftieMember
Wow! InterestingJanuary 9, 2016 at 10:33 am #465610MrayMember
Hun?January 9, 2016 at 10:40 am #465615LadywenMember
wat a life.January 9, 2016 at 10:52 am #465634AdolfMember