July 17, 2017 at 7:25 am #1045786ValentineAdmin
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Tamuno’s dirty face lit up as he imagined the future. Visions filled his little mind, visions of himself in a clean white shirt and crisply pressed trousers, seated behind the steering wheel of that big black Pathfinder. He wondered how luxurious the inside of such a car must be. He imagined it was more spacious than the one-room apartmnent in Diobu, where he lived with his mother and sister, and where they shared kitchen and bathroom with twenty other people. He had glimpsed the sparkling white leather seats. Tamuno had never rested his buttocks on leather seats before, and he could only dream about its softness. And the air-conditioning! He imagined it was icy cold, it would, definitely, be chilly like London. He had heard Amos, the man who sold air-conditioning units at the mile-one market, say that his air-conditioners chilled a room very well, like London. That was such a good thing. The London chill was good for the skin and rich people always carried it around in their big cars to maintain their freshness. Someday, he would drive a Pathfinder too. Someday, he would be somebody important, he would work in an office, and people would call him ‘oga’.
He owed his optimism to his youth, and nothing more. He was not on any deliberate path to a destination of promise. Yet. He was twelve years old, and he had not been inside a classroom for several years because his mother could not afford to buy him school books. She could barely even manage to give him and his little sister one warm meal a day. But there was time. Many years in which he could grow tall and change his life’s lot for the better. He was riding on the wings of hope and happenstance.
“I like that one!” Sidi pointed to a flashy red sedan that raced past them.
Sidi and Tamuno were both sitting on the narrow median strip on Ikwere road, with trays of bananas, displayed for sale, between them. It was afternoon already, and they had worn themselves out, walking the distance from mile-one to mile-three several times over, to hawk their goods. They sat there hoping to sell their bananas in the building traffic.
“That’s a Honda, and it’s a girls’ car.”
“I am a girl”
Tamuno laughed. “I’ll buy it for you someday.”
“Because i will be rich. And then i will marry you and buy you nice things.”
Sidi shrugged her slim shoulders indifferently. “Maybe, i will buy it for myself someday.”
“With what money?”
“With money from the bank.”
“You are being silly! You have to put the money in the bank first, before you can withdraw it”
“Then that’s what i will do.”
“No. I am going to be rich, while you are going to be pretty.”
“You don’t think i am pretty now?”
“You know what i mean. You will wear Brazillian hair and nice make-up and beautiful clothes.”
“Why can’t i be both rich and pretty?”
“Because girls don’t make money by themselves. Men give it to them.”
“Why will men give it to them?”
“Because they are pretty.”
“But I know women who make money. Auntie Timi, from the compound, makes her own money. She even owns a car.”
“Auntie Timi is an ashawo.”
“She is not! she is a banker.”
“Don’t you know that women who work in banks are ashawos too?”
Tamuno shrugged carelessly, as if his assertion did not require an explanation. “Good girls stay at home and take care of their families.”
Sidi s----d in her lower lip and bit down on it. She did not say the words that had worked their way up to the tip of her tongue. Mentioning Tamuno’s mother now would be an insensitive thing to do. Everyone in the compound knew Tamuno’s mother was a prostitute. She was the prostitute of the compound. Being a woman of no education, it was the only way she had thought to put food into the mouths of her two striplings after her husband disappeared to China in search of a better life. Now that she was aging, her business was on the steady decline – a woman in her mid thirties was way past her sell-by date – and Tamuno had to pull his own weight as the man of the house. Even though he was only a boy. Sidi suspected that his mother’s occupation bothered Tamuno more than he would ever admit. Maybe he was hoping that his strong traditional values, which were synonymous to chauvinism and misogyny, would make up for his mother’s easy virtue. His chauvinism was carved out of his deep insecurities and shame.
Sidi had known Tamuno her whole life; they were both born in that face-me-i-face-you slum, only two months apart. They were thick as thieves, always looking out for one another. Sidi’s mother had died in childbirth; the baby had died too, leaving her behind as an only child. Sidi’s father was a mean drunk who used her as his domestic slave and beat her frequently. On those painful evenings, as her tears fell into the fire heating up the same rancid soup that stilled the rumbling in their bellies for a whole week, it was Tamuno who would console her. He would cheer her up with paintings of a bright and certain future – a life where they both would live in a real house with a gate and a fence around it. And where her father would come knocking one day, and ask for her forgiveness.
She loved Tamuno. He was the one who wiped her path clean of all the obvious obstacles, and he made her see the horizon.
“Banana!” A man from across the street called to them.
Sidi and Tamuno hurriedly picked up their trays and tore recklessly across the heavy traffic, tossing off their flip-flops. Of singular mind, they did not look this way or that, they simply trusted providence to guide them safely to their point of urgent business. And they arrived leaving angry honking and irritable screams of obscenities in their wake.
“These ones are big” The man said of Sidi’s goods. He selected a bunch and asked Sidi to follow him to his construction site to supply his mates with her bananas. “These are enough, I don’t need yours.” He told Tamuno.
But Tamuno followed them regardless. Barefooted, he hung back several yards and by half a minute, the entire fifteen minute walk to the roofless structure. It was cordoned off from street view with corrugated iron sheets. There were m----s of white sand scattered in the ample foreground, but he couldn’t see anyone. There were no masons or laborers doing any work. It did not look like they had been doing any work for weeks: the sand lay compressed by bouts of rain and the grass had begun to grow. But he was certain that this was the site Sidi had just entered into, so he sat on a low stack of masonry blocks by the entrance and waited. After several minutes had past, he still had not caught sight of a single soul. Tamuno grew nerveous. He decided to explore the building; stealthily from the outside through the windows, at first. But then, when he discovered how high and unreachable the sills were, he opted to go inside.
Tamuno stood petrified when he heard the familiar sounds. The moaning, the whimpering. One did not grow up in a neighbourhood such as his without knowing these sounds intimately. He stood petrified, and yet his feet carried him into that room of horror. There were five of them. Big and muscular men. Two of them had their knees pressed on the limp limbs of that tiny unrecognizable girl. While one hand was placed firmly over her mouth, several other hands groped the parts of her Tamuno had never ever seen before. One of the men lay between her sprawled legs, his naked buttocks turned to the sky, clenching sporadically as he moved rapidly up and down. In and out. Pounding the fight, and surely the life, out of that tiny body. One of the five stood by the window stroking his distended member as he watched the ensemble with a strange look on his face. And the other man walked across the room and hit Tamuno hard across the face.
He did not realize he had been screaming wildly, brandishing a flimsy two-by-four which he had picked up en-route. The man knocked Tamuno’s head against the wall and commanded him to shut his mouth. “Do you want to fight us? Are you ready to die?” He knew he did not stand a chance. He sat helplessly in the corner as he watched five hefty men turn the innocent girl, he had spoken with only minutes before, into a woman. A broken woman. When Tamuno’s eyes eventually locked with Sidi’s, he tried to convey all of his regrets, but she shut hers in shame as the tears fell in a torrent.
Tamuno endured Sidi’s assault for an agonizing life time. It was really only minutes, but in those minutes he had aged profoundly as the seasons passed by. He heard the men moan with pleasure as they plundered Sidi’s body. He saw the blood and the sweat and the semen. He saw the bananas scattered all over the concrete floor. He saw the bare breasts – the beautiful modest m----s with their dark tiny tips. And he felt the stirring in his own body.
The men left them there, not caring if they reported the incident. The laws of the land favoured rapists, the woman was always to blame. She was always looking for it: with her scant clothing, or her sharp make-up, or her smile, or her frequent visits. And in this case, what was this girl looking for, following a man to a secluded area? What had she expected if not the inevitable? Why had the mother not taken better care of her daughter and thought her how to behave? She should have known better.
There always was blame for the woman – even a little girl – but not the men who had destroyed another human being without a second thought.
Tamuno picked Sidi’s broken body off the floor and cradled her in his scrawny embrace. “I am so sorry.” He took off his shirt and used it to wipe the filth off her skin. As he ran the cloth over her breasts, he felt the throbbing in his g---n as his heart rate quickened. He fought the urge without success. And so, he unzipped his shorts to reveal his turgid penis. Sidi wept, “Tam, no. please don’t. Please.” But he did. He kissed the side of her face, awkwardly, as he pushed her back into the dirt, and he began to quench his desire. It was over in less than a minute, because he had not yet learned how to draw out the pain. Tamuno lost his virginity in the same spot Sidi had. Only minutes apart. As he t----t his little pecker into the already sore crevice, he kept saying over and over “I am sorry, Sidi. I am so sorry.”
Sidi knew she would hate Tamuno forever. It was a betrayal of Shakespearean dimensions. Just like with Caesar, who had first suffered the many vicious lunges from the blades of all seven conspirators, and where the dagger of Marcus Brutus had dealt the most hurtful blow, she felt undone by Tamuno’s betrayal. His little staff had not been sufficient to even match the burrow left behind by the grown men’s penises, but the holes he had bored in her heart and in her soul were unmatched by anything she had ever experienced. And she could never forgive him.
On the way out of the site, he pulled her aside again.
“Sidi, please forgive me. I am so sorry.”
Sidi looked at him as though he were a stranger. And in many ways, he was.
“I love you.” He said urgently.
What did he know of love? “Tamuno, you have broken everything.”
Sidi turned on her heel and walked away from him, leaving him chasing helplessly after her. She walked blindly. The heated tears stung the back of her eyes, and blurred her vision. But she kept walking, determined to put as much distance as possible between herself and the ugly incident she had endured. She wanted to walk far away so that it would become, with every step forward, a distant memory. Until it was in the very distant past. If only her mind could walk the miles her feet were walking, then her memory of it would diminish just like the site stood small and insignificant in the distance. But her mind remained steadfast – locked away in that room. And she carried the baggage on her shoulders.
Her life had collapsed in half an hour.
She heard Tamuno calling her name in the distance. He was actually not that far away, but his voice reached her through a shroud of her own despondency. Sidi did not break her stride or pay him any attention. She hated him! And she would never forgive him. She would never even speak to him ever again.
The screeching of tires and the sound of two objects colliding with brutal force, caused Sidi to turn around. A lump built up quickly in her throat as she recognized the shirtless mass of open wounds in the middle of Ikwere road. The warm yellow liquid trickled down her legs. Even from the distance she could tell there was nothing left of him to salvage. Tamuno was gone.
Tamuno you have broken everything.
Sidi wanted to hate Tamuno for a very long time. But how could she do that now when he lay there lifeless in the wake of his sins against her? There was no long time to be had. There was only this moment of intense loathing, and deep regret, and a profound denial of all feelings. Even though she was not ready for it, she wanted to forgive him that instant, if he would open his eyes and walk away from the wreckage of broken flesh. But he stayed immobile.
Sidi shed her tears for him, and for everything else she had lost that fateful afternoon.
The EndJuly 17, 2017 at 11:57 am #1045897JerrieMember
*sobs*July 17, 2017 at 11:58 am #1045898olatunjitobiMember
I hope it remains a story,it must not happen….what a tragic,THUMB UP 4 the writerJuly 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm #1045968ItzprinceModerator
Tamuno do you have a heart at all.. All the same, nice storyJuly 17, 2017 at 5:34 pm #1045995SoftieMember
what a pity!July 17, 2017 at 7:18 pm #1046082YoungmissMember
Etz a pityJuly 17, 2017 at 8:19 pm #1046124delexzy01Member
tamuno couldn’t hv done it at dat moment when she was regretting her mistakeJuly 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm #1046152jummybabeMember