Nothing distorts the human face than a frowning mien. What could have caused the frown on Ada’s face; it looked like a badly razed bush.
She sat staring into space, oblivious of anything going on around her; it was obvious she was lost in some deep thought. Ike stood in front of her smiling and trying to catch her attention but it was as if she could look through him. Whatever it was, Ike knew it wouldn’t be good.
Ike Obi is Ada’s younger brother, their parents had them after fifteen years of marriage. Everyone thought their mother was a barren old witch due to her childlessness. She was ostracized from the good women’s meeting of her village because they thought her barren state must have been as a result of the evil she must have done whilst in her youth.
Her husband didn’t help matters too; he was always coming home drunk, better drunk than listen to his wife’s tales of the next “Dibia” (herbalist) to see who would help them in their quest for a child. He would pretend to have fallen asleep and before she arose the following morning, he would have jetted out to the farm or gone to hunt for bush meat. He only stayed back home when he wanted to perform his conjugal duties.
Eventually, luck smiled on her. She conceived and had her first child Ada. It seemed the whole village came to the christening; they wanted to see the baby themselves. A year later, she conceived again and had Ike. Her joy knew no bounds; she believed the heavens must be smiling down on her. But nine years after Ike’s birth, she suddenly started losing weight. At first, she thought it was her eating habit and resolved to eat better. But when there was no improvement, she went to the health center. She did some tests but because the health center was ill equipped, not much could be done for her. She was referred to the state hospital in their state capital.
The test was carried out and the diagnosis showed she had an advanced case of cervical cancer. The cancer has spread to distant into her bladder and bowel. Due to lack of funds to treat her, she was eventually discharged and told to wait for death. They gave her two years at the most to live. Her husband, felt like his world was crashing in all around him. He resumed his drinking and sought to drown his sorrows with each gulp. But he realized that the moment the alcohol cleared off, he was still back in the state he was before; a husband to a dying woman.
Ada’s mother passed on less than two years as the doctors foretold, mostly because the fighter in her had died. She surrendered to the cold hands of death and was greatly mourned. Her friends thought God was unfair; how could she have died before eating the fruit of her labour over her children? Why did death come calling so fast? Endless questions that no one had the answers to.
Her husband was the most devastated by her death. His best friend and confidant had gone; leaving him with the sole responsibility of taking care of their two children. He knew he wouldn’t be able to take care of them himself so he took them to his sister who lived in the city. She had a child of her own and when he discussed it with her and her husband; they welcomed the idea and promised to be good guardians to them. They lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. Ada and Ike were told they would have to sleep in the sitting room as they didn’t have the luxury of space.
Ada was twelve years old when she her father brought them into her aunt’s home. She had never felt so alone in her life. She held onto her father’s hand tightly and wished he didn’t have to leave them there. But the smile from her aunt and husband did much to calm her nerves and for once, thought she might actually like it there.
Her aunt Mabel and husband Uncle Uche took them in and enrolled them in the neighboring school where their own son also schooled. All was well until one cold chilly night. It had rained cats and dogs and everyone had retired early to sleep. Ada felt something creepy on her leg; she woke up and wanted to be sure it hadn’t been a dream. Then it started again and she realized it was not an insect or a wall gecko but a human hand. She sat up straight and was shocked Ike hadn’t even been startled; she sat up to stare into the face of uncle Uche. He put two fingers to his mouth and signaled for her to keep quiet.
Ada thought something was wrong and whispered” Uncle, is aunty okay?”
“I thought I heard you scream, maybe you had a nightmare and I came to check” replied uncle Uche.
“No uncle, I didn’t scream” and uncle Uche did as if he wanted to ensure all was okay and left for his room. Two days later, he was back and this time, Ada instinctively knew that something was amiss. Uncle Uche had crept in as usual and when Ada sat up straight, he covered her mouth with his hands and stifled her scream. He whispered in her ears that he wasn’t going to hurt her but to make her become the woman she ought to be. He pulled her roughly and a struggle ensued. She kicked viciously and clawed at his face with her nails. Minutes later, shocked that a girl so young could wield so much energy to resist him; he retreated into his room promising her he would return and that she had better behave when next he came calling, else, she and her brother would be kicked out onto the streets. And the thought that Uncle Uche was about to do something terrible to her had plagued her mind and made her always lost in thought.
“Ada!!” called Ike. Her brother’s voice brought her out from her reverie. She didn’t even know he had been standing there.
“What is it sister? I have been standing here for over five minutes yet you were not aware of my presence” She got up from the wooden stool and held his shoulders, telling him she had something on her mind but that she would handle it. She needed to make up her mind what to do when next uncle Uche came calling….Run? Fight?
To be Continued.