Saturday was the following day. Usually, Papa would wake everybody up at 6 a.m and they would all converge in the living room upstairs for morning devotion. They did not need alarms. The all too familiar baritone of Papa’s In the morning, early in the morning was enough to rouse them from sleep.
That Saturday, no one heard Papa’s voice. When it was 7.30 am, there was still minimal activity in the house. Uju had come to the house very early in the morning as soon as she heard what had happened. Ugochi or Obinna had probably called her and told her what had happened.
Mama sat on the bed in the master room, her hands on her waist. She was thinking. Papa had left for church. He hadn’t said a word to her and she had said nothing but Ututu Oma to which he only nodded his head. She couldn’t find rest in her spirit as she remembered all that had happened the night before. She had wished she had been the one to have been raped instead of her innocent child. Munachi did not deserve it. She did not deserve to be raped. She said her prayers and then took a quick wash in the bathroom before going downstairs. She knew she had to handle the situation somehow since her husband couldn’t.
She knew her husband. He was a very strong man but he was a very emotional one too. She knew he didn’t have the courage to face Muna. He felt like he had let his family down and had been unable to protect them when they needed him. She knew she had to support him and handle the situation.
Ugochi, Uju and Obinna were in the kitchen when she got downstairs. Uju had made custard and Ugochi was turning the beans in the pot. Obinna was doing the dishes. They were all silent. Their silence said a lot.
“Good Morning Mummy.” Uju said. The others turned and followed suit to greet their mother.
“Oo. How are you? When did you wake up?” Mama asked.
“Not so long ago.” Uju said.
“Who opened the gate for your father?”
“I did. He woke me up. He said he would be back in the afternoon.” Obinna said.
“Where is your sister?” She asked.
“She hasn’t come out. I knocked on her door but she wouldn’t answer so I think she is still asleep.” Ugochi said.
Mama nodded again.
They all knew Muna was not asleep. She was an early riser and the latest she was up was about 7a.m.
Mama dished Muna’s food in her finest china; the one she saved for guests. She put the dishes in a tray and went to Muna’s room.
“My darling, good morning. Kedu ka o di? Itetago?” How are you? Have you woken up?
There was still no response. Mama left within a few minutes after saying she would be back to check on her.
Muna looked in the mirror at her reflection. She wasn’t sure she recognized herself anymore. She heard her mother’s knock as well as the previous calls of her siblings. She heard Papa’s footsteps when he left the house early that morning. She saw from her window when he drove out.
She was defiled.
That was what she had been taught growing up in teenage church as well as Papa and Mama’s constant reminders during family devotions. They seemed to emphasize the importance of saving it for marriage more to her than to her other sisters and she didn’t really know why considering that Ugochi was more outgoing and social than she was.
Papa had always made it clear that if she slept with a boy, she would be the devil’s agent and God would have no delight in her because she would be unclean. She had asked where the place of forgiveness stood and Papa had said that God was a merciful God but it didn’t mean his forgiveness and mercy should be taken advantage of. He seemed to stress more on the sin than the forgiveness. He made it a clear cut rule that he would not entertain unwanted pregnancies in the house. Literally. Unwanted. He was a man of God who had the public looking up to him and he expected his children to conduct themselves in the most holy of ways.
She had grown up and realized that all Papa had said was to ensure that they didn’t go sleeping around but she had taken a personal decision to wait till marriage before giving up the cherry. When she had been in a relationship with Ikenna, he had complained all the time about how she was withholding sex from him and when she wouldn’t give in, he cheated with her course mate. Ayo on the other hand…he had asked too. But she had told him that her decision was to wait. He said he respected that and would wait with her even though many times, his feelings and urges got the better of him and it took a lot of struggle even for her to hold her ground.
Papa had not stopped by her room to say a word. He had rushed out of the house that morning. Even after the incident last night, when everyone rushed to her side after the men grabbed Papa’s wristwatches and Mama’s jewelry and fled, her father had gone straight into his study and locked himself up.
She saw the tears forming in her eyes again. He was probably disgusted. She was now unclean going by all he had ever said to her growing up. Flashes of his warnings and sermons during family devotion those years started to run through her mind. One day, when she was nineteen, he had asked her directly if she still kept herself and she had answered him in the positive. Ugochi on the other hand had said she needed to use the toilet and had excused herself. Uju had still been twelve years old at the time. A part of her wondered why Papa never really passed those warnings to Obinna. Was it because he was a boy? The only thing her father said to him was that he would not entertain strange girls claiming they were pregnant for him before marriage. With the girls, especially her, he emphasized the act. But with Obinna, he emphasized the consequence, not the act.
She began to question why she had come down to Enugu. Maybe she should have listened to Ayo and waited till they came together. Her parents always expressed their displeasure on her living alone in Lagos as a young girl. Her father had mentioned it once that it was not safe for a young woman. She knew what he had meant. But she had been raped brutally right in her own father’s house, under his watch. Her body had been explored and her virginity had been stolen. It was taken without her consent. And there was nothing anyone could do about it. She wished her period had come earlier. She wasn’t due until the next week. Maybe the blood would have repelled the robber and would have stopped him from causing her to shed the other blood she wasn’t ready to shed.
She was the sacrificial lamb. She had taken the plunge for Ugochi. Ugochi was the one who was going to be raped until she appeared like Jesus and died on the cross, shedding her own blood. Why? She couldn’t understand this. She was the churchy one. She was the born again one. She was the spriri koko of the family and maybe that was why her father loved her more than the others. Yet, she had been the one to take the pain. Was God real after all? Or was everything just a figment of man’s imagination to find validation and fill the vacuum and lacunae of communication and communion with a power higher than himself? If God was a God of love then why did he let that happen to her? Why didn’t he save her? Her brain was in a tumult and she needed to find healing and peace.
She had planned to stay with her family till Sunday and then she would return to Lagos on Monday. Monday was also a public holiday. But all she wanted to do in that moment was to pack her things and leave immediately. She was ashamed. She couldn’t face them. She knew things would never be the same anymore.
Her phone started to ring. It was Ayotunde.
Her heart contracted. What would she say to him? How would she explain that she had been raped when (if) they eventually got married? He would think she had been lying to him all along about being a virgin. He would not believe her. She loved him. She loved him so much and all she wanted in that moment was to be in his arms as he assured her that everything would be okay. But would everything be okay?
She ignored his call. He called back multiple times but she did not touch her phone.
She heard someone at the door. It was Obinna. She had a very soft spot for him. They were really close. Perhaps it was because he was her only brother. She sighed and then opened the door eventually.
He looked at her and hugged her immediately.
“I love you.” He said. “I wish I could have shot that man in the head. I really wish I could have.” He said.
“If you did he would have shot you and I would blame myself forever. Obi, you know I am not in the mood right now.” She said. “Let’s talk later.”
He sat on her bed.
“The time is 12.45 already.” He said.
She was surprised. She hadn’t noticed. Time had grown wings.
“You should go and take your bath. You haven’t even eaten anything since.” He said.
“Obi abeg, I no dey mood. I just…” She cleaned her face. The tears were coming again. Her face was red. Her skin color did not help matters. It couldn’t withstand the slightest force without turning pink or red. Her brother walked towards her and hugged her.
“Sis everything will be fine.” He said.
She smiled but she knew he was young. Nothing would be fine.
“You need to go and take a bath, Muna.” Ugochi said. She had walked into the room and joined them.
Muna didn’t know why she felt the resentment towards her sister; her closest sister. She looked away.
“I want to be alone, please. I will take my bath and I am packing my things and leaving for Lagos today. I don’t know if I’ll meet Daddy before he gets back from his church.” She said. The man considered the church more important than his own daughter after all.
“You have a guest. Where are you going?” Ugochi said.
“Guest? Who?” Muna said, confused and puzzled. She wasn’t expecting anyone and she hadn’t told her old friends that she was in town. Except Ugochi had.
“It’s your friend, Isioma. She’s in the living room.” Ugochi said.
“Isi?” Muna said.
Isioma was her childhood best friend. They had grown up together but had separated when Isi had to relocate to the UK with her parents. She had no idea that Isi was back in the country.
“Hurry up, go and take your bath. Mama said to hurry you up.” Ugochi said.
Obinna left the girls in the room.
“She’s getting married soon.” Ugochi said, breaking the silence.
“Eh ehn.” Muna replied.
“Oya oya go and take your bath na!” Ugochi reached for Muna’s dressing gown and tried to yank it off her. They were sisters. There was nothing strange between them. But Muna flinched immediately and pushed her sister. Ugochi staggered a bit.
“Don’t…please.” Muna said, looking away.
Ugochi shook her head.
“Muna I’m sorry.” She said. She wasn’t just apologizing for yanking off the dressing gown but for a lot of unspoken things which everyone had refused to comment on.
Muna opened her mouth to say something but then she broke down and wept. Ugochi held her sister and cried too.
“I’m so sorry Muna. It should have been me, not you. I’m so sorry. Please Muna, you have to let it go.” Ugochi said.
“Let it go?! Do you have an idea what that imbecile did to me?! Let it go?”
They heard their mother’s voice behind them.
“Ugo, biko go and keep Isioma company.” Mama said.
Ugochi nodded and walked out. As Ugochi left, Mama held Muna’s hand.
“You have to put it behind you and pretend like nothing happened. That is the way to deal with this issue. No one must know or else they will label you and stigmatize you. And you can’t even tell this man that wants to marry you.” Mama said.
Muna looked at her mother, shocked and confused.
“I don’t understand.” She said, stammering.
“Yes, Muna. That is the only way you can move forward. You are an African woman and you have to deal with all the issues that women face. This thing will block your progress if you announce it. People will begin to look at you a certain way. The favour you can do yourself is not to say anything. Don’t worry it will make you stronger and able to take anything in this life, okay? After Isi leaves, we will go to the church and pray for forgiveness and then we will go to the hospital to run tests on you.”
Her head spun.
“Forgiveness? What did I do?” Muna asked.
“I’m sorry but Nne, you know I always tell you to dress properly in the house. Maybe if you hadn’t worn this light dressing gown just maybe the man would not have noticed you…” Mama said, looking away.
“Wait…biko, I don’t get this. So it is my fault I was raped and dis-virgined by someone whose face I did not even see?! Was Ugochi not also in the room?” Muna was getting livid.
“She was not wearing light clothes.” Mama said in a low tone.
“Oho! Exactly! And they were still going to rape her until I announced my appearance. By the way, am I not free in my own father’s house? Since when do I have to mind what I wear inside the house with my own family?”
Muna hissed and grabbed her towel and walked into the bathroom.
Mama sighed. She shook her head. She was confused too.
Papa was back in the house by the time they returned from the hospital; Muna and Mama. His car was parked in the compound. There was another car too. A black Mercedes. Her heart jumped in anxiety. She knew that car. It was Ayo’s car. What was he doing here? He wasn’t supposed to be back in Nigeria till Sunday. She looked at her mother.
“That’s…that’s Ayo’s car.” She said.
“Ehn? Really? Did you plan that he will come here?” Mama asked.
“No! He isn’t even supposed to be back in the country. Maybe that’s why he kept calling me this morning! How did he even find this place?”
“Remember what I said. You can’t tell him. If you love yourself and if you love me. Please, my daughter.” Mama said.
They stepped into the living room. She couldn’t hold back her expression and excitement. Ayo was sitting, dressed in his usual starched white Senator material. She noticed he wasn’t wearing his gold necklace. He looked so clean and fresh. He smiled as she hugged him.
“What are you doing here?!” She mumbled and whispered.
“I came to surprise you.” He laughed. Then he turned to face Mama who was already beaming.
He prostrated and greeted her. Papa joined them in a few seconds.
“Oh, they are here.” He said, taking a seat.
“Let me go and make something for you to eat. Ngwanu, Muna let’s go to the kitchen.” Mama said, excited.
Muna looked at Papa. He avoided her eyes from time to time.
After a meal of Fufu and Egusi soup with bush meat, Ayo informed Muna’s parents that he wanted to marry her. He asked Papa if he had his blessings to marry Muna. Papa sighed. He had a lot to say but he kept quiet. Then he nodded and gave a weak speech. Ayo prostrated again, thanking him and then he asked for a convenient time to bring his family so they could meet them. Mama was nothing but excited as she shared the news with Muna’s siblings.
Muna laughed. She was in a mix of emotions. She didn’t know Ayo was that much in a hurry to marry her. She wanted to wait a little, especially with everything that had just happened. She wanted to recover and decide the best way to handle this transformation. She didn’t want to carry any baggage into a new marriage.
Ayo and Muna sat in the balcony over stick meat and malt after they left the rest of the family downstairs. He told her how much he missed her and how he just had to come down to Enugu. Then he reached for his pocket and went down on one knee. Muna laughed. She knew this was going to happen. They both already knew they were going to get married. She had even told him the kind of ring she wanted already.
“I hope it’s the kind of ring I told you to get.” She said.
“Yes, your highness Olori Munachi Williams-Adeoti.” He said, sliding the 5 carat diamond ring in her finger.
“It’s so beautiful!” She hugged him and admired the ring at the same time.
“You’re more beautiful. I love you so much my Precious.” He said, kissing her.
She was silent. Precious. That’s what he called her. She did not feel Precious anymore. Would he stop calling her that when he realized she had been raped?
“Is July okay for us to get married?” Ayo asked.
She laughed, taken aback.
“This is May.” She said, shrugging.
“I can’t wait anymore. It doesn’t have to be a loud wedding.”
“It will be loud. Your family and then my family too. You know how they are.”
“I just want you to be my wife right now.” He said.
“Let’s wait a while, okay. Why the rush?” She replied.
He sighed, nodding.
“Okay. But nothing too late.” He said, looking into her eyes and planting a kiss on her forehead.
She feigned a smile.
All she needed was just some time to clear her head.
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*Heatintheraindrops Episode 2