Story 14 – DIANA

21 min

Growing up for me was very boring. I was the only child of my parents and I had everything I needed. Well, almost everything. The one thing I carved so much but never got was a younger sibling. I needed someone I could talk to, play with, and fight with even. My nanny did her best to fill their void but she usually got tired after an hour or so. I need a kid brother desperately and I never failed to remind my parents. My parents got tired of giving different promises and stories so when I turned 14, they told me the truth. My mother couldn’t have children anymore or she would die. I cried the entire day and night and then accepted my fate.

After that revelation, mum and I got closer and my dad made every effort to be home so I was happy. Sometimes we’d go on weekend vacations or spend the day as a family. Those days were really fun but alas, the past cannot be changed….the dead cannot live again. My mother was an only child whose father died when she was very young and my mother died when I was just five. My father was also an orphan but he had 4 siblings; he was the last and most successful one. His only brother whom I called uncle Chima was his closest sibling. He lived quite close to us so he was mostly at our place during the weekends. I didn’t really like him……………or his wife.

They looked at my parents with envy all the time and I really couldn’t understand why and how my parents didn’t notice it. Oh well, grownups can be quite blind to the truth sometimes. When I turned 16, my parents had to travel out of town for a wedding and I was dropped at uncle Chima’s place. I tried my best to protest but my parents wouldn’t have any of it. That was the last day I set eyes on my parents alive and healthy. The next time I saw them was in the morgue; their bodies were white and cold as ice. They had an accident on their way home and died before they got to the hospital. I cried myself to sleep and kept crying when I awoke. I was inconsolable and wished for death too. Uncle Chima’s wife did nothing to console me; she didn’t even act like a tragic event had happened. I think she was even happy my parents especially my mum whom she saw as a competition was gone.

My troubles began after the burial. The family decided I would stay with uncle Chima since he had no child and I was too weak and too sad to protest. I wish I did tho. Few days after my parent’s burial, a resounding slap woke me up from my deep sleep. I turned to see my aunty standing beside me. She dragged me from the bed and reminded me that I wasn’t in my house anymore and I had to work if I still wanted to stay in the house. I did chores from 5 am to 10 pm that day and only got a very miserable dinner. It became a regular routine for me to work from morning till night without rest, my aunty always found something to keep me occupied. I only had short breaks to rest and steal a few snacks or food when she was out of the house.

I did my best to work well but being a spoilt child, it was really difficult for me to cope so I got beaten a lot. My uncle was aware of all my troubles but he never said a word. He had taken over my father’s business and was in charge of most of his properties which was exactly what he had always dreamed of. They probably thought he was taking good care of me. If only they knew. He and his wife were living my parent’s life and they were happy about it. His wife even had the guts to convert some of my mother’s shoes and jewelry to hers. Few days before school resumed for a new session, I picked up the courage to talk to my uncle. I told him a new term would begin soon and I was going to write my SSCE exams.

Talking to him was easy as my aunt was out of the house but I was surprised when he ignored me, he just looked at me for a while and turned his face away, I repeated what I said again but got no answer but I was determined so I said it again but I got a thunderous slap in return. I ran to my room in tears, sad and angry. It got worse when my aunty returned. She pounced on me and flogged me till I was numb. Then she told me I would never see the four walls of a classroom ever again and left. I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept turning and tossing. I cried and asked God to take me too. I was tired of living. I was a little happy that I had no young sibling as I couldn’t imagine my sister or brother going through all this.

Around 2 am, I heard footsteps approaching my room, I was a little scared but I relaxed a bit when I saw my uncle walk in. I felt he was here to apologize so I sat up and waited for his apology. He did apologize and he promised to help stop my aunty from beating me if I became his lover. I was super shocked and I didn’t hide, I started crying all over again and asked him if this was he was of protecting his brother’s child bit he laughed and said he’d be back for his answer soon. I cried myself to sleep and I ended up oversleeping which resulted in more flogging.

I was determined to keep my virginity so the next day when my aunt announced that she would attend a vigil, I did my night chores quickly and rushed to my room. I locked the door and placed a chair to prevent anyone from coming in. Satisfied with my work, I smiled and went into the bathroom to have a long cold shower. I got the shock of my life when I got out to see a naked uncle Chima smiling mischievously at me. I looked at the door, it was still intact so he either came in through the window or he was already in my room before I came in. I tried to run back into the bathroom but he was faster than I was.

He pushed me onto the bed and tried to take off my wrapper, I struggled with him and got slapped in return but that didn’t stop me. I tried all I could but I was only 16, overworked and fragile. I couldn’t do much so he was able to have his way with me. My own uncle raped me and acted like it was nothing. What woke me up the next day was a mighty slap and my aunty’s screams. I was too weak and sore to get up but she didn’t care and hit me again. She was about to hit me again when she saw the bloodstains, she called me a dirty girl. She thought I was seeing my period. My uncle walked at that moment and was able to convince her to let me rest. Later on, I tried to tell her what had happened to me but she didn’t believe me, she beat me up and accused me of trying to wreck her family.

She made life worse for me after that day so in the daytime, I had to deal with my aunty and at night it was my uncle’s turn. I was so angry at the world and at myself. I hated my life, my uncle and his wife, I hated my parents for leaving, I hated everyone and everything. You’re probably wondering where my father’s other siblings were and their take on my situation. Those people never even bothered to say “hello” when they visited. They avoided me like a plague and old their kids to do so. I hated them all. Oh well after a few months my uncle got tired of me so I was safe for a while…………..I think. I had just turned 19 when my aunt announced that her younger brother who had just graduated from the university was coming to stay for a while.

I wasn’t comfortable with another male coming to stay but I had no say in the matter so I just told myself I‘d stay away but how could I. James was super nice to me no matter how rude and disrespectful I was to him. He was good looking too. An excellent description of tall, dark, and handsome. I hadn’t seen many guys since my parents died as my aunt always kept me locked up. I wasn’t even allowed to go to the market. She was probably that I’d meet an old friend of my parents. I think they told everyone they had sent me abroad so I was stuck indoors. The only cite guys I was able to see were the ones on TV which I rarely watched so when James came to the house, I was star struck. I kept my distance tho and I was really rude to him.

My aunty noticed it and I got punished for it. It was a very light punishment tho. She stopped beating me when James came to the house. One day, I was washing a few clothes at the back of the house, James came over and asked if he could help me and I asked him not to bother. He tried to insist but I yelled at him and asked him to just go before his sister came down to see us talking. She warned me earlier to stay away from her brother. He just looked at me sadly and left and I felt bad for him. He was just trying to be nice to me and I pushed him away but can you blame me? All I’d ever known since I lost my parents was pain, suffering, and sorrow. I didn’t trust anyone anymore. It was just me, myself, and I don’t know why, but I ran after him to apologize. I couldn’t risk him going to tell his sister that he was tired of me being rude to me. I was already getting tired of the constant battering.

When I was done talking, he smiled at me and I couldn’t help but smile back. He had a really good smile and no one had smiled at me in a while. Our secret friendship started that day. I told him I didn’t want his sister to find out as I would get into trouble and he said it was okay with it. He helped me with my chores and allowed me to watch TV whenever my aunty and uncle were out of the house but acted like I didn’t exist when they were and I was okay with it. He was so nice and charming and I wasn’t surprised when I fell in love with him. Okay so I didn’t know what love was then but I do know I enjoyed his company. He made me comfortable and happy and I wasn’t used to being happy.

My happiness increased a few months later when he told me he loved me; he asked me to be his girlfriend and I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’. We became secret lovers; we knew his sister would never be in support of our relationship so we kept it to ourselves. He made a whole lot of promises, he was gon’ take me away from here, I’d have thousands of maids so I’d never had to work again, he would marry me, blah blah blah. I totally believed him. Few weeks into our relationship, my aunt and uncle announced that they would be attending a vigil in church, James didn’t want to go and since I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, I wasn’t asked to join them. It was going to be James and I’s first night together and he promised to get popcorn on his way back so we could watch movies all night. I was super excited and I couldn’t wait for the evening.

Well evening came real quick that day and my uncle and his wife left the house but James was nowhere to be found. I waited and waited but he didn’t come home. I made our dinner in a special way that night but when I didn’t see him, I ate it all. I was really hungry and I don’t get to eat much unless my aunty is out of the house. I had just finished eating when I heard a loud bang on the gate, I rushed out immediately and James was there; dead drunk. He hugged me really tight and I had to push him off as he reeked of alcohol. I was a little scared and I didn’t know what to do so I just locked the gate, ran to my room to bolt the door and went to bed in tears. He apologized the next day, said he went out with a few friends after work and didn’t know what happened next, he cried and begged and I had no choice but to forgive him.

He went out later in the day and came back with a beautiful dress for me, I was so happy that I hugged him. I totally forgot we weren’t alone in the house and we almost got caught. My aunty almost walked in on us but we separated before she got in. She saw me holding the package and asked where I got it from, I didn’t know what to say but James did, he told her it was for a colleague at work and he asked me to get it for him, he collected it and left the kitchen before she could ask more questions and I went back to my work. Two days later, my uncle and his wife traveled for a burial. James promised not to get drunk again and he didn’t. We had a really good dinner together and proceeded to the sitting room to watch a movie.

It was good for a while; I was enjoying the silence and the movie. But then James leaned real close and kissed me. I didn’t know what to do or how to react. I was a little scared but he assured me it was okay and nothing would happen. I kissed him back, it was my first kiss and it was really good so I let my guard down. Next thing I know he was trying to take off my bra with one hand and squeezing my bum with another. I tried to back out but he didn’t let me, I tried again but he didn’t want to stop then I knew I was in danger. I removed my lips from his and slapped him and I could tell he was shocked but not sorry. I tried to walk out but he held my arms and pushed me back on the sofa. He got on top of me and tried to take off my clothes. I struggled with him, bit, hit him pushed him, I did everything I could but like my uncle, he was able to overpower me.

When he got tired of my beating, he slapped me real hard and hit me on my stomach and I felt weak. I was raped again, from the one person I loved and trusted in the whole world. He left me there when he was done with me and didn’t even bother to check up on me. I lay on the sofa crying bitterly till around 3 am. When it became obvious that he wasn’t coming back, I picked myself up from the couch and walked to my room in tears. I hated myself for letting my guard down, for trusting again. I felt so stupid and sad. With great difficulty and sorrow in my heart, I woke up early to clean the sitting room so no one would notice anything. I knew my aunt wouldn’t believe me so I didn’t bother making plans on telling her.

I waited for an apology that day but I didn’t even see James the whole day. I saw him the next day but the look on his face told me he was no longer the James I knew. I picked up the courage to ask him why he did such a thing to me. He laughed and told me the bitter truth. He never loved me, it was all a trick to get into my pants but he had to take it by force when it became obvious that I wasn’t going to give it to him willingly. He laughed again and told me he could never love someone like me, I was just a slave and I would remain one forever. He was going to marry and a beautiful princess and it would never be me. I was so sad and angry and didn’t know when I slapped him till I did. My aunt walked in just in time to see the slap and I got punished for that.

James also joined her to give me a serious beating. I was so sore and weak after it all and I didn’t want to go on. I made up my mind to leave the house. I was done with this house and all its occupants and I was done with love. I made my plans and left the house 3days later. The house was silent and I assumed everyone was asleep when I left. I was able to steal ten thousand naira from my aunt earlier and I would use that to transport myself. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me out of the house and even though I hadn’t left the house in years, I was still able to find my way to the bus station in the dark. I was a little scared but determined so I was really disappointed when I got to the bus station and it was empty.

I didn’t want to go back to that house so I just sat down in front of a shop opposite the bus station. I didn’t even know when I fell asleep. Next thing I know, a woman was yelling at me asking me to leave her shop immediately. At first, I thought I was at Uncle Chima’s house and it was his wife yelling at me coz I woke up late but then I realized I was at the bus station so I got up quickly, apologized and ran to get a ticket. I boarded a bus heading for Lagos. When my mother was alive, she told me stories of how Lagos was the land of opportunity, we were supposed to go there after my graduation from secondary school but alas that day never came. I didn’t know anyone in Lagos but I was determined so I paid for my ticket.

I was lucky enough to get a seat by the window side so I could see everything happening on the way. Just as the bus moved, I saw James and my uncle asking people around some questions. I hid my face but I could still see the people they approached to shake their heads negatively. My bus finally left the park and I was relieved. I said a short prayer before dozing off. I don’t know how long I slept but that was the best and most peaceful sleep I’d had in a long time. The woman beside me woke me up when it was time to stretch our legs and get something to eat at a place called ‘Ore’.

I had never traveled out of Anambra state before so it was all new to me. I got a few snacks before we continued our journey and ate them on the bus like everyone was doing. A few hours later, I saw the “WELCOME TO LAGOS” sign and I got super excited but then I realized I had nowhere to go. People started getting off at different junctions but I stayed until the driver announced that this was his last stop. I got off and started wandering. I kept going from place to place asking for food, shelter or work but everyone shunned me or chased me away. Things were even more difficult after I got robbed. I walked around for days, hungry, frustrated and tired. I slept wherever I could; in front of shops, under bridges, on the road, etc. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought getting a job or a place to stay would be easy. This was Lagos after all but I was wrong.

I learned to eat trash from the roadside and dustbins and drink mud water. By the end of the week, I looked like a madwoman and it made people avoid me and chase me away from their shops. One evening, I was about to cross the road to go to a small kiosk across when I got hit by a car. I said my last prayers as I felt myself drifting far away. I woke up in a nice clean hospital and beside me sat the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I thought I was dead but I was able to sit up with the help of the woman and I realized I wasn’t. She smiled and asked if I remembered what happened earlier, she said she was the owner of the car that hit me and apologized. She asked of my parents and it made me remember the past.

With tears in my eyes, I told her my story and when I was done, she hugged me real tight and asked for forgiveness. I didn’t understand why she apologized but I relaxed on her shoulder and enjoyed the warmth of her body and the sweet smell of her perfume. I dunno why, but I felt safe like I’d found true peace. My life changed for the better after that day.

My new guardian madam Clara took me under her roof, took care of me, and cleaned me up. I got married to her only son; Max. They both taught me the importance of family and showed me how to love and trust again. It wasn’t really easy but that’s a story for another day. Today I am one of the youngest and most successful fashion designers in the country. My name is Diana and this is my story.

Lesson Learned

1)Be content with what you have.In the beginning, Diana was sad and kept complaining because she didn’t have a younger sibling but in the end, she became grateful because she knew she wouldn’t be able to bear the pain if her younger brother/sister went through the same thing she did.

2) Don’t trust easily. Diana was quick to put her trust in James all because she felt he was really in love with her. She barely knew him and because she was really searching for love, she made the wrong decision. Don’t be quick to trust people just because they have a nice face or they’re friendly.

3)Never give up. If Diana had stayed in her uncle’s place and submitted to what she felt was her destiny, she wouldn’t have met madam Clara or Max. Keep pushing and never give up on your dreams even when people tell you otherwise.

About The Writer

My name is Leonie Chisom from Enugu state. I’m a freelance writer, event hostess, and face model. I also provide events, hostesses, for all kinds of events. In my free time, I enjoy writing, watching movies, and hanging out with friends. So far I’ve written over 5 books and 3 short stories that I’m still hoping to publish I write because I have to. Never thought I’d say that as it sounds so wanky but it’s true. I get edgy and down if I can’t write or make something, so I am always working and happiest when I have a deadline. Some of my favorite jobs have been when it’s all gone totally pear-shaped because a writer has walked away or been fired. You get the call to rush in and do rewrites. The pressure’s massive but if you can make the insane deadline you walk away with a fat cheque.

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