DOZ Issue 33 July 2018 - Page 37

Emeka told all about my negligence and the fire, and Ruth confirmed the story. I stood with my head bowed in shame, not saying anything. I half expected my uncle to give me the beating of my life for endangering the life of his only child. As we all waited for his verdict, he turned to me and said, “Go upstairs, pack your belongings and get into the car. You are returning to your father’s house now.” I raised my head for the first time and looked at him through tear filled eyes. “Uncle, please have mercy,” I began to say, but he barked out the order, this time in a mad rage, and I moved past them quickly into the house and packed my things. As he drove me back to Illa that evening, my heart beat very fast in my chest. What would my father say? I wondered. What about my mother and my siblings, what would they say? I knew I was finished. It was about 7pm when we got to my father’s house. My parents were surprised to see my uncle return to the village at that time of the evening. My uncle wasted no time telling them all I had done. “I no longer want to see you or any of your children in my home as long as I live.” That singular verdict almost killed my father. I watched as he recoiled in shock, but my uncle was too angry to think about the damage done by his words. He turned and stormed out of the house, into his car, and screeched off. My father tried to pursue him and was not fast enough, failing to stop him, so in anger he returned to the house and began to beat me with plenty of help from my mother and older brother. “Since my brother wants nothing to do with you,” my father decided, “I also want nothing to do with you. Nneka, you will leave my house.” By this time, I was weeping uncontrollably. “But papa, where should I go? I asked. It was my mother who answered, “Go to the place you spent the night when you almost killed your uncle’s daughter and burnt down his house.” I went on my knees to plead for their forgiveness, but that seemed to aggravate them more. Together they threw me out of the house and shut the door against me. I hung outside looking at the closed door for what seemed like an eternity, and then I left and returned to Agbor. If they didn’t want me, I would go back to Agbor to meet Andrew. Andrew loved me and wanted to marry me, so I felt sure he would take care of me now, but I was wrong. It was almost 10pm when I arrived at Andrew’s house. At first, he was happy to see me, but I noticed his countenance changed when he realised that I had not come for the night but to stay for a long time. “Nneka, I can keep you for the night, but I can not accommodate you,” Andrew said. “I expect you to leave in the morning and go back to plead with your parents.” I accepted his terms, as I was too tired to argue. He gave me some food to eat and we had sex again, and I had little or no sleep. The next day, I tried to return to my parents to plead with them, but it was even worse than the previous day as my brother spotted me from a distance and gave me a good beating then chased me away. I returned to Andrew’s house and did not go back to my parents or uncle. I tried to stay indoors as much as possible so I would not run into my uncle and his wife or anyone who knew them. Day after day, Andrew’s attitude changed towards me and he became hostile and began to abuse me, first verbally and then physically. I did not need to be told that he was fed up with me and my presence in his house. I bore all he did, not just because I loved him but also because I had nowhere to go. Then there was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not quite six weeks after I began to stay with Andrew, he asked me to leave. “I am no longer interested in our relationship,” he said. “You must leave now.” My pleas went unheard, and so I left and moved to stay with a former classmate of mine, Amaka. I met her during the brief period I attended the GCE and JAMB preparation classes. Apart from my uncle and his family and Andrew, she was the only person I knew in Agbor. She lived alone in a self-contained flat paid for by a wealthy married man she was dating. She took me in but was very angry that I allowed a useless man like Andrew to create problems for me with my family. She ordered me to snap out of my self-pity and get myself a rich sugar daddy that would take care of me. For her, a relationship with a man was DOZ Magazine July 2018 37 «