As the doctor said I wasn’t pregnant, I opened my eyes in shock and then sighed in relief. I wanted to express how happy I was but not in front of the men with me. I looked at uncle Sam who looked like he had just managed to escape death. I was so happy I didn’t know what to say. I finally muttered a “thank you Jesus” before turning to the doctor and saying a ‘thank you’. He just smiled at me and told me it was all the result. He explained to us that I had something called Pseudocyesis, the belief that I was expecting a child when really I wasn’t. He also said this belief caused me to have symptoms of pregnancy as It was a psychological effect. Because I knew the signs and symptoms of pregnancy and assumed I was pregnant, I began to have actual symptoms of pregnancy. He mentioned a lot more that got uncle Sam and I overwhelmed but relief at the same time.
After a while, uncle Sam thanked the doctor and exchanged a few more words before we left the office. As we got into the car, Uncle Sam looked at me as I was seated beside him. He smiled at me, saying how happy he was and apologized for everything over again. I smiled, nodding at him. He said I hadn’t said much since I got back from school and asked if I was hungry. Without even giving me a chance to reply he said;
“I’m sure you’ll be so hungry, let’s go and get something okay?”
I just nodded as he drove off to a restaurant where we got a takeaway package and headed for his house. As we got home, I went straight into the room after saying a thank you which when I look back, I ask myself why I did so. I thought of home and wondered if they had tried to reach me. I knew that if my parents eventually found out I was with uncle Sam, he would cook up something to say. All I needed was to think of the whole lie I was going to tell Anabelle.
That Saturday evening, uncle Sam asked If I was ready to go back to school and I said yes. We were supposed to leave the next day but I had told him that I wanted to go back to school and catch up with a lot of things. We left the house and got to school in no time but just before I got down from the car, he brought out some 500 naira notes from his wallet. He stretched his hands towards me, gesturing . I didn’t want to collect it but he insisted I collected it, so taking it and putting it inside my school bag, I thanked him and headed for the hostel gate..
As soon I as got in, I signed in and went up to my room. The first person I saw was Anabelle who screamed and ran to hug me. I was so happy to see her even though it wasn’t up to a day since I last saw her. My other mates also ran to hug me, welcoming me and asking a lot of questions. I just gave them one excuse and they didn’t ask further. Anabelle hugged me one more time and asked if I was okay. I told her I was fine and mentioned the same excuse I gave the rest. I really made up my mind not to tell anyone even Anabelle, my very close friend. We talked and later that night, did our assignments together during prep. She even mentioned that senior Daniel had been looking for me. I actually couldn’t wait to see him.
The next day, we all got up as we heard the morning bell to prepare for church as all the declared Christians were to meet up at the school’s chapel by 9:45am. We usually had breakfast early on Sundays so I and Anabelle finished our meal on time and headed for the school’s chapel. When we got there, we decided to sit down while we waited for the service to begin. There were a few students in the chapel as well and I thought I saw senior Daniel but it turned out it wasn’t him. I was looking around to see if I would sight him but he was nowhere to be found so I turned to face Anabelle who had been ranting over and over about random things. When the service was over, I was walking with Anabelle back to the hostel when I heard someone call my name. I looked back and saw that it was the errand boy, the same junior boy senior Daniel sent to me whenever he wanted to pass a message. He told me I was called by senior Daniel who was at his usual spot waiting for me. I looked at Anabelle when he said this and she gave me the gesture that I could leave and so she said to meet her at the hostel. The junior boy went his way while I went to look for senior Daniel. As I got towards the quiet place I usually met with him, I could see him leaning on the tree as usual and just playing with a stick or so.
As he looked up and saw me, he smiled at me warmly but then squeezed his face. I was trying to figure out what he would say this time. I got closer and we hugged before he asked;
“what took you so long?”
“I came immediately now,” I said to him smiling.
“Why can’t I just get mad at you. You’ll be deceiving someone with your charms.” he replied rolling his eyes jokingly.
“I’m sorry now”
“Don’t mind me. I was just pulling your legs.”
“I hope you’re fine, this one that you’re always looking skinny. Ehen! when I asked Anabelle to call you for me when I wanted to speak with you. She told me you weren’t around. Where did you go?”
“Oh! I went home.”
“Home? Why? Was something wrong?….I know, I’m asking too many questions.”
I gave him the same excuse and he believed me. We talked for a while and then he said he had to go. He handed me a nylon that was quite heavy and when I opened it to check what was inside, they were filled with cookies and Lucozade. I asked why he had fetched all of this and he said;
“You that if they should touch, you’ll just break. I know you complained that you were feeling weak the night I spoke to you so I went to get this to give you strength like mine, I got them from the tuck shop so don’t worry,” he said, winking at me.
I just smiled and thanked him before saying our goodbyes as I headed to my hostel..
Three weeks later…..
Life went on as usual, assignments to do, tests to read for, calls from home and even uncle Sam. Trust me, I took life like nothing serious had happened before. I let go of the past, not that I forgot or wasn’t still hurt but it wasn’t as hurtful as I imagined it would be. As long as I wasn’t pregnant or ill and no one knew about it, It didn’t bother me. I was just fine, so my young mind made me believe anyway. I still got to see senior Daniel at our usual spot who just always made me happy. At least, he still had one more year to spend before leaving secondary school. I would really miss him and all his caring and loving features, I kept telling myself. I was even closer to him than I was to my school mother.
Speaking of my school mother, senior Onome. She called me one evening after prep and told me to come arrange some things in her room. As much as I hated going to seniors room, I obeyed. When I got to her room, she pointed at a heap clothes on her bed and asked me to fold them neatly and put in her locker. I really hated her that moment as I was doing an assignment with Anabelle. Anyway, I started folding the clothes and I noticed they weren’t the normal type of clothes you would expect students to have with them in the hostel. They were fancy and actually pretty. I saw some dresses that got me looking for the hand and some I thought were smaller than her size. While I was arranging, I slowly chipped into senior Onome’s conversation with her other friends.
They were talking about parties and boys and what not, not that I really wanted to hear it but their voices weren’t as low either. I heard one of the seniors say something about ‘doing it’. Although I didn’t understand at first, I knew what she meant when she said some other things. She was talking about how much she enjoyed her first time with a married man and this time, my eyes opened with shock. But as shocked as I was, I made sure it wasn’t obvious that I heard. She mentioned some other things about how she gets money from them just by having sex with them, calling it ‘a small thing’. Not only did she say married men, but our school teachers. I could remember her mentioning Mr. Pete, one of the science teachers. The man had always been a pervert anyway. They went on and on with topics like this and I could see them jumping up and being all excited. Senior Onome and the other senior wanted to try all the things the other girl had been saying so they were too engrossed in their topic to notice that I was done with the clothes. As I was about to leave, senior Onome finally noticed and called me back.
“Ehen Mesonma! Did I tell you to leave? Am I done with you?” senior Onome spoke out.
I shook my head not saying a word.
“I hope you didn’t hear anything. If you open this your mouth to say anything about us ehn. You’ll know how far. Get out.”
I ran out of the room not looking back. I couldn’t believe my ears. I always knew things like this occurred in school but it was just my first time hearing it from the executors themselves. I didn’t forget it instantly as I thought about all they were saying. They made everything seem so right. I mean my mates were already having boyfriends with boys even their seniors and doing things that you wouldn’t imagine them do. The seniors even did worse and some teachers were even involved. I just came to think that it wasn’t bad after all. I thought it was a normal thing and so I didn’t see it as something wrong even though Anabelle still saw it as something not right.
The next Saturday, my uncle with Esther came to see me. He had said Esther really wanted to see me. And since my parents weren’t able to bring her, he had offered to bring her as he also missed me. Remember I made mention that I was no longer angry with my uncle. I was actually happy to see him. I talked and played with Esther until it was time for them to go home which got both of us really sad. Uncle Sam told Esther to wait for him in the car while he spoke to me for a while..
“Can I sit at the front now uncle Sam?” Esther asked.
“For now, just sit there but you know when I come, you’ll have to sit at the back”
“Okay…,” Esther replied with a sad face. She always wanted to sit at the front but they never allowed because she wasn’t always behaved. And she could be a distraction to the person driving even though children under twelve weren’t adviced to sit at the front.
Anyway, in order not to digress, I spoke to uncle Sam for a while and he asked about school and everything in general. Saying he couldn’t wait for me to come home for the break. He mentioned how much he loved me and I told him I loved him too. Despite the fact that he did what he did to me in the past, I still thought he was very loving and caring. He fed me with a lot of things that I enjoyed hearing. Things that I didn’t hear often. This was my uncle but it started to feel like he wasn’t. It felt different, more like a boyfriend. Yes, very stupid of a thought especially because I was still so young and he was my uncle but it felt that way. Maybe because I wanted to feel what my other mates said they felt with their boyfriends or maybe it was just because of the situation and the way my uncle was. I really couldn’t tell. I hugged him when we were done talking and went back to my hostel.
Now this was when things got…..
After the term’s exams, we were usually supposed to stay in school a week before going on our holiday. I guess it was because they wanted to finish compiling our results for us to have them before going home. Some people lived in other states and very far from school so it was more convenient.
On a very calm night, Just two days before school was to close for the break. I was returning from where I went to meet senior Daniel when I saw some other senior boys at the extreme end of the uncompleted admin building calling out to me. Initially I thought they were saying something else or calling someone else but I noticed it was me when I saw that there was no one else around. I did like I didn’t hear because they didn’t look like they were in their right senses and I knew that corner wasn’t safe either. I kept walking hoping that they wouldn’t call out again but I was wrong. They all walked up to me and grabbed me scolding me for not answering but it didn’t end there. They dragged me to the uncompleted building even when I was shouting for them to let me go. I struggled and struggled and hoped it wasn’t what I thought they wanted to do to me. These boys didn’t even look like high school boys even though they were. They were big boys who looked drunk of some sort.
I kept struggling and started screaming when I saw one of them fumbling with his belts and trouser. I screamed and screamed thinking this would be another case of rape. I couldn’t and wasn’t ready to go through it again. I almost bit the one pressing me to the ground but he realized on time and removed his hands. The two boys kept on telling the one pressing me down to be fast. At that point, I was ready to give up but I kept screaming and not long after senior Daniel came to my rescue. I guess he had just been leaving our spot when he heard me scream. Immediately senior Daniel got to where we were, two of the boys ran away. The other one who was pressing me to the ground was too slow as senior Daniel punched him in the face. He kept punching him and I could see the anger in his eyes. That was the first time I saw him very serious and angry. I began to get scared for the boy so I started pleading for him. I told senior Daniel to let him go as I was okay now but he didn’t even listen to me. He kept beating him up even as I kept pleading. I could see blood on his face and how weak the boy was getting until he was too weak to even move..
TO BE CONTINUED