The next day, my nurse Osas, who had stayed on despite the fact that I was fully healed now, came to move my things out of the room.
“Aunty Osas, where are you taking my things to?” Osas didn’t answer. I followed her and saw her throwing my things into the basement. I went back up to my room and sat quietly in a corner. After she was done, she said, “Your Uncle talk say make you dey sleep downstairs now”. Downstairs? Downstairs was the basement where the wine cellar was. Downstairs was that dark and dank basement that I never liked entering.
“Aunty Osas, what did I do? Did I say anything wrong? Why is he asking me to sleep in there?” She didn’t reply. She looked at me and shook her head. All she said, after a while, was “e get as e be”. I didn’t understand.
I waited until evening when my Uncle came back from his drinking spot. I begged and begged, told him I’d do anything but that he shouldn’t let me sleep downstairs. My Uncle laughed and said that the only condition on which he would allow me to sleep upstairs was to agree to sleep with his friends who said they liked me. He said I’d sleep with them and get paid. He also said that the money they would give me would be my rent for staying in ‘his’ house.
He laughed again and said, “Oh, you think you can be living off my money forever? No, you have to work to live in this house. Your daddy used to say ‘he who does not work must not eat’. So that’s my condition”.
I pleaded with him again on my knees because I knew I couldn’t do that. Sleep with men at the age of 17 for money…under my father’s roof.
“My condition is final”. He rumbled and left.
I cried myself to sleep every night after then for the next 3 years until you came. My Uncle starved me, refused to let me have water to drink or even bathe. All my gadgets had been taken away from me so I couldn’t call anyone- not even my aunt. My aunt who, I had learned, wasn’t allowed to see me. Our church pastors had also come around within these 5 years to see me but they hadn’t been allowed in.
I lived in that basement for 3 weeks in relative peace. Until the first night he and his friends came in drunk and raped me. My Uncle had sat down and watched all 10 of his friends rape me. And then more men came after that for 3 years. Anytime I got pregnant, Osas would abort the babies. Osas had had no sympathy or pity for me.
I tried escaping my cell several times but the beating of my feet got so bad I couldn’t stand for weeks. I was locked after in the basement with a bucket for relief. Anytime I screamed and shouted for help, no one answered. Every time I was about to be raped, Osas would come in and inject me with something that dulled my senses. I would lie there on that mat and watch myself being defiled by different men for 3 years. I would watch money exchange hands. Rape money.
Then there were the times that I would also be beaten under the soles of my feet so that I couldn’t walk around. But my feet were always covered when the men were around. My Uncle said they liked their prostitutes flawless. The times the men came around were the times I was bathed and scrubbed by Osas.
My Uncle called me so many hurtful names and said so many things that they’re all a blur now. He trampled on my self-esteem and used me. Used me as a sex-slave. I even began to wonder where God was in all this.
My Uncle always said he couldn’t afford to let anyone know where I was. I didn’t know that he had told our extended family and my church pastors that I had been sent abroad to school. Meanwhile I was caged in my father’s house. A slave and prostitute for sale.
I haven’t seen the sun in 3 years. I haven’t felt the blades of grass under my feet for 3 years. I haven’t seen people that aren’t old or fat or drunk or raping me in 3 years. I have been caged.
But I had had enough. The hatred in my heart for all those men, Osas and my Uncle was so foul, it almost had a smell. Osas was careless. She had forgotten to lock the door. Even with my bloodied and torn feet, I went up to the kitchen and took the sharpest knife I could find. Even with the pain, I wiped all traces of my bloodied feet and went back to the basement and hid the knife.
A few minutes after I lay down, Osas came in and rattled the door knob, then locks it. She didn’t see me.
It’s night again. The partying had started. I waited. Osas came in as always and injected me. Within 3 hours, they had all filed into my ‘room’. And the raping began. As usual, money exchanged hands between them and my Uncle. But this time, after everything, my Uncle didn’t leave. He sat where he was with a drink and cigarette in his hand. I was still numb but I came alive after…
“You know, your father always looked down on me. He always behaved like he knew everything. He tried to control me, you know. Always telling me not to drink, always telling me not to smoke, always telling me to come work with him” Uncle Raymond slurred, waving his drink and cigarette around.
“He should have known better. Your mother was no better than him. That all-knowing and self-righteous bitch deserved to die. Yes, she always told him not to give me money, that he was fueling my bad habits. A woman controlling my younger brother”.
“I hated him you know. Especially after he became so rich and famous. I hated seeing his name in the newspapers, his pictures in the magazines and on TV. I hated all he did and had. They should have been mine!” He screamed. “They deserved what they got but you had to survive. You little tramp. You just had to come and make my life a living hell. Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of you”. He grinned. “You’ve always been my favorite”.
He stood up and came to sit beside me. He then whispered “The trailer driver said they hugged each other before he hit them”. My heart began pumping very hard. What was he saying? What did he mean? How did he know about the trailer driver? How did he know my parents were hugging before they died? Confusion and a dreaded knowing of what he had done rose up like a hurricane in my head.
“Your parents and brother died because I ordered it. That was the only way I could have everything that’s always been mine. You were supposed to die too but I couldn’t kill you because the cops were all over the place. But they couldn’t trace anything back to me. I’m smart, yes I’m smart. Don’t worry…I know you’re not going to tell anyone. Nobody knows you’re here”. He laughed and then stumbled his way out of the room.
With tears falling silently from my eyes, unable to speak, hatred and grief screaming loudly in my heart, revenge shouting for release, I knew what I had to do.
I was patient. I waited for the drug to wear off, picked up the knife I had taken earlier and jimmied the door open. The house was quiet now. This meant all of them were asleep. I was sore all over, but that didn’t deter me. I knew the room Uncle Raymond would have chosen to sleep in. My parents’ room. He didn’t hear me open the door. He was so drunk. But I wanted him awake. I needed him to see what was coming.
I tied his hands and feet to the bedposts. And then woke him up with a bucket of water. He jerked awake and asked what I was doing. I didn’t answer and stuffed his mouth with his socks.
“You took everything from me. You took my family, my life, my dignity and everything else. You deserve not to live Uncle Raymond. How could you? Your family. You ended our family because of greed. Now, you die. Any last words?”
I had no intention of letting him live so even when he pleaded, I didn’t listen. He tried screaming for help but nobody answered. But when I raised the knife, I knew this was not who my parents had raised me to be. I stabbed him in his shoulders, thighs, legs, and sliced deep into his feet. Then I called the police.
Everyone in the house was arrested, including Osas the nurse. My Uncle is currently serving a 100 year sentence on multiple counts of murder. Osas is also in prison for breaking her oath to help people. And here I am with you Yaya and Erin, telling my story. Just like you asked.
My aunt still cries every time she sees me. She says she’s ashamed to be related to my uncle. She drives me to the psychologist every time, like she’s trying to make up for the sins of her brother. But I’ve realized that Uncle Raymond was just a sick and greedy man.
I was caged but now I’m free. I’m heading back to school, after a whole lot of therapy that I have to continue for years but I’m good. I’m free and I’m alive. But do you think I’ve forgiven?