I am in a strange bed in a strange house with a strange man. I sit up for several minutes trying to remember how I got here. I vaguely recall a party, the night before. My bestie’s boyfriend said it’d be cool.

As usual, I’d drunk too much and popped the pills offered to me without looking too closely at what they were. Now 9 hours of my life were gone. I wish I could remember. Had I slept with the stranger? Oh God, did we use a condom?!

I wasn’t always a party girl. I wasn’t always half drunk and spaced out on pills. I grew up in a relatively good home. I was the bookworm in the family – the most likely to succeed. Then my parents got divorced.

At first, I felt my world would collapse then my mom got remarried and my world did collapse. How could my church-going, tambourine-shaking mother become a second wife to an Alhaji?! By the time they were married, I was rarely at home anyway. I spent more time in my bestie’s place than at home. It saved me from having to endure Alhaji’s lecherous looks. Sometimes, I wondered if Alhaji had married my mom for her or to be close to me.

The day he raped me was like any other day. I’d come home briefly to pick up some clothes to return to my bestie’s and my mum wasn’t home. Alhaji was though. I saw the familiar glint in his eye and hurriedly packed. He had other plans and that day, I could swear he was demon possessed, for how could a fat man move so fast?

Deed done, I couldn’t tell my mom. What good would it do to add to her troubles? I could tell how desperately she needed the marriage to work; the financial stability it represented. So, I spent the year in silence and then off to university I went.

The floodgates had swung open. The young virgin bookworm was dead and the girl who replaced her didn’t give a damn about life. Every year since the rape, I’d gotten myself a new tattoo to commemorate my metamorphosis from good girl to bad. It’s been 4 years and here I am in this strange bed.

I look over at the guy, somewhat thankful that he isn’t in my circle of friends. Perhaps, I’ll never bump into him again.

I slowly make my way to the bathroom and what I see scares me. I look like a ghost – gaunt and pale. “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t live like this anymore”, I whisper to no one in particular. I check myself into a hospital and request anti-STD drugs and morning after pills. I claim I’ve been raped, but refuse to be humiliated further at the police station. My crazed look and vacant eyes must have elicited sumpathy from the female doctor.

Weeks later, I do a follow up check – no STDs, no pregnancy. I scarcely remember a prayer I said to God months earlier – “If you get me through this unscathed, we’ll have a serious conversation about change.”

It’s been 6 months. Life hasn’t been easy. I struggle to not take a pill or lose myself in alcohol. I wonder if and when I’ll bump into my intimate stranger again. I wonder who lives in the house I woke up in, anytime I walk by. I will go home soon. To look Alhaji in the eye. To confront him. To damn the consequences. I figure if my mum couldn’t protect me from her husband, then I don’t need to protect her from the truth about her husband. Maybe, I will even find the courage to forgive him. Then, I’ll get one more tatoo to signify the close of a chapter in my life.

I figure I won’t be coming home much after graduation. Maybe my NYSC posting will be somewhere far, far away. I look forward to a new life, new friends and having that long overdue conversation with God.


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