Tag Archives: hope

Only A Flame #ChildNotBride

girl

I sat crouched at a corner of the room… With my arms circled around my folded knees.

Another stream of tears rolled effortlessly down my cheeks as I relived the experience.

I could still feel his fingers like the gentle slithery movements of a snake as he caressed my body.

I closed my eyes….If only I could shut out the images…

But No…. They were there… Refusing to leave…They came with such vivid clarity!

Images of flailing arms … Fighting to keep away the evil that loomed above me.

I remembered trying to scream… But I couldn’t hear the sound of my own voice.

Randomly the images came, in no defined order. I recalled a struggle to retain my underwear as groping hands determined to take them off…

The sound of a dress being torn…

Then I remembered the slap! Like a thunderbolt, the impact had gone through my whole body shutting down every remaining resistance I had.

I had lain there passive… Like one in a daze… And watched in horror as my young and innocent body was brutally ravaged!

I could still hear the wicked but ecstatic grunts of pleasure as he forcefully entered me again and again. Beads of sweat dropped from his forehead as saliva flowed in tiny streaks from the corner of his mouth. The stench of alcohol literally exuded from the pores on his skin.

For a moment my eyes had locked with his and I cringed in disgust!

“Who is this animal?!” I remembered thinking. There was a deadness in his eyes which were filled with fiery desire and burning lust! As I looked into those eyes, I realised I was staring at a beast… For I couldn’t bring myself to call him a man.

A surge of bitter tasting bile rose in my throat as I retched under a strong wave of nausea.

But nothing came out! My stomach was probably empty… But I did not care!

There was only one word that could explain how I felt…….

VIOLATED!

That was thirteen years ago, when I was just twelve years old… and now it is happening again!

Still crouched in one corner of the room, my hands still folded around my knees, I know what is about to come as he nears me. I feel like screaming, like getting up and charging at him but I know it would be useless. He would pick me up as if I am a piece of paper and throw me hard on the bed and I would not be able to escape his grip. So I sit there, shivering, tears stinging my eyes, my heart beating wildly. I know what to expect. After all, it has happened a million times before. From that first encounter thirteen years ago, I had somehow become a vessel for him to express his depravity. It isn’t something new, yet I am still terrified as hell.

I close my eyes as he grabs my hand and yanks me off the floor and throws me to the bed.

“So you think you can leave me and follow another man abi?!” he growls, landing me a resounding slap on my arm, careful not to touch my face. I scream and try to kick him away but I know it only ignites him. He is blaming me for following another man but I am guiltless. I only visited my aunt who just came into town and she kept me fifteen minutes longer than my curfew time. Now I am being punished and called a whore in my husband’s house. The other people in the house are listening but they will do nothing, they will say nothing. I will walk out with a limp and bruises and they will greet me with a smile as if nothing happened. They will ignore the cry for help in my eyes as my own family has ignored them for thirteen years. My life will continue with no hope because the world around me has no place for me to run.

“How many times will I tell you that you belong to me?! No man will ever have you as long as I’m alive! You are mine, forever!”

“Please, don’t…” I cry but he slaps me again. He puts his hand around my neck and holds me in a choke. There is darkness in his eyes as a cackle erupts from his throat.

“Open your legs!”

“Don’t do this. Please…” I beg. Maybe today is the day he will look at me with those eyes and have mercy. Maybe, just maybe he will not force himself in today and will love me the way a man should love a woman. But why should I hope for such things? It is not my place to enjoy them. I am only a woman and have no soul, as I was told. And it seemed like just yesterday, when I was but a little girl and was told my body belonged to a man old enough to be my father. Sadly, I don’t think I have grown from that time. As a girl I have come into this pain and it has lived my life for me.

So, I lie there, unresponsive to his touch, dead at every thrust he makes, numb to my own self. I keep my eyes up at the ceiling and look at the light bulb until it fades into memories of a wonderful past I have kept secure in my heart.

I see my brother teaching me to throw stones at lizards on the fence of our house. I see my sisters and I playing suwe and fighting over whose turn it is to wash the plates. I hear my father’s hearty laughter from the parlor as he watches something on TV. I listen to the cries of my baby brother while my mother bathes him in the backyard. The air is breezy and smells of rain but the sun shines brightly, refusing to go away though the clouds enshroud it. I look up and try to take in all its brilliance but grandma says I could get blind from doing that. So I lift my hand and shield my eyes while I hear my mother calling me. But the sun breaks through stubbornly, aiming to blind me…

I blink and I am back to hell, the light bulb stinging my eyes while his sweat pours over me. How many times have I been in that position, looking at that same bulb, at the ceiling it is hanging from? How many times have I taken the pain and yet emerged and kept a happy smile when I am outside with my children?

He gives one final grunt and pulls out of me. “Go and get ready for our in-laws,” he says with an evil grin and walks into the bathroom. I pull my legs together and try to cry but I can’t. There are no more tears here. I have to do as he says.

I secure my wrapper tight and hurry out, carrying around my familiar limp, trying to hide the pain in my arms. The compound is already buzzing with activities as the maids prepare for my husband’s new wife. I have never met her but I pray she is someone I can relate with, a friend that can finally keep me company. I go about preparing the meal and making sure the maids clean her room properly. It is my former room and now that I am a senior wife, I have been moved to a different room.

I finish what I am supposed to do and ensure that everything and everyone is set. Then I retreat to my side of the house and sit silently as the wedding ceremony progresses. There is music and dancing and food and drinks. Everyone is happy and cheerful and for a while, from my prison, I forget my pain and smile. Hours pass and finally the last drum is beat and there is a cold hush in the large compound. The generator goes off and I light a candle in my new room. My bladder alerts me that I must use the toilet and I grumble. How many times must I go in an hour? The maids call me ‘Aunty Piss’ behind my back but they do not know my weak bladder is a souvenir from my battle with VVF. I am glad to be alive even though my bladder embarrasses me every so often.

I stop in my tracks as I hear the sound of someone crying in the dark. I look around me, flashing my candle in the shadowy corridor but I see nothing. The crying continues and takes me only a few more steps for me to know it is coming from my old room. I go cold. But I strain my ear to listen some more if I can hear my husband’s voice. I hear nothing.

I move forward, each step with a churning stomach and I finally come to the door. I clasped the handle tight and slowly push the door in. The crying doesn’t stop; instead it is turned up a notch as I walk in. I put the candle before me and I freeze. Lying on my bed, hugging my old pillow with eyes sketched in fear is someone’s little girl. I feel a shiver in my bones as I look at her. She can’t be older than eleven and yet her future is going to be destroyed in one night.

I cannot move. I can hardly breathe. I feel like I am looking at myself. It is happening all over again. The girl sees something in my face that beckons to her. She leaves the pillow and runs to me, falls at my feet and hugs me. She is crying, pleading, begging me to take her home.

Home? I don’t know where home is right now. Maybe it never existed; it could be all in my head, for I do not understand how a parent can give their child away to be raped and abused. They call it marriage but it is no marriage. It is rape, it is abuse, it is evil, it is death.

I look at the girl and pull her up to me, holding her tight in my embrace, telling her it will be alright as the candle burns away. But nothing will be alright. Nothing will be fine from the moment he touches her. In one night he will take her from childhood, past her youth, past her womanhood and dump her right in a dark grave. And every night after that, he will pummel her to death.

Is this what I want for her? Should she suffer as I still do?

I pull away from her but she holds me tight. She won’t let go. Together we walk to one of the windows and I peep out. I can see him emerging from his side of the compound. How many times have I looked out this window and watched with dread as he approaches me.

Something sparks in me. I look at the candle. It is just a flame but I know what power it holds.

I set the flame to the thin curtain at the window and watch as the cloth fights the heat. But it is no rival for the fire. It whorls backwards and gives in to the flame, embracing it. I do the same to the second curtain and both of us watch as they both burn. I lift the bed sheet and set the mattress ablaze also.

The girl’s eyes are wide and she moves back from the rising inferno. I see the question in her eyes. I have an answer in mine.

I will buy you another night, maybe a second night but that is all I can do.

I have wilder ideas of running away but I have children. Where will we all go? I look at the flames leaking up everything and though I know this is temporary, it gives me pleasure. It also gives me strength and courage. And I feel a tingling, a tiny tingling in me to fight for my freedom, for her freedom.

Maybe I will fight…someday soon. Maybe today.

Written by yours truly and Valentine Oje Ikenna who blogs at Valentineoje.wordpress.com. He is a doctor, a pastor and a passionate writer.

Both of us SAY NO to #childmarriage. The Nigerian Literati say no to #childmarriage

 

Please stand up against these sick senators who are pushing for child marriage. It is not enough to sit and say it is never going to happen. We should raise up our voices against it and insist that strict measures be taken to have it completely abolished in places where it is being practiced. How can a lawmaker marry a thirteen year old and we think it’s his prerogative? How many more girls will go through pain and horror in the hands of sick men who abandon them in shacks to die and still roam around the community with no one punishing them? How can we all sit and have this injustice being done to innocent children and yet expect God to come down and save us? If we keep quiet, what then is the hope for our children? Don’t think because you’re a Southerner, it has nothing to do with you. What affects one, affects all.

The Nigerian community is speaking up against this. It’s just a flame but you can help the fire spread by sharing this message, irrespective of your religion and beliefs. It may not be enough to stop these men who are comfortably playing god with the bodies and souls of little girls. But it is enough to stir something in you. We should not be known as a nation that sits down and does nothing. Stop saying our efforts can’t go anywhere. These girls have to know there is another way to live. They have to know that marriage is a contract between two consenting adults and they have nothing to do with it. They have to know that there are people who hear their cries and are fighting for them.

If you are in Abuja, the venue is: Unity Fountain, by Transcorp Hilton. Also the Park. Time is: 9am-12noon.

For those in Lagos, the venues are:

1. Ojeez Restaurant, National Stadium Surulere.

2. Alausa Park, Opposite Lagos State Governor’s Office, Ikeja.

3. The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki

4. New African Shrine, Agidingbi, Ikeja.

5. Arrangements are still on-going for those in Festac Town and it’s environs.

Time is 9am-12noon.

And in your little corner, let your candle burn.

Related Posts:

Will You Give Us Your Daughters?

Let Us Marry Your Daughters

Don’t Call Me Bride

She Is Just A Child

For Halima’s Sake

Makayla’s True Story (what i never told anyone) by Sally

The amazing story of miraculous recovery and healing of Makayla continues. i’m aware that some of you never got to reading the second page because of technical difficulties and i apologize for that. If you are one of such people, please scroll down and click on page 2 for the concluding part of the story.

I want to tag this category What I Never Told Anyone. I’m leaving it open for anyone who has a true life experience to share. This is a forum for open and honest conversation and I would be glad if you’re bold enough to talk about your life as I am about to do. Of course, if you choose not to reveal your identity, it is okay.

MAKAYLA’S STORY

I struggled with the choice of whether to share my story or not. I struggled for months. At a point when I was going through what I was going through, I was very certain I would share it but later down the road, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to let this part of my life out. However, lately, people have been asking me questions on Facebook and I just felt it would be best if I told my story or rather my baby’s story.

Makayla was born on the 5th of July 2011. I didn’t have a hard labor because the doctor made things easy for me and Owen (my husband) was there the whole time. She came at exactly 6am that day and after excruciating pushing, I was finally relieved to be free of her. I can remember clearly how the doctor lifter her in the air to pass her to the nurse when my eyes caught something unusual on the lower part of her back. I thought maybe I wasn’t seeing clearly but I focused my eyes again and sure enough there was something like an extra skin or so (like a growth) in that area. Immediately my smile drained but I was not so cheerless because she was very beautiful. However, I couldn’t ask the doctor what it was for fear of what he might tell me, so Owen did and his reply was that it was nothing that couldn’t be handled.

I left the hospital less than two hours later but with a letter from the doctor referring us to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He emphasized the urgency and told us that the earlier they treated her, the better. Up until that moment, none of us knew how serious the case was going to be. Two days later, my mother-in-law accompanied Makayla and I to Luth to Children’s Emergency and there began my journey of shock. It started with a boy brought in burnt from head to toe in a domestic fire which claimed his mother and almost his sister. The boy was just eight months old.

The attending doctor saw us and started asking me routine questions about my pregnancy if I drank alcohol or took hard or prescription drugs and all that, and I answered him (still I was oblivious about what was happening). Then he took Makayla’s blood for some tests and told us we were going to be put on admission because she was going to be in surgery the next day. I didn’t like this. I hated hospitals. I really hated hospitals. We were given space in a crowded room where I could sit and watch her while the doctors did their rounds. I think I must have been sleeping when the first set of doctors came. I answered routine questions politely and then one of them, Doctor Ojo said, “madam, do you know what is wrong with your baby?” and I answered that I knew she had Spina Bifida according to what my doctor had written in the letter. Prior to this, I had not Googled it. I was too tired. Then, the doctor began breaking it down in layman’s terms for me, “Spina Bifida is congenital disease that occurs in babies in the first month of conception. Something happens and the spinal cord does not close up properly and that is why you see that thing on your baby’s back. We are going to do a surgical repair on that area and you can go home in a few days.”

I was happy to hear that but if any of you know me well, you would know that I didn’t let things just go like that. I asked how this disease could affect her and he looked at me (for he was kind) and thought I was too young to tell me the truth and then he asked for my husband. Owen was at work. I told him to tell me whatever, that I could take it.

“Spina Bifida does damage to the spinal cord and this affects the lower part of the baby’s body. She might not be able to walk and may have to use a wheelchair all her life. she won’t also be able to control her bowel and bladder movement and it may also affect her brain.”

He finished and I was staring at him blankly. He tapped me gently, told his other junior doctors to take notes and walked away. I sat down dazedly and it didn’t take long for reality to bite and I began to cry. Owen came and I told him and my mother-in-law what the doctor said and though they did their best to reassure me that everything will be fine, I wasn’t seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.

Surgery was slated for the next day and the dawn of light on a bright morning filled me with hope and that was what took me through the day. The surgery was successful and we were led to the post surgery ward. We walked in and were offered bed. The nurses were kind at first until they laid down their rules.

  1. The mother is not provided sleeping space. She would sit beside the baby during her whole stay in the hospital. Should she get tired and desire to lie down, she can do so in the visitor’s room. Her baby would be looked after y the nurses (big lie).
  2. The mother must be up as early as 4am to bathe herself and the baby and clean her corner (was this secondary school?).
  3. Visiting hours are from 5.30 to 6.30pm (ridiculous!).
  4. Mothers are not allowed to eat around their babies for hygienic reasons (understandable but I broke the rules so many times).
  5. And they added many more other rules that I can’t remember now.

I hated the place instantly and I asked what it would cost to get a private ward. I would find out later that deposit alone cost over a hundred grand and one week’s stay could amount up to half a million. I had no option than to manage. What I thought was going to be a few days’ stay turned out to almost three months. These were the factors that prolonged our stay.

  1. 1.       A Nurse’s Carelessness

Four days after the surgery, the doctors were doing their morning rounds and discovered that Makayla was healing nicely and ordered a particular nurse to apply fresh dressing. If I knew then what I know now, I would have stopped her when she was disinfecting that wound. She dipped the cotton wool in saline water and rubbed Makayla’s skin like she was rubbing a footballer’s knee. I cringed at what she was doing but I thought it was normal. The next day, the doctors returned, opened the place and what we all saw shocked us. The stitches had loosened and there was a gaping hole so large I could even see her spinal cord. They blamed me for allowing feaces  come in contact with the area. I said nothing to defend myself because I was scared that if I told the truth, I would have to face the wrath of the nurses who cared for my baby day and night. That wound kept us in the hospital for over two months as they applied honey and dressed it twice daily.

  1. 2.       A Weird Infection

Makayla, one strange night started coughing. I thought she was cold because the windows were constantly open but by the next morning, she could hardly stay awake, milk spilled from the side of her lips each time she fed because she was too weak to swallow and her skin turned ashen. The neurosurgeons who were in charge of her case wrote a letter inviting the pediatrics to come check on her but it took two full days for them to show. At this point my chubby Makayla was now reduced to a skinny fragile soul and she was dying. Tests were run and nothing was found to be the problem. All I had was prayers from home because at that point I could not go past “Dear Lord…” Five days later, she recovered but the strange illness that made her cry five nights without stopping had left her with a coarse voice.

  1. 3.       Hydrocephalus

While Makaya was recovering from the first surgery, she developed hydrocephalus which is common with 80% cases of spina bifida. Hydrocephalus is simply a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain enlarging the head and sometimes causes brain damage. Each day, the doctors came with a measuring tape to measure the circumference of her head and slowly, they discovered it was increasing. The only solution to this was brain surgery. I remember fighting that decision and praying strongly against it but God wanted it that way. I gave into his will and on the 19th of September, she went for her second surgery. We were told she had a 50/50 chance at success with that procedure and may have to come back to have a shunt placed in her brain which would drain the excess fluid and distribute it around the body as needed. By this time, I was the second longest staying mother of a patient in that ward and even the nurses jokingly begged me to go home. I had watched people come and go and seen their babies get better. I prayed each day that God free me from the place.

THE PAIN WE WENT THROUGH

  • Medical Procedures

Words cannot describe the turmoil people go through in hospitals. if you have not gone through it, you will never understand. It is a lot different for a helpless, little baby who has to daily take drugs intravenously, drugs I was told by the doctors that made adults cry when infused into their veins and in addition had to probed and checked with hardly any sleep. There were vital signs check every six hours or so and don’t get me started on the needles. I remember one time before her CT scan, Makayla was laid out on the bed and the doctors were searching for just one vein to insert a catheter and it took one whole hour until I begged them to stop.

  • The Nurses

Granted, there are angels amongst them but seriously, some of them are nurses from hell! One of them actually told me, when trying to explain to me how to minimize the use of diapers, that I would (in her words) ‘waste my money on babies like this’. I was in utter shock and cried for a long time and when I shared it with my doctor who is also a consultant at LUTH, he urged me to report her to SERVICOM. Like I said, you don’t report the one that takes care of you. It is like a cabal in there. You look for their trouble, they get diabolical. But I am not always known for my long-suffering and so I gave a good mouth bashing to one of them who told me my faith in God didn’t count for anything and that the doctors were pampering me with lies. What she was implying was that Makayla would not get better because in her experience, cases like this turn out for the worse. I didn’t stop at giving her my mind, I had Owen threaten the entire nursing unit of that ward with a report to SERVICOM and it worked like magic. The senior CNOs came kissing my ass the next morning and right up until I left, they handled me like royalty. They knew Nurse ‘Hellga’ as we called her had gone too far. Yes, most of the nurses in our public hospitals in Nigeria are very mean and uncaring. Yes, I said it! Quote me anywhere! They have no human feelings whatsoever and they’d rather have you die to prove their point than see you better.

  • My Own Health

I had just given birth. All the customary care a first time mother was supposed to have was alas something I couldn’t experience. For my whole duration I sat and slept on a plastic chair in that hospital that when I finally left the hospital, my bum was flat. I’m still trying to get it back to shape (lol). At some point, the nurses picking on me, exchanged my chair for a wooden chair and I went mad. Yeah you would too if you hardly slept at night or day. I fell ill so many times I was past caring. My face was filled with post-birth eczema and my sister joked that I looked like a soldier’s uniform. I was emaciated and didn’t have the appetite for food. Peppersoups and hefty meals my mom prepared for me where shared amongst the other women in the ward. I hardly went on after the first two spoons. I developed not only skin infections but vaginal ones due to the poor state of the toilets. My mental facilities were really messed up. Somewhere along the line. It was understandable. Every mother there went through it.

  • Financial Stress

Government hospitals are a lot cheaper than private ones but when you get to stay for an extended period, you accumulate a whooping bill. Thank God for my parents who supported us the whole time. I don’t know how we would have been able to handle the repeated CT scans and numerous blood tests and all.

  • Owen’s Own Stress

Each day, he left the office and came to see me for just one hour and braced the traffic for about four hours or so to Lekki. Each day, he spent money on drugs and tests and transportation. I never saw him cry because he was my strength but I knew he was going through hell.

Now, to the good part. This one I won’t forget easily at all.

Continue reading Makayla’s True Story (what i never told anyone) by Sally

a collection of thoughts by Chukky Chux

to the palm tree

(for cara mia)

 

If i love you –

I’ll never be like a banyan tree,

Displaying myself on your crown;

If i love you –

I’ll never mimic the infatuated birds,

Repeating the same monotones song for green shade;

Or be a spring,

Gushing cooling comfort;

A perilous peak,

Enhancing your height and dignity.

Unlike the sunlight,

Unlike the rain;

None of these suffice!

I must be a coconut tree,

The image of a tree by your side.

Our roots, closely intertwined below,

Our leaves, touching in the clouds.

When a gust of wind brushes past,

We will greet each other,

No one else can

Understand our language.

You’ll have bronze branches, an iron trunk,

Like knives, swords and halberds;

Or valiant torches.

Together, we’ll share

The cold storms and thunderbolts,

Together, we’ll share

The mist, rosy clouds and rainbows.

It seems we’ll always be separate,

Yet we’ll depend on each other.

Only this can be called profound love,

Wherein lies the faithfulness:

Loving not only your greatness,

But also the place where you stand,

The earth beneath your feet!

Continue reading a collection of thoughts by Chukky Chux