I Should Have Spoken Up But I Am An Orphan Part 1

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I Should Have Spoken Up But I Am An Orphan
Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock

Bose learned to be responsible at a very tender age…her parents died when she was just 13 years old. It was the gloomiest day of her life…her parents had dropped her and her siblings at school; they had traveled to Lagos to be back later in the day. As school closed that day, Bose took her siblings home (they lived pretty close to the school) and served them lunch as her mum had made lunch and put it in some kind of thermos.

They did their homework and waited for their parents to return. This was not the first time their parents would travel to Lagos and leave them at home…they normally returned around 6pm. They waited and waited until it got dark and they were hungry. Bose had to be the makeshift cook for the evening. She got her siblings something to eat but she was kind of worried because her parents had never been this late before.

Her younger sister, Bola was 11 and Paul the last child was 9 at that time…somehow they all slept off on the couches while waiting. There was a persistent knocker on the door and Bose got up, it was around 11pm…she asked who it was and it was their Aunt Mary and her husband Uncle BJ. As young as Bose was, she could tell something was off…she knew something had happened.

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Long story short, their parents had been involved in a ghastly motor accident on their way to Lagos earlier in the day. There was not a single survivor and that was the beginning of another life… totally different from what Bose and her siblings were used to. Their dad was an only child and Aunt, Mary was the only sister their mom had. The whole family decided that they moved in with their aunt in Lagos.

 

Everyone promised to be there to support and help out…but Bose soon found out they were empty promises as none of them was forthcoming when they truly needed help. Aunty Mary was god sent as she took care of them along with her own 2 kids…she would remind Bose and her siblings of how their late mom took care of her and paid for her education from the little money she was making as a hairdresser. Aunty Mary had a good job with one of the first generation banks and could handle all the expenses.

 

Her husband on the other hand, was not a very resourceful person…he was always claiming to be a ‘contractor’ but was hardly on any project. He was always at home anytime the kids got back from school and just spent most of the day watching TV and discussing politics. However, he was really nice to Bose and her siblings and helped with their homework from time to time. About three years after Bose and her younger ones moved to Lagos, Aunty Mary had some issues at work…an audit report had indicted her and she ended up losing her job.

 

She claimed she was implicated but the best the bank could do for her was drop the charges so she wouldn’t end up in jail. It was a tough time and taking care of 5 kids, with a husband with little to no income, became a daunting task. Aunty Mary had to sell her almost completed house to start a business as it was almost impossible for her to get a job with another Financial Institution. After about 4 months, the new business took off. It required Aunty Mary traveling out of the country to buy her merchandise and supplying it to retailers. Her first trip was a success and things were beginning to look up again.

 

They had moved to a smaller apartment to reduce the cost of rent…at the former house, Bose had her own room. Her aunt said she was becoming a young lady and needed her privacy. The room had its own bathroom as well but in the new house, she had to share a room with her younger sister and her cousin (Aunty Mary’s first daughter). There was also only one bathroom in the new house so they all had to share it. It was better than nothing and things were getting better…Aunty Mary had promised that she would get them into a better house as soon as her business stabilized…happy new week.

 

Bose usually got up earlier than everyone else, especially when her aunt was on a business trip. She was the big girl of the house and had to get her younger ones ready and prepare breakfast. She would quickly take her bath before doing anything else. There was a certain day she was in the bathroom and had a feeling that someone was watching her. She was running the shower so she wasn’t sure if she heard the door creak or not…she quickly washed her face and turned to look but there was nobody there.

The door was ajar but she could not remember if she closed the door behind her. She shrugged it off, closed the door, locked it and continued with what she was doing. She was a little over 16 at this time and was just blossoming as a young lady. There was a day Uncle BJ called her and asked for her bra size, he said he was drawing a list of what her aunt needed to buy for everyone on her next trip…she didn’t really know it, so the uncle suggested that he could determine the size by feeling her up. It sounded weird but the uncle cupped a feel before she could even protest.

 

He had this mischievous smile on his face as he told Bose she was fast becoming a woman and he would make sure her aunt got her a lot of beautiful things. Bose noticed that Uncle BJ was becoming very interested in her, not a bad thing but this was in a creepy way. He would ask her weird questions and these things only happened whenever Aunty Mary traveled. On one of those trips, Bose was in the bathroom early in the morning and had that same feeling that someone was watching her, she turned around and there was Uncle BJ looking at her.

 

He said he was waiting for her to notice him so he could tell her to always lock the door behind her. Bose started avoiding him in the house but what could she do since her aunt was hardly around. She was either away on business trips or out trying to get her money from the retailers she supplied her merchandise to. Bose did not know much about sexuality and all of that but she just felt her uncle was up to something and it was wrong.

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On one of her aunt’s trips, her uncle had invited her to come clean the bedroom and as she was doing that, he started to tell her how beautiful she was and how he would give her anything she wanted if she would “make him happy” (his exact words). He then moved closer to her and tried to grab her…Bose pushed him off and ran out of the room. That was how Uncle BJ turned to a monster. He would complain about everything Bose and her siblings did and just made life miserable for them.

 

He promised Bose that he would get her out of that house and send her and her siblings back to the streets. Many times he cooked up stories of how someone was stealing his money and how Bose was his prime suspect. Aunty Mary would scold Bose and ask why she had gone from that sweet good girl to this pilfering ingrate. She would even accuse Bose of keeping bad company in school.

 

Anytime Bose did something wrong, Uncle BJ meted out stiff penalties which included physical abuse. Bose was getting tired of this and would cry and cry…Bola and Paul would cry with her and try to console her. Not long after that, Uncle BJ told Bose that if she didn’t play ball he would send her and her younger ones out before their aunt returned from her trip and he knew exactly what to say to justify his action.

 

He said Bose was the one making life difficult for herself as she stood to gain a lot by making him happy and could become homeless by resisting him. Bose knelt down and pleaded with him…she told him that she had grown to see him as a father but Uncle BJ retorted that he knew his own children. As Bose was about to get up, he grabbed her and tried to force himself on her, she threatened to scream so he let her be.

 

He then told her to start parking her things as he would send the three of them out of his house. Bose thought of what life would look like if sent out of the house with her siblings and the thought of it scared her. She stood there startled as the uncle started fondling and touching her all over, tears running down her cheeks as she pleaded with him to stop… but he wouldn’t listen. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and it was her cousin, Aunty Mary’s first daughter.

 

She needed to ask her dad a question and found the door locked so she knocked. Bose gathered all that was left of her dignity and ran out of the door. Her cousin asked why she was crying and Uncle BJ said she was being punished for misbehaving. Bose stayed awake all night, gazing at the ceiling…wiping tears from her eyes. Different thoughts ran through her mind…she thought of running away but didn’t know where to go. She feared for her little sister Bola and the thought of Uncle BJ doing this same thing to her.

 

She thought of telling her aunt but would she believe her? After all, Uncle BJ already told her that whatever happened, she was going to be the one to lose. Every little sound made her heart skip a beat. After that day, she did her best to avoid Uncle BJ; she would make sure there was somebody else with her when she needed to go do something in his room. Uncle BJ noticed and told her to keep it up but she should know that it was either his way or the highway. A boy in the neighborhood had a thing for Bose and was always disturbing her. They attended the same school but the boy was in SS3 (Senior Secondary 3 – High School Senior) while Bose was in SS2.

 

The boy had given a letter to Daniel to pass on to Bose but the letter ended up in Uncle BJ’s hands…O the horror. One would think Uncle BJ was the custodian of morality…he yelled, screamed and threatened to kill the boy that sent the letter if he ever set his eyes on him. Bose was punished severely that even Aunt Mary had to tell Uncle BJ to take it easy on her. His response was that Bose was becoming promiscuous and it would not happen under his roof.

 

The next time Aunty Mary traveled, Uncle BJ became more desperate…he would call Bose over while completely naked on the bed. The first time it happened, Bose rushed out of the room and refused to go back in…she was shocked beyond words. One of the other kids asked what happened, she dared not say it. Five days later, Uncle BJ had his way…he said Bose couldn’t go to school because she needed to run some errands so the other kids left for school and it was just the two of them at home.

 

Bose pleaded, begged, cried, fought, cursed, threatened to kill herself and even bit her uncle on the chest but there was little she could do as she was overpowered and subdued. After the deed was done, she scampered to the bathroom and sat there for hours…she sobbed profusely till she had no tears left…she was badly bruised and bleeding. She cringed at every thought of what had happened. She scrubbed her body with the sponge as if she wanted to peel off her own skin. She was trying to wash off the guilt, the dishonor, the shame and the violation. Even Uncle BJ did not expect that kind of reaction; he remained in his room.

 

After about three hours, Uncle BJ summoned courage and came to the bathroom where Bose was. He said he didn’t mean to hurt her and was only trying to show her that he loved her. He gave a ridiculous analogy of how sometimes you have to break the container to get to the desired content. He told her how beautiful and attractive she had become as a young lady and how he would take care of her and give her everything she wanted. He said if she kept him happy, he would see to it that she was also happy.

 

He walked up to her and held her, she tried to push him away but was too weak to do it…she just kept making convulsive gasps, whimpering in his arms. Uncle BJ later left her and went out; he came back, not long after, with lots of gifts for Bose. He brought them to the room where she laid, covered up, a little feverish. He had bought her toiletries, perfumes, clothes and some snacks from an eatery. He dropped them on the shelf, next to Bose’s bed as she did not bother to collect them from him.

 

He sat by her bed and kept telling her sweet things and how he loved her so much and would never let anyone hurt her. How he would make sure she got university education and how he would send her to the United States as soon as the State government gave him the contract he was pursuing. He kept cajoling her until the other kids got back from school. They were shocked to see Bose in that state but Uncle BJ told them she fell and it somehow turned into a fever.

 

Bola sat by her and checked her temperature by placing the back of her hand on Bose’s forehead. She was burning up…they got her some analgesics and let her sleep. Later that night Bose felt like telling Bola what had happened but the thought of destroying her aunt’s home or getting kicked out of the house with her siblings hushed her. Uncle BJ had painted different scenarios for her earlier…all the things that could happen if anybody got to know, and they were not pretty pictures.

 

The cajoling continued all week…sweet-talking, gifts, emotional blackmail and somehow Bose was getting confused. She asked her uncle what would happen if Aunty Mary found out. He assured her that unless Bose told anyone, nobody was going to find out. Bose was really scared and even the other kids in the house noticed how jumpy she had become. When her aunt returned, she also noticed this…Bose could not look at her straight in the eye. At a point, her aunt had to call her and asked if she had offended Bose in any way…uncle BJ jumped in that it’s natural for girls her age to feel withdrawn and that she would get over it.

Aunty Mary said she knew she had been unavailable for all of them but things would soon get better and they would be seeing more of her around the house. She asked Bose for a hug and as she hugged her, Bose could not help the tears…her aunt held her even tighter. Uncle BJ kept sneaking around to find ways of being alone with Bose…even when her wife was at home. He would send her to go clean the bedroom he shared with his wife and would show up minutes later…he would grab her from behind and tell her he couldn’t wait for his wife to travel so he could have a taste of the ‘honeypot’ again.

 

Bose would push him off because of the fear of her aunt walking in on them. He would tell her how much he loved and missed her and would force the young girl to kiss him. Something in Bose knew this was wrong but somehow as this continued, she started to enjoy the attention, the sweet words, the gifts and the seeming effect she had on Uncle BJ anytime he was on those shameful missions.

Uncle BJ got his wish and his wife traveled again…he was like a kid left alone in a candy store. Bose played along but her conscience was killing her…Uncle BJ kept assuring her that love was the reason and there was no sacrifice too big for love. Uncle BJ had a twisted answer for every doubt and fear that Bose exhibited. Twice they almost got caught by Bola; the second time was so close that Bose thought the cat was definitely out of the bag.

How Bola didn’t figure it out was beyond Bose…could it be that Bola couldn’t come to terms with what she saw and hence, brushed it off as a figment of her imagination? Or was she that naïve? Well, Bose stuck to the naivety theory because she also ‘knew nothing’ some months back. Before long, the whole thing was taking its toll on Bose’s education…Uncle BJ wouldn’t let her study…she barely had time for anything else.

Her grades were declining and her continuous assessment results were woeful. Uncle BJ was quick to blame her aunt for this…he said Bose was taking on more chores than she could handle because of Aunty Mary’s incessant absence. Aunty Mary promised she would get a house help so Bose could get some time to focus on her studies. Uncle BJ was totally against the idea…he said the house was crowded and there was no space for anyone else to stay. Aunty Mary asked for some more time to get a shop where she could start a different type of business that would require less traveling and keep her around more.

In a way, Bose was happy with the news…maybe this would make Uncle BJ leave her alone but something in her wanted what she had with him. She had been force-fed what she never wanted and somehow she wasn’t sure she was ready to be weaned. Bose noticed that anything he told Uncle BJ to do…anytime he was with her, he did. There was a time he was begging Bose to kiss him, and she told him to prostrate and to her surprise, her uncle went flat on the floor. She began to see this as a kind of empowerment and she liked it.

She confided in one of her friends in school who encouraged her to milk the opportunity. Bose said she felt like she was betraying her aunt but her friend said it wasn’t her fault…her aunt’s husband chose to violate her and she should at least get everything she could while the man still wanted her. She wondered what her friend meant by that but didn’t ask. Aunty Mary didn’t travel for a while and Uncle BJ was getting agitated, he was desperate to be with Bose but there was no chance…he kept asking his wife when her next business trip would be.

She responded that she wanted to be home for a while so she could be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband. Uncle BJ wasn’t very excited about that…he encouraged his wife to make hay while the sun was shining and to be serious with her business. Aunty Mary said she thought he would be happy that she was around…he said he was but as a good husband, he also wanted to see her succeed in her business Uncle BJ got so desperate to the point that he arranged for Bose to meet him at a motel close to her school…She was reluctant but Uncle BJ promised to make it worth her while as he would give her something special if she could make it happen. They set a date and Bose was to sneak out of school to meet with him.

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Everything worked according to plan, they were at the motel for a couple of hours and as they were stepping out of the motel, Aunty Bose’s car pulled up. It was as if the earth should open up and swallow Bose, she was sweating profusely and didn’t know what to do. She tried to run but ‘something’ must have glued her feet to the ground. Uncle BJ was equally confused and out of ideas…he was visibly shaking. He tried to concoct a story with Bose so they could have the same version but he was just mumbling and was totally incoherent.

Countless thoughts flooded Bose’s mind all at the same time… What would her aunt do to her? What would her siblings think of her? Would her aunt throw her out? She thought of how she didn’t want to be part of this right from the start would her aunt understand? Would her aunt believe the story that it was rape that birthed this illicit affair? Would her aunt believe that she fought hard for this not to happen? Would her aunt believe that she wanted to tell, but was threatened? She had all these running in her mind as Aunty Mary drove past them how could she not see them? Or was she trying to pull over somewhere further? Agreed that Uncle BJ didn’t bring his car but still, they were out there in the open and Aunt Mary was just a few meters away.

Bose thought it could have something to do with her not having her School Uniform on. She had changed into something else, on her way to the motel so as not arouse suspicion. But that notwithstanding, it was really close…Bose took to her heels the moment her aunt’s car disappeared at the corner. Uncle BJ also went the other way, he was definitely not himself…he wasn’t sure if his wife saw him but pretended not to, or if he was that lucky.

Bose was afraid to enter the house when she got back from school. The guilt was eating her up…she wanted to do everything possible to avoid her aunt. She tried going in through the backdoor that led to the kitchen but it was locked. The other kids had gone inside but she stayed in the compound, pretending to clean it. She wasn’t sure if Uncle BJ was home or not.

After about thirty minutes of loitering in the compound, she heard her aunt scream her name. Aunty Mary sounded really upset and one could sense the anger in the tone of her voice…Bose wasn’t sure whether to run or respond. Then her aunt came out through the front door and was yelling “how could you? You of all people, you thought you could hide it? You thought I wouldn’t find out? Come inside right now”. Bose just stood there…as far as she was concerned; it was the end of the world. Her aunt charged at her, held her by her skirt and dragged her inside. As soon as Bose got in the living room, her aunt yanked her school bag off of her and opened it, exposing the mufti she took to school.

Bose’s heart was in her mouth as her aunt screamed and yelled. She talked about the times her husband said Bose was becoming promiscuous but she defended her. She told her how betrayed she felt because she had actually gone to Bose’s school to talk to her teacher about her grades and they couldn’t find her. It was another student that later told her Bose had left school earlier but didn’t say where she was going. It was then that Bose realized her aunt didn’t actually see her at the entrance of the motel and was only angry at her truancy.

Aunty Mary was really upset and wanted Bose to explain where she went and why she left school. Bose did not have any explanations so her aunt’s logical conclusion was that she must have gone out to meet a boy. Her aunt wept and called herself a failure…she said she had failed her late sister and with all her husband’s strictness, Bose still ended up making terrible choices. She asked what Bose wanted that she did not do her best to provide.

She asked why Bose wanted to make her a laughing stock before the extended family members that had abandoned them. Bose tried to make up a story but it didn’t make sense and she couldn’t convince her aunt. Aunty Mary said she would hand Bose over to Uncle BJ officially and would not meddle with his disciplinarianism. She said she regretted the times she stopped her husband from using tougher measures to instill discipline in Bose. Uncle BJ got home later in the day; he must have stayed out for the same reasons Bose couldn’t go inside when she got home from school. As soon as he got in, Aunty Mary called Bose and told Uncle BJ what she found out at Bose’s school.

Uncle BJ flared up and said it was her fault…that if she had allowed him discipline Bose, the story would have been different. Aunty Mary apologized and begged her husband to help train Bose so that she would not make a mess of her life. She said she had handed her over and that her husband should use any means necessary to train her. Bose just knelt there as tears rolled down her cheeks. She couldn’t handle the turn of events…her uncle might have corrupted her but there was still some form of innocence in her.

She thought of how much she had betrayed her aunt and how Aunty Mary was oblivious of the truth and was handing her over to the person she was supposed to save her from. After her aunt went inside the room, Uncle BJ looked at her with a mischievous grin and said “Whew! That was a close one…we should be more careful next time”. Bose wiped her tears and said there would never be a next time. Uncle BJ thought she was just saying that because of the close call but Bose was serious.

After the incident, she avoided uncle BJ like a plague. She cleaned his room only when he was out or when Aunty Mary was home….Bose would rather sit outside, in the compound, than be in the house anytime Uncle BJ was home. Uncle BJ couldn’t handle it…he threatened to make the house unbearable for Bose but the little girl called his bluff and told him to do his worst. He became very irritable and would hit Bose at every slightest provocation.

He would give her ridiculous chores and punish her for not completing them within the stipulated period. Bose saw a totally different Uncle BJ…mean, callous and cold. He made good on his promise of “my way or the highway”. At a point in his desperation, he lied that Bose stole his money, he claimed she was the only one that entered his room…he flogged her like he wanted to kill her. He said he needed to do it to get her to confess. Aunty Mary was mad when she got back later in the day and saw the marks on Bose’s body.

She protested but her husband responded that she was the one ‘spoiling’ Bose and he would not condone stealing or have a thief under his roof. Bose swore to her aunt that she did not steal the money…her aunt wanted to believe her but somehow, Uncle BJ, while going through Bose’s stuff, found the money. “I told you she did it” he said…Aunty Mary didn’t know what to believe anymore. Uncle BJ then said that the next time Bose stole his money; he would throw her out regardless of what her aunt thought.

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After the theft accusation, Bose laid low and was being extra careful around the house. She would quickly do any chore Uncle BJ gave her, no matter how tedious. There was a time he told her to wash his car, clean the bathroom and do the laundry before he woke up from his nap. Bola and Paul had to help her with the chores so Uncle BJ wouldn’t have a reason to hit her (Although Uncle BJ already warned them not to help her). Bola told Bose that she believed her and she knew Bose did not steal the money…she just wasn’t sure why Uncle BJ suddenly became such a bully. Bose told her not to worry about it as everything would soon be alright.

by Lanre Olagbaju

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