Monday, September 1, 2014

SHORT STORY: The unspoken truth

By Chinwe J. Obinwanne

It could only be a mistake. It was surely just nature playing one of its biggest games. She stared closely at the image on her younger sister’s Facebook page and shrugged, a sad smile playing on her lips. Memories reminding her of the crazy but cruel twist that took her away from Nigeria a good six years ago. Reality gave her a resounding slap when she saw a birthmark on the face of that image on Sade’s Facebook wall. No, it wasn’t a mistake. This was him.

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Funke was over 5ft 9inches in height, quite tall for a woman; dark-skinned, had hazel shaped eyes that seemed to probe into a person’s soul when she looked into them, nose as pointed and defined as that of a Fulani lady; her lips were set in a pout and you could only imagine Angelina Jolie when you concentrated on her lips; she wasn’t exactly curvy but something about her build, face and eyes seemed to capture and hold the attention of men and women alike. She had an electrifying persona and seemed to make friends wherever she went. Men bent over backwards to do her bidding and she was well aware of the power she wielded over them.

A power that oozed out of her without her even trying. One that pulled on Kamsi so strongly that he would make sure to leave his office every lunch time just to catch a glimpse of Funke strolling back leisurely to her office after having her lunch.

Kamsi often wondered what a beautiful and vulnerable-looking bombshell like Funke was doing working as an Engineer. In his head, she fit better as a Human Resource person or better still, a media person; but there she was commanding respect and attention, not for her beauty, but for her brains. He shook his head as he sighed. This was his fifth week of secretly observing her and his head had just snapped back from his imagination allowing him time to retreat back to his office, when he looked up to see her approaching. Panic struck him. Could she be walking over to him? Surely not. She didn’t know him from adam, he thought, so better to act cool and walk away.

His breath caught in his throat when she called out to him. By his name. Surprise and then suspicion engulfed him. How did she know him, he thought? Oh, maybe she possesses some marine power, after all she had their beauty, he said to himself. Before he could conclude his conversations to self, she tapped him. A touch that left him vibrating with joy.

“Why have you been stalking me Kamsi” she asked. He turned sharply, his mouth formed in an O.

“Uhmmm, me?” He asked sounding stupid even to himself.

“Yes, you. I have noticed you at this game for over four weeks. So much that I had to inquire into who the hell you were, to be sure I didn’t need to get a restraining order against you” she said in her sing-song voice.
“ I’m really sorry about this. I feel like an utter fool Funke. In fact, I had heard a lot of guys in my office talk about you and how they tried to get to date you only to have their faces rubbed in the mud, so I decided to stay away. I hate to get a no for an answer, so I have been scared out of my mind to speak to you” Kamsi rambled on.

She smiled at him and brought out her hand for a handshake. This handshake marked the beginning of something so beautiful Funke thought she must be reading a fairy tale novel. Her world was turning out more beautiful than she had ever imagined. A six-figure paying job with Milton Oil and Gas just after her former company Ramon Engineering Ltd folded up leaving her jobless for a while. And now, a man she only dreamed of. Heaven must have her in mind when they invented fairy tales she thought.

But something happened that brought her fairy tale castle tumbling down head first. Something that wiped the happiness and joy from her slate. Something that ended up bringing with it, a sort of blessing. But one that may be a curse to her family.

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It was a rainy Tuesday and the traffic was intense. Funke knew she would sleep on the road if she dared to drive back home at the close of work. Her only hope of getting home was the tricycle, so she ditched her Christian Louboutin shoes and guided her feet into her flat slippers as she waved frantically at any passing Keke Marwa. Most were occupied by passengers and just when she was about losing hope, one came to a halt in front of her. As she reeled out her address and made to jump in, Christian, her colleague stopped his car just beside the Keke and asked her to join him. She sent him on his way with a wave mockingly telling him how he would sleep in traffic today while she would be warmed up by her duvet.

The traffic was even more crazy than she thought as even her hired miracle Keke went through its harshness. Finally, after a few torturous hours the driver pulled up in front of Jama Estate and she got the shocker. Her Estate gate was locked. What would she do? Who would she call? She had moved to the estate barely three weeks ago. She looked at her wristwatch and the clock screamed 12.21am.

“Damn it” she swore under her breath. She pulled out her purse, went through it and paid the driver. She wondered where her ATM card was even as she realized she didn’t have enough cash to go looking for a hotel to pass the night. Her dilemma was lost on the keke driver who merrily turned his tricycle like a racing expert and sped off leaving her to wallow in her current situation.

This felt like a scene off a horror movie. What if something bad happened to her while she stood here contemplating? She thought. Her brain kicked into emergency mode as they scanned for a quick alternative. 

Finally one jumped to mind. She remembered Jide from the Estate just opposite hers. They had met severally (about five times) at the gym and they had become instant friends. An acquaintance is better than no hope. “Half bread was better than nothing” she thought as she whipped out her phone and pinged Jide.
“Hi dude. A sister needs help like asap” she typed in and hit send.

A few short minutes later, she heard her phone chime. She looked. “Just SAY it babe. Anything.” Jide responded. She could tell the humour in his message. She smiled as she replied. “Am locked outta my estate. Can I crash at yours for tonight? I promise not to seduce you. *smiles*.”

“Hot Damn babe. I wish you’d seduce me but am out of town now *sad face*. Anyway, I left my key underneath a big stone just in front of my gate for my friend who was supposed to come to town today. I doubt if he is in yet. Anyway lemme call our Estate gateman to open the gate for you. Just check for the key and if it isn’t there, knock, my guy’ll open up. Call me if my guy is there so that I’ll explain to him ok?” Jide responded.

“You are a life saver” replied Funke. She walked briskly to Lighthouse Estate gate just in time to see the gateman unlocking the gate for her. She identified herself and walked in. Just like Jide said, his key was where he stated. She picked it up and walked in locking the gate behind her. On a second thought, she unlocked it, just in case Jide’s friend eventually decided to come anyway.

She showered, found a sealed big tee shirt from Jide’s wardrobe and slipped it on. She needed sleep and fast so she walked to the guest bedroom and flopped down hard on the bed. Seconds later, she was asleep.

A few hours later, while she was enjoying her sleep, she started dreaming. A man was touching her and yanking her tee shirt off her body. The tee shirt wouldn’t come off and was ripped up. Then the man was above her. He parted her legs and suddenly it felt more real than a dream. She opened her eyes. It wasn’t a dream. Someone was trying to rape her.

She struggled to fight him off. He was way stronger than her. He kept calling her Juliet as his breathe tinged with alcohol fanned her face. The fight was useless and Funke gave up. Tears rolled down her face as this stranger had his way with her still calling her Juliet. It was over as quickly as it had begun. The stranger screamed out loud in climax and rolled off her. He then fell to the ground in a thud and snored away.

Funke stood up. Legs shaking, she went into the kitchen and got a knife. She switched on the light to have a good look at the man that had done this to her. She would kill him, she thought. But courage failed her. She found her hands shaking and broke down in tears all over again. She looked at him intently, then her eyes flew to the wall clock. It was 5am.

She grabbed her clothes and made her way out to report that an intruder had invaded her friend’s home. The picture frame in the sitting room caught her attention. There were five guys in it. Jide held on to the rest of the four as they smiled into the camera. One of the four was this intruder. It hit her then. He wasn’t an intruder. He was Jide’s friend who was meant to come to town.

She stopped. She was confused. She didn’t know whether to tell Jide. She decided not to and headed to her apartment. She should have slept at the office, she thought.

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Fred woke up to find himself on the floor. What the hell was he doing on the floor, he thought.
Then he looked around and noticed a ripped tee shirt on the bed. “What was Jide up to leaving a ripped shirt in his guest bedroom? Crazy bastard.” He thought with a smile. Suddenly he remembered the beautiful yet mocking dream he had the previous night. After the break-up text he received from his girlfriend Juliet, he had gotten to Lagos, hit a club and drank his hearts out. Fate proceeded to mock him further by making him have sex with Juliet one more time in this dream. She felt sweeter in the dream and she felt more vulnerable. He shook off the dream and went in to take a shower.
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Jide pinged Funke countless times but she refused to respond. He called Fred to ask after Funke but he said he never met anyone in his home.

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Weeks passed and Funke had changed. She was no longer the cheerful lady everyone loved. She snapped at every man including Kamsi. She withdrew into a shell and her job started suffering.
Her family couldn’t reach out to her because she shut everyone out. Some more weeks later, she broke it off with Kamsi and relocated to the United Kingdom.

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All these happened six years ago. There she was staring into a face that could only be that of her rapist. She was staring into the smiling face of her rapist as he held her only sister lovingly in a half-hug. This rapist was married to her only sister.

She had been told about the wedding but she couldn’t attend. Her job wouldn’t permit her to. She had wished her baby sister well and sent a wedding gift. But she never saw a picture of her would-be hubby. Now she had and he was already married to her sister. And her sister was visibly pregnant. Her heart felt like hot coal was poured on it and she unconsciously squeezed her chest as her eyes welled up. She let the tears flow.

Life was dancing makossa on her head. A dance that mocked her. A dance that drained the energy out of her. A dance that may leave her so tired, she would not find the strength to go home to her people ever again.

She turned sharply as she heard her name. It was her 5-year-old son Nathan. She opened her arms to him as he ran into them. He was the spitting image of his father, now that she looked at him. He had the same birthmark.

She smiled sadly at Nathan as he looked worriedly into her tear-stained face; she had thought she would get away with saying his dad was dead but now, she wasn’t so sure. How would she ever tell this innocent lad the truth? Her eyes flew to her laptop and fell on her sister’s smiling face. Then her eyes went down to her bulging belly which she cradled with love. How will she ever tell her sister she was married to a rapist. To the father of her son Nathan?

Her family would connect the dots if she returned home or if they saw any new pictures of Nathan. The last picture they had seen of him was that of him as a newborn. She had made sure to stir away from posting pictures on the social media. To protect her son from her rapist. Now, the rapist was family and it’s just a matter of time before the truth gets revealed.

Funke knew she was sitting on a keg of gun-powder and she cursed the day that she decided to spend the night at Jide’s place.


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