I sat in the corner of the room listening to Yetunde as she told her story. I was angry at what she had had to suffer and was infuriated that I and others around her have being unfair in our judgement of her. I am not one for emotions but tears rolled down my eyes as I listened to her pathetic story.
Yetunde was some girl I was intrigued by. She was a very pretty girl. She was always cheerful and had a smile for everyone. Though I didn't know that beneath that smile was a disturbed child. Yetunde was in her twenties. What attracted me to her was that she roamed the street as if she had no destination. I was very curious about her. Boys and men alike hung around her because of her beauty. I felt a need to advise her about what I perceived as her waywardness. She was also the topic of discussion for all the middle aged women in the neighbourhood. Though, these women greeted her and always seemed friendly, they were wary of her.
I met her at the salon. I came in to wash my hair. There were a lot of customers present and I was uncomfortable hanging around for my turn. I had contemplated leaving and coming back another time but I knew I may find it difficult to come back. As if she sensed my discomfort, Yetunde decided to allow me to take her place while she waited. I was surprised at her gesture and wanted to turn her down but she insisted. I felt grateful for this act and I expressed this to her. We started a conversation after this and long after the salon incident she would always stop to greet me. I was very fascinated with her and secretly wondered about her. One day, she saw me walking down the street and she approached me.
“Good evening Aunty” she greeted curtsying as she did.
“How are you?” I greeted back.
“I am fine.” She responded. I made to continue on my stroll when she held my hand. “Aunty, I hope you don’t mind. I want to see you” she said nervously. I stopped to look at her wondering why she wanted to see me.
”What is it about?” I asked still wondering.
“I need an advice” she replied.
“Ok then, let’s go to my house” I replied her. We walked the short distance to my house in silence. I kept on wondering if I was doing the right thing by taking someone I hardly knew to my house. We got to my place and I invited her in. She sat on the sofa while I sat on the single chair. I waited for her to tell me what the problem was.
“Aunty,” she said clearing her throat. I could see she was uncomfortable and I wondered again what she wanted.
I hope she didn’t want to beg for money. I thought to myself. I waited patiently though lots of thoughts were going on in my head.
“I need your advice, men always want to have sex with me.” She blurted out.
I kept a straight face since this was no news at all. She is a pretty girl and appeared unusually friendly with the opposite sex.
“The point is that I don’t how to refuse them. Sometimes, I would have told myself that I wouldn’t do it but I just find myself having sex with them.” I kept quiet pondering how I would manage this.
“I am helpless all the time. I don’t even enjoy sex.” She said.
“So why do you do it?” I asked puzzled.
“Aunty, I really don’t know.” She replied.
“Do they offer you money or buy stuff for you? Do you think that’s why you do it” I asked.
“I will never sell my body for anything” she responded harshly.
“Well, I am sorry if that sound offensive but I am just trying to find out why you find it difficult to refuse sex if you don’t enjoy it.” I replied taking aback by her response.
“I am sorry Aunty. It’s just that I am aware people call me a slut in the area and I don’t want you to see me that way” she replied. I was surprised that she was aware of how people perceived her. “Aunty, I am no slut. I really want to be a good girl but…”she said hesitant.
Her voice shook slightly and I could see tears in her eyes. She bent her head and tried to avoid looking at me. “I was raped at ten years old” she said barely audible.
“What?” I shouted.
“It was not my fault. I didn’t lure him into it. He would come into my bedroom and caress me. He promised to give me beautiful things. The first time he did it, it was painful and I tried to scream but he covered my mouth. After he finished, he told me not to tell my Aunty that he would buy chocolate for me. He did the following day but I knew what he was doing was wrong and I told him but he said he loved me. I didn’t want to do it I swear but he made me.” She said crying.
Her eyes looked wild and she was eager to convince me of her innocence. I was glued to my chair wondering who the “he” was.
“I tried telling my Aunty but she was too hostile, she would not listen to me. She said if she should catch me with her husband she would kill me. I wanted to tell her that he sneaked to my room but I was afraid as I had nowhere to go.” She continued crying.
I kept quiet not knowing what to say. I could see she was badly damaged.
“Shortly after, my Auntie’s brother-in-law started fondling me at night. I suspected he had seen his brother having sex with me. I tried to refuse him but he threatened to tell my Aunty. I suffered in silence because I had nowhere to go. When I was thirteen, I got pregnant. I didn’t know I was pregnant at that time. I thought I had malaria. My Aunty took me to the hospital where I was told I was pregnant. She beat me blue and black. She accused me of luring her husband into sleeping with me. She beat me until I fainted. I woke up the following day in the hospital. I was told I lost the pregnancy but I am sure she aborted it.” She said sobbing quietly
I sat there with tears rolling down my cheek listening to her story. I felt like reaching out to her but I was glued to my chair and really did not have any words of consolation for her.
“Yetunde,” I called out tentatively. “You need professional help. This is beyond me. You need to seek for professional help.”
“Where?” she asked still sobbing
“I believe you need a psychological evaluation. I believe what those two animals did to you have affected you.” She sat there sobbing. I got up and held her. This could have being my daughter. I said to myself.