My name is Ella. My story is not a strange one, many girls like me have lived the same life. And many more will, but I ll share this and hope someone will learn.
I’m from a deeply religious family, my parents have been very strict in raising us. Growing up in the house of Mr and Mrs Imasuen was hard enough. My dad is a typical Benin man, strong, commanding and intelligent. He hardly tolerates any nuisance. He handled us with an iron fist. We had strict rules, and whoever disobeyed was severely punished. My parents are also very religious people. We are devout Catholics, no one in my house was permitted to miss a mass, even if you were sick, it better be ebola, else you must be in church. I was quite active too, i was an alter girl, I also joined the legion of marry.
My life revolved around 3 places, school, home and church. I dare not step out of the house for a minute. I attended a girls school, so boys were off limits. Mom and dad took every little opportunity to remind me that as the last born and only girl, i was so precious to them. They wanted me to grow into a decent woman, who would make them proud. I was everyone’s pet. My elder brothers Osas and Ighalo were always there for me. Though 4 and 2 years older than me respectively, we were best friends.
At 16, i was a shy, easy going princess.
I had developed quite well for my age. I had a slim figure, at 5ft7, I had a fairly good height for a lady with gently curved hips. I had a fairly big and well rounded butt, which I always get teased about. My bosoms weren’t bad looking either, I had started using bra 3 years ago. My gentle dark eyeballs reflected my light African skin. I was a beauty to behold, and mum always reminded me of that. She had warmed me repeatedly never to go near boys, whom according to her were “wolves” waiting to plunder and destroy my future.
Dad kept a tight leash on me. Every Friday he would drive me to church practice, and pick me up when I’m done. Other kids made fun of me for being a “daddy’s girl”. I protested and declared that i was old enough to find my way to the church. Hence dad agreed that Osas should take me instead. He gave us a stern warning ” you must never divert on your way to church!” Little did daddy know that Friday practice in church would be the beginning of my wrong turn.
Friday came as usual, i got dressed for church practice. Osas and I strolled along to the church. This was the first time I’d be going to church practice without my father looking over my shoulder. Osas, although being a man servant who attends practice always, never went with my dad. He always came up with one excuse to leave earlier or later than us, or to drag behind long after dad picks me up. At 20 dad trusted him a little more than me. He was a student in uniben, so there was little dad could do to monitor him. We got to church about 20 minutes before practice time, and we parted ways. Osas went with his fellow man servants, while I eft with my friends Ruth and Hannah.
Ruth and Hannah were the only close friends i have, we attend the same secondary school, and attend practice together. They were about my age too. Mum knows them very well, and had banned me from associating with them. Both of them were very popular in church and school, for entirely negative reasons. Ruth in particular always filled my ear with stories of her rich boyfriends, most of whom had either just returned from Malaysia or Italy. She had a lot of expensive stuff to showcase every week. She spends her weekends in highbrow hotels in Benin city. She once showed me pictures of herself in kada plaza, somewere in Benin city, with one of her Malaysian friends. I do not even know were kada plaza is in benin. Ruth knew how to have fun, she had an exciting life going for her. I’m often left to bemoan my own lonely little life, in the cell my parents had created. Hannah did not have the same freedom as Ruth, her parents were just like mine. But unlike me, Ruth knew how to get around her parents. I knew she had a boyfriend, a man servant. I guess i was the one always left out. I kept thinking about her boring my life was all through the practice.
The day’s practice went by pretty fast, we were done and ready to leave. It was about 4:30 pm, so i was heading towards the gate hoping to meet Osas somewhere along the way. I was quite confused when I discovered that only a handfull of us were heading home. Others, including my friends were hanging around. Even Osas was nowhere in sight. So I turned around, and went back to the church compound, to search for him. I know dad would be furious if i returned late. On my way back, i sighted Ruth from afar, deeply involved in a conversation with a guy. His name is Ehis, he is alittle older than us. He was a tall, dark skinned handsome guy. I have seen him around a lot of times, he was a popular face. I stood far from them for a while, hoping that the conversation will end soon, and Ehis will leave. I don’t like being around him. There’s a certain way he makes me feel, i get nervous whenever he came around. He had this soft gentle and sweet nature, whenever i spoke to him. He doesn’t fail to remind me of how beautiful i was. He had his way with words. Most times, after practice i spend my entire night thinking about him.
I was so deep in my thoughts that i did not notice Ehis walking towards me. “Hey” his sweet baritone voice jerked me back to reality. ” wow you are still around, how come? I immediately looked down, trying to gather words to reply. I knew what to say in my head, but the problem is that my head had been disconnected from my mouth. I only stuttered a few words, only God knew if he understood me. I had barely finished a sentence when I heard my name from nowhere. Osas and Ruth ran towards me, exchanged greetings with Ehis and informed me that we would be leaving much later. He said he had other things to attend to. I was almost furious, i knew dad would so mad at me. Ruth noticed my indignation, and quickly intercepted, “cant you see everyone is still around?Come on let’s have fun”. Before Ruth finished her sentence, Osas was already on his way out of sight. I resigned to wait. Ruth, Ehis and i walked towards the church hall. Ehis tried to grab hold of my hand, i quickly moved my hand away. He didn’t say anything.
My house was a 5 minute drive from the church, We arrived in no time. The catechist jumped off the bike, with like a professional high jumper.
The look on his face was one of excitement rather than anger, i couldn’t understand why. He banged repeatedly on the gate with so much vigor, as if he was trying to drive a nail through it with his bare palm.
“Yes? Coming” , an obviously irritated voice replied from the compound.
The gate flew open, and i was surprise to see Osas. How did he get home before me? I wondered. He too was bewildered to see me soaked in tears, with the catechist maintaining a firm grip on my hand, as if I was a criminal.
“Goodevening sir” he muttered.
“is your father at home?” The catechist queried…..
He interupted before Osas could finish the statement. He pushed him out of the way, and dragged me along, i was already sobbing uncontrollably. Osas locked the gate quickly, and ran after us.
The sitting room door flew open, there was my father. He was lying on the sofa with a copy of the “awake” magazine covering his face. His glasses Hung on his nose. He was so engrossed to notice who just entered the sitting room.
” Epa dormon” the catechist greeted in Benin language.
My father recognized the voice, and quickly sat up on the sofa. He turned around, and immediately saw me cringing behind the catechist, sobbing loudly. He sprang up from his seat, and rushed towards me.
“Ella, are you ok? Where have you been, what happened to you?.
The catechist jumped in.
“Epa, you won’t believe were i saw your daughter just now. This small girl is now a prostitute”
my father was startled, a look of confusion enveloped his face.
” what is he talking about?” He quized, directing a stern gaze at me.
The catechist continued. ” you know that house we are building for reverend father, the one at the other end of our compound. I have been going there to inspect the place for more than one month now, each time i go there every Saturday morning, i always pick up condom sachets, and even used condoms. So today i said i must go and see what is hapening there every Friday. Epa as i got there, behold! i saw your daughter, with that useless boy, eh eh Ehiagwina’s son. He was enjoying himself ontop of your daughter. Chai, see the way your daughter was shouting like a female dog. Even when i wanted to correct them, the boy started fighting me”………
“Enough!” Thundered my father. He turned towards me with blood shut eyes,
“Ella, so you have decided to disgrace me? After all my discipline?”……
No daddy i did not….
A slap landed on my cheeks before i could finish. I had barely recovered from the shock of the slap, before my father took off his slippers and began to give me the beating of my life. I tryed to run away, but daddy grabbed hold of me, threw me to the floor and kicked me.
” you want to bring shame to my name? You want to make me a laughing stock? So this is why you wanted to go to practice alone eh? So that you can sleep with that . You refused to come home with your brother. I will kill you before you disgrace me. Foolish “.
I was on the floor, writhing and screaming in pain.
My immediate elder brother Ighalo rushed out from his room. My agonizing screams must have alerted him. He rushed straight at me on the floor, and shielded me from my father’s wrath and slippers.
“Ighalo get out of my sight, let me kill this prostitute” dad roared.
“No, daddy, It’s enough, she is the only sister i have, maybe you should kill two of us.” Ighalo fired back.
Dad struck him in the head with the slippers, before putting it back on.
“your mother will continue from where i stoped when she returns from work” he said, As he made his way towards his room.
Ighalo helped me up to my feet, the catechist and Osas were nowhere in sight. as he carried me off to my bedroom.
I laid motionless on my bed, staring at the ceiling with tears falling freely from my eyes. my whole body ached. A lot of thoughts rushed through my mind.
I was guilty, but the catechist exaggerated the story. Daddy did not even listen to me. He now thinks i am a LovePeddler. Well maybe mummy will listen to me, she will understand that i am not a bad girl….so I thought, but little did I know that another surprise awaited me!
I must have been in the room for close to two hours, lost in my own thoughts. I wasn’t crying anymore. A blank stare registered on my face.
My door flew open suddenly, the sound of the door knob slapping the opposite wall jolted me back to reality. I must have been so carried away, I didn’t notice she had returned from work.
She hasn’t undressed at all, she was still wearing her white three piece suit and trousers. It was her uniform She is a nurse, who runs her own maternity somewhere in the heart of Benin city.
Her presence brought about another round of tears. I actually thought she was going to pet me, or at least listen to anything i had to say.
But the look on her face told a different story. It was a look of indignation and outright disappointment. She stood there looking at me for a few seconds before she finally spoke
“so you have started sleeping with those small small boys in church abi?”
“Mummy i did not…..”
“it wasn’t……. ”
“Keep quite, i said! Now tell me, how long have you been sleeping with him?”
“Mummy, it’s a lie, i didn’t sleep with anyone, i have not done it before I’m a virgin, i swear….i replied, crying, hoping my tears would convince her.
“hmmm, we will see about that, I’m coming” she said, as she walked away from my room.
I stayed on my bed, confused, and wondering what my mum was up to. I couldn’t tell if she believed me or not. At least she hasn’t added to my father’s torture,……yet.
Twenty minutes passed, i must have been falling asleep when my door flew open again. My mum was back. She had taken off her uniform. She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. She was clutching on to a pair of surgical gloves. Gently, she locked the door, and began to wear the gloves.
A lot ran through my mind. Why did she lock my door? What does she need surgical gloves for? Today was the day all my affection for my mum died! .
Take off your pant and spread your legs”, my mum ordered.
“But why?” i inquired
“you said you are a virgin abi? Oya let me check weather your hymen is still intact”
Those words hit me like a bolt of lightening. The very thought of my mum inspecting my virgin hole infuriated me. My countenance changed, i started to cry again.
“No mum, you can’t do that, It’s degrading. I won’t let you touch me”
“Osas! Ighalo! Come here” my mum shouted from my room.
” if you won’t co-operate with me, i ll tell them to hold you down for me, It’s either me and you, or you allow all the men in this house to see your unclothedness today”
Osas and Ighalo were already outside my door, inquiring why my mum wanted them. My crying intensified, a feeling of frustration enveloped me.
“Oya I’m waiting, or should i open the door for them?” My mum said impatiently.
Slowly, i took off my panties from underneath my skirt, with tears gushing out of my eyes in torrents.
I laid still, and moved my legs apart. My mum burried her head between my legs, i could feel her seperating my labia with her fingers. What she was looking for, or hoping to find I had no idea.
By the time she was through, i wasn’t crying anymore. My countenance changed. It wasnt just sadness anymore. I was bitter. A feeling of anger and hatred overwhelmed me.
My mum, proped herself up, and walked away, without saying a word to me. She probably discovered i had told the truth, but pride and shame won’t let her apologize.
I turned around and looked at the wall clock, it was almost 1am, i have been deep in thought for hours. My mind went over the day’s activities.
My parents have locked me in a cage, my mum humiliated me. My father wants to kill me. I felt alone and depressed.
There was only one ray of sunshine for me today. Somebody loves me. He told me himself. I had never felt so loved before.
Despite all that happened today, i ll do anything to get that kiss again, to fall helplessly into his caring arms.
He ll be my shoulder to cry on. I must see Ehis again, no matter what it takes. He alone can help me find happiness in this little world of mine.
But how do i escape from the watchful eyes of my parents? I know after today, dad will never allow me attend practice again. But i must find a way, i know just the right people who can help me. Ruth and Hannah. I can’t wait to see them.
I spent my Saturday in isolation, i barely came out of my room or talked to anybody. The only person who bordered to find out how i was doing was Ighalo. My mum only came to remind me to eat.
Sunday came along with a lot of promise for me. The thought of seeing Ehis again put a smile on my face. I felt that usual flutter inside me again. I kept wondering how i would see him without my parents finding out.
I got up slowly from my bed, and walked lazily to the sitting room. My family had already started morning devotion. I found some space beside Ighalo, and knelt down in front of the statue of virgin Mary.
All through the prayer, i merely mumbled some incoherent words. My mind and heart were far removed from the prayer. All i could think about was meeting Ehis again.
The devotion ended. I got up quickly, hoping to dash out of sight before anyone noticed my presence.
“Ella come back here, we are not finished with you” my father’s voice halted me in my strides.
I turned around with a frown on my face, and hands folded across my chest. My parents had already taken up seats side by side.
“sit down,” my mum ordered.
” I’m ok like this” i replied, looking upwards with disgust. I have never replied my parents like this before. I guess times have changed.
My father cleared his throat and continued.
“You have now decided to bring shame upon me. To the extent that you now sleep with small boys in the house of God…..”
“daddy i did not…….”
“shut up!” My dad shouted, getting up from his seat,
” if you interrupt me again i ll break your head” he thundered.
As menacing as he sounded, i was largely unflustered. The anger that had built up in my heart far exceeded the fear I had for my father.
“hence forth”, he continued, in a harsh and authoritative tone. ” you will not go to that practice again. Infact go and tell them you are no longer an alter girl”
“Apart from church and school, do not leave this house to any place. If I see you with that useless boy, or any boy for that matter, i ll kill both you with my bare hands………silly child”
” okay, is that all?” I asked, in a mocking tone.
“My friend get out of here” my mum replied, obviously irritated by my demeanor.
I turned around, and walked lazily towards my bathroom. I wasn’t ready to do any house chores. Whoever wanted me to work, will have to kill me first, i resolved in my heart. Thankfully, nobody disturbed me.
I returned from the bathroom, with a towel tied around my body, covering from my chest to the ridge above my knees. Revealing my long shapely legs.
I stood in front of my mirror, admiring all the contours of my body. For once i appreciated how pretty i was. I turned round and looked at my butt. A little shy smile flashed across my face, as i remembered the feeling i got when Ehis squeezed it.
I opened my drawer, and brought out all my make up accessories, which in total included a comb, face powder and body cream. My mum wouldn’t allow anything else. I applied everything meticulously, making sure it was all perfect.
I looked through my wardrobe, searching for my favourite gown. It was a blue dinner gown, tailor made to my body. It brought out my exact shape, and had a way of making my bossoms look big.
I stared at the mirror, turning from side to side, making sure I looked perfect. I wanted Ehis to admire me today, if i get the chance to meet him.
It was all perfect, as i stepped outside to meet my parents in the car outside. My mum had her eyes fixed on me, as i took every step towards the car. I could guess exactly what was going on in her mind. We zoomed off. Today, i ll find a way to out smart my parents. I had an ally.
My name is Ella. My story is not a strange one, many girls like me have lived the same life. And many more will, but I ll share this and hope someone will learn.