The Old-man made to drop the Holy Book gently, like it’s made of eggshells. He placed it beside a bowl of water and looked at us keenly.

Somehow, I couldn’t get my eyes off the key.

I must have spent the whole time trying to figure what the key represents beyond a handle to hold up the Holy Book.

Just then, I remember the textbook the Oldman referred to.

Oops

I was holding the textbook earlier that day and have returned it just before the other girls returned.

“I’m done with you, schoolgirls” he said, when nobody tried to speak up.

“Okay sir” we chorused

“The money is still in that book, go get it” He mentioned in such a way that it appeared he simply wanted us out of his sight that moment.

As if choreographed, we stood up at same time and made for the door. But it seems we missed the point.

“We are not done my daughters” he said calmly.

Paused

“There is a price for this” he murmured as if mocking our naivety

Dami and I looked at Rabi for the payment, but she rather stared back at us and did nothing.

How much sir? Dami asked while going for her purse when nobody else was making any attempt to do same.

“I’m aware you’re students. Just drop something”, the man responded.

Dami carefully unwrapped a squeezed 100 naira note, making it straight so she isn’t dropping two of the notes by mistake, but stylishly doing so, you may confuse it with reverence for the Old-man.

We walked back in silence

Dami was so proud of her accomplishment and won’t stop tormenting Rabi with words, way too depressing to be used on friends or classmates.

“You all are just a bunch of thieves, walking freely on the streets with Zuriel as your master”

“Dami! That’s enough” I said

“Never! Never enough. They are just thieves. That’s all they know how to do best”

After several attempts to defend her clique, Rabi walked the remaining journey in silence, and I was beginning to pity her.

Just then, my mind took me back to the book the Old-man mentioned

As if my memory got refreshed, I suddenly remembered how I was holding that textbook and kept the money inside to mark a particular page. So, I dropped the money not Zuriel, Rabi or anyone in the group. The problem is that nobody knew I was with the book. It’s an Old Biology textbook that everyone had access to. I had picked it from their cabin the previous day and returned it when I was done using it.

We got back and went straight for the money. It was there!

Dami was so proud of herself while Zuriel and her friends were just confused.

After this incident, everyone believed that Zuriel has some sort of evil spirit that makes her do what she does, without her permission.

On the other hand!

I quietly went to bed. This secret will die with me. It’s 2 years now. Till date, I can’t explain how that Prophet went about it but I know that one day, I’ll find time to tell the girls this secret and we shall laugh over it.

The sound of my phone snapped me out of the long thought.

Boom!

I’m back to this fore-head-kiss fever. Do I talk to my mum? sister? Friend? Or just keep mute!

“Whatever decision you make, don’t talk to your Aunt about it” My inner self emphasized yet again. Merely thinking about it makes me sick to the bones.

At first, I wanted to talk to Mum. But after analyzing this option for days, I concluded that it won’t end in peace. I have never been this sure.

I also thought of talking to Ben. He is very good with issues like this. I have watched him defend the younger girls whom some guys will naturally want to take advantage of because of their naivety and tender energy. However, I don’t want him to see it as a bait just to come back to him.

Telling my aunt is the last thing I wanted to do. I would be dead before dawn.

Telling Anna became my best option. Anna is the only friend I have in Lagos.  Such a beautiful soul who constantly goes all out for everyone around her.

So, I put a call through;

“What do you mean by he’s touching you? She laughed.

“I’m serious”

” No! don’t do that to a gentle religious leader who meant no harm.

“Yeah! True. I’m just joking” I chuckled, trying to cover it up.

The last thing I want is for anyone not to believe my story. It’s going to hurt me deeply. So, I’ll rather stop.

“Are you serious about this?”

“I was only trying to pull your leg and feel your reaction” I lied.

Silence

“That’s not true. Now you sound worried” she said seriously

“Of course, I am”

“Okay! tell me exactly what happened”

“He hugs me too tightly and makes me feel uncomfortable around him”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes! He kissed my forehead too” I concluded with the narration of the kitchen episode.

“It’s a lie”

“True”.

“Where was your aunt when it happened?”

“Sleeping, I guess”

“Chai! Men! They are all the same. You see, about two years ago, I was raped by my father’s younger brother and it became a constant event. This happened up until last year when he left the country. Now, I feel stupid, dirty and used” she lamented and went on and on about her own experience. At this point, it’s beginning to sound like there is no way out. She couldn’t even help herself. So, how would she be of help to me. So, what’s next?

“Wow. You went through all of these? sorry about that” I found myself saying. Soon, her voice went so low and inaudible and I guess she cried. It was a horrible experience that she never got to tell anyone.

Lo and Behold!

That was how I ended up consoling the person who was meant to console me or at the very least, give me great ideas on how to go about it.

As soon as I dropped the call, I knew I had to face the reality myself and do what is needed to be done.

Finally

I made up my mind to face my uncle. I have plans to tell him that I do not appreciate whatever he did and will want him to stop.

Will it be worth it?

Should I face him?

Author

Rebecca Maulome Padonu is an enthusiastic writer with a soft spot for factions. A RubyWrites 2016 finalist. She has completed several freelance writing projects, including BBC Media Action’s Drama series, Story Story (series 32 & 33).

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