A Night That Stretched Into Forever. [Rape is Ruin]

A NIGHT THAT STRETCHED INTO FOREVER

Jumoke didn’t welcome the news of her admission into Tai Solarin University of Education with euphoria. There was nothing to be jubilant about. She lost her dad barely a month earlier and her stepmom did not disguise her resentment for her. So, asking her stepmom to sponsor her university education was not an option.

The woman had tried to dissuade her dad from even letting her get a secondary education, but her dad had insisted that no child of his would be denied the right to formal education. Jumoke’ was just a little above six when her mom died. Her stepmom whom her dad married a year later had always regarded her as a rival and a threat to her stay in that house, so the woman had subjected her to so many dehumanizing treatments.

With this lack of excitement about her admission notwithstanding, she decided to have a go at it. She approached her maternal aunt for financial assistance and she was able to raise just enough money to cover her acceptance and school fees. No hope for her accommodation or upkeep. Determined to survive by doing odd jobs and manual labour, she headed for TASUED.

On her first day, she jostled to get her admission and registration process done, alongside thousands of other “freshers” who congested the premises of the administrative block. In the process she made a friend with a lady about her age who was at the last stage of her own registration process and would return home that very day. Her name was Sade.

Sade told her that the admission and registration process would take her up to one week.

‘One week? Where will I be sleeping? I don’t have anybody here.’

‘Ah! Sit down there. I have been on this process since last week Wednesday, today is Tuesday and I am just wrapping up.’

‘Jesus! I thought it is something I can finish in a day. How have you been coping? Where have you been sleeping?’

‘I don’t know anybody here either. I have been sleeping in a fellowship auditorium.’

‘A fellowship? Only you?’

‘No o, there are many of us “Jambito” there. Some people leave and new people join every day. You can go there and pass the night till you complete your registration and secure your own accommodation. It is RCF. The fellowship “excos” are generous enough to allow people sleep there in the night, but you must pack your things in the morning, because they arrange the chairs and worship there almost every day.’

‘But how comfortable will that be?’

‘Comfortable ke? There is no comfort o, but we get by.’

As the dusk approached and the admin staff closed the offices, the crowd at the admin block began to disperse, and Sade, having completed her own registration showed Jumoke the way to RCF auditorium where she could pass the night.

The fellowship auditorium was congested with many “freshers” like Jumoke. The chairs were packed in a corner and people slept on the bare floor, cramming on one another like sardine. Jumoke supported her head with her handbag, but she didn’t get an iota of sleep as mosquitoes buzzed around and bit her and the heat was first grade.

The next day, she hadn’t gone very far with her registration process. She decided that she wasn’t going to sleep in the fellowship auditorium, she would ask around, perhaps she would meet a good Samaritan who would take her in.

She met a 200 level student who was willing to allow her pass the night in her room within Ijagun, very close to the school.

The room was compact. Her host offered her a plate of substandard quality jollof rice, the type called “concoction” in students circle. Then around 7:00 p.m. she said she was going to a friend’s house to read and she would not be back till morning.

‘Ah!’ Jumoke was alarmed, ‘So, I will be sleeping in this room all alone?’

‘No o,’ her host replied with a smile. ‘Some other people are coming, they are freshers like you. They have been sleeping here since yesterday, something must have delayed them on campus, but they will definitely come and sleep here.’ And off her host went.

Jumoke was not very comfortable with the idea of sleeping with some set of strangers in another stranger’s room, but she had no choice, she would rather sleep here than go back to that mosquitoes-infested fellowship auditorium. This place would be more comfortable, she would sleep on a bed with mosquito net and bathing in the morning would not be a problem.

She was dozing off on the bed around 10:30 when the door was opened and someone entered the room. Jumoke sat up on impulse and held her wrapper tightly. The wrapper belonged to her host as she had washed and spread the only dress she had came in, the one she had been wearing since the previous day. There was no light and the rechargeable lamp gave a tired flicker. She saw immediately that the person who walked into the room was a guy.

‘Hello,’ she said quizzically, trying hard to belie her apprehension.

‘Hello,’ the guy too seemed surprised to see her. ‘Who are you?’

‘I should be the one asking you that question,’ Jumoke said nervously.

‘You are not the owner of this room.’

Sensing that he could be the visitor that her host had mentioned, Jumoke asked ‘Are you to pass the night here?’ Her host didn’t tell her that she was expecting only one visitor. She had said “they”, as if there were more than one person. And her host never told her that the people coming were male.

‘Yes?’ the guy said.

Jumoke was unsure whether the guy’s response was an affirmation or a query.

‘Am…a…am… the owner of this room didn’t tell me that it is only one person coming.’

‘Yes we were two, but my friend was lucky, he finished his own registration today, so he has travelled back to Lagos. But who are you?’

‘I am also a fresher, my registration is in progress. But…but… she didn’t tell me that the person coming would be a guy’.

‘Oh, she must have forgotten. She didn’t tell us that there would be another girl in this room tonight either.’

The guy stepped in and pulled off his shoes. Jumoke became very uncomfortable. She was confused. Would she sleep in this room tonight with a guy, and without any clothes on? Oh God, what mess had she gotten herself into?

Then the guy pulled of his shirt and then his trousers. Jumoke looked away, still trying to figure out what to do. How could her host do this to her?

Now on boxers alone, the guy sat on the carpet and brought out a loaf of bread and balls of akara in an old newspaper. The aroma of the akara filled the room.

‘Please join me,’ he said to Jumoke.

‘No, thanks,’ Jumoke said swiftly, still trying to figure out what to do. Would she step out this late in the night, and in ordinary wrapper, a wrapper that did not belong to her? Her dress was still wet, spread on the door. And if she stepped out and decided to go to the fellowship, the fellowship door would have been locked by now. If she stepped out, who would take her in at this time of the night? Her mind was in turmoil. God, why all this?

The guy finished his food and lay on the carpet, very close to the wall.

‘Good night,’ he said and he drifted to sleep immediately, while Jumoke was still trying to figure out what to do.

She was still seated on the bed when she began to hear his heavy snoring. Perhaps, there is no cause for alarm after all, she reasoned, he is fast asleep.

Jumoke slowly lay on the bed again, finding it difficult to sleep. Different thoughts entered and exited her mind. Finally she fell asleep.

‘Jesus!’ she shouted and jerked awake as she felt something touched her. She sat up and blinked her eyes open. It was the guy! On the bed with her! Caressing her!

‘What do you want?’ she shouted into his face. The illumination that the rechargeable lamp supplied was weak.

‘Shhhhhh…,’ he hushed her, ‘let us make love, sweet love,’ he said into her ear.

Jumoke’s heart raced. This was it. Oh Lord, save me.

‘Please, don’t do this to me,’ she began to plead. He was still caressing her, fondling her breasts, forcing his tongue into her mouth.

‘Please, please, don’t rape me please, don’t violate me.’ Her voice was barely audible as he was all over her.

‘I am not violating you, I swear, you will enjoy this. I will marry you. We will get married when we graduate, I swear.’

He was talking about marriage after graduation, this stranger she had never met before, whose name she didn’t know. They continued to struggle and after she exhausted her strength she gave in.

When he was done, he spread his legs out on the bed beside her and started snoring.

Jumoke was shattered into a million pieces. She had heard tales of rape. Now she had experienced it firsthand. She wept uncontrollably, but he wasn’t roused. He was soundly asleep.

Jumoke wept from 3:40 a.m. till 5:30 a.m. when she got up and wore her dress. It was not yet dry, but she wore it anyway, she carried her handbag and stepped out without knowing where she was heading for.

***

The event of that night had left an indelible mark in her life. Since that night that a total stranger had violated her in another stranger’s room, the morning had not come. That night stretched into forever. She had wept everyday and there was no one she could bare her heart to, neither on campus nor off campus. She had recoiled into her shell. She didn’t make any friend in her department. She would come for lectures and go back without speaking to anyone except it was very important. Sometimes before classes, sometimes after classes, she went to New Market in Ijebu Ode to hawk bread. That was how she sustained herself.

Then she found out that she was pregnant! She was five months gone at the time. What type of mess is this oh Lord? This pregnancy would only add to the layers of complications in her life. God, why did you allow her to get pregnant? Was it not enough that she was an orphan? That she had to hawk so that she could survive? Was it not enough that she was violated by a total stranger? God why?

Her path and that of her violator might have crossed so many times on campus, but she did not know since she couldn’t recognize him. Perhaps he couldn’t recognize her either, perhaps he could, but was hiding from her. Whatever it was, this pregnancy was the worst thing that could happen to her, she thought.

She considered terminating the pregnancy, but she neither had the money nor the courage to do so. So, her pregnancy advanced every day, yet she wasn’t prepare to have the baby, neither was she prepared to lose it.

She didn’t go for antenatal classes. She didn’t take any drug to stay healthy, but however she managed herself in pregnancy, the baby eventually came.

It was a girl and she didn’t love her. She knew that her course mates gossiped about her, but that was the least of her worries, if only they knew her story – the true version. The chief of her worries was how she would raise this girl, fend for her and fend for herself and not get kicked out of school now that her aunt had decided to not pay her school fees again because in spite of all she had done for  her, all she knew how to do was to sleep around with boys and give birth to a fatherless baby.

Then she took ill. For several weeks, she did self medication because she didn’t have the money to go to the hospital. Yet her sickness took a turn for the worse. When she decided to take part of the money she was saving up to pay her next school fees and go to the hospital, she tested positive for HIV/AIDS. Doctors insisted that her three-month old baby too be screened and the baby’s result too came out positive.

That night, that night I was violated stretches into forever, morning has refused to come. They say joy comes in the morning even if weeping endures for a night, but what happens when that night never ends? When morning does not come, what happens? She lamented as she rolled from side to side on the hospital bed.

{To Be Continued}

If you are a victim of rape and wish to share your story for others to learn from, please feel free to write us at info@mrcampus.com.ng. It is part of a healing process and a means to rise above the nightmare.

Watch out for the continuation of the Story of Jumoke.

Meanwhile, feel free to drop your comments at the comment box.

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