Sometimes, things happen to us that we wish had never happened. We go through certain experiences we just want to forget and move on with our lives, hoping that with time, they will fade away from memory.
Such is the case with Tinuade, one of my young friends. She shared an experience that happened way back when she was a young, naive and vulnerable girl. According to her, she had thought she was clever and on top of her game until she learnt a few lessons on misplaced trust and friendship. Little did she suspect that an outing with a friend would change her life forever.
She said when the movie, Jenifa, was released some years back, all the memories of her experience came flooding back and made her realise that in a way, she was lucky to have come out alive that fateful night. “Things could have been worse”, she concludes.
According to her, “It happened during my undergraduate years in the University. I had gone out on a date with a friend and her boy-friend. Actually she’d begged me to accompany them because she was afraid he might get too fresh with her. In a way, I was to be a sort of body guard to ensure that the guy did not take advantage of her but I ended up being the victim.
The guy came to pick her up as planned and I was introduced to him. He made no protest about my coming with them. First, we went to have dinner at a small restaurant somewhere in Ilupeju. The night was still quite young, so he decided that we should try and track some of his friends down somewhere on the Island. We drove to Obalende, to a spot where people sat by the roadside to eat Isi-ewu (goat head meal), pepper soups of all sorts and drinks too.
It was my first time of going to the popular spot, though I had been hearing a lot about the place before then. It was very close to the famous Dodan Barracks and right at the foot of the bridge at the Ikoyi end of the road. Though many years have passed, the place is still so real in my head. This was where we met his friend who later turned out to be the monster that sometimes haunts me in my dreams up till now.
His name was Dan and from the way they spoke, it appeared as if they were real buddies. We spent some time there exchanging pleasantries and made general discussions on various issues. It was not supposed to be an all night outing, but the more I drew my friend’s attention to the fact that it was getting too late, the more the guys asked for drinks and chatted on with their other friends.
My friend whom I had accompanied did not also appear to be bothered about the time. According to her, he had promised to give her some money and she wanted to collect it that night. This, she did not tell me before we left the hostel. She told me not to worry as the guy would take us back to school, no matter how late it was.
Then, around 2.30 a.m. or so, my friend told me that we would be leaving for her guy’s flat. When I asked why, she said the guy told her that he did not have enough money to give her again, after spending so much on the outing. She would have to follow him home to collect it. So, we all shifted, followed by this man who claimed to have fallen in love with me as soon as he set his eyes on me All through as we sat, he kept touching me and tying to whisper things into my ears. But I was not fooled as I knew his type and did not care for all he was trying to do. The only mistake I made was that I had under-estimated how far he would go to get what he wanted.
On arriving at the guy’s flat, we discovered that it was just a small apartment, one room and a living room which was also sparsely furnished. A two-seater sofa and two single chairs, a mini diner without chairs and a television set. Now, in retrospect, I think it must have been deliberate, to ensure that his female visitors end up in the room.
My friend and her boyfriend took the double seater while we both sat on the single ones and they began smooching right in our presence. I spotted a magazine on the table and went to get it while the guy got himself another drink from the small refrigerator. Soon, my friend and her man went into the room and I was left alone with this stranger. He took the double seater while I remained on my seat, obviously tired and trying to get some sleep.
Then, as if by magic, NEPA struck, plunging everywhere into darkness. My friend and her man did not even bother to come out. I could not sleep and the same went for him. We tried to make the best use of the rest of the night by talking, but after a while, he announced that he could not bear the discomfort any longer and that we could be somewhere else, enjoying ourselves.
He said we could go to a nearby club to while away the rest of the night and promised that he would bring me back as early as possible. In my naivety, I reasoned that since I was uncomfortable and would most likely not get to sleep till daybreak anyway, it was better to go with him. However, instead of heading for a club like he’d said, we headed for his house, which to my surprise was not far from his friend’s. He told me he could see that I was tired and since he too was tired, we could do with a good rest on good beds too.
I consented because I realised that no sooner than we drove into the night, I began feeling very sleepy. He motioned me in to a bedroom which I thought I was going to occupy by myself and left for a while. I was already lying on the bed when he came in. Luckily, I still had my clothes on. When he got into the bed beside me, I became very scared but kept pinching myself to remain calm and that he could not do anything to me that I did not want.
At first, we kept a safe distance from each other, but soon, he placed his hand on my hips and started to run it up and down my thighs. I went cold, I told him to stop but he wouldn’t and soon a kind of struggle ensued. Then he got up and told me that he thought I was a matured girl and I understood what was going on. He asked me why I had agreed to accompany him to his house when I did not want to have sex with him.
He threatened to throw me out of the house and shout that I was a prostitute he picked up for the night but that while I thought he was asleep, he caught me going through his things. He said he was in no mood for any kiddies games. I was just seventeen then and in my first year at the University. Nothing of that kind had ever happened to me, or anyone I knew, even though at the time, I thought I knew a lot. I begun crying because I didn’t know what to do. What if I still refused and he carried out his threat, what would I do? Would people believe my own side of the story? If they did not and I was taken to the Police station and my parents were called in, how do I explain what I was doing at a man’s house at such ungodly hours. It was either I accepted my fate, or dared him. Eventually, I agreed he should have sex with me. I cried all the way through as he humped away on top of me. He was rather fat and his breath reeked of beer.
I had never experienced such abuse and I just laid there, motionless. But he started shouting that I should wriggle my waist against him as he was not enjoying it because I laid there like a piece of wood. I was so scared, I tried to do as he ordered, but I couldn’t. When it was all over, I crawled over to my side of the bed and continued weeping.
He did not offer any apologies, but continued to call me baby and mummy’s girl. He went on and on about how sweet and tight I was and I guessed it was just to make fun of me. A few minutes later, he had his way with me again. And just as he was through, I heard the call for the early morning prayers from a nearby Mosque. I did not clean myself for fear that he might pounce on me again. He had not used any protection and I was afraid that I was going to get pregnant. The thought of an infection or even HIV/AIDS did not occur to me then, I only wanted to get it over with. He took me back to the hostel, but I made him drop me at the gates.
When my friend came back much later that morning, she appeared genuinely worried, but I was too ashamed to discuss it with her or anyone for that matter. So, I just allowed it to die like that. The mad man too never bothered to come looking for me. In a way, it was a relief because I never wanted to set my eyes on him again. I later learnt that she too had never met the guy and knew nothing about him. I also never made myself available to see her so called boyfriend again.
I didn’t even try to find out if she collected the money she wanted or not. I think my friend must have suspected that something strange happened that night. It caused a strain between us and we became less friendly. By the time we graduated, we had drifted apart and hardly spoke to each other, though we did not quarrel. That night taught me a few lessons and I promised myself never to allow anyone take advantage of me in such a manner again.”