A resounding slap had woken me up again that morning.
My “step mother” held me by my legs and began to drag me outside, in that sleepy state.
These confusing acts got me terrified.
I initially had no idea what was going on, even though the violence in this drag was evident that I’d done something “terribly wrong” again and indeed, judgment awaited me on the other side.
My stepmother dragged me violently into the veranda before she released her hold on my leg. She dashed back inside and before I could “process” what was happening; what was about to happen, she’d sprung back out, this time, with a bucket of water in one hand and a “customized pain enhancer” on the other.
My stepmother drenched me with the bucket of water before the introduction of her customized pain enhancer.
Lashes that sent agonizing pains all over my body began to rain on me in rapid successions.
My stepmother first started with the wire she had creatively constructed for my “crying pleasure”, before she moved on to beating me with any; everything she could lay her hands upon, as though I was “her problem in life”.
My step mother was not just beating me at this point, she was biting me too.
That woman beat me to a pulp; to a point that I could hardly feel anything; a point that I didn’t even know where I was, nor what was happening.
I woke up in a hospital later that night to a lot of confused; sad faces.
They said I’d fainted.
Apparently, my Daddy hadn’t returned from “wherever” he’d gone to, after the fight with his wife the previous day.
Apparently, my step mother had made up a story; she claimed that I’d ran out of the house the previous night, only to have been found lying next to our house in a lifeless; battered state in the early hours of that morning.
“At first, I was confused. I didn’t know what to think upon seeing Paul lying helplessly in front of our house. As happy as I was to know that the worse hadn’t happened to him because honestly, I didn’t sleep all through the night before. I couldn’t, not when I had no idea where my son had ran off to. I knew for a fact that the right thing to do at that moment, was rush my son to the hospital” she told the doctor, who’d been shocked to see me in that condition.
In the period of time I’d been “out”, a lot had happened in the lives of the people around me.
Apparently, Helen had died in her sleep that morning and my stepmother didn’t know until much later.
My stepmother had left me in the pool of my own blood, hoping to continue from where she’d stopped when I eventually woke up from what I believe she must have considered a pretentious “faint”.
My stepmother only discovered that her daughter had died in her sleep when she went over to prepare her for school.
It was a very sad time for the family.
During the period of mourning, one would have assumed that my stepmother would be too bereaved to be mean to me but that was definitely not the case.
My stepmother told me just two days after Helen’s demise that she wished the death that’d taken “Helen” had taken me instead. She said my life had no meaning; my future was already bound to be fruitless. She said that I was a walking corpse; that I was eventually going to die, so why did God not take me now in place of her daughter, instead of prolonging the inevitable.
That woman beat the hell out of me that day.
It was as though my existence from then on, irritated her even more.
The slightest of opportunities she gets, she beats me; starves me of food or of other basic necessities.
It got so bad, that a time came when I couldn’t even remember the last time I bathed with soup or brushed my teeth with toothpaste. I was now very accustomed to bathing with regular detergents, and even at that, I’ll have to have hidden some, from the one she’d given me to wash, else, I was “dead”.
And for my teeth, my stepmother always had me use salt.
Daddy was never at home, so it was easier for my step mother to get away with most of the things she did, unquestioned.
Daddy on the other hand is not the observant type. When he asks if I’d eaten, he’d outrightly take my response in the affirmative for it, without probing to be sure (even if I look nothing like a child that’d eaten).
I couldn’t possibly tell my father that I hadn’t eaten or confirm anything he’d asked. Definitely not in the presence of my step mother (who most of the time was always around; never giving me the opportunity to be alone with my father).
So every time my father asks me a question that the answer is a solid “NO”, I simply nod my head or say “yes” and hope that he reads the truth out of my countenance.
But he never did.
The few times my father had asked me to come join him (and my other step siblings) to eat, my step mother would always find a way to prevent that from happening. She’ll mostly end up saying that I was being overfed and that it was a sin.
Daddy had asked me to come join him for dinner one evening and my stepmother, as usual, wasn’t having it.
(This was after I’d not eaten the whole day because I’d come back from an errand two minutes later than the time my stepmother had given me).
At this juncture, I couldn’t hold my pain any longer. Tears freely began to flood my cheeks.
I felt something cold run down my spine.
It was more like a breeze; a very cool breeze.
It was nothing like an air conditioner emanates.
This was rather strange because this particular night was one of those nights where electricity was out and the entire window had been raised for fresh air.
Then I saw something; someone lurking in the shadows.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I rubbed my eyes very well to be sure that who I thought I’d seen was indeed, here.
Lurking in the shadows was Oluchi.
From the distance where I stood, I noticed that Oluchi had a very sad facial expression on.
I decided to go close, to be sure that who I was seeing, was indeed, Oluchi, my classmate and yeah, it was.
At this close range, I could see clearly now.
Oluchi was crying and I didn’t know why.
No one else could see Oluchi, besides me.
I tried to lock gaze with Oluchi but the whole time, Oluchi had her eyes locked on James, who at this point was busy, relishing his mother’s food with my father; the same food I’d been invited to partake in but had been disallowed by my stepmother.
As the tears fell freely from Oluchi’s face, she suddenly began to slowly walk towards James (my step mother’s first born).
To be continued…
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