Down the Slippery Road
‘Pipi!’ the school bus blasted its horn so many times. After a while, a dark lady poked her head through the door, drew out all her form out from behind it and wobbled towards the long white bus with ‘Blue Sand’ boldly inscribed on both sides. Some kids jumped around out of excitement; few who sat stared into space; while older students bent over their assignment.
“Taiwo,” a teacher called to the little girl who sat absentmindedly, looking out through the glass window. Her face was drawn to the activities outside the bus. it was drizzling a bit. She dragged her face from the window and looked up at the teacher through two deep black sharp eyes. Her long dark face was simply beautiful: the evening sunrays cast a glossy shadow on her eyes which looked somewhat pale.
“Miss Elizabeth is here,” her teacher said. Her long face fell even longer and few lines of worry ran through her forehead. Her teacher frowned; she has noticed this sense of withdrawal for the past one month and Taiwo was no longer eager to get home unlike before: she would pack her things and sit by her till the school bus came. These days, she takes her time to do everything and the mere mention of home brought same lines of worry on her forehead. In the school bus, she would always want to be alone no matter how her friends called her to play. Miss Elizabeth watched the ever lively girl grow to a hostile and quiet student, often sitting alone on the playground or sleeping on her food at meal time.
Taiwo climbed off the chair, and put her two little feet on the floor, dragging her lunch park on the floor, she made her way through the walk-way of the bus amidst the noise and friends who screamed her name. She paid them little or no attention but dragged her feet the more.
“Taiwo,” her teacher’s voice came again; Miss Precious walked towards her pupil and placed the back of her palm on her forehead. She squatted and said:
“Taiwo, look at me,” but the little girl put her face to the floor. She tried to hold her hand but she moved back. Miss Precious didn’t like what she saw. Taiwo turned and continued towards the door and Mrs. Precious followed. When Taiwo got to the door, Miss Elizabeth said:
“My Sugar,” her caretaker made to take her lunch pack and Taiwo nearly froze in shock, the young woman insisted; she took the lunch pack, lifted Taiwo unto her arm and turned towards the house. Miss Precious watched everything closely; she didn’t like what she saw; she put a foot to the ground but a voice called after her:
“Madam, we no fit wait for you. You know say we waste so so time for them to komot pick their child. I be dey go back to Ikorodu tonight….”
The driver kept on lamenting. His words got to her and she stepped back while the bus slowly moved away with Miss Precious looking on as their form disappeared behind the door.
Taiwo screamed at the top of her voice. Elizabeth had set her down in the kitchen and she heard his voice all the way from the sitting room. She ran from the kitchen to the voice, not minding that her parents were home. Uncle Reuben gave a wide smile, opened his arms wide and Taiwo ran and gave him a tight hug. He planted a kiss on her forehead while she climbed on top his laps, swinging her chubby legs this way and that.
“I have missed my pretty little princess.”
Uncle Reuben exclaimed while turning to her mum and dad. As he said so, he stretched his arm and came out with a black lady doll in a transparent pack.
“Thank you so much!”
Taiwo jumped out of excitement. Her parents smiled from cheek to cheek. Miss Elizabeth walked into the room, and immediately, it was as though a dark cloud descended in the room. She came and in the process of taking Taiwo, she refused and held on to her uncle’s jacket until her mother cautioned her:
“Now Taiwo, go and take your bath unless I might just have to take that doll away.”
Taiwo let go and allowed Elizabeth take her away.
After some few minutes, a cool calm voice said:
“Don’t worry, I will tuck her in.”
Taiwo’s mother had come to stand in the doorway while Miss. Elizabeth helped her with her nightwear.
Miss Elizabeth said. She got up and went to the bathroom.
She screamed and came forward to hug her mother. Mrs. Kola knelt before her five years old, looked her up and down, and helped her with the last part of her cloths. She watched her daughter closely while she climbed all over her, inviting her to play. Mrs. Kola gathered her daughter in a warm hug and said:
“You know mummy and daddy love you above any other thing, right?”
She asked. Taiwo nodded as her mother planted a kiss on her forehead.
“Now, it is time for little princess to go to bed.”
Taiwo was too excited about so many things: Uncle Reuben, her mother tucking her to sleep and that night, she would be sleeping with Kemi, the new doll her uncle got her. She quickly jumped on her bed and went right under the blanket. Her mother walked slowly to her bedside and smoothed out the blankets. At that moment, the bathroom door opened and Miss Elizabeth stepped out of it with her head to the floor. Taiwo froze and her face turned pale. Mrs Kola didn’t fail to notice the look on her daughter’s face.
She answered while stooping, showing sign of respect.
“You go take off tomorrow to visit your people for village. I go send for you.”
Mrs. Kola said slowly. Mrs Elizabeth straightened her back but didn’t dare to look her Madam in the eye.
She answered and quickly made her way to the door. Immediately she left, Mrs. Kola walked close and gathered her daughter in a warm embrace.
The noise stirred her from sleep: one of the traits she inherited from her mother was that she was not a deep sleeper. She opened her eyes and found out that her room has been thrown into thick darkness. She remembered her mother tucked her in the previous day, and she must have switched off the light. Elizabeth knew she was afraid of the dark and seldom left the bathroom door light on and the door partly open to find her around the room at night. Taiwo shut her eyes so tight that it hurt. The light in the passageway slowly went off. The footpads came again, this time around; it stopped right in front of her door. After some seconds, it slightly opened, but she couldn’t see the person that opened it. She only felt a form and footpads walking towards her. Cold shiver ran down her back and she started sweating, feeling as though she was suffocating in the room. Her breath came and went in a flash fast commotion. All of a sudden, she felt someone beside her bedside; she smelt him already when she climbed unto his laps in the afternoon. She was confused.
Taiwo called, not knowing what to do.
The voice indicated that she should keep quiet. She drew Kemi close to her. She heard the clinging of iron and the slow movement of a zipper; the noise filled her head and she tightened her arm around Kemi’s neck that it hurt. All of a sudden, she felt fingers slowly crawling on her legs and found their way beneath her princess night-gown. Her purple princess pant slowly crawled down with the fingers and a hand moved her legs wide open to the end of her bed. Suddenly, her bed creaked and quaked as his perfume filled her senses while a heavy form, as heavy as a rock settled on her. Taiwo felt breathless.
She called to him again in a voice of innocence.
He called her to silence. It was as though her breath was cutting because his weight was too heavy on her. She felt as though she was being buried into the mattress due to the weight on top of her. Uncle Reuben spread her legs even further that her bones hurt.
Taiwo started crying; she was now afraid. She was afraid of so many things: the dark, her uncle, and felt as though she was dying. She felt herself wet and knew she was actually urinating on herself because she was too scared.
She heard Uncle say and hissed. Taiwo felt something as hard as a stick rubbing against her leg, thigh and then inside her middle. She remembers her mother calling it Vagina, telling her that nobody must touch her there because it was hers and hers alone. Her head felt light even as Uncle continued. But Elizabeth used to do the same thing to her but Uncle’s own seems harder.
“Uncle…..please….it is paining me.”
Taiwo whispered as she pleaded over and over again.
Her uncle’s voice came in a rasp whisper. Taiwo felt something slippery slowly trickling down her laps and legs. Her tears came even more. He spread her legs further and she felt as though a big stick was being pushed into her woman-thing, Elizabeth often called it each time they were alone. Her tears were flowing and her voice was pleading. A hand came and cupped her mouth, nearly cutting air from her lungs.
Immediately, she felt her uncle move back and as he came forward, the door burst open and the lights came on shinning brighter than she has ever known them.
“Egba mi o! Kayode! She is only a child!”
In far off, as her vision went blurry, she could still hear voices around her: her mother’s voice was louder, wailing and calling Uncle’s name.