She walked on, staring about warily under the moonless night. The street was lonely and deathly silent. Not a single soul was in view and even the houses on either sides were as still as the graveyard. The drizzle had stopped, but the cold wind was still blowing fiercely. There were pools of murky water scattered over the tarred road. An owl hooted loudly into the night, and as if on cue, a prostrate goat bleated softly from the veranda of the bungalow she just walked past. She was startled, her heartbeat accelerated, she began to walk faster.
The soft bathroom slippers she wore made tapping sounds anytime they came in contact with the tar, but to her, they sounded like the footsteps of another person. She took them off and tried to walk barefooted but the sharpness of the weather-ridden tarred road coupled with the coldness made her wince. She wore the slippers again and increased her pace.
The silence was so eerie that she could literally hear her own heartbeats. Even without having a wristwatch on, she knew the time would be around 12:20a.m because she caught a fleeting glimpse of the wall clock in the sitting room before she ran out of the house, her employer’s duplex, and the time was 12:09a.m then.
She knew she had to find a safe place to stay in for the night, but she just could not trust any other person for now, not after what has been happening and had just happened. The only place she knew she could be safe in was the house of her friend in the next estate and that was a good fifty minutes walk from her own house. She would not, in her right mind, have walked into the night at that time of the day, but she just had to run for her life and dignity. She could not and would not take it anymore.
The first time it happened, his wife and children were at his mother’s. She had gone to the market during the day and still had to cook his meal before he came back from the church he pastored. He was the residential pastor of one of the branches of the fastest growing church in the country, but who would know that someone occupying such position of honour and purity could be the devil’s assistant himself? She had been so tired which was why she retired early into her room at the boy’s quarter. She had prepared the meal, served it and set the dining table for him, all he had to do was just to sit down and enjoy his meal. She did not know when his car came into the compound; she was deeply asleep by then. But even in her sleep, she felt rough hands grabbing her breasts and she had woken up instantly. The room was dark, but she knew she left the light on before she left. From the moonlight coming in from the window, she made out his shape. He was kneeling in between her legs, his hands still on her breasts. Her skirt was still on her but it had been rolled up to her waist. Without thinking twice, she knew his intention.
“Daddy…what are you doing?” She asked him.
“Shhhhhhhhh…” He replied, “Please…”
“Please what daddy…it cannot happen…” She exclaimed and by that time, she had started to struggle with him, but he easily overpowered her. He held her hands in a tight grip with one of his hands and roughly pulled off her underclothes with the other. He stuffed them in her mouth and held them there with his left hand. He held her two hands tightly above her head with his right hand and he plunged in.
The guttural grunts he emitted when he reached his climax were so irritating that she would have killed him right there if she had the means to do it. She looked around for anything she could hit him with, but she found none. He rolled off her sighing complacently and sat up on the bed. She rose up slowly and dejectedly from the bed, moved to one corner of the room and crouched there. Her head was bent and she was weeping uncontrollably. He walked over to her and apologized profusely. He promised her that it would never happen again and that he would give her a raise in her salary. He also warned her not to tell his wife or anybody else or he would make sure she is sent back to her village.
She knew he meant his threat but she was not really worried about that. She was only concerned with the fact that her sick father might die and her mother and siblings would suffer, if the token she sent to them every month stopped because she lost her job. She knew her family mostly depended on the money she sent home every month as they really had no other means of income. Her father was sick, so he could not work. Her mother’s petty trading could not cater for even a quarter of the family’s needs and her two younger brothers were too young to start fending for themselves or others. So, she had to take up a job as a house maid to the pastor and his family in the city to complement her mother’s efforts and she knew how hard it was, to get the job. She could not afford to lose the job. She promised him she would not voice it out to anybody and hoped he would keep his own promise too.
True to his words, her salary was considerably raised, but the raping never stopped even when his wife and children were at home. She had endured it in silence for more than a year when she decided she could not take it anymore. His wife and children were at his mother’s place for their monthly visit and he came to her room as usual. But in the seconds it took him to close the door and put off the light as he does, she made up her mind on what to do.
He did not expect the blow. She hit him hard on the right side of his face and felt something break. Before he could recover from her assault, she grabbed her slippers, unlocked the door and ran out to the gate. The key was usually hung on a nail on the fence; she picked it, unlocked the huge padlock on the gate and ran for her life.
At first, she had no idea of where she was going, but as soon as her mind settled, she resolved to walk to her friend’s house in the next estate. The friend was the housemaid of one of the rich property owners of the estate. They had met at the market the previous year and had been close friends since then. She did not know how possible it would be to go past the security guards at the gates of the two estates, but she hoped something would just come up. When she got to those hurdles, she would jump them. All she wanted for now was to leave her employer’s vicinity.
The sound of thunder and the flash of bright lightening brought her back to her senses. The drizzle had started again. She knew it might turn into full rain, so she had to look for shelter. A thought popped into her mind. There was an old and dilapidated building of a deserted post office further up the road. She could walk faster and reach there before the rain started. The building will surely protect her from the wind and rain and she thought she might even sleep in it for the night if she checked it and saw that it was safe enough for that purpose. With that thought, she broke into a jog. That was when she heard the sound of other footsteps distinctively different from hers from behind her. These footsteps were firmer and loud. She stopped and the footsteps stopped too. She looked back but she saw no one. She thought she might be imaging things, so she started her jog again. But as soon as she started, she heard the footsteps again. She stopped jogging again, but this time, the footsteps did not stop and they continued to move closer to her. She looked around; she could see no one in view. She became terrified and her heart began to thump wildly.
“Hello…who is there?” She called out into the darkness.
Her voice echoed down the street but the footsteps never stopped. In fact, they became faster and got closer. “The Old Post Office”, her mind screamed and she broke into a wild run for the old building, half hoping the footsteps will not follow her there, half hoping it was safe enough to shelter her from the world and its madness.
To be continued…