by Tunde Leye
Now as she turned, she realized she was in real trouble. At the entrance to his room, Bruno lay on the floor, a knife sticking out of his chest. He was dead.
Tricia Abah was in trouble, big trouble. It had taken her two years of dedicated hunting to find a job and when she did find one, she had become truly desperate. Gone were her lofty dreams of the oil companies. She had eventual settled for an advertising agency, a far cry from the geophysics she had studied. But then, after two years, such finery didn’t matter anymore.
When she moved to Lagos to start her job, her aunt helped her get a temporary accommodation with Bruno, a male friend of hers. Somehow, the months had rolled on each other, and she had been in the house for three months. He was married, but his family was in the UK. He spent most of his time in UK but had a 3bedroom flat in Lagos which was empty whenever he was away. She had gladly moved into the luxurious flat on James Robertson, Surulere. It was mutually beneficial, she took care of the house while he was away, and she had free comfy accommodation in return. Out of instinct, one of the first things she did was to change the lock to the door of her room. That was her saving grace. On that night, she woke up with a start from her sleep, her head thumping. It took her moments to realize the thumping was not inside her head but on her door.
Startled, she tried to remain quiet, assuming robbers were in the house. Then she heard a familiar voice shout from the other side
“Open this door now”.
It was Bruno. “Uncle Bruno, is anything the matter?” she asked, wondering what could be so urgent that he had woken her up like this. She tried to sniff to see if she could smell any burning. Nothing.
In a quieter voice, Bruno spoke “You’ve been living in my house for three months now, at no cost. You should at least make me happy once in a while”.
She was puzzled, as the Warri girl part of her flashed a light bulb in her head. She didn’t want to believe that was what he was demanding for. It couldn’t be. He had been the perfect host and senior brother for months now. He continued shouting “You think I don’t know about you bringing boys to spend the night when I’m away? If you can give it to them, all the more reason I should eat of it. Open this door now; I didn’t even know you changed the lock.”
He didn’t sound like the Bruno she knew. He spoke with a drawl and his polished UK accent had given was to his native Bini accent. He was back to his raw form. She guessed he had been drinking heavily.
“Uncle Bruno, it’s not like that,” she tried to reason with him. “No man has slept here since I moved in; I won’t disrespect you like that.”
“Shut up!!! And open this door now and give me some.”
She knew she was in deep trouble. She checked the time. It was just 2AM and she was alone in this flat with a man who was bent on breaking the door down and raping her. She looked around the room for anything she could defend herself with. She quickly picked the phone and called Aunty Ivie. The phone rang out. She was probably asleep and would not answer her calls. She composed a text message and sent to her mum and Aunty Ivie. The banging on the door kept getting louder. She raced to the window to see if she could get out that way, even though she knew it was an effort in futility. Most Lagos buildings have iron burglary proofs to keep buglars out. This kept her in now.
“Didn’t Ivie tell you?” he barked from outside?
“Tell me what?” she equally shouted her response, the panic evident in her voice now.
She waited for his response. She got deathly silence in return. After she had waited for half an hour and there was no response, and her door remained intact, her nerves totally frayed as she imagined what was going on behind the door and how long it would hold out. She armed herself with the mop handle and locked herself in the toilet, sitting on the edge of the toilet bowl.
Within minutes of locking herself in, he began to batter the door, the thuds echoing in the deathly silence. It was only moments later that she heard a loud thud that could only mean her door had given way behind his relentless battering. She heard him prowl around the room searching for her, scattering her things and gripped the mop handle tighter as if it would spew bullets if he came in. The fact that she could hear him, but not see him seemed to heighten the terror that she felt. All of a sudden, an eerie calm came over the house, the kind of calm that had an audible quietness. And so she waited. It seemed like a lifetime passed as she waited, but it was a mere two minutes. And then the toilet door creaked open. He came in, dangling a key before her eyes, a drunken glint in his own eyes.
She opened her mouth to scream, but he slapped her hard and she tasted blood. The scream was happened only inside her head, her mouth went numb. Before she could recover, he dragged her into the room and pushed her onto the bed. Dazed, she tried to struggle, but all the shoving had disoriented her. There was really little her petite 5 foot 5 frame could do in the struggle against his bulky 6 feet 1 inch. She fell into the bed like a pack of cards. It was only then she realized he was naked from the waist down. Her flimsy nightgown offered no barriers in his way whatsoever. With a pillow he snuffed out her attempts at screaming and almost suffocated her. She would in fact have been suffocated, except for the fact that it was all over in less than two minutes. He shook and convulsed briefly and then rolled off her. Then without a word, the man that had just shattered her world got up and left the room. She lay, motionless, all manner of bodily fluid all over her, numb from within. A part of her recognized what had happened, while another part tried desperately to block it out. She lay in limbo for only God knows how long. The shrill ringing of her phone shocked her back into reality. Her mum had woken up and had obviously seen her alarming text and called back.
She picked the phone and then the floodgates opened and her tears poured out. Her mum was hysterical
The only response was her tears.
“Tricia! What is the problem? Why are you crying?”
Still she only cried, unable to say anything.
“Eduvie!” her mum screamed her native name.
“Mummy,” she screamed, “he raped me!”
“What! Who!” her mum exclaimed.
“Bruno,” she responded, through her tears.
“Ha! Ivie has finished me,” her mum wailed. “So this was her plan, this was what she wanted to do to my daughter. It’s 5 already, you must leave that house today. I’m coming to Lagos now myself with your father. Have you gone to the police?”
“Mama! I have been raped just now! No I haven’t gone to the police.”
“Sorry. I’m sorry. Don’t worry, I will call them myself.” The call cut off and the piercing silence returned.
She checked and realized it was really a little past 5AM now. As if the call had broken some jinx, she picked her phone and sent another sms to her Aunt Ivie. She was the one who introduced her to Bruno.
She then used her phone to take pictures of herself in bed, and then pictures of her door, and her scattered room. She took a cotton bud and took a swab of his semen on her body and sealed it in the cotton bud pack as she had seen them do on CSI. Anything might eventually come in handy. She would make sure the bastard paid in full for what he had done to her. Then she called the police and reported the incident.
A little over an hour later there was a barrage of knocks on the front door, and she knew it was the police. Sure enough, the voice called out “It’s the police, open the door.” She sprang from her bed, and raced to the door. She didn’t bother to clean up or get dressed at all. She got to the front door and unlocked it quickly. The police had been wise enough to send a team of three, with one woman in it, and she seemed to be the superior officer. “Is he still in the house?” the woman asked, obvious scorn in her voice when she said he? Tricia nodded, glad that finally, she was not alone in the house with him. The moment she turned to lead them into the house, she let out a gasp. In her hurry to open the door, she had missed it. Now as she turned, she realized she was in real trouble. At the entrance to his room, Bruno lay on the floor, a knife sticking out of his chest. He was dead.
Tunde Leye tweets from @TundeLeye