Painful Memories

The story speaks about the woes of an orphaned girl child in a depraved society.

It was a cold, windy evening. The glowing moon was a perfect half. The dark velvet sky was studded with radiant stars. Crickets screeched from nearby bushes, and the voices of playing children could be heard from a distance. Cynthia opened the curtain of her window, allowing the breeze a free entrance into her single room. She stood there for what seemed like an eternity, inhaling the chilly air and allowing the wind to caress her warm neck. She sighed deeply as she turned her back against the moonbeam. It was beautiful out there, but she didn’t want to be a part of it. Not this evening.

This particular evening brought back memories of many years ago. It had become a cycle, more like a ritual. Every year, on this same day, painful memories came flooding back. So did the fear. It was exactly six years ago: The rains had ended early that year, and the evenings were windy. Children looked forward to the holidays. She had meticulously counted the day and weeks for the past fourteen weeks. Her cousins were coming from the village for a holiday.

When schools had finally closed for the term, Cynthia ran home happily along with other schoolmates of hers. As soon as she arrived home, she threw her report card on the bed and rushed into the kitchen to check if mama had left some food for her. The empty pots greeted her as she looked on the floor to find dirty plates from the morning’s meal. She bent down, gathered them into a big basin, and took them outside to wash. When she reached the yard, she discovered there was no water in the house. A sudden feeling of frustration washed over her and drowned her earlier excitement for the holidays. She remembered that holidays meant more work for her.

Mama had gone to the market as her daily routine was. She traded lots of things ranging from bitter leaf to pepper. She sold any and everything that could fetch her money to take care of her home. She had lost her husband five years after giving birth to their only child. Cynthia was named after his mother. After his death, his uncles took over the only plot of land he owned and also laid claims on the house they lived in, claiming that he owed them some money.

Life became very difficult and unbearable for Cynthia and her mother as they were forced to move into the family compound in the village. However, mama had vowed at her late husband’s grave to do everything she could to ensure that their daughter had the best life and quality education. But it was not easy. Cynthia was withdrawn from the school she attended in the city and registered in the village school. It was the only public school in the village. She didn’t take long to adapt and made lots of friends. She was always top of her class, and not long she was made the class prefect.

Her love for sports had also gained her popularity among her senior students. She represented the school in volleyball games in which she was made school female captain. She was just six months old in the school, but everyone knew her. Things were getting better for her, and she was happy, but then disaster struck again. During one of mama’s trips to the nearby villages to buy goods for sale, the bus was involved in a ghastly accident. She didn’t make it. Two months later, she was buried beside her husband.

Cynthia was forced out of school despite her intelligence and grace. The school could not afford to give her a scholarship, and she couldn’t focus anymore. Her mother’s death shook her even worse than her father’s death did. Her uncles and cousins made life very unbearable for the young girl. She did all the domestic work in the house, including washing her cousins’ clothes and sweeping their rooms. She had reasoned that they would be her comfort, but on the contrary, they turned out to be the ones that reminded her of her predicaments, constantly saying that she wasn’t worth any good thing.

One evening, all the children were playing outside, and her uncle called her and asked that she should dress his bed and then keep water for him to bathe. She had set out immediately to dress the bed, after which she fetched water from the calabash at the back of the house and kept it for him in the bathroom. She kept down the water and turned around to leave the bathroom, but the door was suddenly closed. 

Startled, she stared at her uncle, who was standing just a few feet away from her. It was a bit dark, but she could see his eyes. She saw the glittering mischievous smile playing on his lips. His eyes narrowed into wicked slits as he held the towel that wrapped around him and roughly dragged it away, locking the door at the same time. A scream rose in her throat, but no sound came out. With a giant stride, he was already standing in front of her. Before she could think of what was about to happen, he slapped her so hard that she fell on her back. Blinded by the impact of the slap and dizziness, she could feel his hands roughly pushing her wrapper away. He reached for her panties and tore them with one pull, then parted her thighs with his knee before dropping his bulky weight on her. She could only feel a sharp, tearing pain that sent unspeakable pain throughout her fragile body just before she passed out.

Cynthia woke up to find herself lying down around a heap of clothes that were hers. Her cousins and uncle were standing around her. He had obviously raped her. Here he was looking at her as though she had been guilty of the crime. She watched in fear and confusion from his face to that of his children. She could only see resentment in their faces. She listened in silence and tears as they called her names and accused her of being an obganje. She opened her mouth to speak but just like before; no sound came out. Her mouth and throat felt sore. They were throwing her out of the house. This was going to be a day she would never forget.

Walking back into the single room she had paid for in the city; she was greeted once again by the memories of six years ago. 

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If you feel it could be better written, please also comment. I am open to learning. Thank you.

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