The Squatter

The Squatter: A paranoid mother plots to protect her daughter at all costs...

Men never listen, and that is their biggest flaw. They think women don't know what they see. But we see clearer than them, and then when we say what we see, they call us paranoid, overly dramatic and highly sensational, and many other things. If we try to clean their mess, it is our fault, and if we leave them to their fate, it is still our fault for not saying or doing anything. Men are a pain in the butt. Why do we still need them? They don't hear, and they don't see. And because they don't see and hear, they don't act. Because you can only act when you have seen and heard.

I saw, and I heard, and then I spoke. When he was bringing that cursed brother of his to the house, I warned him because I know how these brothers are. They always come in meek and humble, but it always ends in tears and heartache. My husband is a generous man, and he likes to help his relatives. He is like my father in that regard, always picking up stray relatives. Our house was always filled with relatives. Uncles, Aunties, Cousins, and siblings. His siblings were his favorites. They would arrive unannounced and stay as long as they deemed fit. Often it was my mom who would gently nudge them to leave. My father never cared, and neither did my husband. When his brother called him and told him he had nowhere else to go, he asked him to pack his things for our house. "And how long will he stay?" I asked. "Until he gets into school." He replied. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" He looked up from his tablet. His eyes had gradually dimmed over the eleven years we had been married to the point that he now used reading glasses. He pushed down those glasses and stared at me quizzically. "What are you trying to say, sweet?" "I'm not saying anything." I said, "I am just trying to ask if you think it's a good idea to bring a teenage boy around our ten-year-old daughter." "What do you mean by that?"

I could see he was beginning to get angry. He was always very sensitive when it came to his family. Our first big quarrel had occurred when I had told him about how lazy his cousins were and how I didn't think it was a good idea to split half of our earnings with them. He had flared and stormed out, and I had learned not to tell him what I thought of his family. Some people cannot handle the truth when it hits home. "I meant that is it a good idea to bring someone who is at a stage where libido is outrageously high around your innocent daughter…." Even before I finished with my statement, he had dropped his tablet and was rubbing his ears vigorously as if my words had scalded his eardrums. He sat up on the bed. "Are you insane?" he cried, "Can you hear yourself? Are you sure you are well?" "You can call me names..." "No, I am not calling you names. But I am worried about you. That is my brother you are calling a molester and our daughter's uncle…." "And so what? If fathers can abuse their daughters…."

His eyes suddenly widened, and I wondered what he was acting so shocked about. The news about how a Pastor had been beaten by Church members after it had been discovered that he was sleeping with his sixteen-year-old daughter was still trending on social media. And that was not the only horror story I have seen and heard. This abuse thing was a silent scourge no one wanted to talk about. Women were just not safe. "So is that why you never let me bathe our daughter." he asked, "because I would abuse her…." "Don't be ridiculous. But why take the risk and expose her to such danger." "A person is hearing you will think I was bringing poison into the house. I am only bringing my younger brother for a year until he can get into school. He has no place to stay. You know this. Would you rather I start renting an apartment for him when we have a free guest room?"

"He can stay with your elder sister. She has two sons..." "And a small house." "How about your uncle..." "He is coming here, sweet. And he is a good boy. You know this, my God, what is wrong with you? Of all things on earth, that is the first thing you could think of. "She's our only daughter." I told him, "And I am her mother. I have to protect her." "My brother is clean. And he would be useful around the house. He may even help you in your shop." That point was true. The last time the boy came to spend the holidays with us he was very useful in the shop. He could lift two chicken feeds on both shoulders and be willing to go for deliveries at far places.

But my spirit was still troubled. I would watch him very closely. He would not have a moment's chance with my daughter. My husband was nonchalant, but maybe it wasn't his fault; it was his brother. How could he suspect him? My father did not suspect his brother either until he started sneaking into my room at night. So I resolved that the same thing won't happen to my daughter. She was still too young and naïve. One day she would realize the world was a sad place for women and that men were such monsters. But until then, I would do my best to protect her. She would be protected because she had what I didn't have. Someone to look out for me. ****

One night I woke up to do my routine check on her. I always moved quietly during these inspections because I wanted to catch the idiot when he was unaware. That is, if he was up to anything. I gently pushed the door open and switched on the room lights. The room was empty! My daughter was missing! And instantly, I knew where she would be. For the next few minutes, it seemed I had lost my mind. My greatest fear was finally happening. Why, in God's name, didn't I wake up an hour earlier? I had failed her! This time I didn't even bother to be clandestine. I just rushed over to the guest room and flung the door open. She was on his bed, sleeping next to him. He seemed to be asleep too, but then that did not matter. "You animal!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, "You disgusting Pig!! What did you do to my daughter?"

He got up and leaned on his elbow, squeezing his eyes to get used to the sudden burst of light. I lunged at him and gave him a thunderous slap and then followed it with another hot slap. My daughter woke up and started crying. I was still screaming. "What did I do, Aunty?" the stupid boy was asking as I slapped and scratched his face. My husband burst into the room and dragged me off him. I saw my daughter going to comfort him, and I screamed again. "Get off him, Princess. Get out of this room." Some minutes later, my husband managed to calm me down. He was staring at me as if I was deranged. He hadn't seen what I had seen. "What happened?" He asked calmly. "She was on his bed." I told him, "I knew this would happen!" My husband's fists clenched immediately, and his face grew fierce. "What did you see?" He asked again, ready to murder someone. "She was on his bed, sleeping." "And…"

"And he was lying next to her; what was she doing on his bed." "Did you see anything happen?" he asked emphatically. "Do I have to see something happen?" "Let us take it easy. Go and talk to your daughter and find out if anything happened. She would open up to you more easily, and I would talk to my brother." "Good plan." "If it is what I suspect, then I would kill him myself." He said savagely. I talked to my daughter in her room, and I asked her what she was doing in Graham's room. She said she had had a nightmare and was scared of staying alone. "I didn't want to disturb you and Dad. You looked so tired when you came back, so I decided to wake up Graham. He is my friend. "

"Is that all? "Yes, Mommy." "Are you sure?" I said soothingly, "You know you can talk to me, honey." "Mom, that's it." "Has Graham been playing any games with you? "Yes. We have lots of games we play with each other." My ears pricked at that. So it had already started. But I tried to remain calm and patient; that was the only way to get to the truth. "What kind of games have you been playing?"

"We play cards, checkers on his phone, rock paper scissors, and this board game where there are twelve holes, and each hole is supposed to have four seeds… "Ayo? "Ah yes, mom. That's it. Do you know the game?" "Have you guys ever played pretend before?" "Yes, once. He pretended to be a ghost and chased me all over the house. The other time he was a vampire, and I was a werewolf, and there was this time..." "How about husband and wife!" "Ewww, Mom. That is disgusting. I wanted to play that once, but he told me I was too small to be a mom and that he hated that game because it was disgusting." "So he has never asked you to play such games."

"No, Uncle Graham isn't disgusting, mom. He is just fun." "Is he threatening you?" Her face quizzed in puzzlement. "Why will he want to threaten me? He's my friend. I love him." In my bedroom, I told my husband everything that I had found out from my daughter. He only heaved and shook his head. "Graham said the same thing too." He said, "And I have warned him sternly not to try this nonsense again." "You think they are cooperating?" I asked, "You know we left them alone for a while." "Cooperating to do what?" he asked.

There was a way he said it which struck me as odd. He wasn't his normal, challenging, and skeptical self. He sounded as if he really wanted to see the truth as if he was concerned. And for the first time, it struck me that perhaps he wouldn't understand what I was about to say. When my uncle started touching me, he called it a game. He would tell me that it was our secret and that I would die if anyone else knew. I had loved him and didn't want to put him into trouble. At the same time, I hated what he was doing to me; I hated myself for allowing it to happen. I was ashamed because sometimes I would enjoy it and then I would feel dirty. I felt used and worthless. How would he understand the conflict and the pain? The confusion, the desire, and yet the shame. How you couldn't tell anyone because you felt lost and worthless and even worse like scum because a part of you enjoyed it and wanted it. Because it wasn't exactly rape. How could anyone understand the scalding effect it had on the soul? The disappointment and the hurt of betrayal. He was your best friend, someone you could trust. No one would ever understand. They won't understand your fear of darkness. Or why you stiffened if a man's skin touched yours. Or the sudden insatiable urges followed by strong aversion. How the pain never leaves and the memories remain fresh, and you have to struggle every day of your life to be a little normal. How does one begin to explain that?

"Honey, can't he stay with someone else? Please!" My husband was so apologetic; it was almost as if he would cry. "I wish he could. But he is my brother, and he's still a minor. Where do you want me to send him to? He was staying with my uncle, but his wife wanted to beat him to death. My sister just can't afford another mouth to feed, and their place is cramped already. Our parents are dead. What am I supposed to do?" "Hmm. "I swear he will never do a thing like that. I know him, and I know my family. We are not like that. Haven't I been a good husband and father?" "That is not the point." "It's only temporary, sweet. In less than a year, he would be gone out of the house." "A lot of things can happen in a year." "I swear, nothing would happen." And for a wild moment, I wondered if my husband knew what was going on but was trying to hide it from me. But that was too crazy. He was a good man, he loved me, and he loved his daughter. Why would he do something like that? Am I going crazy? How could he not see what I saw, that calamity was just at our doorstep? No! I was alone in this. I will protect my daughter. But I would be careful and systematic; I would strike fast before that little monster gets another chance. Let him stay there deceiving himself. He won't get my daughter under my watch! ****

The first step in my plan was to keep him as far away from my daughter as possible. For this, I got my husband to enroll him in a tailoring shop near his offices. "It would take him at least six months to fully learn. The holidays will be over in two weeks." "Yes, but he can always go after school."

"After school? When is he supposed to be preparing for his school certs?" "He needs to learn some skills. You know how the country is." My husband sighed but said nothing. The next day he did as I asked. Now, the only time he had access to her was during the night, but now I either made Princess sleep with us or I slept in her room. I continued to watch them, and I saw that they were no longer close. Graham avoided her like a man avoided poisonous snakes, and my heartbeat was easier as a consequence. The only worry was that Princess was becoming gloomier as the days wore on.

"I don't know why Uncle Graham now hates me." She blurted out one day, as I prepared dinner in the kitchen, "He won't play with me anymore. He always locks his room, and he won't open it no matter how much I knock." "Maybe he's just tired, honey." "No, he's not. He just doesn't like me anymore." I didn't know what to say to that, so I busied myself with chopping the tomatoes, which I'll use for the stew. "Honey, come help me out." She was washing the onions at the sink as she continued airing out her frustration. "Am I a bad person, Mommy?" she asked suddenly. "Why would you say that?" I asked in shock. "Because he now hates me. Maybe I did something bad to him, and he can't forgive me. I am a bad person…." "Don't you ever say that? You are an angel! No one should ever tell you something different." "Will Uncle Graham forgive me?"

I had to act fast. But I knew I had to wait until school resumed before my plan would work. I had to be patient; if not, everything would go to dust. I had to be there to protect my daughter. At night when everyone else was asleep, I opened the cabinet where I hid the small bottle filled with poison. It consoled me. For some time now, that boy had been reluctant to take any food to school because he was a "big boy." All the other big boys brought snacks to school, and so would he, as if I wanted to waste my food on him. I put some cookies and a sandwich in his kit; then, I carefully extracted some of the poisonous liquid with a syringe which I injected into his soft drink. He came in just as I was hiding the sniper bottle and the drink. "Here you go." "Thank you, ma." He said.

I prepared gleefully and went to the Animal feeds shop. That day I had so many customers that I almost forgot what I had done. But as the early morning rush eased down and lunchtime approached, I thought again about what I had done and how it would pan out. I already knew what would happen. At some point during his lunch break, he would open his soft drink and gulp it all down together with the poison. He would then complain of stomach pains and may perhaps be rushed first to the sick bay and then to the hospital. But he would die before he arrived, and then the school would call my husband, who would call me. No one would suspect poisoning, and even if they did, who would suspect me? Everything he ate was produced by large companies and appeared to be untampered. It would be another mystery. Some will blame it on evil spirits, ancestral curses, witches, and even the devil. But no one would blame me. Everything would be okay; everything would be fine. I had done what any good mother would have done. I had protected my daughter, and now nothing would harm us again. We were alright; we had won. We had escaped. And then the phone rang…

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