The faint trickle of blood from her nose pools beneath what used to be a luxurious mane of black hair. All that’s left now of those incredible locks are a few strands of scraggly, mangy, grey hair; matted in disgusting tufts. The odour oozing from her body; a faint mixture of decay, despair and hope, repulses and re-energizes her at the same time. She is not dead – yet. She has survived the onslaught – again. Maybe, just maybe, one of these days soon, she will be free of this thing; this thing that holds her against reason, against her will in its deathly claws.
Leaving those hopeful contemplations for another day, she focuses on surviving this present horror. Biting down on her lower lip so she doesn’t cry out, she concentrates on emerging from this dream within a dream within her reality. Perhaps, she thinks to herself, if she concentrates hard enough, she will emerge unscathed, untouched and maybe even unchanged by it all; but she knows better. The voices in her head, damn them to hell, are the bane of her existence. The demons, gargoyles and El-Diablo himself are running her ragged with their constant caterwauling and their counter productive shrieking. One day she knows, one day, her mind will be hers back and hers to keep.
The raised hairs on the back of her neck alert her to the presence of others. She can feel them, sense them, smell the sticky sweetness of their oppression; feel the stifling shroud of their dark presence as it threatens to bring her under. Lying sprawled on the dusty, dirty table; mouth gagged, eyes blindfolded and Ankara print dress in tatters, she stills herself; waiting almost in anticipation for when the nightmare will all begin…again; for she knows that the sooner it begins, the sooner it will all end.
Bracing herself for the onslaught of terror, she flexes her fingers and toes, tentatively at first, then in rapid succession. That’s the signal. The signal to the bloodhounds from hell, these spawn of the devil himself, that she has managed to surface from the miry bog they so viciously plunged her into. It will not be easy she knows, neither will it be beautiful, but she is somewhat inured to all the ugliness now.
The first one comes, smelling rank like the purest form of evil; and even though her stomach churns from fear she doesn’t flinch. Not even when he licks the side of her face with his foul smelling tongue and plunges his fingers deep into her anus. She lies resolutely still. Not a word. Not a whimper. Not even the faintest sign of discomfort from her. Let them tear her body inside out, rip it to shreds, debase it, defile it, beat it till it’s a fine bloody lump, they’ll never break her spirit, these hedonistic bastards, these unconscionable monsters, the lot of them!
Times pass, seasons change; and still the dance continues, as the second, third, fourth, and fifth ones all come, until even she loses count of the defilement and debasement. Different shapes and sizes devouring her like a bunch of starving piranhas, fighting over her battered body like a bunch of rabid hyenas; and still they are not sated – never! They never reach the peak of satisfaction. Their hate prevents them; like an invisible force shield, it robs them off the pleasure of climaxing. The hate they so forcefully want to eject into her but are unable to, overflows in them like a dam and corrodes their very sense of identity. They hate her with an unfounded and baseless hatred, fuelled by their fear and ignorance; almost as if they need to hate her to be really sure of who they themselves are.
Finally! After what seems like years; the hate filled coupling stops. Like waves crashing on a solitary beach, they roll off her. Taking what’s on the surface, but never really reaching deeper to what lies beneath. She lies there still, bloodied, sullied and barely breathing. Crisscrossed with welts and swellings, purple and red in other places; her body is not a body anymore, but looks instead like a farmland devastated by a typhoon. They’ve left her for dead. She can hear them whispering and chuckling amongst themselves.
But beneath their forced cheerfulness is the loud echo of malcontent, impossible to be drowned out by the clink of buckles being fastened, sokotos being worn, or shoes being strapped on. They’ve raped and plundered her many times believing that she will leave the land and be forced to abandon the lolling hills of the sun kissed Plateau. But it is her heritage and she will die; if need be to protect it.
Crawling determinedly through the dense darkness of the dreary depths, she makes her way to the sound of the running stream and collapses at the feet of a man drawing water. Startled, he looks at her questioningly and says:
‘They call me Mai Sa’a. What is your name?’
She raises her head tiredly expecting to see the all too familiar leer, and beholds restitution and restoration instead.
‘Jos’ she says hesitantly.
Then Stronger with each second, she says more forcefully…more confidently
‘My name is Jos’
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