Ariyike Akinbobola: Nemesis – Excerpt From “The Cost of Our Lives”
For the past few weeks, I have been serialising my book, ‘The Cost of Our Lives – Pandemic Edition‘, and sharing a chapter with you every week. The Cost Of Our Lives highlights the story of how Ibidun was taken from Ajegunle to London by her mother’s friend. This novella details Ibidun’s London adventure of friendship, betrayal, freedom, and how she was able to return to Nigeria to begin a career as a celebrity fashion stylist.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you missed the previous chapters, read them here.
As I lay down in bed looking up at the beautiful ceiling in my hotel room back in Lagos, I realised I was now finally at peace with myself. Yet, thinking about all I had gone through brought tears to my eyes. I shed tears of joy and sadness at the same time. I was happy that Mama had stayed alive despite all the hardship, to see me succeed. I was happy she had moved in with me. I had gathered enough money to open a small canteen for her around Ajah park. I had just received my admission letter to the National Open University to study English Language and I couldn’t thank God enough for everything that was going on in my life. My brother, Jide, on the other hand, had landed a fantastic job at Chevron since graduating from the University of Lagos where he studied Geology and was now preparing to marry Folake, the girl he had met in his second year at University and dated throughout school.
That morning, as I browsed the Internet from my room, I stumbled on a headline on one of the blogs: Tragedy: Married School Teacher Commits Suicide After Impregnating Students
I clicked on the story and read about how one Mr. Baba, a Mathematics teacher at Abuja Girls Comprehensive High School had been having illicit sex with his students. Unfortunately for him, the last straw was attempting to rape a J.S.S 1 student who escaped and reported him to her mother and the school’s principal. The principal called for an emergency assembly where she educated the girls on sexual abuse and also hinted that reports had reached her that one of the teachers had tried to abuse a student but she didn’t mention any names as the matter was still being investigated. She then announced that all the students who had been sexually abused by this teacher should feel free to come to her office anytime during the week, that they would be protected and their identities kept secret.
According to the newspaper report, by the following week, over fifty girls had gone to the principal to report the Mathematics teacher.
I couldn’t close my mouth for a long time after reading the story. The principal had to bring in medical doctors to carry out all kinds of tests on these innocent girls only to realise that three of them were pregnant and another girl had a sexually transmitted infection. Some of the students also confessed that Mr. Baba had told them to come back and let him know if they felt sick after he molested them so that he could give them ‘the magic pill’ to swallow. What type of beast would do this to innocent girls? I wondered. I fought back tears as I read the story further. The man was married with four children of his own. How would he have felt if someone had done that to his own children? This man must be very heartless, I thought to myself. These blogs and their graphic images, they even put up a picture of the man as he was found hanging in his room. Thankfully, they were wise enough to blur the faces of the innocent victims. What would happen to the girls now that the man had taken his own life? I began to ask myself all kinds of questions. What would he tell God on judgment day? What would his wife and children be going through now after getting to know what he had been doing to young girls? These questions were still going through my mind as I got to the last part of the post which had a picture of the teacher and his beautiful family. How can a man with such a beautiful wife and lovely kids be molesting little girls in his school? The next picture that popped up brought shivers down my spine. It was the picture of a man I knew too well.
Why did they call him Mr. Baba? This heartless monstrous molester I had been reading about was my mother’s step brother, Uncle Femi, the same Uncle Femi. It suddenly occurred to me that his full name was Babafemi so he had obviously dropped “Femi” and stuck with “Baba”. My body was already shaking as I relived my past and thought about all I could remember concerning Uncle Femi and what he did to me. I remembered the two girls he taught back then in Surulere and Ikoyi and the fact that he must have sexually abused them as well. I felt guilty that I didn’t speak out even when I realised what he was doing to me was bad. I regretted that I didn’t report him to Mama, Papa, Jide or even my teacher at school. Maybe something could have been done about Uncle Femi back then before things got so bad. I cried even more because I began to feel responsible for the misery of those innocent school girls. I wish I had spoken out about what Uncle Femi did to me. There were certainly more Mr. Babas out there and they ought to be stopped and brought to justice. I read the whole story a second time and began to pack my things. I knew I had to pay the school a visit, to talk to those girls and share in their pains. We had a common abuser and he was no more. I knew I had to take a trip to Abuja to get final closure on this whole Uncle Femi saga. I had made up my mind. There was a knock on the door. I looked up at the wall clock before going over to open the door. It was 11.45a.m, almost check out time. It was Uche; he had come to pick me up. It was time for me to check out of the hotel and face the rest of my life on my new mission with every bit of strength left in me.