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sarah oyedoSome wounds never show on the body

but are more hurtful than anything

that bleeds.

Ivie turned and tossed on the plastic chair provided by the hospital staff. She slapped at her knees and ankles to ward off buzzing mosquitoes and tried to stretch her wrapper long enough to cover her exposed legs. The pungent smell of warm urine and cheap antiseptic rose up again to assuage her nostrils and she felt the bile rush from her stomach to her mouth.

This was the worst part; not the cries of the dying or the sound of nurses and doctors calling and running to save lives, not the tenacious mosquitoes who drank her blood with relentless fervor but the awful stench that was consistent with public hospitals.

She checked the watch on her wrist and saw it was almost time so she got up and went in search of the nurse. A few minutes later and the injection was delivered by a grumpy male nurse who looked like he’d rather be anywhere else than stuck in a hospital at past 2am, giving injections to frail old women. Ivie didn’t much blame him, hospital duty was not her forte either and she surmised him being a nurse did not help.

Her grandmother had had a seizure two weeks before that left her without use of her right arm and left leg. Her mother stayed with her until two days before, when she’d come down with a fever and was advised to stay home and recuperate and Ivie, being on holidays at home, was asked to fill in for her mother.

Watching the nurse walk away, she thought him not bad for the eyes with long spare frame and dark eyes flanked by bushy brows. She fluffed her grandmother’s pillow to remove the lumps and make her more comfortable whilst idly wondering if he had a girlfriend as she noticed no he bore no wedding band. Then she plopped back down on the plastic chair and fell into a fitful sleep where she was chased by singing mosquitoes who transformed into men in black bearing guns and screaming at her on a narrow bushy street to lay down, lay down fast!

She woke up in a start, sweat beading her forehead and her heart beating a racing staccato. The nightmare took different forms and shapes on the nights it decided to make an appearance but the effects were always constant; leaving her feeling violated and badly shaken up. She looked out the window to see a shy morning sun riding the back of the night cloud; it was dawn. Getting up, she checked on her sleeping relative then packed up and headed for home to change her clothing and get fresh supplies.

The gravel road that led up the junction from whence she would get a bus was devoid of people but a few steps forward saw a woman veer into it from the street. She walked in an ungainly gait and was barefooted. A mad person, Ivie thought. She clutched to her purse and swerved slightly to the left in wariness. Then a car came from behind and shone its light on the woman and Ivie froze. It was not a woman at all but a young girl. The girl whose screams plagued her dream every night, the girl from 6 months ago.

***

unforgettable

The men did not need to break the door; Ivie and Tina did not have a lock. It had fallen out on the inside a week back and they were yet to replace it. They poured their curtain on the door and backed it close every night. So when heavy boots connected with the door, it was as though they were expected.

They charged in and spoke in harsh, tense voices demanding all their money and jewelry. Few minutes later, a short stumpy man entered with a girl and sprawled her on their bed. From Ivie’s prostrate position, she saw the girl’s stoic profile and discerned she’d never seen her before. Who was she? Why was she here? Then they came and took her to their bathroom and the screams followed. Loud blood curling screams of deep pain. Ivie willed herself to block out the sounds but she couldn’t. They pervaded her ears and tore holes into her soul. After a few minutes, the man standing guard over her and Tina was replaced by the short stumpy man, grinning and buttoning his trousers. On and on they went till the screams were replaced with hopeless groans. She wanted to run into the bathroom and help the girl but was held back by sheer instinct to protect herself. Finally, all four of them were done and they returned with her, used up and slack like a broken doll, threatening, to shoot them if they said a word and left the room in a hurried flourish.

Everything else from there was a blur. The girl got up and left without a word. Gunshots were fired and the vigilantes came. She went to the bathroom to discover her red cotton pant had been used to wipe off sperm, the fluid dripping like globs of thick spit. Then they were assembled; the boy who was shot in the arm was rushed to the hospital. People wailed and cried and cursed. They went to the police station to report the robbery and the caretaker, Oga Mark, was arrested.

Apparently, a tenant had been robbed a huge sum of money and had reasons to believe Oga Mark was working with the thieves; providing them with damaging Intel. Ivie came down with malaria from the shock and went home to convalesce.

Few months after and they moved out, each renting separate apartments. But in all of these, they never mentioned the girl and never spoke of her. Perhaps, inside of them they hoped if they ignored the incident fervidly, then the memory of the night, like a bad dream will melt away. But it never did, at least not for her. The girls’ light-skinned face haunted her in her dreams and her screams chased away sleep from her eyes. Before she moved out, Ivie had tried to inquire covertly if anyone had reported rape after the night’s incident but no one did. Everyone was rather, preoccupied with Morgan and his torn arm. So Ivie tried to move on, nursing her wound, suppressing the black memory.

***

­­­­­­­­­­­­­She moved closer to the girl to study her face and saw it clear, as she did in her dreams. She was mumbling to herself and Ivie could catch broken words that ranged from body, to God and some foreign language Ivie could not decipher. Her eyes held a vacant look and she smelt like a month old thrash. Her hair was a matted mess and her clothes hung threadbare flapping like used rags in the morning air.

Ivie gulped down the heavy lump as she fought back hot, bitter tears. Looking around, she strained to call someone, anyone, to explain this girl wasn’t mad; her mind was only broken. Then Ivie spoke to the girl, asking her name, where her family was and if they knew she was here. But she looked at her blankly and continued on her way, muttering and muttering to herself.

Read also: #Unforgettable: Intervention (Ep 7)

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