It was barely two weeks afterwards that Nneoma realized she made the greatest mistake of her life by following Nnamdi to Lagos. He was not who he claimed to be and she would be anything but his bride! She had fallen victim to human trafficking, a reality that was difficult for the girl to come to terms with. Agreed life was difficult in the village, but she [at least] had her freedom unlike that place she was made a modern slave. Her madam tasked her daily, the daughter dehumanized her while the man of the house sexually molested her. Hell might have been a better place to be than that mansion, yet on a daily basis she was confronted with the reality of her life. She attended to the every need of her masters, mopping and scrubbing; ensuring that everywhere was spotless even as she was denied the most basic of comfort. Imagine the irony of ensuring comfort but never having access to that comfort! It was horrible. And to make it all worse, she was entitled to no wage for her efforts because Nnamdi had literally sold her into slavery. She wished she could ask him why. But she would never see him again because he was on to his next victim…
Living in the mansion was Sunday, a Calabar man who was in charge of the gate and security. Sunday and his wife were the only ones Nneoma was close to. But then her association with those two was greatly supervised. The slave masters had a tight grip on her and as such had monitored her every move. Consequently, she was constantly trapped in the house doing one chore or the other, never allowed outside the house lest she escaped. As long as her masters were concerned, she was anything but their property, more like a priced livestock whose maximum potential must be utilized before it would be tossed for the burns. So for three straight years she was imprisoned within the four walls of that Lekki mansion until the man of the house (who raped her on so many occasions) finally got her pregnant.
Nneoma was scared her madam would kill her if she knew the truth. She would be punished for the misfortune that had befallen her! This likelihood made her utterly miserable. She had nowhere to go and no money to go anywhere. The only person she would have looked up to for help at that hopeless moment was the same man who put her in the very bad condition. So Nneoma kept her secret to herself, living every single day in fear while hoping for the best.
By the end of the first month of her pregnancy Nneoma was too scared to keep the secret to herself anymore. So she confided in Sunday’s wife, who in turn told her husband. But there was nothing the couple could do to help her. They themselves faced their own challenges in the house of the wicked. Living in that cramped gateman’s house with his pregnant wife and infant son was had enough issue for Sunday to handle. And even though nobody had sold him into slavery, the powerful couple had him in a tight grip just as they did Nneoma. Throughout the nearly ten years he had worked for them, Sunday never received his salary. The excuse was that the money was being saved up for him until the day he would retire. But of course it was a ploy to keep him enslaved, and so for so long he had remained with the wicked people for fear of being denied his money if he wanted to leave. But everything changed one particular Saturday afternoon after his boss and his wife and daughter breezed out and his wife had gone to the market with their son. Nneoma was inside the mansion cleaning as usual of her and Sunday suddenly was down with what was a bad headache. He decided to rest a while and in the process of doing that had fallen deeply asleep, thereby failing to promptly open the gate when the masters returned. It was even Nneoma who came from the mansion to open the gate. And this incident infuriated the lucky ones. They screamed at the man for being useless even as the daughter had slapped Sunday across the face as he tried to explain the course of his unusual afternoon sleep.
That day when Sunday’s wife and kid returned from where they had gone to Sunday was commanded by his employer not to allow them inside the house. So even though it was raining and his wife was pounding on the gate, he ignored them while he cried inside their room. His boss’ wife had specifically given the injunction, saying that since he failed to open the gate for them he must also allow his family stay out in the rain for as long as possible until he realized he was a useless man who couldn’t even do his job. But at a point could not bear the broken voice of his pregnant wife as she pleaded with him to allow her in. So he went out there to join them in the rain, explaining to her what had happened. And as they stood there in the rain talking that was the same moment they realized they had to let go of everything and save themselves from going insane. They could always start over, no matter how impossible it might seem…
*This is a work of fiction. No part of this piece may be reproduced without permission.
*Thank you to all those who messaged and called in the past days; I deeply appreciate the fact that you consistently read my posts.