CONCRETE GIRL….. By Ed-Samuel Adegboye

#LongRead
Her skin was smooth and coffee brown, she was starting to show the soft curves that would lead many-a-men astray, her eyes were captivating; brown, large, beautiful eyes. Her  laughter reminded me of the tinkling of a wind chime, it sounded almost magical, the grace with which she moved captivated even I her father, it was almost like she was dancing. She was slowly blooming into the purest and most beautiful of flowers. I always thought of her as a lily, pure, white and beautiful. Whenever I remembered her birth my chest always tightened, the first time I held her if felt like my world stopped moving, she looked into my eyes and smiled at me, at that moment I knew that she held my heart in her tiny hands. I would sit for hours and watch her as she slept, her facial expressions changing as whatever dream it was she was having flitted through her subconscious.

 
        I sat under the shade of the old tree and watched her paint the distant hills, they looked purple in the setting sun. I watched her my heart dark and heavy with dread. It was nearing time for her marriage to the prince. Her wedding ceremony was a fortnight away. It was a perfect match, I had watched them together, he was smitten with her. Though that was not the reason for the torture that kept me up through the night. The commander of the kings army had also made his claim for my daughter. He was a brutal man, not even the king had much control over him. His troops were loyal to only him -mostly out of fear of retribution on crossing him. And I was about to do just that, he had threatened to take what he wanted if he was not given. I heaved another sigh, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I very well could not tell the king the matter, I was a humble blacksmith and I was not about to cause an upheaval in the governing body, I had to find a solution on time. As we prepared to retire I saw her steal several concerned glances at me. 
       As I retired for the night I glanced at myself in the mirror, I noticed I had worry lines creasing my brow. I lay down on my bed, thoughts heavy on my mind. I suddenly jerked awake I had heard a noise outside my window; fear gripped my chest as I saw a shadow move past my window, no! two shadows, and then more. I lay paralysed as different possibilities hurled through my mind. I was suddenly grabbed and roughly dragged out of bed. I tried struggling and I heard -more than felt- something crash into my head, then blackness. I slowly woke to the throbbing pain behind my head, there was also a shrill ringing in my ears, I thought it was as a result of the blow to my head, as my eyes focused, what I saw turned the blood in my veins to ice. I was in my daughter’s room, surrounded by about ten soldiers and they all gazed on in silence as the commander raped my daughter, the shrill noise was coming from my daughter’s throat, it wasn’t a scream of fear or pain. It was just a scream. I tried to struggle to my feet, I saw something swing towards my head, I raised my arms in a futile effort to block the blow, and then once again… blackness.
       I woke up, I was in my room on my bed, the birds chirping outside, sunlight streaming through my window to form a pattern on the ground as it passed through the lace curtains. I staggered to my daughters’ room, a sound escaped my lips as I looked at her immaculately laid empty bed. Had she been taken away? I rushed outside to find her slowly sweeping the compound, I stood framed by the doorway, confusion boiling in my mind. She turned to me and smiled. Her lips were bruised. I turned and ran back into the house with sobs of anguish. It felt like my world was closing in on me. Tears poured down my face as I curled into foetal position and cried like a baby. I had never felt so helpless.
        Two hours later the prince came to visit her as was usual. She had locked herself inside her room an hour ago, a folded piece of paper had been slipped under her door, on it written, “prince”. I could not imagine what was written on the piece of paper. As the prince approached me and greeted me, I nodded in ascent and wordlessly handed over the letter. He looked at me in confusion as he collected it, he broke the wax binding it and scanned the letter. His eyes first glazed over, then I saw comprehension fill his eyes, his jaw tightened in anger. He whirled round and jumped on his stallion, riding away furiously. Till this day, I would never know what was written on that letter. My daughter carried on normally like nothing happened. I was bothered, she seemed to be scarred only physically.
As the night noises gradually faded and darkness thickened I lay awake, thinking of the consequences of my daughter’s note. I heard heavy footfalls along the corridor, the tell-tale creak as the door to my daughter’s room closed. I lay paralysed, sweat from my body soaking the bed. This time no hands grabbed me.  I slowly understood what was happening, I felt a blind rage build up in me. Silently I got up, crept to my door, and grabbed my gun. I opened the door slightly and saw the commanders personal guards standing outside my daughter’s room. I charged at them with a guttural roar of rage. One of them glanced at me not concerned, I charged on, raising my gun to fire at them, then I heard a roar behind me and I was lifted off my feet. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, I saw amusement on their faces as I sailed past them carried by my initial momentum and some unseen force. I tumbled into an undignified heap, as I skidded to a halt. Slowly I felt heat and pain spread across my back, I was on my side facing them. I saw one of the guards walk from my door. In my rage I had not looked behind my door, one of them had been waiting for my reaction with a loaded shot gun. I tried moving my feet but couldn’t feel anything, with my arms I pushed myself off the floor, I couldn’t feel anything from waist down, I dragged myself to the wall and leaned on it with my side, my legs twisted uselessly. I wheezed from the physical exertion. I closed my eyes, when I opened them the commander was talking to his guards a few feet away, he smiled at me his pocked face twisting, it looked more like a grimace, his broken, yellowed teeth showing. He walked towards me spitting on me as he stepped over my legs. I bent my head in shame, I couldn’t protect my daughter, now I was of no use to even myself.

 Over the next couple of years, the commander came to my daughter almost every night. I lay awake most nights listening to her moan. She had come to terms with the nightly invasion. I would stay up in bed every night, sweating, praying to a seemingly deaf God. He stayed away only on sundays; he was a deeply religious man. She fortunately had healed from the physical wounds inflicted on her -unlike me- my spinal chord -though missed by the projectiles- had been shifted during my fall. The commander came alone now, his guard down as I was no longer a threat to him because of my lame legs. 

The prince came by a long while after. Standing before me, he looked at me with betrayal in his eyes, I had just told him the whole truth of what had been going on for many years. He left without a word a strange look on his face. I lay in my bed that night thinking, wondering if maybe I had spoken up, something would have been done, and things would have gone differently. All I could do was wonder. We had settled into a routine, everything seemed normal during the day, both of us going about our tasks, and at night, the secret trysts. She seemed to welcome it now, he brought us expensive gifts, as though a compensation for the horror he had tainted our lives with. I wondered about the person my daughter had become, she now wore heavy makeup, as though to mask her beauty, the clinging clothes and heavy perfume she wore were as though to make a statement, a statement I was yet to understand. Her eyes were what scared me the most; they had become dead;  cold, hard and lifeless. Her once full lips had become a thin hard line. She had become concrete. She never smiled anymore. She had lost the complacency of youthfulness. She struck me as hollow and empty, a vast difference from what she once was. The light in my heart had long died. I lived my days out, desolate and stuck in the cycle of sunrise, sunset and darkness. Over and again. 

    I felt more than saw a presence in the darkness of my room with me. Raising myself slightly I squinted at the darkness, in the faint light shed by the half moon I saw a figure, as it moved towards me, I shrunk back against my bed, I saw it was the prince, he was dressed in dark clothes, a strange change from his white outfits. He held out the object in his hands out to me, as I saw what it was I cringed. I had lost all the fight in me. I looked at him and knew what he wanted me to do. My mind revolted against its natural tendency to shrink at the thought of retribution for all the wrong done. As he lifted me into my wheelchair, I knew I was going to commit the final act, I knew I was wearing my figurative pants back; once again becoming a man. Coming back from the depths of cowardice and helplessness that had ruled my life. As he wheeled me my hands felt damp as I adjusted my grip on the weapon. We entered the room soundlessly, they would not have heard either way as the sound of their love making was disgustingly loud. As though in a trance I stretched my hand out and fired twice into the back of his head. The sound was a muted spit and just like that he lay still… 
           
Contrary to what I thought concrete girl’s midnight incidents didn’t stop. It was like a deluge had been opened, strangers, neighbours that had been aware of what was happening kept coming every night, forcing themselves on her, deeper I sank into desolation. Fights broke out in my home as to who would get a piece of her that night. Even the prince was helpless as to stop what was happening. I knew only I could stop it. Night after night I lay there cursing my legs.  Every morning she looked at me with a silent plea in her eyes, she was starting to show signs of wear, constantly tired. And then one day as I lay on my back the strangest thing happened. My big toe twitched. I thought I was seeing wrongly, I tried to move it again but nothing happened, over the next few weeks I kept trying. I had almost given up hope when it moved again. 
          The next few months, there was some progress in restoring my legs, the prince was helping me. I could sit up in bed and stand but couldn’t walk properly. Every time I looked at my daughter I saw renewed hope on her face. I couldn’t afford to give up. I knew it was only a matter of time, one day I would stand and fight like the knight I once was, vanquishing the blood lusting night visitors. One day I would win. The year was 2015…  

            As you might see this story as another tale told, it really is about you, and was written just for you :). The daughter in this story is our great country Nigeria; a beautiful country blessed beyond and above many countries, naturally endowed with so much potential in every sector, BEAUTIFUL. The commander is the military regime that started the rape on Nigeria, killing off the people that tried to resist, holding us under its spell of fear and helplessness. After the military dictatorship, a free-for-all scramble came as civilians took over the ravishing and raping. The father as you might have realised is you and every other person that bears the proud name; Nigerian. The prince is akin to the opportunities that stare us in the face. Opportunities of wealth and unparalleled greatness. They will always be there, a motivation for us to fight for Nigeria. Though crippled we were before and filled with bitterness, we are about to awaken from the nightmare we have been suspended in. Now armed with knowledge, we slowly work strength into our limbs. This is 2015 a seemingly great amount of time since our inception and childhood when this condition hit us, but yet we are still in our youth, with many years ahead of us, and a blank sheet on which to write our history and the future of our children. In 2015 we fight to stop this endless rape. To take back our OWN, what is ours. To slowly rekindle this hope, please VOTE wisely.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Deola says:

    🙆👏….by the way, the gun will be our pvc😜…and all the make up will be all these roads and structures that look like development……nice one. I enjoyed it😊

    1. Ed says:

      Thank you Deola

  2. MielP says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The metaphors. The witty lines. The allusions. Only a sound mind could have concocted this piece. The writer’s depth of imagination… *thumbs up

    yes, please vote wisely and be safe!

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