Walking in the Shadows

Written by | Short Story

Walking in the shadows
By Femi Esther

After waiting patiently for thirty-five minutes. Yes, I was counting! The road finally cleared, and I crossed the road. This was one notorious place where so many accidents had occurred, and I wasn’t about to make myself a victim. You’re probably thinking of why there isn’t a pedestrian crossing? Oh, Lagos drivers have no respect for that.

I finally crossed, and I was walking to my hostel. It was late in the evening. A few minutes to eight, but it would pass for ten o’clock with how dark the streets were. There were no street lights.

I wore my handbag that had a shorthand on my shoulder. Uncomfortable, but I’ll take uncomfortable over giving some unfortunate beings leeway to snatch my bag. The night was cold. Quiet, and as my mind worked, I began to think of the things that happened during the day, or rather one thing in particular.

I’m in my fifth year at the University, my final year. Yes! That thought fills me with so much pleasure. I like school but I’m glad I will soon be done. The strikes, impossible lecturers…

My best friend, Seun who graduated last year and married soon after her graduation came to see me. It was a good reunion until she dropped the bomb.

“I am living a pleasure less life.”

Now if you know Seun, you will understand that she had quite a way with words. I was just about to tease her when she started talking about her married life, and the fact that even with all the romance between her and Tolu, when they were in the bed, it was another story. She told me about how excited but a little scared she was when Tolu first brought his pants down and revealed his impressive manhood. There was foreplay, and she said she was just getting warmed up when Tolu leaned on her, whispering words of comfort, one she told me really killed her drive was “It will be over soon”, and then, he drove into her. He continued that way for about three minutes, till he was spent, and collapsed on her, kissed her, and told her they would make wonderful babies.

It had apparently continued like that, and she had quickly realized that she was in a marriage where only the man experienced sexual pleasure.

She lamented how she had refused guys that made her pants wet with their dirty talk and promised pleasure because she wanted to keep her virginity so that her first time would be special.

I shook my head and adjusted my bag again when I heard the sound.

I increased my pace and shied a glance around. There were a few people walking as well, but not enough. I saw the beggar who was still in his spot, sleeping, his clothes drenched in rain, and begun to chant “Jesus” in my head.

This time, I was beginning to hear footsteps gaining quickly behind me.

You can be sure that all thoughts of Seun and her pleasure less marriage left my mind. I began to mouth “Jesus”.

I had lost my virginity to two faceless men that raped me seven years ago when I was just sixteen, and now the pure horror was coming back. All the hours of meditation and meetings with the therapist were beginning to fade away.

It was going to happen again, and I felt tears prick my eyes. No one knew this, because while everyone was an advocate of “Talk to me I’ll listen”, I knew that the reality was only that they wanted to have another juicy story to tell others, and of course, use me as an example.

“Don’t walk late in the night. If I tell you what happened to Jumoke…”

I begun to run, and I felt the steps pick up behind me.

I. Did. Not. Stop.

Not until I felt a hand circle my waist roughly.

I stopped, my heart pounding wildly, and the man released me.

He smelled of cheap gin, and he was smiling at me with blackened teeth.

“You! Calm down. The way you dey run sef person go tink say you be thief. You be thief?”

He smiled again and made a move towards me. I moved back, and he smiled.

“I jus wan show you sometin. No dey run ah.”

And then he walked back to retrieve a bucket. He put on a torchlight, and I saw a boy with him. He looked to be about sixteen, but he had the gait of the area boys. Like he had been in it from a very young age.

The man dropped the bucket in front of me, showed me a plain paper, then concentrated on it, running his hands through it as his mouth moved, then dropped it in the water.

He raised his head to look at me and while I tried to manage a smile, I couldn’t. I knew I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t. It felt like once he touched me, he gained control over my movements.

The boy seemed to understand my struggle, and he hissed. He hissed so loudly that it sounded ominous in the dark night.

“Dem tell you say make you stay in one place. You wan make him beat you?”

I wanted to nod my head, but even that I couldn’t do, and then my gaze moved to the man, who was bringing out a fresh one thousand naira note from the water in place of the paper.

“You get money for hand?”

I couldn’t do anything, and he dragged my bag roughly from my hand. He searched its contents, and found the three thousand naira I had withdrawn from the bank, and stuffed it in his pocket.

He glanced at me again, and smiled.

“You see this water ehn? It get power. Any paper you get. Put am for in. It go turn to money. Use am. I dash you.”

With flourish, he turned, slapped my butt, and then focused on it, before he faced me again.

“No worry. I no go do you. It look like say dey don use you before”

And then he left.

I tried to move my feet, and while it was stiff, it moved. I picked all my books and things that had fallen to the floor and put them back into the bag. I felt tears prick my eyes, but I reined it in.

Adjusting my clothes, I began walking again.

Another happening. Another one I wasn’t going to tell anyone about.
Another reason to strengthen my resolve not to give myself to any man.

Last modified: April 7, 2021

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