The sound of the metal spoon clinking to my teeth echoed as I savored the taste of the peppered dried meat, whilst sitting in a windowless room that was house only to the bench I sat on. I had requested for dried meat because it reminded me of a time when life was simple, when Mama used to give us pieces of meat from the basket she kept tied on top of the cooking stove.
As a swallowed the last piece of the meat, my throat suddenly became dry, the air cold, the walls of the room seamed to be closing in on me as I was lead out through a long corridor to the room of death. I wondered if it was day or night, for the building was one that did not allow any natural light in, and when the judge had said “……you are hereby sentenced to death by lethal injection….” my mind had drifted so much so that his next words were nothing but distant whispers to me.
A man wearing a white oversized lab coat was waiting for me there. As soon as I arrived, he asked if I was ready. “How can someone be ready for death”, I replied.
“ Father forgive me for I have sinned, please rid me of my iniquity and accept me into your kingdom…” As I recited the words just as my priest had asked me to, I felt a sharp pain on my shoulder as the needle pierced my skin.
Stop!! please stop!!! A voice filled the room as the door was kicked open and as I slipped out of reality I saw the face of the devil.
Growing up in a three bedroom flat shared by two families, I often asked why we couldn’t live in huge mansions like my friends David and Jesse. The question always lead to hours of stories and advice from Mama. On one occasion, she sat in the midst of her only two children; Ada and I, telling us to be responsible women when we grow up, not to be moved by the wealth of any man, she said that we shouldn’t sleep on the bed of any man before marriage, if we did, our life will be ruined.
I remember asking if it included Dozie, to which she answered no that Dozie was an exception because he was family.
She trusted Dozie so much largely because he was from a Christian background and all his brothers were priests. If his mother hadn’t insisted that at least one of her sons got married to carry on the family name, Dozie wouldn’t have considered marriage.
I enjoyed mama stories so much that it became the highlight of my day. But in the year the Chibok girls were kidnapped, the story stopped.
Mama became sick, her hair fell off, the doctor said she had cancer, we didn’t see mama for months because Aunty Ekene came and took her to the big city for treatment.
Every day, Ada and I prayed for Mama to come back home, but we still didn’t see Mama until the day Dozie came to our school early and said we were going to the city to see mama. We were so happy but on getting there our countenance changed.
Mama looked like the skeletal structure that stood in our school’s biology lab. I told mama that she could have told me to bring my food for her since the food she was being given wasn’t given enough to eat , Mama then smiled and cried at the same time, she hugged me and Ada and cried more cried more. Then she called Dozie and asked him to take care of us when she was gone, I wondered where she going, but I didn’t ask because I assumed she was leaving the big city because they didn’t give her enough food.
We later went to Aunty Ekene’s house and stayed there until she told us that Mama had gone to heaven.
They threw a large party for mama, and I prayed for mama would come so she could eat the mouth watering dishes that was prepared and become fat again, but mama didn’t come, I kept praying yet she didn’t come, after one month I stopped praying because Dozie told me that Mama was very happy where she was and she was looking over us from heaven.
Everything changed without mama, we no longer ate the dried meat that mama usually give to us whenever she was preparing soup, we no longer took cooked food to school, Dozie usually bought biscuit and packed juice for us. But we were still happy.
When Ada entered junior secondary school, it was as if a dark veil had fallen upon her and negated her happiness. She stop speaking to Dozie, or laughing at his jokes, she stop sleeping in Dozie’s room and asked me to do the same.
One night Dozie had told her that if she doesn’t sleep in his room, that he would forget about her and play with me alone. This made her change her mind.
By the time Ada finished the senior secondary school, she was offered a scholarship because of her exceptional performance to study in any university of her choice, She choose to go to the university in the big city, the University of Lagos. She Insisted I go with her, and I agreed only because mama had told me before she went to heaven to always obey my senior sister otherwise I wouldn’t have left Dozie. I wondered why she wanted to go so far, when our city had a good university.
In the big city, Ada didn’t let me talk to Dozie, each time I told her I was missing Dozie, she would say we’ll go see him on the weekend, but we never did because she didn’t have money, she had exams to prepare for, she had to go to work, choir practice was on Saturdays. Her excuses was numerous. On one occasion, she blurted out that if I went to see Dozie, that I would stay there and not come back to the big city again. I loved the big city, the tall buildings that almost touched the skylines, the bridges, the water bodies, so the thought of not seeing all these again made to stop asking.
It was the sixth time the phone had rang in ten minutes, and Ada wasn’t nearby as she had gone to the market and forgotten her phone at home. I looked at the screen and it was DV calling, I assumed it was her boyfriend David who she has been dating for about six months because he calls Ada almost everyday.
On the ninth ring, I picked up, only to find out it was Dozie. I couldn’t believe that Ada had prevented me from even speaking to Dozie, yet according to Dozie she visited him every month. Before the call ended, Dozie asked for our address and promised to visit us soon.
I confronted Ada on why she had kept Dozie from me. Dozie was everything to me, my best friend, my family, but she didn’t give me any reason. She just said she was my senior and she need not justify her actions to me. Out of anger, I pack my things and went back to Dozie’s house
While at Dozie’s house, Ada always called everyday to ask if I was ok, she also visited us monthly.
On one of such visit, she told me that David had asked her to marry him, that they were so much in loved. Despite her happiness, I could still see the sadness in her eye that emerged one month after mama died.
When next she visited, she quarreled with Dozie. Although they sent me out of the room but I could still overhear her accusing Dozie of being the cause of her breakup with David.
I was angry and stump into the room, and in support of Dozie accused her of making the house tensed on her every visit. She busted out that I didn’t know all she had to sacrifice for me. I asked her to apologize to Dozie but she replied she would do that over her dead body and left.
If I had known that the next time I would see my only sister was three years later in a shopping mall, I would have ran after her when she stumped out.
It was her bridal shower night and she invited me after apologizing for not reaching out to me because she didn’t want Dozie to find her and ruin her life again. I didn’t fully understand what she meant but the happiness of reuniting with my sister hindered me from asking.
We talked like sisters about how the last three years had been.
That evening, while we were still setting up the room for the bridal shower, her fiancé stumped into the room. He was a tall, dark well built man, I recognized him from the pictures I had seen earlier on her phone. He insulted her, calling her a slut and a shameless woman, I didn’t understand what he was talking about until he threw the package he claim to have received earlier at us and the pictures landed all over the room. I picked up one of them, It was a picture of her and Dozie in compromising position, the pictures showed that they had been sexually involved on many occasions.
On seeing the pictures, Ada fell at the feet of her fiancé begging, she cried as if her existence depended on whether he forgave her or not, I didn’t know what to do, this wasn’t the sister I knew, neither the one in the picture nor the one rolling on the floor. I tried convincing her fiancé that the pictures were fake, but he left the room minutes later but not before calling off the wedding
I told Ada to calm down, that we would prove that the pictures were fake. The person trying to play this plank made an error, if it were anyone else, it would have been believable, but it was Dozie in the picture, Dozie was a saint, Dozie who was ready to be celibate all his life till his family persuaded him otherwise. I was still exalting Dozie’s character when Ada busted out, “ it is true, the pictures are not fake..”
At first I couldn’t believe it, so she spent the next few minutes narrating how it first started as an abuse when she was in JSS 1.
Dozie had said she reminded him of Mama, he said that he was madly in love with mama and misses her and she was to closest thing to mama, hence he forced himself on her and threatened to make our lives miserable if she ever told anybody.
The second time she still struggled but after he threatened that I would suffer the same fate if she continues, she gave in.
Despite going to a university in a distant city, he insisted she came home every month for his sexual exploit.
At a point she stopped fighting it. She gave in, She did it for me because mama had told her to protect her little sis at all costs.
I couldn’t listen anymore, “I’ll kill him”, I said. How would Dozie do this to a child entrusted to him to protect. I ran out in anger leaving Ada in her anguish and rushed to Dozie house to confront him. Five minutes after I arrived there, I left with blood stained cloth and hands.
Upon return, Ada laid unconscious on the floor with pills littering all around her. I rushed her to the hospital not knowing if she was dead or alive. The doctors said her condition was critical, hence I would have to make a deposit so they could commence treatment immediately.
I called her fiancé who despite his earlier outrage towards Ada, was frightened by what had happened and rushed to the hospital.
As I narrated what had happened to him, three policemen approached me.
….’’You are under arrested for the dear of Mr. Dozie Nweke… anything you say can be used against you in the court of law”.
The next few months of my life were miserable. Dozie’s family were powerful and well respected people, so they made sure that I didn’t see the light of the day. I was given a public defense attorney cause I couldn’t afford to hire one. One the first day of the case, I pleaded guilty cause I felt guilty that my sister had to go through a horrible ordeal because she felt she needed to protect me.
I told the court I killed Dozie and that I didn’t regret it for a minute.
That hadn’t been the plan, but when he threatened to release the picture on social media if Ada ever accused him of rape, I got so furious and stabbed him three time in the chest. I couldn’t let the world know that Ada was a rape victim.
I played the event of that day over and over in my head. He hadn’t expected it, I watched him fall weakly to the floor and ran out bumping into his sister on her way in.
On the next hearing of my case the judge sentence me to death by lethal injection.
I had just one week to live, I refused all visitors other than my priest and Ada, who fully recovered and came to see me. she felt very bitter that she couldn’t fulfill her wish to her mum. She told me Dozie had not been buried, that his family insisted that I would be put to death before he can be buried.
On the day of the scheduled death I laid on the table , As I recited the words as my priest had asked me to, I felt a sharp pain on my shoulder as the a needle pierced my skin.
Stop!! Please stop!!! Echoed through the room as the door was kicked open and as I slipped out of reality I saw the face of the devil
It was the face of the man for whose death I was sentenced, it was the face of my father; Dozie Nweke.
Augusta Ndeche is an Accountant by profession, but also has a passion for creative writing and Fashion designing. She hails from Anambra State and can be reached at email@example.com