Randall Tamuno spoke for twenty-one minutes. Rain knew this because she timed every meeting that took place in her office. Besides that, she wanted to know how long it would take him to explain fifteen years of hurt and all the damage it did to her psyche. And as expected, he performed rather poorly.
His speech was impassioned, sombre and reflective. It was an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a call for forgiveness that once again brought back painful memories of a night Rain worked so hard to suppress.
As he spoke, tears welled up in her eyes but she was determined not to cry or break down in front of him and her mother. She didn’t want him to see her still angry and defenceless. If anything, Rain wanted her stepfather to see that she was a survivor and not the terrified young girl that begged him to stop. She was happy that he was in her office and that he could see how loved and respected she was in her job. And how she had made a success of herself in spite of his many years of lying, manipulation, and denial that forced her into the streets at fifteen and kept her estranged and away from the family she loved.
Many times into his speech, she was tempted to scream at him from the top of her voice. She wanted to hurl something heavy at him so he would be hurt too. But she knew that form of vengeance wouldn’t change anything or erase the destruction he caused when he violated her as a young impressionable girl who adored him the way most girls that age hero-worshipped their fathers.
Rain listened patiently. She wanted him to finish talking before asking all the questions that had plagued her for so long.
Since the apology was his idea, and he was the one that came to her, she knew it was important for him as well as for her and her mother, to allow him to speak uninterrupted. Rain knew it was equally important to have everything out in the open once and for all so her healing – their healing, if it was still possible, could begin.
Rain elected to allow him speak freely for that long, to give herself time to process his version of events. She digested every word he said in the hope that for her mother’s sake, somewhere in his miserable attempt at mea culpa, she would find an ounce of remorse and not mere excuses.
When he was done talking, Rain sighed. She had imagined this moment many times over in her head from the day he forced himself on her and took away her virginity and pride.
Because she had so many scenarios in her head, and all of them involved genuine repentance on his part, she didn’t know how to immediately react to the things she heard him say.
His words, though laden with emotions were hollow to say the least. In recounting what he did to her, Randall Tamuno didn’t shy away from the truth. His recollection was in sync with hers and that was some comfort to Rain. For years, she was left feeling like the entire episode was a figment of her imagination and that none of it even happened. She was made to feel like a demon-possessed child trying to pull down her own father, and that really crushed her. In the end however, Rain was relieved that he owned up to defiling her, but she was disappointed that he didn’t take responsibility for his actions. He did not blame it on lust; he blamed it on alcohol.
What was even more painful to her was that he brought up his appointment as Chairman of the Human Trafficking and Sexual Abuse Victims Support Agency in Abuja.
“So now that your father has apologised, are you prepared to forgive him?” her mother asked when Rain wouldn’t say anything minutes after Mr. Tamuno ended his speech.
“Mother,” Rain turned to face her mother. When she continued, her voice calm and controlled. “I forgive him if that’s what you want to hear me say, but nothing has changed. I feel vindicated at last, but that’s it. That’s all I feel.”
“Why did you say that?” Mrs. Tamuno rolled her eyes at her daughter. “You’re still not happy that your father drove all the way from Port Harcourt to tell you he is sorry?”
“Didn’t you hear him, Mother? I listened very keenly to everything he said.”
“And you’re still not satisfied?” This time, Rain could tell from the sound of her mother’s voice that she was frustrated at her.
“Forgive me, Mother, for not being impressed when I can tell that this sudden decision to reach out to me for forgiveness is because the NDDC appointment father was expecting didn’t work out.”
“What has that got to do with my being here?” Mr. Tamuno asked, perplexed.
“You said it yourself just now that you were lobbying to be Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission and it didn’t work out but that your contact in the Presidency was able to secure a position for you on the board of the sexual violence commission and that the inauguration is coming up by the end of the week in Abuja.”
“You want a clean conscience before you’re sworn-in on Friday. If you had been given the NDDC job, you won’t be here asking for my forgiveness.”
“Rain, I didn’t come here to be insulted.”
“I forgive you, Father. Go on and be an advocate against human trafficking and sexual violence. Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me. I won’t tell the world what I know about you. I won’t show up at your confirmation hearing and tell the panel that you’re not deserving of the appointment.”
“Rain, you’re being very rude right now and I don’t think your father deserves that.”
“In that case, I apologise. And I think you guys can leave now. But before you go, I have one question for you, Father.”
“What is it?”
“How can a rapist be the chairman of the Human Trafficking and Sexual Abuse Victims Support Agency? Father, I know your conscience is telling you something.”
“I am not a rapist.”
“You are a rapist, Father. You raped me when I was fifteen and please don’t say you were drunk when it happened. We both know that isn’t true.”
Just then, the door to Rain’s office opened and Chief Edozie walked him. He was going to say something to her, but seeing that she had company, he hesitated. However, because he was already in the office and going back without saying anything would be awkward, he turned to the well-dressed couple with her and introduced himself.
“Oh wow! You are Chief Edozie?” Mrs. Tamuno stretched out her hands for a handshake. “My daughter has told me very many nice things about you, your family and the company.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Randall Tamuno garbled inaudibly. He was too embarrassed to look up at his daughter’s boss because he wasn’t quite sure how long the man stood outside the door before coming in and if he overheard the last thing Rain said.
“The pleasure is mine,” Chief Edozie’s response was tame and lacklustre. “Good morning, Rain. My apologies for the rude interruption. You weren’t answering your phone and so I decided to come over myself to give you a very important piece of information. But it can wait. Emmm…maybe you can see me in my office when your guests leave.”
“It’s okay, sir. I’m really very sorry. I should have answered my phone when it rang, but I just assumed it was not a work-related call and that the caller could wait until I was done with my meeting,” Rain explained. “These are my parents, by the way – Mr and Mrs Tamuno.”
“Interesting. Mr and Mrs Tamuno, you are welcome to Edozie Express.”
“Thank you for taking very good care of my daughter,” Mrs. Tamuno smiled at him. “God has used you to bless her for us and I know that He will continue to bless you too.”
“Amen,” Chief Edozie’s chorused blandly. “Emmm…maybe it’s a good thing your parents are here, Rain, because I came with not-so-good news. There’s been some development on Mr. Wakama.”
“Oh!” Rain jumped to her feet. “You’ve heard from the police?”
“Yes I have, and I’m afraid it is bad news. His body was found in the dumpster at Okaka junction this morning.”
“Oh my God!” Rain exclaimed.
“His genitals and fingers were cut off to make it look like it was ritual killing, but because his car hasn’t been recovered, and men are not typically targeted for that purpose, the police think it may be armed robbers or paid assassins.”
Rain collapsed into her chair and when the weeping began, she was inconsolable.
Chief Edozie didn’t walk; he raced back to his office like a sprinter seeing the finish line and knowing that the race was almost over. He could barely contain his excitement at the bounty that fell into his lap so unexpectedly. So excited was he, that he didn’t even notice the commotion caused by his out-of-character dash through the hallways and lobbies of his company. Workers cleared the way for him to avoid being run over by his sudden burst of athleticism, and those that were in no way close to colliding with him huddled around their desks to ponder over the cause of their employer’s euphoria.
As soon as he closed the door behind him, Chief Edozie proceeded to the privacy of his inner chamber where he promptly video-called Baba Iperu to tell him the good news.
“Baba, God has done it for me again oh!” Chief Edozie started singing and dancing as if he found the cure to a deadly disease.
“I hope, at some point, you will remember that I am still here and tell me what God has done for you this time.”
“Ha! God is too good to me,” Chief Edozie continued singing and dancing.
“I can endure the croaky voice and the terrible dancing going on at your end because you’re moving so much I can’t even see a thing. But, my friend, I can’t handle the suspense. My heart can’t take it. Whatever it is God has done for you, please tell me now so I can go back to attending to the customers here with me.”
The singing and dancing stopped as abruptly as they started.
“Baba Iperu, what can I say? This one is a miracle. A very major miracle if you ask me.”
“I am listening, chief.”
“You know that your last condition? I think I have met it. I just found a girl that was raped by her father. Baba, when are you coming for the blood?”