Rain was relieved to be back in Yenagoa. The weekend in Abuja ended in a fiasco and she was glad she didn’t wind up in prison or worse still, as the female lead in a viral video on social media. The last thing she wanted was notoriety for spending the night with a married man in a hidden resort in a high brow part of the Federal Capital Territory. Because everyone at work thought she was with her sick mother in Port Harcourt, she knew it would come as a big surprise to them if she turned up in an amateur video next to the corpse of their founder and prominent Nigeran billionaire, Chief Rowland Edozie. It would be the scandal of the year, particularly because the man in question was the husband of her boss, and also because of the way she acted and carried herself in the office like she was all about professionalism and competence.
Rain regretted not listening to the quiet voice that warned her against the trip when her stomach hurt and she could barely walk the morning they travelled. She wished she had listened and stayed back in Yenagoa, but sometimes her mind was stubborn and curious.
It wasn’t until she woke up the next morning to the sound of Chief Edozie snoring loudly beside her that it dawned on her what God saved her from. Her life as she knew it would have come to an abrupt end. Friends would have deserted her; she would have been incarcerated, and in spite of her accomplishments, she would have ended up an object of ridicule and disdain forever.
Thankfully, Chief Edozie was revived by the front desk staff and some other male guests that responded to her cry for help when he slumped. Rain imagined the same scenario playing out in Transcorp Hilton. Perhaps there would have been more people reaching for their phones to capture the sensational moment for Instablog or Tunde Ednut than reaching out to help a dying man.
The doctor, the personal physician to the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chief Edozie’s childhood friend was called in. Rain got his number from Chief after he came to and she made the call. After examining his friend, Doctor Obiora told her to make sure Chief took the medication he prescribed for him and that he got enough rest. When he mentioned ‘rest,’ he gave Rain a funny look that made her want to yell at him that it wasn’t what he thought.
Sometime during the night, when he was strong enough to talk, Chief Edozie told Rain she had to go back to Yenagoa in the morning so he could focus on his health and getting better. Doctor Obiora had told them it wasn’t advisable for Chief to travel for a few days so it was just Rain alone in his private jet.
All the time in the plane, Rain kept thinking the court of public opinion would have crucified her even more than the court of law if Chief had died. She would have been called horrible names and Mrs. Edozie and his children wouldn’t have forgiven her for the betrayal.
When she got home, Rain locked herself up in her bedroom. She went on her knees and sang praises to God for saving her from shame and humiliation. The incident in Abuja was an eye-opener that jolted her back to reality.
She didn’t care what he said, or what promises he made to her the next time they met. It was over between them. Her spirit just wasn’t down for what he was offering and Abuja confirmed it.
After almost one hour of praise and worship, Rain switched on her phone. She had turned it off during the flight from Abuja and didn’t bother putting it back on because she was exhausted.
Her phone chimed multiple times. They were all messages sent when the phone was turned off. There were seventeen messages in all. Two were from Chief Edozie, three came from her mother, five from her brother, and seven from uncle Kalku.
Rain was alarmed by the messages from Uncle Kalku. He wanted her to either call or come to his house immediately she read them. After what happened in Abuja, she felt certain she couldn’t stomach any bad news but she had to know why they were all trying to reach her.
Rather than call, she asked her driver to pull out the car while she put on a pair of jeans and the first blouse she saw in her closet.
When she got to Kalakala Street, she saw her mother’s car parked in front of the house and it frightened her even more. Rain jumped out of the car before it even came to a stop. Expecting the worst, she raced into the house but it was quiet in the small parlour.
Moroyei and Uncle Kalku were eating a meal of boiled unripe plantain and banga soup from the same tray. There was no sign of her mother.
“Moro, what’s going on here? Why are you in Yenagoa? Where is my mother?”
“Your mother is inside; she is resting in the children’s room. Your old room,” Uncle Kalku informed her.
Rain didn’t wait to be told anything more. She ran into the room to meet her mother. Mrs. Priscilla Tamuno was fast asleep, but she woke up when Rain burst into the room.
“Mother, are you okay?” Rain asked her mother.
The first thought that came to Rain’s mind when she saw her mother looking frail and disheveled on the bed was that the poor woman was dying and she was responsible for it. By lying to them in Edozie Express that her mother was sick again, and that she had to be in Port Harcourt because of that, Rain believed strongly that she had brought sickness on the innocent woman. It was as if she traded her mother’s health for a disastrous night out with Chief.
“Mother, we need to take you to the hospital.”
“You need to be examined by a doctor. I can arrange that now that I am here.”
“Rain, I am not sick. I came to Yenagoa to rest and to get away from it all.”
“Get away from what?”
“From him. Rain, he did it again.”
“Who did what again?”
“He raped someone,” Mrs. Tamuno blurted out in tears.
“Where? When did this happen?”
“Three days ago,” Mrs. Tamuno said while struggling to get up on her feet. “It happened in Port Harcourt. A young girl working in a hotel in Borokiri said that he raped her when she went to serve him food. I did not even know he was in Port Harcourt. He told me he was going to Lagos. The police came to the house with the girl and her parents and they took your father away.”
“Where did they take him to?”
“To their station. He was arrested, but he escaped.”
“He escaped? How?” Rain asked perplexed.
“It is not as if he jumped the fence of the police station oh! They said he was granted bail by the DPO but I know he bribed them to let him out. After he was released, he did not come home. He is in hiding and his phones are switched off.”
“What about the appointment he was given by the federal government?”
“How can you be asking about an appointment at this time? As I speak, FIDA and some feminist groups, and even members of the opposition party are mobilising five hundred women to match naked to the Presidential Villa in protest. It is a peaceful protest oh, but they want me to denounce my husband and join them in publicly condemning his actions. They want me to stand with them in their fight for justice for his victims.”
“Two other girls in the hotel came out to say he did the same thing to them too.”
Rain was stunned by the words coming out from her mother’s mouth. Unable to suppress her glee, she asked the question that was begging for an answer.
“Will you do it, mother?”
“I don’t know, Rain. I don’t know what to do,” Mrs. Priscilla Tamuno sobbed. “For sure by tomorrow or next, the story will be in the news and everywhere else and I don’t know what to do. I just feel like the ground should open and consume me right now.”
“The girls he raped probably feel worse,” Rain retorted bluntly.
Grappling her hands, her mother looked Rain in the eyes as her sobbing intensified. “Rain, I am sorry I did not stand by you all these years. Maybe if I had, all of these would not be happening right now. I am sorry Rain, I truly am.”
“What good does your apology do for me now? I am a grown woman that has been terrified of men and relationships for many years. Before David, I didn’t even enjoy sex because every time I was with someone it was that monster’s face I saw. I’ve had trust issues in the past, and maybe even now I still do. Last night I was in Abuja with another woman’s husband who tells me he loves me and I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if he means it or if he just wants my body. I don’t even know how to deal with the situation because it is all new to me and I feel dirty for trying to break up another woman’s home. I believe I am scarred for life mother, so what good does your apology do for me now?”
“But you are a survivor, Rain. Look at you, no one would know what you have been through because you turned it around for good.”
“That’s the thing, mother. Because I don’t look like what I’ve been through doesn’t mean I’m not hurting. Besides, do you know how many women out there are hurting like me? Do you know how many women out there are damaged forever and couldn’t ‘turn it around’ as you said?”
“I am sorry, Rain. Please believe me.”
“You could have called him out when I was sixteen because I can bet my last kobo that he didn’t start or stop with me. If that first girl was not brave enough to tell her parents what the monster did to her, would we be having this conversation right now?”
Mrs. Tamuno’s head was down, but she didn’t answer the question posed to her by her daughter. Her silence was all the answer Rain needed.
“Mother, do you know where he is now? If you do, you have to let me know. You can’t keep shielding him like this, you have to give him up this time.”
“I don’t know. I’m not even sure he’s in Port Harcourt.”
“But he will answer the phone if you call him. You’ve always been by his side so he has no reason to be suspicious if you ask about his whereabouts.”
“Yes, I have always been by his side. Even when he raped your brother’s lesson teacher in the house, I stood by him.”
“He raped Moroyei’s teacher?”
“She was in her forties and a mother of three. She came to me because he tore her dress and she needed to cover herself up so she could leave the house. The saddest part that day, was her begging me not to tell anyone when it should have been the other way around. She said if she went to the police or did anything about the assault her marriage would be over. Her husband would not believe her if she told him she was raped; he would think she did something to make your father come after her.”
“It is so sad what the vulnerable go through. This time mother, you’re not taking sides with him anymore. This time you’d be on the side of the women and on the side of justice.”
“You want me to leave him?”
“You have already left him. Get your things and let me take you to my house.”