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JOYFUL SORROW


JOYFUL SORROW
By Nnochiri, C. AdrianPastol

(To all victims of rape)
“Please please… I beg you in the name of God” – “shut up woman, and be glad it’s just me.  Imagine if they all want to have a go”
“I beg you please; I am a married woman” – “shush! Yes I know and I also know you are very beautiful”
            The masked man said rubbing the skin of his victim with his gun in his left hands. “Now open those legs unless you don’t want me to leave you alive” He proclaimed with a really deep and threatening voice, one that was so frightening she unconsciously opened them. He grabbed the neck of the beautiful wife of another man, pinning her to the bed and forcing himself into her. She screamed and cried out but he clipped her mouth to stop her from alerting the other members of his gang who were busy down-stars with the purpose of their un-invited visit; or more importantly, to stop her from alerting the neighbors and possibly getting them to call the police. With the power of the gun in his hands, she was scared and helpless as he rode her forcefully with a big grin on his face. His strength was too much for her as she surrendered. She watched and cried as the grin on his face gradually gave way from a soft moan to an even more irritating sound, and then the laughter; like an evil monster in a horror movie. Her heart and body could take no more and she cried and with all the pain released a loud scream.
            Her eyes opened from the dream, full of tears. She took a deep breath and turned from her side, now facing the ceiling, she thought to herself ‘how many more years will I continue to live like this?’
It’s been over thirty years since the rape but from time to time she still relives the unpleasant memories in her sleep, keeping the pains fresh. A lot has happened in over thirty years but this pain just will not go away.
A knock on her door brought fully back to reality, she hurriedly wiped the tears from her eyes as her maid walked-in with a cup of tea. She placed the cup on her small study table and opened her curtains exchanging greetings.
“A pleasant day this will be for you and your son madam” – madam Ngozi smiled acknowledging her maid’s wish. It was Chigemeremnya’s birthday, a name that always gave her hope and refreshed faith in God. It meant ‘my God will do it for me’ although the entire members of their extended family and friends called him Chi- boy; she always called the name in full.
She thanked Ogechi, her helper for over twelve years and the only living person that knew her secret. Moving to her study table, she unlocked the last drawer, the one only her had access to and brought out an envelope. The day had come; it was the day she promised herself to reveal her deepest secret.
            It was today. On his thirty’s birthday, she unsealed the envelope she had kept in the drawer, fifteen years ago when she had lost her husband to wicked death and had wanted to reveal the secret. She had written a detailed account knowing she would never have the courage to tell him.
She brought out the content and placed it on the table then she looked up to ogechi. – “I will make sure you are not disturbed” ogechi said leaving the room and closing the door behind her.
She sat for over ten minutes just staring at the papers afraid to read its content as tears flowed down her eyes. She knew the contents already for she had written it, but that was fifteen years ago. She had to review them before giving them to Chigemeremnya – “what a birthday gift this will be for my boy, now I believe he is old enough to know the truth” She focused more on the paper in her hands now, trying hard to read them. The first line gave her a deep chill.
My dearest son, Chigemeremya…
If you reading this, it means you are old enough to know the truth. The truth about my story, and the truth about you.
It is with all the strength in the world, mixed with pain, joy and sorrow that I write you my tale, one known only to your late father, my loving husband. It was fifteen years ago….
She stopped, brought out a pen and corrected the line. – Thirty years ago.
It’s been seven years since we got married but despite all the success and joy we shared, something was missing in our family. Something that fought to take the place of our joy, the place of our success, something that in our culture made every African home complete; that which was suppose to make our marriage fulfilled. We were yet to hear the cry of babies, I longed for it every day of our live with tears in our eyes and pain in our hearts, but it never came. For seven years it never came, and then we nurtured the thoughts to go for an adoption.
But one faithful day, when my husband traveled on business, armed robbers visited our home. They looted and terrorized our home, leaving their mark – one of them raped me, the only man to this day other than my husband to ever feel my warmth since after marriage. I was hot, hot with pains, with tears and hopelessness, a trauma I live with to this day.
My husband came the following day and we traveled immediately to Calabar, where we spent the next three weeks together and alone, away from the world. He wanted no one to know I was raped, he wanted to keep my pride, and to this day, the police never caught the robbers at least not to our knowledge.
On our return, we discovered I was pregnant and we both knew the source. We contemplated all options including abortion, but we could never go through with it; killing an innocent child. A child I later gave birth to in sorrow, or was it joy, I never was sure. It was hard to differentiate.
Our lives became more miserable but we were determined to go through with it, even in our pains, our love for each other was too strong and with time so was our love for our child. Then God surprised us, blessing us with a second son, one of our own, one that brought us joy. We shared this joy as a family until now, when death disguised as an accident stole my husband and loving son away from me, the pain is unbearable and I must tell you the truth, I must tell you who you …….
She stopped reading, remembering again that she had written these fifteen years ago when she was in so much pain. She took her pen again and striking out the last paragraphs the continued…
You are now a man, one I am very proud of and I must beg your forgiveness, for all the times I hated you in my womb, for all the time I wish you never were.
For even nurturing the thoughts to abort you
For wishing you had gone on that trip with your husband, instead of your brother, I beg for your forgiveness.
You are my whole reason for existing, you are my world and my joy and I am proud to like my late husband (Oh, why don’t good men last in this world) call you my son.  You may have been born from sorrow but today, I am happy I did not abort you, for in all my sorrow, you are my one joy and I LOVE YOU.
She stopped writing, realizing that although she had tears in her eyes, she was smiling, and her first real smile in many years. She knew immediately what she had to do. Opening her drawer, she picked up a lighter and on the side plate of her tea cup, she burnt the letter, smiling as she looked at the ashes.
A knock came at the door and her son entered at her request, they hugged and she could see the lights in his eyes as she wished him a happy birthday. She knew that although she had not wanted him thirty years ago, she was glad to have him now, he was the reason for her smile and she wanted so much to tell him how much she loved him.
She knew her nightmares may continue, she knew she may still feel pains but she was ready to keep him away from it all. “What are you burning Mum?” he asked as he stars at the ashes of the letter that was meant for him. She looked at the ashes and with a thought-filled smile reply – “My past and my sorrows”
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