Read Part I here if you haven’t.
Trigger Warning: This chapter contains some scenes of violence and perversion
A crowd was waiting for them when they got to their destination which was not far from the front of his adopted mother’s stall, Iya Anu, who had saved his life years ago.
When he newly arrived the market, before he had thought of becoming an Alabaru, Ladi was a petty thief that robbed unsuspecting customers and traders. While in the village, he had been told grand tales about a Metropolis where dreams came true and everyone lived large. Stories of this big city evoked daydreams of living there one day and he escaped when the opportunity presented itself, leaving behind a cantankerous uncle who was bound by familial bonds to take care of him since his parents were Late. He was quickly disillusioned upon his arrival in Lagos at the ‘Carpark as it was generally referred to, where road travellers from different states were dropped off. He had nowhere to go, and knew noone. To worsen matters, he was destitute and hungry. He was forced to sleep on worn leather seats in abandoned rusty buses. His arrival at the market was mere happenstance when he decided to leave the Carpark and took a long walk with no direction in mind until he came upon the market which became his new abode. Stealing had seemed to be the easy solution for his upkeep and he became adept at it, but it wasn’t until one fateful day he got caught and was nearly lynched that Iya’Anu had stepped in.
She had intervened as a maternal figure, understanding his predicament and had paid the upset Trader his dues. He had been wary of her assistance and avoided her after that incident, afterall he had come to learn that people rarely did anything for anyone without expecting something in return – and he had nothing to offer. Warming up to her had taken time, but after constantly offering him meals and giving him spare change, his loyalty was unswerving. He also made friends with her precocious eight year old daughter, Anu, who developed a peculiar fondness for him which only strengthened the relationship between him and her mother. Thus he took it upon himself to pay Iya Anu her kindness in return by carrying her goods to the stall for free, helping her run errands and luring market visitors to buy items from her stall. It was the most he could do for the one who saved him from a disastrous path, but it was better than nothing.
He grunted as he was set down roughly on his rear. He stubbornly tried to get up but was shoved down by the shoulder by Wasiu who gave him a warning look.
“If you try get up again, I go wose you”, Wasiu warned, stepping aside and folding his arms.
Ladi looked bemusedly at Wasiu and then at the crowd. He felt the cold embrace of embarrassment. He had never been in such a situation to acquire this kind of negative attention. Not even in the early days when he stole. Although some of the faces he was familiar with, he sensed detachment from them. He sighted some talking behind their hands, and strained his ears to catch word of what they were saying, with hope he could get some information for why he was in this predicament. He got none.
He was about to glance away when he caught the eye of Lateefah. Her mouth was downturned in a scornful smile. She looked suspiciously pleased to see him in trouble, and for a moment Ladi wondered if she had a hand in what was going on. He did not like the smugness in her gaze.
Lateefah was his previous conquest. Although she hadn’t been particularly hygienic she was the best lay anyone with his kind of pay could get for a cheap price. He had been willing to tolerate her fetid breath and rotten teeth because she gave good head; and her pussy that reeked like stale fish water as long as she took care of his konji. It wasn’t up until he caught a virulent oozing rash on his groin despite using condoms with her did he realize he had made a grave error by being careless. He had to pour a potent herbal concoction that had been blended by Mama Uche, the igbo seller, on his member every night and it had dried up the rash but not without leaving scales. It was either bear the harsh treatment or face the likelihood of becoming impotent. The healing had been more painful than the ailment itself. Ultimately Lateefah had to be discarded and it had been a confrontational separation.
He forced himself to look away. This was not the time to think about the wrath of a scorned woman. He needed someone he could talk to who would give him information or help him find answers he needed. The only person who would have helped –Razak, was not here. He was probably still duping motorists outside the gate.
Maybe if he could send word to him, Razak would come. He thought of who he could send. Fleetingly he regretted being at odds with Lateefah, for she would have been the perfect candidate. He also wondered where Iya Anu was. It was strange that she wasn’t there to check what was happening, especially since the spectacle was not far from her shop.
“E don come? Where in dey?!”, Iya Anu’s desperate voice was heard before he saw her. He watched with mouth agape as the crowd parted for her, and she made her way into the space he was situated. Following closely behind her was Aunty Adunni, her fish seller friend, Mama Uche, her neighbour and a couple of other boys.
Thank God! He sighed, awash with relief. She had come to his rescue from this madness, he thought with assurance. She would speak up for him, she would —
Before he could finish the thought, Iya Anu lunged for the vest he was wearing with one hand, as she used her other hand to give him a resounding slap.
The ring she was wearing bit into his cheek and peeled his skin. Ladi felt his right ear go mute leaving a buzz in its wake. His eyes nearly bulged out of his head in shock. He couldn’t believe mild tempered Iya Anu slapped him. He wasn’t done recovering from the shock before she landed another one again.
This time she was pulled away by Aunty Adunni and Femi, who had captured him with Wasiu, as she fought to escape their grasp to further unleash her fury on him.
Ladi held a palm against his injured cheek that had begun to bleed as tears welled his eyes.
“You rape my pikin!!!” Iya Anu cried and stamped her feet in rage because she was being held back which caused her headtie to come askew. “You dis pig! You rape my daughter!”
A mumur swept through the crowd as people looked at him quizzically, their tongues wagging in their mouths like caged birds fluttering for release
Ladi’s mouth was agape as he put his hands on his head in astonishment. He then shook his head vigorously in denial. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Rape? She had only one daughter, Anu. He could never rape his baby girl!
“I no rape am!!”, He cried looking at the crowd for someone he could convince. He decided his position had him at a disadvantage and posed of guilt. He made an effort to stand up so he could plead but as he was about to do so, he felt something ram against the side of his head.
Pain lanced through his head and skittered down his neck as Wasiu, who was holding a plank in one hand, barked at him for wanting to stand up again. Ladi held his head in his hands; his head felt like his brain had been knocked about.
“Shut up! You liar!”, Iya Anu spat at him, she flung her captors arms away so she could express herself better.
“This bastard”, She pointed at Ladi addressing the crowd now and a hush fell upon them as they listened eagerly for the details. “This bastard rape my pikin when I go visit my mama wey sick for Illorin!”
Gasps erupted in the crowd at the revelation.
With that she aimed to hit him again, and Ladi shielded his face reflexively bracing himself for an impact that would no doubt be more painful than the last but she was held back yet again by her captors. When she saw couldn’t reach for him, she kicked her slippers at him. Unfortunately she missed her target which only aggravated her further.
Ladi winced at the near impact. He was terrified. He had never seen Iya Anu this irate. She was behaving like a mad woman as she was stamping her feet. Her lace headtie had long fallen off her head, and her wrapper was already loosening to reveal the long underskirt she wore beneath.
He couldn’t comprehend where the wild allegation stemmed from. Someone definitely set him up. He had never seen Anu naked. Never touched her inappropriately. Never …
Ladi’s train of thought halted abruptly and his eyes widened.
Somewhere at the back of his mind where repressed thoughts were kept, a memory of recent events brought itself to light in his consciousness and amidst the confusion realization dawned.
Oh my God, he thought as his heart sunk while the memory assailed him, Oh my God…
It had been the fifth day since Mama Anu had travelled. That day not many customers had stopped by her stall. With Mama Uzo’s gospel music offering entertainment from the adjacent shop, Ladi and Anu imitated a real phone conversation to pass time. Ladi made an impression of a cell phone with his hand – thumb to ear, and pinky finger to mouth with the remaining fingers folded in. They sat side by side in the stall on a wooden bench. The rickety fan overhead wafting the smell of detergents about them but little did they notice because they were engaged in play-acting.
“Hellooo”, he said in an affected tone that made Anu giggle, “Who is this?”
She grinned with her gaped dentition. “My name is Anu”, she replied with her ears pressed to her battered phone and her eyes twinkling.
“Anu the naughty girl?”, he said in mock displeasure and slid a sideways glance to see her expression.
“No Ladi the Naughty boy”, she retorted and stuck her tongue at him.
In mock anger he grabbed her towards himself which made her squeal and he began tickling. She wiggled against him as she laughed hard and she was suddenly between his parted legs, her bottom against his groin. Ladi then noticed then that her wiggling had nothing to do with the tickling but had a cadence to it. In astonishment he stopped tickling, and noticed she had long stopped laughing but was still writhing against him. He began to feel himself involuntary respond. He was inclined to push her away but a perverse side let her continue. It was when he was close to ejaculation he quickly set her apart from himself and eyed her warily. He felt perverted for enjoying it. He needed to opt out of this game.
“I don tire”, he lied with a shaky laugh, “oya go play with your dolly baby”.
She looked at him with a knowing in her gaze that had Ladi raising a questioning eyebrow, and went off to play.
That had been the first day of such occurrence.
It always started with a ‘game’ during which Anu would do something to warrant Ladi tickling her and end up landing on his thighs. He would always set her apart from himself whenever he was close to releasing, and he always gave her sweets to compensate. They were always careful not to get caught and made sure they were seated deep in the shop. Whenever footsteps were heard approaching the stall, Anu would jump from his thighs and quickly attend to her dolls while Ladi pretended to arrange the detergents on the shelf.
Neither of them ever addressed what was happening. It was an unspoken and unholy agreement between man and child.
Ladi had never partaken in such an act before and tried to justify the profane indulgence that Anu initiated it. He was amazed at the girl’s skill. He wondered where she learned it from and concluded it was probably the movies she had watched. He partially blamed Lateefah for this problem. Since he recovered from that horrible infection he was not encouraged to dally with any woman in the market, and unfortunately the type he could afford were Lateefah’s standard.
It wasn’t until one perilous day when they were nearly caught in their sordid affair did he decide to call it off. Besides Iya Anu was going to be back soon so it was best they stopped sooner rather than later.
He decided he would be careful when playing with her henceforth. After that day she had tried to play with him and tease him into tickling her but he had refused. He noticed she grew distant after several failed attempts. She even stopped greeting him and collecting his sweets.
When Iya Anu arrived two days later, she suspected no foul play and everything seemed to have returned back to business as usual…
Ladi breath hitched painfully in his throat and his stomach churned at the memory. Could it be what she was referring to as Rape?He always thought Rape had to involve some form of penetration. He had never done such an act before so he wasn’t one to know. He never knew their act would leave any indication. He wanted to slap himself for not considering she would tell her mum or Iya Anu would find out somehow.
“I beg am make e help me sell market”, Iya Anu said angrily as her eyes welled up with tears, “As I come go na so e rape my pikin”.
Ladi could only stare at her, nervous sweat dotting his forehead. He could barely summon any reaction, his nerves were ladened with guilt.
“She dey baff herself but as I come back something say make I baff am”, she continued. This time she began sobbing in earnest, and several arms from the crowd stretched to pat her back in consolation but she struggled on to tell the sordid tale, sniffing as she did so, “As I come dey baff am na so dis girl dey shift if I wan touch her leg”
“I ask dis girl wetin dey do am. As I wan wash her yansh na so the place don open!!!”, she exclaimed, “Na so the place red!!!”
The crowd hung onto every word of Iya Anu’s tale. Her vivid descriptions and accompanied gestures created a cringe worthy picture of her discovery. Meanwhile Ladi’s head hung in shame. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the rest of the story.
“I ask this girl who do am but she no wan talk. Na slap wey I slap am before e come tell me.”
“Na God go punish you Ladi”, she cried bitterly, her face contorted in anguish. “God go punish you!”.
She patted her chest repeatedly, “Me wey take you as my pikin, na me you con do dis kain thing to Ladi?”, she choked on a sob, “Me wey dey give you food chop. This cloth wey you dey wear no be me give you money wey you take buy am? Ahhh”. She bit her forefinger and shook her head in lament.
Ladi had tears coursing his cheeks now. He suspended his arms in the air in a gesture of mercy. “Iya Anu …”, He began to beg but deferred mid sentence and shook his head. He didn’t know whether to deny or admit the condemnation. He was still in shock of Iya Anu’s discovery. He didn’t know how to justify his actions neither could he apologize. It seemed futile to do so now. He looked at the crowd for succour but could only see their angry and accusatory stares. He wondered where Razak was. He needed intervention.
“So you still dey deny am?”, Mama Anu taken aback, misunderstanding the motion of his head. Ladi gulped at the murder he saw in her gaze. At that moment he knew he could no longer connect with her on the level they previously were before this ordeal. Whatever maternal exonerations Mama Anu had for him had been severed.
She nodded decisively as if arriving at some unknown conclusion in her mind. “Femi”, she said turning to the man, “Go bring Anu come”.
Femi hesitated, expressing he didn’t think it was a good idea. “I say”, she enunciated, “Go bring Anu here now”.
Giving Ladi a scathing glance, Femi went to execute the errand.
The crowd was abuzz again in anticipation. They didn’t even bother to lower their voices to prevent what was being said from being heard. Some clapped their hands in consternation. Some had their hands on head. Others simply shook their head and snapped their fingers in rejection of him. Meanwhile their words swam around Ladi’s ears, submerging him in a pool of dread. He had lost the crowd.
-“I think say na better person e be”-
-“You no fit trust man with pikin again? Na wa ooo”-
_”dem suppose cut hin prick”- His reaction was visceral when he heard that.
-“Bet wait oo shebi hin dey pansh Lateefa na, why hin come still rape Anu”-
Abruptly their utterances that had been hard to keep up with waned to murmurs, and Ladi knew that Femi had finally arrived with Anu. The crowd parted and converged for them to pass through. When at last they reached the open circle, Ladi a jumble of nerves and drenched in sweat.
There Anu, his ‘baby’ as he liked to call her, stood in an overwashed green dress that had a white cape with pink flowers embroidered along the edges and brown rubber slippers. Her hair was supposed to be packed in a bun but most of it had escaped the band and stood crazily at angles. She had her eyes downcast and her fingers twiddling with the pleats of her gown. For a moment Ladi’s attention was caught by the simple childish motion, but his mind ran wild at this child’s accusation.
“Anu!”, Anu flinched as she jerked her gaze towards her mother
“Who raped you Anu”, Her mother asked her, with her voice indicating little tolerance for disobedience.
Slowly, Anu turned to look at him and Ladi watched in dismay as she raised her right hand and pointed her short finger.
It wasn’t long afterwards when a plank was forcefully used on his head.
Watch out for Part III