AN IDENTITY KIDNAPPED AT A TENDER AGE

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Mum and Dad taught us everything except to live without them. Four years have passed now since we were left in the custody of Mummy’s elder sister (Nancy). It was mother’s Last wish on her deathbed to leave us in the care of a generous and trusted person like her only sister. Two years after my father was laid to rest, my mother’s health hadn’t been stable, every few months she was hospitalized. She lost weight and her once chubby and bulbous build-up was no more; she was emaciated. The only person who had been there to aid us was Aunt Nancy. Coming back from school we used to find that she had cooked or sent us cooked meals from her home at the times when she was otherwise committed. Every weekend she was always at home with us in (Hai Malakal) one of the suburb areas in Juba where we resided. Being the eldest, I did the laundry, cleaning, and cooking with her. In the afternoon she used to always accompany mummy to the hospital and made sure that she always took her medication. This went on until one day we came back from school and found no trace of anyone at home. I knew for certain that mummy must have been hospitalized because the previous night she had difficulty in breathing and was coughing thunderously. Worry was eating me up. It wasn’t until 5pm that we saw Aunt Nancy, grandmother, and some relatives entering the front gate with loud wails. At that moment my ability to stand failed me, I fell to the ground and wept my broken heart out. I instantly knew that mummy was gone, never to be seen or heard again. Aunt Nancy embraced me in her bosom and comforted me as grandmother was doing the same for Ben and Shushu. I was 11, Ben was 9 and Shushu was 5 years of age at the time mummy passed away. Our hearts were filled with grief and emptiness. It was never an easy thing. We were never told the truth about mummy’s illness only that it was dangerous and a killer disease that killed both her and dad.

We have now moved to (Tongping) to Aunt Nancy’s house, the place we now called our new home. She has been supportive and never made us feel the gap of growing up without our real parents. She made all efforts to always treat us equally with our twin cousins (Kevin and Ken). They were in their last year in secondary and would be leaving after to pursue their tertiary education abroad, that is if they excel at their exams. Half of a year passed like a blink of an eye, the two boys passed the exams and traveled. We are now left with Aunt Nancy, my siblings and her spouse Uncle John, who worked as a public health field worker. He was not seen for most times of the year at home only during public holidays and his official shifts. On one occasion the family threw me a surprise birthday party on my 15thbirth day. It was thrilling and colorful. Close friends and family members were invited. Aunt Nancy brought for me a tight silky black dress that fit and drew my feminine shape perfectly. “Oh Vicky, you have grown so fast!” I heard that compliment from most people during the party that night. What stunts me the most was when I bypassed the table where Uncle John and his mates sat.

“Little Vicky is now fully developed, ripened and ready for harvest”, one of his friends said and they giggled among themselves. I pretended not to have heard that and went my way. Some weeks passed. I felt uneasy and confronted Aunt Nancy about those words I heard. “Never mind that,” she said. “I’ll discuss that with your Uncle.” I felt relieved for sharing that with her.

On one Saturday morning, I overslept. After waking up I found no one except Uncle John, who was on a break because he has been sick. “Your mother and the kids went to visit your grandmother, she has not been feeling well since yesterday.” “Why didn’t they inform me?” I asked. “Shushu wanted to wake you up but I told her to let you rest,” he responded.

“After you take your breakfast, prepare for me soup.” He said that and went inside the house. Eventually, I did as he told me and when the soup was ready, I served and took it to him inside. As I was about to hold the door handle, the door went wide open. “Welcome I was waiting for you since,” he said. As I was placing the soup on the table next to the bed, he shut and locked the door behind my back. Suddenly I felt strong hands wrapped around my waist as I tried to turn to him, he pushed me on the bed, clutched me tight and won’t let go. “I feel you are a pretty little fresh thing. Innocent and young hot blood. Give me some sexual healing Vicky!” He breathed those words into my ear. I looked at him and my eyes were flooded with tears. “Big girls don’t cry,” he said. His refusal to sympathize and let go of me crushed all my hopes. I surrendered and gave up on the struggle. What was I supposed to do when in this moment when he chose to forfeit all humanity? My virginity and my dignity were tarnished at that very minute. I was disintegrated into pieces from all the push and pull that left my fragile body in bruises. Built-in 15 years, ruined in 5min.

I struggled to get up from the bed. I felt nothing but pain. No one told me about hurt people hurting other people, no one told me it would hurt like this. I reached to the door and tried opening it but failed. I just sat beside the door weeping as I watched him fall asleep. Aunt Nancy seemed to have come back earlier than expected. I heard her voice as she called out to me from the sitting room but I was unable to respond. The instance she opened their bedroom door she was baffled when she saw me half-naked down there and was in a state of dismay. She apparently figured out what took place. “Are you okay Vicky?” I let out a loud moan of agony which woke Uncle John up. “You are a monster and hideous being John. I’m disgusted to call you my husband!” Aunt was burning with uncontrollable rage as she projected those words at her husband. “You will die like that kelib (die like a dog) who infected my sister with HIV/AIDS because he raped an infected young girl and passed the virus to her. But you will die in prison, John!” “You will rot behind the bars for the rest of your life!” Uncle John was numb from words, he sat on the bed, overtaken with shame and guilt, buried his face in his arms and was silent.

Aunt Nancy went out and a few minutes later returned with a squad of officers of the law. He was handcuffed and arrested. The officers were glad with aunt for breaking the silence and knowing the use of the law. To prison, he was taken and on the other hand, I was rushed to the hospital. Rape is never a joke, it’s something that takes over one’s psychological and emotional welfare, it haunts you like a ghost and sometimes when you think you have beat it, it hunts you in your sleep. I wish everyone knew that every girl is like a flower and not a pawn used as an object of fun for those who are of weak minds and duly want to satisfy their own interest. She might be a bloom or breathtaking, but what she wants to share with you is her choice. You can’t unplug her without her consent.

By, Catherine Iliwa

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