She is a judge now. Her life is all velvety. Her smile is warm and infectious. Her aura is golden and electric. She oozes intelligence and power. She is the kind of woman, a woman my age would wish for her son. She is the kind of woman, a woman my daughter’s age,would love to be.
Yet behind all these cherubness, is a woman with a deep scar. When she tells her story,one would think she is peeling an onion near your eyes. It’s a sad story of a strong woman.
Iyata was only 14 when her mother died. She remembered that on her mother’s burial,she cried to unconsciousness. When she came to, she was tucked in her bed,it was at night. She could here murmurs downstairs. She tried to wake up but a sharp stinging pain in her genitals stopped her. She touched, and there was blood. She was confused. She remembered now, fainting and her uncle and aunt placing her on the bed. Then she remembered, force, cold, pain, numbness then she was comatose again.
When she regained sense, recalled it was her mother’s burial.
“Mummy!”She screamt in agony for her dead mother.
There was a quick knock on the door that did not wait for an answer. It was her father. A worried look on his face. He embraced her , a heavy hug. She wanted to tell him but he had something else to say.
“It’s just me and you baby. I will always be there for you,ok?” He cupped her cheeks and kissed her forehead. Her tears welled even more.
“I know,I know. I will miss her too.” He said and they cried.
The next few months saw Iyata trying to move on from her double calamity.
Then one day,a knock in class changed Iyata’s life again, for worse. She was asked to go to the principal’s office. Iyata’s aunt was in his office. The principal informed Iyata that she would be going with her aunt home. Needless to say,more bad news. This time,she did not cry. She was afraid of fainting. She let her heart bleed as she buried her father. A few days at home and her aunty let her go back to school.
On her way , the vehicle she boarded had a puncture. It took a few hours to change since the car had no spare. Then there was traffic. A trailer had fallen and blocked the road. By the time she arrived at school,it was 10.00 pm. She knocked on the gate and the watchman,in a somnolent attitude peeped through his window. She frantically explained why she had been home and why she was late.
He muttered,”I have seen girls like you. You come late after having sex escapades with your sponsors!”She was dumbfounded.
He walked to the gate chewing disgustedly,unlocked it and left very little space for her to pass through. She was about to protest when he put his hand on her mouth and forcefully dragged her to his small gatehouse. He held a knife to her,ordered her to undress like she had done to her sponsor,threatening to slit her throat if she screamt. He raped her.
When he released her,she wobbled in excruciating agony to her dormitory. It was closed. She spent the rest of the night on the floor of the ablution block. It was until the dorm prefect opened the door for the early risers that she managed to go in. Like a log, she dozed to forgetfulness.
Iyata was woken up by cold pour of water. It was the matron. Everyone else had left. She struggled to prepare even as the matron shouted expletives at her. She knew that she had to report the disgraceful watchman to the principal so she routed to his office. Then a woman called from a window. It was her classteacher calling from the staffroom.
“Iyata, you are becoming a disappointment. You mean you have started dilly dallying with old men now?” Iyata could not understand what her teacher was saying to her.
“You now pretend. The watchman told all of us including the principal about how a posh car brought you to school and it took you hours to leave his car.”
Iyata left the staffroom as teachers threw disgusted, mocking or amused glances at her. The rest of the school was also aware of the pervert’s story.The rest of her school life was lonely. Like an outcast,she felt. The only friend was her books.
Back at home,during the holidays, her life was a cat and mouse game with her uncle who housed her. He looked for ways to be with her alone. When she was done with her national examination,she requested to live with a more moral looking family,her first uncle’s. Little did he know,she was moving from the frying pan to the fire.
He had a mansion so this time she had her own room. She always locked it until one day she realised the locks had vanished. Someone had dislodged them. That night,he came,dressed in a short and vest,muzzled her and raped her. She could not endure it any more.
That morning she packed.She was going to her maternal aunt in the capital. She welcomed her to a bedsitter. Her aunty reeked of alcohol and strong perfume. Iyata did not mind as long as she was safe. That night,as she slept on the only couch,there was a knock. Her aunty in a very revealing lingerie opened the door. A huge man in a suit came in. Iyata peeped through the blanket as they kissed deeply. Then he saw her.
“You have brought another one today. “
He said. My aunty tried to object citing the ‘relative’ reason. Then he pulled a bunch of notes and waved them on her face. She sighed and walked to Iyata throwing off her blankets revealing an almost naked Iyata. She mouthed the words “I am sorry” as the man licking his lips greedily proceeded to devour her without her consent.
Iyata packed her small items insanely the next early morning ignoring her aunty’s recommendations of selling her body to make money. She walked and walked and would have even to Timbuktu had her phone not rung.
It was an international university offering full scholarships to bright but needy students like her and would she be interested? Iyata sat down,on the muddy busy road as she accepted,thanking her God.
Her seven years of studying law were smooth. The university recognized her brilliant mind and supported her wholly. When she finally joined the bar,she knew all too well what to do.
Iyata is now an antirape activist. Trust me ,you do not want to be in Judge Iyata’s court when all evidence of rape points at you. You will wish you did not even have that rape tool in the first place. Once a rape magnet,now a rape fighter.