The next morning, before anyone, Mrs Cole was up. She went first to the girls’ room to check on Seyi and Bimbo. She opened the door gently and tiptoed in order not to wake them up.
Bimbo who was initially lying down with her back to the door, turned towards the door when she heard the screeching of the hinges of the door. She had already woken up but chose to still remain in bed.
‘My baby, I woke you up?’ Mrs Cole said in a low tone as she continued tiptoeing into the room.
Bimbo shook her head.
‘You were awake? It’s not even 5am. What’s the problem?’ The concerned mum asked as she sat beside her.
Bimbo sat up in bed, her mother’s old wrapper which doubled as her cover cloth* (a top sheet is popularly known as cover cloth in Nigeria) was draped languidly around her from the waist downward. She busied herself with the edge of the wrapper, rolling it between her thumb and index finger while her eyes were fixed on the piece of cloth in her hand as if she was trying to unravel a mystery in it. She couldn’t dare a peek at her mother’s face. She did that either when she had done something wrong or was scared.
Mrs Cole could sense her discomfort and immediately asked in a soothing voice with furrowed brows, her maternal instinct rising to the fore, ‘did you have a bad dream, my dear?’ She racked her brain to think about what could possibly be wrong.
Bimbo shook her head again.
‘What’s the matter then?’ Mrs Cole asked as she gently touched her cheeks.
Bimbo’s eyes moistened with tears.
‘I know; it’s your dad, right?’ Mrs Cole searched Bimbo’s face for the answer.
Bimbo burst into tears. Mrs Cole hugged her tightly, her heart breaking for her daughter’s emotional turmoil. ‘I’m so sorry you had to witness all this at such a tender age. Your siblings and you are the only reason why I’m still in this marriage. You are too young to understand but one thing you must never do is marry a man like your father.’ She spoke in a choked voice fighting desperately to hold back her own tears.
She looked at Bimbo who had not stopped crying. She wiped her tears with the wrapper and sighed, ‘don’t cry my baby; everything will be fine, you hear?’ Mrs Cole herself wasn’t sure if that was true; she just had to remain strong for her children.
Despite all her mother said and did, Bimbo still didn’t stop crying. There had to be more to her tears than her father’s hostile attitude. ‘Mummy,’ she said sobbing.
‘Yes dear,’ Mrs Cole was all ears
‘What of Uncle Gboyega?’ Bimbo asked still sobbing.
‘What about your uncle?’ Mrs Cole didn’t understand what her brother had to do with anything that was going on.
‘Will he do it again?’ Bimbo asked.
‘Do what again?’ Mrs Cole adjusted her sitting position, ‘do what Bimbo? Ba mi soro (talk to me).’ She could feel her heart racing.
Bimbo uttered no word.
‘Bimbo, I’m your mother, you can tell me anything. What did he do to you?’ She held her hand. ‘Did he touch you?’ She asked praying the answer to that question was ‘no’.
Bimbo burst into fresh tears. ‘He said I must not tell anyone, especially you. He said what happened was normal,’ she said innocently.
‘Ha!’ Mrs Cole exclaimed not minding if her outburst woke Seyi up. She threw her hands in the air, ‘Gboyega has killed me. He said what!’ She could not believe her ears. ‘Is it a crime to keep my children with my own brother?’ She asked no one in particular.
‘God, why are you so wicked to me?’ She bit her index finger as she looked up to the ceiling, tears slowly falling from her eyes. First, her ability to be a good wife has been called into question, then, her pride and hope shattered. She has failed as a mother.
‘That useless man that calls himself my husband is a drunkard now my brother? Ha! God, why me? Bimbo, jo (please) tell me what happened.’ She begged the poor girl.
‘The day you and daddy went out and left us with Uncle Gboyega,’ she sniffed repeatedly trying so hard not to cry.
‘Beeni, mo ranti (yes, I remember). Gboyega spent a week here last month,’ she affirmed.
‘Sister Seyi went to visit her friend, Sope. Uncle Gboyega now sent Brother Bayo to buy credit for him. So it was only him and me in the house. He now started watching something on his laptop, the boy and girl in the movie were naked. He said I should also remove my clothes. I refused and instead ran into our room but he chased me.’ She cried.
‘Ha! Gboyega, is this how you will repay me?’ Mrs Cole lamented, hot tears now falling in torrential waves down her cheeks.
‘As he was about to remove his trousers, brother Bayo came back. Then he…’
Mrs Cole cut in sharply, ‘so he didn’t touch you?’ She asked, hoping her brother didn’t rape her daughter.
‘No he didn’t. Brother Bayo started calling his name to inform him that he had brought the credit. That was how he ran out and left me.’
‘Oh my God!Thank you God! God you’re good.’ She rubbed her hand on her daughter’s face and arms repeatedly, as one searching for scratches and bruises. ‘Thank God he didn’t do anything to you.’
Bimbo continued recounting the unpleasant incident, ‘later, he told me never to tell anybody what happened that if I should tell you, you will beat me and report me to daddy. I’m sorry mummy please forgive me.’ She cried. ‘Please, don’t beat me,’ she pleaded. She innocently believed him and thought what had happened was her fault.
‘Bimbo none of what happened was your fault, as a matter of fact, thank you for opening up to me. It’s all my fault, I shouldn’t have left you in care of that fool, I should have taught you how you must not allow any man touch you. I thank God he didn’t rape you.’ She was indeed grateful that didn’t happen.
‘But mummy, I am scared that if he comes again, he will do it again.’ Bimbo expressed her fear.
‘God forbid! That idiot will never step into this house again. Not him, not any man. Not when I’m alive. I will call him and tell him that if he ever comse close to this house, he’ll sleep in the police cell. You hear? Don’t cry again.’ She wiped her tears.
By this time, Seyi had woken up. Her mother was no longer whispering, so her shouts had awakened her. ‘Mummy what happened?’ Seyi questioned with her sleepy eyes turned towards them.
‘My dear, don’t worry. Go back to sleep. I just came to check on both of you. How are your thighs?’ Mrs Cole stood up and walked towards Seyi.
‘It’s less painful,’ Seyi replied as she looked at the wound dressing on her thighs and touched it slightly.
‘Pele(Sorry) dear, when you want to have your bath, let me know so I can assist you,’ Mrs Cole told her.
‘Mum?’ Seyi gave her mum the “I’m-not-a-baby look.”
‘Wo (look), I know you are not a baby but this one o, I will help you. You, children, are my life. Is that clear?’ She couldn’t afford to allow anything happen to them. The mother-hen instinct had just been heightened; she was ready to protect her young even if it was at the expense of her own life.
‘Yes ma,’ Seyi agreed reluctantly.
‘Mummy, are we going to church today?’ Bimbo asked.
‘Oh that’s true, today is Sunday.’ Mrs Cole didn’t even remember there was something called church.
‘Yes mummy, it’s been like a month now. Sope even said her mum has been asking about you.’ Seyi informed her.
‘You know it’s not my fault. Your father hasn’t allowed us to go to church all this while. I will raise it with him again. Who knows what miracle God will do, he might just allow us.’
‘I pray so o. I’d love to see Sope, it’s been a while’ Seyi smiled and immediately started planning how she’ll arrange for Goke to come to her church so they could see each other.
‘See your mouth like Sope, is Sope the reason you are going to church?’ Her mum reprimanded her.
‘No “buts”; don’t even “but” anything. God should be your reason for going to church. You hear me? Mrs Cole gestured, by pulling her right earlobe slightly downwards with her right thumb and index finger.
‘Yes ma, I’ve heard you,’ Seyi murmured.
‘Let me get going; I’ll be back to check on you. If your father says we can go to church, I’ll come to tell you so you can get ready,’ she informed them and left the room.
Seyi picked her phone to check if Goke had sent her a message. Still nothing. She felt disappointed. ‘This one cannot even check on someone,’ she said and flung the phone on the bed then lay back to sleep. As soon as she did, her phone rang.
To be continued. Read Part 5 Now Here
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