Breaking Free (4) – You never really know how lonely life can be until you become the most hated person in an area. Well, hated by half the community and loved by the other half.
The raging debate after the boys had returned from jail was split. On half of the community supported the boys, arguing after all that nothing had happened to Somachi. They also said, she had gone to Chike’s room willingly and a night in jail was sufficient punishment for the boys. The other half supported Belema and Somachi. They stated that Chike and his friends had acted wrongly and questioned when visiting a person in their house was consent to be raped. The debate between the opposing parties raged on for days, with Belema receiving scornful eyes in some instances and grateful eyes in others.
But, Belema cared less about what people thought of him. He was rather concerned about having lost his friends. Whenever he ran into any of them, they turned their faces away from him, while spiting onto the ground. It baffled him that they were mad at him for preventing them from raping a girl. Look at Kenneth with his two sisters or Aniebiet with his three sisters and seven half-sisters. Didn’t they have any conscience?
The worst part was that all the young boys in the area also scorned him. He had a bad itch on his neck for days until Otibo, his childhood friend called and asked him to send his mother and sisters away. They did not understand the danger they were in so they refused to go away. He began to sleep by the door, armed with a machete. The night he heard a noise outside, he prepared himself for the worst and waited. Then he heard raised voices and later, silence. The next morning, he found blood in the backyard and later in the day, he heard Otibo had a machete cut on his leg.
It didn’t help matters that they said Somachi’s father had collected a huge sum for settlement. What did they expect the man to do? He was only a generator man who offered his services to the few clients who use generators in the area. His wife’s sold cheap commercial items and how much did that bring? His two older sons were apprenticing with an Igbo man in Lagos. The other kids wore rags including Somachi who always looked beautiful, despite the fact that her clothes were old and fray.
It mattered that they be compensated for the trauma that Chike had put Somachi through. The poor girl had not been able to leave her house for two weeks. The crowd at her mothers shop pretended like they were there to buy items when all they wanted was a glimpse at the girl who almost got raped.
Somachi had not been able to sleep or stay in the dark alone for even a minute. When she finally resumed selling at her mothers shop two weeks after the incident, she had shadows in her eyes.
But for Belema, it was all over. He was finally going back to school and did not need friends who thought it was okay to rape a girl.
So when he saw Somachi in his department a week later, he was stunned. She was a fresher and her beauty was making waves round school. She saw him and smiled, a look of gratitude in her eyes. It gave him peace knowing that he had managed to save her. He saw the way she was uncomfortable around the hoard of boys that seemed to follow her like flies to honey.
So when her name began to fly around as an easy lay, he doubted it. The first three times he saw her in the boys hostel with three different boys, he dismissed them as her classmates.
By the end of the semester, Somachi had transformed into a sleek, expensive babe. Belema wondered whether he and his friends had opened up the dark hole that produced the new Somachi.
Breaking Free (4) The end.