Diala's Dream

"Jesus Christ" I screamed as I was startled out of my reverie. A car doing almost 100km/hr had just splashed water all over me. God, these drivers! The last thing they thought about was the pedestrians. They just did not care . As long as they got to where they were going, the number of accidents on the streets could have bothered them less. What was I going to do? I was wet all over and I was going to the market. And knowing the Aba traders, there was no telling what they would do if they saw a young girl, her dress all wet and clingy in the middle of the market. Probably paw her to death, those obnoxious fools. I really do not believe in hating people but those traders always succeeded in making my throat crawl. So loud and irritating. They always persisted in touching females as they walked by their shops and sometimes, they did more than just touch. Yes, grabbing and trying to force them to come inside their stalls. One time, I saw a trader pull the wig off a girl's hair and start running all around with it and the poor girl could do nothing but just stand embarrassed and wait for her wig to be returned. Still, I sighed, ranting and raving about the traders was not going to help my dilemma. I really needed to buy some stuff from the market as we were going to the village the next day. But there was really no way I could go in my condition so I turned around and started heading home. At the bus stop, I sank back into my thoughts. I had a lot on my mind and I was really worried. For some reason, any time I was at home, I became prone to nightmares. The dream was always the same with slight variations. Usually, I would be walking down a lonely path in the dead of the night and then hear a bloodcurdling scream. I would start running and a bodyless head would appear from somewhere and start chasing me, when the head got close enough to catch me, surprisingly, the head would turn out to be mine. It was here I would wake up because I had been screaming and somebody would be shaking me. My mother told me I started having those nightmares when I was about fifteen. I felt as if I had always had them. But astonishingly, last year I stopped having the nightmares. I was really happy because those dreams always left me shaky and weak. So why had they started again?

Last year was a beautiful year in my life. I had just gained admission into the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. My father did not want me to go because Uyo was reputed to be the "city of madmen" but I was determined to go. I was really lucky to gain admission into a university at my first attempt at JAMB and I wasn't going to let this chance slide by. Eventually, my father agreed and I proceeded off to Uyo. My first trip there was full of bad memories. My father insisted on going with me and naturally I did not like that. He was really loud and kept shouting at the V.C's secretary. Poor woman, she was flustered just like a lot of other people when they come in contact with my father. When we got to the hostel, he entered the room with me. Thing about that was it was 2p.m and the men could only visit the female hostel after 4p.m. That notwithstanding, my father ignored the porters and came into my room anyway. By the time the girls in the room realized what was happening, my father had already started helping me unpark my things. On his way out, he gave the porters five thousand naira. That was my father, he believed money was the solution to all problems. Well at least it certainly worked for him. So although it was full of bad memories, he ensured I got a bed and I settled in promptly. Of course my roommates have never stopped teasing me about my father. I settled in quite nicely at the University making new friends like Vera , Peace, Vivian and Ijeoma. All five of us were always together. Talk about freedom, it gets into your head for real. No bells, no parents just you. On your own, doing your own thing. It was intoxicating. Then I met Michael. He was hot, hot, hot! Fine as anything (TDH as we used to call them... tall, dark and handsome)Michael would be in my room 4p.m on the dot, sometimes I used to wonder if he was truly a student (did he ever go for his classes?) because he always seemed able to track me down. If I was in Vivian's room, he'll apppear, in Vera's room, he'll show up. I liked it though. It showed at least to me, that he really liked me. By the time that semester ended, Ijeoma and I had become very good friends and she invited me to stay in Port-Harcourt with her. Surprisingly, when I told my father, he said yes so I was off to Port-Harcourt for the holidays.

"E na ga, e na ga?"* yelled the bus conductor startling me again. I realised I was at the bus stop and so I got on the bus and headed home.
"Sister, sister what did you buy for us?" cried Nneka my youngest sister as soon as I walked in through the gates.
"Nothing, I don't have any money" I replied.
"Diala, Diala" shouted a voice from the balcony. I looked up. It was my mother beckoning to me "bia** phone call"
I quickly ran upstairs. It had to be Michael. He promised to come to our village over the Christmas holidays.
As I had expected, it was Michael. Unfortunately, I had to cut the conversation short as I heard my mom calling me to come and help her with dinner. She always insisted on cooking dinner although we had three house helps. Maybe it was because my father claimed to enjoy only her food. Still there was no doubt that the meal of Ogbono soup and pounded yam was delicious as my two younger brothers Williams and Ikenna wolfed down their food and held out their plates for more. My father on the other hand took his time eating but he also had a second helping. As for Nneka, more than half of her food was on her dress and everywhere else but inside her stomach. Little sisters could be so annoying sometimes. Every body was excited because we were going to the village the next day. We all loved going to the village. Two years ago, my father built a very big house with practically everything we needed. There were television sets in all the bedrooms and the rooms, oh the rooms! They were all large and the bedrooms had big, big wardrobes. Also, I did not have to share a room with Nkechi, I had my own very big room to myself. The kitchen had this large microwave which we were still learning how to use and most importantly, my father let me drive whenever we were in the village. Immmediately after dinner, I went up to my mother's bedroom to see what she had bought on her shopping trip. Oh! Thank God, she had bought me those shoes I had admired on A-line and a shiny new wristwatch! I was in seventh heaven. Some people regarded us as spoiled but I did not believe I was spoiled merely because my parents gave us all they could give us. I believe it is a parent's job to fend for the kids all he/she can. We got beaten when we misbehaved and regularly punished when we got out of line so why shouldn't they treat us well when they could? It only made sense. I guess I could say I was lucky because my father had a thriving business and could afford a lot more than our three basic meals. Not that I would have loved him any less if he couldn't. In any event, he did not starve us of either affection nor material things. Naturally, there was a lot of rumors about his source of income. Thats one thing I've noticed about my place, once somebody starts doing well, the rumors start springing up about occult societies, rituals and the rest of the mess that goes with it. My father left the house no less than 7a.m in the morning and was home by 10p.m almost every day. He worked very hard. As far as I was concerned, if those rumormongers put in half the time he did, they would probably be as comfortable as he was. But anyway people are going to believe whatever they believe.

The village was just starting to fill up when we came back. Lots of people usually arrived in the village on the 24th of December. As soon as I carried up all my bags into the my room, I ran quickly to Oluchi's house before my mother started calling me. Oluchi was my twin. We were born two weeks apart of each other. We could never be separated from each other once we got to the village. We left her house immediately and went to see some of our friends most of whom we saw last December previously. We all had a good time and made plans for Christmas Day. This Christmas was going to be even more fun. The Ekpe masquerades were coming out and they came only every four years. It was really interesting to see them dance and jiggle all over the place. After that, there was an open fair where all the food was free and so you could eat and drink all you could. The last time this festival had taken place, I was fifteen. I rememeber having a lot of fun although we heard the next day that a young girl had been killed. By the time we got back to Oluchi's house, it was already dark. She wanted me to take Ipana Road leading straight to my house. I preferred to take the bush part commonly known as Appian Way because I would get to my house much faster. While we were still arguing, I left her and headed for the Appian Way. I have never been afraid of the dark mainly because I loved the darkness. I could use my imagination to create what I wanted, where I wanted it. Half-way towards my house, I heard the rustling of leaves. I did not stop thinking it was somebody answering nature's call.

"God" I screamed when I felt a hand grab me roughly.
"What is wrong w..." I trailed off as I turned around to see a huge man towering over me. It was hard to see his face. I shivered slightly but I forced myself to be brave. "What do you w-want w-want?" I asked in a shaky voice.
"Bia** ..." he started to reply but before he could finish, another man appeared and lifting me suddenly, threw me over his shoulder. It was then I started screaming. Both man started running deep into the bushes. Though I was struggling as hard as I could, the man carrying me ran effortlessly as if he was alone. Boom! I was unprepared for the landing on the rough ground as the man carrying me fell on me and started tearing off my clothes. Caught between fear and surprise, I could only wimper as the man started taking off his own clothes. And as he straddled me, it all came to me. It was the nightmare again. It had been a nice Ekpe festival,I was walking down the Appian Way home from Oluchi's house when I heard the scream. I stopped, scared and crouched in the bushes. From where I was hiding, I could see two men. One was atop somebody and I could hear a female voice crying. As soon as the first one was one, the second man climbed the female again and did the same thing. Then the first man brought out a large butcher's knife. With this, he proceeded to cut off her head. As he turned to wipe the knife on the floor, I saw the man's face. It was my father! Then I ran. I ran as fast as I could. When I got home, I ran to bed and closed my eyes.

As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I saw my father, I saw this stranger, they were intermingled, one and the same. He was rough, and shoved himself deep into me and I wept for my innocence. When he was done, the other man took his turn and then he appeared. This man from out of nowhere.
"O gini ka unu neme?"*** he asked, this man from nowhere. The men picked up their clothes and started running. I could only clasp my hands to my face as I wept in relief that they had not killed me. Then I turned to thank the man and he was gone. I stood up and looked around, I could see him nowhere. I ran home as fast as my two legs could carry me.

Its been three years since my horrible experience. As soon as I got home, I started packing. The next day I left, without explanations to my auntie's house in Auchi. I could not find the words to tell my father I had seen him on the night he killed a woman, nor could I tell my mother. After a month, I left my auntie's, she could not keep me while I was not talking to my family. It was sacrilegious. Now I live in Lagos. Spending time with anybody who will take me in. I realise now those nightmares were just suppressed memories and they have come back to haunt me.

*Meaning- Are you going?, are you going?
**Meaning- Come
***Meaning-What are you people doing?

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