I had hoped I would see my mother again. An impossible hope I knew, but hope I still had. Then she walked into my sitting room and I sat there thinking: ‘The ghost of the past still runs; it had not been buried’.
It was the year 2012 that she walked into my sitting room. Her eyes were hollow like my mother’s eyes once were. I didn’t know whether to scream or curse the woman who stood beside her with eyes dancing with glee, seemingly not minding the trepidation that coloured the little girl’s face. ‘Na the pikin wey I bring for you be dis,’ she said a little too loud. ‘Eseosa go and meet your madam naw,’ she said, then turned to me and said: ‘Madam Chinwe, na good girl she be. She just dey shy’. I looked past her and really looked at the little girl, ‘what happened to you there?’ I asked as I noticed the bruises her long sleeved dress failed in concealing. She looked at me and said nothing. I could see it, the woman was not pleased with my question; ‘wetin be her own own. Na to collect pikin, pay my money I ask,’ I imagined her thinking in her mind, but she was careful enough not to let her anger show, she needed money. She smiled at me and said, ‘madam, I wan go. Make we see’.
I sat still for a while as I felt like I was being suffocated, but I knew I had to act so the buried ghost of my mother’s past would remain buried. I followed the woman and while she talked, thinking I would negotiate a price with her, I looked at her and judged her. She was a woman and a mother as she was referred to as ‘mama born boy’ yet she so easily ruined the innocence of another child. What wickedness!!! ‘There must be a special place in hell for women that kill young children,’ I thought. I wondered how many more young girls she had trafficked and given out to abusers. I asked for a twenty year old and above house help and she brought me a child that wasn’t more than thirteen years old. I cut her short, I was tired of hearing her sell her good. So I gave her the exact amount she asked for. She thanked me endlessly though I was sure she really thought I was a rich fool who she managed to dupe. I didn’t care, as long as she wouldn’t have to take that child away, I was okay being a fool in her eyes.
Silence, they have taught them to be silent so they wouldn’t really be able to talk about it. Only those sensitive enough would know their heart was burning, their body had been kissed by acid and their future was wrapped in darkness. It had been a month and she had not said a word. My husband felt she needed to see a therapist. I agreed with him, but I knew seeing a therapist would hardly do anything for her, she had been taught silence.
‘It was the year 1990, I had just turned fifteen when my mother decided I was grown enough to know her gruesome past. Born with a silver spoon to Igbo parents in Abba, my mother lived in a glass house which came crashing down after the road drank her parents’ blood. Her uncle’s did not look at the innocent face of a fourteen year old when they took everything she was too young to fight for. They did not mercifully leave her, but also took her and sold her to men that took young girls to Italy for prostitution. There, her virginity was stolen by a man who looked and was a monster. She saw the blood on her pant and that brought the tears from her eyes. The bruises stung, but her heart bled. She was forced to grace the bed of men who reeked of disgust, men who had beautiful children at home and it wasn’t long before she started killing babies like one would kill mosquitoes. She was blamed for getting pregnant though the men felt her vagina needed to be penetrated with a penis that didn’t require condom.”
“Like you, she was taught silence and more than the abuse, silence almost killed her. Her story is long and too sad. She met a kind customer at the age of nineteen. She got pregnant for the handsome Italian man and unlike the rest, he only slapped her, offered her money and helped her escape back to Nigeria. He was not going to risk his family finding out or a bastard child later claiming him in future. Regardless of that, my mother thought he was kind”. I stopped to catch my breath and that was when I saw her crying, silent tears…
“My name is Eseosa. My mother is back at home in Benin looking after my two very hungry younger brothers. Father died after I finished primary school and mother could not afford to send me to secondary school. So she begged aunty Itohan, father’s cousin to allow me live with her. Aunty Itohan agreed and promised mother everything would be fine. Aunty Itohan lied and gave me to a family in Ibadan. The woman almost killed me with hot iron one day when she felt hanger was no longer strong enough to drive out the evil spirit in me. I ran away and begged on the street though my skin burned from the impact of the hot iron. Aunty found me and starved me and beat me, then she took me to another family in Enugu, the husband raped me constantly and the wife asked aunty Itohan to come and take me after she made me kill my baby. Aunty Itohan punished me for getting pregnant and brought me here. You have been the nicest of them all. I can now tell my mother I’m fine without it being a lie”.
I did not know I was crying and that night, I looked at my daughter a little longer as she slept. I told my husband we had to stop being ignorant. “Human trafficking ranked the third most common crimes in Nigeria; child trafficking was too rampant in the Eastern states and too many young girls were given out in marriage to old stinky men in the North. Not many are as lucky as my mother whose back almost broke and Eseosa who grew up too fast. There are many unlucky ones who might not survive it. They are the ones begging us through their silence to help them. They don’t want their lives to be all about abuse even though their childhood has already been stolen”. My husband kissed my forehead and told me he agreed with me, it was time to do something and be their voice; child trafficking and abuse had to end. We would start by getting Aunty Itohan and mama born boy arrested. No one should be pardoned for denying children of what it truly means to be a child.0