As Kanyinsola pushed herself up the rough-surfaced hill, she composed a rhythmic hum to make her journey a bearable one. It was a wearily familiar journey. It was well into the night. The skies were brightly dark, the twinkling of the stars made it look almost black-purple. The stars had come out to celebrate the gleaming moon while its’ halo illuminated the earth. When Kanyinsola looked back to appreciate how far she had come, it was the landscape beyond the bushes that caught her eye. It looked leveled despite the contour of the land in a way that portrayed the beautiful silver-lined dark sky. Each time the National Electric Power Authority cease power supply, it automatically leaves the entire neighbourhood at the mercy of the beautiful outdoors. The deserted looking compound during daylight now filled with mothers, fathers, children, aunties and uncles. The women gossip while pretending to watch their children make demonstrative plays with folksongs as they sit in a circle. The men talk of politics and football. It was one of the most memorable scenarios in her childhood.
On this night, though, NEPA was gracious to the people. Everyone stayed indoors except for the neighbourhood stores that were still open for selling.
“Take this money. Go and buy bread from the usual place”, Kanyinsola’s mother had said to her. “Do not buy it from any of the places nearby o! I will know if you do and I will beat the living daylight out of you first before sending you back”, she warned sternly.
Kanyinsola took the money obediently and went into the night. However hesitant and sluggish her mother thinks she is or quiet and submissive Kanyinsola thought of herself, she was mostly just indifferent about her mother’s usual troubles that night. Her mother’s fetish for eating oven-fresh loaf at night was born out of Kanyinsola’s risk of getting it for her late into the nights. Once, she dared her mother’s bluff and bought a loaf of bread at the end of the street. Although the loaf did not smell fresh or feel succulent, Kanyinsola bought it and took her time to compress the loaf until it gave in to feeling spongy. When she delivered the bread to her mother, Kanyinsola didn’t understand the ease and speed with which her mother deciphered the truth and pounced on her. Her mother didn’t care if it was 8PM or 9PM, when she wanted freshly baked bread, Kanyinsola had to get it.
Now, Kanyinsola is barely eight years old. She is the first born child of a family of eight, her parents and five siblings. Her mother hardly did anything as a trade and even around the house. She also doesn’t quite understand what her father does for a living. He was either gone all day or doesn’t have a say in the home. Kanyinsola is not one to wonder much about her parents or their relationship. Instead she fantasized more on a beautiful and perfect home. She dreamed of a father and mother truly living in love as husband and wife, well-traveled and refined children, in a serene environment. Her fantasies kept her sanity in such a chaotic family. So she hummed as she went to buy bread for her mother. The journey from her house to the bakery is about five winding streets away.
“Kanyinsola!”, a voice called out.
She looked in the direction of the Christ Apostolic Church. It was the Pastor’s son. She went closer to the edge of the gutter.
“Kanyinsola, how are you”, he asked. He had excused himself from the rest of his younger siblings.
“Fine sir”, Kanyinsola smiled.
“Where are you going at this time of the night”, he asked as though concerned.
“My mummy sent me to buy bread for her”, she answered innocently.
“Ok. I have a message for your mummy actually. Would you stop by on your way back to collect it from her?”
“Ok sir”, she said and made to continue her journey.
“Don’t forget to stop by”, he called out again.
Kanyinsola smiled and continued on her journey. The bakery isn’t for another three streets, through ally slums and dark corners. She got the bread, a loaf of bread, just where her mother had asked her to buy from and it was just the way her mother liked it.
“Who is that?”, the Pastor’s son asked when he heard the knock on his door.
“It’s me sir”, Kanyinsola peeped in as she answered.
The Pastor’s son and his siblings had moved indoors into their eldest brother’s quarters. As soon as they saw Kanyinsola come in, they all stylishly left the room. The Pastor’s son shut the door at the exit of the last person. He asked Kanyinsola to sit on the bed while he looked for the envelope for her mother. Kanyinsola began to feel uncomfortable at the awkwardness of the room. She has never been under closed doors with a boy before; talk less of a full grown man. She tried to stay calm, praying the man finds the envelope in time.
“Do you know you are a fine girl?”, he whispered behind her ears in a way that made Kanyinsola jump.
“Sir?”. She got up from the bed.
“Don’t be afraid. Come closer. This is the house of the LORD. You are in safe hands”, he pulled her closer gently.
Kanyinsola thought there was something wrong with the whole scenario even though he said it is the house of the “LORD”. She attended the church with her siblings, and mother sometimes, but the church is the only place she’d stepped into. She had not been in any of the quarters there. This night, she didn’t want to be in church.
The Pastor’s son leaned himself against the bed and began to unzip his trousers. Kanyinsola felt rage and shock and wished she could shout for help but she didn’t know exactly how to react. She thought she would be shamed if she shouted and people gathered to see her in such a disgusting situation. Then she knew there was no point shouting because his siblings definitely knew his plans.
“Please sir. Let me go home. My mummy will be worried and waiting for me”, she begged.
“Shhh. You will soon be on your way”, he said as he pulled her closer to put his erect genitalia into her soft small skinny palm.
Kanyinsola’s hand froze. She felt a heavy evil black rod in her palm. She didn’t want to hold it. Little pimples filled every hair duct of her body. She wanted to cry. The Pastor’s son helped her wrap her hand around it and fondle with it for a while before he picked up Kanyinsola and placed her on the bed.
“Please sir. Let me go”, she said again. This time, she was afraid and jittery. Her chest movement and breathing began to increase in her way to control the tears from forming in her eyes.
The man ignored her and laid on her by the edge of the bed instead. He pulled down her pant and put his evil black rod in between her legs. She felt disgusted by the feel of it rubbing against her thighs. She could only beg repeatedly. Then the tears came rolling down. Kanyinsola wanted to fight but she didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Then when she began to sob loudly, the Pastor’s son placed his hand over her mouth so she would not attract attention.
Suddenly, he began to jerk over Kanyinsola. She became even more scared. She thought he was dying until he heaped a sigh of relief and asked her to wear her pants. Kanyinsola obeyed and wiped away her tears. The Pastor’s son found something from his heap of clothes on the chair to clean himself while he turned away from Kanyinsola. When he was fully dressed, he opened the door and pretentiously walked Kanyinsola back to the road.
“Tell your mummy I will find that envelope and have it ready for you tomorrow”, he bellowed as he watched Kanyinsola go.
Kanyinsola cried all the way home. She didn’t understand what had just happened but she was disappointed and ashamed. She would tell her mother when she gets home, she thought to herself. Then she tried to envisage her mother’s reaction at the mention of it all. She would either not believe her or beat her for being so disgustingly sluggish about everything. She would not tell, she concluded as she shuddered at the thought of any beating from her mother, not after what just happened. Then she began to fabricate lies in her head to tell her mother if she asked her why she was late.
When she got to her compound, she went straight to the tap to wash and wiped her face dry with her dress. She met her siblings at the living room, watching television.
“Where is mummy”, she asked them.
“She’s at Iya Lanre’s house upstairs”, one of them answered.
Kanyinsola was even more heartbroken – to think that her mother didn’t feel any telepathy while she was being ravaged by this evil son of a pastor or she didn’t realize she had been out later than usual or worry for her safety.
“Kanyinsola! Kanyinsola!”, her mother called out when she returned.
“Ma”, she almost felt her croak in her voice. She threw herself off the bed to answer her mother.
“Where is my bread?”, her inquired as she gazed upon her own daughter with haughty eyes.
“It’s in the kitchen. I’ll get it”, Kanyinsola turned instantly as though there was dirt upon her that she desperately avoided her mother to see.
Her mother felt the loaf of bread, almost in a way not to make too much effort to squeeze it. “God saved you”, was all she said after she eyed her daughter, almost as though if she had not gotten the perfect loaf, she would have sent her back at 9:30PM.