Toke contemplated poisoning herself with the rat poison in the kitchen but after some thoughts, she thought of her mother and how disappointed she would be watching her commit suicide from the spiritual realm. She thought of her mother’s dream of getting her educated and she decided to give life a chance just perhaps there may be light at the end of the tunnel for her.

“No matter what life throws at me, I will be successful and make it in this world. At least if not for anything, to make my mother proud even though I dont know why I find it difficult to believe that my mother is dead” she said.
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Mama Gift closed her shop and went to chief Oko’s shop after she had sent Toke back home.

His sales assistant told her that chief Oko had gone out and was yet to return and she sat on the desk to wait for him.

He returned less than 30 minutes later and mama Gift imagined how such a huge man could force his way into a girl like Toke when he could pay and have any girl that he wanted.

Chief Oko’s heart skipped a beat when he saw mama Gift waiting for him at the entrance of the shop.

Chief Oko: “this one that you are waiting for me outside like this, do you want to buy soft drinks?”

Chief Oko was one of the most popular wholesalers in the community and mama Gift bought the things she sold in her shop from him.

Mama Gift: “I didn’t come to buy anything from you. I have not finished selling the ones I bought the last time I was here” she said.

Her tone revealed to chief Oko that all was not well because she never spoke that way to him since he sold crates and cartons of soft drinks to her at affordable prices.

Chief Oko: “hope there is no problem, madam” he said stepping into the shop and acknowledging greetings from his sales assistants.

Mama Gift: “there is problem o, Toke said…”

Chief Oko: “ah ah, come into my office and let us talk” he said shutting her down because he didn’t want his sales assistants to hear what it was that she had to say about Toke.

Mama Gift followed him into the office and he instructed his sales assistant to get her a can of chilled Maltina and biscuits.

Chief Oko: “so, what brought you here?” he said shutting the door after the sales assistant had served her the drink and biscuits.

Mama Gift: “Toke came back to the shop not too long ago looking all messed up with blood stains on her dress. When I asked her what happened, she said that you raped her when she went to collect money for what she sold to you in your house. I said let me come here and find out the truth from you” she said without opening the drink. She had the intention of taking it away to her shop and selling it to her customers.

Chief Oko: “me, rape Toke? Am I mad or something? How can I do such a thing? A girl whose father was my best friend is the person you believe I can rape?”

Mama Gift: “it is not like I believe her but I know that she would not lie about a thing like that and the evidence of the blood on her dress and the way she was walking, I don’t know what to say”

Chief Oko: “that girl must be a very pathetic liar. How have you been coping with her? She came to me and started telling me tales of how you have been maltreating her, beating her and allowing her to do all the domestic chores after hawking for you and that you will not allow your own daughter do anything in the house. I told her you were only trying to bring her up in the right way a girl should be brought up so that she would be able to take care of her home in the future. The next thing, this girl said she wants me to be sleeping with her and be giving her money so that she can use it to take care of herself since you were not giving her any money to buy the things she needed. I refused and when she insisted, I chased her out of the house after threatening to report to you if she ever did that again”

Mama Gift: “are you serious?” she asked falling for his lies because of the hatred that she was harboring in her heart against Toke.

Chief Oko: “I am very serious. After I chased her out of my house, I drove off to see one of my clients who was owing me. Do you know that I saw this girl with one criminal looking boy going into the bush? I called her and told her that I will report her to you if she didn’t return home immediately. This girl behaved as if I wasn’t talking to her and followed the boy to the uncompleted building in the bush. I didn’t know that she will come to you and implicate me”

Mama Gift: “I said it that she is up to no good. That is how she lied against my daughter, if not that my daughter was smart enough to defend herself, only God knows what I would have done to my daughter because of her that day”

Chief Oko: “I am shocked at her lies myself. Look at me now, cant I afford to get any woman that I want myself? What do I need a girl like Toke for?”

Mama Gift thanked him and apologized for accusing him unjustly.

Chief ordered his boys to pack up a nylon full of provisions and they gave it to mama Gift with a thousand naira that he asked her to use to take a cab back to her shop even though they both knew that the distance was not far.

Somewhere deep in her heart, mama Gift knew that the man was lying but she didn’t care. It was not her daughter that was raped and besides she couldn’t afford to make chief Oko an enemy because of Toke.
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Toke had no option than to drop out of school after her junior secondary school because her foster parents refused to pay her fees. The principal who could not adopt her because of his wife had tabled her file to the chairman of their local government for scholarship consideration but the request had been turned down because there was friction between the state government and the local government and as such they were not receiving allocation thereby finding it difficult to pay staff and carry out other projects.

Toke was subjected to all sorts of humiliation by Gift and her parents and several times she contemplated running out of the house but for fear of what lied out there.

Five years after staying with her foster parents, Toke was lost, broken and crushed but determined to make it in life no matter the thorns that life threw on her flesh. She knew that nothing good ever came easy and that even gold goes through fire to come out good. Although she had developed into a pretty and matured girl, her face bore marks of years of abuse and sorrow. Her life was shattered and everyday she went to bed with tears, hoping that she would not wake up to see the next day. Everyday brought different sorrows and the innocent girl wondered if she could ever find succor.

Less than a year after she had lost her virginity to chief Oko, she became her uncle’s sex slave and each time she wanted to report him to his wife, he would come around and threaten to kill her if she dared to do a thing like that.

On this particular day, she was in the kitchen when baba Gift came and ticked her from behind like he always did before forcing himself on her. Toke turned sharply and shrank away from him like she had touched a snake.

Baba Gift: “my baby, my baby, come and give it to me”

Toke: “don’t you dare come close to me again” she said with fear in her eyes.

Baba Gift: “You do not have a choice. I have always forced you to have my way with you and I will continue to do so for as long as I want. My wife is not around and I am in the mood” he said touching his groin.

Toke: “for more than three years, you have been assaulting and raping me because you know that I have no one to defend me and because you know that I have nowhere to go but right now if you come close to me, I will do something that the both of us will regret”

Baba Gift dismissed her threat as mere bluff and moved close to her. She raised the pestle she was using and gave him a blow on the head. Baba Gift yelled and fell on the ground.

Toke: “oh my God, I am in trouble. What have I done? What do I do?” she panicked.

To be continued.

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