Dare was that brother in the fellowship whom sisters secretly admired and brothers were compelled to emulate. If there was to be an Elijah in this age, that man would be Dare. He prayed like no other human being I know, not even my Mum who was our Fellowship’s Staff Adviser. She always talked about Dare’s love for God and would force me to go on evangelism with him. You youngsters are supposed to win souls for God, she would say.
I didn’t know him on a personal level because I naturally evaded guys who I thought were too religious because they made everything feel like a ritual, just the way my Mum did. If for one reason or another, I couldn’t make it to church in the morning, she would call me into her study and give me a pep-talk which never ended really well.
She would deny me of lunch and sometimes, dinner if I didn’t make up for it by following her to house fellowship in the evening. I was treated like the lost sheep of the family. Everything I did was bad in her eyes and after a while, I stopped caring about how my actions made her feel unlike my siblings who were so afraid of her that they literally froze at the mention of their name. She treated us with an iron fist.
One Sunday morning while we were preparing for church service, someone rang the doorbell. Mum wasn’t expecting anyone and so, she told us to ignore it that the person probably picked the wrong flat. After some time had passed, it rang again and she instructed me to hurry and check who was at the door.
I was fiddling with the zipper of my dress as I ran to check who had come so early on a Sunday. I peeped through the key hole and saw Dare looking tensed and exhausted with his hands akimbo. I quickly unlocked the door and showed him the way in.
He was wearing a pink, rumpled shirt whose armpit had a grey stain and the bottom of his faded navy blue trousers had almost turned the colour of earth. He smelt of stale beef, garlic and onions and it made my hold my breathe in. His strides were slow and I thought he was either sick or tired.
Before I could ask if he was okay, Mum came in and equally expressed how shocked she was to see him. She turned to me and said, ‘Yemisi, get him some tea’ and I nodded and left. When I came in carrying the tea mug in a saucer, he was already relaxing on the sofa like a bank executive and the look of weariness had completely disappeared from his face. I wanted to ask what it was that had brought him to our home but I felt Mum’s eyes on my shoulder and faked a smile instead.
Dare longingly watched me set the warm tea on a stool beside him and said, ‘thank you, sister Yemi’. I smiled again and wondered if Mum was proud of my servitude. That was left for her to decide. I made a mocking bow and left for my bedroom. I sat on my bed and couldn’t help but think of his reason for visiting on a Sunday morning when he should be praying in the ‘Sanctuary’. What was so important that couldn’t be conveyed by a text message? Oh well…
To kill time, I decided to continue reading the novel Vernonia, which I bought at our society’s book fair last month and had just flipped the fifth page over when Mum screamed my name. I folded the edge of that page and rushed to answer her call. She held Dare up and still holding his arm, told me that he would stay back with me while she and my siblings went to church.
I was very happy to skip church service but I tried not to let it show on my face and excitedly said that I would prepare lunch before they returned. She sarcastically replied that I could do whatever I wanted with my ‘free’ time and walked out of the door. My siblings scurried past me like rabbits yelling ‘Bye Aunty Yemisi’ and I waved back at them with a wide grin on my face.
I closed the door that led to the balcony and checked my time to see that it was only 7:30 in the morning and they wouldn’t be back until noon. I figured that Dare would make himself comfortable since he often visited and usually took whatever he wanted to eat or drink from the refrigerator. I left him in the sitting room and went into my bedroom to continue reading my novel.
I was deeply engrossed in the novel and didn’t hear him enter my room until the stench from his body filled my nostrils and I sharply turned to see him smiling at me. I had seen that smile just once and that was on the day he prayed in tongues. I was surprised to see him come to my room and flashed him a quizzical look. I already disliked him for taking my place in my Mum’s heart and would smash his head on the wall if I could.
I pulled down my dress which had gathered just above my knees and asked what he was doing in my room. ‘You are not permitted to be here’, I started to say. Moving closer to the side of my bed, he placed his index finger across his lips and reminded me that there was no one else around and we should keep our voices low.
He was now close enough to hear my heart beating against my chest and I opened my mouth to shout but no sound came forth. His body odor put me off and I made an attempt to shift towards the other end of the bed but he said in a voice as soft as the morning dew, ‘I won’t hurt you’.
I knew he was lying because he gripped me and rubbed my hair with his palms until I sobbed. I was not only scared of what he would do but I knew that Mum would never believe me. To her, I was the seductress, the devil’s ally and worse than Jezebel. ‘It was all your fault, she would say. I cried the more letting myself taste the salty fluid that ran down my cheeks and tried to push him away from me but he was as firm and unyielding as a brick wall.
I stayed still as he undid his belt with his left hand and was about to climb on me when the door creaked and he hurriedly went to close it. It then occurred to me in that split second that if Dare didn’t think it was necessary to lock it with a bolt the first time, he certainly won’t do so again. I could hear him panting as he struggled to pull the trousers away from his ankle and I bolted out of the room and locked him in. He banged on the door and dished out threats of cutting my throat if I didn’t open the door.
Shaking like a leaf, I sat at the balcony reliving the events over and over until they drove in through the back gate into the compound. Mum didn’t ask why I was still in my church dress neither did she reply my greeting but headed straight to the kitchen, only to see it looking exactly how she left it. She murmured that she regretted having a big-for-nothing daughter like me and requested to see Dare. ‘Did he leave?’ she queried, with a concerned look that was completely strange to me. When did she become so empathetic?
I told her to check my room. Although she knew that I hardly locked my door, she didn’t express her shock at the locked door and carefully turned the key to let Dare out. She giggled on seeing him and asked if he enjoyed his quiet time with the Holy Spirit and he gave a saintly nod. I felt my bowels fill up with disgust and anger and thought of the numerous sisters, whom he might have preyed upon and cursed him for 600 years. He deserved to burn in hell.
Like you rightly guessed, I told Mum about it seven months later when I thought was the ideal time to heal from the trauma of what could have happened. Dare was in the house that day. He laughed and tagged me me a slut. Mum who was infuriated by my allegations against her ‘son’ blurted that I was a prostitute and spat on my face and warned me to shut up unless I wanted God’s wrath to befall me.
Like a professional predator, Dare slowly shook his head and pleaded with her to forgive that daughter of Eve (referring to me) for allowing the serpent use me. Mum kept talking about evil girls of this generation were, to speak with so much disregard concerning God’s anointed.
With my head bowed and an aching hurt in my heart, I walked out determined to let other sisters know that they weren’t alone. A cold chill ran down my spine when my younger sister, Funmi said Uncle Dare had smacked her buttocks and she told Mum but she defended him saying that he probably didn’t know when he had done that.
Today would make it a month since I stopped going to fellowship and moved out of the house. I pray that Funmi is safe because she is hesitant to discuss these things with me. She’s only thirteen and I am already scared of what could happen or have already happened to her. Sigh