God of Heaven? What is that? How? When? What is Aunty Chika even saying?”
I had no idea what it meant to finger someone but I knew that that word ‘disvirgin’ was not good at all. How could I disvirgin a one-year old girl for crying out loud?
I don’t know what exactly I expected to see or hear as I looked up at Aunty Chika….but before I could bring my face down, my Uncle pounced on me. He pounded his fists into me continuously that the other women had to try and pull him away while I kept crying and pleading. He pushed them off and continued to pound away until…..,.
I woke up on the bed the next day to see the women and a Pastor from my Uncle’s church beside me. Aunty Reen heaved a relieving sigh and gave some pain killers before dragging me to the parlor again. I was given another chance to own up but I still couldn’t . My dilemma was what would happen if I agreed to the allegation and what would also happen if I kept on denying it. My intelligence and sharp mouth had failed me now. My head was hurting badly too. They just kept staring at me and shaking their heads in dismay. I couldn’t say if they were disappointed at the treatment I was getting or at the fact that I was still denying the accusation but I never expected what came next!
Aunty Chika poured water all over me (My clothes had been taken off before I was dragged to the parlor), made me pound some fresh pepper which was then applied all over my body, including my genitals. The pain this time was out of this world. It was so excruciating that I thought I was going to die. While I was screaming and rolling on the floor in tears, I heard someone say that the pepper should be applied to my eyes.
Jesus! That would mean instant death. Without thinking further, I shouted ‘yes’.
I owned up to a crime I knew nothing about, that I still couldn’t comprehend
Aunty Reen let go of me and started crying again. She called the driver and asked him to go and bring my mum. I was still gasping for breathe and hugging my nakedness with all the pain when mum came in.
“Rita is either a witch or is possessed by one. You people should take her to church for deliverance. I don’t ever want to see her in my husband’s house again”, Aunty told mum with tears eyes.
When we got home, mum asked me why I had done such a thing as to bring disgrace to the family but lo and behold, my sharp mouth failed me again. I got another round of beating as dad pounced on me immediately he was told and disowned me. He never wanted to see me again. Not even in his house! Everyone I loved dearly and whom I thought also loved me had rejected me. Nobody wanted anything to do with me again! Well……expect mum. I guess she didn’t have a choice because I was her only daughter.
Mum and I started sleeping in her chemist store. All the nights I spent in that shop, I kept asking questions to myself, the so-called God and anything that cared to listen to me. “Where did I go wrong? What did I do to Aunty Chika to deserve this? Why doesn’t anyone believe that I didn’t do it? So my dad rejected because of what someone else said, even without any concrete evidence? Hmmmmmm. Does it mean that he doesn’t know what his children are capable of doing? Was he even my real father…………my biological father?
No, he wasn’t. No father would throw his 10 year old out of the house like that. This was the beginning of the hatred I nursed in my heart against him, even though he later allowed me into the house months later, after several people had pleaded with him.
The deliverance journey started.
First, it was at The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Movement which was just budding at the time in Lagos. As the Pastor laid his hand on my head while praying, I’d push it away and hiss angrily. I kept frustrating their efforts so I had to be taken elsewhere. Mum practically ran out of the Celestial Church when the prophet said that I would be whipped with brooms in the course of the deliverance to help send out the evil spirits faster.
A friend then suggested a healing ministry called solution center at the time and it was owned by a woman. We went there too and for the first time, I saw those kind of crusades I used to see on TV. We met with the woman who gave us Psalms to use for a 21 days prayer and fasting during which I was also expected to spend 3 hours with her and the deliverance team daily. Thus, I started learning to pray and to read the Bible.
By the time the fasting period was over, the once cheerful and outspoken Rita became a shadow of her former self. I became too quiet for people’s liking. I always locked myself away in my room, kept away from everyone including family. I became introverted. I didn’t like it myself but I guess it felt safer that way.
That was how I grew up: feeling lonely, unloved, always unhappy, anti-social and near-dumb. I stopped doing those things I used to love such as writing fictional stories, composing songs, acting and only found solace in reading romance novels.
I was no longer me!
Days turned into months, months into years and I yearned to be loved but no one loved me (or so I thought). I fell in and out of depression, tried to kill myself severally to no avail and all this whole, still keeping to myself. So many people misunderstood my attitude/way of life too. They thought I was selfish, too anti-social, rude, arrogant, disrespectful and even worse things. “But hey, who cares about they think anyway?” (Shrugs)
One major reason why I now appreciate this time of my life is that it helped me to come to know God personally…..and his Word. 10 years after, I have now forgiven Aunty Chika and my dad, and all who turned away from me then because I have come to realize that it was an act of God. I am gradually becoming more cheerful, relating with people more, I smile more now and I’m still a wirk in progress.
One lesson I want you to learn:
NEVER ADMIT TO WHAT YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT GUILTY OF, EVEN IF A GUN IS HELD TO YOUR THROAT. THEY’LL GO ON WITH THEIR LIVES BUT YOU’LL LIVE WITH THE GUILT, DEPRESSION, FRUSTRATION AND BITTERNESS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
I am Rita Lawson. Thanks for reading my story. I hope it helps you and any other person out there who might be going through or has experienced similar situations.
A penny for your thoughts on all that you’ve read and learnt from Rita’s story. What issues do you think still exist in our society today that needs to be curbed and the hope for the likes of Rita?