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Friday, January 06, 2017

WHY I DID IT - Ekwegbalu Nnamdi

Written by: Ekwegbalu Nnamdi

Note: This story was based on fact. Any similarity with fictitious events or characters was purely coincidental. The meaning of words in italics was explained, and the use of pidgin language was frequent in this article.

Everybody wanted to know, people kept calling, both those I knew and many others I didn't even know, some feigned concern, but I knew better, they merely wanted to be the first to tell the story. I was scared, very scared...this isn't happening to me, not now of all times, I thought to myself.

It all started years ago after I had gained admission to study Accountancy in the University, it was my dream course, my parents were very happy for me. I had written the same exam the year before but couldn't gain admission, and now I had finally gotten it.

The following day, I went to the village to tell my dear grandma, she was so happy for me, she jumped and danced around, singing "Jehovah emewo ya" {God has done it} ...my daughter will finally become an "ackantant", she said this while at the same time holding my hands and hugging me so tightly that I could hardly breath, I was lost to the smell of her cloth which smelt heavily of smoked fish.

She literally slept with it, she kept it under her bed in a metallic crafted container, "I am keeping it safe from the reach of human rats" she would say, each time when asked, and by human rats we knew she meant Afam {Afam was the boy we brought to stay with Mama in the village, he was an apprentice, learning bicycle repairs in Uncle Emeka's Shop}
Uncle Emeka was my favourite uncle, and he would often refer to me, as his favourite niece.

Whenever we came to visit mama in the village during Christmas, Uncle Emeka would load a bag full of mangos and give me to carry home with me, he knew how I loved mango.
Before I left the village, I went to see Uncle Emeka to break the good news to him. He was full of joy, and praised God passionately for me, after which he dipped his hands into his pocket and gave me the sum of two thousand naira, "Ezigbo Ada, use this to buy something for yourself, I am so proud of you Ada, my own Accountant" he said happily.

The night before the very day I was to leave for school, Mum and Dad called me to the living room for some advice " my daughter, we are very proud of you, and we are glad that you have now gotten the opportunity to proceed to the university with your mates to study and make something of your life ", said my dear father with eyes full of joy and a deep sense of fulfilment "but my daughter, we have to tell you this now" mum interrupted "you have to be very careful, the University is a world of its own, you are going there without us to direct you, nne you must ensure that you stay away from bad friends, inugo?"

Jehovah emewo ya = Jehova has done it., l-l ackantant = Accountant., l-l Ezigbo Ada = Good Ada., l-l nne = My daughter., l-l inugo? = Have you heard?

I didn't understand why they were going through all this trouble just because I was leaving for the same university Oge and Peace were already in {Oge and Peace were my bunk mates in secondary school and they had gotten admission the year before} I could remember the stories they often told me about life in the university, particularly the lifestyle of some big boys and girls who appeared to live larger than life, I couldn't wait to see all these for myself.

As we drove into the school that afternoon, dad kept calling Peace my friend for direction to the hostel which she had already secured for me. It happened that there was a free accommodation in her hostel, I was so happy, I had actually wished to stay with her, but she was already staying with Oge, "we couldn't possibly stay three in a room, dear but I have a friend Chidera, she is my opposite door neighbor and we are very close, her roommate had just graduated, and I begged her to let you stay with her, and she agreed" Peace had told me earlier.

"Girls come and hear ooh!" Chidera called out to Oge and Peace" Ada said no man has ever been THERE before oooh!" {"THERE" they were referring to in between my legs} they all seemed very surprise at this.

As an 18-year-old, I had entered the university a virgin, but they made it feel so unusual, that I felt so compelled to do something about it. Consequently, martin my first school boyfriend also become my first...

My roommate Chidera was so nice to me, she made sure our room was well furnished with the latest gadgets. Together {Chidera, Oge and Peace} were almost always on the road, they travelled every single weekend, sometimes to Abuja and other times to Lagos, on an all-expense paid trip and mostly by air.

I could remember asking them repeatedly of their whereabouts, and they telling me I wouldn't understand, Peace particularly told me I wasn't ready yet. But each time they embarked on such trips, I could always count on their bringing something back for me, ranging from new handbags to clothes, to the latest shoes. As a matter of fact, the phone I used all through my year one and partly my year two, was the one Chidera gave me, a very expensive phone that I would never have been able to afford by myself.

"Ada come, we get gist for you" Oge and Peace called out as they entered my room, "e get this pageant we go like make you join contest for, babe this one big I swear!" Peace remarked "babe if you win, dey go give you tear rubber car, this one no be all this small pageant wey dey happen for town these days, babe this one get better packaging" Oge concluded.

At this Chidera weighed in "But you guys know this would actually require money, if she must win, una know we go need use money runs am" after they have talked about it for a while, they concluded "we would have to see this through, we just have to find a way to make it happen."

One fateful day, they all came into the room with a certain urgency in their voice "babe we get parole wey we go need make you help us arrange" Peace said.

As it appeared they had a certain man in Abuja who wanted them to come as usual, and according to them they had equally told him, about the contest and he agreed to sponsor me, but demanded that we do "a little something" for him first.

"There is no way am going to do that!” I screamed. Eventually, I discovered that the little something as they referred to it, was not as little as I had thought it would be. He actually wanted us to make a nude video for him, so that he can be sure of what he was paying for, according to them.

"To hell with him and his money" I insisted, "babe remember say na you we wan help arrange this matter, the man no even dey ask make you come personally, and he don already talk say he go pay for everything, and on top of that one, he don already reason with the organizers of the kind pageant and they don already assure am say they go make sure you win this thing" Peace said. This went on daily till I could no longer put up any more resistance.

Eventually, it happened that all the man ever wanted from me, was for me to be in the video, he wasn't going to ask me to come to Abuja after all. I knew it didn't automatically make everything right, and I was also very reluctant at some point, till I convinced myself that I had no option.

"Babe oya drink this, I put a little something for am, make em help you do this thing well" Peace said. Chidera had already gone on another visit to Abuja, I was to do this video with Peace and Oge. After I drank the mixture Peace prepared for me, I wasn't myself again. At the end of the day, I threw up many times.

"And the Winner is contestant number 14, Ada Ikpeama" I couldn't believe my ears, I had won, I really won, so he kept to his words.

It was three nights later that it all started, I had received a call by 1 am that morning, it was a male voice on the other end, and I can never forget the words which followed

"I have something that may interest you, and you must play by my rules or else..."

That was all he said before he ended the call. The next morning, I received a video from an anonymous source and shockingly...it was the video I did with Oge and Peace. "Jesus!" I screamed.

"Babe no be that man do this, he assured me say he go delete the video" Peace remarked. "Wetin this person come want from you naaa?" Oge asked,
"He said I should send the sum of five hundred thousand naira to the account he would send me or else..." I replied.

"Or else what, is he mad, who does he think he is? Peace screamed angrily
Several months later, his incessant demands were beginning to wear me out. He demanded that I sent him the sum of five hundred thousand every single month, which of course I did out of fear just to make sure this already sad event was not blown out of proportion. 

But I couldn't bear it any longer, I was already very broke, I had borrowed, and I had begged, just to make sure I met with this stranger's selfish demands.

"See Mr Man, I am not going to continue with this anymore, you can do your worst, you can go ahead and kill me, if that's what you want, after all, we can only die once" I yelled into the phone, at the top of my voice.

But I sure didn't mean all that, I was just already getting very frustrated with the whole arrangement. Up until this time, I had hoped somehow his conscience would become functional again. But I really didn't envisage what was to follow shortly after.

On this very fateful day, I received a call in the very early hours of the morning about a nude picture of me on the net, I couldn't believe it. It was a video and not a picture that he had I thought to myself at first. So this man is this mean and heartless, I cried.

The next morning my friends said the picture didn't look like me, that I should deny it. I started calling the man to plead with him, he picked the call and said "young woman, you decided to play with me, I told you what I was capable of doing, but you didn't believe me, now all am going to do is to leak the video on net and watch your fellow students tear you apart until they have ruined you completely"

After I had pleaded and cried to him, he then told me he was going to give me 12 hours to send him the sum of one million naira, or else he would leak the video on the net.
I didn't know what to do, or how on earth I was going to get that kind of money within that short period of time? 
However I kept calling and pleading with him for more time, but he went ahead and uploaded it anyway.

It's been twenty years already since then...the hardship, embarrassments, and the disgrace I suffered, especially those I suffered in the hands of those I never expected it from, still haunts me.

Sadly, nobody bothered to take the time to understand me, nobody cared. Today I have been thrown into a different life, just for this one mistake I made in my youth, a mistake that I totally regret. I have failed my family, myself and the society.

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