DIDDIE KINAMUN JACKSON
An entry in The Crocodile Prize
“GET out of my house! Get out! Before I call the police to come and remove you from this place. Take the bastard with you and don’t ever come back you lying whore!
“You’re such an ungrateful brat. Is that how you repay me when I brought you from the village and you come into my house and find your way into my husband’s bed. Shameful!
“Probably the whole while you were at home you let stray men into the house and now you’re trying to blame my husband.”
That was the last thing running through Hitolo’s mind as she wept helplessly. Her aunt’s words stung her. What she said was the truth and the truth did set her free but it hurt so bad and, speechless as she was, she wept silent tears of shame and embarrassment.
Hitolo was a carefree girl who had everything she needed in the village, food from the sea and from the gardens. There was nothing to worry about except her usual household and garden chores before she was off to the sea with the village girls to dive for shells to make themselves new beads.
That was how they passed their time. It was fun to be living near the sea she really loved her home.
One evening over the family meal near the fire, her father received mail from his niece Mary in town who asked if Hitolo would stay with them and babysit her child as she was going to go back to work after maternity leave.
Mary needed someone to take care of the house and the baby. If Hitolo was to come they had to call from the padre’s house and a car would be sent to pick her up five days from now.
This news was discussed over the fire by Hitolo’s father and mother and finally her father asked her if she wanted to go and Hitolo said yes. She had never been to town due to the distance and the fare, although her parents would go occasionally to sell or to buy goods.
The thought of going blew her mind away. Now she had something to tell her friends, for sure everyone was going to envy her because she was going to town. That was where all the good things were.
After four nights of restless sleep, the day finally arrived for her to go. Hitolo hurriedly packed her few belongings. There wasn’t much. There were two blouses that her mother had bought a year ago, she only wore them on Sundays to church. The hems were loose but they were the only things of value she had apart from a few traditional necklaces and beads she had made herself.
Hitolo was going to town and she felt a bit uneasy. Was she doing the right thing, she pondered as they waiting for a vehicle to appear. Finally a big black car arrived and Hitolo got onboard, all her friends and family waving goodbye.
When they arrived in town Hitolo saw that everything was fast and scary unlike the quiet and peaceful way back home. She already felt a little bit sad and homesick.
They left the main town and drove into a residential area where the houses were beautiful. Never in all of Hitolo’s life had she seen anything like this.
Finally the driver turned into a pristine neighbourhood and Hitolo thought these were the houses of very big chiefs who must have lots of wives and wealth to be living in such splendour.
Finally they drove up a steep hill and the driver said they were near the house now.
The car came to a stop in front of a big white house located on a steep cliff. Hitolo saw her aunt and uncle standing waiting for her. They must have seen them coming up from the valley .
Her aunt Mary hugged her as Tom picked up her sack and gave her a firm handshake. His gaze bored into her skin which made her feel a bit awkward. Maybe this was the way men in town acted, Hitolo thought.
Mary told Hitolo of the duties and responsibilities that were expected and she listened with grace.
One day, when she had been in town for about two weeks, Hitolo saw Tom around the house and asked if he had left something behind, but he just grinned and said he was sick and had to take a day off work.
Then in the weeks that followed, he came home frequently, this time bringing small gifts for her which Hitolo reluctantly took.
Tom would say how beautiful she was and complimented her on every little thing she did in the house.
Then one day he came back as usual, stating he had a hangover from the previous night. So Hitolo prepared him hot soup and let him be.
She had fed the baby and put him to sleep and started cleaning the rooms. She bent down to sweep the floor and suddenly felt a tight grip on her back.
She was taken aback and struggled but was no match for Tom, who pinned her down and threatened her with a knife before raping her and threatening to kill her if she told her aunt.
Four months later Hitolo realised that she was expecting a child. She tried concealing her stomarch by wearing baggy clothes but her aunt noticed and asked sternly if Hitolo was pregnant.
Shamefully and tearfully Hitolo related the story to her aunt, who screamed at the top of her voice and dragged Hitolo out of the house and threw her down the steps telling her never to set foot in the house again.
If she did, her aunt threatened, she would call the police.
Hitolo had never felt so scared and alone. She couldn’t go back to her aunt nor to the village, where to have a child out of wedlock was a sin preached by the padre at Sunday mass. She was a disgrace to her family and she hugged herself under an old mango tree crying softly.
She hurriedly climbed the tree before anything changed her mind.
Hitolo and the birds sang their last song for the day. A life taken too early and a journey cut short.