Our walk to the house was slow… and quiet. I glanced at Augusta… she was looking straight ahead… the relief she felt after Aunty nurse gave us the report was long gone… and now replaced with foreboding… a feeling of doom she could not escape. I wished I could find the words to assure her but even I was not sure how her mother would react.
As soon as we got to our compound, Augusta’s hold on me became stronger… she was afraid and her mother saw it immediately.
“What have you done Augusta?” She asked and when Augusta remained silent, she immediately looked at me for explanation.
“Mama Augusta, I think we should sit” I suggested .
As if sensing the urgency in my voice, she immediately brought out a bench and said we should sit outside… Papa Augusta was sleeping and should not be disturbed.
So we sat, and I began the tale… I told her everything Augusta had said… and about her fear that she was pregnant… about the Nurse’s assurance that she was not. I told her how angry I am at Mr. Bádéjọ and how she should be too.
Mama Augusta began to wail, rolling on the floor, shouting that she was doomed and that Augusta had brought shame upon her.
“I did everything right, I circumcised my daughters, why has this great evil befallen me? Oh! I have failed as a mother”
Augusta began to cry, begging her mother to forgive her… explaining that Mr. Badejo had told her it was what friends do… that he would only explain sex to her.
Mama Augusta stood up immediately… eyes blazing in anger
“Sex!!! Didn’t I tell you to never speak of it again? You never listen Augusta!!! Oh!!! Why has the gods given me a child who never listens?”
She turned to me as if I had the answer to her questions… then she continued
“Sisí, do you know I forbade her to speak of Sex… she is only fourteen and should never know of such. But she disobeyed me… see what happened… see what she has done”
Although I didn’t know what Mama Augusta’s reaction would be, I never expected her to blame it all on Augusta. So I told Augusta to go in to the house… for I needed to speak with her mother.
“Mama Augusta, you are my friend but you are also my sister, and although this is a sad time, I must tell you the truth”
Perhaps it was the seriousness with which I spoke, my words somehow penetrated her silent cries of self pity… for she got up from the floor and sat on the bench to listen to me.
I told her it was not time to blame a child who has been greatly wronged by an adult whom she trusted.
“Augusta might not be blameless, her curiosity probably killed her, but don’t you think if you had explained and answered her question, even a little, perhaps she would have been satisfied… but you scolded her, forbidding her to never speak of it. Like every child, that made her more interested and that’s why we are in this trouble”
In a subdued tone, I heard her ask.
“Are you saying I brought this upon myself? That it was my fault my daughter was defiled”
I held her hands in mine and looked intently at her face… I saw her turmoil and wished very well that I could make it all better… instead I answered her
“No, my sister, it’s not your fault. The one who is to blame is Mr. Bádéjọ . Tell your husband and together, report him at the Police station, but first, speak to Augusta, tell her it’s not her fault, and assure her that she has your love still”
Mama Augusta was quiet for a full minute and then she spoke
“Bádéjọ deserved to be punished, but then the whole town will know what has happened… Oh! what shame it will bring to us all. We must be quiet and accept this as fate”
I looked at her for so long and said
“You have nothing to be ashamed of Mama Augusta… it is Bádéjọ that should be ashamed. Will you keep quiet and let him continue? Won’t you fight for your daughter’s honour? Won’t you protect other daughters who he also teaches Chemistry?”
With no other words to say, I walked away. And as I walked back to my room, I hope she does the right thing, I hope Mr. Bádéjọ pays for his crimes. But whatever happens, I vowed to help Augusta… to help her get back the glow that once lived in her eyes.