Nneka walked away from the river with her water pot balanced expertly on her head. She hurried because the sky was getting cloudy and thunder was rumbling in the distance. Securing her wrapper, she looked down at her bare feet on the little, overgrown path that led back to the village, sighed and started her return journey home. It was beginning to get cold and she shivered and looked around her. A stab of fear pierced at her heart as she realized that she was alone. The village paths were normally busy with farmers, hunters and traders passing by the river but today, she might have been the only living creature in the world. She quickened her pace to a fast walk, the fastest she could go with a pot of water on her head.
She almost lost her balance as she realized that she wasn’t alone after all; there was a man sitting down on the grass, beside the footpath. There was no way she could pass, unless he got up to let her pass. Feeling awkward, she paused right in front of the man.
‘Please, I want to pass.’ she said staring shyly and respectfully at the ground.
‘I don’t feel very well…my legs. Set down your pot and help me stand up.’
Nneka realized she didn’t have much of a choice. Looking nervously around, she put her pot carefully on a level patch of ground and moved to help the man stand up. As she leaned down to pull him up, his arms suddenly came around her shoulders, pulling her down. For some time she was so shocked that she could not say anything and she felt herself submitting to the force of gravity. Before she could even think of what to say to this rude and ungrateful stranger, he pushed her till she was flat on her back on the grass and began industriously climbing astride her. Confusion clouded her brain and she could do nothing but frown and push him feebly away. The reality of the situation hit her like a blast of cold air in the middle of the harmattan season and served to rid her head of the misty fog that had previously inhabited it.
She did the first thing any other girl would have done. She screamed. While she was screaming for her life, thunder and lightning were having a field day, as though even God was mocking her feeble efforts. The man had succeeded in unzipping his trousers and was now busying himself with removing her wrapper. Nneka was suddenly transformed from the kind, quiet girl she had always been to a desperate tigress, clawing, biting, thrashing, hitting, lashing out at the man, all the while screaming on God to intervene.
The man had loosened her wrapper. He was doing something to her. No! Suddenly, she was on her feet again, clutching her wrapper about her otherwise scantily clad body. She ran. He caught her. They struggled. She broke free…tried to run again. He caught her again. Pinned her down on the ground. Now she was really desperate. She begged, yes, actually pleaded with him to no avail.