Dear Zara (1)

by Jennifer Nwanede

As the village of Ossisisioma, a beautiful town in a very distant land in the Eastern region of Nigeria went about its normal activity of the day, the compound of Mazi Udensi was agog with celebration. His wife had finally bore him a beautiful damsel after several attempts to have one had resulted in them flooding the house with boys. He was seated under the big Udara tree in the front of the compound, doing justice to a very big keg of palm wine was Mazi Udensi and his group of palmy-drinking friends.

Inside the kitchen, voices of women could be heard as they chattered excitedly about the new born while preparing a very big pot of Abacha, an African salad known in Igbo dialect, for visitors and well-wishers. Inside Mazi Udensi’s room, an emotional Akweke could be seen holding tightly unto her new born, while the midwife put finishing touches to the clean-up process. She looked around once again and nodded satisfactorily.

“Now everything is in order,” she told Akweke. I” advise you get all the rest you need while you still can. Your daughter will still be here when you wake up,” she concluded jokingly.

Akweke let out a hearty laugh and hugged her baby even tighter. “It’s still like a dream to me. I still can’t believe that my Chi finally heard my cry,” she told the midwife as she kept on staring at her daughter as if doing so would prevent her from disappearing.

Chizaramekpere, which means God answered my prayer, as she was so named by her father, grew up to become a beautiful and intelligent young lady. In no distant time, she had become the topic of discussion in the midst of eligible bachelors in the village. By the time she was fifteen years old, suitors from their village and other neighbouring villages had begun to troop into her father’s compound, asking for her hand in marriage. But Mazi Udensi would not hear of it. His Zara, as he fondly called her, would become the first female lawyer their village would produce, he told them.

And fortunately for him, Zara was a very brilliant girl. So while her brothers went off to serve masters in the city, Mazi Udensi made sure that Zara went to the only private primary school their village could boast of, and when she had completed her primary education, he sent her off to the prestigious ‘Girls’ Secondary School’ an all girls’ boarding school in Abor known for its production of prominent women in Nigeria. After her secondary education, Zara proceeded once again to the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka to study Law to the excitement of her father. He went about the village boasting to everyone that his daughter had become a lawyer and all Zara’s explanation that she first of all had to undergo five years in University and another one year in Law School to become a certified lawyer fell on deaf ears.

It was in Zara’s second year as a student of UNN that she met Chike. They hit it off at once and in no distant time, they became best friends. And even though they were in different departments, which meant that they had different time table, they still managed to squeeze out time for each other. Everything was going on smoothly until the night of Zara’s 21st birthday.

On that fateful day, Chike had treated her to a very sumptuous meal at Mr. Biggs, after which he had invited her for a drink at his place to wrap up the eventful day. Chike lived in a porch apartment off-campus since his parents were rich, and Zara had visited him severally, hence she was not hesitant about the invitation. Everything seemed normal at first when they got into the apartment, but when Chike began to draw closer and look at her in a strange way, Zara began to feel uneasy. She moved backwards on the sofa she was sitting on, but Chike followed suit.

As he drew closer, Zara looked into Chike’s eyes and all she could see was lust. Fear gripped her and she screamed but no one could hear her because Chike had succeeded in drowning her voice with the loud blast from his home theatre. She continued to struggle and gradually, her strength began to fail her. When she couldn’t fight any more, she let him have his way. Zara felt a sharp pain as Chike thrust into her and she let out a loud cry filled with pain. But it was not the pain that hurt her more; it was the fact that someone she thought she could trust with her life was the one actually causing her the pain.

All she had wanted was to spend quality time alone with someone she assumed was her best friend on her birthday. As she lay helpless on the floor while Chike took away her pride as a woman, Zara’s mind flashed back to all the good times they had spent together and she couldn’t help but wonder what had gone wrong. Chike suddenly began to jerk, let out a loud cry and then collapsed on Zara. When he eventually came back to his senses, he began to cry and ask for forgiveness.

“Forgiveness?” Zara asked him, still sobbing bitterly. She quietly stood up, staggered to the bathroom, managed to clean herself up and readjusted her clothes. As she made for the door, Chike tried to stop her but the dirty stare she gave him put him off. As Zara made to step out, she turned back to look at the face of the man who had ruined her life forever and tears began to roll down her cheeks again. It was then that it dawned on her that she had not only lost her virginity, she had also lost her best friend.

She stepped out into the dark and was instantly gripped by fear. But at that moment the fear of the unknown was by far better than being anywhere around Chike. She began to walk, not having any destination in mind and as she walked on, she felt her heart gradually shattering to pieces. She was broken. 

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