Elaweremi Ebiotu
Love is all
6 min read

Scrubbing the floor wasn’t quite one of my favorite things to do. I had to do it anyway.
I would wash tons of clothes and the more I washed was actually the more I washed. I just wished I got enough food that could amount to the number of clothes I wash every day.
“LIFE ISN’T FAIR” she would scream whenever I asked for a little bit of freedom.
I sit at the balcony at every early evening. I see kids running, screaming each others’ names. They’ll sweat so hard and I guess the sweats came from how hard they laughed. I’ll smile. That was freedom. I could actually see freedom and I could smile at freedom.
I got to know the name of a little girl Betty. She was like the princess of the clan of kids who played and screamed at those early evenings. She was light skinned with really beautiful dark hair. Her waist was quite set for her age. I didn’t know her age but I see the kind of kids she plays with so I could tell her age range even if she seemed to have grown taller and bigger than her peers.
Betty would run down to her friends most of the time limping with this very beautiful smile on her face and she would show them the new shirt her Daddy got her the previous day. She sometimes came with really good looking chocolates and cakes and share amongst her friends. She was a cheerful giver indeed. No wonder her friends loved her so much.
  I wanted to know more about this Betty girl. She seemed interesting to me. I wanted to know some things like: why does she limp whenever she comes to play with her friends in the evenings? Why is her hair so dark and beautiful, can I possibly get that kind of hair? Why does she have so many chocolates and cakes, doesn’t she have siblings she could actually share them with at home or her parents just pamper her that much? Is it that Betty stole those chocolates and cakes or am I just paranoid that I can’t remember the last time I had something as good as chocolates and cakes?

It was the 18th day of June, for the first time in a long time my foster parents hugged me and this time with a big bowl of chicken. It was my birthday. They actually remembered this time. I was extremely happy but it didn’t stop me from wondering why they were suddenly been nice to me. The only time they were this sweet was the day I was brought from the orphanage, they hugged me and showed me so much care. They loved me like I was all they had but after a while, they finally got all they wanted, their own flesh and blood, their first born child. It was a dream come true to them. God finally heard their cry and I was neglected. I was treated like trash. I was abandoned, forgotten and all. I didn’t say anything about how I was treated because I felt indebted to them. Complaining was one of the behaviours an ingrate would portray and I didn’t want to look like one so I kept mute but here they are, looking all joyous, happy as a clam.
“We read your diary. We’ve been mean people. We hurt you and we didn’t even know. You would have said something. You would have talked to me. I would have changed. I would have done something. I feel guilty” My mother cried out without control. I felt bitter now because this is suddenly my fault. It was like I was ruining my own birthday.
At this point I didn’t know if I should hug or console her but my father her husband was doing that already so there wasn’t a way for me to calm her other than to mope at the beautiful shiny tiles which I had scrubbed this morning.

“We also read about the little girl you like, Betty. She died two days ago” my father said with so much sadness in his voice. I put my head up, I was confused but now I get why I didn’t see her play with her friends. No wonder her friends ate no chocolates and cakes yesterday.
My father continued speaking but this time with so much anger. “Her father raped her to death. He was caught but it was too late because your Betty had already died and there was nothing anyone could do rather than to bury her. The perfect excuse her father could give for doing what he did was that his wife was always busy and never had time for him and of course he poisoned the mind of little Betty with good gifts to keep her shut”
On hearing this, I lost efficiency. My knees became feeble. Probably this was a bittersweet birthday to me. Just when my parents remembered my birthday, I got the news of the death of my little friend I never met. Oh, her dark hair I worried about. Those beautiful smiles she gave all the time. Those limping legs were actually because of her father. The beautiful shirts he got her and chocolates, the cakes were all a scam to keep her shut. What has this world turned into?
I made a vow in my heart this time to always speak up when things aren’t right. I would say how I feel. If I’m in bondage and I see someone who can actually help me, I was sure keeping mute isn’t something I was going to do. My poor Betty. My beautiful poor Betty. I was sure to dedicate this day to my beautiful Betty, the friend I never spoke with, to all those who never spoke about how hurt they were and to those in bondage who are scared to speak up. Never would our rights to say how we feel be infringed upon. There is always someone to help and there is always someone to talk to. Don’t keep mute and continue suffering. We can all speak up and speak up quick enough.

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