We called his room Slaughter House. We called the lodge Sodom and Gomorrah Lodge. If you know Anambra State University, Igbariam Campus beyond the school gate then you might have known Achala village and might have passed by (if not actually visited) Sodom and Gomorrah Lodge. No, not as Sodom and Gomorrah, you probably know it with its real name. Sodom and Gomorrah was the code name given to our lodge by the lodge and used only in the lodge. The lodge was a pompous storey building with about three dozens of rooms occupied by more than two scores of students, students because they had their records in some dusty half-forgotten departmental file but really fun-catching maniacs with some of the wildest experiments in sex, alcohol, drugs and cooperative immorality.

Sodom and Gomorrah Lodge is not the subject of my story. No, Kamso and the Slaughter House ran is. I stayed in Sodom and Gomorrah Lodge in my year one, Kamso was in his third year and had been running his abattoir for three years. A fat kid of twenty two years whom we called BIG behind his back or before his drunken presence, nothing gave him satisfaction more than taking a girl into his room and slaughtering her. He never made love or had sex with them, he butchered them. Four times a week, sometimes every day of the week.

He used his belt, his giant fists, kicks, everything to subdue them. “Open, my friend,” he would shout. Whip! “Open, come on open your legs.” Slap. “Idiot.” Kick. The girl would cry, whimper, beg but Kamso never listened, words like “I am a virgin” and “I am on my period” would have had more effect on a rotten corpse. In a few occasions the victim would shout and call on the neighbours for help but no one ever bothered. Both male and female lodgemates would go about their business as though the screams came from Awka. Some would switch on their generators and play music to drown the voice. When Kamso had a girl in his room he wouldn’t stop hurting her until she gave in to his animal desire.

“Why don’t the girls ever report him?” I asked my elder brother whom I was staying with.

“To whom?” he returned. “The question they would ask the girl is, what took you to his room? Again, the girls are ashamed. No girl wants to announce to the whole world that someone entered her.”

I was an upcoming bad boy still struggling to smoke weed with a straight face and survive three shots of Castello, but the routine rape of girls by Kamso horrified me. I however kept my horror to myself because guys hailed Kamso.

“Does it mean no girl can stand up to him?” I asked my brother.

“Who, that pig? They can’t endure him. But he will see thunder if he mistakenly carries a cult boy’s girlfriend. But the idiot is very careful.”

I hissed.

“Forget that thing,” my brother said, “In fact I want to learn BIG’s style, girls have done me shege.”

Usually when the girl came out from Kamso’s room, limping plus a black eye or broken jaw, depending on how hard and far she resisted, guys would crowd into Kamso’s room and shout his praise. He would mostly be seen fanning his sweating hide with the girl’s panties. Yes, he usually seized their panties. He said they were the reward for his sperm, and he had a travelling bag full of panties. Kamso was a legend.

I forced myself to begin to admire him in order not to be termed “learner”. I tried to justify this primitive acts with the reasoning that any female who came to Kamso’s room knew what she was playing with. But it was hard to suppress the fact that some of these girls actually came to borrow a texbbook or watch some interesting Korean movie, or came with the thought of visiting a human being who came in the guise of “just friends”.

One week to my second semester exams it happened. BIG Kamso brought the last girl to the Slaughter House. I was leaning on the balcony when they came down from the motorcycles that brought them. The girl wasn’t more than eighteen and she looked sickly, so much that I felt she was more in need of her mother’s close watch than the empowerment of the university. Now she would be slaughtered, given a scaring baptism of campus. Or, perhaps, she would quietly open her legs and sorrounder her dignity, and underwear afterwards, and save her skin. Poor girl.

Five minutes or so later, I had even forgotten all about the ill-matching couple, an animal scream tore into the lodge. The voice was unusually deep, like a man’s voice. I decided to enter my room and block my ears with earphones. I crashed into my brother at the door. I expected a biting reprimand but he grinned at me. “Did you hear the shout? It’s BIG’s voice.”

“It’s a lie.” I couldn’t believe this. We ran to his door and listened. We heard the gasps and kicks of struggling bodies, then “Uwaihoo! Uwaihooo! Uwaihoooo!!”

“It’s him,” my brother and I exclaimed. Doors began to open and lodgemates rushed out.

“Is that not BIG shouting?” Obinna asked. I nodded. “Mehn we have to save our guy o.” He advanced to the door.

“What is the idea?” My brother blocked his way.

“Give way, we have to save our guy man.”

“Have you ever saved a girl in the Slaughter House before?” Jane asked him.

“He’s my guy!”

“To hell with him,” said Nancy.

“Whoooohh! whooooooh!!”

Obinna forcefully made for the door but my brother pushed him away. They stood, sizing each other, hating. My brother had spent a great deal of time with Obinna lifting weights downstairs and he looked ready to match Obinna muscle for muscle. My presence further served to make Obinna rule out physical combat. Kamso continued to shout. We waited. The girls, one or two had been BIG’s victims, giggled excitedly. It was Christmas in July.

Kamso’s door finally opened and the little girl came out, unruffled. She smiled brightly at us. “He raped my sister,” she announced, shrugged then winked. “Karma. You need a tank of water.”

We stood, rooted to the ground long after she was gone, afraid to check on our neighbour, afraid to confirm the worst. It was Obinna who summoned enough courage to open the door a crack; my brother pushed it. They entered, I followed. A look at Kamso’s bed brought a rush of nauseous waves to my body, which got me so sick l had to hold my brother’s back for balance. What I saw that day, of Kamso’s body, is unprintable.

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She knew this wasn’t the right thing to do, she knew, but the risk of losing Bola stared at her with monstrous eyes, the expected pain so deep her breath became laboured just thinking about it. ‘Every woman has a skeleton in her cupboard,’ her mother had told her. ‘Don’t destroy your happiness with your own mouth. Let the past be and let you be.’ On the mantra of these words, Chinelo passed the mantle of responsibility, and the possibility of blame, to her mother. She knew she should tell her fiancĂ© about Uche but she was glad her mother stopped her, stopped the breakup. Or postponed it? She sighed.

Uche. Chinelo still had nightmares of him. He was drunk the first time, she made this excuse for him. But he knew what he was doing the second and third time. He knew what he was doing when he took her to that quack. Chinelo had red-hot foreboding over the stuffy room with a battered overlay mattress. Even the doctor’s moustache held portentous promise for her. When Chinelo laid her back on the sticky foam, she knew she didn’t know what she was doing, she knew she had no excuse. Her parents would discreetly get her the best medical solution money could buy. But it would break their heart. How would she explain to her parents that she had been raped and impregnated by her only brother. It would kill them; at least, her hypertensive father, if not her diabetic mother. So Chinelo faced the viperous suction curette than have her parents know the truth. Now with the power of hindsight, she knew what she had was just good excuse.

The operation was a disaster. Half of the pieced placenta was not completely discarded from her. The fetal remains became fatal. Infection followed. Her parents’ shock became secondary. Her life, the only matter. The next three months was hell for Chinelo, duly recorded with burning iron ink on her heart, forever.

Her womb wasn’t removed, she was lucky, a miracle. But the doctor said she would never have a baby. Her father called him a liar and consulted another doctor. He had called the man a genius for saving his daughter’s life, but he was a liar, he ought to be, for saying Chinelo’s uterus had been damaged and was no longer fertile to host a foetus. They consulted another doctor who admitted her womb suffered parlous injury but said it wasn’t final. Chinelo’s chances of being pregnant was high. HIGH. Chinelo was happy and refused to think that the exorbitant fee her father paid the man might have affected his judgement. The third doctor said it was a fifty-fifty chance.

Zero percent. Seventy-five percent. Fifty percent. This was how Chinelo arranged the equation in her heart. She had two-third majority in her favour. No, the fifty percent man wasn’t really for her. Technically, he was neutral but she could always borrow one percent from the seventy-five and the deal was struck. She would have babies. But somewhere in the back of her mind was a small potent doubt that a thousand hundred percentages would never fully assuage.

As she picked her wedding date and made plans, this ‘0.1 percent doubt’ as she tagged it tormented her. It was at this junction that she would have unflinchingly stuck a knife on Uche’s kidney if she could lay her hands on him, but he wasn’t within her reach. Would never be. When Chinelo’s abortion intricacies began, he disappeared. Few years later, Chinelo was preparing for her bar exam, her father informed her that the mad boy was in Malaysian prison. She didn’t know what to feel. No, she wasn’t happy nor relieved. She felt something, but couldn’t put a tag on it. Perhaps it was sisterly sadness blurred by the fog of those horrendous three months. That was pre-Bola; today, seeing how even being in prison a million miles away, Uche could still stretch his hand and threaten her happiness helped Chinelo admit her abhorrence for him. She even wished he was one of those Nigerians recently executed by the Malaysian authorities.

The wedding would come up in six weeks time. There was no longer any possibility of calling it off, her mother’s ‘Every woman has a skeleton on her cupboard’ had seen to it. But Chinelo wasn’t sure this was very true. There were many women with a technically clean cupboard. The possibility of a woman having an Uche brother was one in a million. The possibility of being pregnant via incestuous affairs was one in ten million. And the possibility of any sensible woman following Uche to that nut house for the D&C was one in a billion! No, many women don’t have hidden skeletons. No woman on earth has this kind of skeleton, Chinelo concluded. But her mother wasn’t entirely wrong, she was right, Chinelo shouldn’t destroy her happiness with her mouth.

She wasn’t sure Bola would call off the marriage if she told him the dark truth but she couldn’t bring herself to match the risk with action. If she got pregnant in her marriage, all good. If she didn’t, circumstances would force the confession from her. Bola would divorce her. She would then hold her mother responsible. ‘Why didn’t you let me tell him the truth earlier?’ she would cry. It wasn’t the brightest future, this, but it was better than what she had envisioned, dreaded. God bless mama.

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