Ever met that guy? The one that is everyone’s favorite? That guy in the hood that relates so well with everyone, the old, the young, and even the kids? Well, I met someone like that some years back- Uncle Ben.
“Uncle Ben is that young man that every youth should emulate, I’ve never seen a guy who has such a beautiful relationship with God and with every single man around him. I’d never forget that young man”. Those were my mother’s words as we drove off in my father’s car to our new house ten years ago right after Uncle Ben helped us load the last batch of our properties into the moving truck.
Those words stuck in my memory to date. Everyone knew Uncle Ben as that young youth corper who was a man of good moral character and a role model to the young ones. Uncle Ben moved into my then compound of residence when he was posted to serve in Plateau State for his National Youth Service. He portrayed the best of character and was loved by all. Well, except me after a month of knowing him better for who he really is and not what we see.
Uncle Ben will always gather the ‘compound children’ on Friday evenings for ‘tales by moonlight’ as he calls it. Friday evenings were my favorite of all evenings in the week. He always made me feel special as the only girl in the compound amidst four other boys. He would host us without complaint whenever we got back from school and our parents weren’t home yet as he closes early from work.
As the daughter of a civil servant father and a trader mother, I usually got home before the both of them which meant enough time to watch movies in Uncle Ben’s room. His TV kept me busy that I almost never notice my parent’s absence anymore. All I need do is eat, watch movies at Uncle Ben’s, and then go back to finish my chores just before my mom or dad got back.
One day, I was at Uncle Ben’s as usual after school. “Can I put on a different kind of movie Jane? It’s for adults but since you are a very wise girl, I’m sure you’d understand it” he told me while trying to connect his flash with the TV as the said movie was on his flash. That day, Uncle Ben made me watch porn. Two different videos. One was of two adults and the other, an adult male and a minor female.
He said nothing to me while the movie played with the volume very low. After the second video, he asked if I knew what was going on. “Mummy and daddy play” I replied and he gave me a sweet for answering right. He asked me to tell no one of our little secret. The images of those videos kept playing in my head till the next time I was at his place and as expected, he played it once more.
“Jane, I’d like us to do mummy and daddy play just like you saw on TV” That day, he unzipped his trousers and made me lick what was underneath like the girl in the video did. He said it’s “lollipop for big girls”. I did and he gave me chocolate afterward and as usual, reminded me that it was our little secret.
One day, he pulled my pants down. I was scared because mummy had warned me never to let anyone pull my panties down but after seeing what he did to Lara our cat, I was mute and I let him do his thing. Uncle Ben made me watch him slaughter Lara that afternoon. I cried and he warned me saying “If you tell anyone what we are doing, I’d do this to your mummy and daddy”.
He tried to do something with his fingers down there but when I winced in pain, he stopped and unzipped his trouser as usual. This went on for months before we moved to the new house my dad built. That was the happiest day of life- moving away from the monster in my life.
Now that I’m grown, I still have nightmares where I see him laugh at me. I’m still scared of men, I have real trust issues with people outside my family. Growth made me understand that one person can be different things to different people. Uncle Ben was the exact opposite to me, what society presumed of him.
I just wish that my parents saw through the pain in my eyes back then. I still wish they saw through the fake personality called Uncle Ben. I wish they saved me from going through what has traumatized me for years. I still wonder how many girls he’s done that to and how many little girls he did that to after we left that compound. I wonder how many girls got to see him behind the mask.
Uncle Ben, my parent’s daydream and my very own nightmare.