Innocence.

They say that madness comes with a price, that a part, a systems of ones being has to succumb, to accept the madness, and let it engulf them For madness to take it’s full form, one must think over and over and over again about it until the madness becomes the person.

That is what little Beatrice had become; mad.

She sat outside their little home, hiding her face in the shade of the house while her bare feet lay out in the hot sun. She was singing a nursery rhyme now, twinkle twinkle little star.

Mary, the health worker walked past the girl with her mother into their home. On the walls hung pictures of the girl outside, happy, jovial, normal.

The mother was happy to have a guest, explaining the significance of each photo that hung on their humble wall; her wedding photo, Beatrice’s first day in school, her prize giving day, her visit to her grandma…

They sat down and immediately, Mary took out her pen and paper.

The girl’s mother sighed. “I see no point in all of this…I have done this before and my words won’t change.”

“From the beginning ma’am,” said Mary formally. “This is my first time with you.”

She sighed again. “Okay. It was on the 5th of July, last year. Beatrice was thirteen at the time. She came home around three in the afternoon. She had been playing with the neighbor’s child at her place when the girl’s father sent his daughter to the river to fetch some water. Seeing that my daughter had completed her chores, she chose not to go with her friend, instead, the girl’s father allowed Beatrice into the house to watch TV, which she was excited  about.

So my daughter went into the house. She came out half an hour later, with dried tears and rushed home. She said that our neighbor, headmaster Mathayo, had touched her inappropriately. She said that the man had raped her.

I told her to keep quiet, to shut her mouth. That spreading such rumors about a respectable man in society would cause her harm, but she kept on saying it. So I beat her. I beat her and made her promise not to tell a soul.

But my child, she had a stubborn spirit. She walked five kilometers to the nearest police station and asked to speak to an officer. They told her to state her problem at the lobby, where everyone was listening. And the girl whispered that she had been raped.

The officers asked her to speak out loud, and she said the headmaster had raped her. The station went quiet and only one woman went to her rescue. She asked that the police stop ridiculing her, that she needed a room where she could talk, that she had to write a statement, that it was her right to be heard.

The police not only refused to give her the statement form, but they shunned her in public for spreading such lies. They said she had no proof, and if it were true, she should have blood, unless she was a slut who gave herself willingly.

She ran back home to me, and cried the whole night.

We never spoke of it again until three months later when we realized she was pregnant. She was shunned and expelled from school. None of her peers wanted to be seen with her. She was an outcast and she grew distant.

By the time my girl was giving birth, she had lost her mind. She did not want the baby, she did not act normal. She grew wild, and mad. Sometimes we had to tie her up to prevent her from harming herself. And all the while she kept on screaming, ‘he raped me, the headmaster took my life from me!’

She became completely mad I tell you, there is nothing more to do for her. Every day, she sits outside the house, looking at the chicken, singing her songs, and in the afternoon, she walks round the town shouting at whoever will listen that her life was taken from her, that the headmaster raped her.”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but from the tone of your voice, it sounds like you don’t believe her.”

“What happened to my child is a curse. She became mad as a punishment from the gods, for lying about the headmaster. The baby she got, only she knows the boy she was fooling around with-”

“But ma’am-” interjected Mary.

“No, no. All of you social workers think you’ll come here and make a difference, give us hope. But what happened to Beatrice is a curse, nobody gets pregnant from rape. All we can do is pray for her.”

Mary closed her book and stood up. “Thank you, I think I’ve had enough.”

“Not a problem,” she responded smiling. “Tell the next one they send to be as brief as you are.”

Mary walked out of the house furious.

As she opened the door, she looked at the girl seated on the ground. She was facing her now, smiling.

“He raped me you know,” she said softly. “The headmaster. He took away my life.”

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