Every night was the same. He would come to me and standing at the foot of my bed, he’d stare darts at me, burning a hole through my soul. Whenever I met his eyes, my mouth would turn as dry as a desert, and my breathing rate would skyrocket until I was basically gasping. Then, he would climb into my bed and we would engage in acts you wouldn’t even believe existed.
When they began in 2014, Mama had made light work of these nocturnal visitations, believing that I’d simply been having nightmares. But, as time went on and the frequency of the visitations increased, so did Mama’s concern. On many occasions, she’d roughly wake me up, hissing that I’d been making so much noise that the neighbors had to come check if something was wrong.
The last straw according to Mama was one night when she walked into my room and saw that even in my sleep I was frantically tearing at my nightdress and in her own words ‘braying like a donkey on heat’
After that night, she decided enough was enough and that the time had come for us to search for a solution. With my mother, ‘prayer is the master key,’ so, where else would we get this solution if not from the church?
15, that’s how old I was when we finally stopped going from church to church. Coincidentally, 15 was also the number of pastors we had met with. 15 deliverance sessions, 15 exorcisms, 1 verdict; that my spiritual husband was so strong and wouldn’t budge because according to the pastors, I and Mama didn’t have ‘the type of faith that could move mountains.’ Exhausted, our heads hung low, we had no other option but to face the jeers from our neighbors. No day passed without people calling me ‘ashewo’ and I noticed that my friends kept me at arm’s length. Some people would say that my mother had killed my father with juju and that my situation was punishment for the sorcery she had performed, while others concluded that I was an ogbanje.
It got so bad that my peers at school got to hear about it and I became an object of scorn throughout the school. I was avoided like a plague and it wasn’t just my social life that suffered, my grades dropped so bad that my report cards started looking like they were drenched in blood.
On my 16th birthday, I decided I was fed up. I went to the school lavatory and unceremoniously slit my wrist. As I watched my life essence flow out the wound, I felt some form of peace and drifted off comfortably into blackness.
I could hear voices muddled, echoes bouncing around in my head. As my eyelids parted slowly, dazzling white light filtered in. “Is this what heaven looks like?” I wondered. However, when my eyes opened fully, I discovered I wasn’t in heaven but in a hospital ward. Nurses sauntered in and out, bedecked in pristine white uniforms. The heavy smell of antiseptic settled like a dense cloud over everything. I was suddenly aware of Mama’s firm grip on my shoulder, the worried look in her eyes made her seem eons older than she actually was.
As time went on, we discovered that the dreams I had been having were fairly normal and could be compared to the wet dreams that boys had. However, the sounds and movements I usually made while asleep led to another suspicion. According to my doctor, it could have been possible that I was suffering from sexomnia. He told us that sexomnia is a form of sleep dysfunction and that it is marked by sexual behavior or vocalizations which occur during sleep. However, when someone is suffering from sexomnia, they do not have any recollection of their actions as this condition manifests itself during what he called Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
Although it gave Mama some closure that I wasn’t under spiritual attack, we still faced a huge dilemna. How would I be able to deal with the stigma? Was there no lasting solution? Would people stop seeing me as a witch? Even if they did, wouldn’t they still think I’m promiscuous? That I’m an ashewo? What was the cause of this condition?
Right now, my prospects for living a normal life seem bleak. Help!
Written by Ovie Jewel, Delta State University, Abraka, NIGERIA