- TW: child abuse, violence
Fifteen-year-old Moha was in the house doing his homework in the living room when he heard a movement behind him. He turned back and looked at the empty living room. Ah, there’s nothing there, he thought, and turned back to resume his homework. Next thing, he feels the body of a man press on him and a knife on his throat. “Make a move and I’ll kill you,” a voice rasped between closed teeth. He kept quiet because all he could think of was the knife going into his throat and he was gone. His uncle Ali moved forward as he threw a piece of cloth and a rope, commanding Moha to tie his hands around the wrist and put the piece of cloth to put in his mouth. When he was done, Ali held Moha’s right leg as he dragged him into the room next to the sitting room. Upon reaching the room he lifted Moha, and threw him on the bed.” If you scream or say anything, I’ll push this knife all the way in and I will be gone before your parents come in,” he whispered into his ear. Moha’s heart sank because he knew no one could rescue him. His parents had just gone out some 20 minutes or so ago, to an evening getaway, while the sister was in her room doing her errands. Ali then took out an injection from the side pocket and injected Moha on his thigh. The last thing Moha thought was, “God please help me” and within some seconds he was asleep.
It was dawn and Moha tried to open his eyes but they felt heavy, as if someone was sitting on them. He also felt dizzy and his head was pounding intensely. He tried to get out of the bed and that's when he realised he was not wearing any clothes. His body was aching all over, he couldn't even lift his legs. He looked around the whole room, trying to remember what happened. His bedroom was all messy, the bedsheets were all thrown around the room. Ali was confused. “What might have happened here?” he thought. Suddenly, there was a banging on the door and it swung open. It was Ali. Moha was filled with horror when all the memories of the previous night rushed back."
Every morning, Ali takes Moha to school and brings him back home every evening, as it is a walking distance from their home. Ali is the brother to Moha’s dad and lived with them. Ali was a charming guy and well mannered. He couldn’t even kill a snake so the family trusted him to stay with Moha whenever they were unavailable.
That morning, his mum instructed Ali to go check why Moha had not woken up and Ali walked straight to Moha's bed. Ali felt his body recoil and shake in fear, every instinct telling him to run. He could not look at his uncle’s face and Ali grabbed his hands and squeezed them delivering a deathly threat in a whisper, “Nobody will know about this, nobody will believe you,”.
“My boy, why are you gloomy, are you sick?” Moha’s mum asked, when she saw him. Before he could answer Ali shouted “He said his head is aching so I have had him take some painkillers.” The mother was reassured and took her handbag to leave for work, while the father was already out waiting in the car. “Take him to school and in case the headache persists, you should bring him back home” the mum said.
”Yes of course,” Moha responded to the mum, “Lets go Moha” he said to him.
Moha obeyed his uncle's code of silence. He did not talk about the rape and the fact that the incident would happen every night or any other time he was home alone with his uncle. Moha was this joyful kid, loved to joke, ambitious and was always guided by his faith. All these attributes faded day by day. He started having panic attacks and nightmares. In these dreams, he would see himself asleep safely in bed, but when he turned everything seemed coated in black fingerprints and dust like the crime areas. The walls were filled with words he couldn’t explain.
He felt disconnected from the rest of the world and found himself staring out the window, thinking only of the molestation from his supposed Uncle. He started engaging in drugs and skipping attending madrassa. His religion had failed to keep him safe. He asked “Where is Allah who is supposed to protect me from any harm?” While all this happened, no one in his family noticed because his parents were just in and out of the country for business, while the sister was busy with her own issues. No one had a moment to spend with him.
One Saturday, Mustafa arrived at around 10am unannounced. Mustafa was Moha’s cousin who studied at Makerere University in his fourth year. He and his family lived within the same compound as Moha and his family and before going to the University, he was the one who took care of Moha. They got so attached to each other. He had arrived a few days before for the holiday and decided to come visit for a day before he went back home. Mustafa put his bag on the table and rushed towards Moha’s room. He had missed his cousin and see the immense joy on his face as he climbed up the stairs towards Moha’s room.
“Knock knock,” he said while already one step inside the room. Moha was standing beside the window facing out, not hearing Mustafa until he touched his hands saying “Mambo Kaka, your brother is here.” Moha turned, to confirm it was really Mustafa. He hugged him tightly and didn’t want him to let him go. “What’s wrong Kaka?” Mustafa asked him, but Ali couldn’t speak, and just held him.
Later, all the family members were present having dinner and everyone seemed so happy and joyful except for Moha who looked like disturbed by everyone’s presence. No one seemed to figure out the silence of Moha. Mustafa looked at Moha and asked him to eat. Moha nervously looked at Ali as he tried to pick out the food in his mouth. Mustafa frowned as he noticed the looks exchanged between the two of them. His face twisted in anger as realisation hit him. He suddenly slammed the table! “What have you done to Moha?” he yelled at Ali. Moha panicked and tried to stop the conversation because he was still afraid and remembered the threats from his uncle.
Everyone stopped eating and looked at Mustafa with surprise. “What did you do to him?” he asked again, standing up charging at Ali. Ali was shocked, and tried to speak, sputtering his words. “Nothing, I did nothing!” he tried to defend himself. He saw Ali coming at him and stood up, backing away in fear.
“I know you hurt him! Look at him, he is terrified of you! “Did you do to him what you did to me? Did you hurt him like me?” Mustafa was also among the many violated by Ali. It went back to when he was in primary school and threatened him to keep quiet about it. Through his adulthood he tried healing through going to therapy sessions.
Moha’s dad got up and tried to separate the two. Both Moha and Mustafa were now in tears. With a broken voice Mustafa said “When I was younger, I didn’t want anybody to be mad at me nor my abuser so I kept it to myself but uncle used to molest me and I know he’s doing the same to Moha.”
After the family learned of the abuse the parents couldn’t just imagine the shame. Moha was taken to a counselling session but still the parents chose not to report the abuse to the police. They were never ready to disclose the situation to anyone outside the family because it would tarnish their name and that of the religion.