LOUD WHISPERS: A Tray Of Locust Beans

The person sitting next to Mabel nudged her. Her name was being called. She hadn’t been listening. Her mind was far away. Many years away.  She had been thinking about the pain. She had often wondered how it was possible for any human being to survive that kind of pain. Then her mind wandered even further back to how she got to be in pain in the first place. A few weeks after her twelfth birthday, she noticed some blood on her panties. Her grandmother, Mama, had told her this would happen one day. She had been told, ‘Soon you will become a woman. You will bleed every month. This means you have to stay away from boys’. She was not told why she had to stay away from boys, and she did not want to ask because she did not want to upset Mama.  She did not know when ‘soon’ would come, so she decided not to worry about it. Then her period came and she had to go and tell Mama. Mama and her older sister Mary, were the only relatives she was close to. The others were in distant places and like strangers.  Mabel and Mary’s parents had died in a car accident, five years before. Mary was sent to live with a relative in Ibadan while Mabel lived with their paternal grandmother in Akure. Mama sold provisions as well as locust beans known locally as ‘Iru’.  In the afternoon after she returned from school, she hawked some of Mama’s locust beans. Then Mama fell ill and could not go to her shop. Mabel had to hawk the Iru for longer hours than she used to.

One day, Mr Felix, the tailor who lived two streets away, called her in to his room to sell him some Iru. He then pinned her down and forced himself on her. He covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming. When he was done, he gave her N200 and warned her not to tell anyone. Mabel was too scared to let anyone know, and besides Mama who was ill and had her own worries, there was no one to tell anything. Mary was not there. Mabel kept hawking her Iru after school, but made sure she did not pass by Mr Felix’s house. Soon, things got very bad for Mama and Mabel. There was no money in the house for them to buy food, and even when they had something to cook, Mabel had to do it because Mama was unable to. Mabel stopped going to school, so that she could look after Mama and sell Iru.  Sina was three years older than her. He was in her school as well and hawked bread  for his mother. He was very  kind to her. He gave her some of his bread to eat, and would lie to his mother that he lost one or two loaves when he tripped and fell with his tray, or a policeman had forcefully taken one from him. She liked being with Sina because he made her laugh and she looked forward to his company. After what Mr Felix had done to her, she now understood what Mama had said about staying away from boys, but she thought to herself, ‘Sina is a good boy. He will never hurt me like Mr Felix’.  When Sina kissed her, she did not push him away, and when he lifted her dress, she did not stop him. It felt  good to be with him. He was her only friend and she did not want to hurt him. That meant he would stop talking to her, and she might even go hungry if he did not give her the bread she had become accustomed to.

Full Reading in Loud Whispers cover final


This story has been written to mark the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th.


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com



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12 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: A Tray Of Locust Beans

  1. Fola Richie-Adewusi October 11, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Hmmm Y.E there are many Mabel’s that you rescued. May God reward you as you continue to give hope to the hopeless!!!

  2. Olakunle Olajide October 11, 2016 at 11:17 am

    This is so touching.. Really emotional. Oh my!! A thirteen year old mother. I wish we have more of lawyer Tina who can encourage and not castigate. Happy international day of the girl child.

  3. Legzycool October 11, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I hope this story would help a girl child out there. I am sharing asap.

  4. Tbams October 12, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Waoh… Wat a beautiful story. Tears clouded my eyes as I got to d ending part of her story. Her dream was fulfilled. God saw her through and she learnt love from people around her. She is indeed a victim and she was also able to scale through, but it’s not all victims like her would be able to scale through such pain and suffering. May God have his way on the younger generation ijn

  5. Bamisebi toluwalope October 12, 2016 at 9:43 am

    There are lots of mable out there. They are victims. And it’s not all of them that are as lucky as mable. She was able to receive love, care, and wasn’t dejected.
    I feel teenagers should be enlightened about menstrual cycle, and sex education. And should also be encouraged to speak out when things that are not right goes wrong with them.All is well ijn

  6. Donald October 12, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Hummmm…. Really moved by this. May the Lord send help and Love to all young girls out there – being victimized. May their silent cries be heard.

  7. OLUWATIMILEHIN October 12, 2016 at 11:56 am

    VICTIM # this is become rampant in this country. Even film producer preaches it. VICTIM Is a movie for all to see . Marble fortunately got a benefactor before things got out of hand unlike the other girl in the movie, which got the girl revenging on any guy that crosses her part. It’s a real pain that I wouldn’t want even an enemy to witness . It is well…

  8. Mercy October 12, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    There are lots of MABELS out there.
    Maybe Mama wasn’t careful enough, would mama even have the time to preach SeXUAL EDUCATION?.. Lucky Marbel, she got help in due time. MAY GOD HELP ALL WOUNDED SOUL AND SEND HELP TO ALL.

  9. DSEED October 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    This story is so touching. All our girls or ladies out there who as been a victim also needs someone like lawyer Tina to help them leave out that dreams and not be hooked up by there circumstances.

  10. Olowolafe Olanrewaju October 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    @mercy, mama can’t be blame at all. She is just am old person who sells locust beans, what did you expect from such person to know about sex education. The best she can tell her is the advice she have gave. The problem here is the first guy that forced her to bed. if she didn’t experience this she wouldn’t have find her self in a mess.

  11. olaluv October 12, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    The lesson here is to encourage the victims around us as that lawyer did. We don’t need to negelect or point fingers of accusation to them. We help them leave out that dreams and give hope for the future.

  12. lanfem. October 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Better still is good we give our children sex education earlier so that they will know how to prevent themselves when we are to present. But for the children that have fall victim we should encourage them. It is not the end of the world.


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