Zeruwa could not ‘avoid the world’ in life, so she did that in death. Orphaned at five and raised by relatives in seven different cities, Zeruwa knew nothing but pain and sorrow.

At first, she was grateful she had people to live with. But after three exchanges, her whole life became a nightmare. She was constantly made to pay for the food she was provided and the shelter she was given. In fact, her father’s relatives would pass for the cruelest people on earth.

She didn’t see any need for all the pretence and the fake promises, they made to her each time she had to move. Everyone already knows that Nigerians never treat other people’s children right. Once a child goes to live with someone who is not their parent, they are accorded the “house girl or boy” status. And when that happens, ‘guardians’ live to ensure that life becomes hell for the child.

The longest she ever stayed with a family is 3 years. Usually when they tire of her, they accuse her of stealing something and then send her away. She would roam the streets for days and then they will come looking for her. They would take her back and hold a family council where another relative will offer to take her.

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Once they chased her out because she ate food from a stainless plate instead of the plastic plate she was given. But before they did that, her uncle beat her until she bled from her mouth and ears. Then his wife threatened to smear ground pepper on her genitals.

Zeruwa bore it all because what she feared more than the maltreatment was living on the streets. The whole charade only made her develop a deep hatred for the being called God. She just didn’t understand why He would let her suffer that much.

At fifteen, Zeruwa was married off to the first man who came knocking; the one who her uncle owed the highest. She spent her days paying for something she didn’t know. Whenever her ‘husband’ whined or complained about anything, he did so with a malicious beating. The only reason she could think of is that she wasn’t good enough payment for the debt her uncle owed.

In all that time, Zeruwa perceived that her name was a prophecy. She knew it was telling her something, but she wasn’t sure what it was. One day, she gave into its truth; she lost her will to live and fell at the next beating. What she didn’t know was that she wasn’t going down alone; she and her last tormentor had created a life together.