Hannah didn't understand what was unfolding before her eyes. Her parents had grim faces, while the couple sitting across from her looked so refined and elegantly dressed that the bench they sat on looked unfit for their status. They were not smiling either, but there was some sort of authority in the man's voice. It was as if he was claiming something that was wrongfully taken from him.
When Hannah was called in, she stood in between her mother's legs and just stared. She couldn't speak English, so the discussion was generally lost on her. One thing though, that rang through her heart was a feeling of gut-wrenching fear. She started shivering from the effect and she didn't know why. She tried asking her mother in her language, but was given the stare that could be interpreted as "be silent or I knock off your head!" – Her mother rarely spoke, but her trademark stare passed all the messages across to her children.
Two days later, she was woken up by her mother, and like a dream, she was made ready and taken to the motor park with a note in her hand and instructed to give to it the man she saw in their house the other day. That was how she met the man she came to know as Uncle Paul. He was waiting at the park when she arrived.
At her new home, she was introduced to Aunt Elizabeth and in broken language, she was informed that she is now their daughter and would be trained on how to take care of the home and other duties that may be required of her. From then on, her life became a cycle of chores and duties until nightfall. It wasn't too difficult at first because Hannah had been involved in house chores from the earlier stages of her life. But the difference this time around was that there was no time to play or rest.
As a young girl, it was too early for her to go through a life of unknowns – not knowing what tomorrow holds for her; not knowing if she was going to see her parents again. She cried to bed almost every day and woke up bleary-eyed and too weak to carry on. This earned her a couple of strokes to awaken her senses. The cycle went on until three years later when she turned nine and then the horror began.
She started receiving gifts from Uncle Paul with instructions to keep it secret. She was happy. She had new clothes, an extra pair of shoes and occasionally, a big piece of chicken wrapped in a paper bag and slipped into her hands when she was about to go to bed. Her sleep was better now that she began to experience a new sense of love – until one night when Uncle came in and while stroking her hair, slipped his fingers inside her. He covered her mouth just in time to muffle the scream. Four months later, he stopped using his fingers.
When she tried to tell Aunt Elizabeth that Uncle was hurting her, Hannah was shocked to hear that she had been given to them by her dad as payment for a debt owed to Paul's father, and so she had no right to resist whenever uncle comes around.
Someone accosted her as she ran away.
“How old are you?”
“Where are you going?”
“I want to go to my mummy and daddy.”
“Where are they?”
“I don't know.”