Maybe there is a God after all. I am back here in our family home and my life is seriously coming undone. My seams are ripping open and the deadness inside me is gushing out so fast that I feel it’s time to exhale, to let whatever wants to be be. I cannot hold my breath any longer because it’s now toxic. He wanted me to lay it all down here, where it started. I’ve come full circle. It’s time to join my lovely angels. This must be their way of saying we told you so. Karma.
All that’s left is for me to pay my dues to my creditors then my life can flow away. I know they will all think it was because of a boy. Well, they are right. It’s always been about a boy, a man. The problem with me is a male one. First, my wife-and-child-beating, name-calling, liquor-abusing father. Who even after a thorough beat down of his family administered by his own hand still expected us to love and hail him as if nothing had happened. Who expected you to serve him as the master of the house, bright and early the next morning after having dragged you by your braids across the floor of the cluttered living room for being sent away from boarding school for non-payment of fees.
Who expected and still expects you to adore him unconditionally, visit him at his new matrimonial home often. Who expects you to call him on a regular after he raised you on motivational speeches in which the words prostitute and failure were the punctuation of every drunken sentence. “Utwu tuchaita tumahure! (These girls are destined to be whores!). They will have bastards sprawling all over this place before they even write their O’Level exams. Hapana kwavanoenda (They will amount to nothing). And as for the boys, tuchapenga twese utwu (they will both suffer from mental illness).” There is a legend on my paternal side of a curse which follows especially the males and makes them lunatics. This curse, it is said was, brought about by one disobedient wife somewhere in our ancestry, who took one of her sons along with her, against her husband’s instruction, to attend a spiritual ritual that was being held at her father’s home. It was at this rite that the boy became possessed and became mentally ill, which condition, it is believed, has run in the family since then, with my own grandfather currently holding the baton. Such were the threats we had to endure regularly from our own sire. With time, I came to understand that this family affliction was nothing but schizophrenia, and that my father loved to use it as an example of what ruin obstinate wives could bring to an entire lineage. It was his non-contact weapon which he used to whip my mother back into line – the fear of her beloved, intelligent boys being doomed to a world of lunacy.
My father, who expects us to prostrate ourselves before his mother yet he trampled, spat on and rammed into ours with a car before our very own eyes, while his Queen Mother watched and turned her face the other way, to behold her son’s preferred bride.
I remember the beatings, ugly word exchanges and throngs of excited neighbours gathered for a night of free amusement. They were no fun. I was torn between hating my father for being a monster and blaming my mother for making him mad because growing up we believed that one only got a beating as punishment for bad behaviour. She must have done something to set him off like that, I thought.
At age 10, I had a boy problem, my friend’s 17 year old brother. He seemed to dote on me more than he did his sisters and I was his favourite play-thing during play-fight. He would hold me firmly against his body from the back with one arm while tickling me with his free hand. Everyone else would join in the fun of tickling the captured and the shrieks and kicks of play and laughter would mask the brother’s turned-on state as he humped and rubbed away at my innocent back until it felt somewhat moist and warm. Exhausted from the play and confused by the ‘game’ being played on my back I would lie there on the bed unsure what to do or how to feel.
The rainy season was the best, with so many bushes and plants in full growth we had plenty hiding spots during hide-and-seek. It was also the worst because while hiding you could bump into big black snakes also lying in wait for you. This was my friend’s brother. While hiding in the garden of tall green maize stalks he would creep up behind me with his zip undone and his male pride raised like a flag mast. He was dark. ‘It’ was even darker with a red tip and bulging veins. Grinning, he would grab my hand, pry my stubborn little fist open and clamp it down on his aroused manhood. I hated it and loathed him. I couldn’t scream because I don’t remember being told about molestation at that age, only about rape. I couldn’t scream because I would give away my hiding place and lose the game. I also couldn’t scream because he would be gagging my mouth with his strong athletic adolescent hand.
My friend’s brother was a cyclist of note, which made his parents extremely proud of him. They were enlightened, supportive parents who gave their only son all he needed to make his cycling career a success. This support included providing their son with all sorts of high tech bicycles for him to practice and race with. Consequently, there were bikes galore at my friend’s house and which normal 10 year old doesn’t want to go on bicycle escapades with the rest of the crew?
On these biking trips I suffered the most violation to my budding body. We would go exploring in bushy areas with our bikes in a group of about six to ten children. Because we cycled on trails it was only logical for us to be in a single file and to leave a bit of distance between each rider. Naturally, my friend’s brother would be in charge so he would organise the order in which we rode. He always placed me second from last, despite my protests, with him riding behind me. When it would be time for me to take off on my bike he would grab the seat of my bike and pull me towards him. Arrrgh those awful days! That was the first time I had my panty pushed aside by a guy and his fingers would fiddle with my tender girl parts. Sometimes he would jam his tongue down my throat or fondle the little budding breasts on my chest. Again I couldn’t risk ruining the excursion for everyone and have my membership to the club revoked since I did not own a bicycle of my own. So I never screamed or told.
As little girls my friend and I would enjoy taking baths together in their bath tub and just being silly. Her brother found this to be the perfect opportunity to view my body wet and naked. He often barged into the bathroom under the guise of wanting to command us to be quick, or claimed he needed the mop, bucket, towel, whatever. Meanwhile he would be having a feast for his eyes.
It is sickening to admit, but at first I found all these acts of attention quite flattering because I believed it was confirmation that I was attractive enough to be desirable, to be wanted. It validated my beauty as a ‘woman’ and regardless of how it was taken from me someone actually wanted my body. I don’t know how much of my father’s words were at play in my subconscious but I suspect that I was living up to (or is it down to) the standard my dad had set for me: that men would and could have their way with me and I had no right nor power to stop them. Is that not what prostitutes do?
Growing up in a house that was poor and whose decorum was not as orderly and intentional as other homes I found myself drawn to my friend’s house all the time. She would arrive home from school to find lunch ready and waiting for her, play clothes laid out on the bed in the bedroom she shared with one of her sisters. After lunch she would sit at the dining table and do her homework after which she could indulge herself in some cartoons on television. This wasn’t the case at our home. Lunch was a sporadic event and not as well thought out as at the latter home. I had to rummage through the boxes and suitcases which served as wardrobes in the one bedroom that was shared by my three siblings, maid, aunt and I to find clothes to change into. I usually wore the same outfit at least thrice in the same week before it was taken for laundry.
Homework was done anywhere from your bunk bed to the lawn outside but mostly crouching or kneeling at the coffee table in the small crowded living room. My parents had bought an old television set from a second-hand shop which, depending on its mood, would show picture in colour or black and white or show the top half of the screen and the other half would just be a band of black. The old thing wouldn’t switch on most of the time anyway. All these things made me not like our home very much and instead preferred to be at my friend’s house, in spite of all the discomforts I had to endure.
The day I decided that none of these luxuries was worth was the day my friend’s brother tried to actually rape me. The young man was determined to have penetrative intercourse with me that day. As a child I was very adventurous and liked to test the limits. On this fateful day during the school holidays my friend and I wanted to take a cold bath. But we were so afraid of the chill of the water so we came up with a plan to warm ourselves up before plunging into the icy water. In our underwear, we went into the yard and picked up bicycles to cycle around the house in the sun until we felt hot enough to brave the bath water. It was quite fun and we giggled giddily as we rode around the house half clad. This was no problem because we were home alone. Just as we completed another circuit we heard the gate being rattled and unlocked. It was her brother. He had returned home early. We quickly got off the bikes, dropped them to the ground and raced to the bathroom.
It was sometime after the bath as I was walking through their lounge to join my friend in her bedroom that her brother emerged from the passage way into the lounge. Upon seeing me he gave me his usual lustful grin, shut and locked the passage door behind him. My heart started racing as I dreaded his filthy hands touching me unpleasantly again which by then I abhorred. My thoughts were wrong. He had grander plans for me this time. He grabbed a hold of me and went through his usual ritual of foreplay while I was trying to wriggle myself free. That only seemed to strengthen his resolve. He pushed me to the floor on my back and pinned me to the ground with one hand while his other one lowered his cycling tights to reveal his ugly erection.
I kicked and punched to no avail. With both his hands free he managed to clamp my body to the floor while he pushed my legs apart with his. I could feel his heavy breath over my head as his body crushed mine under him. I am being raped, screamed my senses in my head. Finally, I worked up the courage to scream when I remembered that I had washed my underwear at bath time and wasn’t wearing any! If he succeeded in raping me I would be blamed for leading him on as my lack of undergarments would be taken as an invitation for trouble. I let out a terrified shrill which must have alarmed my assailant because he then eased himself off me and let me go. I gave my friend a hurried excuse for why I had to cut my visit short and scampered away to our unwelcoming poverty-stricken home. I was lucky to be unraped.
Article written by Black Rose
Main image taken from www.greekreporter.com