With the increased rate in domestic violence across the country, I thought it fit to write a little something. This was also inspired by a task given by Pius from The Literary cafe (TLC).
“No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband“. (Ephesians 5:29-33 MSG)
“Pain!”, that was the definition she gave it, the lack of it was what I imagined.
“I’m in pain Kofo…I’m in so much pain”. She was beginning to sound like a broken record. Her high pitched voice that accompanied the tears irked me. “Why don’t you just leave if you’re in so much pain” she glanced a heart piercing look at me and said “I can’t I just can’t…you won’t understand…nobody understands”. She was wrong I understood perfectly to know she was a fool and Dotun a bigger fool.
“Are these new”, I said as I examined the LV bag on her dresser. Immediately her eyes shone and she started going on and on with details about how Dotun got it for her on his last trip, the price and the fact that it was a limited edition. As if I was interested, I only needed to get her out of her foul mood. Lately, nothing gives Dupe more joy than money and anything fancy. As she went on and on, all I felt was more pity.
Pity for my once upon a time beautiful friend, who has slowly aged without noticing – her mac and black up did wonderful jobs hiding the black eyes and bruises. If there was something Dupe was excellent at, it was make belief. I passed the bag to her and saw the struggle she had even holding it.
“It hurts, doesn’t it?”, “My hand?… I’ve to be more careful these days…imagine! I fell in the bathroom, I told you now”. No, she didn’t tell me, there was nothing to tell. I wish she’d just tell me the truth sometimes. She has everyone fooled but not me- we’ve been friends for too long.
The last time we had the conversation, she accused me of being jealous. I didn’t blame her, the unmarried friend who says the truth is always jealous. Society thought so, her mother thought so, Dotun though so and so it was so.
“Banker beats wife to death“, this was slowly becoming a trendy news headline. Last week it was a case of a man who arranged to have his wife beaten. “Animals, Animals!!!”.. I didn’t know how loud my voice was till my mother came running in. “what happened!!!….don’t kill me you this child”, she screamed back with her Yoruba accent that pops up whenever she was angry or scared. I apologised and gave her the newspaper to digest the content. “Men are animals…I’d rather die single than let a man touch me”. “Will you shut up with your nonsense talk…that is why at 27 you’re still in my house”. “Look at your friend Dupe, happily married to Dotun, What is my crime Kofo? I need grandchildren and not your nonsense talks about women Liberation”.
I was taken aback by my mother’s sudden outburst. It was as if she had found the perfect opportunity to remind me about my single status. “Girls of nowadays don’t know anything” my mother continued with what I suspected to be a sermon, one I wasn’t prepared for. “In my time women knew their place, if a man beats you, you accept it in good fate. Even after the beating you’ll do everything in your power to win Him back”.
None of this was new to me. I had experienced it first hand with my parents I almost thought it was normal for a man to hit a woman. That was the beginning of my resentments towards the male gender. It angered me more to think there was nothing I could do about it. Iya Agba-my grandmother- kept telling my mum it’ll get better. They held vigils after every episode of battering, calling on the angels to deliver my Father from the evil spirit. The prayers seemed to work for a month or two, then the beating continued.
I lost faith in prayer as I thought God had turned a deaf ear to my mother and grandmothers’ prayers, what good will mine do. I always wondered why my mother never left. Over the years, I realised that leaving for her meant shame. Her parents won’t welcome her back home, she’d become ridiculed by friends and “society”. But deep down I knew the major reason was because she was a full house wife- yes my father made sure of that – and didn’t have the means to support herself if she left my dad.
I was glad when my mother went back to her cooking when she noticed I was no longer paying attention. My mind went back to Dupe. Dupe and I have been friends since we could both say the words “mama” and”papa”. Growing up we talked about everything – career, husband, children etc. She was strong spirited, focused and didn’t take nonsense from anybody. When we were younger she wanted to be a human rights activists – fight against domestic violence, gender inequality etc. The drive drove me also. Looking back, I try to figure out what went wrong – how did Dupe move from that to someone’s punching bag. Did love make her weak? Had she been brain washed?. These are the questions I ask her and I’m met with the same reply, ” Kofo…you won’t understand”. She never really told me anything and she had an explanation for every bruise, scars and black eyes. I stopped asking after a while.
Some days I read the news and I fear that the headlines will read, ” Dupe Pedro, wife of Oil Tycoon Dotun Pedro beaten to death”. But I hope she makes me understand before then.
NB. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental
“You hurt me more than what I deserve because I loved you more than what you deserve…”
“The saddest kind of sad is when your tears can’t even drop and you feel nothing. It’s like the world has just ended. You feel nothing. You don’t cry. You don’t hear. You don’t see. You stay. For a second, the heart dies!”
Before I begin to intimate you of how I have managed to live my life up to this point, let me start by telling you how not so happy my story will end – so this is me saying, it is not a happy-ever-ending tale.
By and Large, I have an ugly past, an ugly present and possibly an ugly future. I hate to sugarcoat my words so I will tell you all plainly my bitter experiences.
Born and bred in the suburb of Bonny Island, Rivers sometime in the late 80’s, I did not get exposed to much and thus I did not need or require much. All that I needed – that my people needed was shelter, food, water and basic friendship and we had all that – I think. I was not born in a home of plenty but I was thought to learn to manage the basic things that nature could naturally provide.
Basic things such as water – we had surplus from the river close to the island, Food – well, we had lots of crabs and fish, fruits and legumes, and we had where to lay our heads. We did not need to go to school, neither was the idea thought up in our heads – it did not make sense to think of education at the time. We were taught how to fish and make nets. We learnt how to swim and wade the waves that come with the river tides. We learnt how to hide from the strange red looking people who always came by our river facing the Bight of Bonny – I think they were called tourists.
Biannually, we would usually have a mini-festival for Virgins – both male and female category. It was celebrated for adolescents from the ages of ten  to Nineteen . People who had attained the ages of Twenty and above were usually supposed to have been married. If not, by twenty-two , they become ostracized and sent out of the island so as not to beguile others into their way of life. The girls would during the festival, usually cover their breasts with two mound sized empty oysters and wear below their waist, animal skinned wrappers. The males would cover their area with Palm tree wraps and wear on their neck beaded crabs ornaments. This was done in reverence to the river as well as the earth that kept the children of the community till the festival period – so it was believed and so it was practised.
Bemused as I was at this process, I still had to participate to avoid any form of being ostracized. I had nowhere to go and I did not think I was brave enough to venture out on my own.
Besides, It was hardly unheard of that anyone would want to be ostracized from the community. Several girls ended up with one man to avoid been called names or leaving the community.
Barefooted on the eve of the festival, I had ran towards the river bank to seek the coolness of the water and wonder what lay ahead of me now that I had turned Eighteen . Very soon, I would be required to get married and start-up my own family. How possible would that even be, seeing that I was not even ready or mature to nurture my own self?
“Berema…” I heard someone call from a distance. I looked behind me to catch Awusa and Finima running towards my direction. I was in no mood for a chit-chat so I looked back at the water and continued throwing back the crabs I had caught back into the water.
“Berema…” Finima continued when she got to where I was seated, “Did you not hear the announcement that was made earlier today?” I ignored her comments and continued my throwing “Why are you here like you are not meant to be a part of us? Are you not going to participate in tomorrow’s festival?” I stopped throwing and stood up still looking straight at the water.
Baptizing my legs in the river’s warmth, I let the waters flow back and forth, caressing the sole of my feet and my ankles, as I moved in deeper. I did not like to be disturbed in moments like this, I did not understand why Finima could not just go away on her own in peace. Awusa watched in silence as Finima proceeded to drag me back from the water.
Bereft of strength, I splashed back to the floor and picked the nearest possible crab to fling at her. Awusa caught my hand from behind. He was stronger than both of us, so it was a given that I could not have fought back totally.
Belligerent as I was, he held me captive in his bosom.
“Berema…” he started. All I could hear was his baritone and nothing more. I was confused. Was he calling my name? “Berema, what has been going on with you for the past few days? Why have you been so distant?” he asked. I looked away as I refused to answer his looming question with Finima looking at me like I was some theif.
Bizzare as it sounded, I could not trust my friends to tell them anything. I mean, I do not think any one cared about anything apart from themselves. How was I to tell them about the beast I faced every night on weekdays – weekends are for family, booze and friends? How was I to tell them I was never a virgin ever since I started attending the festivals? How was I to tell them how I had been constantly raped by my Father since I was five ? How was I to tell them that the self-acclaimed Virgin festival was just a mockery to the gods we served? How was I to tell them that I was not ready to marry anyone from our Island? How was I to tell them that I wanted to see what lies beyond our Rivers? How was I to tell them that I had liked Awusa ever since I was old enough to know what it meant to like and touch?
Bethrothed he was already to Finima and I had no choice than to be happy for them. Awusa was already Twenty and tomorrow would be Finima’s last Virgin festival rite before she married Awusa. Finima is Eighteen  like me too and happy to be getting married. Would I blame her? It is all we live for and hope for here at Bonny Island. After all, Finima would join the successful others since Awusa was a bonafied fisherman and a rider of ferries for the ‘red-looking-people’.
Blotches were all over my legs but I had to keep them hidden in wrappers to avoid raised eyebrows and several questioning. My three  brothers hardly stay home so they are not aware of what father keeps doing to me. I cannot tell them for fear that someone might strike someone and somebody may die. I cannot handle another death. Mother’s departure still frightens me. I cannot seem to get over it. I do not want to get over it. I want to join her.
Blinded I was by hope. Hope that something would change and liberation would fall upon us. Hope that the ban of marriage would be lifted from the age of Twenty and moved to maybe twenty-eight ? Hope that someone would come to save me from the clawing hands of my black impish father. Hope that I would maybe die and go to a peaceful place.
Blatantly, I look at my two friends and smile aloof. There was nothing I wanted to say. There was nothing to say. Tomorrow is just going to be another lie, clothed in wrappers and oyster covered breasts and a virtual walk of shamelessness.
Bickering about the issue was pointless. Talking about the beast I faced every night on the weekdays between my legs was pointless as well. I had grown used to it. I no longer had feelings. I just wanted to leave Bonny Island.
Blimpish as my father was, it was hard to tell the truth about him. I stretch my legs into the water as I feel the sands rush with the water and settle beneath the back of my knee. Awusa is caressing my face and looking at me worriedly. Finima is holding my hand and smiling at me. I want to tell her. I look at Awusa. I can not bear to let him hear my ordeal.
Bracing up myself, I make to stand as I pull away from Awusa’s hold. I fall upon Finima as I hear her laugh at me. I join her in laughing too. Her laughter is throaty and husky. It is easy to sway someone to join her in her laughter. It is mesmerizing.
Baroque music is the next thing I hear. I turn and see Awusa singing for us both. It is hard not to smile. His words are choicy and touchy. I feel the need to cry. My throat is heavy. I gasp for breathe. My bones become brittle.
Breathing hoarsely, I quickly move away. I may explode if I stayed there much longer. Somebody grabs me from behind… “Leave me please.” I surrender “I need to fix my attire for tomorrow’s festival” I reply without turning to face him. I know it is Awusa that has held me back. I hope he does not feel the pain in my voice.
Bruising in pain, I hear Finima’s feeble reply “Let her go, Awusa…Come, let’s go and join the others at the Kongo house.” I feel Awusa letting his hands off me as I run away in shame.
Acknowledge my presence as I strut into your head with my words. Hello there, I should manage to say…let me introduce myself properly
Amanda is my name, okay maybe my second name not my first. Daddy called me Ada a lot but I prefer Amanda.
A day before I was born, Mummy said Daddy prayed a lot, a lot for a boy. They had waited 7 years for another child after my sister and they both wanted a boy.
Agreeing not to do a sex scan, they hoped in God’s will and waited patiently till I was born.
Alas, I broke everyone’s heart and turned out to be a girl.
Arrival of a boy or not, a new child was born and day by day, my parents slowly came around to embracing me as the child they needed.
Although, it wasn’t easy for me in the beginning, having to grow up thinking there was a mistake to me, but somehow it prepared me for tougher tasks ahead.
Aspiring to be just like my Daddy and more was everything I could dream of. I needed to make him proud, I needed to make him want me, I needed to make mummy see Daddy in me…it became my daily mantra.
Actions of strength, courage and independence became my daily attitude. There was no room nor time to depend on parents who thought I should have been a boy, even at age 6.
Adolescence passed me by even before I became a teenager. It was pointless having to wonder what it felt like to finally grow two mounds of flesh on my chest region or what it felt like to have a boy kiss you or what it felt like to have the regular Monthly flow or what it felt like to receive flowers and fall in love or what it ever felt like to have a boy just smile at you and melt your heart. That would have been gay for me. I was already a boy from the very start!
Alternatively, I was what you regularly referred to as ‘Tom-boy’. I indulged in Athletics ranging from Marathons to Sprints to High Jump and the Pole vault. I played the cricket with my Daddy and Lawn tennis with my elder sister. I would have played football as well at junior high but I just did not fit in with all the other macho boys. So I began to work out and tone my muscles a bit. Daddy was excited, I could tell.
At Academics, I was on top of the bright list. I did not waiver in my position, after all there was no negative distraction. I knew I had bigger responsibilites ahead so I put in all my efforts.
Acquintances, I had. Associates, I made but no real friends. Why? Because none could understand me and what the girls cared to talk about were boys, fashion, food and free money. No real challenge of some sort. I hated gossips, so I distanced myself from girls and their prying eyes. Yes, I did have two male friends; Oscar and Martín. They challenged me. They saw me as a fellow. They treated me with equal hands. There was no talk about girls or fashion, only future goals and aspirations.
An Adult I soon became and I felt greatly responsible for all my Daddy’s asset and estate. I was done with College and Masters, distinction in both, yet I felt cheated. Why didn’t I get a scholarship for a Doctorate degree? Was I any less deserving? Daddy and mummy had been proud nontheless but I had a higher standard and goal.
After Daddy put me in charge of administering most of his estates and asset, I thought nothing else could go wrong. With big sis married and two (2) kids of her own, I began to dream of having my own mini family. Problem was, at age 25, I had never been in a single relationship, never given any guy the chance, never thought i’d ever need to, never thought I would need any form of intimacy. I was happy in my own self but now I began to feel lonely, began to need a soft touch of another, began to wonder how my lips would react to being kissed. I cried some times on my bed, knowing I may never get that feeling.
Admitting that I had money was not the problem. I was rich, young and independent. I was smart, strong, Bold and beautiful. That was not my problem as well. My problem? I needed a man. I wanted a man. I was already 28, what was I to do?
Ask the bible said, and you will receive. Oh did I ask? I started asking men out but after a week or two, i’d realize, they were not my type. They had no real value, no sense, no standards…I couldn’t deal.
Allowing myself to wallow in self pity, I soon buried my head into work and forgot about my intimacy cravings. However, several years later it came back. Martín got married and Oscar and myself were obviously in attendance. Best friends of the groom. I felt proud knowing my one true friend was getting married but deep down, my heart began to envy and itch for a soulmate.
Aristo I found myself becoming at age 37. I began to like girls, their lushious curves and shapes and the firm mounds on their chest – something I didn’t have in abundance. I let myself be deflowered by the use of sex-toys and vibrators. The dudes were just not working hard to hold my attention, so I leaned more to being a ‘sugar-auntie’ to the girls I found witty and whimsical.
Auspiciously, I found Christ at age 48 and wondered why I hadn’t thought of becoming a nun. I stopped being a sugar-auntie, I stopped living in nightly puffs of smoke and a bath-tubs of alcohol. I stopped living in the fast lane because it only drove me insane and brought me shame & pain.
Adopting kids became my next option but seeing how hard it was, I opened a kiddies-shelter for the abandoned babies and less-privileged. Daddy and mummy gave me all the support I needed. I later realized, I had put too much pressure on myself from the very beginning. I forgave myself and my parents.
Answering Natures call, Daddy died at age 106 and 3 months after, mummy followed suit. I didn’t want to be consoled. I didn’t know where else to turn. Daddy left me with so many assets.
Afterall, I was the boy he never had. My foundation became his kids and mine. I know he is smiling down at me. Forget the no man thing, I am happy with these kids and I look forward to nurturing them in the right manner. Thanks to my sister, I get a few tips now and then.
Over my next few posts, I’ll be drawing attention to the beautiful and creative use of the English alphabet courtesy members of The Literary Cafe (TLC).
A is for August when the winds come and flowers fall
A is for Aaron the ginger with the dimple
A is for Alice, me with a pimple
A is for Arc de Triomphe where we first met
A is for Apple crumble pie, his fave dessert
A is for Air France, on which we flew round Europe
A is for Algeria where the heat he couldn’t cope
A is for Avengers, our first movie date
A is for Asparagus his food he likes but I hate
A is for Anger when he spat on my face
A is for Anxiety, which I felt, he made my heart race
A is for Angelique’s café, where I saw you
A is for Anna with whom you’re cheating, I already knew
A is for Autmn when the winds come and flowers fall