Girl Child

One of my favourite short stories I wrote this year. It was first published on September 13, 2015 on Lucid Lemons..I hope you enjoy it.

 

Six  – A cousin. Male. He was at the peak of his teenage years with raging hormones, eager to taste the world before it was ready for him. Mother left me in his care because I was sick and weak. He came to spend his long holiday in the city that never sleeps, one heavily pregnant with promise, but long overdue for delivery; Lagos. I happened to have soiled my clothes and he picked me up for a wash. He made me laugh. He sang rhymes that made me squeal and clap. He pinched my nose and sang folk songs, which made me long for a place I had never been before. He wrapped me in a towel and took me to where he had laid my clothes.

Something about the way he patted me dry that did not seem right. His eyes wandered down to the v between my thighs. The look on his face reminded me of the wildcats we often saw on TV. The ones who lurked in bushes, taking their time to study their prey. I grew uncomfortable and crossed my legs, wriggling from his grasp.

‘Chichi, come here now. don’t you want to rub cream?’ He taunted and I shook my head.

He smiled and laughed before proceeding to take me in his arms and place me on the bed.

‘Odera, what are you doing?’ I screamed. He said nothing and while I tried to escape, he pinned me down with one hand wrapped around my small wrists and the other on my ankles. His grip was too tight and I winced in pain.

‘Open your legs, I want to see something.’ I heard him say over my loud cries for freedom.

Impatiently, he pushed my legs wide open with one hand as he positioned himself on top of me to pin my legs down. I felt a cool breeze hit my entrance and saw him, in between teary eyes, smirk as he licked two fingers and shoved them in. I screamed for help. I cried. I begged. it hurt so much. Nevertheless, he continued ramming his fingers in me while looking me dead in the eye. Although my vision blurred with tears, I could read his expression. It was that of anticipation. His lips were parted slightly and his eyebrows raised as he waited for me to enjoy it. But I was a child you see, six years of age, limbs fragile and stamina on the journey to revival.

Once my screams became too loud to bear, he hissed and stopped. His fingers were stained with blood and the look of disgust and despair on his face still haunt me in my dreams, as if somehow I had failed him and disappointed him. I was unable to bring to life his boyhood fantasies. Realisation dawned on him after and he rushed me to the bathroom. I was too exhausted from the pain and tears. So I let the tears roll, too weak to fight and scream from the pain burning in between my thighs and stabbing at my joints, as he cleaned me up once again.

He cried too while he soaped me down and begged for forgiveness. I remained silent, but still he begged. it was no longer for forgiveness but for silence. He realised he had given me the idea of reporting and then he switched up. He threatened to do it again if I said a word. That was my undoing and I begged him not to. Glad he had gotten through to me, he gave me a cup of ice cream afterwards, handing me the remote control to watch whatever I wanted.

 

Eleven – I remember Father always stood up for me whenever mother complained I acted unladylike. You see, right before Odera’s deed, I was quite the girl child. I would run around and chase after dogs, chickens, goats, footballs, tyres and so on. Mother would go weary of chasing me around and I was excellent at turning deaf to the sound of my name. I dreamt in colour and saw the world as my playground and father loved me more so for it. He said I had gotten Aunt Nneka’s free spirit. I always frowned because Mother did not like Aunt Nneka.

After Odera, I slowly deteriorated till I was a shadow of myself. I moved around the house as quickly and silently as possible. I was in and out before anyone could notice my presence. Father worried, but Mother was grateful. ‘She’s growing up’ she cooed, rubbing my head and smiling cheerfully while father stared me down with those big bulging eyes of his as if he was trying to a get a glimpse of my soul. But I always hurriedly looked away, afraid that he would see I had stopped dreaming in colour and had come to embrace this grey matter called earth.

Mother said I was an early bloomer. My little rosebuds were starting to look tender and the area around it hurt at the slightest touch. I was short of receiving a monthly visitor, but my hips were starting to widen. After I moved to secondary school, Father got a promotion and could no longer afford to drop me off at school. So we got a driver, Mr Saheed, who smelt strongly of paraga and camphor.

It was a Saturday evening, I had been sent to retrieve the car keys from Mr Saheed. He sat on his bench behind the house with a toothpick in his mouth. He sang my name as I approached and I ignored, too irritated to start a conversation. He gestured for me to come closer. He grabbed my hands and examined them. His fingernails were blackened and his palms felt rough. They felt like sandpaper or dried eba residue, if not both.

‘You have really soft hands. They feel like nylon.’ He laughed. I smiled wearily and began to withdraw them.

‘Ah ah, Chichi. Where are you going to? Am I smelling? Sit down small na.’ I shook my head, but he dragged me down so that his mouth was inches away from my ears. I tried to wiggle out, but he held me tight.

‘I just want the keys, Mr. Saheed,’ I whined because his breath smelt awful.

‘I’m not stopping you from getting them.’ He whispered. I looked around for the keys, but they were nowhere to be found. I saw a dirty knowing smile unveil itself slowly. I followed his eyes and they landed on his crotch. He raised his eyebrows and I began to move back, but he dragged me back.

‘Where are you going to? The keys are here.’ The wicked smile had vanished and I missed it. The cold threatening look on his face frightened me more. He held me a bit too tight for comfort and I winced in pain. He reached for his back pocket and pulled the keys out, dangling them over me with a stern look on his face. I grabbed them and ran inside. More confused than ever, unable to make sense of everything that happened.

 

Thirteen – Mr Saheed lasted longer than I expected. I should have reported him but how was I to report something that I could not explain. I brushed it off as irrelevant but  had to tread with caution around him. Mr Saheed left and Uncle Sunday arrived. Mother said he was a distant relative, so I should treat him with respect. I obeyed, but Uncle Sunday did not respect me. You see, Uncle Sunday touched me, not once but twice. One time, it was punishment, and another was because I had ‘enjoyed’ my first punishment so much, he got vibes from me that he ought to do it again.

The first time was after school when I had let it slip that he was nothing more than a driver to me in retaliation for embarrassing me in front of my friends. He drove me to a nearby ditch and when I asked questions, he slapped me. He hit my head on the dashboard and warned me never to talk to him like that again. He made fun of my lips before saying lips as full as mine have better things to be doing than disrespecting adults. I had been so carried away with the ringing in my ears and trying to get my eyes to focus that I had not heard him unzip his trousers. In the blink of an eye, his hands had shoved my head forward, forcing me to gag on his length.

The second time was weeks later. I was home alone ironing clothes. He walked in through the backdoor, startling me. He held out his stainless steel bowl for garri. I took it from him and as I was about to leave, he jumped in front of me. He licked his lips as he wrapped his arms around me.

‘Uncle, leave me.’ I begged. ‘I haven’t done anything wrong na.’ I cried.

He laughed and swept a braid off my face. I winced and he laughed once again. Somehow my fear turned him on and it sickens me to even think about this. He pinned me down to the wall and rubbed his length on my thigh. I began to beg and cry remembering the stories. I had managed to seal those other events into a box, grateful it had never gotten to the point that a man would spill his seed in me. I remember telling myself that if it ever happened, I would slit my wrist immediately after because I would be unable to live with myself and the trauma.

But it happened and it was over before it began. While I struggled, he placed a palm over my mouth as his hands explored, tearing apart all restrictions. He whispered things about how it is my fault for looking like a whore. Girls with pretty faces always grew up to be whores and they liked to deceive men with their innocent eyes. He said my mother had not trained me well and young girls like me should not be so seductive. I was tired of screaming and begging, so I just let the tears roll while he jammed at my entrance, grunting with every pound while whispering despicable words. Harlot, Whore, daughter of Jezebel. Soon enough, I felt something warm trickle down my thigh. He was done. He whistled as he buttoned his pants while I slowly got on the ground.

I was not in pain because that was something I had grown numb to. My tears had dried up because there was no more strength in me to gather them up. I was weak- physically, emotionally, mentally- and all I wanted was for the wings of death to embrace me as quickly as possible. Yet, I could not muster enough strength to get a knife or razor. All I did was lay there till my father returned.

Father needed no explanation. One glance at the dead look in my eyes and he went searching for his machete. It was in the middle of the night when Father found Uncle Sunday wrapped in the arms of a lady of the night. The lady had seen father coming and she tried to escape. Unfortunately for her, Uncle Sunday was too wrapped up in his laughable attempt at true manhood. He failed to take notice of the horror on her face or the shadow of the machete being drawn over his head. It happened in two split seconds, blood splattered across the room and the headless body of Uncle Sunday collapsed onto the riverbed of blood that is the body of the woman.

Father returned and I saw the blood stains on his face and shirt, but I was too weak to react. All I needed was for my father to envelope me in his arms and assure me that it was finally over. He did and indeed it was, but I feel the storm to cast the darkest cloud over my life is still yet to come.

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