She stared at the clock on the wall. That was the like maybe the hundredth time she had done that. She walked to the front door and looked out again. There was no sign of any car. The road was lonely only the loud ticking of the clock gave an indication that something was happening anywhere. Yes and the very loud thumping of her heart, it was racing and making her sweat. Her throat was dry and she drank water again. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed to a crawl, she pressed her lips together, sat in the chair and closed her eyes. That was when she heard the whimper. The whimper of a distressed infant. Kike opened her eyes and sighed. She wondered if she should go to the room and look again. One thing she was sure about was the fact that she was steadily going mad. It was close to closing time and she knew that her husband would soon be home. That was why she gotten dressed even as she fought her rising anxiety each day. Kike wondered what she could make for dinner because this time she wanted to shoe Deji that she was getting over her loss. That was why she was dressed up and remembered that she sent for dinner from the eatery down the street. She wanted to thank her husband for his patience in these weeks when everything had been just one long blur of pain.
The door opened and she pasted a smile on her face as she turned to say a warm welcome to her husband but was frozen into a stare as she saw nobody. Kike stood up and walked to the open door suddenly terrified. The whimper of the infant suddenly came again and Kike instinctively put her hands to her ears as she moaned. ‘You are a dead baby, back to where you came from, why are you torturing me like this’ A hand touched her and Kike screamed. Deji held her tightly and whispered in her ears telling her it was okay, he was home now. Kike collapsed in tears holding on to her husband.
Minutes later, after washing her face of the carefully applied make up she had put on to welcome Deji, she tiredly told her husband that she really needed to visit her mother in the village
‘You think a visit to the village might help you? Mama left three days ago. Kike, you need to start living again. We can always have another baby’
Yes, we can as soon as this one accepts it is gone. I think the baby is uncomfortable wherever it is right now’
Deji gave his wife a puzzled look, ‘why do you say that it was a stillbirth, it never opened its eyes’
‘They took him’
Deji clamped his lips determined not to be drawn into the conversation that Kike was angling for. He had told his wife he was not buying into any story that there was more to his losing his son than the doctor had told him.
Early dawn, just the mournful call to prayer, and her heart responded in tears. Her face feltstiff and she touched it gingerly. Quietly she removed all her clothes and walked naked to the courtyard looking at the sky. She went to the kitchen and poured water in the calabash. She set it up on three stones and stood in front of it motionless. She remained like that for a while consciously emptying her thoughts of all thoughts. When she felt reasonably calm and her heart had stopped weeping, she took the bowl of water and poured it over her person. The icy cold water brought her sharply awake. She suppressed her instinctive gasp.
With measured footsteps she returned to the bedroom and stared blankly at his drunken huddled form as it snored. She went to the corner of the bedroom and silently picked her clothes , stuffing them in the bag. Her son stirred in the corner and she carried him putting himon her back as she strapped him securely.
She checked her bag, to be sure her ATM was in her purse. She had gone over lateat night and from swollen bloody lips had asked for her ATM which she had kept with Madam Stella her neighbour. She took a long look at Kunle and the screams threatened to escape her lips. She turned him over and tied his hands to the bed post. The she slapped him awake.
He opened his eyes slowly and stared in shock at his wife who gave him a wolfish grin. His moth was taped with her bloodied underwear .
Are you awake now my darling?
He tried to talk but was too tightly gagged, his eyes bulged in wild terror when he saw the knife?
His wife sighed and his eyes pleaded for mercy. She seemed to be contemplating. In a soft voice she read the poem to him as if from a long ago memory.
Do you remember this poem? I wrote it the first time you raped me and you begged me that you did not know what came over you? I warned you that if you drive the sheep to the wall it might turn on you. I am going away. I hope they find you in time. Then she brought the knife, she hummed softly as she worked on him
Five hours later, the police found him. No one knew her name and Madam Stella could only weep for the sweet faced girl who brought her the ATM to keep.
She splayed him out
sang lullaby to his screams
as she tested the knife
against his scrotum
one peel after the other
in bloody art
all the names
he called her
in drunken stupor
through the red mist
as he raped her
and maimed her
for any man.
There have been arguments for and against starting early to talk about sexuality to your child. In the wake of the rising abuse against young children, I have always believed that no time is too early.
We all know that as first educators it will be a bit much to expect your child to get educated about sexuality from outside your home. You are horrified at the very idea of that. It is therefore imperative and urgent that you ask yourself the questions and have answers ready.
Let’s look at this way, when your child was on the way, you took steps to get all the proper information that would be necessary, you went to ante-natal classes and the expectant father followed you the occasional time right?
So why would you not prepare your child for that phase in her/his life that might become bewildering if your child does not get proper briefing?
HOW DO WE START?
Sexuality is not simply about sex, so we don’t need to be embarrassed.
Tell your child that the expression of his/her sexuality is a normal component of living. The reproductive organs have their physical as well as emotional uses and a proper understanding is necessary. Children need tobe taught how to take responsibility for their body. As you teach the child how to bathe , clean, and brush you also start in age –appropriate language to show to the child that it has to take responsibility for his/her sexuality. It is not good enough to tell a child who asks you innocently what is the bump you are carrying, with the curt embarrassed words “ wait till you are married”
My daughter when she was little will watch me breastfeed her younger sister, one day unable to contain her curiosity she asked me why her sister was always eating my chest!. I stared in total surprise then I realized that the act of her sister puzzled her. I told her I was giving her younger sister milk. She piped in that there was milk at home why would I hide her sister’s milk in my chest? I explained as much as I assumed she could grasp that it was not just a chest but that I was given her sister the natural milk that nature had prepared for her through me. I let her know that I had done the same thing for her when she was her sister’s age. I explained being very small, her sister might not be able to chew as she does and Nature had planned things in such way, that what her sister needed was food that contained everything. I took the opportunity to tell her that as she gets older, being a girl, she would develop breasts too and she could give her own baby food that way. Of course like a child, she would not leave it at that, every parent knows about the endless questions of children! What I do when I am stuck with a barrage of questions like that, I offer to find out the answers. Sometimes you get respite that way. However, saying you are going to help look for the answers does two things, you get the respite, and you also show to the child, that no one has all the answers all the time. You build trust that way.
THE PARENT IS FIRST EDUCATOR
Parents are naturally the first socializing agents for your child. Your child will ask you the questions first. It is your chance to establish core family values. Your opportunity to bond and establish a relationship. You will find that as time goes on this relationship becomes fluid and changes form and substance but then that is life, and you flow and are fluid with it. You have the chance to transmit love and understanding. You thus need to develop communicating skills when it comes to issues of sexuality. You seize every opportunity looking for the right moments. Definitely, you are not going to be discussing with your six year old, what is best discussed when the child is entering puberty.
Parents must learn age- appropriate answers to give.