I came home after seven years, I still looked fresh almost untouched. I really didn’t know what to expect, even why I came home. I was tired, emotionally tired, spiritually empty. It was time to go home.
I really had not factored into my spirit what my mum was going to say. Seven years is a long time to have stayed angry and rebellious. Seven years was the time it took me to look in the mirror. Really look in the mirror to look for me. To look for my definition of me, what it means to be me. I am not making any excuses my friend. I just got tired of it all, suicide even lost its attraction. Tried it for the first time after the physics teacher ran his hands all over me in class just before lights out. It was the same night the principal had called me into his office and asked me to sit on his lap and something hard kept sticking into me and I struggled to move away.
Yes those silent struggles, in his office his long beard and his pants, it was the reason I asked my mum to sew khaki shorts for me and I zipped them up my belly, to stop those wandering hands. I would scrub my body every night trying to take his smell on my body off. I was scared, I did not know who to ask the questions. Then I looked in the mirror then, saw my staring eyes and despaired .
Subuola would in rage insist I was after her boyfriend, first time I understood the import of what she meant, we had a big fight. It was Kola who in sheer mirth explained that I could make men commit sins. I asked him to explain, but he simply laughed and shook his head. He said my dimples and those bewildered eyes were a dangerous combination.
But that explanation came years later after two suicide attempts. But back in those days, I only felt shame, dirty and sad. Why would the principal do this things, and the physics teacher. I never had good grades in that subject, I could not explain why my brain will close up just seeing the subject written on the board. I was in constant state of terror just seeing him. He would pinch my breasts ( it was just coming up) very painfully. Hold me very tightly and rub himself hard against me. I would whimper and struggle, gradually my shame changed to anger and developed into a rage.
Seven years ago I timidly asked my mum why men were like that, and she lost it. I had never been so severely beaten. My backsides ached, mum checked my innermost places almost with a torchlight and there was no name left to call me after six hours of verbal abuse. I felt like nothing. The mat was so hard, and when it started raining, I embraced its cold sharp stings. It was better than all the abuse. I didn’t know when I started walking that night. I did not remember if I met any masquerade, I just walked, and walked.
The morning found me in the city, and the call of the conductor brought me sharply awake. Ikoyi still had a park in those days, so I guess in some fashion. I got there. Slept in the grass for a long time. Then this family approached me and asked if there was anything wrong. I remember saying very simply that I was missing and needed a job. Those were strange days. No telephones then, so I stayed with them for a while being a nanny to their child. Took my ‘A’ levels as a private student, rekindled my dream to be a human being.
I discovered later I had been damaged by the silent abuses, my mum’s lack of understanding made me a very bitter person. I closed my heart , kept the keys but refused to communicate.
I started teaching and loved the children particularly one sad eyed angel called Tina. She always sat quietly in a corner. Rarely went to breaks with the other children, never got her clothes dirty until one day another tiny one mistakenly splashed her with the drink she was having. I saw the terror that came into her eyes and how she trembled uncontrollably. Suddenly I knew what was wrong with her. I picked her up and rocked her as my own tears finally burst and we both cried helplessly.
Hours later, when the storm was over, and the wretched house girl who had been abusing Tina was arrested. I went to my clean, over clean spruced flat and looked in the mirror again
Now I am on my way home to talk to Mum.