This is now. Sitting in my room. Vice in one hand, virtue in another. I am tired of writing. These days, chronicling my life seems like such a chore. So, I’ve decided to go back to my first love: calligraphy, till the burden feels lighter. Or till I’ve read enough to become a Chimamanda or an Onyeka Nwelue and have a vocabulary full of words worthy enough to transport you back in time, because this phase won’t last forever. I hope. I know.
Shaz, my immediate younger sister has just gone for lectures, she spent the night with me in the house she paid for. And my father just called, promising to assist me. For the first time, I felt pity for him. He sounded like he really wanted me back home. He sounded humbled, like he would be devoted to me whether I meet his expectations or not.
Home. I haven’t been home since the end of August, last year. Mama said I had run away to live with a man – or a boy. Pa declared me a rebel, an outcast. He swore to reject me publicly, to save his reputation. Well, they later concluded I was an international prostitute, selling my body for the love of money. That was till they found out I was hiding with a cousin in Lagos working hard to make ends meet.
It was after learning about Ruth’s rape incident, that I made up to my mind to cook up a lie and leave the house, before I lost my sanity. There was also the fact that my birthday was fast approaching, but I was not excited about it. Not even a bit. On some days, I wished the day would never even come or that it would just melt into the following day. I didn’t want the theatrics, the smiles, loud cheers and noises. I was not happy, I just wanted to spend that day with nicotine and coffee, no humans.
The eve of my birthday started as any other day would, but ended as a nightmare; a prelude to my birthday. That fateful morning, mum said she was travelling to Onitsha for business purposes. She left early, so that she could finish her business in Onitsha and make it back in time for the mid year all-night prayers chain later that day. But my siblings had already begun the customary queenly birthday treatment, particularly my sisters.
I had started to conclude that the day would not be bad after all, as I chatted with the boo via BBM. Then, Father came back and I lost my peace.
Chores hit me from every side; do this, do that. Even after I delegated the jobs to my siblings, I was punished when caught and made to repeat them personally.
The last directive was to boil water for mama, who was making the return journey home. I was unable to go downstairs at the time, so I decided to use the heater in the boys’ room. When Father checked the kitchen and there was no boiling water on the cooker, hell broke loose. He ran to my room. I heard him coming and hid behind my door. As he searched my room, I zoomed off to the store, locking the door behind me and pleading for mercy; I also begged for a chance to explain. I thought it would be the usual: he’d stop, I’d explain, I’d get scolded and I’d return to my sanctuary of a room. But this time his intentions were different. With brute force, he pushed through the door of the store.
Then, it started raining punches. Even my face and wrists got some. I couldn’t hit back. I remember holding his collar, to push him away from the doorway, so that I could run out. And that was when my mother walked in.
She had missed ‘the biggest taboo’ by some seconds; I hope she doesn’t miss the rapture in the same manner. When she saw me panting and crying, she dragged me in, to know what happened.
Father was pacing in the sitting room. The atmosphere was tense, my siblings shadows hovered as they eavesdropped.
“What happened?” she asked, for what seemed like the umpteenth time.
“Daddy said I should boil water for you,” I stuttered holding back the tears, as I told her my truth.
“Go upstairs,” she said, after I had finished.
Father told her his, and when she came upstairs to change her clothes, she met me crying like a widow at my door adjacent to theirs,
“You held your father’s shirt,” she bellowed. “So you want to bring curse upon yourself. I did not raise you this way. God knows I raised you in his fear.” Now she sobbed and walked in the opposite direction, as solemnly as she would walk away from someone dancing naked in the market.
Edakun, Esskiss me, no sorry, or any part dey pain you or do you want drugs, no concern, care niggaaah! I was just beaten. I muttered myself.
I spent the later parts of my birthday, sleeping away the pains. I wished he waited till 1st of august to do the deed. Or maybe two days before my birthday. That way, I would forget. Time would be able to wash it away, but so close to my birthday, it was different. Because each birthday would bring back the memory of that day in the store.
A. Rebelle is a 20-something year old African lady, and these are her adventures.