I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I cried as I ran. Then, I stopped. Looked back. The boys were still there. Howling words I could not hear, but I knew it was all about the fun – their fun. Mother would kill me, a voice whispered to my ears. I started running again. I ran. I fell. I ran. And ran. And ran. Then, I looked at my hands, the banana tray was gone. How could I ever stepped into the house without my tray? Without my mother’s money for my sales? I stopped. I could hear my heart beats like the sound of the pestle pounding against the mortar.
“You can get it now…it’s red already”. She gestured to me. I did not move. She continued her grinding. She turned and called out to me again. I did not move. I did not answer. Sadiat, my friend, my good good friend, came up to me. I tried to force back the tears, but it was late. “W-h-a-ttttttttt?” Sadiat let out a cry. Just like our English teacher used to shout when we mispronounced in our comprehension passage.
“Risi, have you told Iya Risi about it?” she inquired.
“She will kill me…”
“Good. Since you’ve told nobody but me, then nobody needs to know”. Sadiat made me to know that it did not started with me, and that it would not end with me. She also made me realize that as girls – with pointed breast and lucrative behind, we could not run away from our boys. She reminded me her own experience too. It was Mr Ologbosere, our Further Mathematics teacher. For weeks, she cried, cried, cried, and cried. Nobody wanted to know if she was innocent or not; why did she go to his house in the first place? But, how could she had refused to carry out her teacher’s order which was to come over to his house and fetch water?
“Go home, Risi. Clean up. Get your slaps and abuses from Iya Risi. It doesn’t kill. I wish our mothers will one day listen to us”. Sadiat kissed me on my cheeks. Wiped my tears with her wrapper. And smiled.
This happened when I was fourteen. But the memory remained fresh in my sight. I hated my body – every single part. I had tried all these years to forget it but each time I tried, I failed. Each time my husband climbed on me, it was not his movement I felt, but the hemp smoking boys in the uncompleted building along Odo Oja.
Akin had suggested I see a psychiatrist. But, this was beyond a man – a man did not experience what I experienced that hot afternoon. He was not there in the uncompleted building. He did not feel the sharp pains I felt that day. How could he convince me he felt exactly how I felt?
I would not see any doctor – psychiatrist or therapist. I would not let it go – even if it kills me.