I took a walk down memory lane; I tried moving step by step, careful not to jump too much over some painful parts lying in my path. I crawled and paused here and there to recollect the foggy bits. Still, I couldn’t tread those terribly dark paths etched deep in my subconscious.
I walked past the numerous houses I used to live in, gazed fondly at my childhood; that time I learnt to ride a bicycle, when we used to play tinko-tinko, sandali li, suwe and other games whose origin we never questioned. And didn’t I hear some children playing those same games downstairs the other day?
I saw that of all the games, I didn’t like mummy and daddy – it contributed in stripping off the garment called innocence of me. I saw a young girl that became secretive; seeing things she shouldn’t, talking only when necessary, observing people and actions in ways her mates couldn’t and venturing into strange, sometimes exciting places (physical and mental) she dared not be caught in. She wanted to understand what made people tick, and someone, anyone to understand the deep soul in her small frame, but they also couldn’t or wouldn’t?
I saw my friends – some of which ‘life has happened to,’ those I’ve lost contact with, those I hardly talk to now or are ‘just there’ – and my heart grew heavy at the prospect of how those friendships would have blossomed had we (I and mother) not moved too frequently. But then again, who knew with life?
I saw the secrets piling up like shit in a pit laterine. I saw ‘uncle’ calling me into his room, I saw him touching and probing… I saw the fondness in mother’s eyes when she spoke of him. I saw myself not quite comprehending, but intuitively knew it was something bad that you’re not supposed to tell people.
Instead, I watched mother work so hard on all kinds of jobs just for me to get the needful – food, shelter, clothes and ah… love.
New terms had me like: new school bag? Check. New sandals? Check. Sparkling socks and uniform? Double check. Lunch and pocket money? Check. Complete books? Check. Good grades? Check.
Then I saw the envy and the how-does-her-mother-do-it? stare from friends, neighbours, well-wishers and haters.
They saw it all on a superficial level, but I saw my mother’s struggles; how she held her head high through the stigma and scorn, how she sobbed silently at night, how she begged me to study hard and not end up like her (oh… how hard I studied), how she would place her palm on my forehead and pray for me with all her heart while I pretended to be asleep, how there was (and is) no-one like her – my friend, sister (if you look at the not-so-wide age gap), my comforter, my hero and my everything.
“You are blessed, you are highly favoured, no evil shall befall you…” Didn’t they say a mother’s prayer was highly potent? It is and will ever be.
I saw the sceptre resting on me to be what my mother couldn’t be, achieve what she couldn’t and shame those who said she’d fail.
Yes… Yes… I’m trying, but how come I can’t call her “mum” or “mummy” now? Please, let’s hold that thought with the question mark…
Then I saw them – two more people like ‘uncle’ – satisfying their adolescent urges with my 9 year old body. An addition to the towering pile of shitty secrets.
Again, I saw an ‘aunty’ directing my hands… heard her saying “touch me here not there”. I saw myself watching her eyes roll back in pleasure. Atleast, she wasn’t like the ‘uncles’ but they were all the same – another shit in the already shitty pile of secrets.
I saw us ( mother and I) in the night, sleeping in locked shop spaces, churches, anywhere we could lay out heavy heads, sometimes even open spaces. I saw the pain in mother’s eyes, I felt her heart beating with guilt at the harshness I was being exposed to (what of the other exposures tucked away in the secret folds of my chest?). I saw the kind gestures people showed us, I just wished we could have a normal home for once.
Would you then blame me for becoming the kid who went to friends’ houses and delayed her return home, because she dreaded going back to nothing? Hated not knowing what ‘home’ felt like? All I wanted was the perfect scenes I saw in those homes; father, mother, children, aunts, grandmas, grandpas, etc ( and maybe one or two good uncles). I craved the warmth, the camaraderie of a close-knitted family, the normalcy of it all in contrast to my chaotic life.
How terribly wrong I was about perfect scenes; the things I wanted, made them weary. The people I envied, envied me. They too had shitty piles of personal and family secrets merged with dissatisfaction. Once again, I had to resume looking deep into people, actions and things – some things in life are not as cracked up as they appear to be.
Wow wow wow! You made it here, thank you for reading. I am kind of testing the waters, and my story will be continued based on the feedbacks I get from you lovely readers.
Kindy leave your comments and do tell me if you’d buy it at a small price if I made it into a book. You can connect with me on Instagram @girlwith_soul