I wasn’t very familiar with this feeling. It was not the stirring of butterflies in my belly like many claimed, whatever that was. Instead, it was more of a nauseous feeling. Apprehension? Anticipation? I had never done this before…
“You’ll feel wetness in between your legs, Kemi,” she had told me while pounding at the fufu in the pot in front of her like no man’s business, sweat drenching the back of her yellow Amakipkip t-shirt. Daddy always liked it soft and fluffy. Mummy would yell if Aunt Reba didn’t make it the way he liked, even though she herself didn’t know how to make fufu. Mummy lived to please daddy but at the expense of others.
“Like pee?” My mind went back to the topic at hand.
Aunty Reba looked at me and gave a lopsided smile, flashing her chipped front tooth. A fall, she had claimed. But I knew mummy’s temper. “Pee ke?” I watched a drop of sweat fall into the pot of white and disappear, as if on a mission, but I said nothing.
“It’s not pee, my dear, it’s just a normal thing that happens when you knack.”
Aunt Reba was crude in that way: calling sex knack; breast, bobi; and buttocks, yansh. Despite how street-wise she wanted to sound, I knew Aunt Reba had hands-on experience. At night, whenever I managed to get away with sleeping late, or in order to distract me from the yelling matches my parents often had, Aunt Reba would entertain me with stories of her escapades with men before she came to Lagos. Her boyfriend from secondary school she called “Agama” because of his height and his long tongue. I had tried not to blush at her description. Her friend’s father from the village with the huge pot belly who she often slept with because she needed to get through her final year of secondary school after her father’s death. That one wanted him to be his fifth wife. She would spit on the floor every single time she told this story, her face contorted with the familiar repulse. Reba’s stories, although entertaining, were sometimes a little exaggerated and often repeated. But it struck me how she never failed to exclude her salacious escapades with my father dating back as far as ten years.
Tuesday afternoons in my house were filled with grunts and moans from her room at the boy’s quarters. Mummy never missed prayer fellowship. The first time I saw her with daddy, I hadn’t known what to do. After all, it was mere curiosity that had caused me to come looking for her in the first place. I heard her making all this noise and wanted to check in to make sure she was okay. They hadn’t seen me through the small window, which was not surprising at all. I was the skittish shadow that knew all the secrets burdening this large duplex about which no one really bothered. I knew everything.
I knew about Aunt Reba and daddy. I knew about mummy’s inability to conceive due to complications from my birth and that she despised me for it. I had heard the stories behind Aunt Reba’s chipped tooth and crooked smile. How mummy had punched her in the face with an empty bottle of coke when a six-year old me had innocently referred to Reba as mummy. How they had to put wires in her mouth for a month to hold the stitches securely and how solid food was a no-no for more than that. I was there when the aroma from all the food ordered for my thirteenth birthday triggered Aunt Reba’s morning sickness and the pure hatred in mummy’s eyes as she watched daddy fiddle helplessly with his signet ring, trying not to spring to Reba’s aid as we all sat there, listening to her retch uncontrollably from across the hall in the visitors’ bathroom. I noticed when two weeks later, she had stopped retching; and when months later, a baby never came. I also noticed mummy’s temper stemming from the constant disappointment in her voice whenever she had to send me across the street to Mama Bashiru’s shop for a pack of Always Ultra sanitary pads. Those were the only times she would bother with me. And even then, she wouldn’t call me by my name. It was like she had renamed me “Come”
“Come!” She would holler from her room across the hallway when she knew I was home from school. “Get me Always.
“Dressing table,” she’d add, gesturing towards the wads of fifty naira notes on her vanity without taking her eyes off the Nollywood movie playing on African Magic. I had a feeling that my mum never asked Reba to do this simple task because it would seem like an admission of defeat to her competition. If the constant fighting between my parents didn’t convince me that mummy knew about daddy’s infidelities with the help, this did.
I heard the whispers: “Reba. Leave.” But she wouldn’t. And mummy wouldn’t chase her out either. I was the one maintaining the balanced civility, the reason why Reba wouldn’t leave, the reason why mummy let her stay, and the reason why daddy kept up this charade for so long. The first loved me. The other couldn’t mother me and needed someone who could while the third lived for the image of it all—perfect family behind the white picket fence.
It only made sense that when Daniel touched my tangerine-like breasts at school after we stayed back late to “hang out” at his request, it was Reba I told. When I told her how they tingled at the touch of his cold fingers, she lifted her head and cackled, veins straining against the smoothness of her neck. The sound reminded me of the turkey we reared in preparation for last Christmas. While I never named the bird, it was my constant companion for three months whenever Reba’s favorite songs got too annoying to listen to or her stories too repetitive. Brymo’s “Fe Mi” or “Prick No Get Shoulder” would be playing, their sexually charged lyrics floating in the background as I talked to the turkey and even pretended like I could hear its replies. It was sad how even the turkey didn’t seem to notice me. By the time Christmas rolled around, the bird was about three times its initial size. I cried so loudly when the driver helped Aunt Reba kill it. I heard mum sigh heavily and mutter “baby” under her breath when she came out to find out what all the ruckus was about. I felt nauseous as Aunt Reba plucked the feathers off the turkey, burning her hands at the touch of the boiling water, yet never missing a beat, familiar drops of sweat gliding down her face, neck and back. I wouldn’t eat it come Christmas day.
She glanced up from turning the fufu. Her round face lit up. She didn’t possess my mum’s fragile beauty, but her dark, curvy body and free-spirit made up for whatever it was that she lacked. I thought about my skinny features and my abysmal lack of personality.
“So Daniel has asked you to do it.” It was more of a statement than a question. An intuition only a mother should have.
I smiled shyly.
He had touched down there the last time we hung out, but I wasn’t about to say that out loud. Saying it out loud that he had touched my breasts was one thing. Talking about him going down there? Well…
“It’ll be nice, I promise you.” She laughed. That was one more thing about her that set her apart from mummy. Reba always laughed.
“Eh! My Kem-Kem is now a woman!” she hailed as she got up from her stool, carrying the pot of fufu, now done, and doing a jig. Her generous buttocks moved gracefully as she did, bouncing against each other, creating little ripples in her thin, ankle-length skirt. The outline of her thong was very apparent. All I could do was laugh, embarrassed. She made some chicken for me that night, after mummy had gone to bed. Daddy was out of town. She also made me sip some of daddy’s whiskey. I choked when it burned my throat. The celebration of my womanhood, she said.
So it was very surprising when I wasn’t very wet between my legs like she had assured me on the day I was giving my innocence away. I had gulped down some whiskey as Reba advised me to do.
“Booster juice. For ginger,” she patted my back when I coughed severally. It wasn’t as bad this time around.
Tucking a condom into the breast pocket of my fit-and-flare dress, she advised, “Don’t wait for any man to take responsibility for you oh. Learn to survive. Be strong.” Wisdom garnered through years of experience shone through her eyes. In so many ways, Reba was the mother I never really had. A worldly one, but a mother all the same.
It was a Saturday, the school premises was empty. We had agreed to meet at our special place, the abandoned kiosk behind the school building. He was there already, waiting while leaning against the dilapidated structure, his dark skin contrasting heavily with the white peeling paint. At the sight of me, Daniel grinned. A sign of his relief and perhaps, anticipation. I wondered, amused, if he thought I was going to be a no-show. As soon as I was close enough, he grabbed my wrist, pulling me into his embrace. Then, cradling my face between his palms, he kissed me. He then led me into the kiosk. I tried not to stare at the tiny Vitafoam mattress in the corner he had obviously managed to bring, as my heart leapt into my throat. This was it.
Standing in the middle of the little cubicle, he entwined his fingers with mine and we locked lips again. At first it was slow, but soon it sped up and we couldn’t keep our hands from exploring each other’s bodies. It was a heady mix of curiosity and lust. Somehow, I ended up against the wall, my foot grazing the edge of the mattress while Daniel felt me up, squeezing my perky nipples with the tips of his index finger and thumb. Gently at first, then more urgently and more painfully.
I was about to complain after taking it for as long as I could when he took one in his mouth. I watched his tongue wrap around it, then his mouth fasten close and tight. He suckled wildly with hand grabbing my butt and the other playing with my other breast, plucking at the nipple and clapping against the small form of it.
Soon enough I began to feel him grow against the base of my belly, his hardness helping to pin me more firmly against the wall while one hand was busy at one breast and his mouth nibbling against the sister. It only got better when he slid his hands under my dress and began rubbing, increasing his pace every ten seconds.
And then, a flash of pain.
He was trying to push his fingers into me. The more he pushed, the more I clenched up. At the third jab, I screamed. That caught his attention. His head rose.
“Slower please.” Those were the first words that had been uttered between us two.
“Sorry,” he muttered. He seemed to be annoyed. Like he was already going slowly enough.
Then he awkwardly lay me down on the tiny, almost-completely-flattened mattress. I shivered as part of my back lay in contact with the cool, rough concrete floor.
“I love you,” he comforted.
It worked. I was at ease again.
He went back to work, opening me up with his fingers. It hurt, but I remembered what Reba had said about surviving and being strong so I bit my lip, clenched my eyes shut and took it. Condom all but forgotten, he slammed his member into me, and the pain seared through my slight frame. He hadn’t even gotten all of him in and I already hurt this much. This wasn’t getting better for me. He seemed to be enjoying his efforts as he grunted intermittently. The part in me that was semblance to my mother so badly wanted to please him but sense soon took over.
“Daniel stop. It hurts!” I wailed. This was nothing like Reba told me. I wasn’t making all those other-worldy sounds she had made for the past ten years or so.
When he didn’t stop, I started to panic. It was like I was being jabbed at again and again. My gut was turning. I wasn’t really wet. Or was I? I couldn’t tell. All I could feel was him inside me and how much it hurt.
“Kemi, suck it up!” I thought to myself, after all I wanted this. Or did I? Reba didn’t tell me what to do if thing went awry. All this thinking didn’t distract my body from resisting what it considered as an invasion. Neither did it relieve the immense pain I was in. Worse than the sting from the slap I received when I asked my mum why I was an only child. Much worse.
“No! Please,” I begged, “you’re hurting me!” No answer. No recognition that I had even spoken. Just thrusting. And grunts. It reminded me of a desperate, animalistic hunger. Loss of self-control. I was breaking.
I clawed against him. Pushed, pulled his hair, bit his palm as he held it against my mouth to silence my pleas, and another arm across my throat, pinning me firmly against the mattress. I tried to hold my breath so I could breathe when his grip loosened, but that was a mistake. I was losing consciousness. Heat was rushing to my head. Blood, I thought. I could almost smell it, taste the rustiness of it. It was like drowning.
The hot tears blinded me, my hiccups were only making me gasp for breath more and more until I gave up trying to scream and breathe at the same time. It was as if I just froze and let go. I couldn’t see anymore; couldn’t breathe. Then there was a hot flash and throbbing that felt like a series of heartbeats inside me. Finally, I felt something down there, a warm stickiness, though not mine, as I sank deeper into oblivion. Just from the corner of my eye, I could read the big, bold orange letters—Vitafoam. Then there was nothing.
Post image by Jonathan Kos-Read via Flickr
About the Author:
Greatly influenced by life experiences of hers and others, Chinwe, also known as “Ella,” has finally put pen to paper in a bid to join the African literary movement that inspires her so much. She is an introverted engineering student who hopes to be more consistent with blogging at thoughtsbychi.wordpress.com