As you lay on the grass alongside Chukwuka, your boyfriend, you felt lightheaded. He whispered, “My queen, my one and only,” to you, the classroom walls hiding you both from view. Your young mind rustled, stimulated blood gushed through your body as he traced his fingers all over you. Dry twigs and stalks bit into your skin as you talked with him. He kissed you long before it dawned on you that crickets had started
to chirp, and it was time to go home to avoid your mother’s wrath.
Your mother, a strict woman, would break every bone in your body if she knew you had a boyfriend. Your father, a retired factory worker, depended on her and ate like a hungry dog every day. When you left for evening lessons, on those days that you did not help her at her market stall, she assumed you had gone to study with your friend, Nkiruka. You confused her with big English words she never understood, but which fascinated her when she heard you discussing with your friend. You had heard her bragging to members of her kindred during the meetings she hosted that you spoke like Queen Elizabeth. On those days, she wore her heavily sequined yellow dress that smelt of camphor
and tied her best Ankara wrappers; one reaching the ankles and the other reaching just below her knees.
You got home and met your mother crying. Amidst her sobs, you learnt that the five thousand naira she had been saving for your final exams was missing. She held your father by the collar and accused him. When he managed to free himself from her grasp, he left the house.
Your exams became improbable.
You knew your father had become a thief since his retirement, and he wanted a new wife too, because he complained shamelessly that your mother’s breast had sagged. He had found a girl your age and stolen your mother’s savings to pay the bride price. It would take only a miracle to get the money back from him.
You were surprised when Papa Emeka, a stockfish seller next to your mother’s stall, sent for you. He had heard your dilemma and wanted to help without anyone knowing, including your mother.
You went to the address he gave you. His potbelly, which looked like a pregnant woman in her third trimester, irritated you as he opened the door and asked you in. He would help you if you could help him too, he said. There was a glint in his eyes as he came closer to you. His moaning as he grabbed your breasts reminded you of the bleating of a kid. You endured the pain as he deflowered you. He then pulled out his drawer, offered you ten thousand naira, and plumped down to rest.
In a cold voice, you told your mother you had got the money. She looked at you, her awed eyes full of questions which she didn’t ask. She noticed the discomfort with which you walked for a few days but said nothing.
Chukwuka could not understand why you changed. He pleaded, sent emissaries to know if he had wronged you. He did not understand when you said the problem was yours, not his. You just wanted to be left alone, you said. How could you explain your shame to him? How would he understand?
On a sunny afternoon after your exams, Aunty Chidinma, your maternal aunt, pulled into your house, her car decked with tinted glasses. You hadn’t seen her since you were ten, but you knew that she had married a big man in Lagos and was doing well. You exchanged pleasantries and she entered the house to greet your parents.
Later that evening, your parents told you that you were going to Lagos. Aunty Chidinma had promised that she would send you to a part-time school if you helped out at her shops.
You were filled with expectations on your journey to Lagos. Perhaps things would take a turn for the better.
You got to her house and she introduced you to her husband. You saw that glint in his eyes, the same glint that was in Papa Emeka’s on the day he grabbed you.
He patted your buttocks when he hugged you, away from your Aunty’s view.
And you wondered if you would ever be free from the clutches of these randy men engaged in dark deeds.
P S: Still experimenting with the second person POV. Please make me whole with your comments/criticisms.