Sexaul Abuse And It’s Discontents
I watched Oprah today. Tyler Perry shared the raw sexual and physical abuse he experienced at the hands of people. Adults. Family members. Friend’s moms. People you trust. People you don’t know. People you know. I had goose bumps when he mentioned how his body ‘betrayed him’ during some of those encounters.
A long time ago, my body betrayed me too. I am a woman. I didn’t have an erection, but my body welcomed the sensation of their hands on my little body. Some of them. One dirty pastor .Everybody and their mother knew he was a pedophile. Even the dogs withdrew into their kernels when they saw him. One dead uncle *he robbed the dead. Dug them out. He was beaten to death. Death by hemorrhage* One cousin I haven’t seen in years. Now you know why we haven’t spoken in year’s right? Oh my, I totally forgot. *leans head against the sofa, eyebrows raised, remembering another one* Lets call this one Frank. I stayed with Frank and his wife on a vacation to London when I was about twelve years old. Frank had a lovely voluptuous wife and two sons. I took to his wife as soon as we met. I learnt a lot from her. She taught me how to cook and how a girl should prepare for marriage. Like she had done. She was so armed and ready for marriage, she saved her virginity for Frank. Nine years into the marriage, two boys later, he was on top of every woman in Nottingham, including her best friends. I was his latest target. Well, by then I had become pretty used to older men taking a sexual interest in me.
Like Oprah said, I thought I must have had a banner on my forehead advertising something I didn’t know I was advertising. He waited until his wife was out of the house of course. He put on some music and proceeded to dance with me. I was shocked. Is this how this man is? I was stiff as a rod. Every fiber in my body was tense. I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. He didn’t break eye contact with me either. I have never been stared so intensely in the eyes before or since. He was looking for trust. His eyes were asking me if I liked him. Loved him. Wanted him. Anything. A sick little smile on his lips. My 12 year old mind laughed. He must have thought himself a prince, Mr. Charming? I don’t know. You are not the first, I was thinking to myself. We had been moving now for a few minutes. What if his wife walked through the door? The insides of my head felt hot. My ears were on fire. I wanted to run. I wanted to stay. Where was I going? I was living in his house. I knew what was coming. I knew what he wanted. What if he kicked me out? I don’t remember when or how….but I know he kissed me fully on the mouth. With his tongue. That’s when I broke away from him and walked off to the bedroom. I wanted to spit. I wanted to tell his wife. I think I saw him smile some more behind my back. He helped himself to a beer. Drank it with some satisfaction? Or was it surprise? Was he surprised that I had walked off? He didn’t think I had the will. His wife was dark-skinned. Full lipped. Pretty. Big Ghanaian backside. Friendly. What did he want with my scrawny self?
I will tell his wife when she comes! I will so tell. But of course I didn’t. I remembered instead how she had poured her heart out to me about his infidelities. Did I say I was 12 years old? I felt sorry for her. I felt pity for myself, but a part of me had become numb at this point. Shrugs. Maybe this is what our family friends did in private. Behind closed doors. In marriages. Whatever. I wanted no part of it. This was grown up life I guess. I couldn’t wait to go home to my mother.
Frank was the last person to give me what Tyler Perry said he “didn’t want”. I had been given many gifts by the time I was thirteen and I have carried it long enough. I never asked for it. Never. I body betrayed me at times. But I never asked for it. But I got them. Gifts. They have been wrapped and tucked away for too long. It’s about time I sent a thank you note those who were so kind to leave such nicely wrapped boxes for me. Gifts. Nye yi wala don.
Thankyou. Thanks for ruining my life. Thanks for such a pleasant childhood. My mother tried. She really did. She tried to put food on table. Tried to pay the bills. Single parent. She imparted whatever hopeless knowledge she knew about life to me. I call it hopeless because her wisdom never helped me as an adult.
My mother’s eyes didn’t see any of this. If they did, we were not in a place where such matters were to be discussed. We were in Ghana. Our house was not the place. She was preoccupied with raising her children. The reverend father was a constant presence in our house, and my mother knew very well he played with children. Back then, we didn’t say pedophile. We just called him a very bad man. We even giggled about it. He was welcomed without suspicion. It’s no surprise I went into a shell. Forget snails. I recoiled more than them. I just didn’t want people around me. It was better that way. People just took advantage of me. I was small, I was quiet, and I was a target. But thankfully, it stopped…along the way. I could have made one heck of a psychiatrist! I have the experience.
It is 1987. Class 1. First grade for those of you who don’t……
I am six years old. Don’t remember if it was break time or not. The classroom smelled like a mix of wet shoes, piss, unopened lunches, dirt, and the toilet, which was an arm’s reach from the classroom door. The toilet door was green. The classroom door was red. She was the only girl I was taller than….We moved in packs. We went everywhere together. Never walk alone. It was unwritten rule. To the next class, to the field, to see friends, to the toilet. Specially the toilet. Never go alone. Go with someone. We went in packs. Let’s go and urinate. Let’s go pee. Where are you two going? Oh, she’s going to help me pee. It was like that. So I accepted the offer. The last cubicle. Stinky. Wet. Smelly. Feces. I remember her telling me to drop my panties. Let me see.. she said… *bends her head, lowers eyes, looking at me* Spread your legs a little. I was dumbfounded. I was afraid of her. I was humiliated. She was so authoritative and sure of herself! After all these years, that is what amazes me the most. She had been here before. Here. In this situation. I couldn’t believe it. This girl??The one everybody liked? The one whose family went to ablochee *abroad* But she was so nice! So sickeningly nice. Broad smile, white teeth. I don’t remember anymore if she touched me or not. I think not. I remember I was finally out of there and from then on, she looked at me with a kind of conquered look. Up until class whatever, when her parents whisked her off to wherever.
I want to meet her. I have always wanted to meet her again. I saw her picture on Facebook. Same smile. TuPac said some things don’t change. I know better know. Somebody made her experienced. Somebody gave her a gift I am sure. I hope. How else do you explain it? I have fantasized about showing up at her doorstep and cocking my head to the side, with a sweet smile on my face. Hi! How have u been? I think we have something to talk about.
Thoughts come alive. I did run into her. At the airport. Didn’t recognize her at first. She had gained weight. 9 years ago. She saw me and averted her eyes. She frowned. She sat down and starred at the floor. Not in remorse, not in embarrassment. In anger. It seemed. Was she really angry? Did she have a right to be angry? An angry mask? I wasn’t a small girl anymore. She said nothing. I think I sat a few seats away from her. I don’t know. I was awkward like a six year old all over again. I was unsure of myself again. Here she was and I was a little scarred of her. I was ashamed. It would be best not to say hi to her again I thought. Maybe saying hi had angered her. Did I greet her? I don’t remember. When it was time to board the plane, she moved quickly. She was lost in the crowd. She never looked back. I really wish I could have lunch with her. But me thinks she will be too much of a coward to eat lunch with me.
I should have been an actor. Thandie Newton. Touch me on the inside part. I would have been damn good.
The writer blogs at broomscorner.com