MEMOIR OF AN AFRICAN GIRL;
My first ever memory [Part 1].
It is not everyone who can say what their very first memory in life is. Most think they do, but it is not always accurate. I, however, know my first memory and this is it…..
My name is Tomilola. I am Yoruba by tribe. I am the first of two girls in my family, the second of four children and one of six…..do the math. My father works in academics and lectured in a school in Ogun state at the time and my mother is a business woman who sells alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on a large-scale [by large scale I mean 5 thousand crates per week on a slow/rainy business week] from a warehouse beneath my grandma’s two-storey house.
I attended a prestigious primary school in Lagos state between the hours of 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday. Upon closing, I return to my mum’s shop. It is from my mum’s shop we all go home around 10pm at night.
My mum is a busy woman because of the nature of her business. She is either running to the breweries in Lagos or Ogun state to secure her truck load of goods or running to the bank to ensure her payment cheques cleared for necessary payment or running to law enforcement offices in different areas to secure the release of an impounded truck bearing her goods or following up on the re-distribution of goods to her customers. Long story short, my mum was busier than a bee and impatient to heel.
She beats me when I laughed, shouted, talked, whispered, played, sat ‘’in one place’’, jumped about, slept etc. I got caned for everything and nothing as long as her mood was ‘’right’’. And by cane, I mean shoes, electric cables, drinks crates, handbag, belt, keys, mop etc. As In just think of it and my mother can discipline you with it.
Her way of engaging me, however, is to do so academically i.e. employ private tutors. I had teachers for everything and at all times. In school, I had my normal classes; I had ‘’Table Lesson’’ with my class teacher which held during school break period; I had ‘’After School Lesson’’ with my next class teacher [this has been a culture with my mum as she believes that will prepare me for the next class] between 1pm and 2pm when school closes; Official After School Lesson which ran from 2pm to 4pm; Home lesson between 5pm and 7pm…….then assignments from all the lessons. I usually did these crouched in a corner of the shop with a candle for illumination. I still somehow got in trouble this way…..I guess from yawning or from staring into space.
There are times when I catch a break though. Times my Home Tutor do not show up or times when I am in between Home Tutors.
As I earlier stated, my mum is a busy woman and most times, she is hardly ever-present when I return from school. She however ensures someone is at the shop to welcome me when I return from school. This someone was an ‘’Uncle Augustine’’ [not family] who runs a spare part shop where she buys spare parts for some of her vehicles. This ‘’Uncle’’ helped me change out of my school uniforms, supervised my quick shower to get sweat and grits gotten from school from my body, fed me, gave me soap to wash my socks and supervise the washing and prepare me pending the arrival of my private tutor.
The truth is, this ‘’uncle’’ helped and assisted me in doing all the required chores so he could have time for me. He recognized the dearth of communication between my mother and I and so knew I could not report him to my mother. He sexually molested me and injured me over and over for 2 years straight. He even took advantage when I went to his shop to call him for my mum.
Don’t think I never tried telling my mum. I often told her my vagina hurt. I also walked funny due to the pain but her response was that if I could use soap to wash my vagina or panties but do not have the good sense to rinse properly with water, then I deserved to suffer the pain. She said this even on an occasion I could not urinate due to fire burning sensation in my vagina which caused me a great discomfort. I got beaten as usual.
Then something happened. This ‘’uncle’’ was at his ‘’business’’ with me one day when my mother walked in. She angrily walked him out of her presence with a stern warning never to see him again for the rest of her life and pounced on me. She beat me so hard and for so long I wanted to die. I mean, I practically opened the door of our moving vehicle when we were going home and almost jumped out [Yes, she was beating me in the enclosed space of our car while she was driving]. This made her stop.
When we got home, my father saw me and asked me what I stole…..it was that bad.
The reality of this experience is that, I did not know what I did wrong or why I was beaten. I just know I was beaten severely by my mum one day but I did not know what I did. This was unusual with my mum because if she beats you, it will be accompanied by your life history and history of all your offenses. As in if she beats you for laughing, she will accompany every stroke with how you are laughing like this or that….so you will know your laugh is what got you in trouble.
This time was different and subsequent beatings never referenced this beating. She never told my dad what I did wrong, and never told anyone that asked what I did to get injuries so severe all over my body.
I thus kept the memory of that day and scenario in my memory till I was 12 years old and in secondary school when I learned about sex and sexuality from seniors in boarding school. Then everything fell into place……..
And I became a monster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To be continued………
A true story by Tomi…
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