BN Prose: Back to the Middle by Franque

“Wait here,” she said in a fierce whisper. “Don’t touch anything, and don’t come out!” I nodded, unable to say any words, a little confused at her instructions. She smoothed her skirt, rubbing both palms down the front, then she moved quickly out the door. I stood there for a few seconds wondering why she had suddenly become scared; she was jovial and sure of herself before she had been summoned by our uncle.
I had gone to spend the holidays at my uncle’s at Aguda, I remember, because it was my first school holiday. I had just started primary school and, after waiting so long to get into school, I did not understand why school had to close. Who needed a holiday? Standing there in the room, I looked around me and then I noticed she had left her underwear. I picked it up and held it close to my nose; where children put everything in their mouth, everything had to pass a nose inspection for me. Immediately, I remembered the warm stickiness that I had felt when she had taken my hand to touch herself down there. I felt a stirring as if I wanted to take a piss, but with this hardness came a feeling I had only just felt a moment ago when my shorts had been pulled down around my ankles and I was getting touched too. The feeling was alien to me, yet it did not trouble me. Instead there was a sweetness to it. My mouth dried up and my heart beat faster.
I do not know how long I stood there, and I did not hear her come in. My first awareness of her return was a stinging slap to my face before she snatched the under garment from my shocked hand. I did not cry out, neither did I feel anger. Rather I felt a sadness as if I had disappointed her, a shame like I had betrayed her trust. She scolded me for disobeying her and told me she would never play with me again, and then she sent me out of her room. For the rest of that evening I was subdued as I tried to show this sixteen year old cousin of mine that I could be a good boy.
I had to return home the next day – holiday was over – and I never got the opportunity to have her play with me again. And I never told anybody about it.
What was more, I found out much later that the uncle whose house we were at, was having his way with her too.

***
Living in a compound with other children around your age bracket has its advantages: You compare school work, you exchange story books, you get into trouble together, and go on adventures together too. And then there are the ‘Mama and Papa‘ plays.
We had these drama sessions where we play at family life. Sometimes the older boys and girls pair up and make the younger ones their children, some other times the girls pair up and the boys pair up too.
We come up with all types of plots for our stories, but I realised that whatever the plot was, the older children always managed to throw in a night scene where we then had to ‘sleep’ to simulate night-time.

It was on one of those ‘nights’ that I was first kissed by a boy. One of the older boys, a neighbour’s son who was around twelve or thirteen, had chosen me for his ‘wife’ and when it was time to sleep, had pulled me close to himself. We lay there facing each other under the warm covers, his breath fanning my face. His breath smelt clean and fresh, a minty freshness that left an almost sickly sweetness in the back of my throat. More than that was what his breath was really doing to me. My breathing quickened, my limbs and insides were doing a dance all their own. I was struggling to understand what was happening to me when he kissed me. At first it was just his hot dry lips against my lips, but then he stuck his tongue into my mouth, and when it touched my tongue, I jerked violently.
I had stuck fingers at different times before now in wall sockets and had been shocked, but the electricity that jolted me now both frightened and excited me. When he turned and shifted his weight against me, his hardness pressed against my matching hardness straining against my light blue y-fronts.

We ground against each other in this dance until my sister burst into the room unannounced. The bedroom door opened inwards and the bed was positioned behind the door, so we had enough time to break apart under the covers and feign sleep before she could gain full access into the room. I lay there my heart pounding so hard I was almost sure she could hear.
After that day, every time we played at ‘parenting’, I always paired up with him and we always got up to our making out – that was until the day he made me put my hand into his short and my fingers came out covered in a clear stickiness. After that day, I avoided him. Thankfully, he went away to boarding school shortly after that and everyone grew apart.

***
The first time I saw her like that, I was ten and had just woken up from my siesta. It was dusk and the room was dimly lit. I was lying there in bed trying to get my bearings when I thought I saw a shadow move. I almost yelped in fear before I noticed the shadow was actually Bolanle, our house help.

She had just come in from the bathroom and had towelled her body dry. She stretched to hang her towel on the door and in the dim light of the room I could make out the outline of her breasts pulled taut when she stretched. I was aware of the physical differences between a boy and a girl and it fascinated me a lot. She walked toward the bed and I held my breath, shutting my eyes tight. I felt the mattress depress where she sat and I opened my eyes just enough to see without her seeing. She sat with her profile to me and I could see the gentle swell of her breasts. I saw them rise and fall as she breathed, saw them jiggle and bounce when she rubbed her palms together before applying a coat of jelly to her arms. When she bent to dip her fingers into the bottle of Stella pomade, I watched wide eyed as her breasts drooped and swayed. She must have either heard my heartbeats or felt my eyes on her chest because she turned, ever so slowly, toward me and asked if I liked what I saw, and if I wanted to feel them.
I am sure I swallowed my adam’s apple that night because I heard the swallow very loudly in my ear. After that evening, it became our routine. No matter what I was doing, as soon as the rest of the family were in the parlour watching television, I would yawn exaggeratedly and mumble something about wanting to go and sleep. Whether the others thought it odd that she also chose that time for her shower, I may never know.
Thinking back now, I cannot remember under what circumstance she left, or when exactly she left. Whether more happened than my fondling her breasts, I have no recollection. Repressed memories? I honestly do not know. When people ask me about losing my virginity, I say I lost it at twenty-five, and that is the story I am sticking to.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Note from the author: On the morning of the 23rd of May, 2012, I followed a link I saw on Twitter, and after watching the video where it led, I was saddened. It was a video of two minors, the girl no more than 12 and the boy no more than 7, at an act that much reminded me of rabbits. People dwelt on the recording of the video, others dwelt on the circulation of the same. I was concerned that the act even happened. People blamed the person who recorded and uploaded it. Yet some people called for the head and hide of the girl in the video. Others attributed it to poor parenting and the necessary evil of house helps. For a long time, I sat back and observed Nigerians at our best game: finger pointing.
Did anyone even wonder why this happened? How the girl got the way she did? How long that had been going on? How it could easily have been anybody anywhere? How the eleven-year old girl needed as much help as the four-year old boy? Yes we should be outraged, but after the hue and cry, and righteous indignation, then what?

It got me thinking, and I decided to share a few stories, variations of which many are familiar with. A story that many more may not even imagine. Whether you wear a thin veneer of steel over your scars, or you were protected from this reality, the truth is that we are all connected, and what affects one affects all. You see, after all is said and done, I am you, you are me, we are you.

Let us do the best we can for our brothers and sisters, let us pay the duty of care forward.

Photo credit: sodahead.com

20 Comments on BN Prose: Back to the Middle by Franque
  • missy December 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I love franque. I love You. Outside of the fact that this is a beautifully written story, it leaves us thinking, knowing that we should indeed be our brother’s keepers at all times. Thank You Franque, Thank You.

  • teebee December 11, 2012 at 9:21 am

    eeeeeewwwwww!

  • missy December 11, 2012 at 9:31 am

    gross! oh my God. i really dont know what to say!.

  • mama December 11, 2012 at 9:33 am

    This is sad! children that have been abused need theraphy.

    unfortunately people like my close minded brother would argue that black people donot need theraphy. i dunno how dense people can be. kmt

  • nengie December 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

    its a sad fact that stories like these happen even today. We have to be vigilant and protect our kids. We owe them that much.

  • cuteylicious December 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Nice piece Franque! Indeed these are stories one can relate with. The issue is the way forward, I wonder how we can keep the coming generation sexually sane with the proliferation of x-rated stuff in their faces. You’ll be surprised what these kids are already exposed to at a tender age. I know one way though, talking to them FIRST about it, I mean as a parent you should be the first to talk to your child about it before he hears from outside, this opens the communication channel between you and your child, hence you can be sure of getting feedback, else yawa will gas oh, (remember the story of the elementary school teacher using a pencil on an innocent girl’s privates). Special warning to the seemingly “chaste” parents who are too shy to mention the topic to their kids.#my2kobo

  • ANOM December 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

    so many cases of child abuse swept under the carpet, I can remember being abused by two uncles continuously and most ironic of all my “religious Islamic” tutor. i mentioned one of the instances to my mum and from the way she spoke, i felt she blamed me, “y didn’t i speak up on time?y dis, y dat?” So i learnt how to keep everything to maself. Nowadays, i hate touchy lovey stuffs even with my man or to trust anyone, takes me to warm up. We, Nigerians, really need to look into this and stop behaving like it doesn’t exist.

  • Lue December 11, 2012 at 10:57 am
  • Dee Mist December 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    hmm! the agonies of childhood.
    I can relate with this article …

  • soph December 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    :( the agonising part is that it happened so frequently to the author :(

    • iq December 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      or that d author wanted it to happen to him often? fill in the blank spaces

      • AMA December 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

        @ iq and soph…I guess you didnt get the memo..they are different accounts of sexual molestation by different people…lols

  • Purpleicious Babe December 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    *sighs*.. it like a circle…….

  • Ajoke December 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    This story made me really uncomfortable but the fact that it’s based on the realities of too many is the sad part. It was a nice piece though, good job.

  • lara December 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    oprah once said that an abused child might actually not reallise he or she is abused because the subject might actually enjoy it so its up to us to pay special attention to our kids tell them aout special places where they ought not allow anyone touch

  • Franque December 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Hey family, because that’s what we are, family. I hope y’all had a good day today.
    @ Missy: I love you too, really I do.
    @ teebee and Missy: I do know it all reads so ‘eewwy’ n gross, but that’s the stark realities of some people’s lives. Not just helpless children, adults too.
    @ Mama: I don’t get people thinking blacks (read: Nigerians) don’t need therapy. Sometimes, discussing it and getting it out there is the therapy some people need.
    @ nengie: I couldn’t have said it better.
    @ Cuteylicious: We better do well make yawa nor gas, abi?
    @ ANOM: I cannot claim to understand what u’ve been through. *hug*
    @ Lue: I know, right
    @ Dee Mist: I hoped we’d all be able to relate.
    @ Soph & Iq: way beside the point.
    @ AMA: thanks for catching that and pointing it out.
    @ Purpleicious Babe: a vicious cycle too. That’s why we need to come back to the middle, strike a balance and do our bit to stop it in our little communities.
    @ Ajoke: sorry to have caused you any discomfiture. It really is a sad reality of people’s lives daily. Thank you dear.
    @ Lara: True. And sometimes, the abused feel a need to win or earn the abuser’s approval. Sad really.
    @ everyone_else: follow me @franque_521 on twitter for links to other works.

  • kay December 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Truth is, this is our reality, especially those of us whose parents found it difficult to talk to us about sex. The onus is now on us to educate our kids about when to raise alarm and ensure that they are comfortable talking to us…good job Franque

  • PLUSH & LUSH December 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    In times past, sex education by parents to their children usually came about the time parents began to notice pubescent changes in their children. Times have changed now. With the very easy and unchaperoned access to adult material to just about anybody at just the click of a button, it has become imperative for parents not to wait until the onset of puberty before teaching them about ‘the birds and the bees’
    1. The shroud of mystery surrounding all things concerning sex must be done away with because the more you make sex sound like some forbidden toy to children (who by the way are very curious) the more they want to indulge
    2. Parents please make your children your friends. Bond with them as if you were their age. Believe me children clam up with adults who are always quick to tell them that they have no business wanting to know certain things just because they are children. Telling a child ‘you are just a child’ is usuAlly translated to mean ‘you are a dummy’, so they’ll do their best to prove to you they are not. They’ll go out and learn from anybody what you wouldn’t tell them.
    3. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that occupying every minute of a child’s free time with homework, or housechores is going to make a saint out of them let your children be allowed to their own devices sometimes so that you know what they are capable of and how to curb their excesses without alienating them.
    4. Anybody your child is not comfortable around, don’t ignore it or wave it off no matter how close a relationship the person might have to your family. Don’t force your child on the aunty you think is a reincarnation of the Blessed Virgin, or the uncle who is holier than the Pope, if the child is clearly uncomfortable around them. Investigate ASAP!
    Finally because despite our best efforts and intentions there is no guarantee that you have plugged in all the loop holes, pray and pray and pray. God would not give you a child he couldn’t help you protect, only thing is remember to enlist his help.
    My one kobo o!

  • birdieblue22 December 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Great, now not only do we have to be weary of uncle’s, aunt’s, maids, houseboys, fathers, mothers, we have to be weary of their supposedly innocent playmates. If only we could hide our children from the world and bring them out when their 25years old all ready and prepared for this harsh world…

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