WS 16: It by Buchi Nduka

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When you hear about “it”, it has many sides but that depends on who is doing the telling and under what circumstance. We were never allowed to watch late night movies and I was never taught nor spoken to about “it”. If it was shown on TV we were asked to get out of the living room but this scenario hardly occurred because we always hurried out of the parlor when it got to the part of holding hands or a scene leading behind close doors.

As my mother would always say in Ibo, “Nwoke na Nwanyi a na chi”! Man and woman don’t move or talk or can not be friends depending on how our naive brains translated it at the time. A word was enough for the wise!

I had just come out of confession and the Monsignor had been very straight with me, I said “bless me father for I have sinned, this is……………..”
The monsignor caught me short” what are your …………..have you committed adultery, are you doing “it”?

“What? I said, it was like I had been holy ghostly slapped, ‘a spiritual thunderclap’ as my sister would say.
“No! Father I……..
Then what are your sins he said?
Too weak and stunned to think, I replied; ‘Father I stole meat just one, actually it was two because I took Nene’s own too. Like the father knew who Nene was…

A flush of relief showed on his face then he said to me ‘ your sins are forgiven’ he looked sternly at me and said, “Never you do “it”!
I replied,” AMEN! But do what? What is “it”? I wondered.

I told my mother about it and she simply replied, “You have heard what Fada told you, don’t try “it” o! If a man touches you, you have done it! I have spoken!

Now I had to not try “it” too, I forgot to tell my mother that the “Fada” also asked if I had committed adultery. Maybe that wasn’t as relevant as “it” was.

3 weeks later my father disappeared. Whether he died or he left or was kidnapped I do not know and neither did my mother or my three siblings. We searched and searched and we wept and wept, sorry they wept I couldn’t weep. I was confused but more so I was scared, for my mother had no job and my father left no will because he too lost his source of livelihood and he barely provided much when he was around and I was only 16.

A year passed and we were asked to evacuate our house and from that day we squatted from one aunt’s house to another. I turned 17. My first Aunt would let us sleep in her parlor, on the floor with our own flattened mattress, my 3 siblings, my mother and I because she had only 2 rooms in her house. I like to think she was generous enough for even considering letting us in.

One day she told us that we had a week to leave that her husband will no longer send money from ‘Obodo Oyinbo” (white man’s land) to pay the rent if we continued occupying space in the house. By the way he was in Pakistan or Israel o! Not even America o!

We begged and I took part in begging. She allowed us stay. Then my holocaust began. It started when my mother said I should start selling fruits in the kiosk outside the house. A “big man” in riches but short in stature was my chief buyer.

I did not know that I was beautiful but I knew that the men in my church, on my street, at the house where I go to fetch water knew that I was an Adanma, a beautiful girl. My name is Adanma.

So this “big man” was buying everything from orange to paw-paw. One day he asked me, are you Sister Thelma’s niece? I said yes, he then said where has she been hiding you? I don’t know! I said. He looked at me and grinned I like these your “paw-paws” o! Seeing the way he was acting I said then buy it now. He then gave me 5,000 naira and took only one pineapple. Only ‘one’ pineapple not even the so called paw paw’s he was starring at.
Imagine!

I was happy about the money because the price he paid for that ‘one’ pineapple was worth the whole stock of fruits. And I knew it would buy us time in my aunt’s house because we would then be contributing to the upkeep of the house.

Few days later my brother had come back drunk one night and beat up my aunt’s son, Pascal. When asked why, my brother said he caught him peeping through the broken side of the bathroom door while I was having a bath. My brother loved me; he said it was an insult to my womanhood. I smiled and said but Pascal is little and I don’t have any “Flesh sef” on my slim, curvy body.

The knock my brother gave me on my head I could not perm my hair or carry water on my head for days because of the swelling. He said “Am I blind or have I not noticed my breast have grown from “oranges to paw-paws”. He continued,” when Pascal starts wanting to do “it” with you, you will know! Do what Broda Ifeanyi I asked? Stupid girl, he said do your head! Keep asking me jamb question. Finish? Is that what “it” is that Pascal might want to do? I thought to myself.

The “big man” came and said to me the next day that he would pay anything for my oranges and ‘paw-paw’s’. I said but you only bought one pineapple yesterday yet you claimed to like my “paw paws”, if you want you can have them I’m not holding you.

He said, you naughty girl so you know what “it” is that I want and you have been doing “yanga”.

enh?  What is “it” you want today? I had no idea what it was that he wanted again.

“Then let me suck those nipples of yours”.

”Nipples”, I am not selling any nipples”. Thinking I was probably staling him he said okay, alright I will give you 10,000 naira just let me at least see one of those Orange like nipples on those big ‘paw paws’ of yours.

Disturbed by his nipple talk I asked him to show what was and where these ‘orange like nipples and big paw-paw’s were. Amazed he said seriously, you really don’t know? He looked at me and I shook my head negatively, swiftly he had pointed his middle finger straight towards my left shoulder and before I could realize his finger had touched my left bosom and I felt something as he quickly pinched a part of my bosom flesh and said now that’s your ‘nipple’. They are so soft, he said smiling contentedly.

I said he should go away that I would tell my mummy. He dropped the 10,000naira, I did not tell my mother and I now know that I had something called ‘nipples’ that were soft and even orange like and on big paw-paws that I though were my bosom and that they could even be paid for.

That night, my Aunt had been cooking, when the fumes from the kerosene stove triggered my sister Nene’s attack. We tried to revive her but to no avail so I backed my little sister and started running to King George’s Cross Hospital near Ojota Bus Stop. I ran so fast, I could have given any Olympic medalist in track and field a run for their money. I arrived at the Hospital but the doctor would not administer treatment without a down payment.

I begged and I begged, I was not a good “cry girl or weeper” because I had known early in life that it took nobody no where. So I only begged but with pride.

I explained through crocodile tears that my mother could pay the bill in an instant but she had traveled to complete something she called ‘village rites’ due to my father’s sudden disappearance from earth. And the truth was that I had no money, the last 500 naira my mother left in my care was what I used to buy Nene’s inhaler.

My brother and my youngest sister had come to join me at the Hospital by now and they were both panicking when they saw how white Nene’s body had become, her eyes had rolled in and we could only see the white, no black eye ball. My youngest sister kept on saying Adanma do something now, Nene will die o! I explained the situation to my Brother but he had only 50 naira in his pocket which was no match for the 2000 naira deposit the doctor was demanding.

Seeing the pain, confusion and fear on my sibling’s faces I told the doctor that I was willing to do anything in the hospital for a week good enough to cover my sister’s medical bill. He looked at me and said, you’re a wise girl, follow me, I followed down the long corridor to a small room.

He turned the knob and I entered, he followed shutting the door behind me , he pushed me hard against the wall pressing my head forward, he brought a chair and asked me to hold it with my two hands, with my head against the wall, he pulled my skirt as he unzipped his trousers and before he had finished removing my underwear he asked if I had done “it”.

I said, I did not know what “it” was that he meant. He said OK then I’ll use my fingers, I would have preferred if you had done “it” before now, I don’t like the mess that comes with “it”. But wait, he turned me around and dipping his large gorilla like palm in my blouse he brought out my left bosom and sucked at my nipples. “Small girl like you, how your booby take full like this? And your nipples are sweet” he said.

Next, he slammed my head back on the wall and all I could feel was sharp nails on two fingers coming in and out of my “buttocks”. After about what looked like eternity he asked me to look up and look at his “thing” I looked at him instead because I did not know what “thing” he had and then he took my hand and held it and he said have you seen anybody’s thing like this I said no, he said if you want me to treat your sister put it in your mouth, as I bent down and had a good look at his “thing: I threw up on it, and he slapped me and walked away.

I know that I did not beg, I did not cry and Nene did not die. At the reception they asked were I had been I said, ‘the doc…..,  the doctor came from behind and said he wanted me to sign a document in presence of Mr Obanikoro the pediatrician as witness so when my mother comes back she will have to pay up for Nene’s treatment. As he was going, I chased him down the stairs and I asked him,’ was that “it”?

He hissed and walked away. I tagged him “bad doctor”.

I was 18 now and I had passed my jamb and I applied to the University of Lagos but it was competitive. I couldn’t gain admission. My aunt had kicked us out finally and we had moved to another aunt’s place who harbored us for a few weeks but who also said “that we had to leave because God ministered to her and told her that she should not get mixed up in my family’s problems”, so we parked and left to Mushin from Okota after 2 weeks to squat with yet another aunt who was content with us around so long as we kept the mice away and did her laundry. My mother had no money to rent a place.

In search of love and just love I started dating a young boy and I never saw “big man” or” bad doctor” again because their “thing” had nothing to do with me. I loved my new boyfriend (or so I thought) and I used to invite him over to Mushin when my aunt, siblings and mother were out. I was the only jobless one that stayed at home all day long. We did a lot of kissing and touching but not “it”.

Then I met “him” and he changed me. In church they would preach that “it” was a sin against humanity, God and the universe to do “it” these Christian mothers and Legion of Mary people never explained what “it” was even my boyfriend will say we should soon do “it”. Do what? I wondered. But this “man”, he knew what “it” was, never said “it” but he wanted “it and he was so good at “it”. He paid for me to get into the University to study Law, he paid my siblings school fees and took care of our clothing, and feeding and he got us a nice flat in Ikeja, GRA.

You must be wondering where my mother was in all this? I said earlier that my mother went to the village and that she had no money to rent a place, well my mother too never returned, and the earth swallowed her, they said. Indeed. Rumor has it that my father’s people accused her of eating their son and they put her through a lot of “traditional cleansing” which she failed and died.

The first time I did “it” was in a hotel, he liked to go to hotels and I never really asked him why.  He had tried several times but to no avail, I found “it” painful so he would stop, then go down and kiss me down there till I was dripping wet. I would scream and mourn and ask him what “it” was that he was doing there. He would smile and pour cream on my body and massage me till I fell to my creators arm. Sometimes he would use the cream that was “lickable”, our pet name for anything he poured on my body that he could lick off!

He was darling.

One day, I had gone to see my boyfriend and he blotted out: why don’t you want us to do “it” I am a man you know and if you don’t want to give me “it” so that I can make you a woman give me……, then he brought out his manhood and said rub “it”, I almost slapped him but I had to restrain my self, Rape was common this days. Standing 10 miles away from him and very close to the door, I said “I am already a woman if you don’t know what “it” is then you can’t have “it”.

It was over between me and my boyfriend.

I really loved this new “man”, he would pick me up from school, take me out to nice places, I would follow him abroad on business trips but I never met his friends and I had no friends except my siblings. I had everything that people took for granted; clothes, food and shelter he provided these simple things but to me he provided my life line.

I have been with him over 4 years now, he calls “it” making love but I think I now know what it is; it’s having “sex” with an unavailable man!

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