Author’s Note (I feel so important writing this): This series will end soon. I don’t know the day, I don’t know the time, but I know I’ll end it soon. Most probably, next week. More recent last words: Har-dy-flipping-har.
I saw her again today. In the most unlikely place. It started with a phone call. The office was going to be fumigated tomorrow. We were given a couple of days off. For over 3 months, I had gone to the office, made friends, settled into a rhythm. I hated to admit it, but I was at loose ends without my work. I called my sister, cooked up a storm and stocked the fridge, hung out with Kelvin, cleaned the house, my car, arranged my drawers five times. I knew I was trying hard to avoid reading the remaining letters. I couldn’t read them. Not yet.
I loved reading when I was a child. I wasn’t very interested in the words, I was more interested in the portraits of people the stories painted. Then, I was bullied at school. Then my mom had to leave the house to go take care of my grandmother. Then I was kidnapped. And, although I did not say it at first, I was raped. I moved from precocious little boy to wild, unruly teenager. At a time, both my parents despaired of getting me under control before I did something stupid to hurt myself or someone else.
When I was in my first year at the university, my sister came into my room and took my favourite music CD without my knowledge. I upended my room searching for it. When she came back to return it, I was overcome with rage and I’m ashamed to say, I beat her. By the time the haze cleared, I saw that my sister’s milky skin now had red bruises covering it. Her lip was split, she was bleeding from her nose and she had bruises on her neck from when I had begun choking her. She looked terrified of me. This was my little sister. I adored her. I changed her nappies when she was born. I used to read her to sleep. I tried to touch her, to apologize. She ran away from my room into hers. I followed her, I kept apologizing. When she spoke, I could hear the conviction in her voice, “I hate you. I never want to see you again!”
I ran away from home. I left her my CD, the one she had taken from me and a note to my parents. After my blood had cooled, I realized I had nowhere to go. If I went to a friend’s house, I’d have to leave before it got dark and if I didn’t, my parents would find me there. If I went back, my sister wouldn’t speak to me and my father would kill me once he saw her bruises. My mom would be so disappointed in me. I was such a failure. I saw a figure walking towards me when I had just about given up hope. Then I realized that I knew the person. It was an old classmate of mine. Bunmi. She was very quiet, and she usually sat at the back of the class. It had been a while since I saw her last. I remember that I had avoided her like the plague because I suspected that she had a crush on me.
But this afternoon, as she drifted by, arms folded around herself, I knew I needed her help. So I hailed her. We talked that day. I told her things I’d never told anyone before. I told her what I had done to my sister, in detail. Her face never changed. She simply placed her hand atop mine and asked, “Do you plan to do it again?”. I said no. She nodded. I begged to stay in her house. She begged in turn that I go home. But I could not.
So, she took me home, introduced me to her father and her stepmother and told them everything I had told her about the incident in my house. I was shocked, hurt, betrayed. Then she equably asked that I be given a room for the night and she’d escort me back home tomorrow.
Her father agreed. Her stepmother asked me to call my parents first. Then she left to get a room ready for me.
I picked up the phone and I pictured my house; my dad would be getting home from work now, my mom would be tending my sister’s wounds. Everyone would be angry with me. I put the phone down. That night, I ate with a family that wasn’t mine, played with a seven year old boy I wasn’t related to, and complimented cooking that wasn’t my mother’s. Life went on. And when I went to bed that night, I thought to myself; I should have spoken to Bunmi in school.
The next day, after an early breakfast, Bunmi kept her word and took me back home. When we entered the house, after my parents had fussed over me and my mom had thanked her, she left. My sister came out then, the bruises on her neck were clearer in the sunlight, silently rebuking me for my angry stupidity. I was about to apologize again, when she launched into my arms and said, “I love you. Never run away again.”
The next morning, I received the first of my mother’s letters. Addressed to: My son, who is now a man.
It was the first of many. Every week mostly but sometimes, when there was a monumental event in my life, two or three. It contained Bible passages, it contained witty sayings, it was funny and it was totally like my mom. She began sending them to my sister, to my father. We began to write letters, one to another, fairly regularly. If you were hurt or humiliated by a member of the family or you wanted to talk privately, you wrote them a letter. It was through a letter that I told my mom about the rape. It was through a letter that my mom apologized for leaving me to take care of our grandmother and for the bullying.
It didn’t solve absolutely anything but at least we were speaking. I spent a lot of time with my family after that. And with Bunmi. She even confirmed that she had had a crush on me in secondary school. And we laughed about it. Till date, she’s one of my closest friends.
The letters my mom wrote are addressed to me at specific points in my life, ranging from past ones – For when you get your first car to hopefully, future ones- for when you meet the woman you want to marry. That one was unusually bulky.
And while I might be stuck on Ebube, but I barely knew her.
I had done everything doable. The house was spic and span, the freezer was cleaned and loaded with food, my car was pristine.
I called Bunmi. She laughed when I explained the situation and asked me to come to her office with the letters.
By the time I got there, the draw to tear open the letters had subsided. We spent a pleasant hour together. We ate, we drank, we relived memories. When she told me she was planning her wedding, I fell on my knees in pretend sadness, I mock proposed to her, she mock accepted it. We were in the same position, me kneeling, her standing and laughing when we were suddenly overcome by giggles. The door suddenly opened and Ebube, holding a sheaf of papers walked in.
On this episode, I wanted to highlight a simple and oft overlooked fact. Boys do get sexually assaulted and raped too.
Today’s charity is Mirabel Centre. I first heard of them about 2 years ago in a newspaper article. They’re a bit difficult to find information on but I do know that they provide legal and medical services for rape and sexual assault victims. You can read more here ->
If you want to donate, their account information is:
Account Name: Partnership for Justice
Account Number: 0001462896
Bank: Standard Chartered Bank
It’s a super helpful article. I’m waiting for Part 2.
In this episode, we delve more into letters a woman writes to her son, her daughter, her family. The truth is, this is an idea I’ve always planned to implement myself. I might give you a general preview. I may not. But it is something I plan to do.
NOTICE (Notice how today’s post is chock full of notices? Notice how I just played on the word Notice? Nedoux should be proud of me, being the wordplay queen and all).
I recently got depressed. Nothing special. Just your normal, run of the mill irritation with life and circumstances. It passed quickly enough. But one of my favourite Bible verses is Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made you the father of many nations. [He was appointed our father] in the sight of God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed)
Call forth the nonexistent things as though they already exist.
I began to toy with an idea. I know I’m not the only one who has twinges of depression from time to time. And I’m definitely not the only person who gets bad news. But what if I highlighted the good news instead?
Funny stories, touching stories. Five a week, posted here every Tuesday. I can’t say I’ll be consistent in posting, I can’t say they’ll be much more than saying five times that I woke up (that’s a testimony though) but I do plan to try.
You see, there are many ways to challenge God. I choose to challenge him positively with this. Every week, with this post, I’ll be saying to him, “Daddy, your children will be reading this post. What miracle do you want me to tell them about this week?”
I’m not asking for anyone’s permission. I’m informing you. And asking; who wants to join me?