I remember the days when Father would come home singing his depression a bit too loudly in his drunk state. He would sing his poverty and bitterness in songs only him and his beer understood. Papa’s problem was refusing to accept the truth of his poverty. His wealthy days as a trader still haunted him. He would throw parties his jobless pockets could not afford. He wore his pride like a knightly armor. An armor that couldn’t protect him from the truth that cut deeper than knives. He was his own downfall. I always pitied Mother on such nights. He made her suffer for his temporal madness. The silence of the night was naked enough for one to hear her hushed pleas to him in their bedroom. She was a strong Nigerian woman, the perfect wife, submissive and never giving her own opinion. We were silent too. We knew better than to advice father against the things he could not afford. I remember the whispers behind our backs when my sister and I went with Mother to the market. Gossips of Father’s not-so-secret lover. The world is open to all, everything has ears, and nothing can be hidden. Mother didn’t even flinch. She was devoted as a saint. I knew she had heard because I heard her prayers that night to the Virgin Mother to have her husband back from the claws of the whores that held him captive.
I remember how I grew to hate men. I bought myself a dildo and never looked back. I got obsessed with being successful and replaced a man’s love with late nights at work. I was an independent woman, strong like a brick. I worked long hours to forget my drunk father. I worked long hours to forget my abused mother. I worked long hours to forget the nights my dad’s brother crept into my room. His sweaty fat body on my fragile one, his breath reeking of kola nut and beer close to my face. I remember how I became a woman way too fast. My innocence and virtue ripped right from my tender hands. I remember crying silent prayers for him to be struck dead by lightening even as he roughly satisfied his dirty lustful desires on me. How I wondered whether his wife slept too deeply to realize her husband had left her bed. How I couldn’t tell anyhow. Fear held my mouth shut. I remembered my silent tears full of hate and spite. Somehow I was afraid of myself and what I had become. I craved to be held in the arms of a man on cold nights. I craved for love and things my heart did not believe existed. Those nights, those dreadful memories would replay and I would again bleed afresh. I knew my burden, I accepted my truth. My scars were not ones that time could heal.