The first time you tried talking about your rape experience, it was with your reflection in the mirror. You knew it happened; knew how, knew when, knew with whom. But you filed every scene in a bowl, took it to the darkest corner of your soul and left it there. You had heard the terrible names and labels they gave to the ones who built up courage, found their words and said something.
“Ashawo, ynash dai scratch am.”
Forcing them to believe that it was their fault. That the skirt they wore exposed too much flesh or the jeans moulded their curves and waved their figure before the eyes of men.
“Na her dai wear short thing, why man no go follow am?”
When you heard Mama Basira talking about the rape victim you and your mum had seen on News Line sometime ago, you disappeared into your room, shaking at her words.
“Wetin she dai do for man house? Na her carry herself go.”
You could imagine her saying those words to you, putting a comma and a full stop as though it was a movie and she knew where it began and how it was going to end. You wondered, if your mum would reply as she did now, nodding her head.
“Girls of nowadays, their leg no dai stay one place.”
You wanted to tell them that sometimes, the devil is the one who barges through the doors and rains his terror on you. You wanted to tell her that your legs were in your room when Pelumi, the driver had walked in and not the other way round. But you fed your voice to silence, giving yourself to the darkness and nightmares for years. Until today, when you shoved away the denial and agreed with your subconsciousness that you had been raped.
“I was raped”, you kept saying to the cold eyes that stared at you from the mirror. You wanted to tell your mom. Of course, Pelumi was long gone but you wanted to unburden, to narrate your fears and let the world know. But you knew what your mother would ask, as she did concerning that rape victim, where people like Mama Basira would place their interest.
“Why she no talk since?”
And beneath that question, lies years of your torment and anguish.
Shade Mary-Ann Olaoye