When Fr. Jude said we look exactly like God, I spat into the soil and rubbed everything into the earth. It was clear that he did not know how God looked. He did not know we have become something else. We have become everything, except a body carrying God.
But it was not Fr. Jude’s fault. He’d only made an honest comparison; the kind you make when you are afraid your male child is growing into something you have always been afraid of. When you want him to find his way back to himself.
Everything began six years ago, when a senior seminarian dragged me into the Seminarians’ Quarters. I was little then. Say thirteen, and I was about writing my junior WAEC exam. Now I cannot remember what my offence was. Not like it mattered anyway, because life does not give you so much space to carry every weight in your mind. Life hunts us, filling us with the memories we are struggling to forget.
I can remember how the seminarian tossed me into his room and said he was angry at me for having done something very terrible. He was going to punish me himself (instead of reporting me to Fr. Jude), because it was easier that way. Because a punishment was milder when it came from someone who did not really want to hurt you. I agreed that he was right. Every seminarian was always right especially when the had a cane in their hand. And so I turned around, closed my eyes and waited for the pain to soak into my flesh.
But it was then that everything happened. It had been a very quick occurrence, the type that began and stopped briefly. In what seemed like half a second: the seminarian had placed a hand on my belt and dragged my shorts down to the knees. I knew what was going to happened. I knew this because I could smell his breath. I could fell him becoming hard. Becoming everything that could pierce your skin.
And then suddenly he pushed in. His body slid into mine and there was the rush of warm fluid rising into my legs. Although it too had occurred so abruptly then, I could clearly recall it all now: my body was bleeding. It was tearing apart slowly, soaking my shorts with blood. It was like slicing meat and folding a tissue paper across the sores.
I swallowed everything. I wanted to, I swear. But you do not know how to swallow pain; you do not know this, because it came from all over your skin. It burned your buttocks. It tore your veins until it left your tongue tasting like pills. And so I did not know when my body contracted and everything poured out into the floor: sweat, blood, sperm. Guilt. Everything.
It’s a long story now, anyway. I’ve spent the past six years trying to forget the plot. Although there’s a little success to all the struggle, the truth is that it’s impossible to entirely forget a story when you are its main character.
But I have not recalled it for a many years, except in rare moments such as now, that Fr. Jude stared at me for a long time and said that I look exactly like God. But I do not blame him for trying to attach an identity to my body. I do now know what I am. I do now know what I’ve become, yet I have no special liking to be like God.
I do not want to be anything that brings back an imagery of blood and punctured flesh. You have to understand that this is what you would never understand: just as the cross is a symbol of pain, I’m everything desiring to be healed. But there is a man trapped in my body, so much. I still bleed at night.