I watched him crimp his dark lips as he reached for the warmness that spread out beneath my smooth, fair skin.
Thoughts raced to grab a seat in the theatre of my mind as memories flooded the screen of my mind’s eye. I could see the face of my first explorer, or should I say, the one who grabbed what I never offered and the little version of me; large eyes, big teeth, wild lips and bewildered eyes.
If Raymond knew what was in my mind right now, he didn’t seem to care as he circled my warmth with his tongue, grabbing a mound with a hand like he was reaching for a long sought redemption.
Here’s where I should fake a moan to spur his libido on, I tell myself. The last thing I wanted, was my husband looking beyond our matrimonial sanctuary. I opened my lips to fake a climax and I felt his heart palpitate with an intense pleasure.
In a wisp of reality, my sauntering imagery was lost. I resolved to be squandered in the moment.
But what do I do? I loathed looking him in the face when he propelled me into empty, foggy clouds. It awakened my subdued histories; the memories I’ve left to slowly decay and the choices I was damned to make.
I raised my eyes to look at the whirling ceiling fan and suddenly realised it failed to dry the sweat in my armpits. My head was beginning to spin.
I darted my eyes lazily away from the ceiling fan.
When would he get this done with?
Just when I felt so tired already, he came at me. I encircled him in a hug, ampled the tunnel to the troves of treasure he sought and then I felt him slid gently into me. He grunted with uncontrollable pleasure as I released wimps of trailing utterances. His armpit released a masculine odour laced with his favourite Black and White Nivea Men.
The room suddenly felt repugnant. It smelt of the devil’s bean and of coitus and of Raymond’s sweat and of my secret screams.
I ambled down the mall of retention to retrieve another memory from its dusty counters. It was Christmas, I had scurried to show Mom my new Christmas look.
Mom had taken time to decorate the house the night before and I knew she was done with her extra delicious seasonal cooking and was in her room preparing to take us down to the photographer’s booth.
We needed to be there on time as he was always busy this time of the year. I secretly prayed and hoped that Father never come home today. I needed the time alone with Mom; she deserved to be happy today.
My little feet tapered to the stairs leading up to the master bedroom.
I didn’t sleep in the rooms upstairs, except on some nights Mom was sure Father could not make it home.
Father said everything about me spelt badluck to him. On the day I was born, it was said that he lost everything he had to an unknown inferno. Everything except a few businesses and this house.
Father hated me from that day. He never provided for me and never held me. My sisters were lucky enough to have enjoyed his wealth and fatherly company.
I never had bicycles or toys to play with; everything I had to live with, Mom provided from her pocket money.
I flung the doors of the room open and walked into terror. An evil man was in the room!
Father, black, tall and slender, with moustache running down his cheeks and assembling under his chin, stood by the side of the bed.
Father had Mom’s hands and feet tied to the tall bed posts. Mom stood, her head slightly bowed.
She wore a strange, black and white cloth that looked more like an apron than a piece of clothing and it barely covered her. Father stood by her side, whipping her buttocks hard as she yelped like a kitten.
In that instant, my hatred for him jumped out of its safe bounds and leapt to the feat of defiance. I lunged for the vase sitting on the side cupboard, still laden with flowers and lurched towards him.
Mama was the first to sight me. I ignored the shock smeared on her face and smashed the vase on his back.
I wanted the blood to flow from his head but I was not tall enough to reach him, instead, I watched the skin on his back scissure from my impact.
“What the…!” Father exclaimed.
Almost in an instant, he swerved to face me. I was still struggling to regain my gait.
He looked menacingly taller, his eyes were like the fiery furnace of a blacksmith. I peered back unapologetically at him. He lifted his sinewy muscles and dropped a dead deafening rap on my face.
My sanity reverberated through the sudden quietness which consumed the room. I could feel his gaze still hot upon me.
I concealed the brand new imprint of his hand on my face and thought about how much it hurts.
Mama wept from her clutches. I knew her—she would never speak a word against this beast. She would always be submissive even till the point of death.
The last time they had an issue that I had interfered, Mom chided me, in his very presence. I had promised myself never to interfere but here I was. The reckless love I had for my mother!
Father yelled, “You take this evil child of yours and get the hell out of my house.”
With these stabbing words of his, she was free of his shackles. Not entirely free, I knew. She was too tethered to his misery.
I was born free, yes, but Mom was born to beg for everything all her life. She was born a slave, married a slave, still lives as a slave. She was never meant to be free, I sadly realized.
Mama quietly pelted along to pick the broken fragments of her last born. Her sad stories reflected like a projector through her eyes and into mine.
When was the last time she smiled? I winced to remember. With great sadness, I realized it was never.
The call of my name grew to a crescendo. I was back on the bed, Raymond was no longer thrusting but was looking inwardly in my eyes.
“Honey, you are not here.” He creased his full, dark arch. I took the time to study his face like he was a complete stranger. He was undeniably handsome.
He was dark, had his hair cut into a slight Mohawk and had an Adam’s apple that gulged out his neck like the hump of a camel.
His stubbles were forming an apartheid on his face; the white hairs were slowly overshadowing the black ones.
I smiled and abandoned a peck on his lips. ” I’m here, hon … it’s just that I’m a wee bit tired.” I dropped a flirty smile.
“I’m sorry,” I added, remembering what Mom always said about men loving apologies—”Sorry sir, no dey kill person!”
But apologies killed her, I disappointedly remembered. I was never going to die in the hands of a man, I promised myself.
Even Raymond knew I didn’t issue out apologies at will. When he does hear them, he does well to appreciate it.
As envisaged, he smiled casually. “You know I love you, right?”
“Yes, I do,” I said, feigning a smile that threatened to crack the crevices of my parched lips.
Yes, I know you love me for being your only viable option to marriage. I love you too for being the only man who never complained that I lie like a log of wood during sex or that I am never woman enough to please a man.
“Let’s hit the shower.” He offered me an utterly wrinkled palm.
“I’ll join up soon,” I replied.
I watched his rigid buttocks find their way to the bathroom. I hugged my legs and rested my head on my knees, taking the bedroom in, once again.
The blue twin bed seemed to swallow up my little self. I could feel his wetness all on me and some on the bed.
The room was tastefully furnished. The curtains glowed like Nubian gold, the red plush Victorian rug added a striking monotony to the Paris style single couch in the room.
Raymond was a man of taste and a don who owned a Regal Signature of the Red Wine Label.
He was in his early fifties and I was barely twenty. Every ounce of him threatened me to remember my father, but something about Raymond stuck out differently. He has never raised his hand or voice against me; the only quality about him I find attractive.
We began dating when I was only eighteen. By this time, Mom was dead and many men have come and gone in my life. These were the men who shaped me into the little demon I am today.
I have now come to know that I am a package, carefully wrapped by the devil, in the factory of life, waiting to deliver doom on all creatures with a phallus. I wish I had only realized my mission sooner. They all wouldn’t have been able to hurt me.
A bead of tear rolled down my eyes as I fought the memories that came back in an upsurge. They came at me, I saw their faces, they flashed like cheap trinkets with expensive price tags before my eyes.
I picked a face from the many faces. It was the face of Ikechukwu, my elder sister’s husband. I tried now to remember how my sister’s face looked like. She was slowly fading from my loom of time warped by guilt.
It had been so long now. It was ten years ago, Mom had just died. Father had shipped me to stay with them. He didn’t want to see me around him, he had said. I was a curse, I broke his family apart. I took everything away from him; the list of my ‘evil deeds’ was endless.
The first few weeks were of my stay were promising. Sister Chidera and Uncle Ikechukwu pampered me. I ate only what I wanted to eat. Icecream was one of my favourites.
They were both warmly and providing. Everything was to change when Sister Chidera took in.
She became selfish and too bossy. She would order both Uncle Ikechukwu and I wherever she wanted.
She made me pound yam with ten-year old fragile fingers. Her errands never seemed to end. They would begin from dawn up till dusk. The only time I found rest was late into the night. I became afraid of the break of dawn.
Several times I had thoughts of running away but knew no one. Uncle Ikechukwu would always complain to me of my Sister’s stress and we would laugh over it. Sometimes, he helped me out in the kitchen after he came back from work. I wished she would give birth soon, so we could go back to how it was from the beginning.
As days crawled into weeks and weeks into months, I was now getting attuned to my daily life. I felt I could actually do this without feeling too stressed.
I was sitting in the parlour one day, when Uncle Ikechukwu came to sit by my side. Aunty Chidera was snoring as usual in the room.
Suddenly Uncle kissed me! I looked at him for an instant, shock pasted on my face. He peered into my eyes and held my jaw. He drove his tongue inside mine and kissed me thoroughly.
I moved my body in discomfort, looking at the door of the room.
“Don’t worry, she’s asleep. She will never know if you don’t tell her,” he said.
Uncle Ikechukwu took me in the parlour and not a sound was heard in the next room. He was my not my first though—Uncle Ikechukwu I mean. The next day, he sealed my silence with a sachet of yoghurt.
“You never joined me,” Raymond said, interrupting my thoughts again.
A white towel hung loosely around his waist. He smelt of lavender.
I simply smiled. “I’m just tired,” I lied.
I fumbled to peel the sheets from my bare skin and stretched my toes to find the floor. I hopped off the bed and went straight for the showers.
I turned on the shower and allowed the white crystals course my body. I lifted my head to look at the source of the flow but drops of diamonds attacked my eyes, throwing me into a momentary pain. I rubbed my eyes to ease them of the water trapped in my eye sockets.
I held the wall tiles as the water patted my back continuously. I noticed a sharp pain just underneath my laps. I tried to mentally study it and it struck a chord of memory. I relapsed into it.
It was a week after mom’s death. I had always avoided Father because I was not oblivious to his hatred for me. I tried to get out of his hair, whilst carrying out mother’s routine chores around the house so I could demonstrate my usefulness.
It was a Saturday to be precise. The weather was cold. It had been raining since the previous night. I sat on my bed, reading the pocket-sized King James version of Gideon’s Bible mother had gifted me for my ninth birthday when someone knocked on my door.
I felt my ears were playing a fast one on me because there was no one but Father and I at home and he never came towards my door; never had any business downstairs where he has abandoned me to.
The person rapped on the door for a second time. This time, the knock sounded inpatient. I ran towards the door, flung it open to find Father staring hard on at me.
“Meet me in my room…” he said turning his back away from me. “…now!” he added with such finality that sent me jumping on my feet.
I followed him closely, up the stairs and into his room.
“Close the door behind you,” he said in a way that send my heart tumbling down my chest.
He stood beside the bed and began unbuckling his belt. I stood there like a little sheep, watching keenly.
“Well?” He cleared his throat. “Take off your clothes.”
I heard my soul screaming, “Jesus! Jesus!! Jesus!!!”
Noticing my hesitation, he made towards me. My hands found my upper pyjamas in a flash as I began plucking off my buttons.
In a minute, I was shirtless; just two tiny mounds and my lower pyjamas.
I looked up to find him naked, hands akimbo, waiting for me to finish undressing. I quickly looked away, praying to understand what I had just seen.
I bent slightly to off my lower pyjamas and we were both naked. He beckoned and I obliged.
We were on the bed, both naked. His hands trailing my flesh. For a moment there, all felt pleasurable. I was enjoying myself, whilst soaked in a pool of my own fear.
I was enjoying myself until, he drove into, hard and unrestrained. I knew better than to shove him away, so I swallowed the pain like the bitter pills Mother often forced me to take.
The throbbing pains in my laps told the tales afterwards. Just like it does now.
These are the men I’ve come to know.