The answers in my body.
The first man to touch me was the ‘mai shayi’ in the shop close to my Mum’s.
I was a little above 6 and had gone on an errand for him when I entered his stall to give him what he sent me, he pulled me in, raised up my dress and dug into my vagina until it hurt.
There were snatches of sunlight coming in through the holes in the Bagco bags he used to patch the larger holes in the roofing zinc and the rays made shapes on my body and his. It was musty and I didn’t like the smell.
I remember squirming and telling him to stop, a strange bulge was protruding from his pants and I thought something was terribly wrong with him. Save for the calling of a customer, I can only wonder how that experience would have ended.
I ran out and searched my skin for the answers he was searching for because you see, the way he dug; it had to be that someone had hidden some treasures in my body and I wanted to know what they were and see if they were things I could keep for myself.
After a few minutes of searching, I got tired and went to ask my mum, after all, she was female like me and probably has answers in her body too.
I said “Mummy, apart from pee, what else is inside the vagina?”, her face immediately contorted into a question mark, I don’t think I had ever seen my Mother that confused, I still haven’t.
She asked who told me something else was there and I told her the Mai Shayi was looking for something inside because he put his fingers up there, immediately she started shouting and dragged me to the shop, calling everyone to come help her.
My mum made sure he was sent away from the area, everyone in the neighbourhood milled around, some consoling my mum while others gossiped in clusters, I was just there confused as hell.
I can’t recall having any conversation about the incident with any other member of my family.
It’s been years and every day, men I don’t want still touch or try to touch me at bus stops, in buses, on my street e.t.c, it is frustrating because I am not the answer to a question they don’t even know.
It is hard carrying a body that can be dug into because like the earth, everyone thinks they deserve a piece of you.
The next time I will see him again was in 2015, I had just finished my NYSC service and I was back home, we locked eyes briefly and I was immediately transported back to the shed with Bagco bags roof and sunlight streaming in. He obviously didn’t recognise me.
They rarely do.