Silence and Price Tags
Shortly after publishing the first story in this series — what now seems like forever ago — I shared a little bit on Twitter about how I was raped and had to deal with everyone knowing about it and doing nothing. The story of how I lost my virginity is one I still can’t write, no matter how hard I try, but I will get there eventually. Meanwhile, my plan is to work my way up to it by writing around it — sharing all the incidents I can remember that led up to that moment, and the incidents that occurred as a result of it — until I just wake up one morning and find that my subconscious has done what I am too yellow-livered to do.
When Aunty called me and requested I come see her, I was a bit surprised. We very rarely spoke to one another, and she had never summoned me before. How she even got my phone number is unknown to me. Walking into the house was a bit overwhelming for me, considering all that had happened. My heart threatened to break through my ribcage with its incessant pounding, and my brain was stretching itself thin trying to figure out why I had been asked to come over. For the first, and last, time ever, I entered Aunty’s room.
She was on the phone and I had to wait a few minutes, my heart still thumping away furiously, as she tried her best to round up whatever juicy gossip the person on the other end was delivering.
She was swift though, I’ll give her that. As soon as she ended the call, she faced me squarely and asked the one thing she wanted to know — “Did you have sex with x?”. Relief washed over me. Apparently, she’d heard some people in the house talking about it and wanted to confirm if it was true. I thought this was a chance to finally tell my story; to finally have some sort of justice.
However, Aunty had other concerns — “Was it consensual?”, “Did he use a condom?”, “Did you take a pill after?”. It didn’t take long to realise this wasn’t a fair hearing, especially when she asked if I had told my mother. “These things happen,”, she said “so you really need to be careful. Keep this between us, and I’ll be sure to deal with x my own way.”.
I had seen enough movies to know nothing was ever going to happen to x, mostly because the man in question is her brother. My disbelief must have shone through because the next thing she asked was if I needed anything. It was a laughable question even then, but I managed to keep myself from chuckling and shook my head. Nonetheless, she handed me a wad of cash and asked me to use it to “take care of things”. I almost told her her brother had already taken care of whatever she thought needed to be handled, but I was a weaker woman then.
I don’t remember what exactly I did with that money, but I remember going back to school feeling empty and worthless. Until this day, I sometimes wonder if I should have asked for more money, or just gone ahead and told my mother anyway. It’s a haunting feeling I’ve never been able to shake; not knowing if she actually ever said anything to he brother, or if she gave herself a congratulatory pat on the back as soon as her bedroom door shut behind me.
I never really talk about how I came to be the woman I am today. 2017 was an intriguing year in the sense that I learned a few important lessons. Even though I no longer feel like I was scarred or broken by my experiences, not talking about them isn’t exactly healthy either. Seeing women come out and share their stories of rape and sexual abuse inspired me deeply, and I believe I am ready.
I will be sharing excerpts like this over the next couple of months as I work on my collection of short stories which I hope to publish next year.
Thank you in advance for your support and constructive criticism 💖
Related: Maybe If I Could Float Away