I enjoy how my mind works. Something a female friend and mother of a very smart daughter told me she used to do with her daughter plus seeing another friend’s young daughter’s picture on Facebook yesterday plus Tunde Leye’s BURNT series running on his blog presently plus a flash of the remembrance of Chimamanda’s book title inspired this piece. As I write this, I’m yet to write it but I hope it will be worth your reading if not, just come back and read this ‘skit’ that we can title ‘Enjoying How My Mind Works’.
“Who touched you here???” Chioma (not real name) would ask her daughter every afternoon as she bathed her once she was back from school, washing her privates to make sure she understood where exactly ‘here’ meant. No matter where she went or what she was doing, Chioma bathed her daughter in the afternoon personally. She’d had this daughter out of wedlock and out of almost everything else.
‘Go away’, that’s an euphemism, just like ‘remove it’ or ‘get rid of it’. We never like to call an abortion by its descriptive phrase ‘killing one’s unborn baby’ or even refer to the fetus as an entity of its own. ‘Go away’, like an irritating mosquito or some other pest though I never did ask Chioma if she’d ever tried to abort the baby but she was proud of her as far back as I can remember.
Anyway, Chioma had the baby girl and for a minute, she wasn’t the hottest lil thang in our hood anymore. Even I didn’t check up on her as much and this was before the days of GSM phones or facebook so we just lost touch.
The next I would see her was last year or so; I went to my former area for a friend’s wedding ceremony and someone told me the little girl running across was Chioma’s daughter – Oluchi. An ironical name she had chosen indeed – we often confuse our mistakes with God’s work but does God ever make a mistake? Let’s leave that for my philosophical musings of the future. I called out to the girl and because she knew the people I sat with, she came over and greeted us. ‘Where is your mother’ I demanded playfully? And the girl pointed to an house not so far away and ran off in the same direction only to return a minute or so later with Chioma on her heels…
I remember the day like yesterday: back was the fun in those eyes that always seemed to invite you to participate in something so exciting and adventurous, that unmistakable smirk around her lips that seemed to mock you and at the same time challenge the man inside you. Here was Chioma in all her glory as we hugged and went off to the side to gist about life for the next two hours.
Oluchi is about twelve years now and Chioma just finished serving her country after graduating from LASU. I am proud of this single mother who raised her daughter and managed to pick up a degree in between that process.
“Nobody touched me there,” she told me Oluchi usually replies but Chioma always persists and asks again and again: “did any man touch you here, tell me Chinelo?”
See we have to be careful with our daughters [and sons too]. There are many predators out there who do nasty things to little girls and those angels can scarcely talk about it. The consciousness of a child in our society is usually filled with guilt – we make our children feel the brunt of most things we as parents go through and they are being punished always for one thing or the other so they’re less likely to talk if someone touches their privates outside the home.
That thing between your legs is quite precious, dear daughter, and anyone who touches it wrongly only wants to destroy your life. I would never blame you or make you feel sorry if you tell me the truth about who touched you or asked you to remove your panties so he can take a look. I would defend your honour my darling angel but you must never hide the truth from me or your mother. And when the day comes that you’re old enough to lose your virginity to a man who is truly worth it, you’ll be proud that you kept that things between your legs closed. That thing between your leg is quite precious dear daughter, don’t you ever fail to tell me who touched you there.
When we talk to our kids of course we must call a spade by its name so ‘that thing between your legs’ is inappropriate because it might make them think it is something dirty or to be ashamed of that must never be named but I’d rather risk that than risk exposing them to sexual abuse from intimate strangers such as teachers, guardians, domestic helps and so on. Boys are at risk too – believe it or not. Almost every middle-income-family-raised-male-friend I remember who had a househelp back in the day either saw their first pornographic material through the house-help or had their first sexual experience with the house-help. The house-help either had Better Lover or Ikebe Super magazines in his or her room or watched x-rated videos on the VCR when the parents had gone out.
Chase the cash but protect your child. I don’t know who needs to hear this but if you’re reading it then it just might be you: protect your child.
By Demola Rewaju