There are many ways to destroy a life. Stop.
It’s just life, you see. Just life. Everyday. Wake up, eat breakfast (rice), fight with little brother on the way to school, sit through boring classes, get caned by the soldiers ’cause we’re all such noise-makers, go for lunch break (meatpie and Coke), sit through more boring classes, submit assignments, go home, wash dishes, wash uniform, eat dinner (eba and okro), watch the news with Daddy, gossip with Mommy, sleep.
It’s just life. Stop. Ordinary. Boring. Simple.
Sitting in mass and wondering. Wanting more. More. More of something that doesn’t even exist. The sameness. God, the sameness. Homework. Books. Dirty socks. Missing earrings. Why is life nothing like American movies?
It just happens. Someone’s birthday. Something different. Not so different, these parties are all the same. Too much rice, chicken fried too dry, Coke, Fanta and because someone is feeling cool, the occasional beer. The music will be too loud, and everyone will shout, “YAY!” every time the song changes. And sixteen is too young to be drinking beer. But it’s a change, and a chance to be a “bad guy” and so the sixteen year old boys will drink too much beer. And the music will go louder and louder and louder.
And no one will hear the rape in a bathroom that has been locked from the inside by a boy who isn’t old enough to drink beer.
There are too many ways to destroy a life. Stop.
“What is a person?” The nun teaching catechism asks.
The class repeats. “A person is anything or anyone that can answer to the question ‘who’, and not just ‘what’.”
“And what am I?”
“But who am I?”
“What is that?”
“Who is that?”
“Nothing. A table is not a person. A table cannot answer to ‘who’.”
There are too many ways to destroy a life. Rape it. Or kill it. Stop.
The boy is arrested. And he swears it wasn’t rape. They believe him.
There will be a child. There will be a choice. Mama has tears in her eyes, Daddy won’t stop staring at the ground.
“I don’t want to keep it. Haven’t I suffered enough?”
Mama only holds you. Tight. Rocks you. Hums. You beg her, you beg your father. The other kids will laugh at you in school. The neighbourhood will gossip. It will destroy your life to bear this child.
But it does not destroy your life. You go to school, and yes the other kids laugh. And the neighbourhood gossips. And in two years when you go to university, strangers judge you for being a single mother. And many years later, you will have to wear an ivory gown to your wedding because white is for virgins only. But at 16, you birth your child, your daughter.
And someday, she gets to write this.
There are many ways to destroy a life. But you can choose not to.