“A Toast,” she said, raising her glass, “to my adorable cousin, may no man ever traumatize her sexually, and physically like my uncle; her father did me”.
The venue went cold with unwavering tension. Out of nowhere, the head table overturned, shards of glasses glistening as they struck concrete. From the side of her eye, she saw her dad lurch towards the father of the day, gripped him by the throat before he could utter a word, his eyes red with fury.
And just like that, the party was over.
Some secrets are too perverse to remain hidden. Secrets that burrow a hole in the middle of one’s chest. This is the story of a young maiden plagued by the ghost of the repressed emotions that she has never been able to confront.
This is the origin story of Alexander.
Born to working-class parents, the family had nearly nothing, except for a Volkswagen Beetle. Dad was never home; always at work, gunning for that big break that would catapult him to the next phase of his career; and mum, she too was hard at work, holding down the fort. Doing what good mums do.
About 18 yrs ago, on one of those evenings, an uncle visits for a meeting with dad but he didn’t come home that day which wasn’t unusual. At the time in Nigeria, you couldn’t just pick up the phone and call someone, NITEL was somewhat popular but people were adapting rather slowly. He stayed over solely because his village was somewhat far away and the sun was setting.
Her family were subtenants renting a one- bedroom apartment with a shared bathroom and while her mum and brother stayed in the bedroom, she slept in the parlor feets away from her uncle. Sometime between thirty to eleven and midnight, he drew closer and closer to her, then he began fondling her prepubertal body and genitalia…
Like a good little girl who always behaved in front of her elders, never spoke unless spoken to; she remained mute but then again, she was always a quiet kid.
Thought more than she spoke.
Wrote more than she was willing to say,…but that broke her. It solidified her antisocial exterior; her social awkwardness. Until this day, she would never be able to make eye contact or flirt the way normal people do.
A lot’s changed, the family lives in a big home, that old beetle replaced by numerous automobile model from Honda to Range Rover. What hasn’t changed is, dad’s still as busy as ever, and those flesh wounds never healed.
If he had stayed where he belonged—in the past, perhaps the ghosts wouldn’t haunt her.
Last she saw him, he came to the house with his then fiancée, to introduce her to dad and get both financial support and his blessing for their wedding. That was her chance to confront him, reveal these ghosts to the woman who probably thought she knew him so well, in front of her dad; so he would throw him out of their lives forever….but she didn’t.
Turns out she wasn’t ready. She would never be, but she knew she owed it to her younger self, that poor girl deserved even one honest moment where she didn’t have to hold it all in and pretend it was all okay.
It wasn’t until that day, years later, at her cousin’s naming ceremony when she climbed on that stage and her gaze settled on him, that her ghosts were enraged, threatening to unleash all the emotions of the past that have subdued her physically. Sobs welled up in her throat, her head buzzed with unsettling thoughts. This wasn’t the right time, but then again, there’s never a right time to talk about sexual abuse. Either she’d do it or she wouldn’t. So she swallowed hard, parted her lips and let the words spurt out….
A deafening silence.
A moment of sincere epiphany.
Through all the ruckus, she swears she saw a little girl, not more than six years of age at the far end of the blinding stage lights whisper, “Thank you”.
From that moment, she began to see herself more as a force to be reckoned with and less like a victim, began trusting herself. She’d given herself the single greatest gift,
Some secrets are too perverse to remain hidden,…..
In case you find your ghost.