We entered and I took off my uniform without his asking, if I didn’t struggle, it won’t hurt too much that is what he says every day.
I took off my torn pant mama bought before she went to heaven; Aunty Rose said God called her to plait the angels’ hair.
He didn’t stay too long and it didn’t hurt much, he grunted again and asked me to call Eno when I go out.
They were both seated on the bags now, “he said I should call you” I muttered to Eno and sat down near Omini, dusting the sand from my arms and legs “when are we going home?” he asked, “shut up!” I yelled at him, my stomach was hurting so I doubled over, I could see Eno’s feet as she walked slowly towards the shed kicking up the damp sand as she went.
She was already crying, she did it every afternoon, cry and sometimes, I hear her screaming when she is in there and him shouting at her to shut up, I want to go there and see if she is okay, but I don’t, he said karate is turn by turn, if we look at each other, he will double the lesson, so I stay no matter what I hear.
I dozed off, I felt his hand on my shoulder waking me up, he was smiling again,
“Now you children should go straight home” he said wiping sweat from his face.
We all nodded, Eno was still sniffing. “I will come with jollof rice tomorrow” I squinted up at him, he said that too every day.
Omini waved, he was the only one that waved every day, Eno and I never look back, then we ran and ran till we got to the end of the road and I had to hold their hands to cross the express way, “Eno, will you tell?”
Eno shook her head, “what about you Omini?” he shook his head with a huge smile showing the gap in front of his teeth.
I sighed in relief and we crossed the road, our house was close to the road.
When we got home, papa was fanning himself and drinking local drink called ogogoro, he eyed us, “did I not warn you not to go play at the beach again?” he asked before we greeted him.
I nodded, “take your brother and sister in and wash their uniforms and my dirty clothes inside the bucket, then sweep the house, there’s no food for you all for disobeying me!” he was always angry.
There was always no food, but we already ate.
After mama died and went to heaven when Omini came home as a baby, papa stopped smiling and throwing us up like he used to do, but mama’s brother was doing it now and feeding us too, he said mama told him to take care of us and teach us karate, so it was okay, but sometimes, I don’t want to learn karate anymore, why did mama tell him to teach us? I wanted to tell him today that I was tired of learning, but when he came, all I could think about was the food, but I will tell him tomorrow.
We all did our homework together and then it was time for the evening bath, first I bathed Eno, she cried when I washed between her legs, then I bathed Omini and they went to sleep.
I had my bath and lay down too beside them on the floor.
When I woke up in the morning, papa was still sleeping on the chair, holding his bottle of ogogoro, so I dressed Omini up and helped Eno to zip her pinafore and we went to school without food again.
After school, we will go to the shed and meet him and eat.
Maybe today, he will bring jollof rice for us…
“Madam!” his voice cut into my reverie, I straightened up and smiled automatically again, the sweat had glued the shirt to my back, it felt ticklish, “I’m sorry I didn’t get your last remark” I said. He nodded and pointed to my face, “you need a touch up, we have time for just one more question” he paused again.
I saw the make-up artist approach, gasped and tsk tsked at me, then she proceeded to reapply the makeup I had wiped off, first wiping my face with wet tissues that felt so refreshing, “what do you hope to gain now that you have won this prestigious award?”
“A better life for the children of Africa, a change of the cognitive process from basic needs like food, clothing and shelter to better goals” I said instead.
Famous enough to make a lot of money!
She reapplied the gloss and powdered my nose, I felt like sneezing so I rubbed my nose, she glowered at me; I apologized with a sheepish smile.
“One Minute!” I heard the producer call out, the frenzy increased and my stomach jumped knotting and unknotting, I was this close!
And then all I could see was the camera, the red dot that blinked as the director counted down to the time; finally, Ima’s dream was coming to pass!
“…Four, three, two…”
This goes out to all who were sexually molested as children, fight back by keeping your dreams alive!