Family is overrated. Those who say that blood is thicker than water could not be more wrong than those who said the earth was flat. Blood is thick, but only in relation to what it is meant for. Blood is blood. Water is water. Piss off if you think there’s a relation to using the relationship between these two elements to describe familial bonds.
We’re all alone in this world. We came alone. We only make alliances that benefit us for a stint or stretch of time. Family is one of those alliances. Long running, yes; but overrated as heck.
I realised this when my sister threw me out. My sister. Far from our home back in Abia, we were supposed to be all we had to ourselves in this unforgiving city of Lagos. And what did I do to deserve it? Nothing that would warrant an eviction. But I get it, big sis needed her space and I was cramping it. Besides, how could I, the last child in the family go toe to toe with my elder sister during arguments when I knew she practically held all the aces?
I had nowhere else to go. My sister decided that the best way to punish my feistiness and big mouth was to throw me out and really show who’s boss. My brother beats me at will when he can’t offer a superior argument. I’m a woman and I shouldn’t talk back to men; it is his responsibility to teach me with his fists before my future husband gets the honour –just so he wouldn’t conclude that my family did not train me well.
I couldn’t go to him. There’s no comfort in his presence because he would only mock me and I wouldn’t take it on the chin. The end result would be a black eye the next morning and sore joints so I passed on another lesson about how the good gift of pain could make me a good woman.
It was 10PM. I lived in Ajah with my sister. Getting out was not exactly easy at that time of night and my closest friends lived on the mainland. So I called Osita to see if I could spend the night at his place before figuring out my next move when day broke.
He felt like a safe option. We were close. We should have been closer but I didn’t want what he wanted at the time. A month later, he found a girl he liked and we moved on like nothing happened. He was the only friend I had at the moment.
Osita was happy to help. He knew my struggles and my pain. Once, he was so angry when he saw my bruises that he wanted to go after my brother but I stopped him. It would only have gotten me into more trouble for involving an outsider in our family drama and I’d suffered enough already.
But you never know with men. His mattress was on the floor of his room and he said he would sleep on the rug so I would be more comfortable. But he wasn’t on the floor when I woke up a few hours later to find his hand cupping my right breast, fingers kneading my nipple the way someone would tune a transistor radio.
I jumped like the bed was on fire. Caught in the act, Osita’s face was a brief mask of shame under the dim green night light in the room. He said he couldn’t contain his feelings for me; I was irresistible and had a hold on him that even his girlfriend didn’t have. He would break up with her if I gave him a chance with me. All he wanted to do was be with me and feel my warmth against the harmattan chill.
He tried to kiss me but I held back. Rather than let it go, he grabbed me. I would feel differently about him if we made love, he said. He’d always wanted to make me feel like a woman, he said. All I needed to do was to let him.
You never know with men. That was my mistake; mistaking his kindness towards me and willingness to remain in my life despite the rejection as signs of maturity. I’ve been in this situation before and I didn’t win – the blows made me submit.
This was different. I let him do it. Like a peaceful rainforest assaulted by bulldozers, I let him part my legs and invite himself into me. It was different. There were no blows.
The next morning, Osita barely said a word to me beyond a murmured apology and the devil using him. He wouldn’t have touched me if I wasn’t his weakness and being the man that he was, he succumbed. He told me to drop his key under his doormat when I was ready to leave; his girlfriend was coming to spend the weekend.
There were no blows then because I couldn’t fight. I only had a big mouth which got me into trouble with my brother and sister so I kept it shut for the time being. I let him do it. What I wouldn’t do is to let him get away with it like the others did.
Photo credit: Mohammed Alnaser via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND