MEMORIES AND DUST
You know we all have those experiences we really want to hide so deep that we convince ourselves (without feeling like liars) that they never happened? All we have left are flashes or funny feelings about similar events ‘without knowing why’. We walk around like zombies complaining about how ‘we feel we are missing something’ or how some dots don’t seem to tally and how we badly want them to. We subconsciously drop flowers at the grave of these memories till they become dust. But we forget dust never truly fades away; it goes with the wind to someplace it only knows but, sometimes it comes back alone or with the whirlwind.
I have plenty of nearly buried memories. But, I’ll tell you about the one I failed to bury when I was nine years old.
I had just moved into a new barracks (that didn’t look like one) with my mother and cousins. My chest was much more flat and somehow, menstruation was still a mystery to me-basically, my ‘guardian angel’ didn’t think I was old enough to handle that aspect of my life; so, he didn’t permit it. Don’t look at me, that’s what my cousin said. So, I was literally still in the phase of ‘bathing outside’.
I had this neighbor; Mama Seyi. She had four boys. There was Seyi and Yemi and Yinka. Yinka was the eldest, so it was expected of him to respect himself. But, Seyi and Yemi spent their entire childhood creating trouble; they would write love letters to the girls who lived next door, then, when they were asked, they would argue nonstop till the accuser and the person holding the cane gave up.
I had become friends with some girls who lived very close to me; in fact, their blocks were next to mine. There was Olamide and Lanre and Odion and Sheri and Mary. We were within the same age bracket so we literally did everything together including peep at couples who were trying to have sex, contribute money to buy packets of Indomie noodles and one Large Pepsi drink (because it was economical enough to fill five cups), tell stories, remix people’s songs and of course, gossip. On Christmas day, we would dress up in our ‘Christmas dresses’, and move from one house to another ‘greeting them’ (expecting money after every visit; mostly #20 or less) after secretly envying the other person’s dress. My shoes were always oversize; so, I somehow, always ended up wearing bathroom slippers. “Eno, don’t disgrace me” Mfon would always call out. “I’m coming” I would reply.
Every evening, after school, Olamide, Lanre, Odion, Mary, Sheri and I would go to the central tap to fetch water; then, we would go to Odion’s father’s farm to have our bathe. Seyi and Yemi were always on the lookout. As soon as they saw us moving towards the tap, it was as though they hid behind a tree and appeared when we took our clothes off and had soap lather on our faces. They would try to make no sound and one after the other steal our buckets of water. I was a very shy child; so, this was always a cause of withdrawal for me. Although, I had almost no right to ‘over react’; I was a very late bloomer. While all my mates were busy developing breasts and receiving lectures on how to take care of themselves while menstruating, I was busy fighting with my cousins and eating Apples (did that even relate?). So, I had nearly nothing to hide, but Olamide would almost roll on the sands from shame. But, withdrawal was always the next step for me; I would just be quiet and go out of sight for days.
One day, Seyi stole my bucket of water while I was having my bath outside my house. I had taken my clothes off and started singing. It was a good day for me because we had just vacated and my result was good enough to get the TV set my father had promised me. I poured the first bowl of water on my body, took up my sponge from the other bowl that contained my soap and sponge. I started washing my body; the bucket was still there. So, I applied the soap on my face; I continued rubbing till I couldn’t see anything. I had stopped singing so that the soap won’t get into my mouth. I stretched my hands to take water from the bucket (that was just there) to wash my face but there was no bucket; there was no water! Jesus! I searched and searched; nothing! Then I heard that laughter-Semi of course. I hid in the house for days. He would burst into a very tormenting laughter every time he saw me.
Some months ago, Mfon wrote a letter to my father. She asked him to come and take me with him that I was giving her too much headache. She complained about my constant refusal of wearing shoes; she said I always wanted to wear big bathroom slippers and after the black and white TV in the house spoilt, I started going to people’s houses to watch TV. She said I was disgracing her too much. You know ehn I saw that letter when I grew up. Mfon made two copies ‘just in case the other one didn’t get to him’. I felt betrayed. Don’t ask me why. My father visited and sat me on his thigh. I wrote my own letter to him. I told him that I wanted to run away with him. I told him to take me with him. I told him to buy a t.v. for me. He read it and laughed; then, he said “come first in class next term and I would get the t.v. for you”. He didn’t say anything about taking me with him or running away.
Everybody knew the effect worm expeller had on me. I always made up stories of worms moving inside my eyes and nostrils after Mfon administered it to me. I had a serious fear that one day; a worm would crawl out of my bum bum. I didn’t believe in the manifestation of imaginations till the worm really came out.
After Seyi stole my bucket of water; meaning he saw me naked, I hid from the ‘world’ for two weeks. I refused to go anywhere with my cousins. One Saturday, Mfon asked Aunt Kate to give me the worm expeller. She said I was beginning to frequent the toilet too much and I was not the one fetching water from the well so something had to be done. So, when she left the house for school that afternoon, Aunt Kate tried to make me accompany her to see her ‘friend’. I told her I was not feeling well and I had to do my assignments. She knew something was not right, because I was the ‘waka waka’ of the house. She brought out the expeller and asked me to choose. I chose the expeller of course! What were you expecting? That I would choose the former and risk Seyi mocking me? Of course not! She brought out the expeller and asked me to drink it immediately. I did.
The next day, after church, I told Aunt Kate that I could feel the worm around my face. She said I was lying. But, I wasn’t. That worm was just crawling ‘up and down’. As soon as we got home, I ran into the toilet. Behold, the worms came out! One was just dangling; as in it refused to come out. I died! I didn’t even know when I ran outside the toilet, past the back door to the mango tree opposite my house. I have absolutely no idea why I chose that spot. I ran outside with the dangling worm around my butt hole. My pant half way, my top drawn up, held with my small hands, I found myself in the midst of Seyi and Yemi and Ola and Lanre and Sheri and Mary and their siblings. It was story time and I had become the new subject of mockery. I couldn’t run into the house because I would only give them a better view of the happening in my most private zone. I stood for what seemed like a century; I watched Aunt Kate laugh hard, and Seyi, he had won a lottery seeing me like that. And the worms-ah!! The worm surely became the most unforgettable worm in my life.
So, when yesterday went by, it forgot to take that piece of me with it.
I hope you’ll stop by next time, this gist just started;)
And I missed you guys too😗😍