Life is a ghost, a ghost who offers you varieties of dishes, hovering around with a mock look, watching you struggle to finish them. I watched as my papa immersed in a bathtub of *Burukutu, raped my mother to death. Then he came for me, kicking me so hard I lost control of my voice, lost count of the whirling stars above my head. The police took him away in the morning, looking so miserable and sordid. I never saw him again.
I was churned out into the streets, like a recalcitrant spark from Mother’s hearth; our Yoruba deaconess landlady couldn’t tolerate a non-paying tenant any further. The consecutive years saw me robbing the streets of *Surulere, sniffing glue to make do; but the nightmares would not stop.
It rained heavily the day I met your father, I was shivering and in no mood to listen to any town crier but he was dressed so importantly, like a correct customer waiting to be robbed. He talked about a God so negligible to give his son to people who never and will never want him. It reminded me of my papa, I made to stone him and tell him to go away, and that nobody will ever listen to his pathetic tales. His calm and melodious voice melted my bitterness, unlike papa’s croaky voice often saturated with burutu; his was soothing.
He finally took me home, after asking about my family and I told him. The other boys all ran away, but not after trying to discourage me, they called me names when I refused to listen. Your mother only shrugged and called me “another fleabag” the first time we met. That only changed when she got to see I could pound *Fufu without leaving behind lumps like Ifeoma, I became “the new boy,” Ifeoma was sent packing. It really amazed me to see a South African who loved Fufu more than any other meal.
I could have left after I learnt the combination of your father’s safe, but I stayed, because of you Thandie. You blossomed under my care, your mother saw to that, I became your babysitter after Ifeoma left. Going to school became a privilege for me, but I never complained, I got to spend more time with you.
The first time I took you, you were six. You were all teary, I consoled you with kisses and candy but you wouldn’t bulge. Then I threatened that *ojuju Calabar from the stories I told you would take you away if you told anybody, that achieved the desired effect. I hated that I had to threaten you, but I had to do it for us. From that day, I vowed to leave you alone, until you came to me yourself.
Then you began to transform into a young beautiful girl, plaguing my dreams and leaving me every morning with wet shorts and increasing desire for you. The bulging molds on your chest taunting my resolve, and my impotency to claim you as mine. Time made provision for us, your mother again saw to that. I was at home with a long list of tasks to do, but I did none, not with you lying all vulnerable and ripe on the bed, wanting to be plucked by your soul mate, me. I gathered courage and came to you, your protests and heartfelt cries did nothing to deter me from pleasing you.
You relaxed, eyeballs contracting and dilating as I did wonders to you with my fingers. Then I entered you, stifling your pleas and weaving our web of pleasure. Clearly lost in the magic our two bodies were creating, I didn’t notice your parents enter the room.
Your mother was threatening hell and damnation in Afrikaans, while your father kicked, but he didn’t kick hard enough. I could still count the stars whirling around my head, could still feel the warmth you left in between my thighs.
They took me to a home where they say people like me are sent to. But they are not like me, they are monsters! Monsters who rape little girls. We are soul mates Thandie, soul mates deeply in love. They make us read the holy book here, my best part is the Songs of Solomon, I spend nights going through the chapters, and it reminds me of you and our love. That unpleasant guard with tribal marks, keeps hitting me, saying that my abominable eyes will never see you again, that your parents took you back to South Africa.
Bye THANDIE, I will never forget you.
*Burutu-locally brewed gin
*Surulere-a town in Lagos state, Nigeria
*Fufu-an edible substance made from cassava
*Ojuju Calabar-a popular Gothic personality in children’s tales