No need saying a thousand words, you can say it all in a stance.
Sit erect, don’t say your weight is too heavy for the azure sofa. Fling your hair backwards; Monrovian, as though you didn’t kill to acquire it. Readjust your turkey, strapless gown, it fits, but you need it to fit the more, including your taut leather watch.
Look straight, don’t smile yet, you have lost it. Tighten your shoelace. If you do not wander off with the full moon illuminating the outside; slanting in through the glasses, maybe you will concentrate more. But you are out, with the moon.
You believe it will gather the threads of your life and weave them all into a magnificent pattern. A string would obviously be found at the left side of the moon; another at the right, the other at the epicenter.
The first string hit you, it was when you were at community primary school: Nteje, Ikorodu, Ikwere, Aba-tete, Ibibio, Daura. You were cladding a pinafore on a white and yellow checked shirt. Having peered from a distance, within your eyesight, to ascertain if Mr: Madu, Idahosa, Danjuma, Enwe-obong was anywhere within the proximity, clutching his ‘Mr. Do good,’ you sneaked into the nearby classroom, extending your gaze at the sweeping roster, what looked like your name was there; your name is a distorted piece of puzzle the world couldn’t fix yet, they were squiggled up in dainty scarce letters: EkaminiObong, OgechukwuUgwu, AishatHusseina, Blessing Ajebade.
“Don’t care to look up your names in full, once you see the initial alphabets to your names, just know it’s yours.” The voice of your primary one teacher resounded in your head, it was from her you learnt that surnames are universal and less important.
On seeing that the classroom has been thoroughly swept; and the echoes of the pupil’s marching songs were approaching tremendously, you ran and hid under one of the desks at the back. In seconds, a single queue, settled from the front rows to the back where you were, you knew whose desk you occupied, you knew he wouldn’t breathe an air.
Here he came by, vibrant and brilliant Emeka, Osas, Ayomide, Danjuma. Neat shirt tucked under a pair of shorts, always having a pen fixed in his breast pocket, hair neatly cut and series of white dentition clustering inside his mouth. It was one of the things that held you glued to him, you learnt that bottled up boys like him plays the best rhythmic tambourines for the heavenly orchestra.
“What are you doing under my desk?”
“Sh—sh!”You shushed him, pulling a finger across your lips, still admiring the whiteness of his teeth.
“Why are you late?”
“Sorry, I overslept.”
“You also forgot your name was among the people due for sweeping the class, but not to worry, I stood in your place.”
It was your first touch of pure affection for him. You wouldn’t have called it love, if you had done so, why won’t the pigsty haired Mrs.Olumide, Joy, Halima, Kokomma, spank your tiny ass in front of the whole class?
Sweetest boys are the rarest, your secondary school certificate planted a time bomb between you two. You both exploded like an oil bean falling apart at farther distances in a huge forest. You went to look for him in the eyes of the moon, where the angels blew their honorific horns in his stead, but the nation’s geopolitical zones clashed on his head; they said he exiled to: Kano, Lagos, Calabar, or was it Enugu, Anambra, you were not sure, all that remained of him in you were the glinting shadows of him, on the day he climbed on you and took a part of you with him; and your sniggering moans of pains and pleasure, seeping through the walls to vast distances, emerging as echoes from one of those classrooms where you learnt how to balance the cursiveness of the river in-between your thighs. The redness of your pool sprawling on the glittery floor was a mystery you later uncovered was what made you unfit for sacrifice to any of the African gods and deities.
Stammering Chibuike, Ukpong, Hamza, Oluwole, Peter, reassured you much later in life, that you were still a blossoming flower, worthy enough to be found succulent by the humming bees at street junctions, behind lockup stores, beside a black gate where the quest for greener pastures had left you.
“F—or–g–e-t that childish thing you did please, you are still a virgin.” As he spoke, his eyelids were performing masquerade dances, likewise his mouth and nostrils; contouring and shutting off at various intervals.
If you were to list your reasons for becoming spellbound around this guy, you may fail to add his gaunt-looking shoulders, his lanky nature. The things he says to you were the sweet Udala fruit in your mouth, you would like to roll it over, in your mouth, again and again, because he was what your first innocent-looking boy was not; talkative, faster in speech, tongue bitten himself along the line. He said things pleasant for your ears, when he said, “I will be your mother and father.” You flinched, you thought you had seen someone to fill this void in you; of misplaced trust and loss of parental care.
The heavens blew their horns; of harsh sun and drought the day you found yourself inside his one room apartment; small, graced with bluish walls and carpet; a match with the hanging Stamford bridge curtain. A box television repeating a single uninteresting show transmitted from the cable device lying below it.
“Welcome, wh–a–t c–an I offer you? He stammered.
You sat on the floor, crossing your own legs against each other and said “nothing, be snappy please.” You wouldn’t want to squabble with your aunt; a relation to your mother’s mother, who had brought you to the city of lights.
“Okay, I will.” He sat down too and leaned closer towards you and made for your breast, you drifted away; out of his reach.
He murmured, “Relax” he didn’t stammer now, he was bracing himself up to reach a compromise with you instead. “I got you something.” He added, as though he knew it would lighten up your mood. He walked to his wardrobe and returned with a green strapless gown. He flung it towards your direction.
You leaped for joy to its catchment, It’s been long someone gave you a gown this classy, you allowed him toy with your breast. He motioned his head to touch it with his mouth and teeth and tongue. You shivered and drifted off.
“I want to go now, I need a T. Fare.” You stood on your toes, his eyes grew a coat of red. Stereotypes you had heard of stammerers and their rapid annoyance were now replaying somewhere, around the back of your head, it’s terrific, threatening, you were going to fidget and look small beside him staring down at you, but you ignored it, you fought your way, his charred palms held you like chain grills. He pushed you to his large tattered bed, pulling off his trousers.
“You said you will be family to me.”
“Of course, but now you tried to play smart, I have to show you I’m smarter.” He rushed his words, reserving some strength for the satisfaction of his imminent libido.
A tear dropped from your scrunched up cheeks, just as it is dropping now, wipe it, crush it, tuck it under the space in-between your teeth, like you did to the remains of him in you; his semen, a mystery your blood had formed; a baby’s tiny head and body. Don’t ruin your makeover, it’s important you put up this make-believe act, for this moon’s illuminance will forever be made manifest in your life.
Maybe jf you hadn’t let the memory of your doting, deceitful rapist vanish, you wouldn’t have met Chief Bankole, Odumodu, Adamu, Elesin, Magaji, Inyang. Brown, torn shirt, green skirt and unkempt hair were the only convenient attire your haggard soul made its favorite. His car horn was a deafening trumpet everyone in the street heard except you.
He offered to give you a ride after he called your attention to his numerous titles. You declined. He requested for your phone numbers, you hissed with disgust and said you don’t have a phone. He sped off, violet smoke from his exhaust pipe, and rising dusts, coiling into a ribband across your face.
It was over, he was gone, just as you wanted. You loathed the thought of men, you concluded you were going to remain single and unmarried. You were beginning to believe that all men were the same.
As you were approaching the black gate which led to the bungalow your sanctimonious aunt was staying, the familiar horn honked, you reversed. It was him again.
You waddled your long straight legs over the passenger’s side, your dirty mini skirt swaying to and fro with the harmattan wind.
“Listen, old man, I don’t want you tracing me up and down the streets.” You blurted out in anger.
“I followed you because you are being unnecessarily rude, but I am not offended. This is supposedly where you live, can I know your name now?”
“No.” You replied and pulled the gate open and shut it immediately with a bang. A certain kind of defiance works for some people, not for Chief and his beards with a touch of gray and a handful of them sprouting in his nostrils, he was going to re-strategize, he wasn’t going to give up, not after the charades he’d put up to woo three women to an exaggerated bed of matrimony, not when he knew his intention for you would yield a greater profit for him and this profit was going to bring him back the next day’s afternoon with bags and tubers of goodies for your desperate aunt.
When you returned, he was sitting by the balcony and an agbada slung across his caramel body, that was the first time you noticed that the diacritic mark running across his face, beside his cheeks, belonged only to the richest man you had grown up to know in your village. You were fast enough to notice a red cap and beads adorning his neck before your feet moved fastidiously in passing. He made for you and grabbed your palms tight, you felt like a glorified princess, temporarily. You gave him your number, your time, you accepted him into your circle once again.
The fourth night, a certain number:0803275192 was calling you, it was the old man calling to fix a dinner date. You never agreed you would be spending a night but once you arrived the hotel, “welcome,” he said over the phone, “You can ask your way to room 305, third floor, Ahah! It is going to be a fun-filled night.”
You didn’t object, you helped yourself through the staircase and settled your legs on the third floor, room 305 was the last in the walkway, you cast curious glances as you walked down the edge of the corridor, an inscription on the doors read: 315, 310, before 305. Jittery, you unintentionally pressed the bell simultaneously, while you stood anxiously, waiting. You were about to make for the bell again when the old man shouted from the room, “A minute please.”
He opened the door and led you to sit on the sofa. He drew a small stool leaning against the marble wall, comprising two glasses of wine, closer to your legs before drifting closer to sit on the same sofa, beside you. You were beginning to feel unnecessarily small again, the intestines of your stomach were ricocheting against their walls. Fear. Nostalgia gripped you.
After a while, he dashed out a bag of goodies lying at one edge of the sofa, beside him. He threw out the first item: a human hair; Monrovian. He said he wanted you to be good-looking always. After then, he threw out a pair of high-heeled shoes. It was destiny repeating itself; it rejuvenated the memories of your speech impeded rapist. It grew sharp prickles around your skin. You were going to burn with these memories; they came in daunting shades of colors, as thumps in the head, as beads of sweat puddling, trickling, and crashing on your knees, only then you knew you were never going to let him play smarter this time.
“Drink up!” He said.
Shrewd you and your intelligence warned you against it.”I don’t feel like taking anything.” The pops to the wine has been corked and poured to the cups before you had arrived.
He frowned. “You have nice legs and boobs.” He commented, still rooted at a spot.
“Thank you.” You replied, you guessed he would obviously be edging closer to you when he added: “And a fine set of buttocks too.” But, he didn’t, meanwhile he licked his lips and said you were bags of money.
“Ah!” Your lips flung open, you couldn’t connect the scenario, meanwhile your nostalgia has fled.
He said you must take a sip, he started forcing you to take a sip, bringing the wine glass towards your lips. You withdrew your face, when he felt his efforts futile, he dashed out a sharp knife from his trousers pocket and brought it to your face. The accuracy of targeting at things; that exactness at hitting an object at a distance which you never knew you had in your possession, surfaced. You clutched one of the heeled shoes somewhere on the floor and knocked the knife off his senile palms; it fell, you made for it and dug it into his throat in self-defense.
The possessor of all the money and material things he brought to the hotel room was you, your Gucci bag sang of dollars, pounds and instant richness. You stopped searching for greener pastures, you fled from your miserably-turned sanctimonious aunt with the inscrutable lies she couldn’t fathom; of you bumping into an old friend who led you to a lucrative job. You became the distorted puzzle the world couldn’t wrap around Chief’s death, your anonymousness would tie loose ends to his postmortem. If you wrapped the stabbing knife in the white handkerchief well; in a way the dripping blood from it wouldn’t remind you of your innocent hymen dropping on the plastered classroom floor, you would forever remain free.
You have many words to say, many stories to tell your future generation. Say nothing. Dab the mists puddled up in your brown eyes with your palms. Pose. The divisible moonlight is gone. The only present source of illumination inside the studio is the floodlight, and a clutter will soon be heard after a click. You will say a thousand words with it, you will make a memory of it: a picture; it says a thousand words.
Nwabuisi Kenneth is a student of literature in university of Nigeria Nsukka. He lives and writes literature from Nsukka.