5:46 am, I’m flushing blood clots down the toilet. Rolling trauma into a tissue paper. 6 days in a month, sometimes 12, I perform a ritual to sanctify my body. The temple which harbours this guilt.
My day starts with untold lamentation.‘A-i-sssh’- a stifling sob. It’s the deafening plea for mercy and latitude of my tongue loosing count of the number of prayers I have muttered, calling out to death to whisk me home. And the sound of my tears trickling into heaven asking God to forgive me for being a woman.
I label my body into a mood swing, frown into gloomy mornings, puncture my mouth with hisses and bask in this ridicule eating me up.
It’s 3:01 am, a throbbing pain wakes me up, splattering through my veins. I’m on the wooden floor of my room, groaning in pain. My ribs hurt from the ache of the weather. And the spontaneous harmony of ‘sorry’ from my sister’s mouth brimming with warmth.
4:46 am, curled up in discomfort, more blood gushing out of my temple. I feel the shiver in my skin, blood is trickling into my pad, clots protruding from a dilapidated body. I’m worried my pad is full. I stagger to the bathroom. The water changes to a red colour. Like paint splattered on a canvas in an art class, my blood beckons on me to paint and sip.
Muffling my crotch into a black trouser, my body shrinks into an irreconcilable quagmire, the flamboyance of pain and a hamper I have grown weary of unwrapping.
Today, I weigh the diameter of my body sprawled on a hospital bed and the stethoscope drawing unspoken conclusions at my silhouette.
I’m questioning the recesses of my life. The symmetry of my figure when 4 boys dragged me home from the exam hall in my first year to hide my shame and save my life. This pain has grown into a sin I am tired of committing.
I’m mourning the shock clinging to my father’s tongue when he asked why I checked the disability box in my application form, and my failed attempt to paint the picture in his mind.
I worry for my sister who shares a room with me, waking every midnight to a startling dilemma of my contorted silhouette in the dark- paying homage to pain. And every other night she keeps vigils because I am gambling for my life.
The next day, I’m reading the lips of my male friend over a video call, searching for the vigour buried in my pale look.
I sing an ode to my question paper for appending blood in my answer sheet during the logic exam in my sophomore year. For trekking miles to my off-campus hostel drenched in blood, cautious of sketching indelible patches on the seat of a public bus.
Today, I remember an uncle’s wife and my soft groans flaring up the beast in her. I’m reciting her scoldings, nursing the dent from the finger she buried in my forehead. I’m revoking my crucifixion.
Her mumbled words that pierced more than the pangs from hell, the forbidden warning never to mention this taboo to anyone or scurry off to the hospital to seek for medical help.
I cannot forget the transfixed posture of my malnourished uncle standing there-clueless. Afraid to utter a word because he might starve all day.
I’m growing fond of the word sorry, nurturing this gift from strangers like the boy who sat next to me in church gasping as I wriggled in pain. I’m envious of ladies who feel no pain, scribbling their names into a headline and befitting accolades, and slowly detaching myself from this toxicity I share with my body.
I weep for the days before and the days after I shred into a litany of torture, pay a tribute to my lifeless body and the urgent prayers at midnights from distant friends resurrecting me from this wilderness.
The other day, when a friend asked about my favourite colour and I said black, he prodded my lips to tell him why. I’m grieving my loss with pink, renouncing memories we once shared and swindling my innocence into a black dress because my body cannot keep secrets.
In my closet, I scrunch the plastic wrapper and bury all the blood I have lost. My mirror bears testament of my favourite affirmation ‘I hate you’, a word I have muttered audibly since I became bold, a scaredy woman frightened of living in her own body.
So, I bundle this wish into a new day like a body set on fire; burning, tracing my pulse into a nightmare, detangling my worries from all the appointments I have missed, dreaming of the day I would be free from this stronghold.
I force my tired body to the bathroom, poking this shame down the drain, and watch it evaporate with no trace of the gory memories I have buried there. As the hot water flushes the blood clots, an eyesore, I gape. Then, remember my friends taking turns to nurse and cajole me into unlearning I am a burden.
When I am done washing off every pellet of blood on the floor, the memories from my bathtub haunt me. I fear for the next tenant, oblivious of the stigma this hollow space has housed and the pain buried in its loins.
MICHELLE NNANYELUGO is a multifaceted audio- visual creative with impeccable storytelling skills, passionate about unconventional narratives She’s got drive, curiosity and vision and advocate for an inclusive creative economy. The summation of her creative process as a writer, poet, spoken word artiste, podcaster and activist propels her with an inner inclination to connect to problems and proffer solutions in a memorable way whilst utilizing targeted platforms to discuss social awareness campaigns and passion projects like cyberbullying, body shaming, etc. She sits in a room big enough to drown her worries, thinking of ways to change her world. Her works and performances have appeared on notable publications and platforms including Brigette Poirson Poetry Anthologies, Kreative Diadem and elsewhere.