When self righteousness was a lazy hobby I picked up from the stern imposing authorities around me and perfection was the promised land I wanted to sail to, I frown my nose in disgust at things I have been told were bad and should be rejected. But why? my timid voice would ask and they’d reply ‘It is bad because it is bad, final.’ And I also would accept it as final.
Apparently, they were also relaying what had been passed down from older imposing authorities who would never see through what is presumed bad, their moral antenna have never failed to detect what it perceived as bad and their overtly strict self would spare no breath lashing out at the morally indigent person or thing.
‘It is not good to lie, lying would lead you to hellfire’
‘Keep quiet, you are always arguing, do you know more than me?’
The same way I was taught what is good and what is not was the same way I was stopped from doing some things because you are a girl. As a girl I cannot go out and play in the streets because those raggedly boys that live two streets away – and roam into our compound every now and then to ask for leftovers or clothes that needed to be washed – can not amount to any good and may spoil me if care is not taken due to their poor, faulty upbringing.
But my cousin plays games with them, he even told me…
‘Shut up, he is a boy. They can’t spoil him’
So I became the chick which must be protected at all costs from the hungry hawks that fly up and down the streets. Their sweaty freedom haunts me as I peep through the window watching my cousin play catcher-catcher as the sun switches to an orange glow burning brightly like my rage. I have to be indoor because it was too dark for me to be outside with boys. Plates washing, sweeping, cooking and keeping the home neat and tidy is a duty, a responsibility which must make me proud that I was coming of age. Nobody cares about my cousin’s coming of age, he can go play ball till night fall or play games till NEPA takes the light, he was simply being a boy.
‘Bring his food from the kitchen’ my aunty would command
‘He has hands, let him come himself’
‘I will knock that slimy tongue of yours into your intestine this minute if you don’t bring the food’
Admonishments laced with threats, the ending we both chorus together ‘Is this what you’d be doing in your husband’s house?’ I once replied with a question ‘What if I never want to get married?’
My mother jumped at me like a wounded tigress, checking my face first and then peering into my eyes, wondering the channel the demon that possessed me had entered from. Finding none her lips trembled as she rejects what she terms a curse.
‘May God not let you see a reason why you would never get married o.’ She said.
Somebody came to gossip about my cousin, they said he was having sex already.
‘He patronises prostitutes that stand around Obote road, that boy at his age’
Everybody blamed hormones and bad friends, youthful exuberance and what else do you have?
‘He is just being a stupid boy he’d outgrow it’
He was sixteen then.
Without asking, I was told.
‘Never let your fiancé see the colour of your pant before marriage’
‘Children of nowadays with their silly questions, don’t you know it would reduce your worth? You don’t want us to collect good yams as bride price? Praises on the day after your wedding about how we taught you well?’
That stuck in my head, of course I have to impress them. To show I was the golden child, I have always had to prove myself but how long would I continue to be in a cage? How can I tell them that right under their noses my uncle abused me, a ritual that takes place in his bedroom every night. He only has to hang around the kitchen as I wash the plates and tidy up while everyone scream in excitement in the sitting room, cheering the display of the actors and actresses on the screen.
‘You should come into my room when you are done’
‘Are you deaf? I would slap you if you don’t answer me’
And the cycle goes on night after night until he got married and left. I wished him death at his wedding, I wanted the cake his bride was feeding him to choke him, I wanted slimy saliva to drip out of his mouth as he struggles to get the cake out of his system. I wanted him to suffer till the struggle ends with his tongue lolling out of his mouth. He never choked, he never died. He just left just like that. Just like he asks me to come.
Yesterday my aunty found a boy’s message on my phone. She nearly died, I was only 17 she screamed. What do I know?
I am only 17. What does she know?