Tega Oghenechovwen | Longreads | January 2020 | 15 minutes (3,777 words)
Content warning: This piece contains mentions of child abuse and childhood sexual abuse.
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So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise — Maya Angelou
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1. Why is the World Silent?
I am 7. B is 8. We are on the balcony of this monstrous brick house, naked. Our small bodies are soaking in gasoline. Our shirts, shorts, and shoes are on the concrete balustrade with our bags. A Good Samaritan who found us at the bus park trying to run for our lives just dragged us back. B’s teeth are inside his tongue. His eyes are liquid red. Tears and gasoline have washed away my sense of smell.
We face aunty Em. Her eyes pierce us to the marrow. She has a matchbox. She draws out a matchstick. She threatens to strike it. We shout as if shouting was what we were born to do. Our bodies creak and crack with fear. After a short while, Aunty Em fishes a waist-high koboko from the pantry.
“If you ever —” Lash. “If you ever try—” Lash. Lash. “If you ever try to run again —” Lash. Lash. Lash. She lashes us with the koboko until we become like raw beef; until we promise we will stomach her wickedness; that we will forget we are people’s children, and become her footstools.
Uncle Dee is in his study crafting a model boat for a client. He could be building a bomb to finish us. I wonder why he doesn’t hear us weeping. I wonder where the world is.
We hate here. The food we eat here tastes like burnt soil. Even at that, it’s never enough. Why did our parents dump us here? What did we do to deserve this? What?
I draw two eagles with enormous wings on the yellow walls of my room — one for me, the other for B. Aunty Em sees the eagles. She pops my head with the heel of her ko-ko shoe and locks me in a room without any light or window.
Silence speaks in the dark room. I hear the blood flushing my veins, and the worms eating my belly. I cry. I cry until I faint. Why is the world silent? Where is God? Why does He or She do nothing?