I stood next to my mother’s casket last night during the vigil, silently thanking her for being such a superwoman, but also resentful that she died without knowing how trusting the wrong people affected me.
She was a single mother practically after my drunkard father took up a second wife and stopped helping her financially or even with basic care. He only came around when my older sister’s dowry was being paid and the loser squandered all the money in a local spirits dungeon. Since the funeral plans, he’s been drinking himself silly as usual with the little money the mourners give him. He came to take me away from the casket last night and somehow, I think he’s the reason why I have ill-feels towards women.
My mother was an angel. I know people metaphorically use the word to describe the dead, but quite frankly, she was. She was quick to apologize, slow to anger, supported everyone’s decisions and put everyone’s needs before her own. This kindness, I believe, is the reason why the world has been so mean and cruel to her. People often mistook her politeness as an invitation to intrude, and it bothers me that she never stood up for herself, not even in death.
Standing beside her casket, I wondered if the deep dark secrets hidden in the corners of my mind would make her angry. Angry enough to probably wake up and shame my abusers. I was looking at the cakey foundation they applied on her face, how she lay there in a white gown, innocently, as innocent as she led her life. She always saw the good in people and missed all the red flags. She was just too nice to be human. You’d expect the world to pay her back in kind.
The first time it happened, I was just seven. My mother was off to a seminar and she left me in the company of a fairly new domestic manager. The sole reason why she was hired is because she was a mother and seemed more responsible. Two of my older siblings, both girls were away, in boarding school, so we were left alone for two nights. After I had retired to my room, re-reading a recently purchased storybook, she came to the door and knocked gently before coming in.
“Devin, are you okay?” she asked as she surveyed the room.
“Yes I am,” I replied innocently then turned back to my book.
“Will you sleep alone?” She asked as she stealthily walked into the room and closed the door behind her.
“I sleep with my mother when she’s around. But I will be fine without her.” I said, fanning myself with the storybook.
“No, don’t worry, I will sleep with you,” she said as she shoved away my blanket and sat on the bed.
I didn’t find it weird or alarming that she wanted to sleep in the same bed as me. If anything, I was a little scared and it was a welcome relief that she would be next to me throughout the night.
In turn, I asked, “Will Derrick be okay?” Derrick was her son. We were agemates.
“Yes,” she answered. “He will sleep with his father.”
The events of that night traumatize me to date and seeing that woman at Mama’s funeral was triggering. Phanice, but we called her Mama Derrick woke up in the middle of the night and demanded that I fondle her breasts. I was confused, but her harsh eyes under the bright white lights scared me into doing what she asked. After a while, she asked me to clench a fist, after which she used my hands to pleasure herself. At that moment, everything was confusing as I didn’t exactly understand what was going on.
The next morning during breakfast, she warned me to never say a word about the previous night. She went as far as stating that she would starve me if anyone heard of the night’s occasions. The next night, she pleasured herself with my hands again and went on touching my loins inappropriately and asked, “How are you feeling?” I never responded to her questions and I developed this distasteful behaviour of never speaking up when something bothered me.
My mother never noticed anything when she came back, neither did my drunk father. As expected, my mother trusted Phanice’s domestic skills that she resorted to always leaving me in her company every time she had to be away. Every night in her custody, she molested me and my resentment towards her grew daily. I had contemplated telling my mother a few times, but I was afraid that she wouldn’t believe me since I was just a child. Phanice eventually stopped molesting me when her husband beat her to a pulp, and she moved back to the village with her children.
But Phanice wasn’t the only woman that molested me. The new, younger housemaid, Doris did it too. She was more harsh and would slap me every time she put across an order and I pretended not to hear. Often, she would ask me to suck on her breasts. However, my father’s sexual advances stopped her, because she would sleep in my mother’s room with him whenever Mama was not around. I never said a thing to my mother because I was afraid it would hurt her, but it eventually did, when Doris ended up pregnant for my father.
By the time I was thirteen, I was fooling around with girls in school but never really indulged in penetrative sex until campus. It was satirical when my very concerned mother asked to talk to me in private after my girlfriend paid me a visit.
“Devin, I know you are grown now and you want to explore the changes and emotions in your body, please be very careful,” she started.
You could tell that she was rather uncomfortable and it took everything in her to initiate this conversation.
“Your father should be talking to you about this, but he’s not here. Son, if you must have sex, use protection.” I stared down silently because I didn’t want to make it more uncomfortable for her than it already was.
“Devin? Are you listening to me?” she asked and I responded with a nod.
“I’m not against you having a girlfriend, I just want you to be safe. Be wary of girls. They could infect you with STDs or worse, HIV/AIDS.”
At that instance, I wanted to speak up and tell her about the treatment the housemaids gave me, but still, I was afraid that it would hurt. Because she always strived to give us the best, she just didn’t know that the people she trusted were rotten to the core. As we laid her to rest, I couldn’t help but honour the powerhouse she was. I might never heal from the things I don’t talk about but I’ve made myself a promise to never entrust my children’s care with anyone and the woman I marry must be willing to make that sacrifice.
I rest assured that my mother would have gone to the ends of the world to offer me the best and there’s solace in that.
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