It was in my second year in SHS when this particular teacher took an interest in me. He would send me on errands in school and after class, he’ll ask me to carry his book to the next class where he had lessons. When he needed someone to buy food for him, I was the one he called. It became very obvious to everyone that he liked me. It’s only when a teacher likes you that he makes you do such things.
I was only a teen. The world looked bigger in my eyes than it is today. I was guided by my parents’ advice. They advised me against having a boyfriend so for the two years I’d been in school, I’d said no to quite a number of boys. It didn’t mean I didn’t have any feelings for them. No. My teenage heart was a hub where all manner of love grew but I was obeying my parents in the Lord so I said no to all the boys who came along.
That fateful day, his request didn’t feel right. I reminded him about the school rule that barred female students from going to a tutor’s house to engage in any domestic activity. He told me, “I’m the one they’ll question when they find out. I’ll have answers for them so just come.”
I sneaked into his bungalow and immediately he saw me he hugged me. It didn’t feel right but I didn’t ask why. He told me to sit down for a drink and I did. From the way he looked at me, I suspected he had intentions but I watched on as he jumped over me and started unzipping my dress. I said faintly, “Please sir, what are you doing?” He answered, “You watch me. You’ll see.”
I got it but I was too scared to act differently. I should have shouted. I should have put in a fierce fight. I should have threatened him. I didn’t do any of that. I spoke in whispers as if I didn’t want anyone to hear us; “Sir, please stop it. I haven’t done it before. You’ll hurt me.”
I still remember the sound of my zip splitting open. I remember how he threw me off so he could take off my dress. It was too late to fight. I was too weak to fight. I blamed myself for sending myself there. Even when I told him it was hurting, he kept going, robbing me of my innocence. I felt cheated.
I had imagined how my first kiss was going to be like. I had images of how my first shuperu was going to be like on my wedding day. I didn’t even experience a kiss before shuperu. I felt short-changed but I didn’t want to feel guilty of having someone sleep with me who wasn’t my boyfriend so after he had finished with me, I asked him, “Does it mean you’re my boyfriend?”
He laughed. His face sweaty. The vein on his forehead bursting out. He asked me, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I nodded. He laughed at me. “You want to be my girlfriend yet you made me fight for it?” I said sorry. “I’m sorry sir. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
I was in pain and bleeding small small. He handed me a sanitary pad and drove me out. It was on my way to the dormitory that I felt raped. Raped of all the romantic dreams I kept in my heart. I was crying. I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t even know if what happened qualified to be a rape. “I asked him to be my boyfriend, right? How can that qualify to be a rape?” I couldn’t tell anyone but I avoided that teacher like a plague until I completed school.
After school, I carried myself in a cage. A cage that had big bars and a huge lock. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the male gender. I was scared it will happen again. I felt one day one will find me and tell me, “So you’re not even a virgin.” I swore I wouldn’t marry so I went through my university education without a relationship. I didn’t even have a friend who was a guy. I was scared. The first story that happened hadn’t been told. I didn’t want to create another story.
I did my national service at a hospital where I found a doctor friend. One day he asked me out and I took the risk. Maybe I liked him or I saw something in him that I never saw in those men who approached me on my way to adulthood. The first outing gave birth to a second outing and a third and a fourth. The fourth happened in his house. I felt very safe with him because he allowed me to talk about myself and he listened keenly.
The day he proposed to me I cried. He asked why and I told him, “I wish you were my first. This is how I dreamed of my romantic life. If there was any justice in the world, you should have been my first. I don’t know the answer to give you. It’s hard.”
Then he asked a question that opened the floodgates of my childhood stories. He asked, “Is there anything I don’t know that you think I should know?” I didn’t think twice about it. I just answered, “My first time was a rape. This is my first time talking about it. This is my first time having the courage to call it as it is. The sad thing is, I asked my rapist to be my boyfriend. I was a girl. I was conflicted. It’s the reason I couldn’t talk about it until now.”
My head was done as I was telling my story. I was too shy–no, too embarrassed to look at his face. When I finished talking, he mentioned my name. I lifted my head up only to see his arms open up. I ran into it and he closed his arms. It wasn’t tight enough. I wished he would squeeze me tight until the pain leaks out of my skin like water running out of squeezed wet clothes. He said he loved me. I said I loved him too. Two years later we were married.
Seven months after marriage my husband told me, “I regret ever marrying someone like you.”
Before you judge him, I want to tell you he was right. If I was him, I will regret marrying me too. We didn’t have shuperu until marriage. Seven months after marriage, we’ve only had it once, hence his frustration.
Our childhood pains don’t die because we became adults. They still live and once in a while come through the door of our adulthood without knocking. If we give our childhood the chance, it will use our adulthood as a playing field and mess us up. My childhood trauma never left me. I saw shuperu as a chore than something to be enjoyed.
The sound of my zip that day kept playing in my mind. The first kiss I didn’t get. The shame of asking him to be my boyfriend. I blamed myself. “It wasn’t his fault. The fault was mine. I shouldn’t have been there. I should have screamed. I should have reported him afterwards. What was I thinking when I asked him to be my boyfriend?”
All these thoughts played out whenever I had to avail myself to my husband. He was tired of dealing with a trauma he had no hand in it. I pleaded with him. I told him he was my first so he should be patient with me. We agreed on counselling and I attended. I bore it all out and I cried the pain out. A year and a half after marriage, I was the one who told my husband, “I regret ever saying yes to you. Is sex all you know?”
I ended up in therapy for months. He was there with me, fighting to save our marriage. He’ll drive me there and wait for me. Sometimes I would look at him through the glass door. He looked lonely and I pitied him but he was willing to fight by my side to save the vows we made on our wedding day. Thirteen years later, we are still here.
We are no longer fighting. I’m at peace with my childhood. I even invite her to play with me and we laugh. We are friends now. When you make peace with the burdens of your life, you can look them in the face and laugh. We laugh it out as if it wasn’t the one thing that nearly destroyed our marriage. We are at peace, raising three children, guiding them where they should go so they can speak up when they meet troubles like mine.