The society protects the girl from the boy like we protect the yam from the prowling goats. It is good. But you can make of this what you want. All I do is write. Right?
In the 80s this street was a certain way that it isn’t now. It was much more communal. You see, I could walk into our neighbours home and watch TV with them, and when supper gets served I would have my share of the eba and ofe nsala.
When it got too dark for a 7 year old to be out by himself, I would hear the shrill of my mothers voice, calling me to come home. Or I could just sleep off where I sat after the Chinese film was over —that is if it was a Wednesday.
We did everything together. We played ball, jumped rope, built houses in the sand. We even had baths together on the rare times when the tap in the bathrooms ran. We crammed ourselves in there; boys, girls, our siblings, those who aren’t blood, everyone. Big ones, little ones, and the ones in between. Everyone rubbing against each other under the spray of water from the shower.
One hot July in 86, Peter slept with Ngozi. He was 13, she was 10. He was gentle, but she said he was ferocious because when it was over there was blood. There was blood because it was her first time. She lied because the blood scared her. And because she did not understand what they did. So there was blood because it was her first time.
But it wasn’t his first time.
His first time happened in January of 85. It was a cold day, the Harmattan was a howling masquerade in the street and a parched bedfellow in the homes.
Mary watched Peter from the window. His wrist looked strong, and he had the shoulders of a man. She was 19 and she felt really funny between her thighs. The funny went from a mild burn, to a sweet explosion every time she looked at Peter work his hands on the sand mansion he was building in front of the house.
It was torture. She called Peter. He came running to aunt Mary. The door slammed shut.
Peter walked around with a daze the rest of the afternoon. By evening, aunt Mary was going crazy with a fresh longing. It happened again, then the next day. By the third day, Peter was sore between his legs, and numb.
Peter played less and talked even lesser. In March, Esther had known about Peters superpowers. Mary told her. Esther told Lillian. Lillian shut herself up with Peter the whole of March 15.
On March 16 the taps ran and every kid in the neighborhood was crammed again in a bathroom nearby. Every kid but Peter.
Esther was on top of him in a closed room, grinding away like the stone our momma ground pepper with.
When Ngozi came from the general bath, the door would not budge, but the moan within were curious ones. So she looked through the keyhole.
When the year 1986 swung in Peter had grown a little more. Withdrawn, yes, but stronger.
Ngozi managed to get him alone one quiet afternoon after school.
“Let us do that thing.”
“What thing?” He asked her.
“The one you and my sister use to do.”
“I don’t do anything!” He blurted.
Then she added, “and aunty Mary, and Lillian…”
They went in. But it was different this time for Peter. It was harder. And more exciting, even dangerous. Then Ngozi wanted to be on top of him, like her sister Esther.
She was 10 when it happened. It was cruel, thought her parents. Esther was loudest in the public denunciations.
Lillian and Mary were surprised.
He was 13. And he was a rapist. They took him out of the neighborhood and it was just as well. The girls were all in danger. Word went round that he was huge down there too.
Who said so?
Ngozi was too young to understand what was huge from the medium when it came to phallic differentiations.
So who said so?
Peter was on sabbatical in Abakaliki learning a trade. And he would not say anything if he were here even.
In 1987, February, one hot and wild day, Peter started sleeping with his boss’s wife.
He was 14. She was 24.
About the writer - Samuel Otareri Samuel is a creative writer who likes to talk about love and social issues using his creative writing to trigger emotional consciousness in Nigerians. A lover of his woman, Samuel believes in using one's creativity as a tool for social change.