If this were a movie, there would be a title card on the screen that says One Month Later
Or thereabouts. Anyway.
I’m at the office window, looking out into Opebi, thinking about the last time I saw her. When she had come to my house, one rainy Sunday evening, making me wonder if it was rain water or tear water streaming down her face.
I watched her that day; trying to hold the yawning gulf where my heart used to be together by a pretense at indifference. I listened to her cries for understanding with an attitude that would have bothered me if I didn’t know I was just faking, mentally wringing my hands and biting my nails.
It was all I could do to not grab and hug her – to not kiss her face like some overexcited dog – but I had made up my mind.
There was nothing more for us.
I’m at the office window, looking out into Opebi. I look – but I do not see. The image in front of my vision is that of a soft-featured face, warm, shy eyes and ready-to-smile lips – lips that seemed to sing about love whenever I kissed them.
That’s me, alright. Lucky at life, unlucky at love.
I turn away and switch the image off.
And by ‘men’ I’m referring to the male species exclusively.
You know, the third-leg-carrying specie, the one for who it is most acceptable for to have hair on his face – the usually beer-guzzling viewing-centre-arguing video-game-thumping…
You get the point.
Yes; man. This one is for us by us. And it gives me the utmost shame to inform you that we have failed.
We. Have. Failed.
I was online several weeks ago – and I saw some hashtag thing all over the place. It didn’t take too long to find out what was behind it. Turns out that a group of people came together to raise funds to give women self-defense classes to protect them from rape.
Okay. Hold up.
For a man born, raised and bred in Africa, I have the understanding that the male is the protector of the female – at least physically. Maybe today we have independent women who don’t need men or whatever (more on that later), the basic understanding I have is the man is the head of the home. That doesn’t make him superior to the woman, it just gives him the responsibility of direction. Of stability. And protection.
At least, that’s what I understand and believe.
And a lot of us secretly harbor resentment for a woman who thinks she is our equal. The only reason we have ‘accepted’ this gender equality thing is because it’s popular – but how many of us are actually comfortable marrying a woman who isn’t ready to ‘bow and scrape’ before us? How many of us can marry a woman who will not stay at home to care for the kids – a woman who probably earns more than we do – a woman who will not be ‘controlled’?
Would our ‘African’ male ego accept that?
So – is it not a slap in the face when the women have to take self-defense classes, not because they want to, but because they need protection from US? The ‘men’ who are supposed to be their champion/defender/protector/knight (even if said armor is rusty in too many places)?
And maybe that’s not exactly a solution – I’m referring to the self-defense classes thing – because not only does it still make it look like it’s the women’s fault they get raped, what if after self-defense classes they meet a rapist who is stronger and better trained than they are?
Guys, let’s take a moment to reflect on that.
Statistics according to RAINN show that 2/3 rapes are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. To quote;
Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1
- S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
Even though this data was not gathered in Nigeria, it isn’t too far from the truth.
Men, when did we become like this?
Shebi you’ve seen October 1? The most recent of Kunle Afolayan’s movies?
Remember the near-climactic scene – in which the villain has pinned down the leading lady and is ripping her clothes off – and she says “You would forcefully take that which I would willingly give you?”
And even if she doesn’t want to give you – should she not have the right to decide who or what gets access to her body?
After all, it’s her body isn’t it?
I know some parts of this letter would be me repeating myself – after all it was only six months ago in April I wrote something on this issue – but the truth of the matter is; we’re not talking enough. We’re not doing enough.
I was at the police station (Area F to be specific) about two years ago, to sort out a friend who had gotten into a spot of trouble. While waiting for his CO, I noticed two policemen; one male the other female, bantering with a pretty young girl. I really wasn’t listening – but after a while I couldn’t help but hear what they were saying and it made my head hurt.
Apparently, girl had gone to her friend’s house and met the friend’s boyfriend at home. One thing led to another (as they usually do) and friend’s boyfriend had forced her to sleep with him.
I don’t remember the story blow for blow but that was the gist.
But that wasn’t what I found bothersome. That wasn’t what gave me the headache.
What got to me were the responses of the policemen – especially the female officer.
“How e take rape u? No be ya leg u carry waka go dere? E tie your hand? Abegi! Na so una dey do – maybe de guy do finish e no settle u na im u vex!”
I couldn’t believe my ears. This was another woman talking.
After a while though – they finally took a statement from her and agreed to follow her to the guy…
After a while.
Why this apathy when it comes to rape? Why are people so indifferent to this heinous crime?
Men – why do we rape?
Why do we rape?
Is that how your – how our fathers did our mothers; so we’ve come to think it’s normal? Do we have sisters who come home weeping, talking about how their boyfriend/husband/boss (the various roles we play in other women’s lives) forced himself on them – and we laugh and pat her on the back and say ‘that’s normal na! Why are you crying? Kini big deal?’
Kini big deal – about rape – really?!
Guys, how is it a woman’s fault that she got raped?
If we’re talking indecent dressing, why aren’t the Allen Avenue evening ladies getting raped regularly? How about the rag-wearing mad woman?
If we’re talking ‘because she came to our house’, since when did trust become a crime?
If we’re talking because we spent money on her, then we should also rape our mums, we shouldn’t have any female friends – and that woman who brings her kids to our car window to beg should be the next victim.
We should be ashamed of ourselves o – we really should be.
I mean, if we say we’re superior to women, then we should be their protectors and champions – not the ones they need protecting from. We should protect their rights to choose – the exact same way we would protect children and animals.
And if we say we are equal and the same with them – they should be able to decide what they want and don’t want, and we should be able to respect that.
So what is the problem? Guys, can we have a conversation?
Can we realize it’s in no way a woman’s fault a man decides to act beastly? Do we understand that because we are not taking up the mantle to speak and defend our women is why they are taking it upon themselves to protect themselves? Shall we agree that no excuse is good enough – and that the only person whose fault it is in a rape situation is the rapist?
I mean, we should consider the fact that there are yet several of us who see women dressing in some very provocative manner – and the fact that not all men are rapists puts paid to the generalization that the victim did something to provoke that reaction.
Men, let us be responsible. Let us do the needful – and be responsible men, fathers, brothers, cousins, nephews, friends – magas; even!
Let us protect the woman. The girl-child.
From ourselves, if need be.
I hope this letter makes some sort of sense to us – and even more than that – I hope it provokes a certain kind of response. I hope it makes us speak. I hope it makes us think.
More importantly, I hope it makes us do something positive concerning this rape thing.
A Week Later.
“Oga, that is the seventh time you’ll be sighing in this briefing. What is the matter?”
He jumped to attention and looked at the speaker. “Why you dey show yourself na?”
The speaker smiled and wiggled red-tipped fingers from the other side of the conference table. “Because we both remember what happened the last time we both were here.”
Indeed. He remembered.
“Now that we all are on the same page, listening to the same thing,” Temi said from the head of the table, voice dripping with sarcasm, “Are there any questions?”
Chris raised his hand, inspiring a low snigger from Agnes. “Yes?” Temi answered, the word clipped as though she was speaking from in-between clenched teeth.
“Do we have questions? Questions about what?”
Temi looked at Chris and Chris sat back down.
“Join me in my office, Chris.”
Agnes smiled as the click-clack of Temi’s heels faded away.
“I thought we were done with all that, Chris dear.”
He shrugged. “We are o. I was just thinking about you – and something I should tell you.”
Her smile widened and something inside Chris seemed to shrink. “Finally!” she gushed. “Well – even though I have been waiting for a bit, I can still wait some more. Go ahead and see what she wants.”
Wondering if that smile would remain just as blinding after he told her what he intended to as he turned away from it, Chris adjusted his blood-red tie and walked into the corridor towards Temi’s office. He was confused; torn between his feelings for Agnes and the realization that one of the women he had slept with while he was on compulsory vacation was her sister.
As for Temi, he had been trying to see if there was going to be any attitude relating to their tryst – but she acted as though nothing happened.
Which was very convenient for him.
Agnes was already complicated enough – one more of that to the mix and he would probably lose his mind.
Her office door creaked as he opened it, and he found her regarding him with calm apathy. “Hello there, Chris. Come in. Shut the door.”
He cleared his throat as he took his seat, the odd out-of-place feeling assailing him again. “I’m sorry – I was distracted…”
“I know. Which is why you’re here.”
She paused, inhaling deeply. “As I said, I am leaving for a seminar-slash-training trip at the end of the week. I will be gone for three weeks, during which you will sub for me.”
At Chris’ open-mouthed expression, she raised her hand.
“I’m not done. Agnes will support you – she’s quite proficient with the field staff. She’ll handle that side of things, you deal with the admin.”
She paused again, and then a small smile teased the corner of her mouth. “I know you’ve been dying to ask me why what happened in Calabar happened – or maybe you don’t really want to ask – but you’ve been wondering about it.” She inhaled and her smile became wider. “Well, chalk it up to a woman’s want. That’s all there is to it.”
Temi straightened and stood up, something in gesture making Chris follow suit.
“I also know that Nnamaka’s involvement further complicates matters between you and Agnes. I know – I work here too oga. I think you should just be grateful – wipe your mouth, cherish the memory and move on. Don’t suddenly grow a conscience.”
She turned away, towards the water dispenser behind her chair, thus simply dismissing Chris.
He was still in the restroom, forty-something minutes later when Agnes barged in.
“What is it? What did that…that…what did she say to you this time?”
The beginnings of a smile made light of the darkness of his face. “Nothing o – at least, nothing like what you’re thinking. She just repeated what she said about her trip and so on – “
Agnes looked relieved for a small moment – and then the frown reappeared between her fine eyebrows.
“So what is it na? Why are you so one-kind?”
Chris sighed. “Well, I suppose I should just tell you.” He rose from his seat on the un-raised toilet seat and stood face to face to her, chest crowding hers in the confining cubicle. “This place gets crowded in a hurry.”
Nodding, Agnes led the way out of the cubicle and towards the lobby. Slowing down and waving at the receptionist, she was however surprised as Chris took her arm and led her out of the office and into the parking space.
He sighed again. “Agnes, the only reason I haven’t…look, I still have feelings – strong feelings for you…”
Her jump-and-kiss-in-one-move silenced him. “Wait…wait…” he struggled to speak, trying to get his hands in between their bodies without hurting her. “You might not be so happy when you hear what I’m about to say,” he said as soon as he was able to hold her.
Fear made a hollow cask of her eyes; eyes that were, a few moments ago aglow with life and feeling. It almost made Chris suck up what he was about to say…
What if she finds out?
How would she? Who else knows?
WHAT IF SHE FINDS OUT?
And he had no answer.
“Agnes…I…I…” He broke off and looked at her again; lower lip trembling, chest heaving, breath hitching from the agitation of her feelings…
“Agnes, I love you.”
And the light – oh, the light that shined from behind her eyes and brightened her smile made the ‘lie’ worth it! She hit his chest with a flailing hand as she tried to speak. “You…” she stopped, choking.
She tried again. “Chris…” She pounded on his chest as he tried to grab her in a hug…
And then she burst into tears.
Chris held her against his chest as she sobbed tears – tears that felt like a boil finally letting go of pus. She leaned against him and cried. While he looked over her head, blank look on his face complimented by what he was staring at.
An arm and a leg he gave
For a truth not worth much
But who says?
Who gave an arm and a leg?
Someone else gave EVERYTHING – and didn’t find it.
What’s it worth? What are you worth?
It’s a story I can tell over and over. But I’m just going to skip that and go write into the post.
We meet people everyday. I mean, imagine a cashier at GT Bank trying to remember who the twenty-third person he collected money from on a Monday morning was. Except he’d been asked prior to take special notice – he wouldn’t remember.
After a while, the faces become a blur.
But even in the midst of that blur, some faces; some people still stand out.
People come into our lives daily. The okada man who drove at so sedate a pace you were almost falling asleep behind him – the cab man you thought was going to drive you off third mainland bridge – if he didn’t talk you to death first. The guy at the pharmacy who winks at you every time you ask for Durex, the mallam who knows you have visitors because you asked for the giant Indomie pack.
People. Faces. Constantly moving.
But it’s interesting that that mallam’s store is probably the fifth place on your street you can buy noodles from. You have guests, you’re in a hurry yet you’d rather walk all the way to his store to buy the same thing you could have bought from four other places at the exact same price. Or maybe for you, it’s not the mallam. It’s the mama put. It’s the beer joint. The viewing centre. The hair dressing saloon. The maytea (hope I got that right, pardon me).
Because it’s more than noodles. It’s the person.
My sister, Nneka is one such a person.
Someone who came by virtue of a tweet (still can’t thank you enough for that, Liz) and has been there. Someone who takes a moment – a chill time, a pause to say ‘how you dey?’
I can be quite the jerk – the mean guy whose default disposition is ‘angry’. I can be the neighbourhood dog who snaps at people who are trying to be nice to it. In other words, I can be something to put up with.
Still, she doesn’t let all that bother her. More often than not, she doesn’t understand my behaviour. But she knows me enough to not get mad – at least not till I’ve had a chance to explain myself.
It’s her birthday again today. And I just wanted to take a moment to say – I’m so proud of you. All you are, all you’re becoming.
Thank you for the privilege. I’m honoured.
Happy New Year, aburo!
This morning, I have the pleasure of hosting a friend – the beautiful Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku who is on a cover reveal tour for her book, Kiss My Lips .
Without further ado…
Flirty & Feisty Romance Novels
Smouldering desire & red-hot passion under the stars
Title: Kiss My Lips
(Holiday Series #2)
Will one kiss seal their love?
Author: Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku
Series: Holiday Series
Release Date: Wednesday 29th October 2014
Cover Artist: Love Bites And Silk
Add to Goodreads
Accepting Logan’s marriage proposal was the most exciting event of Lorna’s life. But deciding in what country to marry her fiancé proved to be more than a tearful ordeal. When Lorna’s dad announced unexpected news, the wedding wheels spun in a different direction.
With other family members stirring conflict, would there be a wedding? Or would their shared kiss deepen their desire?
“You’re easy to flirt with,” Lorna replied, her eyes briefly hooded, “Which means you can get carried away when tempted by a wanton woman.” Her polished fingernails raked his palms and his grip tightened around her wrists.
With one look over his shoulder to check there was no waiter nearby, he whispered, his gaze unflinching, “I’m clearly unable to resist your seductive charm, Lorna,” he agreed, lifting one hand in surrender. “But no other woman, I repeat, no other woman comes close to igniting even a spark here,” he pointed to his head first and then to the left side of his chest.
Underneath the table, Lorna ran her toes from his knee to his feet and back up to his knee again. “You’re my aphrodisiac, Logan. Right now, all I can think about is being thrown across your bed and driven wild with desire,” her eyes glazed over as she spoke. Knowing his head and heart were filled with reckless passion for her was comforting.
“If you continue to seduce me, Lorna, I won’t stop until I make you mine…until you scream out my name in the throes of ecstasy. That’s a promise.”
“Your main course,” the waiter called out.
Their hands fell apart as the waiter arranged two plates piled high with parpadelli in cream and rigatoni with gorgonzola. There was a separate bowl of mixed salad with goat cheese.
Her mouth watered. She swallowed and sipped from the glass of water.
“I wonder if he heard our lewd conversation,” Logan worried, casting backward glances at the receding back of the waiter spotting dreadlocks.
“I was so out, I didn’t see him approach. What a sneaky man,” Lorna murmured, leaning across the table.
He chuckled, looking over her shoulder. “Don’t complain, sweetheart. I warned you to behave, didn’t I?” He swiped his tongue over his lips before tucking into his meal.
Connect with Stella
Giveaway – How to enter
Leave a comment.Every reader who leaves a comment on the blog gets a free eBook of Stolen Valentine Kiss (Holiday Series # 1).
You get any other eBook from Flirty & FeistyRomance Novels.
Flirty & Feisty Romance
Our promise…is to deliver an intensely emotional experience you’ll never forget.
Just a little something – something.
“Her face lit up – and in that smile; that inner glow that responded to my mumbled words I saw a familiar yet new sight. I saw – and felt the way you would feel, coming home after a hard day and looking at that one house in your neighborhood that tells you if there’s power or not – and seeing brightly-lit windows without the noise that accompanies a generator. You have to be Nigerian – specifically living in Lagos to fully grasp what I’m saying. Suffice to say – I looked in her face and saw hope.”
– Getting Married
What do you think? Would you like to read that if it’s finished? Or not?