My family was a typical African family. Many immediate and distant relations living with us at every given time.
Just as these people were living with my father, I was also living with an aunt in Lagos.
At the age of ten, I had an unforgettable painful experience.
Whenever I came on holidays, I usually slept in my grandmother's room because of the affection we had for each other. Meanwhile, my grandmother, who was running a local restaurant usually woke up at dawn to prepare what she would sell for the day.
On this fateful day, my grandmother did not wake me up because she felt I had just come on a long journey from the city and I needed to rest. So I was left in the room alone.
After she might have left, I observed that someone was lying on my back and making some movements as he lay on my back. This movement was from his waist down. I suddenly became frozen with fear as I lay on the mat.’ Who is this person?’ I asked myself. ‘What have I done wrong that this person would want to kill me?’ All these questions raced through my young, innocent mind. I was paralyzed with fear as I lay on the mat.
However, when I realized that this intruder had not done anything apart from the strange movement he was making. I suddenly got up from where I was pinned down on the mat. I got up so fast that my strange companion was caught unawares. I quickly made for the door and ran out of the house. He started running after me and at the same time pleading that I should forgive him and keep the whole episode a secret.
It was then I realized who the intruder was. However, this did not allay my fear. I kept running toward the safety of my grandmother’s restaurant. While we were still running we both ran past a friend in the neighborhood who obviously saw us but did not understand what was going on.
When I eventually narrated what happened to my grandmother, she walked towards the house with sudden livid rage waking the whole neighborhood as she shouted on top of her voice.
When the elders heard my story, they all pretended that they did not believe my grandmother and I.
I cried bitterly as I appealed to them to call the young lady that saw us while my assailant was chasing me. But they all turned down my request.
Ironically, it was while they were making a vain attempt to protect the culprit that I realized that I was a victim of attempted rape. This increased my anguish but I got no comfort from no one except a bland sympathy from my grandmother.
Many years later, I realized that this is a tradition among my people. In order to protect the boy and his parents from ridicule, everybody pretended not to believe me.
Hmmm…what a tradition!