It definitely wasn’t a Sunday because mama always kept the Sabbath day holy. She always said, “Never patronize sin.” So I am sure it wasn’t a Sunday but it could have been any other day of the week. Maybe a Tuesday or Thursday or Wednesday or Saturday… I just do not remember but I remember it was the summer just before I got into senior secondary school and the first sign of womanhood was beginning to pop through my shirt.
I remember being so excited and eager to see them grow and start to jiggle.
Unfortunately, it’s growth wasn’t uniform and came with unwanted aches as well as unflattering looks. They were too small for bras yet big enough to be noticed through a shirt. I remember struggling to conceal it with lots of vests since mama wouldn’t buy me padded bra; she said they would hinder their growth.
I remember the events before and after that faithful day. Like I said, it could have been any day except a Sunday since I cannot really remember but I remember the Alley…
…Narrow road, muddy grounds, dirty walls that carried burnt marks to remind anyone passing of the big fire that engulfed it three years ago. I remember the faces of fat brown women sitting by the sides selling their melon seeds, water leaves, and dried fish; I remember lanky northern boys waving jewelry and colorful hair accessories in my face; I remember the colored skirt I wore that flowed with the wind and my unconscious waist whines; I remember the red top I wore with elastics at the sides and slit on the hands; I remember how uncomfortable I felt despite wearing several vests and my new growth was still peeking through my red top in the most unflattering way.
Of all these, what I remember most is how the man in a blue kaftan grabbed my hard new growth… and Lord…. Lord, I remember how it hurt. It hurt so bad my eyes watered and when I looked up, I remember the poker face he gave me but I still managed to see a mysterious grin concealed in between his mustache and bushy beards. I remember stopping and mama wondering why. I remember trying to yell at him I remember him complaining that I was blocking the tiny pathway. I remember looking around for assistance but it seemed no one had noticed what this man had just done to me or had they noticed and just couldn’t believe their eyes so assumed they had seen wrong because I had a hard time believing the event too. How could a man dressed so pious with a neat turban around his head have touched me in such an immoral and ungodly way then turn around and blame me for blocking the pathway?
I remember mama calling out to me and telling me to move along, I remember the side traders telling him to stay calm and let the little girl pass. I remember it all but I’m still confused. If these women recognized me as a child, why did they turn a blind eye to his evil act? I find it easier to forgive them when I assume they hadn’t noticed… after all, it had happened so fast.
So every time I read the paper and another athlete, musician, actor, comedian or whatever superstar they may be, is accused of sexual assault, I do not want to believe such a loving person is capable of hurting another but a voice in my head whispers…
“Remember the Alley…”
…And I am reminded this world is still Mad.