I saw Aunty today, she was the same. I hadn’t seen her in ages. A while back, my third year in university in the US, I heard she got married. Now, apart from extra fat in her cheeks and a baby bump that created a gentle mold in her dress, aunty looked the same. She came to Monrovia from Nimba with her husband. Mommy had insisted that she come and stay with us, as she was pregnant and her husband was to travel to Ghana for 2 weeks for a business meeting. My mom decided that staying with us ensured she got the necessary attention and care she needed while her husband was away.
When she saw me, she drew me into a hug, while asking questions in quick succession; “Is this Kiamu? Is this my baby? Kiamu of yesterday. When did you get back? My boy is a man now. My boy is a degree holder!”
She let me out of her embrace. “You even have a beard now,” she said, as she pulled at strands of my beard. Her hands felt the same, those hands that started my journey through hell. Aunty moved in with us when I was about 5 years old; she was mama’s cousin. She was friendly but was to be feared and respected. Her hands were quick to turn from a pat to a smack if my siblings and I misbehaved. She was not that old, she was in her 20’s and her name was Luah, but she demanded we call her aunty. She was to make sure we stayed in line, and she ran the shop in front of the house while our parents went to work.
I remember when it all began; I was about 12 years old playing in the yard with my siblings when I heard Aunty call me into her room. I walked in, then she locked the door and said, “Kiamu come and help me rub lotion on my back.” As I was doing what she instructed, she held my hand and placed them on her breasts, fondled them, and told me to continue. That was the first time I touched a woman sexually. “You are my baby, but you are a big boy. Don’t you want to be a big boy?” She asked rhetorically. “Then nobody must hear of this. I don’t want to hear a whisper of this to anybody. If you tell anyone, you will see my red eyes (koloqua slang for anger). Take this and go buy candies and biscuits”, she said as she put 50 LD in my hand.
Over the years, those back rubbing sessions became more frequent. She taught me to please her, to satisfy her desires. She demanded I told her everything. She showed me videos and demanded I re-enact what we watched. With time, I lived for her, I lived to please her. I felt lucky to be chosen to be her “baby”, oblivious to the fact that I was a victim. I remember boys in class wearing their first kiss as a badge of honor, touching meant bigger and better badges so Steve, a classmate, was seen as a big boy because he had not only touched, he had done “it”.
Society said I wasn’t a victim; it said sex was something that made boys into men, ergo, society said aunty had given me the opportunity to become a man. I couldn’t argue with society, so I accepted my luck as what it was.
One day, I heard aunty was moving to Nimba to start her business. I remember the months after she left very vividly. I remember missing her. I remember being encompassed by a yawning void; I remember self-pleasuring and still not filling that void. I remember feeling guilty that I missed something that I knew was wrong. I prayed to make the yearning stop but nothing changed, it was like I was an addict going through withdrawal. Then I met Jill. She was like the answer to my prayers; with her, time and love, I began to feel not so empty. I realized I was a victim, and I developed a visceral hatred for the woman who decided to rob me of my innocence.
I don’t know why I never told anyone, not even Jill. What if she got disgusted and left? Who could I even tell? My parents were easy to talk to and always around for us, but how would I tell it? It had become my drug, I had grown to want it. I was 16 when Aunty left; at that age, I had known what my actions were, I was old enough to know I was doing wrong, old enough to say something, old enough to stop it. How could I explain that my actions were only a result of what she had taught me? Would they have understood? Would they ever understand?
I stared at her now, this woman who feels so remorseless that she’s tugging at my face and playing the part of the loving aunt. She didn’t deserve this, she didn’t deserve to be happy. After everything she did, she didn’t deserve kids. She never said sorry, she never owned up for her actions nor did she pay for them. I looked at Uncle Alex, he looked like a nice man, and he didn’t deserve a wife like this.
“Uncle, how is the married life going?,” I asked. He smiled as he replied, “it’s going very good, Luah is the best thing that ever happened to me.” Aunty placed a kiss on his cheek, “aw darling, you are the best.” She then looked over and asked, ”Kiamu, you are a big boy now, do you have a girlfriend?” I was taken aback. Did she find this funny? Ironical? I looked her dead in the eyes, my insides screaming, and willed her to recognize the raw fury, hatred, and disgust I felt towards her. I saw her recoil in shock and felt a mini triumph. I replied out loud in the most dutiful nephew voice I could, “yes, aunty. I do.” I then looked at Uncle Alex and wondered if he really knew her. She might be the best thing that ever happened to him but she was my worst nightmares personified. I looked at him and wondered what his own story was.
Authored by Dounard Bondo
Featured picture by Ngwako Malatji
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: PEDOPHILIA IS COMMON IN OUR SOCIETY, WE MUST DO ALL WE CAN TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM BEING VICTIMS