The Monstrous Play
Awosanmi Omotayo Tosin
© Copyright 2022 by Awosanmi Omotayo Tosin
Photo of the author.
I dashed inside with a loud bang on the door. I was panting, shivering, and perspiring at the same time. I wasn’t myself at all and I could not get myself to sit or lie on the bed. A moment ago, I was playing, and before I knew what was happening things had gone out of hand.
“This can’t be true, I don’t want to believe this was pre-planned.” “How did playing with someone, you called your friend suddenly go wrong.”
I am someone from a humble background. My family lives in a single-room rented apartment. Some years ago we had this new neighbor of ours who recently packed in with her three kids into one of the vacant rooms in the building. She was very jovial caring and hospitable these attributes attracted us to her. At night, the kids in the compound will sit around her while being told folktales in our mother tongue Yoruba language. Most times she did the storytelling, these are stories that depict moral virtues and their benefits as well as bad characters or actions and their consequences. Also, sometimes during the day, we go to her room to play with her kids this made us all relaxed around her and her kids.
On this fateful day, I was playing with one of her kids the male, and at a point, I made jest of him. Then he gave me a hot chase and we ended up in the backyard where he caught up with me. Suddenly, he hooked my back to the wall with one of his hands on my neck and the other hand working at undressing me. I was wearing a long flowing gown made of Ankara fabric. I suddenly became confused, aren’t we playing just now? Then the reality of the unfolding event hit me. “ Ha! I’m about to be raped.”
I screamed and shouted but the sound couldn’t pass my throat due to his hand on my neck. I prayed within me as I kept on struggling with him until my strength started failing me. “ Oh God! which trouble have I gotten myself into this evening, please Lord save me, I murmured.” Beyond my struggles with him, were the struggles within me and my internal fight was greater than the external one. “ I just can’t give up like this, how will I cope with the shame of being raped, can I handle the emotional trauma, is this how I will be robbed of my virginity.” Oh, God! This can’t be, I am an introvert and I’m still battling with low self-esteem. I’m just coming out of my shell. With this now, will I be able to rise again? How will people see me now, how will my parents feel, oh they will surely blame themselves for life.” These were the thoughts going through my mind as I was struggling with him.
Somehow, I managed to get out of his grip, succeeding this time, I ran like a madman dashed into the room and banged the door. My elder sister who was cooking by the entrance to our room was shocked by my unruly behavior. Cooking by the entrance to one's room is a norm in bungalows that lack kitchens in Nigeria. Occupants cook by the entrance to their rooms. These buildings are fondly called “Face me, I slap you” by Nigerians. The rooms are directly opposite each other making it possible for neighbors to intrude on each other privacy. Later, my sister came to me to find out what was wrong with me. I open up to her, she felt pained and disappointed in the boy because she did not expect that from him. She consoled me and stayed with me until I was composed.
The next day, I refused to go out for most of the day. I couldn’t bear the risk of facing the monster that nearly devoured me. On the third day, I summon the courage and came out.
Thinking about the incident later I concluded that the guy's intention to rape me wasn't pre-planned. This wasn't the first time we girls were around him and he never acted untowardly toward us. The guy and his mum relocated from a promiscuous suburb of Lagos to our area and he was already into sex. As of the time of the incident, I was around age twelve and he may be sixteen.
He was probably aroused after he caught me. I wasn't well informed then I could not tell. All I remembered was that we were both panting after the chase before I realized the sudden change in the play. I want to believe his lack of proper sex education and self-control made him choose to rape me over self-restraint. I choose to believe this because before then and even his behavior and actions towards me and the girls in the compounds have always been with pure intentions. Therefore he must have allowed himself to be carried away by his arousal.
Years later, a friend of mine and I were chatting, and he told me how he was sexually abused as a child by an older female in his neighborhood. Another male friend of mine told me he had the same experience with an older relative who was staying at their house then. She was meant to be overseeing the well-being of the children when their parents are not around. Who knows if she did the same thing to his brother too?
It’s saddening that some people think only females are vulnerable to sexual abuse. That is erroneous both the male child and the female child are prone to sexual abuse. So, as much as measures are being put in place to take care of the female child the male child should also not be neglected.
Till today, I did not inform my parents or the guy's mother about the incident. At first, this was due to fear and shame. I felt embarrassed to talk about it. So, I just couldn’t summon the courage to do so. Also, I did not want my parents to feel bad for leaving us alone after school while they are at work. I did not want to disrupt their peace of mind whenever they go out.
Many people have been sexually abused, harassed, or even raped while they were young and just like me they refused to open up to their parents or the necessary authorities. This may be due to many reasons among which are fear, shame, threat, and lack of closeness between parents and their children. This is not a good decision. Our parents should know so that they can take necessary remedial actions if possible and also take precautions to avoid recurrence.
It’s rarely possible if not impossible to be with one’s child 24hrs every day. Parents have responsibilities that call for their attention and require them to leave their wards with close friends, relations, or neighbors at some point. However, the turn out of events in recent years has revealed some of these people we deemed to be trustworthy are the real culprits.
How then can one’s child be protected from sexual predators?