By Rehema Malemba
Cradled at the corner of my bed, in the most inner room of our bungalow, cracking my knuckles, once in a while pinching myself to confirm whether I’m still alive.
If alive, am I in the dreamland or just in the painful realm of reality. Everything is quiet and still, nothing is moving nor is anything static. Am I concerned? It totally doesn’t bother me whether the stillness is in this room alone or also beyond the four walls of this room. The room is dark, a darkness that could not have failed to welcome the scavengers of the dark to come out and inspect their food sources.
What am I doing in such a dark room? I see no true life apart from that which is lived in darkness. Darkness that some time ago was so scary to me has turned out be my only source of security. I was in the light, I swam and rolled in light but right now I want nothing to do with it. Darkness is the only hope I have. It’s only darkness that I can identify with. I lived and danced and ate and laughed in happiness, I gave no single care to the possibilities of a downfall. All I saw, was a bright life leading to a brighter end. But now my heart has turned black just like the darkness of this room. I can’t see the way out and it’s not like I have any interest in finding my way out right now. May be I will, but later when some few things have been put in order.
Hope, pride, faith, love are the last of things that I wish to hear anyone speak of. All I desire to hear one say is only one thing, only one thing. The rest of the things including trust that I had forgotten in the list I wish not to be spoken within my ear shot distance. Wait a minute, I hear people speaking from a far, murmuring. I can’t hear well but even them I don’t give a damn. If they aren’t discussing what’s bothering me right now please let them shush. Everyone is as good as dead. What has been done to me, it’s more than what anyone thinks it’s inhuman. I have lost my sense of pride.
Back to the murmuring guys, can they reverse the good old days? Can they take me back to the start where life was once merry and no worry? Of course they can’t so let everyone mind their own business. It has come to a point where I see no value in anything constructed to serve the human being. All is useless. I think if they were not there, then I would not have been hurt. Or am I misled? Am I misjudging things?
I want to be in darkness and darkness alone
I want to be in darkness and darkness alone. Can anyone in darkness see what is around her? Can they identify the facial expressions of the one whose voice is flowing into their ears? Can they know what their skin is pressing against? Of course not, and that’s exactly the reason why I have chosen to be in darkness. It’s only in darkness that everyone can’t see you neither can you see them? It’s the only place that cuts between the living and the dead.
If I’m to die I wish to die alone and in one piece and in peace. Let no one dare disintegrate me. I love myself that much to let yet another humiliating figure dishonour even the last respect that I deserve. I sound bitter right? My soul is wounded and the worst thing is that the wound has been caused by some human figures that society was on my throat to honour. A figure that was considered to be well cultured and thus honoured. No way, I don’t see a whole being but some grotesque creature. I curse this day that I have to speak so ill of the person I once loved but now turned to an object of humiliation in my life. The one who stretched out my wings so I could fly high, to be the one who has squeezed my life into a marble size space. The one who filled my life with all sorts of bright colours to be the one who right now has filled my life with darkness.
Yet I’m not afraid to narrate this unexpected terrible story of my life, to tell the world, to tell it back to the one, whose hands my life was placed in by my creator. Yes to let out my cry and demand for justice, even if not for me but for the generations to come. I may die right now in this room but one thing I wish to do, is let the world know of my agonies. The agonies of a certain daughter of a certain man who was trusted to be the head of our lives. Who gave him that right at the first place? Who? Can they be found? If found tell them they destroyed someone’s life. They cut short someone’s breath.
I have lost trust in the whole system
So this is what I want to narrate, the humiliation I have received from my father. My father? No way that isn’t fit. To narrate the shame from my mother’s husband. Not even that is fit, neither is he fit to be referred to as the “son of my grandmother”. Let me try this, “The shame of my brother’s father”. Oh yes, that at least fits. Don’t pity me for reducing his respect to that level. He is worthy of it. I have lost trust in the whole system of leadership of our society. A system that put men as the leaders, and we were taught and forced to revere and honour. The fabric of trust that every day, since childhood, I have been observing, is torn into two, right in the center and the two pieces shredded together. All is shattered.
I wish not to attach him with my grandmother neither with my mother, for the shame that I feel is the same that befell both women.
Wealth came in, we all celebrated it. We opened our arms wide to embrace it, welcomed it to the warmth of our house as we made it feel comfortable in our home. We did all that with much enthusiasm little did we know by just that one act did out of ignorance, we were simply kicking out our very own pride, our very own respect and sense of admiration. We were literally sweeping it out of our vicinity; our sense of self and dignity. When I received the news I didn’t get angry neither did I feel as much bitterness as I’m feeling right now. I simply fell down on my face and felt pity for our family. I especially pitied my father whom I thought was caught up in some kind of a malicious scandal trying to wipe away his respect, and so I cried with him. Again I blame my ignorance for I shed my tears with one whose tears were not real. When truth was revealed again I felt sorry for him as my spiritual knowledge has always ministered to me to cry with those that are crying and laugh with those that are laughing but that is just a hideout for those who are guilty. It’s like trying to seek people to cover you when you have smeared dirt on your own coat.
The pen is mightier than the sword
I saw the bigger picture the day before yesterday, and it was that I decided to hide myself in this room. There is a bigger picture, there are more figures to be blamed than just the one who is directly observed. Many more guilty persons are to be revealed. It’s a society issue and I feel it should be addressed by the society and that’s why today I chose to let it out, the pain in my soul, not with an attempt of seeking sympathy but to say it open. I check my diaries of knowledge and in them I find this statement, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Oh yes, very true for words alone can light an unquenchable fire.
Scrutinizing the matter well I can identify these people responsible for my pain right now. The ones who let loose the one who was entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of my life. You dictated me to come from his loins. The man who was to be the head of our family, the word of wisdom in our homestead, the leader! Where is he now? My forefathers, the figures of reconciliation, the council elders, you lifted him so high, and on his shoulders, placed the responsibility of the society. The one whom you spent every penny to nurture him into a perfect human being. Putting him as the basis, the foundation, the basic line of every argument. We accepted that, we did not raise even a finger when you celebrated his birth ceremony in a way better than ours, neither did we lift our tongues, to protest against the grand initiation ceremony as you welcomed him into manhood. You even secluded him, putting him a sacred place, justifying the act by saying we are not allowed to be near him, for you called us objects of temptation. We pulled back our tails and cradled ourselves at the corner. We took it in good faith as we believed that all that was meant for our good. All that was to refine for us a mature and responsible leader. You took him from one institution to another. What we did was watching silently as we anticipated a man worthy of our trust, honour and respect.
Places that no carrier of breasts was allowed to step in
But look at him right now. Search for him in the places you specifically designated for him. Places that no carrier of breasts was allowed to step in lest their social values depreciate. Go look for him, inquire of his whereabouts. Is he there? No, he is nowhere to be seen. In the professional arenas? Ng’o! In the political arenas? Ng’o! In the religious platforms? Ng’o! What about in the shrines? May be he is there performing some of the sacred rituals? Even there he is nowhere to be seen. Neither is he in the market place exchanging silver and gold. Let me tell you, that useless being is in one of the dungeons! Go pick him from there. That’s where he is rotting and dying. Suffering for his own sins. That’s where your effort landed him.
Two weeks ago, the situation was not as it is right now. There was much laughter and happiness and harmony, lots of brewing fun from every corner of our lives. The great city where we mounted our home in, served us with happiness and honour as we lingered from one street to another, hoping with all kinds of riches in our hands. We were sleeping and waking up in riches. My father was a lecturer, a PHD holder in the Sciences. I can’t remember well the specific area of his specialization; too much darkness. All I know he was the DVC of one of the famous and well known university college. And I happened to be a scholar in the same institution. My mother was managing one of the family’s firms in the city. She was a master’s degree holder too in business and commerce. My brother was also in his other rich corner, again a secondary school of honour.
I feel so ashamed
With all this, poverty was not a vocabulary to be attached with our home. I have been studying in private international schools since I was in lower primary. It’s only now after I requested my parents to let me go to a public institution that is a public university and again there were a series of negotiations before they let me go and enjoy the Government’s sponsorship. They claimed that the institution was not offering the recommended quality of my course. I was admitted to do information technology and I was happy since it’s what has been in my dream line, but now regret and wish I had taken gender. May be I would have seen this problem long time ago and probably propose a solution. May be it would not have come to this far. But… My brother was in form three and unlike me, who opted to go to a public university in the country, my dad had already organised for him a scholarship in one of the Whites’ recognised universities and study aviation. Dad had all the connections that were needed.
I feel so ashamed even as I got through this preview of our life then. The beautiful wealthy life. But now where is the wealth? It’s all gone to waste, it served me with such a temporary happiness. Someone should have told my dad that there is much more to a woman’s respect than just wealth. I feel so down, so beaten at my own game but I intend not to stop my narration. I try to let the darkness diffuse into my small oblongata, to try drive away all memories but it seem in vain and so what else can I do but to let it out. To lay it bear for the world to see the shameless acts of the so called ‘pen of history’.
Look out for Part TWO