I had always pictured that my first time would be with someone I loved, my very own Prince Charming. We would exchange vows in a grandiose hall bedecked in white-a tribute to our chastity-and host our friends and family to a splendid banquet all day long. There would be dancing, wining and dining, laughter and singing all around. In my daydreams I could picture my father’s face, stern, with the hints of a smile at the corners of his mouth. He would finally approve of me.
When all our guests had gone home, I and my handsome stallion would retreat to our quarters. In one swift move, he would sweep me off my feet and into his arms. We would stare deep into each other’s eyes as he carried me across the threshold and into the biggest room ever, with a king-sized bed at its centre. Gently, he would lower me on the bed, our combined weight crushing the rose petals beneath. His touch would be light as feathers; his lips, crimson red and as refreshing as an oasis.
The best part of these imaginations I always, ALWAYS, saved for last: the screams of joy when my groom would present the white cloth to the relatives outside the door. It would be stained bright red and for the first time my father would beam with pride.
As they say, life is a bitch.
I dreamt of a Prince Charming with gorgeous hair and a flawless smile, but all I got was a bald head and tobacco-stained teeth. In exchange for a kind mouth and gentle touch, I got slaps, vicious red eyes and cursing lips. He tore through my raggedy clothes first and then tore through my body. When my body gave away, he tore through my soul and with each stroke erased all hope; nothing made sense anymore.
It didn’t take long before the neighbours noticed the way I walked. Then, the rumours and hushed words started. ‘She has started giving her body to man’, ‘Ashewo’, ‘she has killed her mother with witchcraft and kept her father in poverty, now she has entered prostitution’.
I paid no heed to what people were saying though. How could I? I was numb, empty; I no longer cared for anything. I no longer fought back when he would corner me and plunge into my depths. When they shaved off my hair and cut my lady parts with a rusty blade to ‘make her stop itching for penis’ I felt nothing.
Sitting in this room, a metallic smell hits my nose and takes me back to what was, oddly, the last straw that broke the camel’s back: the stench. I started soiling my clothes with urine, but that wasn’t even the issue. After I was cut and they left me to bleed till I nearly passed out, my wounds refused to heal for months. The wounds festered and drew flies from far and wide. I had dreamt of hosting a banquet with my handsome prince but here I was, the banquet itself, to buzzing flies.
Papa lets out a groan; the bastard is still alive, swimming in a pool of blood and his own shit. His intestines are strewn across the floor, his testicles in his mouth. I look down at the gash on my right wrist; it fascinates me, the blood pulsing out and over the rest of my body. I lie down now, lightheaded and let myself smile.
For the last time I shut my eyes, but for the first time, I am at peace.
Writer: Ovie Jewel
Delta State University, Abraka, NIGERIA