My body was an offering on the altar of the hands of men who knew how to twist it and take what they wanted from me. What that means is that my body was the sacrifice my mother gave to the gods with sacs that hung between their legs so that they could find relief inside it. Outside it. What it also means is that my body housed everything men didn’t want. I was a temple. But desecrated. And what made dirt worthy in the eyes of an almighty? A burnt offering. An exit through flames.
The fingers of accusing women with husbands who were fallible in the way that all men were, who didn’t know how to save themselves from the curvaceous body of temptation that was my mother, were not bent. And they also fell on me. The daughter of the woman who would take anything with a tail that knew how to stand tall into the soft of her. Perhaps that was why when I was twelve, a man found his way into my body. Soft but not yet welcoming, a haven I had managed to keep holy and out of the reach of grabbing hands. The thin of my voice knew how to shout no but what was I, a girl in the face of danger that was a man who knew he could take everything from me? And so he took. And I went home with a leather filled with all the things I coverted as a child. All the things my mother could not get me. And we feasted. Hungry-filled stomachs stuffed full with the large fingers of men sliding into me, of my mouth wide open to receive bitter semen. A pat on my head after I took them into my body.
At sixteen, my breasts were grown and I was gyrating on the bodies of men who laid back and let me take care of them. Who let me coax the pleasure they couldn’t get from the wives at home who had let themselves go, who couldn’t handle them like this lithe body of mine could. And an almost starving body did all it could to stay in that limbo without tilting headfirst into hunger didn’t it? My mother a steady hand on my back. Pushing. Good child. I knew you were not going to be entirely useless when I poked you with a hanger and you didn’t fall out of me a clump of dead cells. The men sustained the always-full-always-stuffed belly of my mother and the always-aching-always-pushing-out-clumps of dead cells that were mine. At sixteen, I gave myself a name because my mother hadn’t bothered to. I was girl, child, a head full of holes poked into it by accusing wives. At sixteen, I was Abèbí. Beloved. Worthy of love. If your mother didn’t know how to love you, you took the love you deserved and you gave it to yourself. And perhaps your mother’s love filled a part of the hole inside you because I felt half empty. I still let men into the receiving soft of my body. And I let my mother push, one hand on the small of my back.
There’s something they miss out on when they talk about children like me. Children born to mothers who failed when they poked at the growing clump of cells we were before we were pushed out of uninterested vaginas and we breathed life into ourselves with the taste of cries fresh on our lips. They say we could have made a life for ourselves. Pull ourselves away from the frothing depth of pain we were born into and become great. Become a thing fingers other than those of accusing wives pointed at. They failed to tell that we had exhausted all the anger inside us at mothers who couldn’t love us. That we had no love for ourselves except the tiny bit of it that halted the hands holding rusted razors poised over green veins. That hope was not dreams of living in a house made of love but that it was a day where men didn’t slip into the warmth of you and fill it with their cold. They said god was there for us. We just had to find his face in the sky and inside our minds. But what use was a god to us when legs opened wide, blood gushing out of a vagina, the whispers of prayers for the pain taken away went ignored? They failed to speak of the things that we were made of. Hands of men who left wives at home and spilled their seeds into the pliancy that was hungry women. We were a kind of abomination that became the very things we were made of. And even try as hard as they have to get rid of us, they forgot we were the steady backs on which their tired feet rested. We were eternal.
And perhaps that was why when I was eighteen and legal according to the book of law with a mother that forgot her body was going to fail her one day and he came with the promise of love, a lie I tasted on the bitterness of his lips, I let him lead me on. His hands were gentle. Not like the ones of men who knew only how to take. He gave as good as he took. Hands biting into the soft of me the way I didn’t know I was going to like. He didn’t go out of the room with stale air with me. And we both knew why but I didn’t mind because his love, untrue as it was filled that hole, my mother, carefully carved and left inside me.
He was calm to the chaos that came with existing as a type of other. The hands of other men halted for his own to take dominion. And one thing they will never tell you is that a lie couldn’t live inside another one peacefully. One had to give way for the other and it was Ade who went missing; missing in the sense that his father sent people to follow him one day and when they saw that he was frolicking with a woman like me, they took him away. It was his lies that gave way. Ade went missing and the space inside me his love of lies had filled collapsed in on itself. I became what I was before. Half-empty. But there were new holes. Ghosts where his hands had skimmed over my body. It was easy to find food again. Almost empty starving. Hands were easy to paw at me again
At eighteen and a quarter, Ade found me again. But things of lies didn’t find you again so that they could fill you with brief joy once and over like the old days. No. He found me again to offer me as atonement. A demon trapped in the body of a woman who led him astray. A son destined to follow in his father’s step and lead their Allah worshipping congregation. Someone had to be punished. And hands looked better on the bodies of women. Men were fallible. Easily led astray by their eyes they couldn’t help but gaze at the women who left themselves open for eyes to see. And as hands grabbed me, the pliant body of my mother shook at me. Perhaps she cackled. She finally got rid of it. Of me. I was Abèbí. Worthy child. Worthy birth. And I was a temple. But desecrated. And what made dirt worthy in the eyes of an almighty? A burnt offering. An exit through flames.