AISHA



Aisha

I almost knocked my sister to the floor
As I brushed past her
I ran to the room and locked the door from within
And then I take out the dagger from where I hid her

It is cold, just as I will soon be

Outside, I can hear my mum and sisters
Shouting, kicking, and trying their best to break my door
My name on their lips, begging me not to
But what am I living living for?

Many a night I have taken solace in my bed
Just as the nest is to a bird
Those nights I sobbed quietly and didn't want to be heard
Or those days I prayed I'll fall and lose my head

They say if you cannot beat them, you join them
But what if you cannot join them?

They say you can force a horse to a river
But cannot force it to drink
What if It is whipped to submission
Till it has lost its will to think

My legs lay uselessly before me, I have lost the will to use them
My hands shaking, unable to support my chin
My heart is heavy, ripped to a thousand pieces
I have lost all hope, I have been betrayed by my kin

My hands may be weak, but still they grab the blade
The dagger, that will save me from this torment
When this is done, My name to some will fade
But it is my story that must be told

I feel the urge to stab myself, to rip out my own heart
yet unknown forces wrestles with me in my mind.
Suicide is a sin, a voice says, a way to hell
But this life I'm living, is worse than hell.

I'm emotional, I'm shaking violently,
My eyes are Misty
I'm dazed,
My head is heavy and miry
What crimes have I committed.
Except for being a woman
Except for being a Nigerian

Aisha, Aisha
I hear them call
I hear sweet music
The spirits call

Whose voices do I listen to?
The living or the dead?
It was the Living who betrayed me
And now they pretend to redeem me

Growing up wasn't a bed of roses
My father had children in dozens
So he never really cared about who was who
But mother, what about you

Just two daughters have you
Yet you neglected us like we were lepers
Because the gods decided to starve you
Of more sons that was the trophy

No one showed me any love in my home
Three wives, all veering for whose son
Will inherit his father's wealth
When he lays in the grave and no more feels the sun

Sons who were treated like kings
Daughters who were treated like slaves
Subjected to Tending their things
As if we are little more than their maids

Is it African for things to be like this?
Or was it our ancestors who sowed this seed
That belittled women And elevated men
Creating a society that disintegrated them

The ancient women, where were you
When men made decrees that understated you
When men made traditions that overrated them
Or created cultures that placed you beneath them

I ask again, is it African for things to be like this
Is it proper for us to have no voice or place to belong
Is it fated for us to take the blame For things
That happen irrespective of if we are right or wrong

Women who forced women to drink the waters
The corpse of their husbands was bath in
Women who oppressed women, to uphold
Biased laws enacted by men

A man loses his wife, three months later he gets another
A woman loses his husband, society frowns at her if she gets another
In another three years

She shaves her hair the day he dies
He sleeps with others, the day she dies

A man hits his wife, without any sense like a baboon
No wrong, the woman retaliates, it is a taboo
A society that embraces a man who is a cheater
A man who runs from the truth faster than a cheetah

Pura's Voice is loudest from among those who now call me
But sister, how can you not understand?
An old woman who has gone through the pains
Of childbirth should know where another stands

You who was sent back to your Father's house
Because you objected when your husband took a second wife
No, you had taken this punishment like a mouse
silently praying to become a man in a second life

What did your father say?
Your mother didn't train you!
Pura, you had lost your way
But your sister didn't blame you!

This is after all what society teaches
That a woman is beneath the heels of a man
And until she realises
That she deserves Better, she is damned

One would imagine school is better
As a drunk will imagine a fool is better
You are proved to be wrong
Men rule, that is the song

Or how else do you explain a man's name coming first
In the school register, even when I enrolled first
Or men's name been at the top of an alphabetical list
when your surname begins with S, and his with X

A man is always the class prefect, even when he has less
Refined qualities like the woman who is made the deputy
A man was made the president of school clubs
Even though he had less points than the woman who is the deputy

A woman is always the one seen as the cause
Of the failure of a relationship, the break up
They make this assertion without thinking because
They assume a woman is only fit for the make-up

It is a woman's duty to cook, clean and wash
While the man spends time in bars drinking
Allowing the woman to take the reins
Of a boat that is morally sinking

Aisha, come and wash plates,
Don't disgrace me in your husband's house
No one says, John, come and wash plates
Don't disgrace me in your wife's house

And so I had no sense of judgement
Or of the rules of engagement
No knowledge of sexual education
Of issues like adultery and fornication
Of unwanted pregnancy and abortion
Or the accompanying social rejection

So, like all religious people I swore
To be the opposite of a whore
To carry my religion like a sore
Not wanting it to be corrupted or touched

My breast grew bigger
When my waist became curved
It posed a problem bigger
Than I could ever solve

How do I explain the chills I felt
When men my father's age stared at my behind
Or how dumbfounded I became
When boys showed me they could only be kind

This was unnatural, I felt
When eyes looked above and below my belt
I wasn't so sure anymore of my mental health
Whether I was crazy or not or even dead

So I sought counsel from my mum
After a few minutes, I felt she was numb, and dumb
For How can a woman not explain strongly
To her daughter, of why she bleeds monthly

As soon as I told her about a neighbour
Who undertook hitting my buttocks as his labour
She winced and squeezed her face Like someone
who had been forced to drink bitter lemon

Behave yourself, ashawo
If you get pregnant
You are on your own
I repeat, on your own

Do I know what else to do
Except to keep a diary,
And pour out my heart
As a routine daily

The older I grew,
The stronger the attraction
I became like glue
To the guys who showed affection

I swallowed courage from journals that I read
And told my aunt of how
I felt alone like Jonah in the sea
What was her reply

Live life my Darling, you are sixteen
Sweet sixteen
You should not be apprehensive
Of men who treat you like a queen

Go on then, Face the world
Your looks should be your word
Your Sex should be your sword
To Pierce the heart of those who seek reward

What do you mean, I ask
Trying not to believe what I'm assuming
Use what you have to get what you need
She says, smiling foolishly as she looked at me

But Aunty Joan, I persisted. Is it fair for us to be
Beneath the heels of men, and their laws
Aisha, don't fight a war you cannot win
Only you cannot rid the world of its flaws

I knew at once, that even though she was a doctor
There was no brains working behind the scenes
All I could see was a vulture
Devouring dead carcasses was all her dreams

I decided therefore, to face the world on my own
My mum and aunt failed me, my father could be worse
For the man believed and could swear on his bones
In that sexist belief, That only men could be Lords

Lords my feet, Lords my shit
I am more brilliant and fit
Than all the boys in my class
Why should I be held back by this assertion of filth

I work hard on my own for four months
My progress increasingly better on all fonts
I became a feminist, I walked proudly
I tried to educate others, I did proudly

But then I discovered a problem
That my friends never believed what I told them
Of gender equality and feminism
And of a woman's place in this macrocosm

God, this is Where you come in
Send an Angel to save me from this torment
Someone to save me if I fall in
The trouble I may forment

That very day, God's answer
David came
He touched me like cancer
I was lame

I could not be removed from the thought
That my cousin was on my side on this war I fought
Truly, blood is thicker than water
Like pleasure is better than suffer

He, a student of uniben, had come to Spend
Holidays with his family and friends
He asked to live with us, the selected
None rejected, my father accepted

Those two months were wonderful
His ideas were refined
And when time went by
I sincerely prayed for a rewind

If this is what they teach at uniben
That's where I want to go
And after all my learning, the message
Of feminism is what I want to blow

Two months passed, it pained me to see him go back to school
He gave me his phone number, and house address
All I had to do was call or visit him
Any time I had a problem to redress

And so, the lamb went to the see the lion
And knocked at his gates of iron
He welcomed me in,
With such warmth I felt like a Queen

The hours were fun, 3 went by and I didn't notice
He was so brilliant, he made me feel I didn't know things
I'm happy you are my cousin, I said to him
He returned the same compliment, and gave me something to eat

Do you have a special friend, I mean a boyfriend
I gave him a look that suggested I took offense
At the question he asked
I asked to leave, as I now noticed how much time had elapsed

Up NEPA!!! He shouts, as power came on
He immediately switched on his DVD and speakers
And began to play music in such a tone
I imagined I was in a freak house
The music was so loud, I had to draw closer to him as I whispered
I wanna go home, come see me off
He smilled and shrugged
As if calling a bluff

And then in a cold voice he said, "have you had sex before"?
I said no, and that was it
He rushed at me like a wounded lion
Pressing me to to the wall, I could feel his branded iron

He pinned me to the wall, hastily put two fingers in his mouth
And slipped them in my vagina with such forcefulness I could barely shout
i mustered strength and pushed him away
He replied with an overhand that blew me away

I landed on his bed, he jumped on me
Ripping out my clothes as if they they had offended him
No respect even for Jesus as he tore the rosary
That hung on my neck, while my nose bleeds

Please, i  begged him
I wonder if he heard it, because of the music
This is a dream, God, please another chance,
I'll never abuse it

He didn't hear it
He was hell bent on killing me
He inserted his penis with such force that
"Poof," I heard my hymen burst despite the music

Pains, my fingers and toes are scrunched
Even as his back were Hunched
Here it was happening, blood on blood
Dear God, where is your wrath

But God didn't save me then, I endured some more minutes of pain
Before I yeilded, allowing him to enjoy his game
By Jove, I am dead,
I shout, wishing to be heard

I can feel him peeing into me
he relinquished his hold on me
And looked at me while I wept
At this terrible fate I must now accept

The symbol of my humanity is gone
My whole world is gone
My fantasy was gone
Worst still, my heart was burnt

Blood was generously everywhere on his bed
As if a bull was slaughtered there to appease the dead
Even his manhood, the sword he had used in this slaughtering
Still bore signs of gains he derived from my suffering

He supported me to the bathroom,
I wore my gown, or what was left of it
Gave me his perfume
Because he believed I smell like shit

He now reduced the tone of the music
And said sorry
He took my hands
And bade me not to worry

Its past 9 now, i must go home, and prepare for Waec for tomorrow
I cover my face with my trembling hands, to hide my grief and sorrow
I walked painfully, with strength it seems I borrowed
Crying at the destiny I must now follow

He hailed a cab, got me inside
Bade my goodnight and stole a kiss
Whilst I was still hurt and burning
I guess to him this is bliss

I got home, my expression told it all
My mum understands immediately I had taken the fall
She sees blood on my laps and descended on me
With such ferocity I felt a lorry fell on me

I woke up in a bed. In a white room that smelt
Strongly of antiseptic, I assumed they are harmful to your health
She is awake, someone shouts
Beckoning a doctor who is both tall and fat

He comes and smiles at me, it is well
I managed to ask, how long have I been here
Two days, he says, two days
And after two hours, he asked, What happened to you

I manage to tell him what happened, and a nurse called a NGO
On woman rights, told them the story you now ought to know
They got my cousin arrested, and ordered him prosecuted
My family members takes sides, and have me persecuted

After all they reason. "E DON HAPPEN, E DON HAPPEN"
"NOW NA TO MAKE OUR EYES SHARPEN"
Aunt Joan begins to weep, that she knows her son cannot hurt a fly
That david cannot tell a lie

My mother joins them in this fuckery
As if my sojourn in the hospital is nothing
They ridicule me, with such mockery
I feel I was destined for such suffering

As soon as I was discharged, they convene a family council
That consisted of elders, women and other assholes
They ask me to kneel, why my tormentor sat
They want me to feel, like I have no heart

The men thoroughly condemn me. But that does not touch me
It is what the women says that hurts me

Why did you visit him in his house?
Why did you wear a gown
Why did you sit on his bed
Why did you stay so late

No one defends me, not even my mother
She looks at me as if I'm guilty of murder
She shakes her head in disgust as if I'm a common robber
Or better still, as if her heart was made of rubber.

They go to the police station and asks for the case to be withdrawn
We are family, and we want to settle this.

Its too late, It is already in court
And so they falsify documents
And alleged he was seduced by me
And that he is underaged

The judge, a woman hurts me more,
She takes sides with my oppressors with the excuse of leniency
And begins to deliver a sermon
That explained she had forsaken honesty

The accused is discharged and acquited,
On account of him being underaged
And of him being a first time offender
As well as for his orientation

The NGO deserts me
Everywhere I go
I hear women calling me a whore
And a witch

They call a priest, he prays with me
And teaches me the word
Of his master
Of God

But where was God when my legs were ripped asunder
When I miscalculated and made the blunder
I was yearning and begging to be saved
From the beast who got me forcefully laid

I cry myself to sleep at this injustice
i reasoned that, at least
The judge should have saved other women from this
Agony and suffering presented to me

They said he was a minor
They treated me like a minus
And thereabout showed me such high force
I imagined everyday felt worse

Now they called another meeting and repeat same question
Why did you visit him in his house?
As if it was a crime

Why did you wear a gown?
As if it was against the law

Why did you sit on his bed?
Did they ask him if he had chairs?

Why did you stay so late?
As if it was a justification for this incest

Now, the family profers solution
I need to be cleansed, an ablution
Not the rapist, it is the raped
All because the raped is the woman

I have to be taken to the village
To carry out traditional practices of age
To walk the village naked
carrying a burning pot on my shaved head

He had to sit at home
And eat yams, that my mother must pound
It was decided
Signed and bound

I have made my decision
For If you cannot beat them you join them
But if you cannot join them
You run away from them

Yes, I'll run away

I look around, all eyes on me
But, I make a run for it
I dash to the room I now share with my sister
And lock it firmly from the inside
It is time I relieve myself of this pain
That I feel from my insides

They have almost broken the door now
They have tormented me for so long
And now they want to stop me
Why?, what right have they to?

To those who called me the gold digger
Come now and become my grave digger
Spite on the grave if you wish
But tell this story to your kids.

They break it open,
And i Pierce my heart with the dagger
They try to hold me
I'm slow, I stagger

No my mother screams
Fuck you mother, I think
Fuck all women who never stood against
The cause I mist now die for

Adieu, I bid earth goodbye
Expecting to wake up any moment in hell or heaven

by:
ABU ONYIANI (Onyianiabu@gmail.com)
         &
JOSEPH EZINNE VICTORIA (Vickyjoe@gmail.com)



Comments