One day, while in my final year of secondary school, my friends and I were chatting and somehow the conversation led us to share some of the ‘bad’ experiences we’d had with guys. When Ada was in elementary school, an ‘uncle’ in the compound where she lived had attempted to get her into his room; the reason is best known to him but we can hazard a guess since Ada was what we often call ‘an early bloomer’. She resisted, managed to escape his grip and proceeded to report to her mother who raised hell. I don’t quite remember what happened to him afterwards according to her story. Omo’s experience was almost amusing. She’d been at the market one day when a little boy, held by his mother, jumped up to hit her breast. The mother didn’t seem to notice what her son had done and kept walking while Omo stared at them, stunned. The little boy looked back at her and made a ‘funny’ face. What could she do to a child? As for me, I had no story to tell so we said our good nights and went to bed.
I initially didn’t think too much of the conversation we had until one evening when Dotun, a friend in my year, warned me not to walk with Jack when he asked me to. Apparently, Jack had ‘ulterior’ motives and had his moves all planned out. I took Dotun’s advice but I was so angry about what could have happened if I hadn’t been warned. I kept thinking about it till I got to my room and that’s when I remembered the conversation I’d had with my friends. Well, I now had a story of sorts if we ever had such a chat again. You see though, something niggled at my mind all through the night and the next day till I suddenly remembered. I remembered an older family friend, Kola, who made me sit on his lap every time he came to visit us. This happened when I was about 6 years old. I remembered how I would feel something poking me and how he would keep shifting and adjusting, all with a firm hold on me as I squirmed till I eventually got away from him. He must have been about 19 or 20 years old at the time.
When I was 18, I began taking a class at NIIT, Apapa. It was 2 hours daily and I was usually there before noon and out before 3pm. On one of my many danfo bus rides to the centre, I had an alarming experience. I was seated by a window on the left, second row from the back of a bus and a man who must have been in his mid forties was seated to my right; let’s call him Abuser I. As the journey progressed, I noticed that he kept moving closer to me while I tried to move away as much as the space would allow, which wasn’t very much at all. Eventually, he boldly placed his hand on my thigh. I was so angry that I yelled ‘You’re old enough to be my father!’, to which he replied ‘ Na because you be virgin’.
People on the bus laughed and I suddenly realized then that I was just one of two females on the bus. The other woman did not even glance my way, she was must have been in her forties too. A man (Conniver I) on the bus asked Abuser I if he offered to pay my bus fare to which he said he hadn’t. Conniver I then went on to tell Abuser I that paying my fare should have been his first move. I kept looking towards the woman who was seated directly in front of me but she didn’t say a word. I resented her for that and the entire time, people just laughed and cracked jokes. Conniver II told me that I shouldn’t have yelled and I was mad and scared all at once. I alighted at the next stop. I’ve been careful to pay attention to the male to female ratio before boarding buses ever since.