PS: I’m sorry I haven’t written in a long while. I have been busy lately and have neither the time to come online or even settle down to write up something fancy. So i’m putting this up for a while and I promise to come back with more exciting and thrilling stories.
I think one of the most radical things a girl can do, is to own her body and we learn so quickly not to own this body of ours. I imagine I’m 11 years old again…My cousin’s ss1 Biology book says it’s supposed to be haemoglobin red. I peered down at the red fluid sitting smack in the centre of my cream panties and wonder if that brown stain shaped like an egg, is haemoglobin red? The glossary in the back of the book defines haemoglobin as the iron containing respiratory pigmented red blood cells of vertebrates consisting of about 6% haemo and 94% globin. I tossed the book aside and examined the egg shaped culprit again. I know exactly what is happening to me, I am having the period. Every girl between the ages of 10 to 15 should get it. The book says if you don’t get it, you might be a hermaphrodite i.e. someone whose private part has its own penis. The book says the proper name for my private part is vagina. I don’t know if I like that name, it sounds like the name of a disease that the “Jezebel women” get.
I look at the book again and reread everything about the peculiarities of the period. There are supposed to be adult urges and dull pains commonly known as “cramps” and a flow of menses recognizable by its life force known as haemoglobin red hue. Since my mum is not with me, I want to talk to my aunty but I’m afraid she’ll hit me if I start asking her anything about my private part, but I know I really have to ask her about the sanitary papers or whatever they are called. I pull up my shorts and walk carefully to the veranda as I ravel in the thick wetness squishing beneath me. I stand at the veranda watching my aunty reading through the newspaper and chewing peanuts that lay on the plates beside her. She flicked through the newspaper and turned to look at me
“What?” she started
“Why are you standing there watching me like you’re a policeman, what do you want?” she questioned
“Nothing Aunty, I mean…erm, really, I want to…errr…I need your err…” I quivered
“Ella, I don’t have all day to listen to you squabble, say what you want to say and stop talking like you are a bloody handicap.”
I take in a deep breath and blurted out
“Aunty, I think I just started my period and I don’t have any of the sanitary papers to put on.”
She sighed and looked at the coconut tree facing the gate. When she doesn’t say anything, I follow her gaze to the young fruits hugging themselves into a bunch. Again I said, “Aunty, aunty, what I’m I to do about it?”
“Well, Ella to tell you the truth, those kind of things a young lady should always buy for herself but because it happened upon you suddenly, I will buy them.”
After she gives me the money, I fold the naira note and head out to the nearest shop. As I search the racks, I try not to think of the certain brownish red stain sweating all over my favourite pair of panties. She wants me to buy stay free but I know all those stay free maxi pads, they smell like dead flowers and I know that people will smell that dead flower smell on me and know exactly what is happening to me and the pads in the book my mum gave me are very different from the ones I can see. The stay free pads don’t have any wings to hold for comfort. I purchase the other kind called “always” and dash home. I hurry to the bathroom and close the door behind me. I rip open the plastic packaging and examine the red and white strip. There’s a picture of tearing off the strip. The picture always shows the pad lying length wise around the crutch of the panties, so I quickly peel off the strip and place the pad on a fresh panty and pull it on. I checked to make sure everything is secure. I am no longer worried the pad will fall off my shorts; they put a lot of glue to the pad so that it could really stick to the vagina.
Now, I remember when the book said there may be some pain, but this sharp pulling beneath me is unbearable. I can hardly move from the pinching of my newly sprouting pubic hairs pasted to the sanitary pad. Only two hours I tell myself; only two hours and then I can change it. I carefully make my way to my room but the pulling is too intense as I keep moving down the stairs. I park myself on the stairs; every shift of weight is agony. An hour later, I know something must be wrong, so I limp back to the bathroom taking my pad with me. This time, I read the instructions carefully. Then, I take a deep breath and yank the used pad off my vagina. It hurts so much everything goes black. For a few moments, I’m unable to make a sound. When my vision clears, there are more hairs on the pad than on my vagina.
Yeah I know all these talks about blood and vagina. A hug to those poor boys out there reading this. I know they’ll be like oh my gosh, I don’t need to know about this. You people are just bleeding and not dying, that’s called strength boy. Like I said earlier, the most radical thing a woman can do, is to love her body. You know a man’s hood can stand up for itself without been very ashamed of anything and claiming all the right in the world but a female’s vagina is like a black man on the streets in a white man’s country. When it becomes wet, people be like…
“Oh my, your Veejay is so wet, ewwww! Why is it so wet?” And when it becomes dry, they be like “Oh my gosh, your Veejay is so dry, why is it so dry?”
You know, just like bad music, can’t win for losing if you know what I mean.
Women have always been the centre of things beautiful. Becoming woman has always been the centre of my girlhood, the sum of my thighs, my ankles, even my shoulders were always girl and when I bled for that first time, I told my cousin, wrapped my secret in her hair, assured her that this blood meant we could make babies but being a girl in Nigeria in 2004 also meant that I needed to run faster than my uncle’s fingers, farther than his sweaty palms reaching for my hands. My tiny breasts had to be brave against his fury if I refused him. One night, I stabbed him, pencil point sliding swift into his flesh. The whole house cried out but I was so proud of my yellow pencil, point, and sharp and without fear. My aunt beat me anyways,
“For making your uncle bleed” she said. I cried more out of loneliness than anything.
My other uncle’s name still remain quiet upon my tongue, I only think of him when I am sad, angry or scared at things that do not make noises in the dark. Stark raving mad, he showed me his manhood, told me, you smell like a woman in that little girls’ body. Hips barely touching, he cornered me in the hallway in the bathroom, and when I bled, I washed quick and quiet. Years later, he still smiles at me even now, no apologies are necessary. I was only a girl. No details are ever necessary about what happened to us. Dress quick and quiet, girls learn to wash those details away and bury them under skirts, and jeans and dresses and under these, rests the story of bushes that bleed once a month.
I am reminded that though I have not yet given birth, I can. My private part can do something no manhood can do. I dare you to make people without a woman’s part even Jesus had to pass through a woman’s body else there would have been no Christianity and Jesus might have been stuck up in the ass of a man who thought he could do a woman’s job!
Thanks for the read!
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