How would they have treated me if they knew?
‘Physics teachers! They won’t leave the class after their period is over’. Mr Collins was no different. Also known as ‘Agent Inertia’ after Newton’s first law of motion – a name no one dared call him to his hearing or that student will tell the difference between an oscillation and a vibration. I was having a hard time grasping the concepts of each term – much less their difference. The only difference I knew of was in their spellings, so I never dreamt of mouthing his well deserved nick name. Mr Collins had walked into class smiling sheepishly, waving a print out in hand and in no time announced that the time table for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination WASSCE was out. Well, that wasn’t news at all. My friend Linda – the queen of hearsay – had all the latest gist in and around school. She had told me about the time table and gone further to inform me about Mr Collins’ planned proclamation. The morning hours dragged on as Agent Inertia ranted about the half-life of radioactive substances. ‘At least they have a life’ I thought.
Talking about life. Was Mr Collins thinking what I was thinking? Were his half-life theories figurative of my half-way journey to creating life within my body? I was disturbed. I was always disturbed. Everything seemed to bother me from the day I first noticed hair under my arm. The way I look, the way I walk, who’s looking at me, who’s not looking. Even Prince, my favorite classmate could not talk me out of being bothered. Prince wasn’t so cute, but he had a sportsman physique, and he seemed to like me. Like me? That was another reason for which I was bothered. What exactly did he like about me – my face, my smile, my company? Or was it my budding cleavage? Not so hot legs or better still – my warm legs? To make matters worse, the dude never told me he liked me. I stole unreturned glances at Prince periodically as he was a better option to looking at the half-life equations Agent Inertia had brandished on the board. The time-table had become for him a permit to remain in the class for as long as he desired.
How I longed for the class to come to an end! I needed to have a chat with Mr Collins. In spite of his excesses, he was just a man who had his struggles. He lost his wife during childbirth and had since not recovered from the loss. I could confide in him about almost anything. What did I not tell him? My first period, the boys who make passes, fantasies and all. Prince, though caring as well, was way too immature. The sort of boy who had Justin Bieber as his only role model. I once told him about a friend’s dad forcefully kissing her. The young man was sweating profusely on his face and palms by the time I was done narrating the episode. How would he have reacted had I told him I was the friend I referred to? I had to streamline the scope of my chats with him to things like ‘top 10 music videos of the month’ and ‘who’s dating who in class’. Poor boy.
My dad and I had the strangest of relationship. He had me while he was a teenager. At the time I was preparing to write WASSCE, he was in his mid-thirties. He kept only a few friends, drank occasionally, didn’t attend church except on new year eve, never smoked, loved theatre, and hardly noticed other women. But he had one inexcusable vice- an insatiable desire to have carnal knowledge of me. His first attempt at defiling me was on the evening of my 11th birthday. Something appeared different about the birthday wishes. I was young but old enough to tell when something was out of place, even if I couldn’t place exactly what it was. My dad walked into my room that evening after my friends had left, sat beside me on my bed, then went into a sermon I could have titled ‘You Are Now A Big Girl’. My physical features lent credence to his assertion – puberty came pretty early for me. My saving grace that night was that I was ‘on’. But I yet endured an innocence shattering abuse session on the same night. Several attempts followed. He kept saying that it was a part of the tradition of his kins men for fathers to be intimate with their daughters – kins men he hardly had any contact with. He eventually had his way with me. My dad raped me when I was 14. I will never forget the agony of that fateful night.
Mr Collins finally left the class. Prince came over to say hi and to ask if I’d hang out with him during break. I replied that I’d be with Agent Inertia at break time. He shrugged and said ‘I kinda like your mood this morning, whatever it is you ate for breakfast works for you.’ I wasn’t surprised Prince couldn’t tell that I was neither fine nor had eaten breakfast. In fact my last meal was lunch the previous day. I hadn’t even had a good sleep for two days. I didn’t blame him at all. How many 16 year-olds think straight after a 145-minute physics class on radioactivity and energy quantization?
The bell rang! It was break time, but Mr Collins was nowhere to be found. I checked on him at regular intervals. The bell rang again. Break time was up, yet he wasn’t back from wherever it was he went. While I awaited his return, I thought about my dad and how he treated me. Tears rolled down my face. I was just 15, but had suffered more abuse than most women may suffer throughout their entire lifetime. I was being treated as a sex slave in my own house. Now when I share my story, my listeners ask why I did not speak out at the time of this ordeal. I usually reply by asking how they would have treated me if they knew my dad was sleeping with me.
Mr Collins did not return. There are just a few persons here present at his funeral – his colleagues at work and the few friends he had. Not one of his relatives showed up. His bus was involved in a head on collision with the truck of a road maintenance agency on his way back to school from a private hospital. Prescription contraceptive pills were found on him – he certainly had plans for his girl for later that night. A good hearted fellow volunteered to take him and a few other victims to the nearest hospital, but could not make it in time. The roads were in a deplorable state.
I stand heartbroken at his grave side, my friends Linda and Prince beside me. I did not get the chance to tell Mr Collins that I am two weeks pregnant for my dad.
My name is Eunice. Mr Collins was my dad.
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