Words: Ayomide Gbala
This was the question that popped up in my mind the first time I saw her. It was the 2nd week in June of the summer in 2009. My aunt had visited that Saturday and to my greatest surprise, she was on a mission. I listened carefully to the conversation between my mom and her, she planned on taking me with her for the holiday. I had no say in this decision. I was 12, I may not have been enthusiastic about it but I looked forward to the adventure. It was going to be my first time away from home anyway.
At 7 on Sunday morning, my bags had already been packed, we ate breakfast, it was a very emotional morning for every one. My siblings teased of how I was going to suffer and how I wouldn’t be missed. I had a smart mouth and responded with very bright comebacks but I knew I was going to miss them. I hugged my mum & almost let out a tear after going through series of conversations of remembering the child of who I was and promising her I was going to be a good girl.
How childish of me to believe in little girl promises. I knew I had an agenda. Out of all my aunts, this was the most vile, I wondered why she had picked a “little lamb” like me to spend the holiday with her. Guessing she was a bit lonely since she had no children of her own. I swore within me that I was not going to take any form of wickedness. If she dealt with me, I was going to take my revenge in places where she didn’t expect. These were my thoughts on the bus to Benin.
The cab driver was a middleaged nice man who had a lot of stories to tell as we drove through the city. I listened to each and every one of his stories and gave wry smiles. They were mostly made up I said to myself, only because he over exaggerated some parts. I was a child but I could tell the difference between a fake story and a real one, we got to my aunt’s house at 2pm. She lived with her husband in a room and parlor in a small bungalow, not too far from the estate I saw 5 minutes ago. I whispered to myself that I wished she were living in one of those houses in the estate because they were really big and fancy.
In her compound were children running around, the big teenage boys who spent all their life talking about football, girls or playing them; women who never minded their businesses, gathered in the backyard every noon to discuss whose husband has left who, whose children were doing well, who was using juju and many other interesting stories that kept the day running. My aunt introduced me to all of them, they welcomed me but all had the inquisitive look. I paid no attention and made a face to show the bags I was carrying were heavy. She noticed and dragged me along till we got to the apartment and then I saw her.
She wasn’t the most beautiful, her face was very angular and structured like a model’s. She was tall, lean and had long fingers, and legs. Her figure had started to form since she was a teenager. Her orange blouse toned her black skin perfectly. They hugged her bare plum breasts well, she wasn’t wearing a bra so I could see the outline of her nipples, she looked really innocent but older. She was probably 2 years ahead of me, unlike me, she didn’t pretend to like anybody or accommodate them till she was sure. So it was no surprise to me when my aunt introduced me to her and told her I’d be staying with them for some weeks and she said “okay hi, welcome” and went back to preparing dinner without further conversation. I didn’t know if she liked me or not and that made me really uncomfortable, but what could I do? I wondered why this question really bothered me but I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin my holiday. Her name was favor, never left my memory, just pushed back.
We ate dinner in silence. Us 3, without my aunt’s husband, I had learnt later that day that he had traveled and wasn’t coming back in months. Favor ate her dinner without looking at anyone, quite the quiet type she was, that was my thing, and I was like that because of things I kept in my head so I wondered what mysteries she could be hiding, I planned on finding out. At night, my aunt told me that I and favor would be sleeping in the parlor, while she took her bedroom, she gave me a mat I would be sleeping in and told me favor took the long couch. I figured because of age and she had been there longer than I was. I didn’t complain but I was bitter. I would have been enjoying my sweet bed I shared with my sister if she hadn’t come to pick me. So I just said goodnight and proceeded to the parlor. There she was on the couch, not sleeping, just looking at me. I spread my mat then I pretended to sleep. Neither of us were sleeping, I could tell so I decided to talk. We talked about where we came from, what school we attended, our hobbies then I found out she was the niece of my aunt’s husband then we slept off.
I woke up from a nightmare at 3, thereabout and disturbed favor’s sleep. I was so frightened to sleep back so she told me to join her on the couch, I did & so it began. she held me in her arms, trying to calm me to sleep but I was uneasy, I couldn’t understand what I was feeling, but I knew I really liked the way she held me, the way her palm went up and down my spine and then she teased the back of neck with her fingers, my ears and my face, kai! What is this I was feeling? I couldn’t understand. This was the same feeling I felt when Emeka in my class (the boy I had a crush on) brushed my fingers when collecting bare things from me just so our skins could come into contact. My train of thoughts was disturbed when favor whispered “can I kiss you?” I was in shock and all I did was stared at her for some good seconds. I didn’t say yes but I didn’t push her away when she leaned in, I could feel her breath on my skin. It gave me shivers but gave me time to tell her I had never been kissed before and this was going to be my first. She smiled and said she was going to teach me. Her lips brushed mine, they were as soft as those ripe bananas we bought at ore on our way to Benin. It felt really good. She stuck out her tongue planning to put them in my mouth. She told me they called it French kissing. It seemed very funny to me because why would a country have a type of kissing? So I giggled. As I tasted her tongue, I knew this was something I was going to be doing for a very long time. IT felt very moist and it made me feel some sensations inside of me. She caressed what seemed to be the cherry of breasts — mine. They were very small, but she made them feel like they were more than what they were, they contributed to these sensations. She took my hand to touch hers too, they were bigger, they felt so plum and soft like overripe mangoes, she let out a sound , like the ones they made in those telenovelas I wasn’t allowed to watch or was told to cover my eyes whenever those scenes came on. All these things seemed very strange to me cos I never knew a girl could make me feel these things, all my life I had watched men and women do the things we were doing, we were also taught Adam & Eve in church. So these things confused me, but felt so natural, like that is what it was meant to be, like that is how it had been. Before her, I had never felt anything for any girl, I had never thought of touching anyone’s breasts, but with her, everything seemed different, I knew I wanted to try all these things with her and Emeka didn’t even seem to matter anymore.
We were woken up by our aunt’s sharp cry of” good morning, wake up for morning devotion!” I rubbed my eyes in devastation, it was just 6, why are you disturbing me? This was not how I planned on spending the holiday. After the devotion, favor and I did our morning duties as assigned to us by our aunt. She smiled at me at intervals, I did same. Was it just me or she looked exceptionally beautiful this morning, I thought about the things we did last night and I could only look forward to this night to see the new things she was going to teach me. We ate dinner early today. It was pounded yam & okra soup, my aunt may not be the kindest person but she definitely knew how to keep a mouth watering, so I finished my dinner quickly and assumed my position in the parlor.
This time, favor went farther than our breasts, she told me of that little button every woman had, if touched properly could make a woman feel good. She asked me if I wanted to feel good, I answered yes. She slid her fingers into my underwear and then touched my little button. It was the best thing in the world, I wanted to scream but she covered my mouth and said we were going to wake aunty up. I composed myself, but I was shaking like jelly fish. I knew favor was very mysterious from the first time I set my eyes on her but this level of mystery was beyond me, our little escapades became our regular night routine. No one could have guessed. My aunt only asked me why I was always waking up on the couch with favor. We told her it was because of the nightmares I was having, so she didn’t pry further.
In three weeks, I had learnt I could feel things for girls too, how to kiss, what the little button did, how to make a well in my pounded yam, so that the soup sat in. I had totally forgotten my agenda to trouble my aunt. I had gotten the adventure I wanted. The neighbors gave me a nickname “win head,” because of my large forehead. But I didn’t pay any attention when I asked favor and she said “yeah, it’s big but I like it and it’s very cute. I was to go back to Lagos in 2 days, I wanted favor to come with me, I wanted to show her to my best friend, Dorcas. I didn’t want our nights to stop, I told her these things but she told me not to think too much about it, that she would definitely come to Lagos soon and she would visit me. I knew she was lying and just trying to make me feel better , I was so sad that I had to leave her, I wondered who will kiss me when I was having a nightmare or caress my back the way she did. I cried.
On Tuesday morning, I bade favor farewell, she gave me some snacks for the road and told me she would never forget me. We got to Lagos at 4:30. I saw my family and the gloom that was on my face disappeared , that night as I slept, I missed favor’s palm, as they were always on my small cherries as I slept , but as days became weeks and weeks into months, I learned to push back the memory as an adventure I had in Benin. I never told anyone about it, not even Dorcas, till now.