It was like every other Saturday morning, the sun radiating its lights with the usual cooling effects that made Saturdays lazy days. Ok, I’m not allowed to see the beauty in it because I had just napped, I was not in the mood to talk, I was running late for church rehearsals and it was a Saturday – the lazy day!
Ruemu and Waire chatted as we trotted along the slim road that linked home and church for rehearsals. Their zippy pace was just impossible for me to meet up with, moreover, I wasn’t in the mood to talk, especially for the fact that Waire, my older sister’s friend enjoyed talking about music in terms I didn’t understand – notes, keys, sofas, pitches, what else? Bleh… Besides that, Waire was the nicest of my sister’s friends. He was also our neighbor.
He had amazing drum skills, sang like Lucifer and his fingers plucked the guitar strings just right for the ears. He was such a music maker and hey, he was also the chief of unsolicited advice and always had enough hands to give. I named him ‘handy helper’ but he never for once got to hear the name; it was only in my head. There was a way he looked at my sister that made me believe he uniquely liked her; What do I know? They were just friends. I liked him too but not in any way romantic.
It was the opposite for me. I was almost a totally horrible singer, emphasis on almost. So I usually joined in cleaning the church while my sister and her friend rehearsed at the choir stand with the other choristers. One way or another, we had to work for God because father was a deacon. From the deepest part of my heart, I loved to work for God. I enjoyed cleaning the church even though it seemed compulsory for deacons’ children to show good example at their inconvenience.
I preferred the ‘modest’ fashion – long sleeves, long and sometimes baggy skirts. I barely ever exposed skin even if I had the kind of body anyone would want to flaunt; and , yes, we were permitted to wear sleeveless and fairly skimpy clothes but I chose not to.
It was about two in the afternoon, when we would ordinarily walk back home, snaking along the narrow path that led to our street but everyone in the choir stayed back to perfect a lung-squeezing acappella hymn. I decided to wait behind for Ruemu and Waire.
Sometimes, you can’t put a finger on what exactly pushes you into trouble. Waire complained about having a headache. Everyone insisted that he went home since there was no need for instruments. I was itching to leave initially and now I had to play nice girl and go with Waire in case he needed help. His forehead was sweaty like he had been sprinting. I think I pitied him. I don’t remember what I felt towards him that afternoon as he plodded home.
The Sun was burning so brutally that I felt my forehead baking. I gave Waire my handkerchief to place on his head. I don’t know how that was supposed to help but I just had to show that I cared anyway. We got to a spot so close to home, an almond tree that shaded the harsh rays of the sun, when Waire begged that we stopped for a minute. It was very quiet and usually without vehicular or human movements for up to an hour as it was just a parallel path to the major road. People preferred to take the major road but it was custom for me to go through the narrow path. I just loved it. Moreover, it gave me an opportunity to walk at a pace slower than normal without minding who was coming or going.
I totally understand how he felt. I had at some time had a headache that made little walks seem impossible so I agreed and we stopped. He pressed on his head with both hands as if trying to tame the pain. I could tell he was stinging in the head. I felt pity for him so stood close to him as a natural show of support; that was the least I could do as I couldn’t take the pain out of his head. It was day time and we were less than a minute walk from home. Nothing could get bad or so I thought.
“Sorry ehn”, I said calmly. “We will soon be home”.
When he asked me to pat his back, I wondered what connection back had with headache. I did it anyway, until he reached for my hand and I paused. (Okay, he is fine now.) I slipped my arm out of his but he caught it again. It was getting awkward. I wanted to run or scream but what if I was just overreacting? It was nothing right? So I kept patting softly at his back then his grip on my hand became firm.
“Alright, I guess we can go home now”. There was an obvious trembling in my voice. As if I wasn’t certain what I said.
“What’s up with you na? You still don’t understand?” he asked.
It hit me. He wanted some physical intimacy. I was disappointed. I hissed and made move to free my hand from his firm grip. He held on to it. I tried wiggling my hand, no way.
Waire’s hands, thickened from drumming, were too strong for me. I opened my mouth to scream but he immediately gagged it with a handkerchief, my own handkerchief I had given him earlier! My heart pounded and I could feel every painful blow against my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. I just couldn’t believe what was happening.
The air around me suddenly smelled sour. Waire pinned my hands to my sides and pulled me close enough to make his lips brush my eyelids. It wasn’t a kiss. He didn’t kiss me or fondle me as I thought he would. Maybe he wasn’t even going to hurt me, maybe he was only upset. I tried to break free but he outdid me in strength and had my hands down.
In an acrobatic manner and faster than I expected, he threw me to the ground and I felt the sandiness of the earth under me. He pegged me down with one hand while his entire weight, using his leg, held me down. His other hand sifted under my skirt and went straight to my panties. Tears traced out my eyes to my ears. I felt his dry fingers pierce me and my brain recorded every move in me. I felt the gut in me boiling. I was disgusted, angry and everything in between.
The expression on his face was inscrutable – no smile, no frown – more like he just had to do what he had to do. He pulled back his arm and made for the buckle of his belt. It was only just beginning. I shut my eyes prepared to take him in, dauntless. I wasn’t even going to struggle. I had failed already. But he stopped. He took his weight off me, got on his feet and ran home, leaving me to decide if the whole thing was real or if it was my imagination.