Hi! Hi!! Hugs and Kisses from my side of the world.
I greet you with my happy face this morning 🙂
Yes! You can tell that I am super-excited.
10 days to the launch of my latest bae ‘WRECKED’.
Wrecked is the story of man’s inhumanity to man. A tale of abuse, terror, raw anger, love, lust, betrayal, murder and revenge and at its white-hot centre is Anaya Rufai, a strong, exciting woman who dares to take chances – and always win.
It’s a story of:
Anaya, hurt, scared and scarred by one incident in her childhood. She wants it all. She requires just as much power as any man. And power, for Anaya, means the ability to rule her home, or the heart of a man, on her terms.
Hauwa, a teenager forced to wed a man in his thirties, a man who sees marriage as a means to act like a depraved animal.
Laraba, abducted and abused by Jihadists, escaped from captivity but is fighting another war and bearing her pain with dignity. She is a haunting reminder that most of ‘our’ girls are still missing.
Kuku, yearns endlessly and in vain for her father’s love.
EXCERPT FROM WRECKED
She was playing with her cousin, Uju, while their mothers washed bitter leaf to be sold in the market. She was six and Uju was five at the time. As the girls were playing, a woman came and took them by the hand. The woman was well known in the village and her action came as no surprise to the girls. She told the girls’ mothers that they were being taken somewhere to see something. Anaya glanced at her mother, asking for permission with her eyes.
The woman didn’t seem to need the permission as she tugged the girls’ hands to follow and said with a fleeting look to the mothers “You know I have to take them. You can’t stop me.”
“N-Now?” Aleruchi stuttered.
Uju’s mother stifled a sob.
“Mama Anaya, Mama Uju, Oge eruola! The time has come.”
Aleruchi had fear in her eyes, but she nodded her consent to the old woman. Uju’s mother also gave her nod. Not like they had a choice. And like little girls do, Anaya and Uju tagged along after the woman.
They arrived at a fenced compound and immediately they stepped in, the girls were grabbed and blindfolded by elderly women, then tied to thick wooden sticks.
Anaya could smell the leaves, the dirt, everything around them. There was loud drumming and older women were singing songs, which she was too young to understand. She could hear voices crying out in pain but she didn’t know why. She could hear the buzz of flies. She perceived a slight but unmistakeable odour.
She was led to another hut covered with leaves and someone took her blindfold off. Anaya could now see girls around her, bleeding and sobbing in pain. She looked through a roughly cut window and saw a lone hut at the far end of the compound, screams emanating from it. She looked back at the girls around her. Some lay dazed. They were all a few years older than Anaya and Uju.
Uju! She was not among them; and Anaya knew intuitively that it was Uju being held down and tortured inside the other hut. Uju who made those inhuman shrieks that rent the air and chilled Anaya’s heart. The screams continued as the stooped figure of an old woman came out of the hut. The woman held an aguba, a carving knife so sharp she could see the drops of blood sliding down the edge. It was Uju’s blood, she was certain.
Three women moved swiftly and held Anaya down. Another sat right on her chest, covering her mouth. She could not scream or struggle much. Years later, Anaya would still feel the weight on her. She would still see what each one of them looked like and she would see the emotions that they had – so empty, like they didn’t see her as a human being.
The cutting happened very fast. The cutter held on to her clitoris to make sure she got that and scraped everything else that came along with it – all of the labia minora. Anaya fought the whole time, and as a result, only her clitoris and part of her left labia were cut. The other side was still intact. The remaining would be cut off when she had a child, they informed her.
After all the girls in her group were cut, they were left to bleed into little dirt holes for hours. Finally, when it became dark, they carried the girls gently to the home of the woman who did the cutting and put them in one large room known as the healing room. A herbal concoction was used to stop the blood flow and ameliorate the excruciating pains.
They were there for three months. They ate out of one shared bowl – special foods one ate at such a time that keeps the stools soft, thus eliminating some of the pain of evacuation.
In the mornings, they would wake up, line up and receive their ‘treatment’ to speed up the healing process. The women applied palm oil to the girls’ wounds, intermittently using a feather to spread the oil along the cut edges of the former position occupied by the clitoris, and then they placed dried leaves on the wound for two or three days. The Cutter would then rip it off and put another one on, until the tissue began to scar.
Anaya scrutinized the old Cutter as she grumbled while oiling and perfuming her body, dragging her lame foot, dressed in rags. It was only in the late afternoons that the old hag could talk, breathless after a day of tending to the girls in her camp. She spoke about her time in the Biafra refugee camp. Even during the war, her services had been in demand, though she had nothing to work with. There had been no herbs, no oil, no antiseptics, not even water at times. She spoke of times when she had delivered babies in the dark, set bones and used stones to smooth protruding gristles of amputated limbs. There was nothing to assist her beyond her patients’ grim endurance. It was in the war camp, she said, that her hair had turned white, and where eventually, she lost it. Now, she said, running a gnarled hand back and forth over it is self-derision, “I am as bald as an egg.”
At the end of three months, there was a ceremony to celebrate the girls’ rite of passage. The Cutter looked sternly at the girls and warned, “You are never talk about what happened here.” She looked at each of the girls seated with plates of steaming jollof rice. Her dark eyes gave her face a menacing look. “If you even mention it, you will be killed; the goddess protector of women would strike youdown,” she said solemnly. The girls shivered as she glared at them one more time, then shuffled into her hut.
Anaya’s mother and auntie came to pick them up after the ceremony, and Anaya kept asking, “Why did they do this to us, mama? Where were you?”
Aleruchi responded, “They told you not to say anything, Anaya, didn’t they?
Anaya nodded reluctantly.
“Then don’t talk about it. You are now a woman, and that’s all that matters. There is hot okpa and fried fish waiting for you at home.” The mention of her favourite meal did nothing to console the little girl.
A few weeks later, Uju’s senior sister, Ndidi, who had been cut years before, died in childbirth at the age of seventeen. It was too difficult because of her cut. She bled to death. Her body was immediately wrapped in a black cloth and secretly thrown away with no burial at all. She could not be buried in her family’s house because, according to the villagers, she died a bad death.
And so Anaya grew with fear. After the cut, it took five minutes for her to pee. Her menstrual periods lasted for ten days and she was incapacitated by cramps nearly half the month, caused by the near impossibility of flow passing through so tiny an aperture as Cutter had left. The old cutter fastened the raw sides of Anaya’s vagina with a couple of thorns and inserting a straw, so that in healing, the traumatized flesh might not grow together, shutting the opening completely.
There was the odour too, of soured blood, which no amount of scrubbing and talc could wash off until a few years passed.
The hidden scars between her legs gave her the classic Igbo woman’s walk, in which the feet appear to slide forward and rarely rose above the ground…
That’s all for now, folks 🙂
Wrecked is dedicated to all the amazing women I’ve met and those I haven’t who battle with the dark days…