The Enemy next door
While growing up, I was an avid and very fast reader. In my early days in the secondary(high) school, I read all the possible books of Pacesetters series I could lay hold on(surprisingly you can still get them now). If you are from my generation, you may remember “Evbu my love”, “Rich Girl, Poor boy”, “Naira Power”, “Agony in her voice“, “The Cyclist” ,The Betrayer“, ”The BlackTemple”, “Death is a woman”, “The Equatorial Assignment” ,“The Undesirable Element,” and so many more. I remember reading about the main female character: Bintu in “The Undesirable Element” following the Alhaji and the next thing, she was pregnant. The Pacesetters African novels were written in such a way that followed the culture and as such, they excluded details and I must say in my generation, the closest most people and I had to of sex education was “The Reproductive System” lesson in Biology. Well, I just remembered now that one of my elder sisters actually gave me some chapters from a Jehovah Witness hardcover big wine book called “Your health &You” which talked about the menstrual cycle. For many ladies though, their mothers found the perfect opportunity to give a serious “talk” when they had menarche.
One of the benefits of attending a boarding school was that I had the opportunity of listening to different versions of the “talk”. I recall one of the girls recounting the lecture she had from her mother on the August occasion. “Do not allow any boy touch you, if any boy touches you, you will become pregnant and you will not be able to go to school anymore and your life will spoil “.She swallowed hook, line and sinker and it wasn’t long before a boy touched her. She cried her eyes out believing the inevitable had happened until her mother came to the rescue. Her brother was the culprit and your guess is as good as mine. All he did was touch her in the lightest term of the word.
Those days we laughed about it but several years down the line as I ask some of my friends, I find out that some of them have not yet made it to the point of actually enlightening their children about sex. Somehow the same silence and mystifying demons that affected our parents’ generation is still active in ours but if we shy away from it in the family, we rob our children and expose them to learning from the wrong sources indirectly, especially in this age we are in. Recently, one of my girlfriends needed to have a word with the school teacher as the lesson on “sex education” did not only stop in the physiology. Her daughter’s teacher asked the pupils what areas brought the most pleasure.
Back then, all I knew was that it was something wrong outside the confines of marriage and growing up and becoming a Christian very early in life definitely made it a No, no but I can look back to a time when someone attempted to educate me. We lived in a block of four flats and one Uncle(in Africa, we have many non-related uncles &the term is usually used to show respect to seniors ) who was a brother to our neighbours’ next door. He was not the only brother that stayed with them, in short, there were three grown-up men that lived in our neighbour ’s household with his family and he was the last of them to arrive. Somehow when I met him and during the times I was still greeting him as a courteous African child would do, I never liked him. Something about him was not right. He, however, engaged me in conversations asking what boarding school I went to and then later stated it was in the town he originally resided. He asked for my address which I gave out innocently, however during term time at school, I was asked to pick up my letters and one of them was from him. In short, it contained his GCSE slip with a black and white passport photograph and a letter in which he advised me not to fall in love with anybody in school claiming he was telling me out of concern as gold is only given to those who knew the value. I shared the letter with my friends only.
When I returned home for holidays, this Uncle was still living with our neighbour and resorted to sending letters to me through his nephew. I mean full scalp pages(A4). The beginning paragraphs of the first letter got me shivering and I ran downstairs to finish reading it. That was when I first came across the term “Lovemaking”. In this Uncle’s letter to me, he wrote amidst several things
………..There is no need for you to be afraid of having a boyfriend. Your friend (happened to be my friend’s elder sister )is a girlfriend to my brother while her sister is a girlfriend to another friend of mine. I know that you are probably afraid of sex and lovemaking, don’t worry, the first experience may be painful but after that, our experiences will be enjoyable. I know that you are having your menstrual period now ………….”
I was so shaken by the letter that my period started. Love what? being enjoyable ke…where is this Uncle from? Definitely from hell. I could not show the letter to my mother, trembling I took it to my friends he was referring to, who are a set of twin girls in the next street. They read the letter on the streets(we had to walk away from our houses so no one will see us with the letter ). While reading the letter, I saw the mother of my friends approaching us and cautioned them to hide the letter. One of them reassured me by saying there was no need to worry because their mother could not read and I was relieved. After my friends finished reading the letter, they denied the allegations but that did not matter to me.This Uncle was definitely referring to something my Sunday School teacher had been talking about “…some of you here are doing what your mothers alone should be doing”
I did not reply but tore the letter and then this Uncle took a bolder step by coming to visit me in my boarding school one visiting day. I was appalled and left him at the gate with the gateman, later I decided to return to preach to him but then the manner in which I treated him was awkward but definitely got across the message that it was a NO-NO. For goodness sake, I was not even 14 years old then! In all of these events, I never told any member of my family but discussed with friends. Luckily very early in life, God blessed me with good friends with similar values. (never underestimate the influence of your children’s friends and really, the smart thing to do is to befriend them also).This is one thing I have watched my mum do over the years.
You won’t believe but this Uncle’s brother eventually impregnated one of the young girls also in secondary school who lived opposite our compound. That baby was eventually aborted and we all know this is every mother’s nightmare. Thankfully, I avoided that pitfall but would encourage us all to start having age-appropriate discussions with our children as the opportunity arises. For some of them, it may be just letting them know while you are bathing them that no one should touch certain parts of their bodies. It is better you do it yourself because the last thing you want is a strange “Uncle” (and yes, I have heard of “aunties”)teaching your child “Lovemaking”
Finally, let me add that sometimes the enemy next door is not even human. It could be an educational system trying to teach your child otherwise or even social media and the internet. The responsibility, therefore, lies on us to watch out for these enemies, as they could be lurking next door, closer than think and if allowed to carry out their intentions might scar our children for life.
NOTE: Menarche-means first menstrual period
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