Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault and death
There is a way I would want to kill you that even I cannot fully articulate. What I do know is you must beg for mercy, I will bask in your tears as you wish for a kinder, faster death. I will kill you so horridly that it shocks even my person. I want you to die. Because you have killed me.
Where I'm from, they say it takes smoke to start a fire. So for posterity's sake, you will know why. You will know why I have killed a man and why I have no regrets.
I am listening to cigarettes out the window the afternoon I decide to write this. The song, a sad dreary tune. There's a main girl and she's depressed, finding comfort in her cigarettes, wishing for a change. We'll find moonlit nights strangely empty because when you call my name through them there'll be no answer. I have always been one for the extremes, when I am hurting I listen to music that breaks me because it makes me hurt harder. You could call it masochism, I quite believe it's part of life's little gems. I have always felt things so intensely, so passionately, it'd keep me up all night. I talk about the things I love and appreciate the things I believe in with as much fervor as my heart can muster. I used to love that one thing about me and now I hate it because I remember and feel everything you did to me. That is all I think about now. I cry almost everyday after that meeting, or laugh whenever I recall how obscenely cruel they were to me. How you probably knew you were going to win because you are a man and I am a woman.
I believe it is imperative to state that there is no resolution in this story, so please do not expect a happy ending because I cannot give you one. I've always wondered if I am only capable of writing when I am sad. It feels that way you know?. Sometimes I find myself breaking relationships, romanticizing my past lovers and moulding them into a muse, so I can write about them and how they could never be what I've envisioned in my head. Maybe this is why you're told to never love a writer.
When I was sexually assaulted there was music playing, Wizkid's Made in Lagos. I hate that album now. I was wearing a corset top and a jean jacket, it was after a picnic with the friends I made in my first year of university. I went home with one who I was closest with. We were talking about music and then he pulled me to him, took off my jacket and touched my body. Did he begin to grope me before he tried to kiss me? I don't quite remember. It was 2021 and I was trying to focus on the music playing- the one I cannot stand to hear now- I was trying to look at the blue lights he switched on, they were very pretty. I've never been the best with my memory, but I do remember how his hands felt. Sticky and slimy, slender with overgrown nails. Just like the skeletons in horror films. How they roamed through my body without paying mind to my frozen, unresponsive state. How I, like a coward, told him to stop because "I liked someone else and didn't think it was right" the look of utter disgust at not getting what he wanted, quickly replaced by pleading eyes. "Please, are you sure? We could still do it you know" I think is what he said. I may not be great with my memory, but I remember his hands on me, those slimy, sticky hands that made me feel small and stupid for trusting a boy I called my friend. How I mused at how dainty they always looked before that night and somehow they were violently dragging me towards him. The fear I felt, the confusion, the taste of regret in my tongue. Do you know regret has a taste? Something foul and rotten, something familiar and yet unbearable. Sick, sick regret.
It's a new session in school and I have successfully buried the bad thing down my chest. Swallowing the keys for extra measure. I see you in school, you're doing well for yourself. Laughing and friendly with everyone as always. You do it so well- pretending, but I know what you did, you know what you did. I am not crazy because it happened or did it?.
There is nothing worse than being insane. How isolated from the rest of the world it feels. You yell, but nobody heeds your desperate cries. You're angry all the time, so much hate in your heart that it keeps you up at night, it feels like it could kill you, it paralyzes you. I don't mind being insane, because it reinstates the reality of what happened, of how you betrayed me. I've learnt about masks and how efficiently they can be used to your advantage. It is way easier, nobody knows the difference and you go home to take them off if you're strong enough for that type of thing.
For the longest time, I let my mask stay on, so when I saw you in school, It was okay. I smiled and went about my business like you did too. I found myself sometimes letting my masks come off. I wonder if I made it all up in my head, wonder if I was just overreacting. I wonder why you never apologized or why you never asked me why I blocked you and no longer speak to you, if the fact that I was 17 made you think you would get away with what you did. I mean you were right, you did get away with it. But then I place my mask back on and shut it all off. The noise never did me any good and like everything else, it'll get easier. Or at least that's what I thought.
There are days where my masks fail me and they just don't fit well. On one of those days, I saw you and my heart raced, reminding me of how small I felt that night, the taste of regret once again greeting my tongue. I will never forget what I was eating-superbite and pepsi- you walked passed me sitting next to my friends and greeted them, easily, confidently without meeting my eye. My superbite became concrete down my throat and my pepsi would not push it down my belly. I was hot, all over, the scalding heat doing me in. It was the first time I had killed you in my head. The anger blinding me to the point of seeing red.
There is anger and there is wrath. Wrath knows no authority. Like an violent wave in a tsunami, it crashes things down with no regard for structure. It is like a god that demands for blood as it's veneration. I wish I had acted on my wrath and bit out one of your fingers that touched me on the night of that picnic. But instead, I appeased the god in my chest with images of your painful death, you hanging from a tree. It calmed my storm that day. It will be my greatest triumph when you die, L.
My earliest memory of a man violating me was when I was 9. My mother sent me on an errand down our street. I was wearing my favorite purple shorts and a one direction tank top. I had just started growing breasts, so I had on a sports bra which I was very proud of. Memory is a silly tricky thing, I would've sworn I had no recollection of this event but you never forget these things do you?. I was stopped by a man in a gold Sienna. He rolled down his window and met me with a smile. I decided to stop because he looked just like my uncle when he smiled so kindly. He asked me to be his wife and I thought I misheard so I politely asked him to repeat himself. He said it again and added "you are now ripe, take me to your house so I can marry you". I didn't know why, but I knew it was wrong for him to say that or look at me the way he did. Something about it just felt wrong, like I was committing a sin. It was then I became aware of my body being an object of male desire.
I hate how much of my oblivion was taken away that day. It felt like I did a terrible thing, so I never wore those shorts again. As a woman, for as long as I have known, my body wasn't just mine. It has been hammered into my head that I possibly could not escape it and even if I wanted to, there would always be a man to remind me that I am not free, I am more like a foreigner in a country that isn't mine. So I know what to expect you know?. It doesn't come as a surprise when I am called a whore on the streets, when my neighbour insists he's worried about me and peers through my window at night. None of this come as a surprise, I have always known. So when you touched me that night, I should have expected it. I should've cursed you out and reduced you to the animal you are. It didn't last up to two minutes, which is considerably shorter than the many times a man has reminded me of my place in their world. So I truly wonder why the swallowing did not consume it down with the other times, muddled images, different men all acting the same way. I know these things take time, but it is 2023 and I still have nightmares. I was doing such a great job, trying to force myself into forgetting.
But there is love that sees past your facade and breaks it all down to pour into you. I don't know if I am grateful for the intervention, but it was necessary. That day, I went to school and you were there again, a pain worse than a thorn. Always there, always smiling- sick bastard. I thought I did good in at least concealing, I should be great at it by now. But she saw through me- my friend- and asked about it. That day I spoke about the night again and it came back, stark and clear.I let it all out like bile rising from the depths of an ailing stomach. The words felt alive, floating around the room with us then escaping through the window of my student apartment. It read "L, sexually assaulted me" bold and black enough to let me know it really happened. And so I killed you again and she joined me to kill you. No talk of rising above hate or forgiveness, no lesson to be learnt. She killed me with you and it felt good, a shared prayer to the deaf ears of vengeance.
There is no redemption arc for a villain, they will always do it again. On the day of our last papers on campus, you verbally threatened to hit me if I told anyone else about that night. Let me paint the picture for you, reader because there is a form of audacity only possessed by someone with a penis. You walked up to me and called my full name, I didn't expect you'd ever break our silent pact of non-communication so I was cornered, scared, like a child caught opening the pot lid before dinner. You asked to speak to me and that is when I regained my voice. I thought you had reached your peak in patheticness but I guess I was wrong. With disgust, I firmly declined. And that was when the side of you I knew appeared. The one that touched me without my consent. You were pointing at me, towering over me menacingly repeating it over and over again "you will repeat that allegation and see what I will do to you". People like you thrive on the silence and cowardice of their victims. But you see L, that was 3 years ago and I am no longer that girl.
So I yelled louder, filling my throat with enough air to elevate me. You were not going to switch the narrative to your favour because you ARE A SEXUAL OFFENDER and you did that shit. I screamed back and I would have killed you then and there if not for the intervention of my friends. I screamed and repeated the "allegation" again. It is not my shame to carry, not anymore. I did that for 3 years and would never do that to myself again. Between you and I L, I saw how you looked at me that day. I saw the momentary gaze of fear in your eyes, quickly covered by anger. You do not fool me anymore. I know what you did and I know you know what you did. Nothing is ever going to change that. There may not be a god of vengeance or if there is one, they are occupied with other duties so I will put out my request to the heavens, the air, whatever is the life force of the universe and hope that one day, they answer my prayer. I want you to be disgraced like you disgraced me on that day. I want you to be violated like you violated me on that night. I want you to be betrayed like you betrayed my love and trust for you. I loved you as my friend L and somehow you did not think it enough to regard me as a human being. There are repercussions for actions and they must not bypass you. You will suffer greatly and then you will die. So shall it be.
Do you know what I just realized? I wore a blue blouse for the panel meeting. Blue, just like the pretty lights you had on in your room that night to "set the mood" or isn't that what you told them?. There was a meeting held at your request by the student affairs division on grounds that I falsely accused you of sexually assaulting me. The day prior, I was a mess. There was no way it was going to be on my side for very obvious reasons. I will ask you, when has it ever been on the woman's side? You definitely knew this was going to happen. You of astounding audacity. I went there nonetheless with my head up. I looked like a flower with my blue blouse and skirt. I did nothing wrong, I did nothing wrong. No matter what, I did nothing wrong. We were asked to give our accounts and I was made to sit down there and listen to how well you spinned the story to save you. You said you only tried to kiss me, a pathetic attempt at cushioning the blow of your crimes. I sat down there wondering why I did not stab you with a pen when you raised your hand to touch me. I wondered why I thought this would go anyway else than how it went that afternoon. They asked me what I was looking for in a boy's house, why I lured myself into the lion's den and why I did not confront you for sexually assaulting me. They asked me to apologize to you for keeping it to myself and allowing a misunderstanding ruin an amazing "friendship". They advised me to accept your pathetic excuse of an apology - "there is not much you should do now but heal from it". If this is what healing looks like then I want no part of it.
I apologize to you Timi, because if I were brave enough you wouldn't have had to sit through that disgusting gathering. You wouldn't have witnessed the people you considered your friends instinctively take the side of your assaulter. I will continue to apologize to you till it makes sense, you didn't deserve any of what happened to you.
It took me two months to continue this story since I decided to tell it. You see, writing has always been my outlet. Writing has always been my way of expressing myself and the only thing I've got going for me to be honest. I do not always enjoy the utterly humbling and nerve-wracking process, but it was mine all the same. I stopped writing after the meeting, my words felt pretentious and meaningless. They'd fall off of my mind and get lost in transmission, like a really bad idea. I had them till I didn't anymore. I wanted to pour my pain into my work but I couldn't sit with it long enough to birth coherence, none of it made sense- none of what happened made sense. So I chose to run away and swallow it down with the rest of the bad things. My stomach forced it right back up, it was poisonous and it was going to kill me. I had to do something, you did not deserve to win.
Because of the school's interference I could not get justice even if I wanted to. You had successfully gagged me. I felt powerless and it reflected in my work. I didn't want to be reminded about it initially , but I understand that some things are necessary - canon events that have to occur or you do not get your epiphany. I needed to tell this story so I could tell other stories. Because it happened and it was real and no amount of running would ever make me escape it.
They say you only have dominion over a demon when you call it by its name. So this is me naming mine, this is me sending it back to hell.
You will not silence me any longer. I am telling this story to remind myself that you no longer have any power over me, L. I am doing this for me; let the world burn. Even if I wasn't strong enough then, I am now and it is set in stone that you are a sexual assaulter. So once again, I am killing you with my pen. I am killing you with how I know best. I hope you die a very painful death, L. You no longer have any power over me.
Tímíléyín Akínsànyà (she/her) is a 20 year old Nigerian creative writer and editor for Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine. She loves consuming art made for queer Africans and writes about stories true to her experiences and identity. She enjoys daydreaming and romanticizing her life. To read more of her work; follow her twitter @notagaintimi or Instagram @notagaintimi