Butterfly


The TV man is here. He has come to interview Papa about the incident. He has on the expression of one important and expected and so he sits down like he is here to do us a favor by asking for Ejime's hand in marriage. His camera man is walking closely behind. A green vest with the word 'PRESS' flung across its back and a cap worn with its beak arrogantly pointing towards our door as if in jest. He has asked to see Ejime, to know how she is fairing. Did she sleep well? Is she getting better? I want to tell him that she asked for ice cream yesterday and she even slept like a baby.

Papa has prepared himself for this event. He has been preparing since the day he got the call. He gave his shirt to Christian to wash, starch and iron and this morning, he wore Mama's perfume. He has been rehearsing the things he will say to impress him. Last night he asked for my dictionary.

Mama has not said anything to him. These days she just stares into space and suddenly jolts into loud outbursts of vituperative soliloquy. Last night she slept with Ejime in her arms.  She was crying the whole time. She was livid at first but now she seems subdued.

They are sitting down now. Papa and the beaming TV man. His camera man is standing beside him like an orderly waiting for instructions. He barks at him to get ready to record. He looks at Papa carefully and asks him if he has Ejime's picture. Papa nods and shows him the picture of a smiling Ejime at the children's park in Asaba. He wants to tell the camera man to start but stops and walks up to Papa to button his top of his shirt and goes back to sit down.

Papa is telling him his name, how many children he has and everything like it's a documentary on Ejime and how she grew up. The man asks Papa about the incident and Papa starts narrating.

He starts going over the story we now get tired of telling people, the same story we've been told not to tell when Ejime is around. Papa is saying that Ejime is traumatized. That she sometimes talks about it in her sleep or when he has her on her lap.

Papa tells him of how the Aunty at Ejime's school said she saw a man supposed to be a teacher walking with Ejime to his office. How she saw Ejime sitting alone in the class crying after school hours. How Ejime, on being brought home by the Aunty kept pointing to her thighs. Saying incoherently that he put it there. How mama screamed 'Chim o!'  When she saw the blood around Ejime's thighs. How Ejime winced when she touched it.

He is telling him that He -papa- dashed into his room and brought out his rifle and marched to the school. How he didn't find the "bastard that did this to his 7 year old daughter." How he will murder him when he gets his hands on him.

The man is asking for specifics. Like what did the man do to Ejime in his office. Papa is looking at him like he will yank the glasses off his forehead and pummel him like he did to the man that slapped mama's bum bum in the shop. But he doesn't, he fiddles with the picture and starts telling him of how Ejime kept repeating "Uncle Peter take me to his office. Say he has something to give me. Sweet. He raise my gown. Says he wants to check if I am a good girl. I tell him mama say nobody touch me there. He say he knows. He takes my butterlfy pant off and put something after his finger. It's painful. Mama. It's sooo painful. He tells me not to cry and gives me sweets. I don't take it. I just run off."

Papa is sobbing. He asks me to get his handkerchief. I don't. He uses the back of his hand.

The man is asking Papa about the Doctor's report.  Papa is explaining something about 'forced penetaration', 'inflammation' and 'blood around the clitoris.' 'Clitoris'. What's that? The man wants to know what the Police are saying.

Papa starts to swear and cuss. I walk away because this is the part of the story  I detest most. Papa will beat his chest and shout and say and cry about his beautiful daughter being defiled by a 30 year old man. He'll call me to come and introduce me as Ejime's twin. "See how alike they look?" He would ask and sob and sniff and I'll stand there and just be there because I can't do anything. I don't want their teary eyes and pity. I want my sister.

 I'm tired of hearing this and Mama has started cursing again. I want to check if Ejime's awake but I change my mind. I'll check later.

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