If She Knew Better
I had no strength left in me. I was angry, sad, and I felt depressed. My emotions were scattered everywhere, and I was angry with everyone and everything.
I was trying to lose weight, but my mouth just wanted something sweet. I was feeding on chocolates, sweets, and fizzy drinks. What was wrong with me? I was getting upset with every little thing, and memories both sweet and sad that I had forgotten were closing in on my thoughts. I just wanted to scream.
Why do I have to go through this every 22 days or so? I ask myself. Why do I have to? But then would I not want to? I still ask myself.
Puberty came to me quite early in life. I was eight years old when I noticed my boobs growing bigger. My mum noticed too, and she got all worried and sad. I could see the pain on her face, and I wondered what did I do wrong. What did my foolish self ask my body to do? For, you see, the blame has to be with someone, and if not me, then who?
Yes, I asked my body, Who asked you to develop too quickly? My mum seemed to know the solution. She found a flat-shaped calabash, warmed its halves on the cooking stove, and placed them on my boobs. That was what she knew. She did not know any other way. It was not painful, but I was angry with my body, at eight years old, and I still asked my body, Why did you have to go and develop?
And it continued to develop. Hair was coming out where I did not want it to. I did everything to stop the growth, everything that an eight- or nine-year-old knows—but they just kept coming. I hated them. Mum did not know about that. I wondered what the recipe would have been.
A year later, while taking a bath, I saw blood in my bath water. I thought it was a wound and I ignored it. I did not see it again until three months later, this time in my panties. I thought I was going to die. How could I have a wound up there? How?
I washed myself up quickly, changes my panties, and use Vaseline on the side I thought the wound was, and I thought I was safe. I was for a while, until the next day, after playing outside and forgetting my Vaseline remedy. I came in and my mum saw the stain in my skirt. She shouted, “Oh my God! What am I going to tell your dad?! Oh my god! Go quick and change that skirt, then come down and meet me!” She did not know any better.
I got changed, and was so scared I forgot to use my Vaseline remedy. I walked the distance from the room that I shared with my sister to my parents’ room like I was stepping on hot metal. It was the longest walk in my life, and to this day, I still remember the feeling. I was scared that the wound was a punishment from God—that I was going to hell and my life was over.
I got to my parents’ room and my mum said to me, “I don’t know what to tell your dad. I don’t know what to do with you.” She looked so afraid, so tired, and so worried. I could see the pain and disappointment in her eyes. “You cannot talk to any boy, nor be friends with any boy,” she told me. “You must stay on your own. Now go and get an old cloth and put in your panties.”
She did not know any better. That was all she knew.
I was in tears and I hated myself. I thought I was the only person going through this. I was never an outgoing girl, nor was I popular, but this made it worse. I hated going to school. Every night, I prayed to God and cried on my bed, begging him to please remove the sickness he had placed upon my head.
When I checked my layers of panties, I think I had, like, 10 pairs on me! I checked them every 10 minutes. When there was no stain, I was full of joy; life was back to normal and I was happy. But once it was back, I became that sad, small, nine-year-old girl who hated her body, and hated herself for developing too early.
My mum did not know better. She did what she knew and said what she knew, not knowing her words and her look would scar her daughter forever. But her daughter never blamed her, for she knew her mum did not know better. I also came to understand that she did not want the added responsibility of knowing that she had a nine-year-old daughter who could get pregnant. She was just another woman struggling with the house and caring and providing for 10 children.
The pain, the anger has reduced, but every time of the month brings a turmoil of emotions for me. I cannot change that, but to manage it. I have accepted it as part of being a woman, as part of being that special and unique me, and a bond to all women but I still go through all the emotions again and again.
But she did not know better, it was all she knew. I guess, if she knew better, it would have worked out differently. But this is what I got and what I have to live with. If only my mum knew better.