I sit in line and wait. I count my heartbeats, trying to synch my breathing with the ticking of the brown wall clock. Tick. Tick. Tick. Consequently, the warmth in my armpits thickens and forms sweat, which then drips down my skin. One. Two. Three.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my second confession and…
My thinking stops suddenly when someone taps my shoulder and points at the chamber. My heart tells me to move. To get done with this, in a minute, and then walk away. My spirit wills me to my feet. However, my legs do not move. As if there is a disconnect between my body and spirit. As if I am trying too hard to make this happen. As if, in the wildest of dreams, something that did not happen is driving me insane.
What will people think? How will I face the world after this? What if he recognizes my voice? What if it is something normal? What if the rest of my peers get wind of what happened? What if….?
My mother’s words keep ringing in my mind: Learn how to serve the Lord with your whole heart. It is the only way blessings will follow you.
I let people take my space in line. One. Two. Three…Fifteen. And when there is no one else left behind me, I run through the incidence one more time.
It is 2 p.m., and the hot afternoon sun has found favor on my bald head. Its soft rays are caressing every corner of my skin, prompting my quick steps. With a smile on my face, I walk head-high, whispering a low tune to myself.
He says he wants to see you in his office. Alone. Why? He says he sees something in you. And so? He would like to discuss it with you.
I replay the words, joyfully, in my heart, as I make the short distance from my dormitory to the office.
I knock, softly first, but when no answer comes, I increase the intensity. Then frequency. One. Two. Three. My patience wanes and I push the door gently, which opens to a white-tiled floor, littered with books and papers.
“Father?” I call out when I fail to spot any sign of human existence in the room.
I walk farther into the room, bend to pick up a Bible that lies open, then call out again.
When the silence starts to threaten my sanity, I turn to leave, placing the now-closed Bible on the study table just next to the door.
Then there is a slight cough. A drag on the floor. Then a louder cough.
“Alfred, come on in. I am on this other end of the office.”
It is then that I notice the office does not end where my eyes have seen. At the end of the room, adjacent to a massive bookshelf and a plastic chair, is a small door that is slightly ajar. I notice it because Father keeps calling out to me, and I follow his voice.
When I push open the door, everything else happens fast. Like the wind pushing up a woman’s dress, while her hands struggle to keep it in place.
Suddenly, I am lying face down on top of a bed with the thickest mattress I have ever seen. Someone is ripping my trousers and my underwear off. My legs are kicking in the air, but stronger hands manage to tie them together, as a dusty rug finds its way into my mouth. My hands are in cuffs behind me, even though I am only fourteen years old, and crime is the last thing on my mind.
Then, like a flash of lightning, there is a heavy naked body lying on top of me, its warm minty breath filling the back of my ears. I am struggling to breathe. I am struggling to scream. Barely, I am struggling to survive the shock.
It comes, the pain, as suddenly as my entry into the room. It tears right through my anus. It ruptures the soft skin at the entrance, and when the pounding continues, I beg the Lord to take away my life. It is like the proverbial camel trying to get through the eye of a needle. It pains right to the bones, and doesn’t stop.
I try to count the beats of my heart. One. Two. Three…I lose count as the pain makes my toes curl and I am dying to pass away. I don’t.
When the thrusting finally stops, I feel the weight on top of me slowly lift up, as a warmness trickles down my bare thighs.
Between the untying of my legs, uncuffing of my hands, and letting the rug out of my mouth, I weep uncontrollably. I lie in bed, still, because the pain is still fresh. I weep like a child longing for its mother. I weep like a river on the verge of drying up. I weep like a flower whose base has been cut. I weep like a cactus whose fluid no longer heals wounds. I weep as if I have just lost my life.
The shame as I walk back to the dormitory gets too heavy that my head hangs to the ground. All the while, Father’s words continue to bite into my flesh:
You know, this is only the beginning. I promise, you will grow to like it when you get used to it.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my second confession and I…
I keep replaying the words I am to say in my head, but I have no word for what my sin is. I try, again, and:
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my second confession and I…I slept with you…
The thought brings the memory flashing across my face, and I suddenly want to scrub my body. To get rid of the stains. Of the pain. Of the shame. Of the secrets I have held close to my heart for weeks now. One. Two. Three.
With my face to the ground, I find my way back to the dormitory, then to the bathroom, and scrub all my wishful thinking away. The memories. The hurt. My mother’s voices. I wash away the burden of a confession I am yet to make, because I am yet to find the appropriate description.