in the nude…

The day came when darkness erupted,
The weak were weakened,
The strong were strengthened,
The tenets of morality became inequality and depravity,
Molestation was the norm,
And every child unshielded from the inhumanity,
Grew scrawny and pale at the necrotizing parasite,
Insanity reigned, and blood buckets poured,
Africans were dirt, women were mute,
Most sold into captivity,
That of a wife or that of a slave,
The hour was dark, dark as night,
But it was not night, merely a colored day,
Painted with the tar of evil,
But the day came and the day passed,
Passed on in the twilight,
In the darkest of the dusk,
Restored to white in the dawn,
Light was light and the sun rose,
The female was a foe no more,
And the change was cultivated in the law,
The saw of demons,
Was blunted and soon stunted,
The power that was lost was regained,
And from the red that poured
Sprouted a flowery rainbow of beauty that reigned,
The days were once again white,
And light was the day,
The pigment in my skin,
Was celebrated and respected,
The ban on it was lifted, upended and away it drifted,
Humans were humans, beasts were beasts
Forever buried and forgotten was the humanly beast,
No more of that beastly human,
Not in the south, north, west or even in the east

“But the day came and the day passed.” This I tried to recite and mouth as loudly as I could in the courtroom benches, hoping and praying that at some unknown point in time I too would believe it. Nudity had an almost perverse ability of unveiling parts unknown, unknown even to the wearer of the hide. It could reveal a hope within burning low but burning nonetheless or in my case unmask the hideous visage of a buried fear, grotesque and grim in appearance demanding an audience at last.
It had been my first excursion out since the incident, every step outside of the comfort of my home was now forever marred. I breathed the alcohol of fear evaporating from my skin, and was almost always immediately crucified with all the unending stares and detailed scrutiny that society had now accorded me. I did not want to be the victim but the world had already callously cast me for the role and all I could do now was retreat into my cave and hide, an action that would have simply perturbed a previous version of self. After all I had always preached the sermon of strength, a Samsonian kind of strength, the kind that removes you from the darkest recesses of the abyss.
But this trip I had to make ,it was the only way my tormentors were to ever face the full brunt of the law .I remembered that day so meticulously, the memory was psychedelic and once I recalled it my body was transported. I could feel the tarmac that I trekked on my soles and even hear the noisy backdrop as I made my way to the bus station. The town was in pandemonium as was the rule, hawkers escaping from the police while simultaneously selling their knick knacks, endless knockings from the shoulders of the ‘bees’ buzzing about their apparent errands.
My mind was so caught up in all the excitement of a big city life I did not even notice the crowd of men approaching me and howling chants. Before I knew it I was pinned on the ground and the demonic ritual of disrobing me commenced. Despite the horrific din of my cries and shouts no one even tried to stop them and the irony was that it all happened in plain day light.
On receiving the summons to appear in court, a violent lurch in my stomach erupted and immediately I vomited. Just the thought of facing those beasts a second time tore at my sanity. Paranoia levels in my body were elevated but I knew that I had to do this, so as to at least save even one other woman from the wretchedness I had survived.
“And we call Julia Onyango to the stand as the second witness.”
On hearing my name, the selective quivers of my legs, lips and arms were immediately reinstated I then glanced at the accused hesitantly wondering if their gaze would persuade me to retreat and cower once again. To my surprise I immediately recognised their appearance, it was the symbol of shame plastered all over their faces, and they could barely look at me for a second without turning their heads. I had encountered that very expression in my reflection every day since the attack; I blamed myself for provoking them, forcing their hand. I had been serving their sentence of shame for them and now it was time to pass on the baton.
Hitherto, I had never once looked at their faces, their naked faces without the makeup of power and tyranny. All I could see now was the profound ignorance, men cloaked in ignorance, an ignorance that was relentless in its punishment. The punishing scorn of shame was more than enough punishment for a lifetime. Not only had they violated me by brutally accosting, stripping and beating me to a pulp but they had also assaulted themselves and their conscience. But I was now glad that my scars were only superimposed on my skin, a skin that would heal and soon enough become my weapon against all the ignorance of such misogyny.
The time had come for me to bare myself to the court, tell the tale and marvel at my own nudity. Nakedness definitely did have a potent power to reveal parts unknown; to my utter surprise it had once again revealed to me that I had outgrown the dress of fear and pain. I brazenly walked up to the stand shining in all the glory of my pain, and I finally believed my own poetry indeed the day had come and passed and no more remained of that beastly human.

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