Micro082914: Use Dodo

Once upon a time a young boy taught his brother the use of dodo*. They had been born at the tail end of a gaggle of sisters whom they strove to understand. Their emotions filled the house, clashing against one another, and their voices varied in tone from the excited shrieks of the preadolescent, to the deeper bored vibrations of teenagers who had all of life’s answers. Often, the boys could be found seeking reprieve behind the doors of the small room they shared, tucked in one corner of the bunk bed.
The young boy whispered softly to his brother, pulling out a curious package that had been hidden between the wall and the bed. “I’m going to show you something. But it’s a secret and you can’t tell.”
“I promise,” the brother replied, his eyes wide with wonder.
“This,” the young boy began, his voice several decibels below a whisper, “is very secret and the girls hide them from us.”
“Why?”
“They have wounds.”
The brother’s face, frozen with horror, and the memory of stinging crushed herbs that killed germs on his own wounds.
The young boy did not think his brother’s horror was sufficient, and decided that his story would have to be slightly more gruesome.
“Their wounds never heal,” he continued, “and they have to…”
“Where?” The squeaked question bounced around the walls of their small room.
“Shhhhh!”
“Where are the wounds?” The brother asked, lowering his voice to match his brothers.
“On their bums.”
His brothers mouth hung, agape.
Not entirely satisfied with the reaction, the young boy pressed on. “They stick these long bandages inside their underwear because their wounds don’t heal.”
“Even if mummy uses enyabarashana*?”
“Do you think she hasn’t tried?”
“But..”
“You listen first!”
“Okay.”
“The wounds bleed and bleed all the time, and they take medicine…” the young boy stopped, watching his brother, whose wide eyes were fixed on a point somewhere between them. “Don’t be scared.”
“But what if their blood gets finished?”
“That is why mummy gives them dodo.”
“But mummy gives us doodoo!” His brother’s distress began to roll over his story, capturing it and turning it into something else.
“But you also!” he exclaimed, irritated that he could not complete his horror story in the face of his brother’s logic. “Is your bum bleeding?”
“I have to check.”
“I’ll check for you.” He sensed an opportunity here. The long plastic contraband had been burning a hole in his mind, worried his mother might find it when she cleaned out their room. “Bend!” He commanded.
Obedient to his brother, who he trusted was older and wiser, he pulled down his pants and presented his bum.
“Ayayayaya,” the young boy sang, alarm ringing menacingly in each syllable.
“What?”
“There is a little blood.” No need to alarm him too much. “But at least we have a bandage.

Several minutes later, when the call for dinner was raised, a dejected boy came down the stairs, holding tightly to his brother’s hand. A weird waddle distorted his walk.
“I hope you made dodo,” he said in a small trembling voice.

*Dodo, pronounced doh-doh is the name used to refer to amaranth, a common vegetable in Uganda that grows wild

*Enyabarashana is bidens pilosa, another wild plant that is used for medicinal purposes.

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Micro080214: Saved

Once upon a time, a thirteen year old girl imagined herself in love. In the secret places of her mind, she allowed images to overwhelm her, carbon copies of the heaving bosoms and ravishing kisses overflowing from romance novels concealed under her bed.
She gloried in the power she held over her fifteen year old boyfriend, feeling his body react to furtive gropes in the darkness, hearing his breath catch in between the gaps of long, lingering kisses. Her minion. Her Master. For while she basked in the triumph of her conquest, she held the private belief that she was insufficient, making monsters of innocent conversations with girls locked in their own insecurities.
He had been pressing her, perfected the pull of his facial muscles into a cute pout, for the one thing her father warned, “All boys wanted”, swearing that he knew how to make all her secret wishes come true.
Eventually, she relented and prepared her body.
No romantic spots could be used. Watching eyes with the power to discipline hovered nearby, heightening excitement.
8:30 pm
She sat in the darkest reaches of the room, hands folded, waiting, anxious.
8:52.
He came in, kissed her, then left to scope the area for those watching eyes.
9:15.
Pins and needles prickling her feet and legs. She swivels her feet and rises to let the blood flow.
9:25.
A light blazed sharp into the room where she waited. The commanding voice did not belong to her boyfriend. She obeyed.
10:30 pm
She lay silently, curled up in her bed nursing the welts of discipline, humiliation and fear gripping the muscles of her throat like a vice, choking her so her breath burst out of her chest in short sharp gasps. How had it come to this?
The years passed, each one eroding those romantic images she had harboured, pruning her ideas, shaping the future she could claim as her very own.
If you asked her today, she would tell you that that night of humiliation saved her.

Micro080114: The Prize of Silence

Once upon a time, a young man proclaimed to his family that he was going to marry. The young woman he had chosen, bore the ropy scars of abuse that leave no visible trace. Those who knew, complicit by their silence in her abuse, donned pearly smiles at the celebration of the young couple’s union, glad to be absolved of the burden of her pain.
The children came quickly, each one punctuated by broken bones and festering wounds, filling an aching household that oozed dank, mildew emotions. Those who had been silent? Stolid. They averted their eyes from obvious bruises, laughing raucously at their own jokes, filling the space with anything but the pain her eyes could not contain.
Courage came upon her suddenly, sweeping up her pain in a pile that burned a gaping hole through the polished mahogany covered floor. Her fury, like a raging tornado, sucked up expensive furniture, anguish filled family photos, the thick curtains blocking fresh air, her wailing children. Almost every component of her “happy” home, disappeared through the hole forever.
The young man, who is not so young anymore, now has his own scars. I saw him yesterday, surrounded by her family who tut-tutted in sympathy, shaking their head to free the memory of her scars.