I almost made number one! I almost got a distinction! I almost got that job! I almost dated that guy! Almost, almost, almost and well, almost. What I’ve learnt from life is that it doesn’t matter how many times things ALMOST HAPPENED, it means nothing. ALMOST doesn’t count in this life. If it didn’t happen, that’s it, it didn’t happen and it doesn’t matter, so don’t make it a big deal. That’s how I felt about my almost encounters. That as long as they were just almost moments, they didn’t matter and they should not; I must not be hurt by them or complain about them, I must get over them. But I’ve realized that it does matter. Until the moment when that something failed to happen, it was something that was possible, something having a power over me and over my emotions. Until it didn’t happen but still had a power over me.
Now let me get clear about these almost encounters am ranting about. The first one happened when I was about six years old. Back home from school, and I’m home with the house-boy who was really a man. He goes about his chores and am going about my child life, until he comes and tells me we should go into the bathroom to “make our parts touch”. For the life of me I did not know what that meant until I had grown up a little, but somehow it sounded wrong. But I remember vividly following this man into the bathroom where I hope nothing happened. I remember nothing else from those next couple of minutes, all I remember are the moments around it and nothing else. So that’s almost number one, and like I said, it should have no effect on me, nothing happened.
Fast forward and I am eleven years old. Mum had died almost a year earlier and it’s just dad, my little sister and I. Things have been not so stable since her death, we’ve lived with mum’s sister, then back with dad. Women are in and out of the house, but that’s our life now. One night when we had gone to bed, something scares me and my sister and dad comes into bed with us to comfort us. Next I know is his legs are wrapped over mine and he starts to caress me. My mind is alarmed and my body freezes, situation made worse by the fact that I am only wearing a little top as pajamas. My 11-year-old mind feels uncomfortable and I slowly slide out of bed, go to the bathroom to put on pants and go back to bed. I make sure my little sister is now between daddy and I, and I try to go back to sleep. Something almost happened, but it didn’t, and I will be fine.
Five homes, one city, and four girlfriends later, I am thirteen years old and hitting puberty, and it’s beginning to show. So daddy, who is already the sore spot in my life starts to make comments about how am becoming a woman, and will even lift up my arms to point out my growing armpit hair. It makes me uncomfortable, but what can I do? Then one day he drops the bomb. He tells me a story of a friend of his living somewhere outside the country. Like dad, this guy is a widower and has an eighteen year old daughter, whom he asks for permission to remarry but she says no. When she denies him that, he says ‘then you must be the one to give me the conjugal rights a wife would give’, and the daughter agreed. So daddy’s bright idea is that he and I should get into the same arrangement. You can imagine my shock, confusion and fear, good thing I had enough courage to say no. so things were not about to get better, after I had already tried to run from home once.
For the next year life becomes a game of cat and mouse. Dad got into a thing of wanting kisses now, and I’m not talking a simple affectionate kiss on the cheek, but a full on wet mouth to mouth. And these kisses were forced on me whether I protested or not. Pin me to the wall, grab my face and kiss me was how it went. I began to try to escape home at least a few times a month by asking to stay at my grandmother’s house on some school days. And since school was an hour and half away, it worked. In the end I always had to go back home because my little sister lived there. So at home it was always stay in a locked bedroom, and keep away from being alone with dad in closed places. I remember one incident when I got home around 7pm from school, went to my room to change and in came daddy, “kiss me mummy”, he whispered as was now a habit. He forced me down onto my bed and planted his mouth smack on mine as I struggled in protest, then let me go as we heard the maid enter the house. From that day on I never forgot to bolt up my door. And so went my one year of almost moments with dad. Living in fear, not trusting the man I had once adored, and praying every day asking God why he had left us with this and taken mummy away. And I prayed that prayer until God did take him away when I was fourteen years old.
So like I said, it’s all a bunch of almost encounters, nothing really happened. But is that true? How come I can’t forget them? How come as a little girl it felt so wrong and I felt unsafe and hurt and alone? I’ve lived a life afraid to trust any man who says “I love you”, because I know from memory that those words mean I am about to get hurt. I am defensive and scared and negative in love, looking for the next thing to go wrong, looking for an opportunity to get out and avoid any pain. So ALMOST may not count to the world, but ALMOST did something to me that I am still trying to get over fifteen years later.
But fifteen years later I also know that I am blessed because a lot of the more damaging things ALMOST HAPPENED. And I also have the gift of healing for any hurts the almost encounters have caused. The healing is an everyday journey, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, but ultimately beautiful.