I started to write fiction when I was a teenager. At the time I thought I could write a the next best greatest teen romance novel. A better version of sweet valley high as it were…..my first attempt wasn’t that good but I guess I got better with time.
My post today is a story I wrote for the first edition of the Dennis Assimwe’s Notes* short story writing competition and I am proud to say I came 7th!!!
How? I’m still not sure…but this is my story, titled, The Statistic.
To the world I am just a statistic, another number to be bandied up, neatly tied in a bow and
presented to the public, to be pitied. To be pet projects for rich bored white people who want to Save Africa and for politicians, who claim to sympathize with our plight but are really just out to increase their approval ratings. But I am just a girl who fell in love. Many would argue that it was puppy love, a crush or an
infatuation but I know what I felt and it was love. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.
My name is Amber and I was just your average girl; naïve, curious, innocent, restless and over
sheltered by parents who thought that was the only way to protect their children from the dangers and evils of the world, parents whose religious nature rivaled the pope and who called sex “bad manners”. So you could say that my siblings and I grew up in sort of a bubble. So needless to say, I was incredibly eager to discover the world described in the mills and boon novels that I used to wedge between academic books to deceive clueless parents that I’m studious.
I was a very scared fourteen year old just starting secondary school, with tooth-pick legs and braces, and he was my mathematics teacher, Mr. Asiimwe. To describe him using normal words would be an injustice. The only way I could do him proper justice is to liken him to leading black men in
Hollywood movies, the likes of Idris Elba and Boris Kodjoe. Boy was he handsome, and he was incredibly charismatic and very sexy. I guess I looked at him through the same rosy-colored lenses that I viewed the world.
In a school with female teachers that looked like they had just rode in with broom sticks and older students who made me want tremble whenever they as much as glanced at me, his was the class that I looked forward to, every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon. The heavy school meal of posho and beans that would make most of the class doze in the afternoon never affected me when he
was in class. I loved to hear him speak, he made integers, cosines and sets seem sexy. He was stylish for a teacher, he never dressed like the other male teachers who had a penchant for horrendous colour blocking, you know the kind, blue trousers, green shirt matched with a pink tie. And he was so nice to the girl who used to stutter whenever she was asked to answer a question (me). I never paid attention to the rumors that painted him in a less flattering light because it was the love that I had read countless times in novels.
In my second year at the school, I started to fill out, previously absent curves suddenly manifested making my uniform seem indecent and my breasts that were tiny pea-like buds
were in need of a brassiere and I believe that’s when he started to take notice because when he started he started to pursue. My young mind just perceived this as him being nice but the way he used to frequently pass my desk and point me out made me think, no, hope that he was maybe feeling me and that made my heart flutter a little more than usual every time I saw him.
One day he asked me stay back when the lesson was over, under the pretext of correcting certain integers that I had wrong, or something like that. I remember staying behind, hoping that that was it, the scene in the rom coms and novels when the leading man suddenly realized that he loved the girl and he kissed her and all became right with the world. So I approached him with trepidation and hope, he sat perched on desk at the front of the class. He gave me disarming smile and beckoned me to him. Standing close to him, I could smell him and he smelt like a man. He did correct the integers or was it the trigonometry, I don’t particularly remember but then he accidently brushed up against my breast and his hand strayed too far below my waist when he was pulling me close to see a number that I had gotten wrong. I think when I left the class that day I was actually skipping. Then began a long tradition of me staying behind after class and him “accidentally” touching or
bumping against body parts that make up the curves of a woman. I looked forward to this time because my teenage body had started to experience things only previously read in novels and described to us by those forward girls.
One sunny afternoon he declared his love for me and, oh, did I sing. That was the day I had been waiting for, for as long as I could remember. It was cheesy too, but I didn’t mind, I loved the man and he loved me back.
Our first time was at the back of the class, after school was out on a hard bench but I didn’t care, in
my mind, our love was the cushion I needed. It hurt, but he was oh so gentle and when I expressed fear of pregnancy, he confidently said that wouldn’t happen because I was a virgin. To say I was naïve is really an understatement.
After months of making love in the most inappropriate places, in the toilet, an empty staffroom, the sick bay, I noticed changes in him, he started to pull away from me, he came up with excuses for missing scheduled dates, and he became mean to me in class. Maybe it was the waning interest or the presence of a new, very beautiful girl but I noticed and my I-got-a-delicious-secret smile turned into a sadness that was noticed by many, I didn’t even notice that I had missed my monthly visitor.
As is the norm in many Ugandan schools, there was a spontaneous pregnancy check and I when it was my turn, I listlessly lay on the bed in the sick bay that had once held my lover and I. While I was still reminiscing and day dreaming, I felt sharp slap on my face and before I could even fathom what had happened, the nurse started calling me names; prostitute, whore, slut…..well you get the gist.
What happened after is every girl’s worst nightmare, as you may have guessed I was pregnant. My parents were called into school; the look of disappointment on my parents’ faces was too much to bear. The looks of condemnation that I was given from everyone who knew me!
I was essentially pariah. I was asked to present the father of the child to the school authorities and I did but the man broke my heart even more by denying me in front of everyone. He accused me of trying to seduce him and him, being the teacher, just resisted and told me to stay away from, and his story was corroborated by all teachers.
So I was expelled from the school and my pious father relegated me to the village so that he would keep his good standing in society and not be seen to have a whore for a daughter, my mother and my siblings disowned me. I was left with a grandmother who spat every time she saw me, a pregnancy I didn’t want and vast shambas to dig before I was given food while Mr.Assimwe was living it up with the new girl. I hated the man but I still held out hope that he would come and rescue me from my dreary life and we would ride off into the sunset. Love and hate have blurred lines.
But with months that followed, it became very clear that he wasn’t coming and that I needed to get
on with my life. So I devised a plan to get rid of the child of the man that I hated and loved in equal measure, because I didn’t want the child, if I couldn’t have him. I visited a local medicine woman who pointed out herbs that I could use to get rid of the inconvenience growing inside me. And I used them.
One night, I woke up from a pleasant dream, I still don’t know what woke me up, I felt something trickling between my legs and it was warm, so I lit the tadooba, only to see red. I woke my grandmother up, and she hurried me to the local clinic while hurling abuses at me, but by then the pains had come and I was too weak to care that she called me an evil, demon child who is no blood of hers.
I lost the child, a lot of blood and my womb. And to top all of that off I found out that I was HIV
So that’s it, my story, it’s not much different from many girls’ stories, heck it could even be your story. And right now I choose not to dwell on the what-ifs. What has landed me here is a series of bad choices, and by here, I mean my proverbial death bed. So to the world I’m a statistic, but I just wanted the world to know that behind every statistic is a story of heart breaking proportions.
* Dennis Assimwe notes is a Facebook group of grammar Nazis