Hi guys! Get comfortable, it’s going to be a long one.
Is that a tattoo on your hand? Oh look there’s another one here as well…and another…oh wait, what kind of tattoos are these?
You could easily tell I was not interested in engaging in this conversation. I wasn’t willing to share the genesis of these ‘tattoos’ as this stranger so easily put it. Whatever happened to minding your own business? Or keeping your thoughts to yourself?
“They’re not tattoos, they are scars”. Oh okay, my bad! And the twenty-something year old lady turned around and walked away nonchalantly. She’s probably moved on with her life and will never remember the brief encounter we had, but I remember, a little too often – more often than I should. Every morning when I stand in the shower, work up a rich lather and apply a handful of it to my right shoulder blade and my back; every time I moisturize, every time I put on a tank top and take it off immediately because of the dark scars that are all to visibly situated on my upper right arm and the top part of my back.
2 tubs of lemon juice mixture and 3 jars of essential oils later, the scars are still as dark as ever. I believed the scars were like the hunchback that would keep me locked in a bell tower of isolation, forcing me to wear anything but a sleeveless top or gown….and who wants to forsake a good bikini?
A lady’s skin gives a rather good first impression of her, an impression I thought i’d have to hold in place by applying foundation over the scars whenever I want to wear a trendy off-shoulder or sleeveless top/gown and on occasions where the foundation doesn’t get on my outfit, I’m happier because I feel I’ve mastered the art, when the reverse is the case, I add that to the stash of stay-at-home clothes.
Abuja is a metropolitan city and while I’m not an advocate of riding in random cabs, on this particular night, my private cabby couldn’t make it and I had no other option than to take an unknown cab. Prior to this, I had heard countless tales of how people were attacked in their cabs but that’s all they were to me – stories; I didn’t believe it would ever happen to me, besides I took precautionary measures by engaging the services of a private cab. On this particular night, at about 8:30pm, it was drizzling when I got out and a painted taxi pulled up in a few seconds. This cab had a see-through boot so I scanned, saw that it was empty and entered the back seat. I kept my handbag and laptop bag next to me and settled in for the ride home. We drove passed the first traffic light and turned into the major highway. Barely five minutes into the drive, the passenger seat beside me bent over and a huge man got out from there, jumped on me and started stabbing at my back and right shoulder. My initial response was to pray because that was all I could do. I shouted in prayer, fighting him off as best as I could, clawing at him with my nails and hoping help would miraculously come from somewhere. I quickly realized that I could neither roll the window down nor open the door. The driver veered off the highway and turned into a dark, untarred road beside the Federal High Court, all the while I was still being stabbed by this individual. A few seconds later, the guy opened the door and pushed me out of the speeding car. I fell head first but quickly rolled over to avoid any major head injury and sustained multiple scratches on my back in the process.
The security guards that were on duty around the Court attempted to chase the car but did so unsuccessfully. I sustained some very ugly wounds that day but nothing compared to the resultant emotional and psychological trauma. I re-lived the whole experience that night while I slept and every time I find myself driving along that highway, I get chills. In retrospect, I wasn’t asked to surrender my money, phone or other values – he was all stabbing and hitting – so what then what his endgame? This question boggled my mind for such a long time and every time I went in the direction of my thoughts I got even more scared.
I look at my scars now and they are a testimony. In the process of friends and well-wishers comforting me, I learnt of countless people who were attacked in a similar way but lost their lives. I keep looking at one particular scar, about 3 inches long that’s just beside my spine and I wonder, what if he stabbed me in my spine or my neck? My right earlobe was grazed lightly but what if he made for my inner ear? To think that this incident occurred barely a month after my dad passed; how do you reason this out? Do you ever come back from an experience like this? Well not in a hurry but you eventually do.
The scars are now my symbols of victory. This is one of the greatest stories I’ve been given to share, why? As much as these physical scars have become a part of me, I’m now able to connect with people who have similar scars and offer words of encouragement. You see, the mind is a battlefield with positive and negative opponents on either side. For the one who isn’t strong willed, you find that the stronger negative voice gains the ascendancy in your mind but for people like me who over-think things, it’s different. If I had allowed myself to accept the constant thoughts of fear, the mental pictures of my bloody white shirt, the pain I felt every time the sharp object made impact with my skin or the attacker’s constant threat to kill me I’d probably be a nut case but I rose above it all.
I look at my scars now and I’m grateful because I’m stronger, wiser and more detailed in my dealings. I may be a little restricted in terms of my choice of clothes (and this is a big deal for me) but some days, I accept the lifestyle change, on some other days, I put on that nice tank top or sleeveless gown and own my scars.