Lights, Camera, Action!!! (Episode 3)

Lights, Camera, Action!!! (Episode 3)

The first time I heard the word ‘lesbian’, I couldn’t breathe for a while. I was in Primary 3 and in love with a girl in my class, Hazel. It was Valentine’s Day and I had written her a four-stanza poem on the back of my notebook and passed it to her during our lunch break.

I had never heard the word in my life, so when Hazel asked me pointblank, “Uzo, are you a lesbian?” even though I had never heard the word before, I understood it and I couldn’t breathe for a quick moment. Hazel watched me turn blue before planting a light kiss on my lips. Then she said, “Thank you. It’s a nice poem.”

I’d come a long way from the awkward eight-year-old in love with Hazel to the even more awkward adult in love with Genevieve Nneji.

Growing up aware of my ‘gay’ had its advantage. Because I realized my attraction to girls early, I never went through the hard acceptance phase most gay men and women reportedly go through, because I always thought being gay was as normal as being attracted to the opposite sex. My mother on the other hand viewed me as a disgrace. Even with everything I had achieved and the fact that I was already a top director in Nollywood, all my mother cared to acknowledge were what she referred to as my “shortcomings”.

“You still don’t have a degree. How far do you think you can go?”

“All my friends have grandchildren but you have decided to live this wayward lifestyle, ehn Uzo?”

“Mrs. Uzodimma’s daughter had her igba nkwu last weekend. Her husband is such a fine man, but I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath when it comes to you bringing home a fine man.”

My mother could nag the devil out of his kingdom in Hell. And save for my sheer determination to stay connected with my family, we’d have become estranged a long time ago.

After my return from the film shoot in Enugu, that damned sense of responsibility I carried around with me prompted me to give her a call. I wanted to see her. So I called her on Sunday, when I was sure she would be done with the church service. But even before she said she wasn’t done yet, I knew she was still in church, judging from the hubbub of after-service conversations I could hear in the background of the phone call. Before I could hurriedly terminate the call, she did exactly what I’d wanted to avoid: she asked me to come and join her at the church so we could go back to the house together. I ended the call with a very dismayed feeling rooting around inside me. This – being in church with my mother – was a combination of terrors I simply couldn’t handle. The last time my other asked me to follow her to church, I was beaten by her pastor who claimed that was the only way to free me from the spirit of lesbianism. It was also the day I ran away from home, and the beginning of my journey as an independent and a career in film directing.

Anyway, it was done. I couldn’t call her back to decline the offer to come see her at church. So I dressed up in an Ankara kaftan and leather slippers. Taking a deep fortifying breath, I stepped out of my apartment and into my car, engaging the gear and taking off for The Rainbow Christian Assembly, the church where my mother had worshipped for most of my life.

The Lagos traffic wasn’t hectic and it was only a matter of minutes before I’d parked inside the church’s almost vacant parking lot and began making my way across its grounds to the sedate building. As I moved further into its stern embrace, memories that I thought were suitably buried began rousing to wakefulness. Memories that were so steeped in this environment that they apparently needed me back here to wake them up.

I wondered idly if she was still alive and here – Pastor Elizabeth Benton, that is; wife of the head pastor of The Rainbow Christian Assembly and my Sunday school teacher when I was eleven. I hadn’t heard of any tragedy that struck the church, so of course she’d be alive…and here. I wondered if I would run into her and if she would look me in the eyes and remember like I remember. I wondered about the woman who presided over the group of children who’d been chosen to give a special number in the adult service during the children’s harvest Sunday.

I was in that group and because of how long the rehearsals would last that day, Pastor Elizabeth assured my parents that she would bring me home herself when we were done instead of them coming back to get me. My parents, always quick to assign their parental duties to others, agreed without question and left me in her hands.

However, that first day, no one else showed up to the rehearsal. No other parents came to drop off their kids. It was just me, seated alone in the room usually reserved for the children’s church. When it became evident that the day’s rehearsal was going to be a bust, Pastor Elizabeth bustled into the room, tut-tutting in apparent disappointment. She wasn’t happy that no other parent had been as diligent in the service of the Lord as my parents to bring their children for rehearsals, but she very graciously extended the Lord’s forgiveness to them for their thoughtlessness.

Then she sat next to me and began to talk to me. She asked me my age. I answered that I was eleven. She moved a bit closer to me and then placed her arm around my shoulders. In that moment, I began to feel a gnawing apprehension.

“Uzo, you’re so lanky,” she said leaning toward me, her breath that smelled of something sweet and sour at the same time drenching my face. “If you weren’t in this dress, I would have thought you were a boy o.”

She chuckled at her attempt at levity. I stayed frozen next to her, my apprehension gradually solidifying into dread. She was breathing over my ear now, her words husky and low as she said, “I hope you’re not a lesbian, Uzo, because if you’re a lesbian…”

She never got to tell me what would happen if I were a lesbian. Instead, her words tapered off as she moved her hands clumsily over my dress and down to the hem, which stopped just above my knees. She slid the hand in and I felt her fingers, like leaden bands, fumbling their way across my thighs. Her breathing was hitched as she pecked me on the forehead and then my cheek. Her fumbling fingers reached my underwear, the blue one I loved because it had sponge bob patterns on it. The fingers slid past the panties and into my young womanhood. And then she was stroking my clitoris and planting wet kisses on my mouth. I remember cringing because I’d been able to identify the sweet and sour scent of her breath. It was fish. And it was at this time that I began to feebly protest, my words turning into whimpering cries that pushed against her intrusive lips and tongue, while my legs clenched around those leaden bands invading my insides.

When she could no longer ignore my apparent distress, she let go of me and pulled back, the lust gradually fading to be replaced by that stern, pastoral look she’d patented for the altar, a countenance that markedly separated her from the woman who’d violated me seconds ago.

“Kneel down let me pray for you,” Pastor Elizabeth Benton breathed out as she got to her feet.

I fell to my knees and shut my eyes as tight as I could to stop my tears from falling. I stayed kneeling in repose as the pastoress’s prayers washed over me. She was casting all evil spirits of lesbianism from me, rebuking the spirit of lust and temptation from me, casting these demons into an eternal abyss of damnation far, far away from me.

Or from her perhaps, I found myself presently thinking. The righteous wife of the head pastor had perhaps used her prayerful attack on my ‘demons’ as an attack on her demons.

As she prayed over me that evening, I felt anything but Christian. I hated my parents. I hated Pastor Elizabeth. I hated the church. And I hated my life. I quit the singing group against all of my parents’ objections; I just wouldn’t go back to getting cloistered with Pastor Elizabeth anymore. I didn’t encounter such abuse again, but that one incident scarred me for a long time. I never told my parents about it because I was convinced they would only make matters worse for me.

Feeling the cold wash of these memories all over me brought me up short. I’d gotten to the threshold of the church and I could see into the church. I couldn’t see my mother through the pockets of parishioners still milling about in the church. And just then, I had the sudden urge to leave. I didn’t want to see her – not here, not now. Without taking a moment to dwell on my rapid change of mind, I wheeled around and began walking back to where my car was parked.

And roiling about in my mind was another sudden realization: You can’t explain yourself to someone committed to misunderstanding you. You can’t give your love to someone committed to abusing you.

Written by WhoIsUgo

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4 Comments

  1. Mandy
    October 27, 08:38 Reply

    Pastor Elizabeth Benton is a lesbian and a molester. 😂😂😂😂😂 I know I’m supposed to be somber but this is why I love this series. The not so subtle mirroring of Nollywood stars. Who you gonna drag in next, WhoIsUgo? Yul Edochie? With his past scandal, he deserves to be here? Alex Ekubo and Uti… Oh my gosh! Beverley Naya too. I’d like to read about her eating pussy. 😀😀😀😁😁😁

  2. Delle
    October 27, 09:37 Reply

    The Rainbow Christian Assembly

    This cracked me up bad! If only your mum knew, if only she knew the true meaning of the name of the church she’s been attending for years 😂😂😂

    Ah but it’s no surprise seeing as Pastor Elizabeth is a lesbian. Sigh.
    You were castigating her whilst molesting her. A lot of us have enviable degrees in self-deceit.

    Okay.

  3. Mitch
    October 27, 10:32 Reply

    I died at Rainbow Christian Assembly.
    How a church can have a name that screams inclusion yet entrench bigotry in itself is something I still don’t understand.

    And Pastor Elizabeth Benson, sorry, Benton is another case altogether. Projecting your demons onto someone with nothing but love for herself as if that’d help you. Keep dreaming mami.

    More, WhoIsUgo. More please!

  4. quinn
    October 27, 20:34 Reply

    I completely completely! Hate sexual abuse or any form of abuse on children, try it on my kids or younger siblings or any kid I know I’ll fucking kill you. Great story BTW. I really loved that italised ending. More Pls.

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