Growing up, my bedroom would be invaded by phantoms, battalions of my father’s doppelgangers that besieged the whole room and stood guard over me like a besieged city and platoons of my mother’s ghosts; I guess her soul had never rested in peace. I pulled the blanket over me and buried myself deep under the covers and hid from the ghosts that still managed to pass through the mosquito net, and got under the duvets. In the dead of the night, I screamed my lungs off for Mother, anyone, to come to my rescue from the masquerades of my nightmares.
I spent my entire childhood in a haunted room; the lights I left on did nothing to chase the ghosts’ shadows away. Most nights, in my cold bed, in my darkroom, I clutched against my chest all alone. There was no one to stop the shadows, to fight the doppelgangers of the man who was supposed to be fighting for me but was attacking me. I just let them slither into the room, and before I knew it, they materialized into the monster I feared.
There was no running away from this monster that paid me late-night visits. My room was where my fear began and ended. I couldn’t run away from Dad. The first time he came, he had a lollipop. He unwrapped and gave it to me like the loving father he was, but what he did was undress me. As I sucked on the lollipop, his hands mapped continents on my body he was going to travel with me. That first night I cringed and held my legs closed tight as his fingers bruised my labia. He couldn’t feel how I trembled as the fear snuck up to me from all corners of the room, which crawled back to where it had come from when my mother’s gods answered my silent prayer, and he suddenly stood up and walked out, leaving me all alone.
For nights on end, I stared into the night, all alone in my room, silently crying out to a God who was on safari and had not left an assistant. And then he came back and bit my lip. I tasted the alcohol he had drunk on his tongue, and I wondered why he would drink it in the first place if it was that bad. His mouth took and drowned all my screams until all I did was just whimper, low guttural sounds of surrender, which he sensed from how my body became limp.
On the night that is forever etched on my mind, he found me getting ready to bury my head in the pillow and drench it with tears through the night to the break of the day. He was drunk, and even that couldn’t prevent him from pulling me from under the bed. When he tore my clothes off, and his hands parted my legs like the Red Sea, he fell on top of me and fumbled to hit the bull’s eye between my legs. The lights were on, but all I saw was darkness. In the abysmal dark pit, I fell into, I meandered through a maze of the staircase to the deepest level of hell, where I met the Devil himself. When Satan flapped his wings, he produced chilling cold winds that froze me to death before forcing my eyes open to find myself cramped in my bed.
I started seeing the Devil in the lingering shadows the light didn’t chase in my room. I wondered why God would be so cruel to take away my mother and give me over to Lucifer for adoption. Every morning I took long showers to wash away the memories before the monster of my nighttime drove me to school and told me to smile for the new day as I went about playing and laughing with my friends, shining in class yet dreading the fiend of the night.
Dad kept coming to my room religiously like it was a doctor’s appointment for his chronic drinking, which I overheard an aunt saying was due to my mother’s sudden and abrupt death coupled with his gambling.
I kept the lights on in my room in the hope that the outnumbered ghosts of my mother would protect me and the battalions of my father’s doppelgangers would just go away. In the mornings, I took long showers to wash away the memories, but when it didn’t work, I stood alone in the night when it was raining for the holy waters of heavens to cleanse me and perhaps wash me away along with the scum to the oceans.