The year I turned five was when I started getting jealous of my sister, wanting all the things she had. That was the year my mummy gave birth to my brother and my daddy was so happy and he stopped travelling so often. That was the year I started going to Faith and Linda’s house in the other flat almost every day and acting dramas. It was that year that a cockroach entered my favorite red trouser while we were playing outside and I had to pull it down in front of the other kids so they laughed at me. It was also the year I started to think that every girl that was my age looked exactly like me so I could get away with anything.
The year I clocked eight was the year I saw dead bodies and fresh blood for the first time. That was when I was the only C.R.K student in the entire school and every other person studied I.R.K. It was the year that Fatimah’s father came to school to pick her for the first time because there was riot. That was the year we moved to Grandpa’s house in the soldier barracks because they had burnt down our own house and I made thread on my hair for the first time and we listened to the radio every time because daddy said we had to be “alert”. That was the year we moved from Kano to Ibadan and we started staying at my Uncle’s house. That was the year I started fetching water on my head and carrying it up the stairs to our new house.
The year I clocked ten was the year my baby brother started convulsing so my daddy put his finger in his mouth and he bit him really hard. That was the year mummy broke her leg when she was on her way to get a house help for us. It was the year that I cut all my hair and resumed boarding school and only daddy could follow me because mummy’s leg was still healing and she could not walk.
The year I clocked fourteen was the year I travelled alone for the first time in a public transport from Ibadan to Osogbo to resume school and a man was looking at my knees throughout and was asking for my number and I did not know what he wanted from me. That was the year I forgot to wear a bra to school and so I wore my school bag to my front for the whole day.
The year I turned sixteen was the year I passed JAMB and mummy told the whole church how many As I had in WAEC. It was the year that I fell down during my graduation dinner and Wole told me that he was breaking up with me so I cried and cried and almost missed my valedictory service. It was that same year I got into the university and wondered why people were praying on lawns because they looked mad to me. It was the same year that I knew I was never going to stay longer that a month or two at home. That was the year our dog died from cancer and we lied to my brothers that she ran away.