“Aunty, what is this?” Adaora asked in that keenly confused, adorably annoying way only five-year-olds can pull off.
Nnenna, intent on a page of the Nora Roberts’ title she had her face pressed in, had made a science of tuning her pesky niece out, and didn’t respond at first.
“Aunty, what is this naaaaowww!”
“Adaora,” she snapped without turning, hurriedly skimming through the remaining few paragraphs to the end of the chapter, “I’ll send you out of my room now o. In fact, come and go and watch cartoons. What is the time?” She lowered the book to glance at a wall clock, before continuing:
“Good, it’s time for Ben —Jeeeeeesus!!!”
Adaora started, shocked at her aunt’s sudden high-pitched screech, and even more by the way she snatched the rubber-coated cylinderical object she had in her hand, which vibrated in a constant hum on the flick of a tiny switch.
“Where did you find this thing?” Nnenna snapped at her neice.
“Under your pillow” Adaora said hurriedly, sensing she was in trouble, but not knowing why. “It was vibrating. I don’t know what it is, that’s why I was asking you.
“What is it, aunty? Why does it vibrate?”
Nnenna stared glumly at her neice, broad-chested paperback Adonis’ with come-hither looks the farthest thing on her mind as she debated how best to respond to her niece’s questions without traumatising her.
She called up a smile she saved for job-interviews, and which frankly had no merit, seeing as she had never been “gotten back to” by any prospective employers, then said: “Oh dear, it’s just a little toy. An adult toy. My toy.” Bright smile.
“What’s its use? Why does it vibrate?”
“It’s urm, a toy massager… For, urm, the hands… Adult hands. It’s not good for children to touch it, because, urm, it could give them white finger.”
“What’s ‘white finger’?” Adaora looked severely confused now.
“It’s a sickness caused by vibration. When the hand is exposed to too much vibration, it affects the blood vessels and muscles and the hand starts to lose feeling.”
“So, if I have white-finger and my teacher flogs me on my hand, I wouldn’t feel it?”
“Well, yes… Maybe only a little.”
“I want white finger” Adaora said matter-of-factly.
“It’s painful o! You wouldn’t be able to feel textures with your hands; you wouldn’t be able to feel Major’s fur” she added referring to the pet dog Adaora loved like a sibling. “Do you want that?”
Adaora shook her head, reluctantly, then asked: “But why do you play with the toy? Do you want white finger?”
“No love, it doesn’t affect adults.”
“No, the, urm, toy… It doesn’t cause white finger in adults, only in children.”
“You adults are weird!” Adaora exclaimed, looking very much like she wasn’t buying what her Aunty Nnenna was selling.
“I’ll go and watch TV now” she announced and stalked off. Nnenna only let out a pent-up sigh of relief once the door was shut —close call, she thought.
Her relief was short-lived however.
“Did you show my daughter your vibrator?” Nnenna’s big sister and Adaora’s mum, Anda, snapped later that evening, having let herself into Nnenna’s room without knocking.
“I take that to mean a yes.”
“No! It’s a no… She found it, and I didn’t tell her it was a vibrator. Did she call it a ‘vibrator’?”
Anda chuckled and said no. “She said she wanted the children’s version of your adult toy. She said the toy is conical and vibrates, and that she’d play with yours, but she’s scared of having white finger.”
“She said all that?”
Anda nodded, a look on her face that said she was unsure whether to be amused or horrified; unsure how much her daughter didn’t know and how much had gotten through the grayscale filter of childhood innocence. Everyone said her daughter “ga gbape ya nti“, that she was too inquisitive even for a child, and was bound to be a headache in her teenage years. Anda was starting to agree.
“Jeez! That sounds all shades of wrong, especially coming from a child’s mouth. I’m sorry, Anda.”
“Look Nnenna, about this vibrator-business”—
“Ehn-eh ehn-eh, Anda” Nnenna cut in, raising a hand, “please, don’t start acting like you’re my mother. I’m not sixteen biko. Save the talk for when Adaora is of age.”
There was five years and two siblings between Anda and Nnenna, but Nnenna had no problem bullying Anda, who was one of those people who actively avoided confrontation, were quick to please, and were effectually pushovers.
“I wasn’t going to give you a maternal talk” Anda said defensively. “I was only going to ask you to keep your toy out of sight when you’re done with it. I’ve seen it myself before, several times when I’ve come to straighten up your room. That’s why I knew immediately what Adaora was describing.”
Nnenna covered her face with her hands. “Jeez! I feel so ashamed” she muttered between her fingers. “What can a girl do for privacy in this house?”
Anda giggled at this, and said: “Keep your room clean and keep your pleasure nob out of sight, that should do.”
“So, what are you going to do about Adaora’s request?”
“You can buy her one of those finger flashlights… They have ones about the right size.”
“Finger flashlight… That doesn’t sound wrong at all” Anda said with the rare hint of sarcasm.
“Jeez! You have a dirty mind, sister mine.”
Andra shrugged in a so-so manner. “And what do I tell her about its not vibrating?” She asked.
“Anything… She’s only a kid. Pull something out of the hat. Or you could still use my white-finger line.”
“Yes, that one” Anda acquiesced. “That was genius by the way. Not that I approve…”
“Of course not” Nnenna giggled.
Anda shook her head playfully. “Come and help me in the kitchen” she said before letting herself out.
Nnenna didn’t move.
The next morning Nnenna was woken up by a soft tap on her bedroom door.
She rose slowly and went to answer the door, assuming through the haze of sleep that it was Anda. She was a bit surprised to find her brother-in-law, Sam, on the other side of the door.
“Bro Sam… Good morning. I thought I heard your car leave earlier this morning.”
“That was Anda and Adaora. They went to your sister’s place at Ikeja.”
“Ahn ahn. Why aren’t you at work? And shouldn’t Adaora be in school?”
“Public holiday. For voters’ registration.”
“Oh.” She stood firmly in the doorway.
“May I come in?” He asked and she hesitated, before stepping aside.
He sat on her bed, and she went to stand at an intersection of walls, as far away from him as she could manage in the room.
“Yes, is there something you want to tell me?”
“I learnt you have a vibrator.”
Nnenna cursed under her breath. “Anda”—
“Didn’t tell me. I heard Adaora and her mother, and I put two and two together.
“Now my question is: why do you need a vibrator?”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business!” Nnenna snapped.
“OK, lemme rephrase… Why do you need a vibrator when you have me?”
“Have you? Are you insane? You’re my big sister’s husband! I don’t have you.”
“Do you think of me when you use it? Can I see?”
“You’re a mad man”—
“Look, we have something here, Nnenna. You know it. I know it. We both feel it.”
“You’re imagining things.”
“I didn’t imagine what happened last month.”
“That was a stupid mistake, and it’s never going to happen again.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Get out of my room!”
“I know you want me, Nnenna. You’ve shown me.”
“It was one stupid kiss, Sam. No more. You’ve been harassing me ever since I stepped foot in this house, I had one moment of weakness. Big deal.”
“How strong are you, Nnenna? How long do you think you can deny this sexual energy between us?”
“You’re a shameless pig! Don’t make me tell”—
“Anda? You want to tell your sister about us?” He laughed.
“I still wonder why you haven’t done that already. I even wonder why you’re still in this house. You could easily go and stay with Ada or Nkechi, or even Emeka. Why are you still here, Nnenna?”
“Because Anda wants me here.”
“Since when has Anda been able to make anyone do anything they don’t want to? You and I both know that’s a lie. You and I both know why you’re still here. It’s because you want me. You might deny it, but a part of you’s still desperately clinging to hope that you and I can explore this powerful thing between us.”
Nnenna was silent.
“You desire me, don’t you? Look me in my face and tell me you don’t want me, that you don’t want it.”
“Please…” Nnenna said in a voice she didn’t recognise as hers, “leave…”
Bro Sam rose from the bed and came towards her, and she took in every detail of his features: the liquid-brown of his deep-set eyes, his Roman nose, his dark, drooping lower lip…and those well-set waves of his hair that always drove her crazy…when it was sported by other men! she asserted inwardly; by other men, but her sister’s husband!!!
He stopped in front of her, his face an inch or so from her face, his chest lightly touching hers. It took all of her willpower to keep from kissing him.
“You’ll beg for this one of these days” he whispered harshly, his eyes never leaving hers, his breath hot in her face. Her heart caught in her chest.
“You’ll beg to have me inside of you. Soon… You’ll see.” And with a smile so erotic describing it as a leer wouldn’t be doing it justice, he walked out of her room, and shut the door in his wake.
Nnenna stood pinned against the wall a moment longer, her chest rising and falling, rising and falling. She felt the wetness between her legs.
Unable to help herself, she rushed to her wardrobe and got out the small, transparent box stashed underneath a reckless pile of clothes, that contained the 4-inch rubber-coated apparatus.
Hurriedly lying on her back on the bed, she spread her legs and flicked the switch on. The device began to vibrate in her hands as she sent it in under her nightgown, closing her eyes as the first moan escaped her lips.
She had forgotten to lock her bedroom door, and she would think later how convenient that was.