Inaya stood up and began to pace the bedroom floor. “Like I said before, I pretended to go along with him, even letting him touch me in a few places so he would let his guard down.” She suddenly paused, snapped her mouth shut and choked back the nausea that threatened to overtake her.
After another deep breath in and long breath out, she returned to her pacing and to her recollection. “When Duncan removed his pants and prepared to get on top of me, I stabbed him in the neck with the long fingernail file that I had secretly eased off my nightstand. Then while his hands clenched at his neck, I kicked him hard in the groin, grabbed a sheet to wrap myself in, and escaped to a neighbor’s house where I then called the police.”
Chandler exhaled loudly. “Thank God! For a second there, I thought you were about to tell me that he raped you.”
Inaya stopped in her tracks and looked at him. “Don’t rejoice too soon. Although Duncan never got to do what he intended and although the police took him to jail, it wasn’t for long. Soon it became a matter of my word against his. You see, he was a slickster in more ways than one. While I was at the neighbor’s house, Duncan got on the phone and called my mother at work, telling her all about how he caught me having sex in the house with a white boy. Then he lied and told her that I threatened to cry rape against him if he told my secret. That when he refused to back down, I stabbed him and ran out the house.”
“So your mother believed him over you, huh?” Chandler already knew the answer to his question based on what he’d learned about Uzuri through other dysfunctional situations.
“Yep.” Inaya nodded. Sadness and bitterness took turns roaming across her face. “Mama was madly in love with Duncan. To this day she still claims that he was the best man she ever had simply because he owned his own janitorial business and because they’d already been together a whole year without any problems. She blamed me for making it impossible for her to be with him with the trial and all that bad publicity.” She shook her head. “It’s still hard for me to digest that bitter pill after all these years. That my own mother would side with a lying boyfriend against me.” Her countenance became even more forlorn. She began to pace the floor again.
“What happened afterwards?” Chandler prompted just as gently as before.
“Well, you already know what it cost me with Joe. His abandonment was my rude awakening about the frailty of teenage love. It completely turned me off from dating of any kind, especially interracial dating. As for the situation at home, child services got involved during and after the trial. They began to monitor my mother’s activities based on things that I disclosed in the case.”
“Did their involvement lead to positive results?” Chandler hoped that her experiences with the child welfare system was better than his had been.
“Yes.” Inaya nodded. “Although my mother hated being accountable to the system, I loved it. I was glad that somebody was finally making her accountable for her actions. The people at church knew how she’d been living for years, but all they did was pray and give Kali and me temporary places to sleep and hang out at times. For some reason, none of them or even our neighbors ever took the extra step to report Mama to the authorities. Since our father was a no-show for most of our lives, he couldn’t be relied upon to step in and take us out of the situation permanently. Thus going to the authorities was the best thing I could’ve ever done for us.”
“Did your mother become more accountable back then? If only for a little while? Because she doesn’t seem all that accountable or responsible now.”
“She’s neither now. Back then she did just enough to please the system. There was no lasting change. More boyfriends came and went. Some nights Kali and I took turns staying up just to make sure none of the men accidentally ventured into our room while trying to find the ‘bathroom’ in the middle of the night. Duncan had pulled that trick too many times to count, which means he’d been watching me and probably Kali, too, a lot longer than any of us actually knew.”
“Duncan was a straight up punk!” Chandler raged, standing to his feet as well.
“I concur. Since I didn’t trust Mama to protect me from any more such punks, I found a higher paying job, and moved out as soon as I turned eighteen.”
“What about Kali? Surely you didn’t leave her in that situation.”
Inaya smiled. “That’s the best part. Because my mother wanted her freedom back, she readily allowed my sister to move in with me. Then she went back to her old ways in full force. It’s been that way ever since. Yet to Mama’s credit, no man lives with her these days. Though her house is still a revolving door for men, she stopped shacking up after Duncan.”
With a much better understanding of Inaya, Chandler became even more determined to help her get through, over, and past the rest of her issues. “Have you forgiven all parties for what happened back then? Duncan, Joe, and your mother? Maybe even yourself?” he asked, sitting down on the side of the bed again.
“I forgave everyone but God.”
Chandler frowned. “Why does He get blamed for what happened?”
“I didn’t start out blaming God. No, at first I blamed everyone but Him. In fact, I placed most of the blame on myself. I felt that I deserved to be punished for willfully fornicating. As a Christian, I knew better and I was definitely taught better than that in church. But I was young, foolish, and had all these hormones raging out of control. Plus being kissed and touched by a man that I cared about felt good. So good that I wanted to feel and do it all.”
Chandler simply nodded. He didn’t trust himself to say anything as the thought of her being kissed and touched by Joe caused jealousy to wash over him again. He fought to keep his head above the deep green waters of envy. He also silently prayed…for himself, but mostly for his wife.
“As time went on, I started to place more blame upon God. I was mad with Him because it seemed like He was too quick to punish me for wrongdoing and too slow to show mercy when I needed it. You see, a few of my mother’s other boyfriends had acted inappropriately toward me and Kali for years, way before the Duncan incident.”
“Inappropriately like how?”
“Like putting us in the wrong place upon their laps, kissing us on the mouth when we clearly had two cheeks each, and smacking us on the bottom every time we walked by them. We never gave them permission to do those things to us and we certainly hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve that kind of treatment. Neither have most of the kids that we represent today in the CASA program.”
“No wonder you went into social work.”
“Yes, I wanted to be a reliable adult that hurting children could count on. I wanted them to know that there was at least one person in the world that genuinely cared what happened to them and would be one of their greatest advocates, one adult that wouldn’t touch them inappropriately and disappoint them for their own selfish reasons. My greatest hope is that they will one day learn to rely on themselves like I had to and then become reliable adults, too.”
While his wife continued to pace the floor, Chandler grew very peaceful as a passage from Psalm 46:1 revisited his mind – ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’. He’d gotten a lot of good teaching, insight, and encouragement from that passage during last Wednesday’s Bible study. That passage helped him to finally come to grips with his abandonment issues concerning his own past. Now he was ready to share what he learned with Inaya.
© 2014 by Suprina Frazier