Be careful of strange men,

Was the warning with which I was bred,

Since the day I could understand the weight of such words.

Be careful of strange men,

So the advice came from older female voices,

Mother’s, aunties’, and all the others jointly chorused.

Be careful of the attentions of strange men,

Be suspicious of all their intentions,

And I foolishly believed, none the wiser, I was just a girl.

No one told me to be wary of Uncle Gana,

Dad’s younger brother to whom I was like a daughter,

Whose fingers wormed their way into my secret place,

As I played on his laps, months before I turned eight.

Not one of them knew to hint about Sale our neighbor,

My elder brother’s friend, a predator,

Who liked for me to fondle and pet,

The hairy animal, dangling between his legs.

My first boyfriend tired of my pleas for more time,

Against my wish, he trampled my garden,

And brought along two friends for ‘company’,

Guys I’d known since the days of kindergarten.

Be careful of strange men was the lie I was fed,

That was all the warning they thought I needed,

Heeding left me open and totally unprepared,

When evil came calling for my innocence,

But with a familiar face instead.

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