Sponge by Adigun Peters


I grew up in a tenement house popularly known as “Face-me-I-face-you” in the far end of Ajegunle. Ajegunle is the abandoned Lagos. A place where a fight is like a football game where scores are counted for the number of people dead, and each side trying to make the scores even. 

It is a place where dilapidated hospitals, schools, and infrastructures live. The only standard buildings are hotels, clubs, casinos, and beer parlors. They are so much that no street or bus stop existed without a hotel, club, or beer parlor. 

Ajegunle is infested with pot-holes; houses were springing up unplanned like weeds. The majority of the houses were unpainted, sagged, and untended. “THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE, BEWARE OF 419” was scribbled on most houses’ walls.

 I grew up in one of those untended and unpainted houses with “THIS HOUSE IS NOT FOR SALE” scribbled on the wall with my aunt.

 I’m sure you wonder why not with my parents.

Well, my aunt told me my dad left my mom shortly after my birth to pursue his so-called “music career” because I’ll be an obstacle to his dreams. Mom also abandoned me with my grandmother to start up a real family with another man and children. To her, it was like I never existed. She even named me “Enitan”- someone of history- because I was history to her. 

Grandma at the point of death handed me over to my aunt who refuses to get married because she doesn’t want to be any man’s slave. Or better still, she didn’t want the same thing that happened to my grandmother and my mother happen to her. 

Aunty Bola was a Nurse in one of the dilapidated clinics in Ajegunle. She had, as long as I can remember, dreamt of being a TV host, and she held that dream in a tight clasp until she was truthful to herself- nobody will employ a 30-year lady with obesity as a TV host.  

Aunty Bola and I bonded easily when grandma died. It was aunty Bola who taught me how to dissolve Robb in hot water and inhale the steam to cure catarrh, to dry pimples with toothpaste, hot-stretch my hair when I get lice from neighbors, talked me through my first menstrual period – how to use a menstrual pad, how not to take sugary things to avoid cramps. 

We would comb through the piles of secondhand clothes and shoes – also called Okrika (with its special scent and myth that it last longer than new ones) – in the side stalls of Alaba market, finding the best piece and haggling tirelessly with traders. 

She gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted but will always warn me against boys. At a tender age, I wondered why she hated men so much, probably because she was raped at age thirteen by her boss’ brother, Or because my grandma was a victim of domestic violence. Perhaps because what happened to my parents was a confirmation that men will always be themselves.  


I made UNILAG cut-off mark to study Mass Communication the year I clocked seventeen but failed to scale through the aptitude test. I registered for JAMB the second time and passed the cut-off mark with two marks. The fear of failing another aptitude test drove me to register for a prep class.

 I was on my way home from prep class when I met Ovie. The deity who gave and took teenage love had decided that I would meet Ovie that day. We were in the same taxi and we alighted at the same junction. I had no idea he was following me as I walked home. 

“You know, I was trying to man up and ask for your number in the taxi because I kept wondering when I’ll see such a beautiful face again,” he said

 Normally, I would have ignored him just like I did to other boys, but I was curious to know the owner of such gentle voice. He is dark-skinned, dressed in black jeans and a checkers shirt. He looked more than my age about eighteen to twenty years old. 

“Excuse me,” I said. 

“Aren’t you hot in that jacket?” he asked, smiling

 “Very hot” I said, “but it’s my body right?” 

“You can take it off; I’ll hold it for you” 

“Thanks but no thanks”

 “I like your voice,” he said, almost cutting me short.

 “My voice”

 “Yes, so what’s your name? I’m Ovie and I live at High-Flyers, just down the road,” he said pointing at a very big building. High-flyers was one of the few tended and painted building in Ajegunle. 

“I’m Enitan. I paused as we shook hands “Did you say High Flyers? The great funmilayo’s high flyers?” He had my attention and for once I felt something different; I was not myself. I noticed how handsome he was with his one-sided dimple. He had a little pimple but they made him also handsome.

 “Yes, she is my grandmother. Let me have your number”. He dipped his hand into his pocket and produced an iPhone X. I didn’t know what made me release my number to him or even stand to talk to him, but I felt a connection between us. After I handed his phone over, he promised to give me a call that night.

 “See you later,” I said as I disappeared into my compound. That night, as we spoke, he helped me overcome the fear of men aunty bola had instilled in me. I expected more from the first guy I gave my number to and he didn’t disappoint me. A Few weeks later, he invited me over to a party- one of the unnecessary parties big boys throw on weekends. 


“Can we f**k” he asked me. Surprised by his bluntness, I raised an eyebrow at him and told him to stop immediately if it was a joke. He laughed hysterically. 

“I’m just joking jorr,” he said trying to control his laughter “but seriously, can’t we f**k” 

“Mr. Man, if this is a joke better stop it. We only met a few weeks ago and you’re already asking for sex. All men are the same. Haba! Shame on you” I said wanting to hear his reply. This time he moved closer without me noticing. His hands were already on my thighs drawing circles at them. I slapped his hands off me immediately. 

How did we get to this position? Oh! I forgot to tell you. We were already at his party at City Point hotel. 

“Stop acting like you’re a virgin, and if you are, you know you’ll surely lose it one day. He paused. “I know you feel something for me and I feel the same way towards you. Let me give you a feel of what you’ve been missing. You are complete; allow me to make them useful.” He said moving his hands to my gown. 

“See Ovie, we shouldn’t be doing this, let’s take things slow and get to …” I stifled a moan as his hands touched my V-spot. “STOP I’m a virgin”.

For a moment I didn’t think of the aftermath of my actions, or what aunty Bola will do if she finds out I was in a hotel with a “boy”. 

I was dumb; no, naïve is a more suitable word.

I let Ovie take control. “Don’t worry I’ll be gentle. I know you want this. Look how wet you are already. Let me make reservations and make you a woman, Trust me, you’ll not regret it”

 I trusted him but, of course, I regretted it. A few weeks later, I was pregnant. I hated myself for not being in control, for letting him touch me. I should have slapped him and left. But you remember that saying “what will be, will be.”

I was so ashamed of myself because I let Aunty Bola down but she accepted me and my pregnancy without a fight. Getting pregnant as a teenager in my neighborhood is the norm. So, I didn’t feel out of place. Aunty Bola accepted me and that was all that mattered.

 Today, I lay on my hospital bed writing this to whoever sees it. Boys will not stop being boys, but I cannot scrap the fact that I messed up too. To you, be smart. I am already carrying my cross and I regret letting Ovie take control. I gave birth to a set of twins a few days ago; two girls.

It is my utmost prayer that they don’t get to live the kind of life I lived. 

About Ovie, 

Well, he died with his friend in a car accident a few weeks after we had sex- even before I discovered I was pregnant. I never had the opportunity to tell him I was pregnant and I don’t know any of his family. Even if I did, will they believe me? 

I am like a sponge, or I’ll rather say I am a sponge, absorbing much and giving little away.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.