The Call by Niama Sandy

Editor Colin Farstad, Editor's Choice, April 4th, 2014

When I went to sleep I am certain that I was not naked...

niama sandy essay the call nailed magazine

I had just completed almost a full day’s journey from West Africa on the day I received the call. In my attempt to stave off a protracted battle with jet lag I decided to try my best to stay awake upon my arrival back in the country – effectively making me a zombie hovering over the precipice of a travel-induced coma. Her call knocked me away from rest. She called to say that she had spoken to “him” about what happened between us. On Christmas Day in 2011 I went out with a man about town in Washington, D.C. Long story short, the next morning I woke up in his bed with no clothes on. When I went to sleep I am certain that I was not naked. I have always stopped short of calling it rape because I have no memory before waking up undressed. Over two years later, she said that she sees him all the time and since I shared what I recollect of the story it has bothered her. It bothered her.

She said that when she broached the topic with him, he said he had no idea I felt that way. Never mind that every time I laid eyes on him after that, the look of disgust on my face and the fact that I invariably pretended he was invisible or made a beeline as far away as possible, should have signaled otherwise.

She said that he told her we didn’t have sex. Interesting as when I asked him the morning after the incident he told me I tasted “good” and didn’t give up anything else save that “it should be a lesson to me.”

She told me that he said that I was conscious and aware when he took my clothes off that night. That, is something I have no memory of.

He told her that he didn’t realize I was so young (I was freshly 26 at the time); as though that mattered somehow. She insisted that me being older did make a difference. Perhaps it had something to do with the assumption that automatic access to a woman’s body is understood upon passing the threshold of a man’s house with age. As though the older an unmarried woman gets the closer to the bottom of the barrel she must scrape. Perhaps there was a learned, omniscient figure whose instructions I missed: You must snatch the crumbs a man throws you. At his house past 11 p.m.? NEWSFLASH: you’re gonna have to fuck him because you’re not getting any younger, and frankly your ass is starting to sag. There will be an expiration date stamped on your face once the crows feet start to demarcate your ascent into spinsterhood. That said, you better get up on that peen,­ girl!

For weeks after this incident I have struggled with getting a grasp on my thoughts and feelings. That day, I didn’t feel like the floor had opened up beneath me, leaving me wading in a sea of sadness. But here and now, I am just shy of seething with rage. Why? I’m wide awake now and I am clear that this act was nothing short of a betrayal to me, and perhaps an affront to women everywhere who have been in similar situations. That she brought up something I said to her in confidence is problematic; but what’s more is I’m unsure of when it became normal to, years after the fact of knowing about a violation occurring, have a casual chat about a sexual assault with the person who perpetrated it? It wasn’t even that the conversation was had without my consent or any real regard for my wellbeing; it is the rape-apologist stance that this woman has chosen to take – perhaps without even realizing it. She said she wanted to let him know how I felt. Even though she was neither in a position to do so, nor has this man shown at any point in the recent past that he gives two shits about how I feel. Even so, I do not want him to be privy to anything more than he already took without my consent – not her bastardized version of my words, not my thoughts, nothing. She did not have the right to speak for me; and maybe, from now on, to me. To her credit, she has done one friendly thing for me here, however inadvertently. She has armed me. I have hesitated in the past to call him my assailant; today I hesitate no more.

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niama sandy essay the call nailed magazineNiama Sandy is a Brooklyn-born creative of Caribbean heritage. She is a force to be reckoned with in any arena she sets foot. A graduate of Howard University’s illustrious School of Communications and current MA candidate in the Anthropology department at the renowned School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London, Sandy is a lifelong creator, lover, and patron of the art of life. Her interests cover a broad range of topics including music, art, the African Diaspora, the constructed nature of history, human rights, race, gender, economies (and the nation-state), and their social and political implications on everyday life.


Colin Farstad

Colin Farstad's work has most recently appeared in Spilt Infinitive, Analekta Anthology, and Coal City Review. He is the editor of the short story anthology The Frozen Moment : Contemporary Writers on the Choices that Change Our Lives (Publication Studios, 2011). Colin has been a teacher, editor, writer, event coordinator and connoisseur of classic cocktails for years. Currently he's living in Brooklyn, hard at work writing a novel tentatively titled It's Never Over and working at the literary agency DeFiore and Company.