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True Confession: Stubborn Tattoos between My Thighs 

By Tracy* — Dear Everyone, I have always longed to share this little perilous secret I have so intimately clung to since my university years. But for obvious reasons I kept a painful silence, hoping to personally find a solution to the problem I will be explaining in the next few lines.

Now that my efforts to find a lasting solution have proven futile and the devastating blow the problem has dealt my emotional life more threatening, I feel obliged to share this story with everyone praying that somehow, somewhere, someone may have a lasting solution to my problem.

Permit me begin with a little background on my upbringing. I was born in Douala to a single mother and grew to face the difficulties that any Cameroonian would face in such a cosmopolitan setting. My mom made an effort to earn daily bread for us hawking beauty items and jewelry around offices and restaurants. There were times when her trade was great and times when it ran into difficulty.

But she did her best to send me to a good private primary school in Bonaberi and later to a renowned secondary school for girls in the Southwest province. Attending a single sex school for girls had the effect of initially hardening my instincts towards men, for fear of disappointment based on experiences shared by senior students. It made me keep a softer and more relaxed side with girls with whom I often spent most of my time when I eventually got to university. As can be imagined, this predisposition did not adequately prepare me for university life in Buea.

It was very early in my first year as Law major and Political Science minor that I came to discover how frail I could be in the presence of a man I truly longed for. Paddy (not his real name) was such a sensational hit on campus. The first time I saw him on campus was the night he performed an R. Kelly playback during a social evening at Amphi 250 organised by ex-students of Sasse. He was simply awesome.

The performance got my girl friends and I screaming for more. One of my girls had the crazy idea of going on stage to wipe off his sweat and plant a kiss on his cheek. After the show, I and the other girls stood for minutes waiting as our courageous friend engaged a discovery chat with Paddy. At the end of the encounter, she got him to come over and say hi to us. That’s how Paddy came to know me.

About a week later, I was rushing from one lecture hall at U-block where I just had a minor in political theory to catch a seat in the next classroom where I was going to have Family Law, a course in my major, when someone tapped on my shoulder. There he was! Athletic and resplendent as always – Paddy.

He had just attended a course in the hall I was heading to. I begged to take leave but he insisted on having a handshake with a promise to reserve a good seat for me before leaving the hall each time they have a class before us. That’s how he got my attention. While the tie was building and getting emotionally deep with Paddy, my relationship with the girls began straining as they thought I was trying to be a boy snatcher.

Despite the odds, Paddy seemed so reassuring and eventually won my love. Indeed, he was the first man to ever make love to me. I don’t fully regret the fact that I lost my virginity to him. But I will forever regret the calamitous acts that my passion and ignorance before him led me to do. These very deeds have left a permanent negative impression on my conscience.

Aside from talking here about the keen appetite I developed for night club, cabaret and romance, I choose to dwell on just one of the fantasies Paddy successfully buried in my mind – tattoos. He got me to see engravings on the skin as a beautiful reflection of what one stood for. He often had this poetic way of explaining magazine pictures of stars with tattoos on their bodies. He personally had one, a dragon (he was a Sisqo diehard), on the outer part of his left upper arm. He often explained that there was no other way he could show love for his idol than walk around with the effigy on his arm. Gullible as I was, I thought it was only part of the fashion and style of the day.

One fine morning after an all-night love-making cruise at his mini cite towards the Muea end of Malingo, I found myself letting him draw a small tattoo on my wrist. It was a little heart pierced by a cupid’s arrow. With him explaining that the ink used was the removable type, I knew I could get rid of it some day. The contrast against my fair skin looked so beautiful that I embraced him and happily welcomed another chance a mid-morning blue hour.

At school, the sort of compliments I got from some female course mates about the little tattoo made me feel it was not a bad idea after all. Through me, many of them eventually met Paddy who so willingly drew whatever they wanted on their arm, leg or upper chest. Thanks to all these, I developed such love for tattoos that I got Paddy to draw another one just above the furrow between my breasts.

This one was a little rose. On some days I would leave my upper chest slightly open so anyone who chose to be curious would catch a glimpse of the drawing. Compliments continued. I was deeply convinced I was doing the right thing. So I never saw any danger in letting Paddy print his name on the inner flank of my upper thigh one evening after some blue moments.

It all started like a joke but it got really serious when I eventually came to learn that he did it using the indelible sort of ink. I had never known the difference between the grades of ink used for these things. So when Paddy joked about signing his name near my inner core as the sole owner and partner to my intimacy, I didn’t sense any future threat.

Besides I knew I was deeply in love with him and I could not imagine having to have anything intimate with any other person in my life again going by the steam and passion that flowed through this relationship. In the most artful way possible, he carved the four letters of his real name and drew a small arrow pointing towards my genital. This was on the left thigh. On the right, he wrote ‘touch not’ and drew yet another small arrow pointing in the same direction as the other.

Heaven alone knows how terrible I felt when Paddy abandoned me and travelled abroad shortly after we left university. The bitter reality of the tattoo remained. It was such an intimate secret I chose not to share with anyone. Yet the gruesome mental impact of the sight each time I did my personal hygiene kept striking me.

I tried to work my way through the mess based on small informal information I gathered with no success. The most devastating blow of the tattoo has been the effect it has left on my emotional life. I remember loosing at least two successive worthy dates in Douala, where I work today, who suddenly grew cold when they saw the tattoos. One had the honesty to express the mental shock of having to face an evasive tattoo on a girlfriend’s inner thigh.

I respected his efforts to help me find a solution but he so easily gave up when it did not seem to be working. The other male companion basically vamoosed after our intimate encounter without any explanation. Until I chose to bring an end to the third relationship after Paddy, I had always conceived strategies to go intimate without offering him the chance to discover the bomb.

Today, I am sharing this story because I have found love again. But I am not very sure I will be able to keep the bet if ever it gets to the most profound level of intimacy. He is a brilliant engineer in a multinational outfit based in Douala. He is indeed a more responsible guy and has just kept getting more serious about a lifelong relationship recently. My objection to sex is simply driving him madder about putting up with me. I am convinced he really means good. But the tattoo thing won’t make me take a dive and give him a chance.

I know the day I accept to let him close to my bosom, the beans will be spilled. I just cannot handle the pressure of denying a man I truly love as a more reasonable adult on the one hand, and the sacrilegious secret of a tattoo buried in the innermost sanctum of my womanhood on the other. I just need to find a way to get rid of this thing. Someone please help me.

*Real name withheld

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