Family Secrets IV

 

nne m

 

You were born on Monday. Very early on that Monday morning. Your mother had been given her delivery date and walked into the hospital by herself .
The nurse on duty had looked at her and said “Madam go and come back, you’re not ready to born”
Hours later, you came out wailing, arms and legs in the air.
“Congratulations it’s a girl ”
Your mother took you home, your grandfather’s sisters took a look at you, at your full head of hair.

Okwa nne, nne anyi a-na ta go. Our mother is back”
So they called you Nne.
Actually, after 3 months, you were taken to the church where a priest in white poured water on your head and freed you from the hereditary sins of Adam & Eve. He gave you a clean slate and put two godparents in charge of you. They named you Ogechukwu Olivia.
So they called you Olivia.
But the few who knew called you Nne m o.

The story was that Nne, your great grandmother was very fond of your father, her grandson. Nobody dared scold him whenever she was around, not even his father. The story has it that one time, when your father was in boarding school, Nne gave your grandfather a live chicken to give to your father’s teacher. Her reason being that, whenever everybody was getting punished, your father, her grandson will be spared.

You were 15 when your aunties took your grandfather’s only surviving sister. She didn’t see very well, you heard she was almost blind. Everybody had to be reintroduced, nwa onye a , this person’s child, that person’s child.

It was your turn, she had her hands on your shoulder and asks
“Onye bu ife a, who is this?”
Your father’s last sister replies “ o nwa Oliver, Oliver’s child Nne
“Nne m o!” she shouts. Her hands are running all over your face and she brings your face to her chest “Nne m”

You had taken a fondness to your father, doting over him, always making sure that he ate. Reminding him that he needed to rest. You made sure he never saw you scared when he was sick, but he knew you were. With your father you loved, you forgave and you chose to forget. People would say oh well, daughters are usually fond of their fathers, but what if Nne just wanted to still be with her grandson. You never did ask questions about her but you often wondered.

Years would pass by before anyone else called you Nne m o. Your mother, of course, calls you nne , every Igbo mother or aunty calls any younger girl they are fond of nne. But your mother would call on that fateful day. You would tell her that your birthday falls on a Monday this year and she would tell you the story of how she bore you on a Monday. A story you have heard countless times. Just before she got off the phone to go to bed, she said
“Nne m o
Happy birthday”

 

 

Ekpele

Peace that calms a worried mind, to guide you to shore

every smile lost will be regained

your eyes will not hold sadness in them

joy will surround you

dancing sorrows away, your feet will find its way back home

it would take you into rooms fear told you was out of bounds

faith that pushes boundaries

trust that walks on waters

for every path you would take, the light will guide you

for every failure, you see the disguised blessing

I speak breaths into your body, breaths of intentional living

ihunanya , love

anuli, happiness

oganihu, progress

ndu oma, good life

aru isike, health

ihe niile di mma, everything good

maka gi mmiri ga ekewa , for your sake waters will be parted

maka gi ala ga ibu mkpuru, for your sake the ground shall bear fruits

Ekpele niile m kpeelu onwe m, ka m n ekpele gi ugbolu abuo

Every prayer I pray for myself, I pray double for you

Family Secrets III

You father taught you a lesson no father should teach a daughter

You were 6 or 7 when you found out you had a brother. A brother not born of your mother. Your father had taken you out to see his ‘friend’ . The lady who had opened the door was surprised to see you, there was a little boy peeping behind her. He looked about your age. You shook your head when offered snacks. You shook your head when asked if you wanted to watch cartoons. The little boy had a birthmark on the V where the index finger met the thumb. Daddy has the same. And he looked like Daddy.

He talked while you listened. He told you about his father, your father. How he father travelled a lot but sometimes spent weekends with them. You remembered that your own father spent weekdays with you and sometimes went on work trips during the weekend. Occasionally you would look up and glance at this boy that looked like Daddy. On your way home, your father would stop at your favourite place, Flavours where you had three scoops of different flavours of ice cream

“Nnenna, we went to my friend’s house and had ice cream later okay?”

You nodded your head.

When you got home and your mother asked how your outing was

You replied it was fine.

Over the years you would know what was expected of you. You were to cover up for Daddy. You never mentioned the little boy to your mother. The messages you read from girlfriends were overlooked or deleted . You would walk pass your parents room multiple times when you heard them arguing. Sometimes you would be called in during arguments. One person accusing the other, the other threatening to do something and you would be seated right in the middle, crying, mumbling words . A position no child should ever be in.

It was after your first year in the university, you were about 17 or 18 when your mother found out about your father’s son. You came down that Saturday morning to her sitting at the dining table, your father was on a trip.

“Fa ma, they know” she said while starring at the cup of tea she was stirring

“They know he has a son”

All these years you had tried to protect your mother from your father. You never complained as a child. You were the child that gave no trouble, always well behaved. The fulfillment your mother never got from your father you tried to fill in. You hid his secrets hoping your mother would never find out because you knew how much it would break her heart. A role a child should never have to play.Now there you were, seated at that table looking at your mother and confused on how to comfort her.

“They had always known”

She never did drink that cup of tea neither did she stop stirring.

You would be 23 when you find out that your boyfriend is cheating on you. Not with one. Not with two. This isn’t your father. You weren’t looking for clues, the clues found their way to you. He’s driving home while holding your hand, you’re smiling and mumbling words that cannot be heard . You would become that little child settling her parents arguments again

Nnenna tell her to read it properly

It says love, Hope .Nnenna show it to him

But your father had prepared you for days like this. Your father had taught you to be quiet, very observant but quiet. He had taught you to listen behind closed doors. He had taught every body movement a cheating man would have. You had learnt that it was possible to loathe someone that you love. He taught you how to silently cry tears that sting your eyes and left lumps in your throat. Many times, these men would remind you of the lessons you had learnt. Lessons no daughter should learn from her father.

There he was, your father. In the same sofa he usually sat on. Legs crossed, glasses on, reading a newspaper. He has that birthmark on the V where the index finger and thumb meet. You see the face of the boy from when you were 6 or 7. He looks up and asks you how your outing was. You look at him. He who taught you how to hide a thousand emotions behind a smile.

You smiled and replied it was fine

Family Secrets II

You were the child that saved your mother’s marriage.

That family picture hanged on the wall, above the television in the sitting room was taken on your christening. Your sisters are standing beside your parents , two by your mother’s left, one by your father’s right. Your mother is seated with you on her lap, your father next to her. He has one arm draped across her shoulder and the other placed gently on your leg. Everyone is dressed in the same lace material. Your mother’s headgear was so big the photographer had asked her to adjust it a few times. One of your sisters had cried prior to the picture being taken because the bow that held her hair in a bun was too tight. In the photo, everyone had a big smile.

Our son is here.

It was said that after your birth , your father was so excited he started keeping a beard. Because he was now a father to a boy. Now your father was his mother’s only son and only child. The 3 children his mother bore had all died before the age of 2. His father took another wife who ended up having three girls. So you see it was up to him to keep his father’s name alive.

The first child born to your parents was a girl. They named her Ifeoma, something good. A child is a good thing, be it boy or girl right?

The second, a girl they named Ngozichukwuka , God’s blessings are better. They are always better aren’t they?

The third, another girl they named Chinweokike , God owns creation. Everything, he created isn’t it?

Things started to change. Your father’s uncles would come and hold meetings behind closed doors. Your mother’s greetings were replied with mumblings. The meetings they called your mother into, she came out crying . This part Ify told you because she was older, she understood what the others did not.

It’s around this time Nne Ifeoma would call her younger sister to come and look after her children that she was going away for three days. The child she wanted, that would save her marriage, she was going to ask God for directly.

Your mother was away , praying at the mountain or water side or somewhere. She prayed, she rolled, she cried, she screamed. With Prophet.

Few weeks later she was pregnant with you. Her greetings were still met with mumblings, this time a bit more audible. During this pregnancy your mother was unsettled. If she had another girl what would happen to her and your sisters.

It is at this time that her friend Abigail visited.

“Abigail, m mwuo nwanyi ozo… hmm. If I have another girl it is finished”

“What will I do”

During her 7th month of carrying you, she packed a few things and said she was going to deliver you at her mother’s place , na nukwu nne ya.

Your mother carried you for 8 months and three weeks before she bore you. Your sisters said your father came home dancing that day with so much joy. A few weeks passed before she came back with you in her arms. Vistors trooping in and out of the house.

Your mother’s greetings were replied with “Ehen our wife kedu. Kedu maka baby. How are you. How is baby”. Your mother went from being called Nne Ifeoma to Nne Chidera.

On your christening you were called Chidera, maka, chi dera o de si go , when God writes, it is written

Ifeanyichukwu, what we asked from God

Osinachukwu , it came from God

It was on that day, the picture was taken. Everyone dressed in the same lace material. Everyone with the big smile. Everyone dark skinned, you light skinned.

Prophet was fair in complexion.

The pregnant woman at Aunty Abigail’s hospital was fair in complexion.

Your father’s father, your grandfather was fair in complexion.

It’s the joy on your father’s face when he throws you up in the air. When he looks at you and says “My son”

Who gave you life does not matter. You saved your mother’s marriage.

You are your father’s son.

Family Secrets

You were the child that came unannounced.

Not a mistake but a mistake. It was all hush hush until your mother realized she had missed her period twice and she was feeling a bit sick. One visit to the doctor’s confirmed that she was 6 weeks gone. She waited three days before telling your father. She was pregnant, he would be a father whether he liked it or not because as Christians we do not destroy what man cannot create.

“Anyi ga-eme ego ya“

That was the first thing his mother, your grandmother said when she was told. God forbid you be a child born out of wedlock, from such a well known family. Even though a few protests came from his sisters

“Idikwa sure o nke nwanne anyi? Are you sure it’s our brother’s”

Just as quickly as you were convinced, his parents took the necessary items to your mother’s parents. This gathering had no three appearances , no maidens escorting your mother to look for your father. No akwa uniform was sold. Your mother did not dance with your father while naira notes were sprayed. This joining had just her parents, his parents and ndi umunna in attendance. As your mother walked to your father with that cup of palmwine , in that small parlor of your grandparents house at Abagana.

Was she sure she loved this man? Probably not.

Could forever be promised?

Did she feel completely at home in his arms?

She knelt down when she got to him. Took a sip of the palmwine and gave him to drink. Your father took the cup and drank. Him drinking signified that he had accepted your mother. That you were accepted. According to tradition they are husband and wife. Any child brought into this union is a legitimate child.

As he drank, there was a quiet applaud. An applaud of relief from the shame that had been averted. From here everyone would continue like all this had happened under normal circumstances. This part of the story would be told in hush tones. Later when you are grown , the small slips that fall from discussions on the family table is what you would gather to put together . One line from this aunty, one line from that aunty. You would begin to understand those days your mother was sad and took out her anger on you. The other days your mother told you you were her comfort in this marriage. You would understand why many times, your father was gone for so long. You would begin to remember and understand all the parables your mother spoke.

This is the story you would remember when your boyfriend tells you he wants you to have his baby. You would laugh and playful ask

“Gi na onye? You and who biko”

Are you sure you love this man?

Could forever be promised ?

Do you feel completely at home, at peace with this man?

Would you become your mother all over again?

God forbade you were born a bastard

God forbid you bore a bastard

/oʊ’|ɪviə/

lavenderflamingo

The peace bearer is who you are

You are the gift of serenity

God made you just like the heavenlies

The volcanoes have found a Queen

Your beauty is the kind eyes

Have never seen

It is preposterous to see you

Float in the river of my subconscious

But I do because I’m floating there too

You are a tree connected to the Earth’s core

So strong and not unsure

With a pure heart,

You bring souls torn apart

The doves unite with you

For the first time, I heard this truth

“You are one of the people I’m grateful for”

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Single Igbo Girl: Overrated L.O.V.E

Do we really accept the love we think we deserve or we just take what we can get

So here I am trying to multitask, mentally of course and my body wants to sleep. But does it? Mba . I’m thinking of the assignment at work and the deadline, somebody cannot sha kill them selves in this cooperate world. To while away time, I pick up my phone and decide to shuffle between Twitter to Instagram and Whatsapp. On Twitter it’s a thread about what men do that turn women off. Okay. On Instagram it’s a DIY Princess’s wedding. Beautiful ceremony. Check the dms and somebody’s trying to escape from dms to phone number levels. Just wait there first. Back on Whatsapp, I get a message from a friend

My sister’s getting married next month. Are you home tomorrow so I can drop the iv?”

Okay Universe, I see you

And just last week , I saw the most beautiful traditional dance choreography by an interracial couple. They called their love ‘sacred’. I watched that video over and over and over. I ended up sending that video to my friend telling her that was how I would storm Anambra State with my Italian husband-that-looked-like-he-stepped-out-of-a-GQ-magazine.

So this is me taking the universe’s sub but still looking for something to eat when I see my girlfriend’s status on Whatsapp. It said

Love is just overrated

Fuck love , I’m done trying

It is at this point that my heart breaks, my feet can’t keep me standing, I don’t have the appetite anymore. Not you Folashade. Now I’ve watched my friend move from one relationship to another. From one idiot to another. Back in school, I remember waking up to a message that was sent by 1:00am that said “Adanna are you awake?” . Only to get to her room to see crumbled up tissue paper everywhere and her swollen red eyes. We had just had another break up.

Seeing this really shook me because over time I’ve come to admire her ‘if we don’t get it right this time we’ll get it right next time’ attitude. I never told her but I always thought whoever was wise enough to treat her right would never regret it. Now see , she was the ‘I’m willing to try with you’ while I was the over calculative type , with always a bit of doubt at the back of my mind.

I’m sitting here thinking if we accept the love we think we deserve or we just take whatever we can get. Do we make do with what we have currently only because we’re scared to start all over again . I don’t come with a manual obviously so everything has to be repeated. Jokes have to be retold with the same facial expression. Your favourite things have to be repeated. We start rebuilding trust in someone new hoping that it works this time. Half scared that we’re in too deep, half delighted to feel something deep again for someone.

The type of smile that comes from within soul

That lightens up your entire body

I pray that in between a happy twirl , you don’t question if it is real or not

I wish you eyes that see the best in you

Lips that will never lie

Hands that will hold you steady

And with all this, I pray your heart never doubts the authenticity of this love

Especially while you sleep at night or enveloped in a hug

I wish you love

In its truest and purest of forms

The prayer I pray for my loved ones but I cannot bring myself to pray the same for me

Single Igbo Girl : Ofe Nsala

This one that I am… anyways it’s once in a while. It’s not like I do it all the time. In fact it has never been done but…

Now this was the conversation before the above thought

Hey babe. How are you?

I feel like ColdStone.

You can’t what? I’m coming to your house, get ready. I’ll tell you when I’m there”

After I moved out of my parent’s house, my mother and I do this thing where we bring each other soup or stew on some days. Today I had decided to bring my mother ofe nsala because daughter of the year na. I was just about done when I heard my phone ring. If you see the race I ran with half of my heart hoping it was the one person I wanted to call only to get there and see a different caller id

It’s the ones that you don’t want that will now be calling you up and down. Mstchewww

Just as I had poured the soup into the bowl, my phone rang again. Reluctantly , I picked it up behold that one person

Osheyyyyyyy

You should have seen my face after that conversation. I started praying that he would be an hour or two late. My parents live few streets away, I could drop it and come back just in time abi? Or should I wait and tell mummy to send her driver? After considering it for a while I decided I’ll drop the food off myself and be quick. Just as I was about to change I thought to myself, “bring out some soup for him now”. Aha! Me? Now my friends and past ‘brothers’ know one thing about me. I don’t cook for just anybody. I’m not the “do you want me to make you something?”

Asi. That’s a lie

Not me. Now if I kinda liked you maybe indomie and egg or jollof rice. Even fried plantain sef. But ofe nsala was sacred. Food for the one who had put a ring on it and about to wife it. But here I was scooping out of the soup specially prepared for my mother to give someone who forgets to return phone calls for days.

Anyways I drive into my parents house and Ijeoma, my mother’s help/PA/amebo partner/in house hair stylist came out to carry the bowl.

“Aha Aunty nno. Anyi no na-azu uno”

I make my way to the back of the house to see my mum with her half braided hair, cracking and eating walnuts. Typical Saturday evening.

“Mummy I brought you nsala “

“Daalu nne “

For the next 30 to 40 minutes I listen to my mother talk about different things , with Ijeoma who had continued braiding her hair adding a silent laughter now and then whenever mummy said something funny. These ones are relaxed and I’m checking my phone to see if it rang and I didn’t hear it. Let me come and be going biko. I get up to leave

Mummy I’m going o”

“But you just got here now “

“Ehen tomorrow’s church. I’ll see you there ehn”

As I leave I can still hear my mother complaining but I’m expecting a phone call and I’ve a special presentation.

I get home and with my ofe nsala in one of my precious glass bowls, I’m waiting for him.

8:07 … he’ll call anytime from now… 8:55 . I get a message on my phone, it’s Jumoke. The message read “Babes *smiley face* . I go ahead to pour out my frustration to her. It takes her a while to understand it but when she does , SHE STARTS TO LAUGH HER HEART OUT

“Lol sorry, no vex abeg”

Is this not stupidity? If they’re calling women that have sense now, I’ll carry my ‘feminist’ self and be going. Because I wanted to do ‘surprise surprise’ that OGs can be sensitive too. I broke one rule that I never break.

9:30 … I’ll eat this soup with chilled Fanta o… 10:05. At this point I had started imagining the kind of speech I will give when I eventually talk to him. But come o, muwa bu Adanna , a whole me. I got stoop up when I had food to give! Which mouth will I use to tell people this one biko nu.

10:41… The food is not even doing me to eat again. Here I am. Sitting with bowl of nsala in front of me and I can’t bring myself to eat it. Mmmh. I slowly walk into the kitchen and place the bowl in the fridge gently. Some part of my mind knows after they beg and apologize I’ll bring it out and warm it up for him

11:05 … Kitchen lights are switched off. With a bottle of Fanta, I’m carrying myself to the room .

This single life sef.

P:S – I’m thinking of making this a series. What do you think 🤔 If you have any possible titles for the series too kindly drop them in the comments 😘