feelings

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

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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

Sisters Who Walk This Path

We have walked this path before, this very road

We know when to stop,

where to turn

We have walked it so often we know it by heart

At the end , we pick our things and go back to the very beginning

Not for you, for somebody else

For every journey we embark on, there’s a silent prayer that goes with it

A prayer of hope, a prayer of ‘maybe’

A prayer of ‘just this one time’

Still at the end , we pick our things,

whatever’s left of us

And we go back to the very beginning

For somebody else

We have walked this path too often just as we have loved wrongly too often

Image: Pinterest

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So this is the story I wrote (last minute thanks to Nina’s persuasion) over a year ago for the Farafina Workshop Shop last year. I didn’t get in, I didn’t even think I would but at least I tried. Please read and feel very free to drop your suggestions, thoughts, criticism in the comments.

Thank you!

Prices are increasing.
Everything is now expensive, we’re getting by but still. Yesterday my mother was calculating how much it costs to fuel two cars and a generator in a week. The other day the mallam that sold suya had all types of vegetables but no tomatoes. I jokingly mentioned it to my aunty that it’s that bad now.
“Aha, tomato” he said while arranging sticks of meat on a  rusty yellow tray
“E don cost no be small”
He wore an ugly looking silver ring on his oily finger. For some reason I continued to stare at the mallam’s oily fingers as he continued to arrange his ware. His apprentice poured more oil from an old bottle on the meat and turned them over.
I continued to stare and inhale the smoke
* * *
I spoke to my father today. Nothing out of the ordinary. The usual how are yous, how’s your health. The only thing out of the ordinary is that I haven’t seen my father in three years. Over the years people have asked “Don’t you miss your father”. I always shrug it off, and tell them not really. Now see, my father wasn’t around much while growing up so I guess I’m used to it. So I use his absence to cover up for my moody days or when my roommate catches me crying. People tend to buy that lie. A lot.
But today I asked a question I never asked in three years
“Are you still coming home this summer”
“Yes of course now, sometime in July. Just a month and half”
I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes are watery. “How’s Uncle Amaechi”

I’m staring at the table .I’m staring lot at things lately
* * *
I’m sitting here staring at students walk by. Most of them are walking blindly, looking at single sheets of paper in their hands with writings on it. It’s exams, nobody is walking slowly.
Sitting opposite the bus park, waiting for my friend and I start to think of him.
We’re arguing a lot nowadays. He says I’m uptight and far from sensitive. I don’t argue about the latter. He once told me he had a love-hate thing for this artistic side of mine. He loves it but it makes him think I’ll drift away at some point. All I could say to that was “Shit happens”
He doesn’t like the way I go neither do I but I agree with him. We have no spark anymore so there’s no need wasting time.
I’m sitting down,  staring at students walk by and I’m thinking about him.
* * *
As much as prices are increasing, we’re getting by. We still find time to laugh. I’m sitting at the verandah with my mother and aunty . There’s no light so we’re entertaining ourselves with small talk. Someone’s approaching the gate, it’s the landlord’s son
“I’m sure he has gotten to smoke again” I say breaking the silence
Mummy lifts her hand to slap the mosquito on her arm
“If you see the girl he brought the other day ehn, ike ya ra ka basin. Her bum was as big as a basin”
I try to hold it but I can’t. Mummy’s laughing so hard that she starts to cough.
At that moment I realize that we will be fine, that I will be fine. I’ll leave home soon and I don’t feel like I have the ability to survive without my mother guiding me. I’m afraid one day, he would come back with that smile and say in that low deep voice “I miss you” and our tragic love story will repeat itself. Over and over I’ve chosen the love that has hurt me. The type that drains me to my bones even though on the outside it looks like it did not leave a scratch.  I feel like my identity isn’t mine sometimes and there is so much that I can do but I don’t try. I have words in my head that I can’t get out no matter how hard I try. It is these words that cause me to turn and be restless till 4 in the morning. But still I’ll be fine.
* * *
Every where is quiet. Everyone’s asleep already except from me. I’m not restless today instead I am calm but still there’s no sleep so I’m staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness. My phone beeps. I pick up it up to read the text with no intention of answering it. The message was simple,
“Kedu”
At that moment I have no strength to lie. “We’re not fine but we’ll be fine, nothing’s wrong.” That’s all I say.
Idi kwa sure? Are you sure?”
As simple as this question is, nothing prepares me for it. I break down and start to cry. Every thing feels like a mess, I’m a mess. I’m crying and staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness but the tears makes everything blurry.
Just like everything around me.

“O dinma. I’m fine”

Screenshot_2015-08-31-00-46-13-1

Today we’re going on a road trip. From Lagos to Nnewi. I’ll keep to myself all through. If I’m not reading , I’ll listen to music on my mp3 player. Or I’ll sleep. My mother says I keep to myself these days. I just turn and look out the window. It’s true, I have been unusually quiet. But what is there to explain. That I don’t what’s going on with me. People irritate me. I don’t think I like the boy I thought I liked. I don’t have the strength for intellectual conversations, or any type of conversation. All I want is to do nothing. Feel nothing. And write. There’s a 3 days Creative Writing course in my mail box, all three classes with yellow stars next to them. I opened them though, just didn’t read them .I can’t write if I don’t feel anything. I feel like I’m floating. Wayyy up. And I’m enjoying it. Coming down would be facing reality. Answering the same questions “Are you okay?” “Where have you been”

It’s like my feelings know I’m not myself and they’re patiently waiting. Waiting for me to come back. Then they can come rushing all at once. That would make me confused, overwhelmed … I know. I would break down no doubt but I don’t want that. So I still want to float. Enjoy the peace while it lasts. Do I describe it as peace or running away from what I don’t what to feel? Whatever it is…

“We’re at Asaba, we would soon reach”

Nnewi. Home. Something there that makes me feel some kind acceptance, safety. The air is cool. It’s quiet there. I have my special place, nobody ever finds me there. When I get to Nnewi, I can let myself be vulnerable. Let my feelings peeping through the door overwhelm me. I could break down a little… I would break down a little. Then sort them out one after the other. And I could write. Write about how I started walking early in the morning, my new diet, my personal opinion on something. Or a story. I could write anything. I could finally take that 3 days Creative Writing course. I could finally answer all those messages and tell them that I’m fine.

I wake up to the car horning. We have gotten here.

“Aha bia go, they have come”

As if on cue, everyone comes rushing outside. The ones I know and the ones I can’t remember. The ones that weren’t home, people were sent to go and call them “Hian nekwa gi, look at you..you have grown. I just smile. Then I see my grandmother, slowly emerging from the house

“Nne m o, kedu” I hug her and hold her tightly.

“Mama o dinma. I’m fine”

Photo Credit : Google Images. toddadams.net