REJECTION;this word;this thing can do lots of things to you. It can make you mad,it can make you sad,it can break you or make you. You have never been rejected,whoa congrats. You have,welcome to my world cos right now that’s how I feel. This piece didn’t make a certain cut,I’d spare you the long story…I have decided to make a dynamite out of my dilemma. This is my ‘Mayday’ treat,hope you enjoy it.
Life is not like the movies where you have a prompter to remind you of your lines or get the chance to rehearse your lines before the light comes on and the camera starts to roll “Chikezie,your father loves you so much but does not know how to show it” she says for the umpteenth time but no matter the length of the narrative and prologue mother gives I will still be unable to comprehend the scenes that played out before my arrival on this stage and why Father is unnecessarily eager to make me fade with the lights…This time though, it sounded different;strange,like the sun shining at night,probably because mother and father just had another argument or maybe because Mama was crying for some reason that I do not know or maybe because of what followed,“Your father wants you to drop out of school.” Mama said.
Just a few minutes ago,I sat outside our apartment, on the base of the old kitchen stove tapping and swirling,hoping I can fathom the scattered stars of my thoughts into constellations and swirl myself to a place,between nowhere and somewhere,and maybe;just maybe, this moving prison;my life;this prison that takes me nowhere but here,would take me somewhere other than here;somewhere,where I’m father’s little angel and the delectable apple of his eyes;a place where I am mother’s dear little princess;where I am not treated like faeces at the edge of a favourite plate of food;a place where the lights are bright;where…The lights from Father’s approaching age-long Peugeot 405;which he was gifted after the civil war by the government in power,shook me out of my trance. Here comes my ‘Biological Sperm Donor’, ‘BSD’ for short. This name I have resolved in my heart to call him when no one apparently including himself was around,as no father will treat his daughter the way he treats me. His car ground to a halt,he jumped down as he characteristically does in his soldier-esque manner. I knelt to greet him in my ever formal tone “Welcome Sir”,and he,as if nauseated,squeezed his nose and coughed his response “hmm hmm” as he walked past hurriedly into the dimly-lit compartment which has served as mother’s room since my birth . Before I came along,mother and father already had Chinelo my eldest sister or Ada as father fondly called her and Ndidi(Patience);my immediate elder sister. Life was good as they said,life couldn’t be better,a happy home filled with happy people;Mazi Onochie;father,his wife and 2wonderful princesses…Things changed drastically as I heard,the moment one of the midwives announced “Mazi na girl”, he became a humongous shadow hovering over his former self. My once happy father became somebody else,first he refused to christen me but changed his mind after several pleadings from his and mama’s family. He then asked Mama to move into the visitors ‘obi’, as she could not bear him male children there was no reason why they should sleep in the same bed or even the same ‘obi’ ,staying under the same roof was bad enough. She was to be treated like a leper.
I do not know which hurt father the most,that I turned out to be a girl or that he sold the land at Ugboaja;the one he inherited from his father,and his father,his father’s father,for money in order to get the items for the propitiation. Father,mother recounted visited several dibias ,he even went as far as Arondiziogbu which was several villages from our village;Abba, to consult the most powerful dibia in the whole of the four surrounding villages;Akachi(the hand of the gods) and also inquire why all his offspring have been girls. On getting there,Akachi claimed that Papa’s ‘chi’ was angry at him and in other to appease his ‘chi’ he needed to offer a bountiful sacrifice,with the items being two she-goats(representing Chinelo and Ndidi) and one he-goat(to represent Papa’s expected son) ,three big gallons of palm oil,two white hens and one cock,three gourds of palm-wine,thirty tubers of yam to be arranged in three sets of ten each,salt,honey and other things in three’s and multiples of three. Father bought all these items and duly transported them to Akachi’s house,with Akachi in return giving papa several herbal concoction to be ingested by both mama and papa and some specifically for mama. He further advised that papa and mama increased the rate at which they went about making babies and that they gave out things to male children.
In a not so distant future, mama got pregnant and afterwards delivered, but even Akachi;the hand of the gods could not turn Papa and Mama’s fortunes around. As prophesied there was a child,but this child wasn’t anything near masculine. That child was and is still feminine;me…
Father’s baritone voice shook me out of my trance ;it was loud,merciless and stinging,piercing through the spherical walls of the air,conquering mother’s bizarrely thin voice in one awkward sweep. She stormed out,her face;expressionless,her eyes melted,her mouth caved and her face collapsed into despair. Tears were running down her eyes,her chest heaving. Mother couldn’t find the words,but she managed to say under her breath ” Your father wants you to drop out of school” ,she said and paused for a while as if to scrutinize my demeanour and then continued “Or go stay with his sister;Caro.” “Drop out?What? Aunt Caro?Aunt Caro;that witch.” I said. She motioned that I be quiet before continuing,“She is willing to send you to school on the condition that you help around the house and double as waitress at her pepper soup joint. As your father is unwilling to spend any other kobo as school fees on the head of a female child who will eventually end up in one man’s kitchen,what will I do nwga?.” Mother said,amidst tears and dragging back the phlegm which now poured effortlessly from her nostrils and rolled down her philltrum like raindrops on a window pane. What would she do?This poor but virtuous woman who only had the ugwu she picks from her husband’s farm and sells as her only source of income;this woman who had to sell her expensive ‘ready-made voile lace agbada attire’ ;the one she got at her traditional marriage, to pay for her second daughters WAEC registration when Papa refused to pay. What else does she have to sell?Her old wrappers and head gears,what else? “You leave in two days”,she concluded and walked off hurriedly,twice as fast as she walked in. I didn’t know what to feel,I wasn’t angry or heartbroken,I was more surprised than angry or anything else. Like a shocking overwhelming kind of surprise.
That night and the night before the day I was to leave,I couldn’t sleep,night devils tormented me all through. The air was so still and noiseless,it was quieter than a graveyard,so quiet that even the gurgling sound from my stomach seemed loud. Sleep evaded me,thoughts avoided me,even tears betrayed me. I felt numb;lost in this evil world,I felt… Knock,Knock knock,it was mom,“Chikezie,Chikezie,hope you are awake. Whatever you are doing,be ready in 20minutes. Your Aunt Caro is here and she would like you both to leave as soon as possible as the city is very far from the village. Don’t worry about packing anything, I have packed the things you will be needing. Your Aunty has also promised to get more stuffs. Hurry okay.” she said. “Okay mama.” I replied.
15minutes passed and I still can’t tell what I have done,I have been in this bathroom since mother’s call and I haven’t been able to get a drop of water on myself. Mother called one more time and then I rushed my bath,dressed in the cloth mother had ironed and off I went to the living room,I rushed my breakfast and goodbyes. Father’s expression was passive whilst mother cried a lot as we left,singing my lineage praise. She was the only one in this world who genuinely loved me,if it was within her power I wouldn’t be heading to the city with wicked Aunt Caro or anybody else…