Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mummy Sunday 11

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers LondonBuki, this is my eleventh Mummy Sunday post and the second installment of the “When You Weren’t There Mummy” series!!! I dedicate this one to the places that I’ve been and all the people that I’ve seen…

No Permanent Home

Dear Mommy,

The Christmas of the year you left, he took us to the village. We all spent the holidays in the village, then he left us. He went back to Lagos and left us in the care of grandma whose only words of English were ‘God’ and ‘Satan’. It was absolutely horrible. We were constantly sick because the water was unsanitary… the food was cooked on wood, and we couldn’t really tell the people around us what was wrong… THEY ALL SPOKE IGBO!!!

We went from London To Lagos to a remote village in Imo State… all in just a few months…

We used to get sick a lot… then we’d drink whatever native leave and paracetamol concoction our grandma could make. We’d wake up sometimes with raging fevers… and on other days we’d be cold as clams.

Our grandma tried her best but it was hell trying to cope when she couldn’t speak any English and we couldn’t speak any Igbo. There were translators sometimes… but they weren’t there all the time… and sometimes found it hard to understand the ‘oyinbo’ children. Mma(Grandma) was a farmer. She found rice to be ‘nri pidgeon’(pigeon food)… so:

We went from drinking kelloggs for breakfast to Yam porridge

From fish and chips for lunch to ukwa (breadfruit)

From soft ground rice for dinner to stinky, solid ‘akpu’

We hated the food, the people… the environment… and just wanted to go home… but who knew where home was anymore?!

I really tried to resist. I wanted to be loyal to you.

I resisted making friends with the kids around.

I resisted ‘liking the local food’.

I resisted learning how to speak Igbo… I mean I learnt how to speak the language quite fast out of necessity, but I pretended for months that I couldn’t while Fire was happily conversing with everyone and ‘translating to/for me’. I felt that if I let go of that one thing… there’d be nothing left… there’d be nothing that separated me from all the other ‘kids in the village’… that there’d be nothing that tied me to only you.

I skipped a lot of classes cos I was ‘smart’ and could speak perfect English. I remember my math teacher… he just killed me every single time tried to pronounce things ‘British’… Peugeout and he’d say ‘poshhour’… matter of fact... they all bloody killed me.

Oh he visited about 3 times when we were down there. There was always a sense of letdown when he came to the village cos we thought on his next visit... he'd take us back 'home'... but who were we kidding... WE HAD NO HOME! He usually slept the night… bought us Gala and ‘Lagos Bread’… he’d obviously done his fatherly duty. And of course… when we’d done something wrong… “he’d whip us a time or two- some discipline never hurt any child”… obviously his mother could feed us and clothe us and be our guardian… but he still needed to show us ‘who was daddy’.

We were probably in the village for about a year… cos right after the next Christmas… he came and took us back to Lagos. I wasn’t sure I cared cos at that point, I already spoke Igbo fluently, had forgotten what fish and chips tasted like and couldn’t care less if I ate in glass bowls or plastic containers. I really couldn’t care less.

We went back to the same Lagos we left. He transferred us to a really retarded elementary school in Lagos called Aunty Sissy or Lizzy or something. I was probably there for a month or two. I remember thinking the school was the end of the road… the teachers, the environment… the students. I mean the biggest source of entertainment in that school was waiting for the ‘eleganza’ pen to turn into a snake when you put it into water. I fucking wasted my 5 or 10 Naira trying to see that miracle… which never happened. What a waste!

I might’ve graduated from that Aunty Sissy elementary school… or not… I’m not even sure anymore. Next thing I knew, I found myself in high school… another crappy school… DMC. There were only 5 students in my school… no not class… SCHOOL! My principal lived in the school premises and we had only two classes, 4 teachers, an office, a cafeteria and some parking space. I can still remember the names of my all my schoolmates. It was me and Kayode in Jss1, and Lillian joined us closer to the end of the school year. Then in Jss2, there was Cynthia(whose father was a chief) and Adewunmi (who loved to play video games and look under my skirt).

It was a horrible school!!! I mean what social values does one really learn in a school of five people?!?! I guess he didn’t believe in wasting his money sending us to a better school…after all we were only female. All this from a Lawyer who studied in the United Kingdom…

I was in this DMC school-in Jss1- when he took me to the gynecologist. I was 8.

He never let us go downstairs or have any friends outside of school. So I was probably more surprised than anybody else when he chose to have a birthday party for me when I turned 8 or 9.

I was wearing that yellow dress that we brought back from England. It was a bit tight at the time cos I’d worn it for a while… but everybody was still crazy about it and called me a ‘yellow princess’. It was held downstairs in the yard. Our house was packed, and so were the tents… we ate, drank, and did the ‘dancing round the chairs’ thing. He shot some home videos of it… I think there was an adult after party… with him drinking palm wine or kunu and Gulder with all this friends… he did love him some Gulder.

I remember he used to date two of our landlords daughters. One was underage and the other one was older. I can’t imagine their mother didn’t know…I found it all quite strange cos they were really spiritual… I’m talking ‘deeper life folks’.

I might’ve forgotten to mention… Nonso the old househelp stopped staying with us as did her older sister Ngozi. I really couldn’t understand that man for the life of me… He had sex with them like women… and whipped them like kids when they did ‘wrong’… Did you ever understand him mommy?

We had countless other househelps after that… There was the Calabar girl Ruth… his girlfriend Aunty Mbang’s cousin. Aunty Mbang used to make us fantastic edi kaikong soup and fufu whenever we went to visit her… but I hated her house… it was a slightly better version of a ‘face-me-I-face-you’… and it rained there all the time. I stopped eating at her house after a while cos I got it in my head somehow that she was a mammy water… she was that light and ‘luminous’. Ruth went to a secretarial school and loved to wear berets. She also taught us a lot of Calabar Christian music. She only left because my Dad kept trying to ‘fuck her’ and her faith wouldn’t let her. After she left, my dreams were a mess… she kept trying to chase me sometimes… and in others- tried to save me.

Then there was Uche… she had an athletic build, a crew cut and brown teeth (they looked like she’d been eating too much hot yam porridge… ). She came from a really poor family. Her parents probably had about 10 kids living in 1 or 2 rooms and I just felt bad everytime I went there. Everybody in her family was about the same height and they scared me a little. My only real memory of Uche is her cleaning the toilet when it flooded and being scared that my dad was going to hit her. HE DID. And she left the next day. It was quite shocking to me and Fire when we went to church the next Sunday and my outfit was the exact same as one of her siblings. It was annoying because the only person I ever matched with was Fire, and we had no recollection of giving Uche or her siblings any of our 'London' clothes. Ah well…

There were others who stayed for a month or months depending on how fast it took them to get tired of the situation.

Then there was Aunty Carol

Aunty Carol was in a different category from all the other ‘girls’. She wasn’t quite a housegirl but she wasn’t quite his fulltime girlfriend. She was in university and her parents were poor but still managed to send all 4 of their kids to school. My dad was really jealous cos she was gorgeous, dressed amazingly well and sometimes brought her male friends by the house. He of course banned that. I guess the deal was… he paid for her tuition while she cleaned his house and fucked him. She started us on our love affair with the piano and Toni Braxton… Seven Whole Days, Breathe again…. the whole works. She was probably our favorite out of the whole lot cos she was ‘current’ and quite nice. He traveled numerous times for weeks on end for his ‘cases’ just leaving a measly 200 or 300 Naira and not much groceries. It was hell trying to ‘manage’. We usually had to go to her parents to ask for money... and her other boyfriends I think.

One of my most distinct memories from that year is the day I asked him to buy me a T-Square for my Introductory Technology class. He told me he didn’t have any money and that I was to borrow from someone or ‘improvise’. But the next day, he took Aunty Carol shopping, bought her a ceiling fan and other furniture for her school accommodation.

I never forgave him.

Anyways, I rode out the rest of Jss1 in the same pattern… reading, sleeping, reading and sleeping.

Then the third term (summer) came around, and he sent me and Fire to Abia State to stay with his older sister for the holidays.

We never lived in that flat in Lagos again.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

You went through a lot. I pray that the Lord will restore all the years that the locust and the cankerworm ate.

LonelierThanAkon said...
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londonnaijachic said...

Gosh! U went through a tough time and all the aunties, village, school and sudden change of vicinity.There is always an end to it all.Am loving your mummy sundays

londonnaijachic said...
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Anonymous said...

My dad never had money to buy us anything too but he would take us shopping for his girlfriends and send us to their hostels on campus to give them all the goodies he bought them. I resented him for that and a lot of other things...

Noni Moss said...

Wow. It's amazing that you can remember soo much detail from that long ago.

Very interesting read.

Simply Gorgeous said...

I had read this post three times and the result is the same. Absolutely heartbreaking. I have more questions, than answers. Why was your father so unnecessarily cruel? Why remove you from your mother to put you in a village? Why show more affection to his househelp/girlfriends than his own children who clearly anyone with eyes could see were truly unhappy? Where was your mother? Have you managed to explain to your father now that he really hurt you. Maybe you should create a Daddy Monday's. This is so sad? But they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Thank God you have started blogging to help alleviate all this pain that you have harbored for so long. I look forward to your next post.

mack said...

aren't you a masterpiece.. after all that smelting and refining? i wish I could just sit at your feet and learn from all you know. You amaze me.

chainreader said...

Meeeeeen! That was something. You really went through a lot. That T-square thing is so not funny.

Love your mummy sunday posts.

chioma said...

My darling, Its amazing how much you and your sister went through.I guess the only thing that came out of your village travail was your igbo proficiency.
Why was your dad so mean?I am sure there are no answers for his bad behaviour. I mean all the drama with houshelps and bad schools? do you guys have a relationship now? Anyway i thank God that you turned out so wonderful. I know its easier said than done but do forgive him for all the hurt he caused you.

tminx said...

Great post ONB, you guys really went through a alot and its great that you at least had your sister with you the whole time. Its sad that dads can behave this way.

laspapi said...

Lord...

Next Door Stranger said...

i really feel for you. you have been through a lot. but i couldn't stop cracking up when you made that comment about the "eleganza biro". i remember that.i wasted my money too trying to see if it will turn to a snake or some animal.am surprised no one commented on that.that was some crazy shit.

Jaycee said...

Jesus...

ONB dear, u're a survivor.

Its just horrible to know u asked him for things, but instead of his children, he spent his money on the various serial women he slept with.

Its horrible to know the only thing he could think of bringing to the village was "gala," I mean what kind of gift was that?

Its just horrible to know he showed false love...birthday parties (a.k.a eye service) can never truly match the love of a faithful father...

But it's wonderful to know u came out of it...a SURVIVOR. And its wonderful to know that u are finally free to become the person who God has really created u to be. They can't stop you...

nne said...

Your blog is the best therapy for those of us (& i hope you) who had dads that did more hurtin than loving.... nne biko, keep writing o ga dimma!

Vera Ezimora said...

Overwhelmed, I dunno what to say, but I am soooo sorry!

chika said...

i really dont understand y most dads r d way dey r (complete assholes). its just so sad. gurl i kno 1st hand wat u went thru but i gotta say dat my experiences were/r nutin compared 2 urs. but on d bright side, it only made u a stronger person. out of curiousity tho, did u eva feel d need 2 always have a male companion....say a boyfriend, just cos of d fact u didnt have a lovin relationship wit ur dad?

Nilla said...

Sometimes I read, and I have no words.

Hope you had a great weekend.

Have a fabulous week ahead Missy!

BabsBETA said...

Sorry ONB,

Many times who dont get to choose life scenarios but whatever come the ways of winners, they go thru them with heads up high.

ONB you won. Kepp winning

Anarchy said...

Hey Chick, this is just to let you know that you aren't alone, there are so many other people with similar stories. My mum went away too, and it was tough!! maybe oneday like you I'll have the strenght to write about it.

temmy tayo said...

You have been through a lot. But i am glad that you came out stronger!

Funmi said...

ONB here is an e-hug girl. You are definately a survivor!

Naija Vixen said...

U're great at writing,humor even with serious subject matters and everything...papa was a rolling stone uh?;-)oh i remember that "eleganza pen" trick!there was the hibiscus flower one too...you put it in a bowl of water,and say "Guru Maharaji" 3ice and you see his face in the bowl!!!i swear im not making it up!!!

LondonBuki said...

You've gone through A LOT! Thank God you are the woman you are today and you can write about it.

LOL @ I mean the biggest source of entertainment in that school was waiting for the ‘eleganza’ pen to turn into a snake when you put it into water. I fucking wasted my 5 or 10 Naira trying to see that miracle… which never happened.

I so remember that!

Have a beautiful week :-)

zaiprincesa said...

You are a remarkable young woman...

Kpakpando said...

ONB, if your father is still alive I suggest you do two things:

Number 1. Cuss his ass out thoroughly, I mean write a list and call him and abuse him well well for all he did to you, your sister, you mother, your emotional well being, your view on men and fathers. Really tell him as angrily as you want to (or calmly) how big of an asshole he is.
Number 2. Forgive him. I'm not saying be his best friend or call him every weekend, but sha forgive him. It's more for you than him, because at this point he should realize how hateful he was, and probably feels bad about it now. Too late innit? But harboring all that motion towards him in you, changes you. When I forgave the sperm donor, I realized how much all the intense hate and hardness I had towards him, had affected other aspects of my life.
Sha I'm not a therapist, nor do I aim to be, but I wish I had forgiven him earlier and let go earlier to move on with my life. I too love your mummy(such a british spelling btw) sundays.

NaijaBabe said...

Youve gon through a lot o but lokihere, u seem like a wonderful person now. we go through things in life to prepare us for the future, im sure nothing can faze u now

Naijalove said...

Nwannem nwanyi ihe papa gi me ajoke, but I'm glad that u can look back on it now. In the process u are letting go, I wonder if he ever will come to terms with his.

tiwalade said...

you sure had it rough!I'm so glad you didn't get stuck in that hell hole though!I mean I had it bad enough adjusting from london to an average boarding school in lagos so talk more the village asin proper ibo village!

Favoured Girl said...

Wow, you have been through so much girl. My dear you are definitely stronger for going through such trials at such a young age. I'm glad you came out of it, and you can look back now. So so sorry about your dad.

Favoured Girl said...

Sorry, I had to comment again. Girl I really admire your courage and determination to put the past behind you, and move on.

confusednaijagirl said...

overwhelmed you open your life to us and hold nothing back. You have gone through a lot, but I love the fact that you write about it so openly,probably hoping it can touch someone.

bibi said...

love ur mummy sundays...how do u remember so much details...u did go through a lot..but i believe its made u into who you are today....keep on surviving...

true supermodel said...
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true supermodel said...

My dear you are a true survivor because your dad was a monster. I thank God that you have turned out so well.

Stacy Jones
P.S So are you part Igbo and part Ghaninan or part Yoruba.

Nyemoni said...

O the pain... I feel you girl.. Thank God you survived it... Bless you

Omohemi Benson said...

Hmm... I really don't know what to say.

I'm glad you survived it,I admire your strenght and courage.

Soul said...

you write and I feel like my story is being re-told.

I used to be ashamed of it, even though I didn't do anything. I still felt ashamed knowing what I know... what he was doing..
And then I saw him..
And I knew 'we' would never be the same again.

But what I am thankful for the most, as selfish and horrible as it seems is that I am not alone.
It wasn't just me, it wasn't just something wrong with 'us'.
We didn't cause it. It wasn't something 'we' did.

Aburo..
I'm hate that I re-live this when I read it here, yet I'm thankful that i re-live this when I read it here. It reminds me.. once again, that I was never alone.

The Life of a Stranger called me said...

ooooooooh Im so late -

ONB - You really have come through more than you deserved to. I'm so inspired - to see that after everything you are still standing strong.

Ive only got luv for you ONB.

Calabar Gal said...

Typical Bachelor Dad trying to eat his cake and have it. At least a good thing came out of ur moving to the village. U learnt how to speak Igbo!! (smile)

Chameleon said...

wow, this is really touching. im happy to see you've come out stronger. we women go through the worst things and they call us the weaker sex. yeah righT!

retrofreezle said...

Your mummy sunday stories made me laugh,sad and did keep me entertained. This is coming from someone who doesnt read much.Fish and chip to akpu?ONB you don suffer oo!!LOL.But I guess you are stronger because of it.My comment is three years late but I just thought I should say what I think.Isnt my thought worth the wait?Dont mind me I am just being corny.Gluck IN LIFE.Ps write a book cause I will always want to know how it ended.Or you can e mail me the whole story.I joke.Really though you can e mail me the ending.