Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mummy Sunday 13

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers LondonBuki, this is my thirteenth Mummy Sunday post and the fourth installment of the “When You Weren’t There Mummy” series!!! I dedicate this to my Aunt Obianuju… you gave Fire and I a home when we really needed one.

Resettling

Dear Mummy,

After the attempt to escape from Ngwa Road failed, our father moved us to a different part of Aba. This time, he left us with his second oldest sister Aunty Obianuju. Aunty Obianuju was a midwife with three kids- 12 year old Lillian, 10 year old Britney and 5 year old Adam. I was 9 years old and Fire was 7. Aunty Obianuju’s husband was a chemist and part- time trader in the North. He only came back East to visit his family about twice a year. Aunty Obianuju had 2 bedrooms, 1 living room and shared a kitchen with numerous other tenants in a very huge 3 storey building on Hospital Road. For the life of me, I can’t quite remember the bathroom. She had her midwife clinic on the premises, so she had a lot of nurses and helpers around all the time.

In our room, there were two beds. One was shared by Aunty Obianuju’s husband’s younger sister Patricia and the house-help Chichi. The other bed- the childrens bed- was a king size bed shared by Lillian, Britney, Adam, Fire and myself. We probably would’ve had a better time on that bed if we didn’t have to constantly deal with Adam’s bedwetting problem. Lillian was an expert ‘quantity surveyor’ back then… she was able to calculate tangents and slopes and create obtuse angles that enabled the 5 of us to sleep on that bed without smothering each other.

Initially I felt myself far above our surroundings…

I mean suffer as much as we had in the past… neither of us had ever had to share a small bedroom with 7 other people…

We’d never had to leave the room at set times of the day because aunties needed some ‘private time’.

We’d never been in an environment where everybody in the compound came out to scream and shout everytime an airplane passed by.

We’d never been in an environment where we were taken places and made to speak English in order to intimidate and/or impress other people

We’d never slept on a bed with a nylon protective covering so someone’s midnight pee could be ‘run off’ and cleaned without denting the actual mattress

We’d never had to put mats on the floor to sleep sometimes because we just couldn’t take the sweaty cramp of the bed any longer

…………… But we got used to it after staying at the Okonkwo family house for a few weeks.

With time, we actually began to cherish the sense of family we experienced there.

We learnt to be grateful for the smaller portions of beans we ate on a regular basis

We learnt to eat fast when it was family garri and soup time… cos we knew we’d starve till the next meal if we didn’t eat at the same rate as everybody else.

The ‘Yard’ also started to become some fun after a little while

We cherished the fact that we could go out and play with other kids

It was fun watching the dance steps they made up for every new song

It became fun to go to the clinic and check out the newborns… especially when they were twins or in rare cases…a triplet (actually I missed that miracle cos I was away at school at the time… I’ll tell you about that later)

We started looking forward to helping our neighbour ‘Brother Uche’ get groceries because of the little money he gave us… which we later used to buy 10 Naira Ugba that came in little ‘polythene’ bags

It became fun to watch the weekly or bi-weekly ‘pot wash’ to see who could scrub the back of their pots the cleanest with wood ash… I never participated in that either but I loved watching particularly because my cousin Lillian usually won.

It became fun to take ‘communal showers’

We had a great time watching Nigerian movies at Aunty Ekene’s house and trying to stop her 3 year old son from trying to look under our skirts.

It was also interesting watching Odinaka’s mom pop out kid after kid especially in light of the fact that we hardly ever saw her husband.

I remember our joy when it rained because we could put out buckets and collect the rainfall and not have to fetch water for the next day or so…

I remember the local shoemaker in the area who tried to lure all the little girls in the area with candy and chocolate and promises of ‘free shoe shines and repairs’

I never went there alone… THE NASTY PERV!!! I was the same age as his youngest daughter… and her friend at that!!!

Sometimes I cried because I was 9 and all I wanted was my own home… I didn’t want to move anymore. Also, Lillian oppressed me sometimes… she said little things that hurt or she’d stop talking to me for a while for no apparent reason… sometimes I didn’t like her very much… she kind of scared me… cos she was usually nice for a while… and would suddenly flip and hate on me for things I didn’t understand. I absolutely adored Britney… she stood up to Lillian for me a lot… and we had a friendship that was outside of our familial relationship. I never really formed a relationship with their brother Adam- he was quite spoilt and spent most of his time playing football, eating sweets and crying. He was a beautiful boy though and we were cousins… so we lived like that.

The bond between Fire and myself started to change a little because she started to fit in a little more in the house on Hospital Road…she was lively and a bit younger so she wasn’t as affected by all the moving and mood swings. She was oblivious to tensions except when it concerned me. She understood me like nobody else could… she’d just come by and give me a hug when she saw me staring into space… she’d cry when I cried even if I didn’t say why… she tried to stand up to Lillian for me because she knew I’d never say a word about any ill-treatment… I’d learnt how to shut off that part of myself and keep my thoughts from anybody except Fire. The only thing is that she was becoming like the people on Hospital road… to her it had become home. For me on the other hand, it was just a good place until the next move… I didn’t want to become too attached cos I knew it wouldn’t last for too long… it never did.

I never did feel completely at home there, but I did grow to love the house on Hospital rd., because in it, Fire and I felt more welcome than we had in all the others.

Aunty Obianuju loved us with all her heart… and it showed.

Our father never came to visit us in the first few months, and once again, we got used to life without him.

29 comments:

Thoughts said...

Just wanted to see how it felt being first...hehehe

Thoughts said...

Just testing to see how I'd feel being first

Ineka said...

First!!!!!!
Or could it be that the others have not yet been approved? :(
Brb!

Ineka said...

Ok I'm back. Man, that was the simplicity of life in Nigeria that I loved so much. Reading all that made me feel really nostalgic. Yah, it might have been a tad uncomfy but nothing beats that sense of family and closeness, that feeling of knowing that everyone is looking out for everyone else.
*Sighs*

And hurray for comment moderation. I bet the anonymous bitches are dying right now.

laspapi said...

You're carrying more stuff in your mind than many realise.

chika said...

its so amazing that in the places you least expect you can find the most warmth and peace.

Simply Gorgeous said...

Wow, ONB- it always amazes me what you had to go through. It seems very hard looking at it from the outside. However, I am a strong believer in what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. I bet you are stronger than a lot of us when it comes to certain things. And through talking it out you are finally making peace with certain aspects of your life. Iam very proud of you.

stranger said...

girlfriend, who gets 285 comments! my mouth is still open, i better catch up on what i have missed. btw i had my first real flirting experience. check it out, would love your take.

Everyone Loves a Naija Girl said...

You have been through a lot, but it all really makes you into who you are today.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Thoughts: lol… congrats on being first… how do you feel?

@Ineka: Lol… not first.. this comment moderation thing rocks sha… the only negative is you never know when your first or not… lol… bribe me and next time I will alert you immediately I put the post up so that you can be the first and receive the fantastic prize! Yes… some parts of Nigerian life were simplicity… Lets drink to that mami

@Laspapi: Much more than even I realize sometimes

@Chika: yes it is… thank God for those places cos without that sanctity… I don’t know what my life would’ve been like now… unfamiliar name… I think you’re a first timer too… your welcome gift is a plate of hot isi-ewu and some pammy… I know you would appreciate that one well well… I’ll check out your blog later…

@Simply Gorgeous: I am making some peace… thank heavens for that… there are certain memories I am so glad for cos they helped build my character and sense of self…

@stranger: ahh.. flirting huh? I go read am oh.. you like I like amebo!

@Everyone Loves a Naija Girl: Thanks mami… I think this is your first time here… I have to sing you my welcome song…. Konko below… below… konko below… below… hehe… Lagbaja is the king of pop!!! Lol… I’ll check out your blog in a few minutes…

Idemili said...

How sad and touching. Your sister was young so how would she understand?

Awoof said...

I love your blog. Can I BR you?

UnNaked Soul said...

I can relate with you on that (where you were living, food, and the environment). When I left my peeps, due to my need to be independent, I went to live with my mum's uncle close to unilag... it wasn't funny at all, very much like what you described here, expect for the bed thing, and fire being with you... it was just me, burrowing through shadows of life... I had to deal with mosquitoes, noisy & nosy neighbors, and my fucked up pride... but heck, it taught me how to appreciate people, understand people, and how to deal with people more... and it also washed a huge percentage of my sorry-pride-ass... and i realized how amazing people can connect on different levels... oneness of humanity...

blog on darling...

LondonBuki said...

Inspite of all this and more... you are ONB :-)

Can you put up a vid of some of the dance steps.. please :-)

P.S. Me too I have seen your pic ;-)

Waffarian said...

Wow! To be moved like that, from place to place......must have been hard! Glad to see you had at least some fond memories, even if they were not enough.Take care!

ChiefO said...

miss long legs how now? longtime to read. abeg u no go vex for me o. i know i'vebeen MIA long vera's green self but u know as this thing take be now. anywho, thanks for the comment u left on my blog although my MIA ass as MIA when u left it.

ChiefO said...

overwhelmed! shey na concrete dem take make u? cos after reading some things on ur blog i put myself in ur shoes and i know i'd have lost it at some point.

Flygurle said...

Wow!!is all i can say.. ur journey is too inspiring for words. And to think how beautiful u turned out, despite all u have gone through is truly inspiring. You posts truly bring tears to my eyes!

You my dear are one tough cookie and i admire ur srenghth.

Cyber hugs miha!!!! Stay strong

Nyemoni said...

Nice post... Wow, you have been thru a lot! As i said before.. this is what shaped you to be the woman you are today..God bless.

Confessions of a moody crab said...

Hey babe!! I'm fine...thanx for the comment. I'm really busy at the mo...u know, final year and all that. But will try and update soon maybe in May or so...lol...not that soon but still.

Thanx for checking up om me... means alot...tk cr...*muah*

BGT said...

This entry painted a real-life picture for me.

You write well and your life experiences are amazing.

Keep up the strength

Naija Vixen said...

Babes...hidden layers!You've got a positive spirit and thats the way forward...hav a great week!

Diary of a Mad Soulful Sista said...

whats "BR"?
and i havent read this post (i told u to make shorter posts instead of one long-ass one!)but yayyyyyyyyy!!! (i think i just went cookoo! and if u no accept this comment just cuz its wack, may shango de god of wooden cups, faya ur slippers ;)

PPS
call me, i got sum maddd jist

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Idemili: I know… in spite of it all one of the people I truly loved in Nigeria was my aunty cos she provided a home… which we hadn’t really had in a while… my sis was younger so it makes sense that she didn’t understand as much

@Awoof: thanks for the love…I’ll check out your blog when I have a spare minute… by the way what does br mean?

@unnaked: lol@nosy and noisy neighbours and mosquitoes… we all have to deal with that one sha… but I did find that in all of Nigeria(well at least the parts of it that I stayed in)… port harcourt had the least mosquitoes… anyways… you’re right… all that going over the place and having to live with other people teaches you a lot about people and even more about yourself… and I guess it’s one of those lessons you utilize throughout your life… oneness of humanity eh… I like that one!

@LondonBuki: lol@ all this and more… you’re jokes… vid of the dance steps ke? My dear the only danceform I’m relatively good at is Makossa… anything else… na just management. Spiritual Makossa on the dancefloor… where did you discover my picture oh? I dey come your blog oh come harass you small… actually no I’ll email you so that we can keep others from discovering this thing oh!

@Waffarian: my dear the whole thing get as e be… and I mean I guess it could be exciting the first time or two… but when you don’t even know you’re moving until you’ve actually moved… it does get to be a bit much… especially when you consider the conditions of the place you move to. And yes there were some good memories living with my Aunty Obianuju… she was really really nice… I don’t even remember her ever hitting me…ever! Thanks mami…

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@ChiefO: I have missed you dearly oh… thank God you’re back… I been dey wonder who go dey deconstruct all the things whey dey happen for my life as you been dey MIA… but now when you done return…all is right with my ‘blog world’. Lol… I’m not made of concrete oh… just ‘overwhelming materials’… lmao.

@Flygurle: Thanks for the words mami… awww and I love that word ‘miha’… reminds me of my ex-house mate… we used to enter all the latin clubs together oh… which was great fun… only that the dudes were too short for my liking… lol

@Nyemoni: Thanks angel… God bless you too… how are things on your end?

@Confessions: Hey sunshine… I’m glad to hear from you cos I’ve really missed you… abeg hurry and come back to us oh… please oh before MAY!!!

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@BGT: Thanks for stopping by my blog… I don go your blog already.. and I’m already a fan… I’ll definitely be checking up on you oh…so you berra update…

@Naija Vixen: Have a great week too angel… thanks sha… I try to stay positive… sometimes I’m successful… other times…

@Diary of a Mad Soulful sista: I no know oh.. me I’ve asked awoof what Br means and I’m awaiting an answer… so can you please tell me why you can’t strap your big yansh down to a seat and read a long post… olodo!!! Lol… may shango attack your nipples as well… I called you right now and your ass ain’t picking up beesh… be quick about this marra and call me back!!!

Daddy's Girl said...

Eeyah... children are resilient sha.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

@Daddy’s Girl: It’s amazing isn’t it?

Allied said...

Haa... God was and is your strength.