Afrosays to me

…random excerpts from my communions with the AfroMuse

Decades II – The Fifth Decade (41-50) September 23, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:00 am
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The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

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The Fourth Decade (41-50) by @weirdo_oo


ENTER @weird_oo
With a divorce from a childless marriage notched under my belt, I was ready to take on the world.
Where to start?
A year past the big ‘Four-Oh’ and I didn’t look a day over thirty-five; a big accomplishment for me considering the fact that I hadn’t accomplished anything worth mentioning in my life. As my ex-husband would ‘fondly’ say during our arguments, “Even ordinary children, umuazi! You cannot have! Useless woman!” Who could fault him? I knew my worth; nothing.
I had accepted barrenness as my portion and was ready to move on with my life. Was it too late? Although I was given a proper divorce settlement, I couldn’t get over the snide comments other well-to-do women at church threw my way during our C.W.O meetings.
“…MY company is ready to refurbish that part of the Parish…”
“…I’d have the girls at MY media organisation deal with the publicity…”My! My! My!

All I did was throw around my husband’s money, nothing I had made with my own hands. Things were going to change! I was going to make a name for myself! Well, that was the idea. I started by globe-trotting. What better way to garner ideas?
My forty-second birthday caught me in New Delhi, taking a short business and managerial course. “India is the place to be!” My best friend Nkiru gushed when I told her my plans. She was wrong. I hated India. The food was terrible! Sticking to a vegetarian diet was probably what kept me alive. Hia! The men weren’t even desirable. I could not stomach the thought of their hairy bodies, rubbing against mine. Their breath? Mba! My apartment was beside a mosque. What was I thinking? Five a.m. every morning, I was woken up by the loud noise of the speakers, calling faithful to prayer. The people were so hard to understand, with their annoying head shakes . The school was the worst! Everyone already had a business running and I had to endure the pitying stares when I told some of my course mates I was unemployed. I was left out of most conversation. What did I know? I couldn’t take it anymore. I left India, half way through my course, kissing my thousands of rupees goodbye. I was ashamed to return home with my tail between my legs, but that was my next destination. Who needed classes to teach them how to run a business anyway? Biko! Experience is the best teacher.
After much argument with Nkiru about my ‘attitude’, she introduced me to a friend of hers, Chief Ogbogu. “He’s into importing and exporting. He would be able to help you immensely”. Well, Chief wasn’t also into that. She forgot to mention he was a chronic womaniser! That old goat! I complained to her and she wasn’t fazed. I became suspicious. Had she also been ‘helped’ by Chief? “Its either you take this opportunity, Rose, or you let it go!” Ehn? Me? No way! This was one opportunity I wasn’t going to take!
Again, Chief proved he had yet another layer to him; vengeful little man. I started up my store, without his help, at Aspanda, Lagos. Two weeks after the successful opening of Rosie Shoes, rumours began to circulate. I was oblivious until my ex-husband called me.
“Listen, woman! I don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, please use your maiden name and stop dragging mine into the mud!”
“Hia! Bia Fide! O gini kwa? What is this now, eh!”
“Mechie onu osiiso! I’ve heard how you sleep with all the young boys in Aspanda. Ashawo! Ihere mekwa gi! Ntiibachaku! Ohuru mmuo…”
I cut the call, tears brimming in my eyes at the insults. Mmuwa bu Rose? Sleeping with men? Those sweaty things at Aspanda? I sat in my office and cried my heart out. As I was about to ask myself who would have formulated such nonsense, the answer came to me. Chief Ogbogu. Furiously, I picked up my phone and dialled his number, screaming insults at him immediately he picked up.
“I chere na inwa anya? Aga m emegi ihe na Aspanda,” he said menacingly.
You think you’re smart? I’ll deal with you in this Aspanda.
Things went downhill after this, and months later I closed down, disheartened. I ended my friendship with Nkiru. She wasn’t a good person at all! All alone, I cried myself to sleep every night to my forty-third birthday. “Why me?” I asked the mirror that birthday morning, dying the grey strands of hair showing themselves in my beautiful head of hair. The stress had given me wrinkles and I stood there, in my underwear, unsuccessfully pulling my frown lines to smoothness. Facelift. The only answer.
My vanity took me to the US, and there I met Mark. He was as sexy as sexy could be! A self-made young man, introduced to me by my friends at a friend’s party in New York.
“I like older women,” he had said naughtily into my ear as we danced, the beginning of our whirlwind romance. After a week, I moved in with him.
“How would you like to work with me?” He asked sweetly one morning as he prepared to leave for a business trip. I could not believe it! I agreed, ofcourse, and the next day I was in his office, receiving training. *Big sigh.* I should have known something bad would happen. I should have prepared myself.
Mark lost his life in a plane crash just a week before his thirty-fifth birthday. I was heartbroken. I lost the only man who cared for me. I lost my job, thanks to his partners who had never taken a liking to me.
My time in the US was up and it was back to ‘Naija’. My forty-fourth year passed in a blur of trials and failures, and at forty-five I was running out of ideas. My bank statement scared me. I was running dry. Grovelling at the feet of my ex-husband, I was able to get a steady paying job. I was too grateful to complain about the nasty way the sexy manager/new wife treated me. Besides a few crow’s feet at the sides of my eyes I was still supple. Nothing make up and the occasional facelift couldn’t handle. I had even found another younger sexy thing to amuse myself with. ‘What could possibly go wrong now?’ I thought to myself one night, smiling.
The Cosmos answered
What started with swellings under my armpits escalated to fevers, hot flushes, swollen and sore breasts.
“Menopause,” a friend of mine at the office said, dismissing my worry.
Menopause at forty-five? I wasn’t sure if I was too thrilled about it. I knew ladies over fifty who hadn’t had theirs after all!
“Go check it out,” my toy-boy said after a particularly lackadaisical love making session. I wonder now if he had really been worried about me or just put off by the fact that I hadn’t been fantastic in bed that night. I took his advice anyway and got a medical once-over.
I had breast cancer. My left breast had to be removed to avoid it spreading. Somehow, I wish I hadn’t gone to the clinic. I wish I had remained in the dark. But then, wouldn’t I have died? Dying with two breasts beats living with one… didn’t it? Then it hit me. Five years after vowing to accomplish something, I was still living off my husband.
Treatments started. I had to quit my job, and soon enough my account went red. Predictably, my toy-boy was on the high road, waving me goodbye without even a glance at my ravaged frame. With my parents dead, my younger brother was my only family and my saving grace. We managed; somehow we just managed.
Luckily, my cancer went on remission. A cancer survivor at forty-seven! Ekene dirikwa Chukwu! I co-founded a breast cancer foundation with my friend Tayo who had been just as lucky as I was to survive. We were ‘Team No to Cancer’. This was what I was born to do; reaching out to women and explaining the need for regular health check-ups. Two years later and our foundation was going strong. There were talks of government aids to help us expand to West Africa.
Contrary to what I preached, I missed three monthly check ups. Getting so caught up with running the foundation, I kept putting them off, even though I knew better.
A trusty friend came calling.
‘Hello there! How are you?’
I slumped during a presentation in Abuja and was rushed to the hospital. Cancer fatigue. According to the doctor, I might not survive the battle.
‘Hello there! How are you? Remember me? Yeah! I took your left breast! What a coincidence! We meet again! Can I get you a drink? Maybe talk about old times, no?’
I’m in the best hospital in India (yes, bloody India!), in a private ward, on my sick bed. So alone. My brother just left to tend to business. Again, he was funding my treatment. Tayo would be dropping in next week. You see, it’s my 50th birthday next week. I’m wondering if I’ll even live long enough to see it.
Miss Rosemary Ndubuisi brought out her rosary from within the folds of her hospital gown. She had always worn it merely as an accessory, though she did go for Mass every Sunday.
“Where’s God when you need Him? After everything I went through; childlessness, sickness, failure. Where was He? Chineke mmuo,” she whispered, jerking the beads off her neck and watching them rattle on the linoleum floor.
ENTER @nwaokpoechi

This life I’m living

I’ve lost it searching for its meaning

hoping, praying, believing

The end is nigh, it has to be

Surely there’s no more to it

Because everything I have, I’ve already given


FIND THE ART OF @weird_oo here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following three days. Tomorrow we have The Sixth Decade by @Ms_Dania.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.

58 Responses to “Decades II – The Fifth Decade (41-50)”

  1. phantompages Says:

    The height of being conceited is me being the first to comment on my post 😀

  2. Adaora Says:

    So touching!

  3. MzLucyM Says:

    Lol @phantompages. I like dis:) feel soo sorry for her tho!:( nd I dnt get d igbo parts 😦

  4. first thing..Superb a funny way i dn’t feel sorry for the i think she still has hope to be really great..and umm anyone else notice this one’s more than a decade?

  5. This is beautiful, Ɣ☺u touched the inner turmoil of a lost woman. Dark painted words from a dark gloomy mind. Did i expect anything else? Good job

  6. Jumie Says:

    *le sigh*

  7. J Says:

    GOOSEBUMPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Goosebumps all the way! To be honest..cancer is one ailment that scares the shit outta me, because it just comes upon people…just like that! I know several who have lost this battle…and its not like they lead reckless lives.. At least we know how not to get AIDS..but cancer? We can only try, and hope and pray!

  8. awizii Says:

    I like this a lot, although I wish you had put the translations to the igbo bits. Looks like Rosemary’s world went crashing down when she realized she had cancer. The horror!

    It would really be devastating to live in this world with a disease like that knowing everything is being taken away from you, and I know kids are important in marriage and everything, but why divorce your wife just because she’s childless? I’m angry again.

    What scares me most is getting to that mid-life stage and have nothing to show for it.

    You did good on this one weird_oo.

  9. Nate Oblivion Says:

    My favourite Decades post this week!!! Although the message was serious, I still found myself chuckling to some bits. Weirdoo is just amazing. I love that girl!!!

  10. Dionysus Says:

    Beautiful.. Your words painting vivid images in my minds eye even though not d images I wanna be seeing.. Excellent writing (Y)

  11. PreyingMantis Says:

    You made a 40 something year old woman sound like an adolescent retard.

    • damisola Says:

      I have to agree with you. I’m tired

    • weird_oo Says:

      Trying to identify yourself with the woman perhaps?

      • 0latoxic Says:

        Love the retort! *chuckle*

        I agree with PM, but only to an extent. The character does sound like an adolescent but the sad reality is that, in this life, there are many ‘fools at forty’, just as there are many very wise adolescents. This particular forty year old reads like an adolescent and in my opinion, quite realistically so.To each his own…

        Reality bite: This post resonates deeply with me on other levels. I lost my mum to breast cancer, she was forty three years old…

  12. BoukkieO Says:

    Wonderful writing, Weirdo.

  13. I love the poetry at the end. I think it complimented the story really well.

    Cancer is a terrible thing. I can’t even think about it, mhen.

    And living off an ex? Hian! God forbid! #ThatIsAll

    Of course, props to the Decades team 😀

  14. can only hope Says:

    I can so relate to this post, tho I’m in my 20’s… I was diagnosed of cancer April, this year… I did 5 sessions of chemotherapy, went on a vegeterian diet, bed rest and all… Prayed and hoped and believed… Things got better, by July, I felt healthy and all… But of late, like 2wks ago, I started noticing the symptoms again… *sigh*, I’m praying, hoping and believing… That’s all I can do for now, because I don’t think I have the strength to go through chemotherapy again…

    Nice post, my best so far… And the poem, the poem was awesome, just like yesterday’s own…. Nice work Team Decade2

  15. ThinkTank! Says:

    Well then! I like this one.

    The tone was strange but apparently, the character was a simple-minded woman whose life really began at forty. Sad, pitiful and strangely beautiful story. Managed to touch on a lot of issues, cross locations, introduce other interesting major characters and overall, seems to be a well-rounded story.

    The igbo parts should have been translated though. I think only one of them was. Edit?

    Excellent poem, concludes the story beautifully.

    Good stuff.

  16. @Jacy_luff Says:

    Hahahaha! The Igbo convo had me rollin!! Nice post!!! Cancer…..*sigh* I don’t wish dat 4 anybody..

  17. d3ola Says:

    My biatch Onyinye did well! Love the poem at the end!

  18. Funmibi Says:

    The poem I like. The story’s ok but their getting too sad! I hope d next decades won’t be as sad. Very nice one anyway!

  19. terdoh Says:

    #TEAMCancer!!! Wait. What? Inappropriate? Oh. Okay. 😦

  20. Ekwe Says:

    lol. i found this amusing. it felt like i was reading my younger sister’s essay on her travels and miraculous ways of raising money. i wasnt aware this age-group of women stressed themselves so much. a good deviation from the path of the previous decades, though i couldnt help feeling it was a tad too light-hearted, because the story breezed past too quickly and had me wandering if that was a suitable ending, if it was an ending at all. i also couldnt help feeling i didnt know the woman well enough, so i really didnt feel her cancer or understand her anguish, i couldnt help laffing at the cancer foundation part. it seemed so implausible in the right of recent events ie, her RED bank account.

    damn! forgotten the next thing i was gonna write. i shall return.

  21. Ekwe Says:

    oh…jes read the poem. makes sense.

  22. hmmm…

    The poem is perfect at the end of the story. Nice!

    About the story, it’s sad, but somehow, I don’t really feel sorry for her. To me, it just seems like she’s giving up too easily, and there’s something rather childish about her attitude. Maybe if we got a little more into her head, I would understand her better.

    Interesting story. I wish you translated the igbo, though.

  23. afrosays Says:

    Dear @weird_oo, i found the story quite playful and to be honest, I don’t think every single forty something year old woman lives a serious, well managed life. I know this. Women rely a lot on their husbands and sometimes cannot take good care of themselves after he’s gone despite abundantly available resources which are soon squandered. I know this from family.

    Rosie is one of these women and I see her.

    Dear Nwa-baby. You brought in the lesson on searching for meaning. I dare to say that women in this age-group ask themselves some very strong philosophical rhetorics. My mother is forty-something and we do talk.

    At the end of the day, they want to know this : “Is this all?”

    Thank you.

  24. Elaine Says:

    “Well Chief wasn’t ‘also’ into that…”
    Did you mean ‘only’? Because if you didn’t, I don’t understand that sentence.
    This is probably my favourite so far, I think because of the restless, unfulfilled feeling you were able to evoke from me as I was reading.
    Well done!

  25. @yadesesan Says:

    All i kept thinking was… Isn’t this too much for one person to go through in one lifetime….? But it does and you captured it well. Good work!

  26. @yadesesan Says:

    *It does happen. Silly me. 😀

  27. MizB Says:

    Am I d only 1 who’s made ther connection between d 3rd decade and this? ‘Rosemary ‘sumng’, nee Nduibisi?’ *Feeling real smug*

  28. Kemmiiii Says:

    Certain parts of this story remind me of my mum. Just after a year or two of divorcing from my dad, she was inflicted with Breast Cancer. She survived. She was in her late thirties. I’m glad she dint have to go around looking for self actualization because she was already established. All in all. I’m grateful to God.
    Lovely poem and story (y)

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