Afrosays to me

…random excerpts from my communions with the AfroMuse

Decades II – The Seventh Decade (61-70) – part II September 25, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 1:00 pm
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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 Seventh Decade (61-70) part II by @Aeda_


ENTER twist
Given away. Separated at birth. Unaware of the other. The twins.
ENTER @Aeda_
The night was young. The aroma of our freshly eaten onugbu soup still hung heavy in the air, and the darkness around was being punctuated with overfed crickets and fireflies. Anansewa sat between my legs, watching the ants around scurry away with our left over bits of pounded yam. I applied more baby oil to her fine hair, rubbing the thick mass. She had her mother’s hair, this one. The thought brought a small smile to my face.
“Sewa, hold the lamp up. I need to see what I’m doing.”
She did as she was bid. The shadows shifted as the light moved, and the child giggled mischievously. “Aunty Mamao, see… my shadow is longer than yours. I’m bigger than you.”
I smiled. Aunty Mamao’. Her mother and uncles always called me Mamao, a corrupted version of the generic ‘Mama’. The child thought ‘Mamao’ was my name, hence she spiced hers with a dash of respect. Aunty Mamao, every day, every time. It tickled everyone who heard it, and the child hung her head in shame each time they corrected her. I didn’t. Let her give me the respect that her mother wouldn’t…
“Yes, Sewa?”
“Do you think my shadow would be longer than my mother’s own when she comes?” The child’s look was questioning and troubled. I took my time before answering. “I think your mother’s shadow would be bearing all the gifts she has for you on its head. I don’t see how it can be shorter than you then.”
The answer seemed to agree with her. She smiled and ran her fingers over her braids again, assuring herself that it was smooth and beautiful. She wanted to look her best for her mother tomorrow. It had been so long since she saw her. Ewa hadn’t been back to see her daughter since the day she dropped her with me, and that was four years ago. The child was six now.
I remember like it was yesterday. It wasn’t because she left her baby for me, no. This was not the first time a woman abandoned her baby in my arms. I myself was unceremoniously dropped on my mother’s lap. No. It was the things she said to me. The words my daughter spoke that day, seared the memories into my brain. She had jammed the door open with her travelling box, and wagged her fingers up and down my face in that imperious way that was only too Ewa, rattling her gold bangles so much I thought my ears were going to break. “It’s all your fault o, mamao! It is all your fault! Have you tied my destiny down with the dibia that tied yours? Are we all not to have men in our lives, ehn, mamao? Are we not?? Who is my father, Mamao? Where is he?” With that, she jerked the box off the door with such force, that it slammed in my face. I opened it just in time to see her jam the trunk down and drive off, her orange jeep leaving a swirl of dust in her wake. I was left standing alone with the little child.
That evening, I sat with the baby outside the house. I could not sleep, the smell of my daughter’s expensive perfume still lingered. The words that my daughter spoke hung heavy in the air. The child I had fed. The child I had nurtured. The child I had given up my whole life for. That child and this child that had slammed the door in my face did not seem like the same person. I rocked my grand daughter back and forth to stop her from crying, but I was not too far from tears myself. Who could blame her? I was filled afresh with guilt and accusation, feelings that had been my companion for years. The question that was all too familiar came ringing back in my ears.
Who was her father?
I was young then. My father had made a poor harvest that year, and we needed money to pay off our debts. I was sent over to the church house to work with Father Okoli, a new priest who had just moved in from another diocese. He needed a house help to help him with chores and to cook, and in turn he paid my wages to my father. I wasn’t averse to the arrangement. I liked Father Okoli, and I got to sleep in a bed all by myself. Moreso, when he caught me looking at long paper with unintelligible symbols on it, he promised to teach me how to read. I wasn’t afraid of work and was pleased that I could be of help to my family. I did all I could do to satisfy the new priest…even when he started asking for other ‘services.’
There was nothing I could do. There was no one to talk to. Even when I eventually got pregnant, I couldn’t say the truth. No one would believe me. I stuck with my story of being with child for the holy spirit until my father threw me out of his house eventually, screaming that a child that was not of his blood would not smear his name, and that…. “the fruit does not fall far from the tree.” It wasn’t until then that I found out that my father wasn’t my father, and my mother had picked me up from a young sixteen year old woman who did not know what to do with the twins she just birthed. I didn’t know which haunted me more; the fact that I had a twin sister I would never know, or the fear that ‘fatherlessness’ ran in my blood. My mother wept as I was flogged out of the compound, but she didn’t do anything about it. She couldn’t. Worse still, nobody would house me. I was the talk of the town every where I went. My friends were few and far between, and even the ones that snuck food away from their mother’s kitchens for me whispered in my ears daily the wonders a bent iron hanger could do. No. I bore through it. I picked up my burden and walked on ahead in my path of self-exilation. By afternoon I had reached the next village, and that is where I have lived ever since. When the time came, I delivered my child just like the holy mother Mary, only my horses were cows and my barn was another man’s farm.
I gained a little of my self-respect here. I made a living from picking left over harvest from freshly gleaned farms and selling them. I also learnt how to braid different hairstyles, and soon lived off that too. When I had made enough money, I entered the cooking business. I was a very good cook at Father Okoli’s. Early in the morning I would fry dodo and make beans, warm my bread over hot coal and keep cool water in my obodo-oyibo cooler.
One day, a woman came to my stall. She was richly dressed and carried a baby in her arms. She seemed in a great hurry. “Mama, please help me hold this child, I’m coming!” She ran off before I could say or do anything. I gathered the child, and kept it on a bench next to me. Strangely, it did not cry. Sewa stared at it and played with it, and the baby just looked blankly at her.
By afternoon, the woman wasn’t back and I fed the child with a little eba. When the sun started to go down and there was no sign of the woman, I packed up my shed and carried the child to the elders. They shook their heads and chewed their lips, and I could see that they could do nothing to help me. I thanked them and took the baby home. When Sewa and Ayanfe (the baby) grew up, I sent them off to school. They did not need to suffer their mother’s fate too.
Ayanfe came out now, bringing me back to the present. She was carrying Sewa’s favourite wrapper. “Mosquitoes are starting to bite, Mamao.” She wrapped the nearly sleeping child up, and sat down in front of me, holding up the lamp. I smiled despite myself. Ayanfe. Who knew that she would be such a blessing to me? I looked at her and wondered, was it the same me that raised this child and Ewa up? How can these two people, different as night and day, sit and call me mother? While Ewa grew up and went off to the city, abandoning her own mother, Ayanfe stayed back. She was not less pretty, or less smart. She sat with me at my stall, which has grown into a small restaurant now, cooking and serving the young demanding customers who came everyday. She had a fiancée who respected her mother, who did not buy her expensive gifts nor give her the leave to spit words back into her mother’s face. And most of all, she gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Lying down on a mat I set outside, she asked me. “Have you read the letter Mama Ejinma’s son sent to her? She brought it this morning for you to interprete. I told her to come back tomorrow.” Ayanfe did not keep the secrets of the white man’s magic to herself alone. Out of all the women my age in the whole village, I was the only one who could read and write.
I shook my head no. I would read it later, after my daughter has come and gone. A mosquito buzzed next to my ear and Ayanfe quickly darted out and killed it. “I hear that Ewa is coming tomorrow with her third fiancee” she said. I nodded slowly. “I hope it all goes well this time.” She looked at me and looked ahead, at the path leading to our little house, and muttered darkly. “They say that the child who does not let her mother rest, would not rest also.” A cricket chirped loudly at her words. I bent down and concentrated on the braiding, hoping that she did not see the tear drop that rolled off my face and landed on the thick, fine mass of hair.

My hair tinted with regrets
I scream a thousand unheard words
Amidst my blessings, I remain fallow
I am broken, yet healed
A heart burdened, covered by a smile
Hoping my voice is heard from my solitary silence



FIND THE ART OF @Aeda_ here
N.B. The project still goes on tomorrow. Watch out for The Final Decade by @UberBetty.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.

23 Responses to “Decades II – The Seventh Decade (61-70) – part II”

  1. Moh Says:

    Wow I dnt knw wat 2say. It rings with so much truth n emotion that I feel what they are goin thru. Amazing 1

  2. jessica Says:

    This is different! Fresh! I love!!!!! #thatisall!

  3. OOkpoechi Says:

    Very engaging.

  4. Miz Idahosa Says:

    Wow! I could almost feel the woman’s pain! Really good!

  5. Adaora Says:

    This is such a touching story and the vivid description is amazing.

  6. ige olaoluwa Says:

    @ms_duro nyc 1…I knw u ve it in u..

  7. Let’s just say, if you wrote a book, I’d stay up all night to get a copy. The language was fresh, the characters memorable, most of all it was unbelievably African without losing its world appeal.

  8. PreyingMantis Says:

    This is different.
    The names of the characters: Anansewa, Ewa & Ayanfe. Interesting.
    I like this story because it takes into consideration certain details. Eg: the human shadow at night & how kids usually find it fascinating.

    ““I hear that Ewa is coming tomorrow with her third fiancee” she said.”
    I am pretty sure that in French, Fiancé – male. Fiancée – female. You got it mixed up here.

    Is this poem really for this story?

  9. PreyingMantis Says:

    This is different.
    The names of the characters: Anansewa, Ewa & Ayanfe. Interesting.
    I like this story because it takes into consideration certain details. Eg: the human shadow at night & how kids usually find it fascinating.

    ““I hear that Ewa is coming tomorrow with her third fiancee” she said.”
    I am pretty sure that in French, Fiancé – male. Fiancée – female. You got it mixed up here.

    Is this poem really for this story? Is there any correlation or is it abstract?

  10. ibetapassmynebo Says:

    Nice one aeda
    Love d poem msduro

    Love d decades. .
    Beautifully written
    Well done ladies

  11. keLvin Says:

    This is why you remain my favourite writer..very detailed and descriptive; Your brand signature that can never be disputed or mistaken..hope to catch more of your art on your blog, you’ve been away for too long.
    @deola..weldone dear.

    AfroSays..we appreciate your art. More ink to your pen.

    Its been a jolly good ride.
    8 hearty cheers for the crew.. Hic Hic Hic… *hiccup?*

  12. This is quite the engrossing read. And the style is exquisite. it crosses beyond its decade once again but i think thats characteristic of the truly great decades. Good stuff.

    Beautiful story and beautiful poem too… a bit complex to tie-in easily with the story.

    I know some people will have fun discussing ‘generational curses’. I for one, would rather not.

    I still miss the familiar connections between stories like the first ‘decades’ had. But nevertheless, the diversity and strength in style from this decade is more than enough to placate me.

    Afrosays stays my favorite blog. Well done to everyone that keeps me coming back for me.

  13. niyoola Says:

    I love that the story isn’t set in the city. Good read. I imagined Ewa would show up with her long lost aunt.

    “When Sewa and Ayanfe (the baby) grew up, I sent them off to school”. It’s supposed to be Ewa.

  14. This is a beautiful story. I like the poem too, but I think I don’t think it fits in too well with the story. All the same, good work. Well done, girls!

  15. JadenTM Says:

    I really like this story! Refreshing change from the rest of the decades (x_x). Well done!

  16. Ekwe Says:

    this is nice. the history of “dead-drops” is interesting.
    tho i must say, i got confused with the names and all towards the end.
    engrossing, took my mind off this Stargate i was downloading for a while. so different too.

    i dont get the poem…
    “Amidst my blessings, I remain fallow
    I am broken, yet healed”…seems to be a contradiction, does it not? u jnow it is obviously a figure of speech…i mean…by relating it to the story.

    may be wrong,pf course. i hardly understand poems in general

  17. Ekwe Says:

    i just realized betty told me there were two stories. er….this is a part two. where is the part one?

  18. afrosays Says:

    This really touched me. I don’t feel like doing any story analysis, I’m just feeling emotional.
    Thanks Ada.

  19. Kesh Says:

    Very vivid story. Brought very vivid images to mind. Engaging too. Writing style, very promising. Thumbs up.

  20. Kemmiiii Says:

    I love the flow of this story and I love it the more for being different (y)

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