Thursday, August 27, 2015

...Your Father

Your father pushes his cart
every night to the street opposite 5
stands by the corner and stirs white rice
he says he makes the best chickpeas
and with shredded chicken
it is the best
your fathers teeth is blackened with tea
you tease him about it
he says it is wisdom
your mother says it is poverty
rich peoples teeth don't blacken with tea

Your father pushes his cart every night
sells rice by the corner
he comes home smelling like spices
and to you
it is the best fragrance in the world

Your father died 5 years ago
you boil the rice just right,
simmer the chickpeas and
shredded chicken the right way
you tell your kids it is the best
some nights,
you sprinkle spices in his room
and lie in his bed,
it still smells like perfection to you.

You now drive a nice car
and have a house
you tell your kids to drink their tea with milk
you remember,
poverty blackens the teeth.
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Homecoming As A Woman

I came to Nigeria a week ago hoping with all the hope that i could muster up in my heart that home would feel like home. That i would walk into the house where i barely grew up in and feel a sense of was all in my head, the moment i came home, i realised i had made a big mistake.
The thing with living abroad is this, it changes you, completely, especially if you have lived in a place with a lot of different people from different places whom hold different ideas. Over the course of my time abroad, i am very proud with the collection of friends i have kept close to my heart, i befriended people i never knew i could befriend, had life changing conversations and all of that eventually makes up who you are.  The horrible thing about that is this, you go home expecting home to have evolved as you have evolved but home stays the same, home smells the same, home looks the same but home does not feel like home anymore, home feels like a transit, not a destination. Back home, everyone assumes you are the same person as the person whom left. I came home "re-birthed".
I found something peculiar to people i spoke to back home, i could not have a conversation with anyone, as a writer, i love to talk, i love to hear peoples opinion and most especially, i love to be listened to, to voice my opinions and have them challenged. On coming "home" i found out that nobody wanted to listen to me, everyone just wanted to tell me what they think i should think and say, i found myself blocked, i could not have a conversation with one person, not even my parents. It is one of the things that breaks my heart the most, i thought coming home would make me feel good, make me forget all my troubles but i found no solace. I dread waking up knowing there is not one person that i could have an honest conversation with, someone i didn't have to pretend with.
Another thing that eats away at my toes is something i had known my entire life, something i was made to resent. I grew up the least girly girl around, i resented being a woman, for me, it felt like being a woman was stifling and i wanted to be free, i knew my society did not let women to be free so i chose to resent myself (i have since learned to love and appreciate myself tho) and change myself. I met an old friend today whom came to visit my friend at home, after sitting for a while he asked "It must be very boring being a girl, what do you girls do apart from sitting at home?". He was right, being a girl in Northern Nigeria is a curse on a girl like me who wants to have conversations like existentialism and travel the world, it was painfully boring, it is okay for a male child to go out and come home at late hours but for a girl, it is and outrageous calamity. Nobody wants a child whom questions these things, everyone thinks a girl like that is nothing but trouble.
Everyone wants to take care of a girl, nobody assumes a girl can handle herself. My father told me that as long as i am an unmarried single woman, i will answer to him and even when i get married, i will answer to my husband. In my mind i wondered whom my brother would have to answer to, all i heard was "you would never be your own person here, you would never be a full person here, always second class, always below someone" all of my dreams just came crashing down on me, i knew i had made a mistake coming home. I would never be the person i want to be.
Maybe homecoming after living abroad where freedom was abundant and a person did not need to answer to anyone would be different if i were a boy, coming home to a father asking him "what do you want to do now that you are back son?" not an anxious mother saying "Now that you are done with school, it's time for you to find a husband." would probably be exciting but then...i wouldn't know that, maybe then, home would feel like home, home would not be a scary concept that reeks of tears and pain. For me home is supposed to be a place where i would go to bed knowing that i would wake up in the morning with people around me whom want me to do what i want to do as long as i am happy, this is how i would define home, a place where i could be myself, where my opinion is valid, where i am not surrounded by people whom think they know me but don't really know me and they do not make an effort to know me.
Being a woman is hard in a place where nobody respects women, a place where everyone wants to tell a woman what she should do and reply her "whys?" with disdain and cold "because i said so." This is just my homecoming tho, i am just one woman.
I would like to know more about peoples homecoming after living abroad, how did you find home? was home the same as the idea of home you had built in your mind? was home a place with a foreseeable future for you? I  would really like to know.
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