Decisions

The first man to ever call me an ‘ashawo’ was my father.
So if you ever see me expressing outrage over being called an ‘ashawo’ by a bus conductor, or bus driver, or roadside worker, just know that it’s fake outrage…

Mind you, I didn’t really start spoiling till I was in my twenties, so it didn’t make sense when he said it. I was 14/15 years old at the time and I wasn’t doing anything even remotely ashawo related. It was just one out of his colorful library of insults that flew out of his mouth with ease.

Afterwards, as she always did, mother would yinmu and say “Don’t mind him. Deep down, he really loves you”. I was young, so I could get by on that.

      _______________________________________________________________________

My sister is wedding, and we’re in the village. It’s the morning after we arrived and two grand uncles have called for the first of several family meetings. I see a number of unfamiliar faces. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before. One is an electrician who rode in on a bicycle to do a repair job in the downstairs living room. He never makes it to the living room. His curiosity gets the better of him and he leans against a pillar by the patio, spanner & screw driver in hand, to watch the proceedings. Father begins his usual round of introductions.

He points to one brother, this is the UK trained chemical engineer. He points to the next brother, this is the UK trained mechanical engineer. Then to my sister, this is the medical doctor. He signals in my general direction, that one claims she read biochemistry. I haven’t seen her certificate till today. She is jobless in Lagos “na eme Igbo Igbo Igbo Igbo”… I don’t understand the exact words, but I don’t need to. People drop their heads in embarrassment so I know. I don’t know the Igbo word for prostitute, but it’s safe to assume that’s what he said. It’s the only way I’ve ever been described by him.

In my family, I’m the one with a temper. But I can’t get up and walk away, not this time. There’s a wedding to be had. Mother does the yinmu thing again, and tells everybody present that they shouldn’t mind him, “as you’re seeing him, he’s really happy to see them deep down”. She says something in Igbo about his heart jumping for joy at the sight of his kids. I turn to look at her and I can’t hide my irritation. Still, I don’t say anything or break her “yinmu-ing” nose, because there’s a wedding to be had.

One aunt speaks up. Leave this poor girl alone! She should’ve taken a cue from the rest of us and stayed quiet because now he’s gone into a long monologue and he’s giving points to support his ho’ theory. If she’s not a hoe, how is she surviving in Lagos with no job?

I’m sitting quietly, my chest hurts because I don’t want to cry. If I do, he wins. His people are nodding slightly in agreement. They have mouths to feed and children’s school fees to pay, so if he says his daughter is a ‘ho’, surely he must be right. They will nod now and corner me later to explain that although he says these things, he really loves me. Again, deep down.

Have I told you about my new church? It’s a new age church, one of those funky churches with hip sermons. We’re taught to rely heavily on the word of God so I’m sitting in the meeting, trying to remember scriptures from every I-am-fearfully-and-wonderfully-made sermon I’ve ever heard. The only thing that comes to mind is Sinach’s “I am who God says I am” song, but it’s not what I need to hear. I know I’m not a ho’… if I was, my mattress wouldn’t still be on the floor in my room a year after moving into my apartment. I would be able to afford a bigger place. I would have workout shoes that don’t need sewing every two or three months. I know I’m not a ho’.

Wedding discussion starts in full. I sit back, relax and internally, I breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve survived round one. Now he’s complaining about the pressure he’s under because of the wedding. He’s grateful to God that he will never have to go through this again. Someone reminds him about me. There is another daughter, there will be another wedding. He laughs and says that no man will marry this kind of person with such bad behavior, so he’s not worried.

That’s the one that makes me cry. The tears start and refuse to stop.

I don’t remember how the meeting ended. Everyone is leaving and he begins taunting me. He’s calling me “fatty bum bum” and “Fatima” and the men are laughing. I know how much weight I’ve put on. I don’t own a scale but the girl in the pharmacy near my house let’s me use theirs almost everyday, so I know.

After the meeting, I don’t eat or speak to anyone again till evening. My siblings understand to leave me alone. Even mother keeps her distance, but I know her well. She will wait a few weeks and then one day, she will find a way to say in the middle of a conversation with a friend (and to my hearing) that I am my father’s favourite child.

I’m in my thirties now though. I can no longer get by on that.

               _____________________________________________________________

It’s the morning of the wedding & we’re in our third and final meeting. By now, I’ve given up trying to hold back tears. Let him win. I’m counting the seconds till my sister does the wine dance so that I can go home.

37 thoughts on “Decisions

  1. Nice read. You’ve always had a good sense of humour. You know our parents don’t know how to sensor words. Had the same problem in my prostitute days. Lol

    Jeff

  2. Nice read. I was going to ask you at the wedding what happened to your writeups . I uses to look forward to reading them. You had better be back for real.
    This too shall pass my darling ..hugssss

  3. Awwwww.sorry about that sweety. Well you know you’re not a ho and that’s all that really matters. It may seem like not much to by on but it really is a lot of strenght.And I figure your pa is talking from a place of love that just doesn’t have a good expression.I hope you both laugh over this one day.

  4. Always great to read from you, albeit once in a dark blue moon. You know this is your forte, and what you need to be consistent in, to get the cult-following, and all that’s required to have a nice looking bank account, so you don’t need employment because you’re your own boss, and daddy’s words might not hurt that much. It’ll be ok dear. We’re with you.

  5. In the eternal words of Musiq SoulChild on his Aijuswannaseing debut project, “Yoou be awlriiight”, (You should give it a listen) you’ll look back and smile, trust me. Just stay positive and walk away from negative thoughts, feelings and people, be unafraid and unashamed to cut them from your everyday life, until you find yourself… Success is the sweetest fuck you.
    I’m not going to focus on the pain this post made me feel, I’m just going to say that the way you conveyed it, the phrasing, the anecdotal tongue in cheek narrative snarl in which you write it, reminds me of the starts of some of my best read books. You already know I’m your biggest Stan, waiting for you to hit those bright lights… keep your head up!

  6. From a survivor of emotional abuse you will beat this. I was well into my thirties before I could put a name to all the “bad” things said to me by adults in my life who should have known better. I tell you those words scar like nothing else you try to forget but it stays with you. Thankfully I sought and got help for my emotional abuse and I am much better for it now. You are beautiful, you are amazing, you are smart and you are a survivor. Sending plenty of E-hugs your way hun! Merry Christmas!

  7. Pls don’t do this again, stop running away from your blog. I keep checking to see if you have come back.

    I pray God continues to strengthen you. You are not an ashawo

  8. Ngor, Merry Christmas! Haven’t met you, but I feel like I have😊
    I won’t say I can relate to your post, but I can understand, you’ve described one of my friends. Happy ending tho, her glow up shocked everyone, and everyone wanted to famz. Lift up your head and smile. God’s got you. We miss you here, we love you.

  9. I’m really sorry you’ve had to go through this, but remember You are a 30 something year old adult. You don’t need this booshit. Father or not. You need to preserve your peace and avoid these encounters with anyone who keeps poking at your self esteem and making you question your self worth.
    You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You do not need this.

  10. I Have Missed A Lot Oh, Ngozi. Glad You Finally Got Your Place Though. And If I Know You Too Well You Always Come Out On Top.

  11. The hurtful words we tell people in passing, that we don’t know cut deep like a knife. You are very loved Ngor. Remember to Forgive too. Remember what I told you, forgiveness is a choice. It is very well with you. Cheers!

      • It’s been a minute indeed. Happy New Year! … I’ve just been focusing on me and my self development. Left quite a lot of things behind in 2016. Very melancholic reading this post, seeing that it diverges heavily from your usual Dark/Black comedy, must have really come from a place of pain. Anyways, it is well. Please check out mine
        napstonecom.wordpress.com

  12. 😢😢😢

    I want to fight him!

    After I (or some other lucky guy 😒) pay your bride price, can I fight him???

    He will eat his words someday. You know that right?

  13. It can be hard to not let hurtful words get to us, I know. Even as much as I try to let them dodge my heart, I recoil when negative and untrue words get thrown my direction. just learnt lately that I’d rather just be by myself as much as possible than be around these kind of people that say words carelessly. We will be ok at the end sugar

    • Lol… yeah, I got a lot of mails because of this. Sad people everywhere! But the cool part was having people share their own stories.
      Thanks dear.

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