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Monday, August 8, 2011

EVERYTHING GOOD COMES FROM ABROAD

This is one of those "works in progress", though it hasn't progressed very far. It's one of my more recent pieces, and even though it has that title (which I've been itching to use for a while now) I know not where it's going, really, so ask me not. Just enjoy!


When I asked my mother why she wanted me to marry an oyibo she said it was because they were better; they just were. See all the things they’d brought to us: aeroplanes, vaccines, GSM, the Internet, God. Everything good came from abroad. Oyibo people were more beautiful too. And see the way they spoke… shiriri shiriri. Hadn’t I seen Diamond's daughter, the way she spoke through her nose like one of them; the way she had milky skin and curly hair, just like one of them? And Diamond wasn’t even as beautiful as I was. I was too good a child to remind Mama that Diamond had sold herself to expatriates, not that she would have cared. Diamond had gotten married to the highest bidder like I had known she would; a Wilhelm from Germany, who worked with Total. Mama wasn’t there when Diamond came and told me all the things she had to do to keep her oyibo happy. Diamond had just shrugged. She’d known before she married him that he was a pervert. She only had to bury herself in the luxury he provided; there was no need to resurrect her shame that was long dead and buried.

But me I wasn’t like Diamond. If mama knew the right words she’d call me an idealist; a dreamer; one who walked around with her head in the clouds. Wasn’t I the one who had sworn as a child that I’d grow up to be a ballerina and dance the great stages of the world? When everyone said to be realistic, a ballerina would die of hunger in Nigeria, wasn’t it me who said, okay I’d be an astronaut instead. Wasn’t it me who, when Papa ran away with our neighbour’s wife, said they would surely be back; they were only playing. Thirteen years after Papa had left there was no ‘gotcha!’ and I no longer wanted to be a ballerina or an astronaut. I wanted to sing. I wanted to summon tears and greatness from the hearts of men, stretching forth my voice to touch their souls. And I could; I knew I could. Everywhere I went they said it: I had It.

But that didn’t matter, Mama said; not with people like us. After all she had had gifts too, and where had they got her? All I needed was to find a good man and settle down. Why did I think she was struggling to put me through school? A polytechnic degree would increase my worth in the eyes of potential suitors. And any suitor worth anything had to be from Abroad; a white person preferably, but she could settle for Asian or black American, only they would have to be very rich. She wasn’t giving out her precious daughter to any person whose pocket was not visibly strained from holding all their money.

Mama knew it wouldn’t happen by chance, this wish for her daughter to marry well, and so she made her plans. If Mama knew the right English she would have called herself a strategist. When I was in year two, Mama, who had never regarded my singing as anything worthy of her time, or mine for that matter, had come up with, like a magician pulling tricks from a hat, a "friend" who owned a bar on the island where expatriates frequented. This friend had had a falling out with the person who used to sing at her bar and needed a replacement like she needed air. I was not there, but I could see the way Mama’s eyes lit up when she heard this; see with her the wedding pictures that flashed through her mind. I was glad to sing at the bar, but for different reasons. In the dreams that I had I was discovered, not by some shriveled oil worker, but by a famous producer or talent scout who would fall for my voice.


We hadn't known it then, but neither of us would get our wish.

5 comments:

  1. Wow uche i feel like i just had a bottle of sprite.very natural & compelling piece...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Long time friend! I think I will relocate to your blog. You write with the ease of Adichie and simply hold the suspense like Achebe. Uche teach me how to write.Long time friend! I think I will relocate to your blog. You write with the ease of Adichie and simply hold the suspense like Achebe. Uche teach me how to write.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now, these 2 comments above are exceedingly hilarious!!!

    Anyway, your closing-cum-continuation couldn't be better! You have crossed that bridge. Now, you are def on your way. If could stop by my thoughts on www.cheely.wordpress.com, i'd appreciate.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Greg: Thanks for reading. How u dey? Long time.

    @Anthony: I must agree with Cheely, I did laugh for a long time after I read your comment. Thanks for the compliment. Where are you sef?

    @Cheely: Thanks for reading. Will stop by your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ARGH!!!! WHY?!!!! FINISH THIS! FINISH THIS!

    ReplyDelete

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