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Posts Tagged With: omo-mummy

He said Dammit: An excerpt from Omo-mummy

Rotimi Wright, 1985

I’m back from school and Mom is in the living room. Her bony shoulders are slumped back against one of the flowery print sofas. She’s crying again.  A short sigh escapes me as I watch Fola and Dayo my younger brothers run up the stairs after a hurried hello to our crying parent who waves dismissively back at them. Boys will be boys and pretending that there’s no problem is often the best way to deal with a dilemma you don’t know how to solve. And we all know the dilemma in the Wright’s household is none other than Dad and his many flings with just about anything that walks in skirts.

My eyes follow the receding backs of my brothers.  I’m tempted to follow them; tempted to ignore Mom’s sobs. My ingrained good manners wins and I find myself opening my mouth to ask the two questions that I’ve asked for the millionth time in my 14th year.

“Mummy, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

I know her answer before she replies. Like the very predictable chorus to a song, it’s always the same every time.

“Nothing,” she says, her smile tight. Then she resumes her sobbing like I’m no longer there.

I shrug, feigning nonchalance but the fact is, her tears this time bothers me. So I stand there, refusing to budge and for the first time, I allow myself to acknowledge the physical changes to her body.  She’s become thinner. I remember that two months ago she went to the hospital to have an operation. I still don’t know what was taken out of her body but she did look slimmer, less bustier, even prettier after the operation. But now, I’m not so sure.  Now she looks too slender. Too weak. It suddenly occurs to me that my own mother is disappearing right before my eyes. Like a fading fragrance. To think that it’s over my errant father makes my blood boil.

“Should I call Celina to bring you something? Water?”

She shakes her head.

My long arms hang down my sides gawkily even though I long to reach out to her and hold her, tell her that everything is going to be all right. That Dad is nothing but a loser, a thorough jerk for constantly cheating on her. But of course, I tell her none of these things because truth be told, I’m getting just as sick at Mom as I am at Dad for her continued demonstration of helplessness, crying over a man who apparently doesn’t give a hoot about her. Between my parents, Dad is the most fun, a man who plays with his boys like one jesting with his buddies -but there’s the word on the street that he is planning to marry a second wife and I can’t forgive him for that. One would think that after three boys, my father would stay committed to my mother. Isn’t that what all these typical Yoruba men want? Boys to continue their legacy? To show the world how virile they are? And Dad has got to be the most Yoruba man I’ve ever met.  A man who till date requires all his sons to fully lie down in prone position when greeting him good morning and expects us to do the same every night when we go to bed. Then, he’ll guffaw loudly and call me “Goliath” because I look ridiculous prostrating on the floor with my long limbs.

But seriously, why does he run after other women?  I don’t get it, but even more difficult for me to understand is this: Why does Mom allow Dad to roughshod her so?

Finally, she looks up at me after what seems to be like several hours even though it’s only in seconds.

“Rotimi,” her voice is hoarse from her tears. “What are you still doing here?”

“I want you to tell me why you are crying.” My voice is more hostile than I mean it to be. From her raised eyebrows, I see that I’ve surprised her just as much as I’ve surprised myself. I mentally note that my left foot is tapping the very ugly, dark green carpeted floor of our living room as I wait for an answer from her.

God, but I hate this carpet. I wish someone would yank it off and throw it out.

Mom doesn’t reply but starts crying again and this time, I lose it big.

“Is it Dad?  I swear to God, I’ll kill him if he keeps up with this, dammit.”

She gasps, shocked at my antagonism while I think to myself that I like the way dammit rolls off my tongue. Suddenly, I feel quite americanish.

“Why do you let him run over you? Why do you let him make you cry?” I want to say dammit again, but I figure it’s best not to overdo it.

Again, she doesn’t reply.  She doesn’t cry either. She only stares at me for a long while, her eyes filled with a melancholy that threatens to soften my rage. I’m tempted to cower in shame at my disrespectful tone, but I don’t.  Instead, I dock my head to the side.  I’m too tall for my age and it’s a little uncomfortable to have my head in this position.

“What I’m about to tell you Rotimi, you have to promise not to tell your brothers. Okay? I don’t want to unsettle them. They are too young.”

The oddness of her request has me raising my eyebrows, but I nod anyway.

Minutes go by and Mom finally decides to open her mouth to talk to me.  It’s one that will tear my soul apart like those detonating bombs thrown around in Sylvester Stallone’s movies my brothers and I watch on Saturday mornings.

“I am dying, Rotimi. I have cancer. Breast cancer.”

I gasp. What is she talking about?

“The doctors treated it some months back,” she continues, “but now it’s come back and it’s malignant.”

My eyes widen as two big words pop into my brain:  Cancer and malignant.

I look at her chest, and I see that it is flat under her blouse. Understanding slowly descends on me.

“Dammit,” I mutter. It comes off my tongue just as awful as I feel inside.

Read more about Rotimi Wright: The boy.

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Categories: My Stories | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

A New Best Friend: An Excerpt from Omo Mummy

Hello….gosh! Feels like ages I’ve been here. Anyway, I’m out, just briefly from my hibernating shell of real Life and all its demands and obligations  🙂 to come share with you an excerpt from my upcoming work. I hope you like. Happy reading.

As there is guilt in innocence, there is innocence in guilt~ African Proverb

OMO MUMMY FINAL COVER

Kofo Oyetunde, OAU, Ile-Ife, 1995

My joy is short lived. Trouble is already brewing.

“Jambites. They get worse every year.”

These are the first words I hear when I enter my room. Two women, they look to be in their mid-twenties in spite of their very petite stature, sit on one bunk. They stare disapprovingly at me. Their condemnation is so blatant that I mentally shrink back

“This one, she just arrived today and she’s already out with boys,” one of them says. She has a black silk scarf wound rather too tightly on her head; it’s a miracle the fabric hasn’t cut off the blood circulation to her brain. Her face is devoid of makeup and she is wearing a flowery print blouse, which is several sizes bigger than her. Her long and billowy black skirt reminds me of catholic nuns.

“My dear sister,” the second woman says to me. Her tone drips with ingenious sweetness so that I know that I’m anything but a dear or a sister to her. “You need to give your life to Jesus before your life becomes destroyed by boys in Ife.”

“Leave her alone jor,” Another voice suddenly speaks up. “ You people have come again with your wahala.”

All three of us turn at the same time to view the woman lying on a bunk across from us. At first sight, she looks matronly, but when she jumps out of her bed, I can only gape. She is barely five feet tall. It seems to me that she compensated her lack of height for a strong assertive temperament – like the one she is displaying now.

“Don’t mind them jor,” my savior says to me.

The two girls hiss in response.

She ignores them. “They say they want you to give your life to their  Jesus and they think the way to go about it is by starting a fight. Abeg jor.”

“Anire, she will go to hell if she continues like that,” one of my judges replies.

Anire, I think to myself, liking the uniqueness of my rescuer’s name.

“Like how?” Anire replies. I can tell that she is getting quite irritated. “You guys are an embarrassment for preaching the gospel with your judgmental attitude. Where do you know that the girl has been? How do you know she’s not coming from a church service or something?”

“Dressed like that?” My first judge replies with a scoff. “In jeans and that ko-lapa?”

“It’s called halter top,” Anire rolls her eyes. “And you say you’re in English department and you don’t even know the proper name of what she’s wearing. Shame, shame.”

My judge’s lips set in a straight thin line. She looks determined to ignore the jab Anire has just thrown at her.  She fails though. “People that wear that kind of clothing, on top of men’s clothing like that jeans she’s wearing are all going to hell fire.”

“You know what your problem is?” Anire replies after a moment’s pause of studying both women with a bemused stare. “Poverty is a real disease. If you weren’t poor, you’d be able to afford good clothes like this girl here. You wouldn’t be spouting all this nonsense you are saying.”

My two judges look angry enough to commit murder now, but to my surprise, they don’t say a word. They begin conversing with each other in hushed tones. From where I stand, I can very well imagine that they are hoping that Anire will burn just as hot in hell for taking my side – a young woman dressed in a halter-top aka ko-lapa – another Yoruba vocabulary I’ve just learned.

Still taken aback with the girls’ hostility towards me, I proceed to take off my clothes and change into my t-shirt. The one that says princess.   I am just about to get into bed when Anire walks up to me.

“But you have to be careful o,” she starts. Concern fills her voice. “You just came to this school today and already you’re seeing men that are much older than you. What would your parents say if they found out?

“Those Virgin Marys over there,” she continues, nodding her head in the direction of my critics who are occasionally sending murderous looks at Anire, “they say that they saw you on their way from their prayer meeting. They are not too sure, but they are ready to believe that you were the one they saw. They’ve been talking about you since they got to the room. In fact, it was their chatter that woke me up.”

It’s not like it’s any one’s business where I’ve been, but even then, I can’t stop myself from feeling acute mortification. I place my hand on my mouth.

“But you’re a fast girl for a Jambito,” Anire continues. Her eyes fill up with mischievous humor and intuitively, I know I’ve found myself a friend. “Have you always known your kisser or did you meet him here?”

I shake my head. “We’re old family friends,” I explain.

She scoffs, but her eyes are still laughing. “He must be a very good family friend o, because from the way I hear you guys were kissing….”

I cover my face again in embarrassment.

“It’s okay babe,” Anire continues, guffawing loudly. “So long as you say you know him from home, that’s what counts. Ife boys, hmmm, they are very fast o with all their big grammar.  They can turn innocent girls like you to butter, so you have to be very careful.”

I clamber into bed and promptly turn on my side to go to sleep. I’m hoping my new friend will take the hint that I’m done with this conversation and that she will leave me alone to sleep. Unfortunately, Anire isn’t finished talking.

“What’s his name?”

I hesitate briefly. “Rotimi Wright.”

“Oh, now I see,” she says. “I saw him kissing a girl earlier. Tonight. Was that you?”

I’m surprised she knows him. “You know him?”

“Of course I know him,” She sighs dreamily. “Rotimi is a popular guy here on Campus. He’s handsome and he’s going to be a Doctor someday; so yes, every girl who has eyes including me, knows him. How long has he been your boyfriend?”

Her question has me suspended in thought for moment. It occurs to me that I am yet to define my relationship with Rotimi. True, we shared a soul-shattering kiss, but does that make him my boyfriend? I stare at Anire’s expectant face. She wants me to say yes. Well, she’s in luck because I’m too eager not to disappoint.

“Today,” I reply.  “He just became my boyfriend today.”

“Fast girl,” she smiles. Her eyes show her approval.  “It’s your first day in school and already you have the most eligible bachelor as your boyfriend.”

She laughs as she speaks and I feel suddenly very proud of  myself that I’d confided in her. Anire is definitely going to be a girl to keep, I think to myself. .

“Goodnight dear. Sweet dreams,” she says, walking away.

I smile, knowing I am definitely going to have some very pleasant dreams about my handsome Rotimi Wright and of that sweet, passionate kiss we shared at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

(Read the first chapter)

Categories: My Stories | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Do you believe in Love at first sight?

Some few weeks before my much-needed vacation in December 2011, I sat at my writing desk to rewrite my latest Work in progress, Omo Mummy.   Fifteen minutes into the reworking of the second chapter, I ran into a bit of a jam, which left me with the strong urge to toss the whole MS into the Trash Can.

And in case you are wondering, No, I wasn’t exactly practicing 2-D shots at being the next great Basketballer, although my throw wouldn’t have missed its target, aka the thrash basket icon in the desktop folder of my laptop. My unhappiness with my latest work stemmed from the fact that the scene where I introduce my female protagonist to my hero, kinda felt unrealistic to me. And since I’d built the whole story on what I now perceived as a flawed second chapter, I honestly felt that the right thing to do was toss the work in the Trashcan icon of the computer and just pour out my frustration on the chocolate ice-cream cake in the freezer, never mind that it was and is, still winter in Dallas.

Before my tummy starts a-rumbling, I’ll quickly explain what the second chapter is about: My heroine, Kofo, is supposed to be a naïve 18 year old from an affluent family who has lived under the close watch of her very traditional, African parents. Her naughty obsession? Reading erotica stolen from her unmarried aunt –another romance addict.  For the first time, she meets Rotimi, the male protagonist. He’s about 23. I’m using the word ‘about’ because I’ve not exactly determined how old he should be. Of course, Rotimi is a handsome dude. He’s working on getting into medical school at Howard…

I’m thinking of that darned cake.

Oops. Forgive me, I digress.

The short version of the story is this: Kofo falls heads over heels in love with soon-to-be Cardiovascular Doctor, Rotimi Wright.   

So here is the quandary I’m in: Is it realistic for an 18-year-old sheltered African, more specifically, Nigerian female to fall in love with a man who, in her perception would be considered quite worldly? Is it really possible for everyday people to fall suddenly in love with that total stranger they are meeting for the very first time? Or have I simply lived in the US of A for so long that I can no longer differentiate a ‘so-called’ realistic love scene for Africans versus people from other parts of the world? Perhaps, love at first sight is a concept that’s only as realistic as the movies and the romance books I read.

I’d like to know what you think. If your replies come with full throttle in support of Love at first sight, there may still be hope for me to finish Kofo and Rotimi’s story. Even better, the poor chocolate Ice cream cake may just not lose its life over my dilemma.

Categories: Blog | Tags: , | 13 Comments

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