It was on a Sunday afternoon, prayers went up .The tears of broken sinners, the sweats of angry saints dripping from revengeful faces. The gibberish sounds pouring out from the mouth of a man stuck in suit, sweating profusely and standing on a pulpit where the fan blows hot air. The merry go round of little girls who were surrounded by market women that have a date with tongue lashing of the 21st century girls who don’t stick to the conventional “omenala” in Christianity ; their eyes partly closed and partly open, rendering showers of “die by fire”, hoping to kill a spirit – Ogbanje – with their open minds stuck with ignorance.
Then the section when these merry – go- round girls start confessing and calling the names of oceans where they watched movies of people’s lives at midnight; persons they have killed, who they want to kill and how they became killers. Then the noise ensued, this time in bits like the remnants of “akara” in a frying pan. It was a Sunday of wild thoughts. How Afamefuna who tried tearing my pants when I went to see him to help with my assignment started speaking in tongues all of a sudden . How my mum who beats my father with the cooking spoon till he bled and pleaded started casting out demons. How aunty Idara my neighbor, who visits Evergreen hotels every weekend with our married landlord and paints it on his wife’s face of not knowing how to ride his engine sang down the holy spirit.
I’m not condemning but I think it’s too fast. Isn’t it too speedy how God praises Kenechukwu for paying his tithes and doubles his robbery level miraculously, but despises Iferika the orphan who gives her all from her Egg hawking business, just because she doesn’t bring up to a thousand Naira to the plate? Or is God a puppet used to lure people into a lucrative “bible” business?
They said the Ogbanje was against the status quo; so they mutilated us to prevent our bad spirits. They sew special seeds for us so as not to have spirit husbands. If it’s possible to lock up our vaginas and hold the key till our buyers come arrayed in tuxedo, they wouldn’t hesitate. We were trained from birth to be good wives, to say thank you sir even after being beaten by a drunk spouse, to be victimised when our soul is pierced with the rod of a man smelling of dry gin and marijuana.
We were taught not to break the rules. To accept being marginalized. To answer a man’s name and bear his kids whether we are prepared or not. We were born for men and anyone that dares question the stereotype is an Ogbanje who is abominable. I still wonder till this day how God has been unapologetically grinded with mortar and pestle like fufu into the meal we swallow. I sat, I let my mind travel through thoughts and back, then I decided to be an Ogbanje.
It was after the rainy sunshine on my birthday’s eve; after Kolawole my childhood friend and crush had chatted me up on whatsapp without a number. That day when fears slept on my palm and made it a hot spring of water. It was indeed a remarkable birthday because I was there two years ago with a purple hibiscus I had pluck from Iya’s (grandma) backyard – a flower we planted and watched grow – when I placed the flower on his coffin which was made by Nkume the village carpenter, and watched him lowered to mother earth. He affirmed being dead and was chatting from the beyond and he gave me an advice that has made me a non conforming Ogbanje till date.
He said : “Nothing really matters, whether you’re born with a penis or a vagina, what is salient is how to make the best out of life. How you ride your boat without sinking another and how you look at life and laugh at it’s hurdles because you can play well with it’s valley. I want you to be you in a world that demands you to be what they say. I want you to own your life and I want you to remember the good old times while looking forward to better days. No one is responsible for being male or female. We are all born in the same way. Created equal in different forms by a God that believes variety is beauty, but understood by the people possibly sleeping on a bicycle while he was dishing out free wits like bolé on fresh pepper sauce and nkwobi.
These words wiped from my phone and stored in my memory and I never heard from him. Now I choose to smoke because of the joy the flavor ignites in my head. I club because of the vibes the bass leaves in my soul. I receive thrusts that wreath pains of pleasure because it gives me peace and makes me appreciate my body – the highest beauty of art that have ever existed. I do things not minding the “omenala” which fails to answer lots of questions that we hypocritically live in. Love your neighbor as yourself is hard to come by these days and God sits and laughs at our ignorance playing love everywhere.
I don’t care about the curses from horny men whose erection determine their direction.
I don’t give a damn what my mum will say on realizing I want to be a single mum.
I really don’t care what you think seeing me boss my life like I own it.
I want to be me when hypocrisy prevails, even if mothers release saliva to the earth when I walk pass.
I want to be me when you think I’m being possessed by a marine spirit because of what I choose to wear.
I want to be me when you think I’m too angry – as if anger was made for men alone.
I want to be me when I say I can’t cook and am lazy to cook while I watch you gape at my abnormality to your normalcy.
I want to be a girl. A human who is a girl and not the femininity you define.
I want to be happy being myself above all else in a world that demands more.
If going against your rules, ordinations and standards just to live the fullness of my life, will make me a possessed being who has come to torment my clan,
Then let me be an Ogbanje and let the Ogbanje be me.
©Achi Gp Nuel.