I was born Ucheoma Chidinma Onwutuebe on a Thursday morning and according to that old rhyme, “Thursday’s child has far to go”. Having far to go may have some negative connotations to it: it could mean that one would end up a late bloomer; yet the optimist in me chooses to see the positive side of that verse. It means to me that Thursdays Child has the world as her oyster. Thursdays Child would own a private jet, tour the world and tan her cute butt in exotic suns. (Let the church say, Amen.)
I was a loved child, fiercely protected by my parents, but a common occurrence for people who grew up in overprotective households is that to have your way, you have to lie very often. Lies become a second tongue that sets you free, that bring your dreams into fruition until your are bursted, because the truth would never lead to the doors of your desires.
I was a painfully shy child and I always wanted the ground to gulp me up whenever a particular neighbour told everyone I was his wife. If this was a way of showing me affection, I do not know, how would I have known? I was only a child but I wished the women who took care of me had not laughed it off but asked him to stop. Calling a little girl your wife is not particularly a harmless endearment in this crazy world we are living in, if you get my drift. Calling him out for making a child uncomfortable would have been too standoffish, so they laughed and waved off my juvenile discomfort.
Waving things off is a Nigerian thing and one of the bane of growing up in a place like this, is that you would be raised in a public environment, like those large compounds of clustered apartments we call “face-me-I-face-you”. And the adage “It takes a village to raise a child” is followed too literally. That’s why a neighbour spanks you for being mouthy before reporting you to your parents. I remember how the physics teacher beat me mercilessly with a broom for hissing in his class. We called it discipline then. It’s probably assault now.
But in secondary school, beating was the norm. When it was done brutally and en masse, we called it “massacre”. SS3 girls massacred SS2 girls and one patiently waited to be in SS3 to retaliate.
Tertiary education was nothing to write home about, I was badly distracted with this dream of being a writer that my experiments in Microbiology lab felt like the outdoor games we played as children when we made soup with scent leaves and mud and tiny snails. I was disappointed with the system and I got supercilious with my studies. I felt I knew more than what was taught me. It was a jungle where phones were snatched and aggrieved parents sent the police to arrest cult boys for killing their sons. I remember the dreadful night Faze came to our school and a lot of girls were raped without conscience, and that was when I learnt that we were all living within an inch of tragedy, only that God’s hand does not do us in most of the time. In that school I nurtured a fierce belief in God because when your grades are failing, one can only hope to bribe God with unflinching devotion.
Today, I hold a job that makes me shudder at the thought of Mondays to Fridays. The only thing I look forward to is looking good and expecting a certain change which I am yet to comprehend. I write against my lazy will, the will that says to make do with the pay from the job and forget the money I get from writing. But a certain wise woman, Joy Bewaji, once said, “Youth is for the hustle”. The private jet for the Thursdays Child would not come from having only one source of income.
I love to make money but often times I get too content. Back in university, I tried to learn that inane art of asking and taking money from men without offering your body on the altar of their expectations. It works until you meet one that would outsmart you. But over time, I have begun to love the feel of my own money in my pocket. I walk talker in shoes I bought myself from the sweat of my brows than those gotten from beggary.
And speaking of men, I am learning monogamy. One mouth is enough. One mouth at a time. One pair of arms are enough to sleep in at night. One at a time keeps the complications away. I have learnt that when you love someone, the intensity of your love for them is not enough to stay your feet from straying ,but stickability is a virtue. I believe coercion is another form of sexual abuse: lovers who bend you out of your “No”, who shame you for refusing a certain level of intimacy, who tell you you aren’t enough.
Everyday I grow to love the idea of making the world better for women, of presenting them a paradigm shift, in engaging them in conversations that drag issues from under the carpet which have lain there suppressed for years. But most days I do not feel entirely brazen to take on the world and make it my oyster, but God us helping me.
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