You were heavy in your mother’s womb on her 21st birthday. That day she sat beside her husband, smiling at the photographer, playing along to the unwritten script for Nigerian women of her time.
She had recently gained admission to the university and found a boy, not any boy. A boy fresh out of UniLag with a medical degree and the ability to pay a bride price. Your grandfather, who had recently started questioning his memory did not express his surprise that someone wanted his problem child. He wrote a note on his bedroom mirror.
“Do not ask if he’s sure.”
Months later, the boy visited with his father as your grandpa counted the tubers of yam and pinched the fat on the goat.
You were born of necessity because what else is expected from a 27 year old doctor but to settle down? This was the way life manifested in your society, there was no time for useless soul searching or chasing unattainable answers, just the comfortable and familiar. You now remember your younger years like a hazy dream, you remember only the things that don’t make sense, sometimes it was your mother wrapping moi moi in leaves, other days it was your father’s laughter. You tell your mother that you remember a locked room with toys from when you were 5 and she tells you that you can’t possibly remember all that.
Your early years were oblivious as it should be till you started to notice things, the things you did not understand anyway, your mother away sick for months. Being alone for months with your father who brought several aunties whenever she was away. At school you noticed that children did not come in ones and most of your friends had siblings. Then there was the time in primary 2 you told your mum you wanted a sister and she got upset. You could not understand all these things until you could. You got into a boarding school pretty early and found sisterhood in your mates at the junior school, girls who slept in the same room showered together and shared cutlery. You hated it and only wanted to go home to your mother.
Senior secondary came and so did letters from the boy’s school on the opposite end of the street, girls pitted against their friends in competition over boys and you were a part of it. You never got far with that anyway.
Graduation came and you learned your mother wanted a divorce, you learned about the locked room prepared in anticipation of a sibling, the miscarriages, your learned your father’s mistresses by their names, you also met your younger brother, taller, darker, eyes like your father. He arrived on a Sunday in a luxury bus and just never left. The divorce never happened.
You were out of the university when you realized you were feeding off your mother’s betrayal and never learned to properly cultivate relationships. Friendship to you was something transient and you abandoned necessity, taking a liking to fiction, withdrawing into yourself, most things you did to convince yourself you were nothing like your parents. Your father who was convinced he was a god and your mother unwilling to leave. Still they were etched in your very being, strangers would see you and recognize the face of your father and mannerisms of your mother.
You soon learned that necessity was a big part of your life in a society where nothing worked unless it was imperative. This did not comfort you. You were also a late bloomer, chest swelling and hips widening into your 20’s, realizing that this also came with the attention of strange men, mostly older. You enjoyed the sway you held over them till you began to recognize the entitlement in them, the dominating personalities you swore you’d never be suppressed by.
By 21, you found alcohol as an elixir, harsh and tasteless down your throat. It taught you to dance, made you feel like a god, and helped you forget. You also realized how easy it was to love a boy and forget to leave, looking into his eyes and losing your senses, tasting mints and cigarettes. You realized how endorphins could be released and how for a moment a life of necessity wouldn’t be the most horrible thing in the world.