UJU Episode 1
Today is another day, another day to face mama, another day for her to remind me how my mates are ma-king it and I’m here eating her food, another day for her to condemn all my good effort, nothing about me ever plea-ses her.
Papa on his own side is always confused on who to support, mama will verbally abuse him if he tries to take my side, papa is even tired of the constant shouting from mama, he spend more time now in his farm yard with my two younger brothers just to avoid all the chaos, my sister, Oluoma, is not exceptional, but hers is better because she seems to be mama’s favorite,
me I have grown thick skin, if mama like, let her talk from now till tomorrow or beat me from now till tomorrow it won’t break me,
her beating is even better sometimes because her wordc can cut throu-gh me like razor blade, sometimes i just wonder if she’s my real mother, if not that I’m her carbon copy in looks and my birth picture was evident enough i would have doubted it,
What can i do to plea-se her, why is she always harsh to me and calm with my siblings.
Today, as she was going out she told me to climb up the oha tree and plug some leave, after which i will make soup with it,
even my brothers don’t like climbing the tree because of those wicked ants or roach in it, one bite from the ants will make you see stars, how could mama tell me to climb this tree, plug the oha leaves and make soup with it before she comes back,
I have being standing by the oha tree looking at it and wishing some kind of magic will happen, the tree will just fall by it self, so that mama will st©p s£nding me up there, I know she does it on purpose just to frustrate me, but i don’t care all i want is for her to leave me alone, if climbing this tree will make her happy, so be it, although i wish there was a male figure around, who can help me out here.
I decided to check throu-gh to see if i will be lucky enough to see someb©dy, I saw Chico, one of my brother’s friend pas-sing by, I started thinking God within me,
I beckoned on him to come and he did,
“Aunty Uju good Afternoon
“how are you Chico, biko, come and help me pluck leave leaf from that our Oha tree..
“aah, nooo I can’t o, that tree that is full of tiger ants, I can’t climb it, there was even a day that Ejim, your brother asked me to help him climb it and i did, my whole b©dy was cover with those wicked ants, my mother has warned me not to ever climb that oha tree again and even on my own…i can’t, s£nd me something else i will do but not to climb that tree…
“bikonu, Chico plea-se… Help me, Ejim is not around i would have asked him, I’m the only one in the house and i want to make soup, don’t worry i will give you something if you help me”
“Aunty Uju, sorry, i can do any other thing but i can’t climb that tree and i don’t want to disobey my mother…
“okay o, no problem na”
I checked with two other near by neighbors but no one agrees to help, i returned back to the house disappointed, I have no choice than to climb the tree,
I gently climbe-d the tree hoping and praying that the ants will be asleep, I didn’t bother checking for the good leaves, i just plug anything I can l@ymy hands on, when I go down i will select the good ones, I was rushing as fast as my hand can get to, I didn’t know that the ants has gently entered my cloth, when they entered I didn’t even noticed, is as if they planed it as they started firing me with bites, my back, my bu-mbu-m, my stomach, my l@ps, all my b©dy was on fire, I almost fell off the tree as I managed to rushed down, I quic-kly ran to the back yard and off my whole cloths, I was scratching all over, I shakes some of the ants off my cloths, I covered my hair but they still manage to enter, I was still battling with them when i ha-rd my name, mama was back,
“Obianaujunwa, Obianaujunwa eeh” is she deaf, where is that girl, this girl will not kill me in this house, is this the oha leaf i asked her to plug since and make soup that is lying on the ground….that means this girl have not even started journey yet, she’s is just plugging the leaf now, since morning, she has not even make the soup…. No…it can’t be true, maybe she’s has made the soup and this ones on the ground is the ones she plugged to give the goats…where’s this girl, have she gone deaf…can’t she hear my voice, Obianaujunwa e, Obianauju eeh!
I listened to her call me repeatedly, I wasn’t scared of her beating or scolding I was angry because mama was always calling my full name on purpose, knowing well that i hate it, I like being called Uju instead of my full name, the name makes me feel ashamed, especially the way mama calls it and will deliberately do it to spite me, papa calls me uju and my siblings too except mama,
and if my siblings wants to look for my trouble they will call me exactly the way mama calls it “Obinaujunwa e ” which will make me chase them and they will run into mama’s arm, and mama will dare me to come close to her and receive the beating of my life,
The ants bite wasn’t as painful as mama deliberately calling me now, I wonder why they didn’t give me a name like ‘Chioma, Ijeoma or even ifunanya which means love or better still one of those fine English names like Stella, Linda, Anabel or Mary,
I gently wear my cloth and c@m£ out to face mama, on seeing me she quic-kly stone me her foot wear, asking me why I didn’t answer her since she has being calling me,
I know how to dodge her whenever she throws anything at me,
so i dodged it and i know it pains her whenever she misses her target which is me.
What mama doesn’t know is that she makes me stronger everyday by treating me that way or even trying to call my full name.
Mama lash out at me, she beat me with everything she can l@yher hands on after finding out that the soup wasn’t made, I ran outside, I was there until papa c@m£ back from the farm,
After two days mama received a parcel, it was wra-pped in a black nylon bag, when she opened it it was a wra-pper, she didn’t tell me who s£nt it but i know will still find out, either by insult or she’s talking with Papa or one of her friends,
And it wasn’t too long i found out.
She went out that day and c@m£ back after an hour and started calling me in her usual way, I answered her quic-kly, I don’t want her trouble and c@m£ out from the kitchen,
she handed me something with a smile at one corner of her mouth, I gently collected and opened it, there was a fine bead leather sandals in it,
mama was still standing looking at me with the same confusing smile tug at one corner of her mouth, I wasn’t un-derstanding the whole thing, why is mama smiling that way, she ha-rd ly smile at me and now that she was doing it she’s looking like she’s up to something and the fine leather sandals was still in my hand,
I gently asked her who the sandals was for she laughed out loud, right then i knew she was up-to something, mama can not just laugh for nothing since we are living like cat and rat,
“Obianaujunwa eeh!, if i call you, you will answer me immediately,
“hmmmm, yes mama’
What’s that “hmm” for? If not that I’m in a happy mood because you will soon be out of my sight, I would have asked you to explain what you mean by “hmmmmm’ repeat that thing again and see what i will do to you
“mama” why are you still shouting my name when I’m standing in front of you”?
“you are very stupid, answer me now before i sl@p the living day light out of you…Obianajunwa…
“good, you saw the wra-pper I received as parcel from the parcel courier and now you have a sandals, they are all from Adaeze, Akunna my friend’s daughter, that your childhood friend, the one you went to secondary school with, and was also in the same clas-s with you, after which she traveled and we haven’t heard from her, she even sleeps in our house sometimes then, she’s back, she has returned from eko, the happening city and if you see how big she has become, if you see the things she bought for Akunna eeh, hmm,
she’s a lucky woman,
She said i should give you that sandals, she bought a lot of wra-pper, shoes and handbag for Akunna, the mother, it was out of the wra-ppers she s£nt me one,
I told Adaeze about you and she said you should come and see her later, I begged her to take you along with her when she’s going back and luckily for you she agreed, even her mother said i shouldn’t worry that you will go with her to Eko, later you go and see her and thank her for the sandals and also ask her when you will be leaving with her, because i can’t wait for you to be gone, so i will st©p having headache because of you, she’s your mate o… But if you see her now it will look like she’s your aunty, all the food you have being eating comes to your w@!st and eyes, I don’t know who you are gathering all that w@!st for… And do you see how big your eyes is, just tired of seeing you look at me with them, I will tell your father about your soon to be journey ones he comes back. Just get your self re-ady,
See Adaeze is bringing things for the mother Your Own is to be eating my food and getting bigger eyes and w@!st, just being useless to me, do and leave this house so that i will see road…
“mama no problem, I will go and see Adaeze”
I later saw Adaeze that evening and she was happy to See Me, she filled me in with Lagos life, and said i will enjoy every bit of it, she told me she’s a model which i didn’t really care all that matters to me was I’m leaving and going far away where i won’t fight with mama again, the next time she will See Me, I will be a total different person, a daughter she will be finally proud of,
i started counting days to the main day that me and Adaeze will be going,
I ha-rd papa shouting at mama that night, asking her if she knows the kind of work Adaeze does, mama was challenging him and Papa couldn’t hold it he c@m£ to wake me that was pretending to be asleep up, he gently asked me if i really want to go with Adaeze or is mama that was driving me away, I as-sured him is my decision and not mama.
I know i will miss papa but it won’t be much because my mind will be focused on ma-king it big, I was so happy that Ada as she’s fondly called c@m£ to take me out of this village where i will no longer hear mama call me “Obianaujunwa” I will probably change my name to something sweet to hear, I will think of a name later.
The joy in my stomach didn’t allow me eat much for two days, even the main day i was leaving I didn’t eat, I was so happy as i ha-rd mama say “Obianajunwa journey mercy and don’t come back to this house empty handed o!
I knew that will be the last time in two or three years or even more i will hear her call me that name.
It was truly a long journey, I was alre-ady wondering if the Lagos is another world, we have being on the road for too long that i started worrying, I was feeling sick, hungry and couldn’t eat anything, the whole journey was ma-king me nauseous, I was tired and weak, I threw up ones anything enters my mouth, Ada told me not to worry we will soon get there, that is just because I have not being on a long journey before, well, she is probably right, have not been on this kind of journey before,
As i look out of the window is as if the leaves were waving at me, I sat close to the window so I clearly saw how all the leaves and trees were waving at me, I placed my hand to the glas-s window just to wave back, I did it in a way that i won’t be noticed, before i will be termed crazy, probably I’m out of my mind, this journey is so frustrating, Ada was busy eating everything that interest her, I wish i can eat like her too but nothing interest me
I try to focus on something to distract me,
Ada later sle-pt off, there was nothing for me to do as sleep wasn’t coming, I started listening to a conversation between a lady and a guy she just met inside the bus, the lady was very beautiful and dressed so well , they sat close to each other right in front of my own seat, two strangers that just met inside the bus according to their conversation.
the guy was busy buying anything he can see for the lady who kept on collecting and still wasn’t giving him enough attention, probably because people were awake and looks at them sometimes,
After some time almost everyone inside the bus were asleep now except me that was leaning my ear to their low voice conversation, after the lady noticed everyb©dy was asleep she started responding to the young guy well, she looked back and saw that I was bending my head towards their seat she thought I was probably slee-ping,
I press my ear very close to there seat so that i can hear them very well, their voices were too low, they talk about their selves, and exchange number and address but the only thing that was useful to me was the lady’s name, she told the guy that her name is Tracy , the young man replied ” beautiful name for a beautiful damsel….” and she blu-shed.
Me i like the name and that will be my name when i gets to Lagos. Nob©dy have to know my real name, I will tell Ada my new name if she wakes up
I later sle-pt off and dreamt, were mama was chasing me with a stick calling me “Obianaujunwa, and i was shouting and telling her my name was now Tracy, I was still fighting with mama when Ada tapped me awake, i started thanking God that it was just a bad dream, Ada told me we have gotten to Lagos, and will be coming down in the next bust©p, I quic-kly told her about my new name before i forget, she just laughed and said she was okay calling me Uju, that Uju was also a fine name, but I insisted, she saw how serious i was and said she will try and if she’s not comfortable with it she will return to my normal name,
We finally got down from the bus and entered a taxi, it was another long drive before we finally got to Ada’s place, she has alre-ady told me about her room mate, who was standing outside as we got to their place, she welcomed us, it was just a room, three of us one room, kitchen and toilets was shared among the tenants, I expected more from Ada who paraded Herself in the village as if she owns an estate, her roommate introduce herself after we got inside
“I’m Bibi, my full name is Abimbola, but no one knows me with that here, I’m more comfortable with bibi though,
“nice to meet you Tracy, what is your Igbo name, or you don’t have one…?
“you won’t be able to pronounce it, so let’s leave it at Tracy, I like being called Tracy
“okay, no problem Tracy,
Ada was just looking at us and smiling, I alre-ady know they were both living a fake lives, and i was so willing to beat them in their fakeness, I never knew that the room mate Ada told me about was even Yoru-ba girl, she’s was just older than me and Ada who were age mate with 3years, she was 24years, but we all look like age mates,
Ada called me after two days and said
“Uju, let me tell you something very important, this is Lagos and you must shine your eyes very very wel…
“Ada, st©p calling me Uju na, I alre-ady told you to be calling me Tracy,
“ndoh, (sorry) I forgot, I’m use to Uju, but i will get use to your new identity with time, like i was saying, you have to shine your eyes very well o, because you will meet different kinds of people here, both good and bad, you see Bibi and me, we are hustler, you must hustle to survive, and try and sell yourself well to the public, must people don’t really care about your background, they only buy what you sell to them that is what they hear you say, me, I’m master craft in that, at the end of the day I s£nd something home to my people, they don’t really care what you do for a living but takes in anything you tells them, must responsibility falls down to you ones your people notice you are doing well, you see me back home, all was packaging, nob©dy knows I’m squ-atting with Abimbola in face me i face you and you wouldn’t have believed it if i told you because i looked posh, all is packaging, you have alot of responsibility being the first child and you have Opportunity now that you are here to make your family proud of you, if you make enough money if you want to go back to school or start business is all your choice, I’m talking to you as a sister now not as a friend, gr-ab every opportunity you see don’t let it pas-s you by, me and bibi shares rent and you will join us in the rent ones you start work, and another important thing is try not to shine pas-s us o… Because i can see that you are desperate for anything, you have not even gotten to Lagos you have alre-ady started changing your name to Tracy…hmm…jiriya nwayo” (take it easy o)
As Ada talked she didn’t know i was fully prepared to face whatever i meet, whatever comes my way , I was fully re-ady, but her last word got me, she’s probably jealous with my new name… And i don’t care, I will just allow her show me the way i can start ma-king money, because it seems I’m at her mercy which won’t be for long.
The first work i got wasn’t difficult according to Ada, it was in a club, the same place she and Abimbola works, it was a very big club, Ada has alre-ady told me what it is like, she and Abimbola has spoken with the manager who agreed to employ me, Ada also borrowed me money to make new hair and get some wears like bu-m short, trou-sers and shoes, since we were giving a T-shi-t to wear,
I like looking beautiful and the new cloths, makeups and fine hairdo make me looks very beautiful,
I agreed to pay Ada back the money she borrowed me ones i start receiving my pay,
She took me to the club manager who did a small interview filled me in what my work entails before i fully started,
The manager said the first month will be just to see how well I’m capable, and i tried to deliver my best, I wore my bu-m short and shake my bu-ttocks at those men, knowing fully well that I’m well packaged just as what Bibi told me, having h!ps was an added advantage to me, mama will say all her food comes to my w@!st and eyes, the w@!st and eyes is becoming useful to me because is what most of the girls here wish to have,
it makes me stand out and got me more men drooling all over me, even the men that c@m£ with their girlfriends couldn’t take their eyes off me as i serve drinks with a charming smile,
I started getting alot of ti-ps, so many men want to talk with me, just as i was warned before hand I don’t miss work with plea-sure,
I gave my new number to the ones i feel got something to offer,
I paid Ada the debt i owe her even before i got paid she wasn’t happy with the speed i was going, she called me one day and said
“Uju, take it easy, remember I’m the one that introduce you to this work, don’t over speed your self… Think before you act…
“Ada, I don’t know why you keep calling me Uju, I alre-ady told you and those men at the club all knows I’m Tracy and I told them I’m not a Nigerian…I’m from Kenya, plea-se don’t go and call me this in front of them before you spoil my market ..
“Uju, you see why I’m saying you should mind your speed, you have alre-ady started telling them that your name is Tracy and you are from Kenya, what if you happen to meet a Kenya person and you can’t speak their language, tell a lie you can defend not the one that will hook you, there’s nothing wrong if you tell them you are uju and a Nigerian, even if you tell them that your full name is Ujunwa nob©dy will question you, it doesn’t matter, those who like you will still like you… plea-se don’t tell me what to call you, you are ujunwa and i call you uju, don’t care if you are comfortable or not with it, I’m comfortable calling you your real name, you can tell people who don’t know you in and out to call you Tracy but not with me.. plea-se…
“I’m only trying to make it Ada, my people are counting hvgely on me, especially mama, if i don’t do what I’m doing i won’t get enough ti-ps or money to start s£nding home and other expenses, all i expect from you is to un-derstand and st©p telling me to take it slow, I’m not stupid, I know what I’m doing Ada, I have always wanted this and I’m very grateful for introducing me to it, you are ma-king your own money Ada, s£nding home and taking care of your siblings at home, is also the same thing with me, I just want to make it and be able to take care of my people… And if we get enough money we can move out of here to a better ap@rtment, I have paid you the money i owe you, I’m not owning you again I’m just trying to gather money for my own rent and other expenses….i expected you of all people to un-derstand that..
After the conversation with Ada I tried to take it slow, so that she will not feel like I’m trying to out run her in the work she thought me. I was beginning to get comfortable with her calling me Uju, but i still tell people at the club that my name is Tracy.
One day a young man visited the club with his friends and female friends too, he c@m£ with a hvge purse that was stocked at his right arm, he was a regular face at the club and always takes the VIP lounge, after p@rtying and drinking ha-rd he never let go of the purse, he was always the one that paid for all the drinks, he sometimes flir-ts with me after which he ti-ps me, I’m always looking forward to his coming and today was no different,
After serving drinks he tea-sed me as usual of which i replied back with a smile, after the whole drinks he was drun!kand later left with his friend when i went to clear the table i saw the purse on the floor, I quic-kly looked round before i opened it and there was packs of cash in it, I looked well to be sure and there was really hvge cash inside, I was scared at first, I wanted to give it to the manager on duty like we were told to always return back whatever anyb©dy forgets or left behind in case they comes back for it, I was tem-pted to return it and also to keep it to myself, it will really change my story, I couldn’t come to a conclusion i called Ada who was around and she c@m£ i showed her the cash she said i should return it before they finds out,
I should take it to the manager to keep for the man and i said okay, I didnt return it I quic-kly close and change up to my normal cloth and hide the cash, I signed out and went home leaving Ada, when i got home i saw Bibi she was slee-ping, I quic-kly re-moved the small bag of money and hide where eyes ha-rd ly go, Ada later c@m£ back that night so i pretend to be asleep so that she won’t ask me of the money
I later sle-pt off, when i woke up in the morning Ada was just leaving for work, Bibi was going right after her, they seem to be in a hurry, I checked the time they weren’t late so why the rush…
I was on night duty that day and will be leaving the house by 4pm, so i relaxed back, after I was very sure they have gone far, I quic-kly went to bring out the money to count so that i will know my way from here although i was still having double mind of returning it, I was alre-ady concluding within me i will return the cash ones I’m going to work in the evening, guilty conscience was alre-ady eating Me up,
I went to the place i hide the money but it was no more there, I was shocked, with speed i started turning the house up side down, I couldn’t find it anywhere, someone must have taken it, I started thinking who could it possibly be, I only told Ada about the money who didn’t know if i brou-ght it home or not and Bibi didn’t even know about it because she was asleep when i c@m£ back, I was shock and confused
i quic-kly called Ada and Bibi on the phone and they both said they didn’t see anything like that,
I’m finished…who could have stolen the money or did the purse filled with money disappear, what is going on, someb©dy must have taken it but who? Who took it.
To be continued