Tag Archives: marriage

Unbranded!

Reprisal to Nneoma’s branded

By

Chinedu Ifechelobi

I was yours! Right from the start. I saw you years before you saw me. In my dreams, all perfect in the cotton fields, everything sweet, me longing, arms wide open, you smiling, gliding towards me to hold and never let go…

I knew you years before you knew me, in the car with your parents, going to church, singing at the Sunday school, dancing and floating in the air, draped in laces, adorned with braces. I loved you

I loved you, even before you noticed me. I was young wild but wise from the start I knew you were all mine, smiled from a distance but you didn’t notice, waved as you passed but you didn’t look, called out but you ignored you were mine but you didn’t know. So I wandered, my sweet little heart in search for you but in the wrong places, I came back all broken and battered wishing you would see, notice and know, only to see you also in my state, weary from the same journey…

I came for you ready to make you see, ready to die for this cause. Seeing I had nowhere to go, seeing you were all I had, seeing my weakness, you opened your arms, not to mend my bleeding heart but for the desire to own, to brand. I smiled, you saw deception. I opened my arms, you saw a trap. I gave my heart, you saw a bargain, I smothered, you saw seduction. I spoke of dreams, fantasies and a future we could own you saw an explorer waiting like a predator to pounce on his prey. I gave you my heart, you offered your head. Many times I tried, I pleaded, screamed and insisted but you were consumed with your need to brand and to possess. Many times I gave in to you so you would see that love was not all about getting your way, but the more I gave in the more you pressed, the more we were headed for the loveless abyss. Many times I walked away hoping that the loneliness would remind you that love was all that was needed. You couldn’t be bothered, I was made for you and you for me, so I always came back. The world was cold, hard and wicked without you.

So many times I came back, for all my heart needed, was you. As many times as I came back you sent me back to the wolves. All I wanted was to love, to share to give, to lead and to build. We could have, but all you wanted was to play, to own, to dominate and to brand and I knew from my sojourn with the wolves it was all they wanted too. So when you sent me back this time, I found among the wolves a sheep! She is neither all I want nor all I need, but she’s my heart’s balm. She takes me for me, stares in my eyes like she sees stars on a lonely night, sees through to my heart when I speak, loves me to the last jagged straw. She’s not all I wanted but she has become my all, she’s not all I need but she meets all my needs. For this sheep among wolves has become my ride to die chick. This could have been us but you wanted a place to put your stamp but you failed to see  that the last piece of my remaining heart had no space for stamps; UNBRANDED

BRANDED!

You were mine! I owned you. If I had evil powers to own souls and people, I couldn’t have owned you more. You were mine from the first time I saw you. I branded you invisibly and I called you mine. I was never going to lose you. You were never going to get away from me. From the second you said hello to me, I knew I was going to own you.

You didn’t know this. You were young like your mates, you were full of life, doing what young men did best, wrapping hearts round your finger, breaking them and moving on. When you looked at me, you didn’t see your future or your everything. You saw a girl like every other girl ripe for the taking. When you spoke to me, you didn’t speak like you were talking to the centre of your universe, you spoke like you were talking to the orange you were bargaining to buy and suck dry.

I heard words you didn’t say, I knew what you were and who you were. What you were, was a sharp guy, love ’em and leave ’em type. Who you were, was MINE! I set out to reel you in, you thought you were getting me, I knew I was getting you. For every successful step you counted with me, I counted milestones with you. You sought to trap me, I pretended to evade you. You tried to devour me, I pretended to be scared. You thought you were the hunter, I knew you were my prey. I reeled you in deliberately, I branded you, I covered your eyes too. You became mine with every attempt you made to get me.

First I owned you, then I recreated you. Constantly shaking you down to make you lose all the things I didn’t want. You thought you were pretending, I knew I was forming you. Of course you strayed, many times you wandered away but you always returned. Sometimes you tried to break free, you made a bid for your freedom but I always dragged you back. I was fascinating, warm, soft and hard, I wasn’t yours yet so you always came back trying to hook me, every time you came back, I trapped and shackled you.

You lost the fight, you were definitely going to. I captured and enslaved you. My power over you was great, I branded you and you belonged to me. You followed wherever I went. I deliberately cut you loose a few time but you always found your way back, I knew then that you bore my mark, you wore my brand too.

Now you call me wife and I call you husband. We do not talk of my power over you, I am content to let you believe I have none, you know I have a lot, but you don’t know if I know it. And so I’ll guide you through life subtly, always in control but never letting you know, constantly agreeing yet disagreeing with you. Society will forever encourage us to be together and nobody will interfere, such is the beauty of marriage. Till the very end you will lead me where I wish to go, wearing my brand. We are married!

Hot brand

OSU MY FOOT!

“Osu! Tainted by association!” my Uncle Ike roared at me while I stood, a lone figure amongst members of my kindred, my only ally in the gathering although she was a bit shaky too was my mother.

“Richard is an Osu, tainted by association” my Uncle roared again, as if to burn his words permanently into my head. He really needed to roar at me to bring me back to him, because I was already lost in thought, examining the phrase “tainted by association”. I had never heard it before in life but I easily understood that what my Uncle was trying to say in a colourful way was that my Richard was contaminated, like germs on good food or like food that had fallen to shit.

“Tainted by association!” Uncle Ike roared again jolting me out of my thoughts and of course irritating me by his constant use of the phrase! O gini di? Couldn’t he talk without saying those words repeatedly? It was beginning to annoy me biko! “Omalicha” he called me, “I gaghi anu Richard, he is an osu!” thankfully he refrained from adding the hated words this time.

My darling Richard, strong determined, dogged Richard, caring friend, motivator, advisor and lover. My 1st and only choice, he wasn’t born osu, his family had been free from that horrid, senseless tag all of his life and his relations were currently still not regarded as osu. So why was Richie m different? I will tell you after I explain what osu is.

Osu according to my people in Igbo land refers to people who took solace in idols either for respite from persecutions or for protection from their enemies. Bottom-line was, once those people asked the deity’s protection, they became outcasts, living sacrifices to the idol, outright lepers not to be interacted with. Nobody was allowed to have relations with them, marrying them was definitely out of the question. Marrying an “osu” did not liberate the “osu”, it made you “osu” too whether you were male or female.

Back to my Richie! He became “osu” by interaction, let me rephrase, prolonged interaction. My dogged darling had lost his parents in a freak accident immediately after his service year and had had to fend for himself and two younger sisters. The Sisters quickly attached themselves to Uncles, Aunties and friends and got by while Richard struggled to make a proper home for them. A wealthy couple from Richie’s hometown had offered to help him out. They were osu! My Richie was advised repeatedly to disdain any offer of help from the couple, wealth did not make them acceptable in the eyes of his people, but he refused and accepted their help. With them, he spent many years, he secured his plum job and established his part time business, he made a home for his sisters and brought them all under one roof again, he prospered! His benefactors were awesome people who cleared the part for him while he struggled every year he stayed with them, he was regarded as one of them, apparently he stayed so long he became one of the osu people.

I met my Richie 2 years back and he told me his story. I loved and admired him for it and I confidently told him that living with people considered osu did not make him osu and such nonsense was outdated. How little I knew! I brought him to my family to announce our intentions and my Uncle Ike was practicing his borrowed lines on us. Uncle Ike and elders who knew nothing of his struggles, nothing of his strength and perseverance and absolutely nothing of his love for me. I was still deep in my recollections when Uncle’s voice pierced through again, “Omalicha, I nuo osu, I bulu osu and you cannot spoil the family history and lineage by tainting it with osu blood. I still think hearing the taint word that last time was what pushed me over the edge and I burst out, “Osu my foot!”. I can still hear the shocked gasps of the entire family and see the expressions of outrage on their faces, the slacked jaws of my immediate family.

In 2 days’ time, I will be safely married to Richard, I do not expect my kinsmen to be there, only immediate family and our friends, this means that in 2 days’ time, I will either become osu or remain a normal human being to normal people who do not hold on to ancient customs? Which is it?

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BEDMATES

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You settled for it. It would not have been your first choice or even your second. You picked it after you looked and there were no other options.

It was the last blanket on the rack. It was either pick it or be left without a covering.

You settled for the last and dragged it to bed unwilling. It barely provided the warmth it should have, you could hardly bear to let it do its job. You found its touch irritating to your skin, its attempts to warm you felt like a leprous hug.

 Sometimes you threw it off the bed in disgust. Other times you refused to take it to bed. Your nights were nightmares. You shivered with cold and still wouldn’t take up your covering. You preferred the cold. You hated the choice you had made and you wanted to make another. It suffered too. It felt useless.

 You only picked it off the rack because you would have been left with nothing if you didn’t pick it. Your group of friends all had blankets. Beautiful colourful blankets. They told stories of how they snuggled up in their blankets every night, how it warmed them, how they couldn’t wait to get under it every night and how they couldn’t bear to leave it every morning and of course how they ran back to the warmth of its embrace everyday. When they told stories of their warm beds and awesome nights, you shut your mouth for shame.

So you made a choice. You took the only available one left. Alas your story was not like theirs. You hated the choice you had made; but you were saddled with it. You wished you had endured the cold. The covering on your body was punishment.

At first you consoled yourself, you had picked the last blanket off the shelf, many other people did not get blankets. You tried to be thankful that you had grabbed that last one and you had something. Then you walked into a new shop and saw racks and endless racks of lovely blankets that suited you better!

You wished! Oh! How you wished…

 But the only law in the rule of bedmates says “you spend life with the one you pick! No purchase is returnable”

 

N.B – Am not talking about blankets. No prizes for guessing what am talking about but I still want to hear from you! Decode this!

Photo credit: Google