Twenty Ways I Thought I Died. Chapter Four
Hello everyone! I echoed through the microphone as I stood enthusiastically in front of a small crowd. I was expecting to hear a big hi but was disappointed when I got a very low tone; like I wasn’t loved? Yes I wasn’t loved. And it was frustrating. Where would I start from to solicit for funds. Daddy was very mad at me when he found out my dealings with the so called oil sector at Igando, and he vowed I was going to school from home. The same university I was running away from was what I needed now to seek refuge.
Daddy please forgive me. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please I want to go to the university now and study law. No Ufoma! Was his reply. I cannot trust you anymore. You almost got yourself killed or raped! No more long travels for me anymore. Its like you lost your senses when you suppose to have gained more. From henceforth, you will do only what I say. And now I say you will school from home! I want you to go register in National Open University. It’s a long distance learning program, so you can school from home. You read online and just go to the school for exams. Just make sure the center you choose is close home. I want to see you everyday at home. If you not at school for exams, then you should be home.
That was how it ended. I chose the center at Victoria island. My pocket was so sad because I got limited funds since I schooled from home. Dad was also no longer adamant I study law. He said any course I choose is okay. Was he been strict and less strict at the same time. Or has he just given up on me and felt I can never be like the love of his life; my mother. Or was he just scared that if he forced me to live the life of my mother, I would just live it all; both the good and bad, and end up dead.
Whatever the case might be; I was ready to be Efe Ogaga's daughter. I won’t be a disappointment. And as I stood in front of that small crowd on that faithful day; I was ready to prove it.
I am an undergraduate of National Open University studying Mass Communications. I continued my speech. I am an only child of my parent, raised by my single dad and will turn sixteen by next month. I have been through it all; the good, the bad, the ugly. I am not a spoilt rich kid but an experienced and strong willed teenager. My desire is to be a model, a public figure and a motivational speaker as I climb my way through the university as a mass communicator. So I plead with you all to take my proposal seriously and honestly, so I can lead us all into this world of modelling as I turn sweet sixteen by next month. You know what they say about sixteen: it is the start of a woman’s beauty, a time she knows how to use her beauty for good, for the betterment of everything concerning womanhood.
There were four speeches after mine, by four rivals. We had constituted a small modelling group in my neighborhood. Fourteen beautiful girls were needed to form a group, that will be used and sponsored by a modelling company on the island. I got to know about the company through my photographer Sam. He encouraged me to form a group of beautiful girls with my influence and go for the competition. The company needed to sign a ten year contract with fast young growing girls to represent their company and showcase their skin and hair beauty products. The pay was good, the publicity will be amazing and I would rise to greater heights even though I couldn’t study law again. I will be me, and create my own self esteem and dreams and not live after the shadow of my mother. I could do better. Even though I sometimes wonder why I am always at war with my mother. Why was I always looking for ways to be better then her, not to be like her and to criticize her. Where will this drive lead me.
Betrayals are road maps along the way; be smarter!
Titilayo my close friend had gained admission into a private university and the other girls in the neighborhood weren’t my fans. There is a certain girl in the area who made my life a living hell! And her name; Bisi.
She was in love with Onyeka, while Onyeka was in love with me. Even though I had told her I and Onyeka had nothing; she still blamed me for him not loving her back. She spited me at every opportunity she had, and she made sure other girls stayed away from me, because according to the information reaching them from Bisi: I am a boyfriend snatcher. At this point in my life, I needed to befriend the enemy. I needed Bisi. I had to use her to get the other girls I need to form my own group of fourteen girls for the modelling contract.
Bisi was well known in the neighborhood as the young girl who makes children hair. Many of her peers came to make their hair with her every weekends and she made a lot from that skill at just seventeen years of age. She had the contact, she was loved by them and I needed her to achieve my goals. I was surprised when she willingly brought in all I needed. Thirteen girls including herself. She had the girls, while I had the contact to the contract. We trained, we went for the audition and we won! But there was trouble. And Bisi was the culprit.
Ufoma, I only agreed to this because I thought I would be the leader of the girls; after all I brought them all in, so when we were told by the manager to pick a girl that would lead our team I never thought you would come in my way.
Bisi, what are you even saying. I asked her angrily after many arguments. I am the contact! I brought in this contract, I trained you all! And now you want to lead me? And the girls. I was totally dismayed.
Please Ufoma don’t refer to us as girls. Nkechi spoke up in support of Bisi. We don’t know you. It’s Bisi we know.
Really? It is Bisi you know. Who brought you here? Who made you know here? Who gave you this modelling dream? It was I! It is still I ! And will always be me! So you better get use to the idea of me being your leader and let’s move on to business.
Ufoma please this isn’t military rule. You don’t force leadership on people. If you really are a leader as you claim; then you will let the people vote you in.
This is so funny. I laughed. Vote me in Bisi? I am already in! I brought you girls. So what are we saying here.
Ufoma, I don’t like what is going on. The manager said as he stood up from the seat he sat on listening to our arguments. Look, five groups of girls came here for this audition, and your group emerged winner. But if you all aren’t in order as a team with a consented leader, then I would have no choice but to disqualify you all. I mean, all I asked was for you girls to pick a leader and you have been here wasting my time arguing.
Mr Amos, please give us some minuets we need to settle this out. I was the one who walked into this company to register the group for this audition, and paid a fee of 2,500 naira. I am the one you know. So I don’t even know why me being the leader should be an issue here. Please explain that to them. I pleaded.
Ufoma I understand you. But lots of small talks have been going underground from your group which you aren’t aware of. So just to get things very clear and documented today, I suggest we settle this once and for all. You girls have to be a team in unity not just in number.
There is nothing to waste time on. Bisi lamented. Let’s just vote who our leader will be. Is that too hard Ufoma? Or are you scared you will lose.
Those words cut my heart into two. One side was a wounded pride and the other a broken trust. How could Bisi do this to me and now? She waited on till now to show her true colors? Are all the girls on her side? Ungrateful like her, or as irritated as me staring at Bisi now. Okay Bisi let’s vote. I managed to say. All these girls can’t be like her. I reasoned.
The vote was done and read out loud by the manager who stood on neutral grounds. Bisi you have thirteen votes. Ufoma, obviously just you voted for yourself. So its decided; Bisi is now the leader of this group. Miss Bisi; He continued. Please come with me and let’s go meet the CEO of the company. From henceforth, you will be the one communicating to your girls what the CEO has in mind. With that Bisi left with Mr Amos and I was left to wonder in misery- what just happened.
Never give up!
Sometimes, life can play a better parent.
I couldn’t stay there any longer. I was just going to die if I did. I needed to think, to comprehend this lose, this disappointment, this humiliation. So I just picked up my bad, switched off my phone and walked out of the building. There was no way I was going to let Bisi lead me. My whole body couldn’t take it. I was just too devastated, too frustrated and I vowed at that moment; never to trust anyone again! How could this world be so cruel. How could everything just become dark all of a sudden. How could my whole world shatter right in front of me, by my own peer! My own peer. Was life really that small? That anyone and anything can just disrupt it all of a sudden like its nothing? I smell something, and what I smell is death.
How I got home that day, I do not know and cannot even remember. But I do remember pretending dead as I laid on my bed. Father came in to see me and I heard him asking if I won’t have something to eat, and that someone was here to see me. I cannot remember what I told him that convinced him to let me be. But whatever it was, wasn’t actually what did. It took me the next morning before I found out.
While I slept, I dreamt grandfather was around and he had been the one dad said wanted to see me. Grandfather and I always quarreled and I was glad I slept off instead of facing him that night alongside my problems. Our quarrels were always based on that I looked so much like my wayward mother; as he always referred to her. He said my mother is the ugliest girl he had ever seen and didn’t know what my father saw in her. I am dark and skinny, tall with bony neck. Well he is actually right. I look like my mother and that annoyed me much more. But dad thought I was the face of Africa, the most beautiful African lady he had ever met. He fondly called me his African queen. The same pet name that got my mother to his bed not just once, but trice. Yes, father is a charmer.
© 2020 Jade George Anibor