Story by Mbam onyinyechi @MbamOnyii
“Diee ya nwam! Obu tee idu reeeh.”_ endure my daughter it is for your own good to make you a complete woman. Just a matter of days the pains will be over. Those are the exact words of my mother to Nnedi my elder sister.
Nnedi is 2 years older than I am, she is 15 and the first of my mother’s three children. Nnedi is a very quiet one. She never speaks when mother is talking. People often say she took after Auntie Nkechi, my mother’s younger sister who they said was known to be very quiet and can stay indoors all day and not see sunrise or set.
Nnedi is tall and lanky. Every of our neighbor call her Agbani –miss world. They say she is beautiful and one day she will become miss world, or the Governor’s wife or even the President’s wife. Mother calls her Olaedo m, a pet name for my gold.
It is the first week of august, the rains are pouring heavily without breaks. School has vacated and therefore no going to school. Every August, mother takes us the village to stay with grandma. She said is so we become acquainted with our culture and enjoy what it feels like to be in the village.
Before every August, I always bubble with excitement at the thought of holiday at the village. I usually went bush hunting for rats, Grass cutter, locusts and termite with my cousins. After every hunt, Ifeoma my oldest cousin will help us cook the bush rat and grass cut into pepper soup that was very delicious and the smell made you savor even before it is ready. Nnedi would fry the locust and termite with red oil, pepper and salt and we would all eat.
This morning, after fetching water from a nearby stream called okpuru, Grandma called Nnedi into her room and I followed. On reaching Grandma’s room, mother was there. She asked me to go look after Ugwunna my little brother who was playing all by himself in the sitting room. I leave the room and she shuts the door. I do as if am going to the sitting but divert to the back yard to peep through a crack in Grandma’s window.
I could see an elderly woman sitting by the corner of the room, clutching a black Polytene bag. There is a mat spread at the centre of the room. Nnedi is sitting on grandma’s lap while grandma sits at the edge of her bed. Mother stands by the door with a worried face. The old woman is saying something to mother and grandma in a low tone that I cant hear them. The next thing I see is mother undressing Nnedi and asking her to lie down on the mat. The old woman brings out a pair of old rusted scissors, a tiny shiny razor blade and a small clay pot. Nnedi starts fidgeting on seeing the razor blade and the scissors. Mother tells her to be calm that everything will be fine. As Nnedi lay down, Grandma holds her legs and spreads it apart while the old woman bends down over Nnedi’s leg and puts her hand in between her legs.
The next thing I heard was a sharp piercing cry from Nnedi. Mother consoles her, calling her pet names- Olaedo m, akwaugo m, nwa nji ejemmba…
The old woman stands up and goes back to her seat. Grandma releases her grip of Nnedi’s leg and she stands. I saw blood rushing out from in between her legs amidst her intensified cries.
I start crying too and I vow to myself, I will never allow mother and Grandma to do the same to me.