Igbophilia in Amurika: ‘My Predicament’

Look, I swore to myself that there would be no ‘Hello from Amurika’ blog posts. There would be no ‘Oh look, forced-culture-shock’ posts or ‘I-am-immigrant’ posts because, let’s face it, they are boring and award-bait-y and I have visited the country several times before now. Besides, I have never seen anywhere I did not simultaneously belong to and yet be estranged from, even when I was growing up in Awka. I already belong here. I just have to get used to saying ‘Restrooms’ instead of ‘Loos’ so that people will stop looking at me strangely.

Bhet look eh, I am sorry because this one thing in Amurika ate my mouth and allow me to gist my story because it is an egwu of a something.

In London, I remember once running for the bus in heels, running so hard that breathing sounded like trying to suck akamu with a straw through my nostrils. My chest hurt, my calves pulled tight and yet I ran, exposing my ‘predicament’ as my dress blew up in the wind.

“Wait!” I shouted, hand raised. At least I thought I was shouting but seeing as I couldn’t breathe, it might have all been in my head. My bag slid off my shoulder and I clawed at it. Just as I was getting to the first set of doors and with the last passenger still beseeching the driver on my behalf, the doors shut and the driver pulled away.

That was the day I swore by Amadioha for the first time. What kind of wickedness was this?  A guy at the bus stop smirked at me. I wanted to cry. He’d seen my ‘predicament’ – my pink predicament under my dress, possibly my belly button too – and now I was going to be left alone with him until the next bus arrived.

A few years later, I saw this advert and realised that London bus drivers were collectively Legion, the spawns of Satan. It is known.

Fast forward to Amurika, the day before yesterday on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, MA and my family and I were across the road when the bus we needed pulled up and loaded.  My heart skipped a beat. The red hand flashed red. We couldn’t cross. I stamped my feet and waited. The lights changed. I dashed across the road, signalling the driver. He waited….and waited…my heart fell. I knew he was going to pull away once I got to him.

HE DID NOT. The driver jejely opened the door and let us all in. And what’s more important, none of the passengers hissed, cursed, sighed or shouted at the driver. He even bid us a good evening as we entered his air conditioned kingdom. HALLELUJA SOMBORRI!

Amurika is sweeth. It might not be beans but it is certainly moi-moi and I shall eat it up, nyum nyum nyummy.

 

Advertisements

‘Soursop’ my new short story in Apex Magazine

Hello everyone,

How time flies and Happy New Year.  I know, I know. I am using this site more as an archive for my work, but really can you blame me since my mother is now a follower? No, you cannot.

Anyway, I have a new short story out today in Apex Magazine. You can read it here or click on the cover below.

Apex 80 cover

I just love the illustration. It reminds me of someone between Prince Robot IV and Dengo in Saga. Some middle-class robot.

(And if you haven’t read Saga, what on earth are you waiting for????!? [Just bear in mind it is NSFW, R18, PG, S, V, N, L and reader discretion is very advised. Also, don’t leave it out where old people on beta blockers/heart medication or fitted with pacesetters might take an interest. You’ve been warned!] Go get volume 1 now.)

I hope you enjoy the story!

 

 

Uda ume : Igbo vowels

I’ve just started teaching my kid the rules of Igbo grammar and I thought I should share one of his first lessons with you.

Below are the Igbo vowels with pronunciations:

a – (pron. Ah) Example: ‘Aka’ (Ah-kah). Hand.

e – (pron. Eh) Example: ‘Egbe’. Gun*

i -(pron. Eee) Example: ‘Ite’ (It-ae). Pot.

ị – (with a dot underneath the ‘i’)  – Same as the sound at the beginning of ‘inch’. Example: ‘Isha’. Crayfish.

o – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘own’ but without saying the ‘w’ sound. (i.e. not ‘ou’). Example: ‘Obi’. Heart.

ọ –  (With a dot underneath) – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘On’. Example: ‘Ọka’. Corn.

u- (pron. ‘Oo’) Example: Uwe. Dress.

ụ – Example: ‘Ụka’. Church.

 

Let us review:

 

*Egbe contains an ‘uda mkpi’ which is two sounds pronounced together. Perhaps the closest approximation would be a diphtong. More on this later.

It irks me when people misspell things in Igbo, especially if they’re people I have grown up with in back east because WHAT WERE YOU DOING DURING (COMPULSORY) IGBO LESSONS? Okay, fine I was playing too, but I’ve since rectified this.

(If you grew up outside Naija and did not learn Igbo, my ire does not extend to you.)

With regards to the above rant, the vowel ‘ị’ is also the vowel used to refer to ‘you’. Example: ‘You are looking for trouble’ would be:

“ị n’acho m okwu” and NOT: “E n’acho m okwu”.

Homework: Think of other igbo words that contain these vowels. Write them down with the correct letters.

Ka ọ dị ụbọchi ọzọ. Till next time.

 

 

My grandfather’s house.

I’m writing a scene in my book which draws on my image of this house and it occurred to me that I was not even remembering it how it appears in this photo.

 

IMG_3025.JPG

I remember when the cherry bush on the right was on both sides and full of berries. Behind the hedge on the left, there was a rectangular metal tank, the old ones that used to be mounted on blocks of wood, that gave you warm water when the sun was directly overhead and whose taps could be padlocked. Remember those? We used to love dashing around the compound and knocking on the tank, especially when it was half-full because only then did it make the most beautiful music (there is a doorway in the wall beside the bush on the left).

The house seemed small and dark the last time I was in Oba, in April. It was always dark but it wasn’t always small. It was and wasn’t the same house, as I was and was not the same person standing in it.  All behind the back of the formerly spacious compound, my uncles are building houses of their own and my father wants to tear down this house because it’s “old anyway” and a hazard. It could fall at any time, he says. I managed to convince him to let us do it up, make it stronger but keep it the way it is. I’m fed up with all the tearing down, all the newness in Nigeria — even if I understand it.

I understand that ‘New’ is synonymous with prosperity, status and progress and for many people who have grown up with nothing or a little -in the shadows of a world to which it seemed they would never belong –  it is the way to go. But it irks me that people pay good money on visas to go to countries where they trundle around  in buses to visit other people’s old houses, their dilapidated abodes, ruins with the dust of ancient farts lingering in the breeze.

At the same time, a part of me wonders if newer is not simply easier. All around me during my last trip, my mind struggled to play catch-up, to reconcile the things I was seeing with places, houses, even people that no longer existed. It was hard to look for myself in popular haunts and not find me. It must be brutal to have to live with that every day. So, people build. To carry on.

It is in human nature to want to exceed our parents’ achievements. I get that. But at the expense of a blank slate where history should be? I would wager not.