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I woke up with a headache this morning. Imagine my mother putting my hair in buns. Is it by force to make hair? I opened my mouth and screamed. She was there in a second to sooth me. Of course she didn’t figure out that it was her fault I was screaming; goes to show how insensitive parents can be sometimes.

From the minute I woke up, there was a clamour to hold me. First of all, I didn’t know half the people in the house. Secondly, I don’t know what people’s wahala is. Can’t they just leave me alone? The winner of the struggle was a woman with really prickly hair and she kept putting my face close to it and bouncing me in turns. Face in hair, bounce. Face in hair, bounce; like clockwork. And she wouldn’t relinquish me to anyone else. I rewarded her by sharing my first breakfast with her, making quite a mess on her dress. Of course she acted like it was okay but she wasn’t so reluctant to hand me over to my godmother after that.

My mother was busy chopping things and directing every one about. I was pretty patient with her even though it was time for second breakfast. My patience was all for nothing. She handed me to my grandmother for a bath.

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Yep, that’s her holding me.

Now here’s the thing about old people. They act like because they’re old they know everything.

“I was fairer than this when I was her age”. That’s my grandmother. Just because we weren’t there doesn’t mean you can say anything you like. Fairer than me ehn? And she bent my arms too far back in the name of massaging my muscles. I don’t do any heavy lifting so I wonder why they insist on torturing me after every bath session. I bore it stoically. Just in case you wonder how I know that word, ask my father. He says it all the time.

Next issue I had with the whole preparation was the dress. Pink and ruffled, very pretty and felt like sandpaper against my skin. The fact that I had just eaten and wanted to sleep took my mind off it. But I took a mental note. Complain later.

I slept.

Why on earth did they have to hand me over to a man who had no idea what to do with me? He almost dropped me in the name of raising me before the altar. I didn’t see the point and I would have been justified if he had dropped me, but luckily for me he didn’t. I’m sure it would have hurt. And my mother would be in jail.

I slept.

I woke up sometime during the service to take a better look at the others being tortured as I was. They didn’t seem to mind being presented at all. Traitors. One thing they all had in common was their size. They were about twice me. My mother must be underfeeding me. Note to self: protest more vehemently when the nipple is taken out of my mouth. Protesting any other time wouldn’t make a difference. My mother was hardcore. I knew from experience that crying didn’t faze her. I tried, it didn’t work. I moved on.

My mother must have noticed their sizes too because I overheard her talking with the lady with a lovely blue scarf. Luckily I heard the answer and heaved a sigh of relief. The traitor on the right was twice my age. She was a girl like me and had a purple bow in her hair, if you could refer to the tuft at the top of her head as hair. I’m not much better hairwise, but what I have is spread all over, thank you very much. I put my head back down.

I slept.

Next time I open my eyes, my grandmother is trying to pour the entire contents of a powder can all over me while my mother is trying to get another dress on me. See what I said about old people?

I slept.

‘Temituoyo Obianuju, may God bless your path as you go through life. You will be a source of joy to your parents, in Jesus name!’ That was my father’s mother’s voice. Who had all those names? My name is Charisse. It means Grace. First words I’m going to say, “Why didn’t you just name me Grace?” Nobody can pronounce my name (except my parents). I’ve heard them correct close to one hundred people. I wonder why they don’t take the hint and call me something simpler; like Sandra or Ann.

T. O. was just the beginning. I got about ten more names which everyone knows is just for show. I’m stuck with Charisse. I went back to sleep.

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Uninterrupted bliss.

I woke up. Dinner time was rudely interrupted by the entrance of a couple I had never seen before. It was not funny. One minute I was contentedly sucking away, the next I was being paraded. Good baby that I am, I obliged and smiled sweetly until the man commented on my staring at the fan so much. I didn’t have a choice. I was in his wife’s arms. All she did was look at me. She couldn’t even make silly sounds at me. I hate those but it’s a lot better than being stared at like I was expected to jump off her lap and tap dance. I also grew tired of looking at her too intent face and had to turn my attention to something more interesting. Talk about boring.

Finally, the stranglers (ask my father) went home and all was back to normal and I had my dinner in peace (thank God it never gets cold).

I slept.

Photo credit: Me

Model: Charisse Temituoyo Obianuju Edema

 

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