Ogbom (My Namesake)

I grew up with my grandmother and it was the trickiest childhood experience that I’ve seen anybody have. This story is not about me but about “Nwanyi Obi” Matriarch of the thresholds (I had to carefully put in vocabularies that’ll make this story make sense to you as much as possible).

My grandmother left my grandfather and married a very rich man, the richest in the whole town because her husband liked to “play small” she used to say. He was okay with Small things but “Ogbom” meaning “My namesake” liked to test the waters and break boundaries. Her new husband broke his promise and my grandmother had very little to do with him anymore. He withdrew all her privileges, every single one of them and she didn’t bear him a son, so he really kicked her aside and she saw young wives waltz in one after another enjoying the things she was promised and she became a sad person.

But even in her anger, she knew the strength she harboured, “Ogbom” worked harder than any woman I’ve met and she always told me that I’ll get to predict my life if I don’t depend on a man to give me things and she never did, she never asked any man for anything. She pulled her veins to stand where only men stood.

But she had too much love to keep brooding about a man that is not worth it. So she married a wife, I remember the fights after she brought her home, to her husband’s palace!!!! People would threaten her and beat her wife when she goes to the bushes to shit.

Nwaka is a poor orphan who became sex prey for men in the village, my grandmother had gone to her village for a relative’s funeral and saw her, she walked straight to her and asked who she is, she asked to see her family and told then she’d like to adopt her, she was told the only way she could leave the village to live in another is only if she were married, Ogbom slept in her village for two nights so she could marry her and she pulled all the plugs she had to and made it happen.

When she brought Nwaka home she went and informed her husband she has her own wife now and demanded that he asks everybody to address her as “Her wife”. Everywhere erupted, I was a child but I remember. The whole village erupted, people protested, she was ostracized, barred and denounced but she didn’t give a care, she protected my aunt and I with her might, and we never went anywhere alone.

Her wife was housebound and if she must go anywhere (she went to Ebonyi state and got bodyguards) she goes with the guards. For as much as I can remember Nwaka was happy, my grandmother loved her to bits and showed it, she bought her the best there was in the market.

I knew they slept on the same bed but I’m not sure they ever made love, I never saw them touch or kiss but she pampered her to bits, Nwaka never went to the farm or streams.

But Nwaka broke her heart, this woman she was using to teach men how to treat a woman and women how to be treated by others betrayed her. She fought everybody for Nwaka even when Nwaka was wrong.

She was not perfect but there isn’t a person she couldn’t love right and she did. She loved everybody well but Nwaka hurt her.

She wanted a particular title so bad, she worked hard and saved hard for it, she had saved enough to buy everything she needed and one day she went to sell her rice and came back to an empty house. Nwaka was gone, Nwibo(one of the bodyguards) was gone too, she was so sad for weeks before she realised Nwaka and Nwibo had stolen her money too, all her savings. She fell; she screamed and didn’t talk for a few days, she was broken. I was so small, I couldn’t even lift her legs well when we took her to the bed. I thought she was going to die but she didn’t.

The next few days she stopped mourning and went back to drowning in her hustle, she’d clear a whole farmland in a day and harvest a rice field in two days and have the largest vegetable farm, she became angry and cried a lot of, she started to remember all the people who had hurt her and she stopped making efforts with people.

She worked like a donkey and took her title despite the setbacks but it took so much from her. Despite her heartbreak she still didn’t forget her wife even while bedridden, she still hoped Nwaka would come and see her one last time but she didn’t come.

My grandmother, she gave me the wings I needed to fly. After I realised my sexuality I didn’t need anybody’s validation nor take in the pressure of marriage and other patriarchal conformations, I knew it was about what I wanted and how I want to live my life and for that, I am grateful to “Ogbom” (My Namesake).

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