When I came to Granny Arome, I was six, too young to understand my mother’s death but old enough to know that my father had abandoned me because ‘I am a waste of his resources.’
In short form -a girl
Before she took me in, she looked at my crying self, and she said
“ Forget your father and take my Achonu name.”
There was a firm resolution and sadness in her eyes, and instantly I felt like we were kindred spirits.
“Okay,” I whispered
“Darling child, before you accept this name, I must tell you that insanity and beauty run in the Achonu blood. You already have our beauty, and some may assume that you have our mania too.”
What is insanity? What is mania? All I knew was that this beautiful greyed woman wanted me, and I needed her.
I realize now that’s the words ‘I accept’ were a promise and the seal of our partnership.
From that day till she died, I knew that she loved me, unequivocally, irrationally, unconditionally, perhaps not unconditional because maybe she loved me more for the fact that I am an Achonu.
From the moment I stepped into her house, she told me stories every evening without fail. She would begin her stories with the phrase- ‘There was a time.’
At first, I was fascinated, awed by this woman that had so many experiences. I wanted to open up her head and see, but I also wanted to hear her tell it. Her face was always rich in expressions, and in some moments, pure delight like a child.
When I was eight, she was a beautiful storyteller, and as I turned fifteen, she became a dictator. A fierce old-school woman, holding me back from experiencing life like my peers.
My friends said their parents would talk about her, and they said she’s a crazy woman that would not respect her age and rest. And even though I shrugged them off, It made sense to me.
I had more than once seen her talking and laughing to herself like she was having a conversation. She’s a crazy old woman, no wonder she didn’t understand. I was full of righteous energy and ready to denounce her and regain my rightful freedom.
But as I entered the house, I could tell that there was something wrong.
It was too quiet, so quiet that I automatically started tiptoeing in my own house. Then I heard this heart-wrenching sound.
Who is that? It was coming from Granny Arome’s room. I tiptoed to the door and heard it even louder- broken loud sobs, like a woman wailing for her recently dead husband. I suddenly felt like I was trespassing, like I had seen something I shouldn’t.
It took me a week to gather enough courage to confront her about it, and she said
“ Darling child, may you never know loss as I have.”
And that was the end of it.