by Angel Nwobodo

Girls like you have no history – Second Runner-up of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Poetry Category)

Women like us carry shame in our names – mother.

Your mother shows you pictures of her – the honey-gold beauty that is her skin, the thick docility tucked in her small body and your Father’s gaze lost in the fiery brown pits that are her eyes. You trace the line where their hands fold into each other, their bodies enclosed in a familiarity that confuses you, bewilders you. Your Father whispers something in her ear and she lets out a shy, mechanic laughter, something that rings in your ears later because you keep comparing it with the unrestrained summer that is your mother’s. Your mother sticks a knife where her mouth opens and you know she is carving a home for silence.


You see the next picture as you head to her shop at the mall, the one Father pays for each month with a cheque addressed to the manager, the one she pays for with his cooked meals and his starched suits and her wild-summer laughter behind closed doors. You see them with little moving pictures of themselves, three little boys with her honey-gold skin and her fiery brown eyes and your mother looks at you with regret because the image stuck to your body has no claim of her, you are all your Father.
This is the new woman in our lives, Ada. This is the solid proof of my shame.
Her voice is a deep shade of sorrow and you realize she has lost this war even before it started.

You will learn that girls with no homes tucked beneath their skin are like birds who never learnt to weave nests. You will learn it from your Father and you will learn it from your mother. You will remember this on days you crave for the laughter in your father’s voice and find nothing but empty memories.


You will learn that the truth changes nothing- each day your mother will appear with his cooked meals and his starched suits and a smile on her face like old paint peeling from walls because any fire can be quenched by the silence of a man’s face.

You will learn that you can surrender your consciousness for the taste of a man’s mouth, for the feeling that loving gives you, like your mother did.

You will realize that girls like you were not made to find love, that they are like ghosts, looking for love and for names and for histories in strange faces just to come to life. That your mother was one of these girls. That like you, she has no claim over your Father. That like you, she was only meant to fit her body in small spaces of light to get rid of her own darkness.

You will realize then, with grief so palpable your chest splits in two, you are the echo of your mother’s shame.



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