There is an old market woman growing inside of me.
My mother weeps for me the night I birth blood. I feel the turbulence of an ocean in my womb being emptied. She says I have become a woman and I want to celebrate my womanhood but my brother looks morose and my father has fear in his eyes. She grabs hold of me and whispers, “if a boy touches you…”, then she stops to analyze the canvas on my uniform. I am nine years old.
Now, I am fifteen. I grow the seeds of my womanhood and harvest a new body. It is my transfiguration. I harvest along with my body, an insecurity and an uncertainty of self. It is habit to recite affirmations. And with affirmations, I learn silence and submissiveness.
There is a place of tranquility. I was sixteen when I stopped following the backside of my mother through crevasses of the market. The day I have my feet for guidance, a man eats of this harvest of my body. He grabs hold of its fruits in the ruckus of this selling place. And the women throw their bodies backward, but for one who is staring. She is seated on a wooden stool with a barrow before her. She looks at me, whispers some instructions. I hear her say bow. I hear her say scream the kind of scream that puts prematurely born men into the gutters. So, I let out a piercing sound and watch my goliath whimper.
There is a place of trouble. It is on the lap of a man. The market woman will wait at the door of my matrimony while my parents revel in what’s left of my dowry. She has taught me well. I’m twenty-four, she says, my aspirations should not die on his bed. My husband did not promise me love. He promised me his honesty, his sons. I told him I wanted daughters. He laughed.
My uncertainty in marriage leads me to the market. I contort my way through waves of people and unlock the doors that led me here, listening. I hear her say she is tired. Her spirit leaves me when I place her hand on my back, and she lets out her last breath. It spells out a name Nneoma, “good mother”. I say I will name the market woman growing inside of me Nneoma. A woman has made me a woman.
Now, a crowd circles the figure in the distance. He has tattered clothing and hair like cocoa plantation dusted in earth. He folds with his hands to his ears. My heart forgets to beat. Beat, I whisper. And he lets out a piercing sound. It’s a melody in fact. I hear it. I see it. It’s beautiful because it is not silence.
Amarachi Ike (
@amiethegrace), known by her pen name “Amie”, is from Orumba North LGA, Anambra state. She writes a range of genres for fun as well as to develop her craft. Some of her works are available online on platforms such as wattpad and okadabooks. Her first big success is her ongoing story, SS1 which boasts three thousand views and counting on Wattpad. She is also a first year student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and aspires to be the best version of herself . When she is not writing, she is tutoring the sciences via her online platform, The Atom.
Related country: Nigeria