ISSUE 5 | JULY 2022 | REINCARNATION
I like that I was named after you; it’s one of the things we share in common. Mummy says I look like you, I don’t see it, though. I wonder how you’re doing, if you’re okay, if you miss Mummy like she misses you, and if there truly is life after death so that you get to see each other again. I wish I had gotten the chance to know you, and you, me.
There’s so much I have to tell you, Felicity, so much. I don’t know, would you have liked the woman I’ve become? You see, I grew up determined not to make the mistakes and choices you made; the same mistakes and choices Mummy made, but along the way, I ended up making a few big ones.
Felicity, you chose wrong, and the universe decided to punish you for that. It wasn’t your fault, though. You didn’t know he would hit you. You didn’t know he would threaten to keep your children away from you if you left him. You didn’t know he would marry a second wife and force you to take care of her with your own money. You didn’t know. Mummy told me she asked you to leave him, but you couldn’t bear to be separated from your children, so you stayed.
The time you wanted to travel to Delta state to see your people, he said you could only take three children out of six with you. That way, he was sure you wouldn’t leave him. I’m sorry you had to live that way for years. It took him dying for you to feel free. So free that you left the home he forced you to share with your co-wife and moved to a different city, and you went back to being a Christian; I know you only practiced Islam because of him. Khadijah, that was the name you took when you became a Muslim, that was the name my parents gave me. I prefer the name Felicity, it describes you perfectly.
Felicity, I was with a man who hit me. Sometimes I wonder what you would have done if you were still alive. Would you have supported me? Taught him a lesson, maybe? Or would you have shamed me for finding myself in that situation?
Your other daughter was married to a man who hit her. She stayed, until she died. That’s not entirely true, she did leave him, but the elders at the church she went to reconciled them. Then she went back, then she stayed, then she died. Did she think that that was a semblance of a normal marriage? Maybe she did because she watched you endure yours for years. Mummy misses her every day. I cry whenever I think about her.
Felicity, I can’t count the number of lovers I’ve had. Do you know why they’re so many? I am determined to not be like you, so I end things at the littlest sign of abuse or disrespect. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh, but it is the truth. Sometimes I think I’m incapable of loving anyone, because I go into these relationships searching, scratch that, hoping to find a flaw so I have an excuse to leave.
Felicity, I left religion and broke Mummy’s heart. I asked if she would’ve preferred I converted to Christianity, like you, and she didn’t have an answer. She thinks I’m being woke and that it’s a passing phase, yes, she uses the word “woke”. I bet if you were here you would’ve been so confused by the concept of being woke. Do you want to know why I became agnostic? I wish I knew, so that I could give Mummy a definite answer because she’s always asking.
Felicity, not long ago, I missed my period and had to make a tough decision. I was afraid, with no one to hold my hand and tell me it was going to be okay. It reminded me of how you had a hysterectomy without asking him after you had your last child by caesarian section. Of course, it’s not the same thing, I just like to draw parallels so I can feel close to you.
You wanted better for yourself. I know that because you had to secretly write your WASSCE without him finding out. You passed but didn’t do anything with your certificate because you couldn’t risk him knowing about it, so you gave it to your friend to help hide it for you and what did she do? She stole your identity and used the result to get a teaching job for herself. You couldn’t fight her because, again, you couldn’t risk him finding out. Mummy says she’s a lecturer in a federal university now. I’m sorry she did that to you.
Mummy went back to school, she has her masters now and intends to get her Ph.D. You would’ve been proud of her. She’s one of the reasons I work as hard as I do, I intend to make sure she lacks nothing. I told her she shouldn’t expect marriage or grandchildren from me —I can’t afford to be distracted. She thinks I’m going through a rebellious phase, but I’m not rebelling against anyone or anything, I’m just not conservative like she wants me to be.
Here’s a secret: I got a tattoo! It’s a beautiful butterfly just above my left lower rib. You definitely would’ve disapproved, just like your daughter, that’s why I kept it hidden from her.
Felicity, you were so young, 52 years young. You deserved to live till at least 80. I curse the illness that didn’t give you enough time to truly live.
Mummy says we share similar mannerisms, she calls me Felicity sometimes. I don’t know, maybe we’re the same person, literally and figuratively. Maybe, you came back as me to take care of Mummy and live unapologetically because the first time wasn’t a success.
Felicity, Khadijah, Dora, beautiful names for a wonderful woman who I never got to meet, yet I feel like I’ve carried a piece of her with me my whole life. You did well, Felicity, and I’ll do better for you and me, for us. Continue to rest.
Khadijah S. Adamu
Khadijah S. Adamu was born and brought up in Kano, Nigeria. She is a practicing pharmacist who enjoys writing in her spare time. She also enjoys reading, though she barely has the time to do much of that anymore. On a regular day, she loves to stop for a cone of ice cream and a slice of cake (preferably chocolate) on her way home from work. She has two cats, loves dogs and hopes to get one when she moves into a place of her own. Her all-time favorite shows include Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Grey’s Anatomy. On her day off work, she binge-watches any good show she can find on Netflix. She enjoys music from the 90s more than music from any other era, only that from the early 2000s comes close.
Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash