WORDS ON A PAGE: 'NEW SLAVES' BY NOYA SEDI

NEW SLAVES

This is the world in which I live. Where modern day slavery is celebrated; where voicelessness is applauded.

I had the envy of some, and the admiration of others as I danced out in my gold-coloured attire, red heels matching the colour of the numerous beads on my neck as the elderly ones lavished me with praises and Naira Notes.

A bridesmaid collects "spray"—Naira notes (and sometimes dollars too) thrown

A bridesmaid collects "spray"—Naira notes (and sometimes dollars too) thrown

Many females dream of the day they leave the house of their parents for that of their husband; they envision the day they drop the name of their overbearing parents and embrace their husband's; the day they transition from Miss to Mrs.; the day they no longer have to live by the rules of their parents, but by their own rules - the day they are 'free'.

Did I have similar dreams? Of course! I dreamt of my wedding and the life after. It was all I dreamt of since I was 13. As a little girl, I was told a woman's pride hinged on her ability to find a man who thought her worthy enough to get married to.

My reality however, has been far from the dream. The day I danced out of my father's arms into that of my husband, was the day I danced from freedom to societal imprisonment.

A woman with a flower in her dreadlocked hair looks of into the distance. 

A woman with a flower in her dreadlocked hair looks of into the distance. 

This is what a typical day for me is like. My alarm goes off at 6:30am. I wake up and turn to my husband who doesn't even stir (alarms don't wake him). 

My first move is to clean up the house. He had 'suggested' that since I wake up early to get him ready for work anyway, I 'might as well do some cleaning here and there'. Cleaning doesn't involve much, it's a two-bedroom bungalow and few minutes of dusting, sweeping the corners and mopping parts of the house do the trick. 

After cleaning I see that it's a minute past 7. 

After a minute of calling out his name and nudging him around, my husband is finally up and he proceeds to brush his teeth.

My next move is to prepare his breakfast because God forbid he goes to work on an empty stomach. Bread is the breakfast choice. He eats his bread with either eggs or stew. He says butter should be reserved for baking and nobody above 18 should have jam in his diet.

I fry two eggs and serve it with six slices of bread in hopes that he would be out of the bathroom soon. He emerges shortly after, dressed for work, jacket in hand (the jacket is worn after breakfast). He places his free hand on his waist and does his usual silent, one minute inspection of the house (to ensure it's well cleaned), then hangs his jacket on the dining chair, gobbles down his breakfast, picks up his jacket and dashes out the house.

I go back to the bedroom and sleep till 11am. When I wake up, I'm immediately bored. I don't have many friends in the neighbourhood because we are new and most of my other friends have jobs or businesses, none of which I have. Did I mention I have a degree in International Relations? But according to my husband, of what use is my working we can conveniently fend for us.

After taking a bath and having breakfast, I watch TV till 2pm. Still bored, I consider calling my mum but immediately change my mind. In her world, I'm living 'the perfect life'. I got married at an early age, my husband has a good job, he takes care of me, doesn't beat me up or cheat on me. As a matter of fact, it's about time I started having kids so I can 'lock this marriage'.

I watch TV for another three hours, after which I start cooking beans (he closes at 6pm and always returns 'famished').

 

Lunch is right on time as I hear the blaring of his horn right after turning off the gas. After opening the gate and ushering him in, he declares his hunger, reminding me he hasn't eaten since 'that small bread of this morning.' He quickly removes his shoes, discards his jacket and tie, unbuttons his shirt and sprawls on the sofa to await his meal.

Immediately after the meal, he stumbles into the bedroom, leaving his jacket, tie and shoes behind.

After placing our dishes in the sink, I take his clothes and shoes to the bedroom, where he reminds me he would have 'something small' before bed,

Fried yam and eggs are what I serve him a few minutes past 9.

"Egg again?" He remarks.

I ignore him and shortly after, he dozes off on the sofa. I wash the plates, then wake him and we go to the bedroom.

 I drift off thinking of the three meals I would cook the next day. 


You can see more of Noya Sedi's writings here: 

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