Today I'm hosting Nigerian author, Nigerian author, Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu as part of a week-long online book tour for The Domestication of Munachi. Join the tour here, where you can ask the author questions. Here, I share excerpts of this debut novel along with readings from the author courtesy of Paressia. Copies of the book can be purchased at the Magunga bookstore for readers in East Africa.
First up a reading and excerpt from page 62:
First up a reading and excerpt from page 62:
I watched Aunty Chimuanya turn five shades of red before she lifted her hand to halt my story mid-way. Her right foot tapped against the floor; her bangles clattered; her head made rapid movements from side to side. I was enthralled because I had never seen her this angry. I had never seen her angry, period. I had expected her silence but I had not expected her to turn around and spit on my feet, which was what she did two minutes later. She was careful that the spit did not land on her Italian rug which Friday had told me was imported from Dubai. I was worried that I had been too quick to tell the story. Maybe I should have waited for her to rest from her Dubai trip.
“Are you a child?” A red painted finger pointed at me. “Ehn? Munachi?”
I shook my head.
“Were you born yesterday that you will disgrace me like this?”
“Aunty, I did not do anything oh.” I lifted my hands in the air to prove my innocence. I expected an angel to poke down from heaven and corroborate my story, but nothing happened. “He came at me like a…like a…”
“And so what?” She said and thought for a moment as her face took on the incandescent glow of someone who had just got an idea. “No wonder he refused to take my call. Hey, this girl you have killed me.”
I was at loss what she was talking about. Was it that my aunty could not understand what I was trying to say? Maybe I should have painted the story exactly as it happened instead of blocking off some crude parts?
“Aunty, Chief Momoh tried to rape me.”
She laughed. I could see a half chewed bitter kola lodged on a molar as she threw her head back and guffawed. Tears coloured her eyes.
“That small man? What can he possibly do to you?” She raked a hand up and down the length of my body. “All he wants is just a little play, that’s all. He likes small girls, didn’t I tell you before?”
I shuddered as the image of his cold snake eyes and quick fingers slithered through me. I pressed a finger to my temple and shut my eyes to calm the throbbing there and was unaware Aunty Chimuanya was studying me.
“My dear,” she said softly. “I wouldn’t want something bad for you. Mbanu. You are the child I would have wished to have had I been more homely. If you left Eliza far back in Awka and travelled all the way to Lagos to hustle like the rest of us, then you need to hustle to the very end.”
I heard a rustling and saw that Aunty had moved closer to me.
“Have you heard the latest?”
She thought for a moment and shook her head chasing the thoughts away. An easy smile crept along the line of her mouth deleting the worry brackets that had appeared around her mouth.
“My dear, you don’t have all that time to waste looking for a half-baked job in this Lagos. Chief Momoh would have given you an easier and faster route up those ladders that many women will not find even if they go searching for it. My sales girl, Njideka? She holds a Masters degree from University of Lagos. Engineering. But life has taught her nwiiiii,” she dragged her bottom lids down to show the red mushy part of her eyes.
“Now that she has suffered enough, she is now a common sales girl. Do you want that to happen to you?”
I shook my head.
“Or wait oh…” She studied me with piercing eyes. I grew uncomfortable.
“Are you a virgin?”
I squirmed in my seat. How do you answer that question to an older woman who happened to be your mother’s sister?
Second, a reading and excerpt from page 117:
NJIDEKA GOT ME thinking about my new lover. After sharing my body in the most intimate way, I was curious to know more about him. I was not sure I was ready yet to know about his family because I was desperate to keep that part of him away from our visits. I had asked about his full name the last time we met.
“Kolade Johnson,” he had replied with amusement dancing in his eyes. “Did you not look at the card I gave you the first day we met?”
Shamed stained my cheeks. I had looked at the card just once—the day I returned his call—and I had not even taken time to memorise his full name.
This weekend, as I watched him stroll naked to the bathroom, I resisted the urge to lean over and rummage through his things for any other information that I could tie to him. His perfume, rich like the smell in the air after rain kissed hot earth, teased my nostrils. We were in the same hotel we had been the last time and it occurred to me that this may be his lovers’ nest where he took all the women he claimed as mistresses. The thought angered me but humbled me as I thought of what this life could mean for me.
Few minutes later, he returned and slipped into bed beside me. He nuzzled an ear and I giggled as his goatee brushed my cheek.
“What are you thinking, sweetheart?”
“That was too quick a reply. You know what I am thinking?”
“I am thinking we should spend the whole day together since I don’t really have anywhere to go.” He gently pushed me up. “I got you something.”
A ripple of excitement churned through my belly as he bent over and retrieved something from the drawer beside him. He held open a little box. It held the most beautiful ear rings I had ever seen or owned in my life. Tiny gold lights twinkled in the seductive balls dangling from slender stems attached to hooks.
“Thank you sir,” I gushed and threw myself at him.
I felt—rather than hear—him chuckle before he gently pushed me away. “I gave Dotun some money to pay into your account. It should reflect by Monday.”
I was so excited that I blurted without thinking, “Your wife must be the luckiest woman in the world. You are so generous.”
A tense minute followed my response after which he stood up and started putting on his clothes in that slow, calculated manner of his. My last sentence hung heavy in the air. Forbidden.
“Where are you going?” Panic coated my voice.
“I have decided that I need to go home after all,” he simply said. “The driver will return to pick you up. It’s best you get ready.”
“KJ…I’m sorry.” Tears burned hot behind my eyes.
He gave me a wry smile. “You are young and there are lots of things you have to learn which I am ready to be patient for. But one thing you need to learn quickly is separating realities, my dear, because I find it difficult handling two realities at the same time. That’s why I am with you now. For this moment. Now. Here.”
He leaned over and planted a quick kiss on my cheek. His lips were cold. “For now, this reality is over,” he said quietly and left without looking back. His words felt like the caress of a feather across my cheeks.
It was what I hated most about him. He never looked back.
Want to know more? Join the online tour here.