You are a Margaret, born to a raffia weaver, and a petty trader.
You struck the doh to understanding silence at age 3, after your mother scored two quick slaps on your face because you wanted ice-cream and had cried out for it.
She told you: “No carry our nakedness comot for open” as if she weren’t already letting you roam au naturel because buying meat for your father’s food was more important than clothes for a 3-year-old.
Of course, very soon, the neighbors are singing your praise because you don’t run after ice-cream-men as their children do. You don’t know what ice-cream tastes like, but that’s okay.
You eat your lessons in the kitchen first, and then in your mother’s room as you get older:
“Close your leg, Margaret. You no know sey na girl you be? If you siddon jam your leg together.”
“Wen I bin dey your age, I don dey carry dis basin go stream go fetch water. I go sweep compound on top, come cook food wey we go chop.”
"Girls no dey talk too much, dem no dey do too much. How you wan take get husband?”
“Dat boy wey I see you follow talk dat time na wetin e say e want?”
These things are important; but also are the science practicals, the essays, arithmetics, the things you’re taught in school.
Your grades begin to drop like jowls. Apparently, your mother knows she’s wasting a perfectly good child, if you don’t come home from school and come help her in the kitchen; or if you don’t spend the better half of the day learning new ways to better sell her soap bars in the street because you’re a fine girl now with developing breasts.
You want to tell her that you feel quite antithetical to what she has you do. That you’ve got this tune in your heart that you’d rather play to. However, for some strange reason, there’s a firm clamping on your soul. It’s something that has always been there, glowing, like a black flame. This same thing now tongues you to marry this man. Because God, who is also your mother, has willed it, and your father will sit on a raffia mat and enjoy the dividends.
“James go be better husband,” your mother effuses. “E get money. You no go suffer like you bin suffer here.”
What she means to tell you is that this is their time to sit, and bask in the small monies of an in-law.
Your baptism into the world of other Margarets isn’t one of fire or water. It is one of the birds of like feathers flocking together. Of the sisterhood in plastic smiles and dental smokescreens. Of stolen selves, dreams, and desires.
Not long after, you will have a Margaret. She will cry. You will love her. But you cannot teach what you do not have.