Joy is one of the most supportive members of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Nobody deserves this spot more than she does. She’s the one who’s always sharing our efforts on Twitter and other social media. Welcome Joy to Entertaining Stories.
THIS IS ALL ABOUT BOOKS
MIRROR OF OUR LIVES
Voices of Four Igbo Women
Nwanyi Di Mma (The Beautiful Woman)
Twenty years later, Ify is back in Port Harcourt, a professional woman. She first visits Diobu market, her childhood training ground. She remembers the old Diobu market as an open camp where sellers of all types of merchandise sold their goods. They made their shades from corrugated iron sheet or large umbrellas. There were no toilets. The waterside next to the market was used as the public toilet. Now the market has been completely rebuilt with concrete and permanent stalls, clean public toilets with attendants, and parking spaces for cars. She has returned to Port Harcourt ten years after her studies of cinematography at the School of Cinematography at Cinecittà in Rome. Port Harcourt is the city where she grew up. Port-Harcourt has always been a very clean city, known as the garden city of Nigeria.
She is still walking through the market when she stops short at the used clothes stalls. She hears a familiar voice and turns to look at the owner of the voice. She sees a chubby woman selling the clothes. This woman somehow reminds her of Miss Nelly, her third-grade teacher at the Baptist Day School. Miss Nelly is the only teacher of her elementary school that she still remembers very well. She walks past this lady several times and looks at her. But this lady is chubby, with sleepy eyes and faded skin. She does not look anything like Miss Nelly, though she must have been pretty in her younger years. But her voice sounds familiar when she speaks.
The Miss Nelly she knew was tall, fair in complexion, and very beautiful, the picture of the woman that every young girl wants to be. The woman in the market is the complete opposite of what Miss Nelly looked like, but her voice is the same. Ify decides that this woman, who looks tired, with curved shoulders, cannot be Miss Nelly. Her Miss Nelly could not have such dull eyes with heavy bags under them or lifeless and wrinkled skin. She could not wear old faded clothes or have such faded complexion. This woman looks like someone who has aged prematurely, like some of those women in the village who fade into old age very quickly after marriage and many children.
Her Miss Nelly had a quiet and calm disposition. Ify was ten years old when she was in Miss Nelly’s class, so she remembers how easygoing Miss Nelly was. No one took Miss Nelly seriously even when she was angry. Little things in life made her happy. She did not have enemies, and yet she was surrounded by people who took advantage of her good nature. She had clear bright eyes that seemed to smile all the time, and she twisted her fingers when she was embarrassed.
Miss Nelly was her childhood idol. How could she end up like this? Ify remembers her as a soft-spoken and kind teacher whom every student loved. Her legs were slightly curved, with a dimple in the middle of the inner side of her right leg. As a kid, Ify admired that dimple and wished that she had one like that. She poked her finger into her right leg and hoped it would form a dimple. Miss Nelly had dimples also on both cheeks when she smiled. She always walked with pride, the picture of a lady who would go places.
At the time Miss Nelly taught Ify, teachers still practiced corporal punishment. Some teachers came to school with canes on their belts, or they just swung canes as a warning to students that they will use it, and that always kept the students in line. Miss Nelly never used the cane. She just made her students love her, and she knew and called them by name, also using endearing words like “sweetie,” “love,” and words like that to address them. She had a knack for remembering names. Ify competed with the other students to make her happy.
“Hello, Miss Nelly,” Ify hears someone say, bringing her back to the present. Ify makes a double turn to the direction of the voice. She sees another familiar face from where she is at that corner store outside the market. The person is sitting four tables away from her, and Miss Nelly is walking out of the market with provisions. She looks like maybe she is on her way home to cook for kids.
“Chuchu! How many times will I tell you that the name is now Mrs. Imo?”
Speaking is the same lady that she saw at the market, so she is really Miss Nelly.
“I will never call you that,” Chuchu says, teasing the lady. “You will always be Miss Nelly to me.”
Ify watches as the two crack more jokes and then watches Miss Nelly walk away. Can this chubby, fat lady be her Miss Nelly? No, she shakes her head still puzzled.
She has been away from Port Harcourt, her old school town, for twenty years. She has come back to see what the Biafran Civil War has done to her town. The war has indeed changed Port Harcourt. Her house at Bende Street is no more. The whole of Bende Street, and the timber market at the end of it, are now part of a new layout in downtown Port Harcourt. Everything has changed. A huge concrete embankment lines the ocean shore where she used to go with other children to catch frog fish left behind by the ocean as it retreats. Port Harcourt is on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and the ocean retreats completely at noon, leaving dry land and struggling fish behind. The children used to jump in with baskets to catch the fish. If a child strayed too far into the ocean’s dry bed, that child would be swept off by the ocean when it returned at 2:00 p.m. Many children lost their lives that way. The return of the ocean was so swift that even grown-ups could not outrun it. They either knew how to swim or would be carried off by the ocean.
Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
Joy Nwosu was born in Enugu, Anambra State of south-eastern Nigeria. Her parents were Charles Belonwu and Deborah Nwosu. She is the fifth in rank of the seven children of her parents. Joy was born into a music family.
She has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.
Her short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/Summer, 2007, pg. 18, and her first English novel; Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language.
Joy is a trained musician, and taught music for 35 years. She writes, performs, and record folk songs.
Her new book: The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, which has just been released, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria. She loves reading romances and mystery stories.
http://sbpra.com/joylobamijoko/ Mirror of Our Lives …..
http://sbprabooks.com/JoyNwosuLoBamijoko/ Legend of the Walking…
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Trailer: Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women