…I have to be honest with myself and start from the very beginning. While I was growing up, I was really ugly… Part of the reason was because I was always lonely and sad and I was bullied a lot by my brothers…because of them, I learned how to fight in order to defend myself. Not that I really fought…I was not a fighter but I would always beat my junior sisters for not letting me be me. I was very different from everyone else…that was how God made me and I didn’t see how that was a crime. I was often insulted and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I would ‘beat’ and get beaten by my brothers…it wasn’t fair for me because I was really the quiet type and I never looked for anyone’s trouble. All I just wanted was to be myself…In my primary school, I fought ones and I regretted it till this day… I was cleaning the classroom and I mistakenly hit a guy with the rag I was using to clean…Not waiting for me to say sorry, he gave me the slap of my life and so we fought but it didn’t last a minute… The second time was in secondary school with my friend blessing…it wasn’t really a fight but it made news…I felt so ashamed of myself after that incident because Ghislain, my classmate started calling me Jackie Chan ‘’face down’’. After the fight between me and blessing, we reconciled immediately because I wasn’t one to keep malice. She still was my friend until I left Cameroon…Those were the two incidents I remember of myself fighting in school…There must have been others but I guess they were not so serious and humiliating because if they were, I would remember… I hated fighting but when it came to my sisters, I was a fighter because I needed to protect myself… these girls knew how to insult me and since I wasn’t a talker, the only way I could defend myself was to fight them and my brothers were the ones who taught me how because they would beat me mercilessly… It was so unfair because even though we were kid, at least they should have known that I didn’t create myself…They made me look worse because the anger that grew in me as a result made me uglier….I am not ashamed to write this because I believe that some people out there have gone through similar situations… I lost my confidence from childhood…I guess that is why today, I have this desire to reach out to youths…and children who suffer inferiority complex. I would have been a really brave lady…sometimes I see it in me but home did me injustice…don’t get me wrong, I come from a really nice family but it is not the best either…there are things we failed to realize or understand….

As I proceed, I will talk about my siblings, all eight of them but then, I will first talk a little about me because I can be really self centered. I started off primary school well…I made really good friends…let me tell you how well it was…I was ugly but ugliness doesn’t define a person…confidence does…When you are confident enough, it doesn’t really matter if you are ugly because people will look past that…I look at some of my childhood friends then and I see that we have all grown and I ask myself, ‘how could I think they were more beautiful than I am?’ well, I will tell you how…Like I said earlier, I started primary school really well. In class one; I was 5 years old, really shy and just a baby. I loved my school but I was still getting acquainted to the new environment…Perhaps I should say I was home schooled from 3years old and I was considered intelligent…by the time I started school, I knew how to spell my name and some other things…I remember when I first spelled my name…I was 5years old or less. The first name I spelled was ‘Onyinye’. Maybe that is why I love the name so much. In class two, I was so confident, I loved dancing and would always be called out as one of the best dancers and we would dance in front of the class until the best dancer won…I was selected for most things…writing competition, dancing, cleanliness, and I would always be among the dancers whenever my class won the weekly trophy. I loved going to school every day…It was such a joy waking up every morning. I never thought of myself as ugly….my friends never called me ugly…I had chose the best girls as friends. I was never the first to be chosen but I was always among those to be chosen. During short and lunch breaks, I would play ‘dodging, tabala and sizoh’ with my friends and other classmates…most people always wanted me on their team because I was really good. I was never the last person to be chosen…I always ranged from first and I was always so confident of that…and of myself…I was great and I knew it…Each time the school would come to a close, I would be among the best pupils…my sister will always tell me how the class ahead was difficult and how it was difficult to pass but when I got to that class, it seemed so easy and my result actually got really better…The only problem I had in the beginning was that I was slow…but not slow to learn. Let me tell you a little bit of how confident I could be. I was not so popular….my teachers knew me as quiet and intelligent…Every class I was in, I always caught the attention of my teachers and most times, I would be among those who were a good example of how a pupil should behave…It was actually over my head and you could see it in the way I walked and talked. I’m not trying to say I was the best…Clearly I wasn’t but I was absolutely satisfied with who I was. There were so many things I loved about myself and one of them was my skin and my walk. I got complements for my skin from friends even at that young age. I was over the top…One day, a friend of mine asked me why I loved to show-off a lot…I was happy that she noticed because I actually liked showing off my ‘beauty and grace’…To know how confident I was, when I got to class 7, me and my friends took to writing letter abroad. I don’t remember how the idea came about…we were about 10 years old then. You will probably ‘laugh your lungs out’ when I tell you that we wrote and sent letter to the president of Germany and to some other places I don’t remember…We just kept writing letters and using the small money we could get to buy postal stamps to send them. Whenever we came across and interesting postal address, we would find out what it was about by asking questions and then decide if it was okay to send a letter to the address. We focused on pen pal letters. I guess this idea came as a result of the English lessons we took on how to write pen pal letters ‘Laughing’. I remember we sent a letter to Finland too…The one that strikes me most is the one for Dublin, 12 in Ireland. It’s funny how I still remember vividly. My brothers were in secondary school and were writing lots of pen pal letters so once I opened a notebook and saw the address of the pen pal office in Ireland. I took it to school and told my friend that we should each write a pen pal letter and put it inside one envelope and send. We agreed and did exactly as we discussed all four of us. We sent it and that was the last letter we ever sent…but it didn’t end there… some months later, there was a mail at the parish house for my friend…We had used the school address so the reply came to the school address…but unluckily, it was just for one of us. A family friend saw this mail and took it to my friend’s mum who brought the letter to school to our headmistress. It was a huge envelope with lots of forms to fill… The headmistress called my friend to whom the mail was addressed to…not knowing what was going on, she came in and called the other… before I knew what was happening, I was called up to the headmistress’ office…’’now I’m in trouble..lol’’. When I saw the envelope the headmistress was holding, my heart skipped a bit…there was nothing I could think of to defend myself…They had told the headmistress that it was all my idea but surprisingly, the headmistress was so pleased with us…She asked me how I came about the address and I told her…She asked us to fill the form and send and she gave it to us…During lunch break, we were going through it and it seemed so interesting that even though just one person got a reply, we were all still actively involved which made it hopeful….but unfortunately, we never got to see the end of our little adventure in letter writing……That is not the purpose of my writing but if you want to know what happened, you would have to ask me personally. So why and how did I lose my confidence and how was I ugly and what made me uglier? We would have to find out sooner or later but I figured it out…It was a passage… a transformation…the gateway to tomorrow…

5 thoughts on “Ije…” by Onyinye (@Jeneth)

  1. First, the rendition was not so enticing because of some typos. For instance, instead of saying “I fought once,” you said “I fought ones…”Proper editing will help in making your story more interesting to read.

    Well done anyways :)

  2. The typos tried to murder your piece, but it still came across as alive and beautiful. Try to work more on them as well as the extended full-stops too. They’re only cool in personal chats. Write on.

  3. Correction: “In my primary school, I fought [once] not (ones.)”
    Correction: ” I had [chosen] not (chose) the best girls as friends. ”
    Correction: ‘we were [kids] not (kid.)’
    You use ‘among’ a lot. Its not wrong but try some phrases and sentences differently without it.
    Correction: ” [myself] or [I] not (me) and my friends took to writing letter[s] abroad.
    Correction: ” sent [a] letter to the president of Germany .”

  4. Correction: ” The one that [struck] not (strikes) me most is the one for Dublin, (12 in Ireland.)” What does ’12 in Ireland’ mean?? And the 12 should be written in words instead.
    Your punctuation is generally good but be mindful as i just spotted one mistake.

    Typos, typos darling. I decided to stop picking them out, they aren’t that much though. We are all guilty of it….just re-read you will spot them yourself and take note.

  5. Now to compliment you @Jeneth! I must say you do write well, although, your writing format is different. Your words come together well too. Well done.

    About the story itself, what a story! I love it not inspite of what you went through but because of the strength that I saw and felt coming off my computer screen as I read through. Your Ije looks intriguing and telling!

    I did wonder…. where were your parents especially during the sibling fights and beatings?? I desperately would like to know what that form sent was about. I’m assuming this story has another part……please do complete the story. You promised to tell us about your siblings, all eight of them!

    Can’t wait!

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