I scored 6 A’s and 3 B’s in the recently announced West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
“Papa must be proud,” I said when I broke the news in excitement to Mama. Later that day, she excitedly informed me that Chika, the daughter of Agu Nwanyi, the leader of Umuokwu Women Progressive Union (UWPU), was coming from Kraków in a few weeks and would sponsor my VISA to join her in Poland to further my education.
I was so elated and started humming Igbo musicals I had learned while growing up in the streets of Umuokwu.
The following week, I followed Mama to the market to purchase some items for my travels. Chika politely tagged them as ‘unnecessary’ when she arrived some days later. I remember how Mama tried to persuade her to keep the uziza leaves and melon seeds, which were scarce commodities in “Obodo Oyibo,” but she chuckled, saying, “Nwunye anyi, o ga adimma,” meaning “Our wife, we are okay.” Indeed, her humility trait precedes her.
The night before we left, Mama called me into her room lit by her obsolete hurricane lamp. “Nazo, my child, Chika is a good woman. Do your best to be good to her.” It was always fascinating that Mama referred to Chika who was three years older than myself a “woman”, but called me a “child”. She recounted occasions when Chika had come through financially since the unfortunate demise of my father. She also testified to Chika’s philanthropic activities, like medical outreach for the sick and aged, doling out provisions and wares annually to the community. They chanted her praises as “Ada Umuokwu,” which translates to “first daughter of Umuokwu.”
Inspired by her, I enrolled at Jagiellonian University Medical College and lived on campus, where Chika was a resident doctor. We spent weekends at The Dragon’s Den, Planty Park, and Wawel Castle, where Renaissance architecture of Rocco and Romanesque towered over the whole city. She said it was once the palace of Polish Kings and Queens, beautified by great museums and courtrooms still standing tall. I captured these sites in photographs, and she introduced me to Polish meals like Bigos and Golonka. So typical of Chika to be your guide, curator, generous spender, and above all, your light in the darkness.
Life in Kraków was both solitary and fun. One day, I was stark naked in my room, perusing my wardrobe like a teenage girl undecided on her outfit. To my utmost amazement, Chika stood at the door the whole time, and my timid self was embarrassed. She strolled in and did something startling, “Chinazo Omenka!” She called my full name under one breath, as my parents used to when they were about to scold me. I froze. “Chinazo, do you have a boyfriend?” She inquired, and I shook my head in disagreement because I hadn’t had time to look for boys in my class. “In that case, any dress will do, girl. You’re beautiful, and that’s all that matters,” she complimented before walking out the door.
Chika had a certain fire in her eyes that left me gobsmacked every time she stopped by my room.
One evening, I was applying lotion, and she whispered from behind me, “Have you ever been with a woman?” I didn’t know how to respond. She startled me, and then she kissed my collarbone. My skin tingled with goosebumps at her every touch, and she made her way to my nipples. I wanted to ask what she was doing and why, but I had promised Mama that I would be good to Chika. Her magical caress below made me experience a surge of excitement like never before.
Our love story should have been perfect, like the songs of Elton John, Frank Ocean, and Janelle Monae. It should have been as magical as The Ellen DeGeneres Show and as tasty as our homemade pancakes and milkshakes, but it wasn’t.
If freedom wasn’t an illusion, we would have displayed our affection boldly, like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum. But I read sometime on ‘Gay Guide’ that Gay travellers in Krakow should avoid all public displays of affection, as many residents were uncomfortable with LGBT culture and likely held conservative attitudes if not outright homophobia.
Love is thick whereas faults are thin.
Regardless, I considered our love indestructible until that Monday morning when I woke up to empty sheets and found a note beneath my pillow, where Chika should have been.
By the time you read this, I must have gone far away. I know you’ll feel betrayed by my decision to let go of what we shared. It’s not because I didn’t love you, but because I do love you that I’ve decided to let you rediscover yourself, not because I brought you into this.
You are a strong-willed young woman, and I trust you. However, the place we come from does not care much for our happiness. I hope you find the inner peace to forgive me. What I did, I did for love.
Happy graduation, Nazo.
P.S.Hunny Bunny, Chika ❤”
There and then, my whole world crashed. After six years in Poland, I arrived at Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport in Owerri, Imo State. I hailed a taxi, and the driver asked me in our dialect where I was headed, “Umuokwu-Oguta.”
He smiled and said, “Nno o,” which means “Welcome.”
He loaded my baggage into the trunk, and we drove past the State University. An hour later, we entered a dusty path, and I shook my head in disbelief. The same country, same people, same challenges, and are stuck in the same beliefs.
If the government focused on serving the people better, they would not sit up there in Abuja and condemn the way people choose to live their lives. We need more leaders like Robert Biedroń and advocates like Gilbert Baker, who see the world from a rainbow perspective and do not shy away from what we represent: a peaceful, freer, and more colourful society.
“I am Rainbow” is an excerpt from the author’s debut book, “Mute Ant: A Compilation of Short Stories and Poetry”.
Collins Ozara is a talented author with two published works: “Mute Ant: A Compilation of Short Stories and Poems” and “Na Over Hype Kill 2020,” a satirical critique of Nigeria’s Vision 2020 initiative. He also writes for Fintech companies, contributing creative content that bolsters their marketing efforts. Collins captivates audiences with his engaging stories on X @ThxOCA (formerly Twitter).