My mother said I was born on a stormy day.

It was the kind of storm that

Shook the land

Rattled the seas

And made trees shiver up to their roots.

She said the world made so much commotion

Because I was special

I was one of a kind.

She forgot to mention

All the damage

The storm caused.

 

I was more trouble than I was worth.

My daughter was the first child

I gave birth to alive.

All the others were to weak

They were not built to survive.

But my daughter with her big brown eyes

And thick coily hair

Cried so loudly on the day of her birth

That I felt the room vibrate with her wailing

And I knew.

I knew she wouldn't just survive

I knew she would thrive.

 

Call it a mother's instinct.

Mother's instincts or intuition

Or whatever they call it

It's all lies.

I wasn't special.

Although one might disagree

And I don't blame them.

My record was clean, bright, promising:

I was the smartest in class,

the most pretty.

And all the teachers loved me 

Apparently, I had

Great character.

I was that child that parents

Told their kids to emulate.

I was it.

Whatever that was.

But I wasn't it.

What is it anyway?

The awards lined up on my shelf?

The constant praise I receive

For my achievements?

It was nothing.

It was unfulfilling.

I didn't like it.

It was not me.

I was not it.

 

No, I'm not being dramatic.

My daughter has eyes the colour of 

The coffee my husband drinks every morning.

She has her father's eyes.

Her skin is the colour of caramel.

My favourite sweet treat.

She has her mother's skin.

Dimples on both her cheeks

And her hair is a thick brown cloud.

She has grown into a beautiful young woman,

Charming and kind,

Wise and intelligent.

She is in secondary school; studying art.

When she graduates, she will study 

international relations in university.

She will become an ambassador

For her country.

For Nigeria.

Like her father.

 

Words of a proud mama.

I first heard

The piano in church.

It was not a keyboard.

It was a proper piano;

Large, wooden with shiny black paint—

A grand piano.

The man sat behind it 

He played 'Joyful, Joyful.'

It was beautiful.

My heart soared.

My fingers tingled.

I itched to go and join him.

I was only five

But I knew that if I played those ivory keys

I wouldn't just feel special.

I would be special.

 

The epiphany.

 

I forgot to mention

That my lovely daughter

Plays the piano.

She started to play

When she was six.

She'd wanted to start before then

When she was five;

I had refused.

She was still taking arithmetic lessons then

I didn't want her to be distracted.

But she'd done so well in her final tests.

And had asked for a grand piano.

And a music teacher.

How could I refuse my beautiful girl?

So, I got her both.

The best I could find.

 

It was the least I could do.

...

I failed a test today.

When my mother asks,

I will tell her that

I wasn't feeling well.

She doesn't need to know

That I was busy practicing

Beethoven

All night.

 

Music follows me into my dreams.

My daughter failed her first test today.

She was sick.

This is not the first

Time that she has failed a test 

Because she was playing the piano

All night.

But this will be the last time

She will do so.

 

You cannot lie to your mother, daughter.

….

My mother has seized

My grand piano.

She said

And I quote:

"This thing will ruin your life."

 

She is the one ruining my life.

…..

My daughter was third in her class.

Not first.

Not first.

Not first.

Third!

This is the first time

she's not top of her class.

It is that stupid

Instrument. 

That damned piano.

I regret the day I bought it for her.

 

Words of an angry mother.

The school counselor

Called me to her office.

It smelled like

Garlic.

She told me

That I had a bright future ahead

Of me.

And that I should grab hold of it

Tightly

And never let go.

She said lots of other things.

But her unsaid words rang

Clearly in the room:

"Stop playing the piano."

 

 I will never stop.

….

I have discovered that my daughter

Is as stubborn as a mule.

She is skipping classes now

To spend more time

In the music room.

She plays piano

All day in school

And all night at home.

I will sell that damned piano.

I will meet the principal

And beg her to help

My foolish daughter.

 

Before I lose her.

….

Yesterday, I composed a song.

This is my third composition.

I wrote it in school during math class

While the teacher droned on about

Venn diagrams.

I practiced it in the music room

During break.

Although I didn't get to finish practising

Because the music teacher sent 

Me out.

"Music is good." She'd said. "But in this country, there is no future for your type of music. Nigerians don't appreciate classical music. Go and read your books."

I'd stormed out.

 

Fuck you Nigeria.

 ….

Someone finally

Agreed to buy the piano.

 

One step forward. (But two steps back)

 

When I came home

My piano was gone.

 

My mother has finally ruined me.

….

My beautiful daughter

Cried throughout

The night.

 

She will get over it.

….

I have a British visa.

And my father's sister married

A white man.

He plays the violin in an orchestra.

He will understand how I feel.

He will help me.

I know that

My father opened

An account for me.

I also know

How to access it.

I will purchase a ticket.

I will leave this country

Which does not appreciate

The music I create

With my piano.

 

I refuse to be ruined.

….

My beautiful daughter has

Gone missing.

 

A worried mother.

I walk across

The stage

And take a seat

In front of the 

Piano.

The hall goes

Quiet.

Silent.

Still.

I raise my fingers

Over the ivory keys

Take a deep breath

And play.

My mother was right.

I am one of a kind,

Special.

My playing shook the

Hearts of people

Rattled their nerves

And made their skin shiver

In a good way—

Goosebump inducing way.

In this hall,

Under this bright light,

I am home.

I am me.

 

I was never it, mother.

 

 

© Curiousloi