Portrait of a Woman in Shackles || Destiny Okoduwa



by Destiny Okoduwa


Yes, you.

Lying pretty in that beautiful gold-plated casket. Oops! They say one calls death for himself when he acknowledges the beauty of a coffin. I should caution myself and say God forbids that I die. But aren't we all going to die someday anyway? I'd rather say God forbids that I die in a situation where so many opportunities to boycott death are as glaring as the sun in all its midday, ripened glory.

You see, if really it is true that our soul separates itself from our cold bodies in death and sojourns to the world beyond. If really the lives we've led here on earth will be replayed for us to see. I'd like to see that broad smile on your face when that scene comes on. That scene where you're this pretty lady. That scene where your rage mirrors burning coals as you sit afront Iye. Iye is your mother. She wears a slight smile as she says in almost a whisper: “Change is inevitable. He will change.”

Your reply is a grunt that settles into a sigh. God knows you have had it up to your oesophagus area. But is it worth…

“It takes patience to keep a man, a home,” Iye's words slice through your thoughts. “This is your learning phase, Akpofure. Your learning phase.”

In this second scene, I hope your smile crescents a tad wider as the curtains open to reveal a glum you. You're alone but with company. This is one of those moments where your thoughts wrap themselves tightly around you yet would not provide succour. You peel them off your skin, shred them into pieces and lay them out like a pack of cards. Who is a woman if she's of age (or above age, to say the least) yet has no one to call her life partner. There is this yoruba sentence for it: a crown on her head. It is at this moment that I might as well break into the screen to scold you sternly for daring to think of that mistake of a metaphor. A metaphor that seeks to belittle willingly or unwillingly unhooked women. Well, that is not the crux of this...should I say analysis?

The signs do a quick replay in your head:

The thousand and one arguments that stemmed from what began as a simple discussion.

Those intimate moments you cannot call consensual yet would not bring yourself to call it what it seemed to be because it was committed (no, done) within the confines of a ‘ship,’ whatever the prefix may be.

That one moment when a slip of your tongue ended in two strokes of his palm landing hard on your face. But you see, it didn't matter then and would not matter now that you think of it because...didn't he soothe the pain with gifts and gifts and more gifts? Then he finished off the cake with the most beautiful icing ever: he got down on both knees, as opposed to the banal one knee gesture and he…

Oh! How cute? Well, cute enough to get you to the point of constantly wallowing in your thoughts and replaying the signs in your head. 

Akpofure, if posible, I'd like us to skip the scenes where you ruled the signs null, void and vague. The scenes where you say yes to matrimonial doom, and vowed ‘till death do us part.’ The graphic scenes; the ones that would paint the screen crimson and wash the colour off with a liquid too impure to be called water, too light to be called blood.

The series of scenes that follow suit are filled with mentally repulsive words camouflaged in words of advice and encouragement. One of them has you sitting in the pastor's office where he says in all authority:

“A wise woman builds her home, not destroy it. Sister Akpofure, divorce is not the Lord's will.” Pause. Define the Lord's will? That I deliberately offer myself a burnt and wholly sacrifice to a beast? Play.

The next scene features Iye. This time no slight smile. Just a creased forehead above fiery eyes. She is warning you sternly. “No divorcee daughter of mine will come back to live in my house. Never.”

Another has your single-mother friend in it. “Believe you me, you don't want to experience the troubles that come with raising one child let alone three children.”

This other one is a neighbour. “A broken home breaks the children's spirit. For the sake of your kids, inugo? Have patience.” A well-meaning advice which she ketchups with something about patient dogs and fat bones.

And so it clicks. For the sake of your kids. Worth it. Very much worth it. Till the beautiful contours of your face are restructured. For the sake of your kids. Till for better, for worse runs so fast into till death do us part. For the sake of your kids. Till the pastor, one of whose admonition led you to where you are today, is the same presiding pastor in this occasion. He mouths these words solemly:

“...from dust we came and to dust we shall return. May the soul of the departed rest in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And the church chorus in unison. 



DESTINY OKODUWA weaves short stories and creative pieces around the intricacies of adolescence and other issues when the need arises. He can be found on Facebook as ‘Destiny Okoduwa.’

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  1. What a piece! Wow!

    I'm so intrigued by your artistry. You're good, man.

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