I surveyed my future inheritance from the massive balcony overlooking the northern courtyard in my father’s palace. The dandelions and purple tulips gave the plains a unique color of deep blackish brown. From afar, the plains look dead and blanched but close up it becomes a beautiful place filled with flowers; swaying to the rhythm of the wind. Life is really good at home but I needed to see what was beyond those plains.
My father is a very powerful and wealthy king. His reign and praises is known in the entire kingdom and beyond. As an heir to the throne, I enjoyed all the rights I am entitled to in the palace. One of those rights includes the freedom to see and talk to my father any time of any given day, even when he has other pressing matters to attend. One day I told him how bored I was in the kingdom. I want to see the world and all its glory.
He called me a child for my lack of understanding. “I love you and want you here. Life is terrible down there. It is filled with hunched backs caused by drooped shoulders pulled down by the heavy weight of their self inflicted problems”
“But you are very powerful, why can’t you make them all happy”?
“The problem is that my people do not acknowledge me as their king therefore, they refuse to obey the laws of my land. The few who obey don’t fully understand the law hence the chaos.”
“But daddy, I want to see for myself.” I pouted
With a heavy sigh, “Do your will. Tomorrow you will go on your journey. All I said will be revealed to you.”
I mulled over the conversation I had with my father as I packed all I thought was necessary and compulsory to go on a pilgrimage. I stood before him the next day combat ready. He advised me to leave my luggage behind because it will not be needed. He descended the throne and embraced me, his warmth enveloped my whole being, his fatherly love tugged at my heart and immediately I was ashamed for wanting to leave home. With my eyes closed, he kissed me on the cheeks and bade me farewell.
Suddenly, i was in a dark warm enclosed space. There was not much room for movements but surprisingly I was very comfortable. I heard blurred familiar noise and sounds which put me to sleep. Without warning, I was transitioned from the dark amniotic sac into an infinite cold space with bright lights as coarse voices shouted “dhukha, dhukha*”
“Woh ladki hai (n)*” the disappointed midwife exclaimed. I heard my mother sob. My entry to the world was like being in a warm swimming pool right after a dive and abruptly you raise your head from the water. It was very uncomfortable. The world felt huge, alien and cold. My mother Lata kissed me and whispered into my ears. “Asha”. My dad Vishnu scolded her for what she did then took me from her, “you should not have named her” he sorrowfully added “she cannot stay” A bucket of cow milk was brought into the room, and he submerged me into the opaque white liquid till I stopped breathing. I had come as hope for them but because I was born a female in Bihar, my faith was death. Since my parents have no money to pay for a future dowry, the problem had to be taken care of now. If they had let me live, I would have lived up to my name - Asha*.
I returned traumatized; into another sac within minutes of leaving the first one. I prayed to be born a second time to a place where females are cherished. My prayer was answered; my new mom Jennifer was overjoyed to see a beautiful baby girl with a head full of dark hair. Frank, my new dad cried the tears of joy when he held his first child. My grandparents spoiled me very much. Life was good in Little Elm, Texas.
I turned one, two, and three, on my fourth birthday Frank passed away. Two years later, Jennifer’s new boyfriend Tom raped me continuously till I turned nine. I passed away the night he held tightly to my neck so I would stop screaming when he thrust his member into me.
I reentered benumb into yet another sac. This time I prayed to be born a male. Again, my prayer was answered and I was born to Nkem and Etim Ebong in Nigeria; a place where male children are a source of pride for the family. My birth was celebrated and I received many gifts for being the first son. I was happy in that household until my parents accused me of wizardry at the age of four. I was beaten and tied to a tree in a nameless street in a town called Esit Eket in Awka ibom for five days without anything to eat. Weak in spirit, I closed my eyes and whispered a message to my daddy “please forgive me; I am ready to come home”. The plains looked even more beautiful with its dandelions and purple tulips when I opened my eyes.
dhukha - Push
Woh ladki hai (n) - She is a girl
Asha - Hope