June 03, 2008

Esther's Diary: The Scribbles Of A "Stranger"

Dear Reader, this is the last part of the series Esther's Diary. To follow the series, read the first part "Exiled", the second part "Settling Down" , the third part "Untitled", and the fourth part of the series "My Baby".

Diary Esther, Aham bu Uzoh (My name is Uzoh). I know Esther has told you a lot about me because I have read her entries many times over. It’s amusing to read Esther writing in Igbo, but yes, her spoken Igbo got much better after she came here. You have told me a lot about my sister that I did not know. I know now in her own words what she has been through since the man who fathered me exiled her down to our village here in Imo State. To read in her own words how much I comforted her, how much she was grateful, and how much she loved me, made me cry like a child.

You’re probably wondering why I have read something as private as my sister’s “Diary”(You’re actually just an exercise book she found lying around). You’re also wondering why I had the guts to scribble in it too. I was the one who captioned each of her entries as I deemed fit after reading it. I captioned the third one “Untitled” because I could not find a suitable word to label that entry. Under normal circumstances, all these things I have done to you would be wrong. But the circumstances are not normal. They have never been normal since she started writing in you. Diary Esther, Esther died after childbirth. Esther is dead. I was by her hospital bed when she went into labour. She pushed and pushed until the baby came out. It was a dark complexioned baby girl, not a boy as I have read she hoped. She looked at it from under heavy eyelids while the nurses took it away to bathe. She fell asleep while I was rubbing her hand gently and dabbing her sweaty forehead. When the nurses returned with the baby, I left her side. You should have seen the baby; so tiny and light I was worried I would drop her. She stared at me with great intensity and gripped my index finger tightly. I covered her with kisses. She did not cry, neither did she smile. The nurses woke Esther up to breastfeed the baby. I watched her suckle the baby while thinking aloud what to christen it. Now I realise she probably had only names for boy child in her head. Finally, she decided to name her after Grandma and Onyinye; she christened the baby Ezinne Onyinye Ezeilo. After breast feeding Ezinne, she handed her to me and slept. She never woke.

I have never cried so much in my life. I ditched school for a month to take care of Ezinne. I’m happy I made that decision because a month after she was born, Ezinne died of sickle cell anemia. I mourned Ezinne for a long time. It was like losing my sister again. You’re cold print, you can’t understand what it’s like to be bereaved and I don’t think I can put it into words. Turns out that bastard, Emeka is an AS, Udoka is also an AS. Ezinne did not get a chance to be all her mother wanted her to be. I’m going to have to repeat SS2 but that’s nothing. Nothing at all compared to what I have gained in these two months.

After these deaths, I was seething. I was furious with everyone who abandoned her, everyone who made her feel less than she was. Remember Uche, Mazi Ikenna’s son that called Esther a prostitute? He came for the burial to eat rice. I ran into him a few days later in the dark. I did not “smack him silly”, I gave him a sound beating and left him on the ground crying loudly. I don’t see how I can possibly payback Charity and Adanma, but I will always bear what they said in mind.

There is so much Esther did not tell you. She gives no detail of her family background and she doesn’t mention our youngest sister, Amara at all. I can’t explain why. In her four diary entries, she refused to mention her surname… Was she afraid of ruining Dad’s reputation by telling you? Her surname is MMADU! She is Esther Udoka Mmadu! Our father earns a living, travelling from one school to another in the East, educating students on the ills of premarital sex and sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. He’s renowned and he has won an award from an NGO (I don’t remember the name). Yes, I can understand how he may feel terribly embarrassed by Esther’s pregnancy, but is that enough reason to just abandon her here? He never called her, he never carried her child. He refused point blank to let me invite Esther’s friends or even mine for the burial. The burial was a family affair. Is his fear of losing his reputation and every thing he has worked for, so strong that he could not come down here even for one day in those nine trying months of Esther’s life? I’m ashamed to call him my father. God forbid that I’d be like that. Diary Esther, I’ll keep you safe. Reading you is like listening to Esther, the sister I’ll never forget.



  1. I have to admit that I was surprised to discover so many people(that means more people than I expected)were following Esther's story.

    Despite the fact that I had finished writing the story before posting the first part, I decided to revise. Everything I had written sounded lame all of a sudden. I was sitting at my desk thinking..."this series has to have a neat ending" and this is what I have got...

    I can't wait to read your comments.

    Thank you,
    Osondu Nnamdi Awaraka

  2. Nicely done.
    I must say that I respect your honesty.You are strong enough to know your weaknesses and that is worth a thousand authors who daren't reflect critically on their writing.
    Lots of things do not hold together (still) in this piece, but there is the potential of a good short story here.
    The persepctive twist at the ending fits in well with the short story genre.
    The turn of the screw...
    Congratulations on an honest piece of writing--pleasure to read.

  3. I forgot to point something out.

    That thing is 'Aha m bu', not 'Aham bu'.

    Take care.