There were no border lines as we ran after kites
made from trashes in our mothers’ kitchens,
taking turns to take a lick off a single pop sweet, 
anxiously inspecting each other’s fingers for white lines 
as we waved to white doves flying in the distance
and yelled out to planes for gifts that never came.

Then just the glimpse of that pine shape
making its protrusion on her bosom, 
and rules start railing out like a murder convict.
days of growing snatched without a prior warning
a mast of confinement hovering over a mind once only occupied by colorful imaginations.

Do this, don’t do that. 
a woman should, a woman shouldn’t. 
a lady is not, you can’t be... 
the voices read out the endless rules
my confused yet eager mind trying hard to fulfill the expectations asked of me,
retracting my words when I seem more boastful than the ‘societal woman’ should
cutting off ambitions, letting go of wishlists 
redefining my wants till all that was left was getting a degree and making a good wife.

A quick glance at my peers and I realize I ain’t alone.
we’ve all been hacked into the same cage, 
with society deciding our lives for us even before we were born.

Years later, my dear girl got home with stains over her girly dress
and my advice was different 
‘Welcome to womanhood, Thelma.
This is the beginning of your greatness,’ I said
‘You can be anything you want; 
you can dream like all the great women in history.’

This day her speech from the university podium
gives me the nostalgic feeling of excitement and fulfillment.
‘Momma said I could be anything, and any girl growing with such mindset
never chose average.’
Now this is the idea of womanhood I wish my own momma gave me.
Glad I ushered in a better woman than myself.

About the Author:

Emmanuella Ugochi Odom is a Nigerian writer currently studying medical radiography at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She loves writing, is very passionate about poetry and music, and also plays the violin. Her work is forthcoming on Isele magazine and elsewhere. You can reach her on IG: @ella_Odom_ and on FB: @Ella Odom. She writes from Abuja, Nigeria.

Image by Adalia Botha/ Unsplash