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MIRROR OF OUR LIVES:
Voices of Four Igbo Women (An Excerpt)
Njide’s Life Journey Begins
After several years of studying music at the conservatories of Rome, Pesaro, and Florence in Italy, Njide is back in Lagos, working as a music producer at Radio Nigeria in Lagos. She is at her table at Radio Nigeria, in a room she shares with three other producers, when she sees someone coming through the corridor to her office. She recognizes him immediately, and surprised and happy to see him, she jumps out of her chair to greet him.
“Hey, Sam!” she says as her face lights up. “When did you come back?” They embrace, and she drags him into her office.
“I have been back for a while. Unilag invited me back to set up a music department at the university, and now I need teachers.”
“Really?” She can see a change in Sam. He now walks with affectation and almost wears his degree on his forehead. “You have come to the right place,” she tells him, and begins to give him the names of all the music producers working at Radio Nigeria.
“But it is you I have come for,” he says, his voice haughty and almost condescending.
“Sorry, Sam, but I have a job already.” She feigns indifference. She knows the old Sam, but not this one talking to her.
“I am offering you the post of a lecturer at the university,” he says, enunciating the words. She can hear impatience in his voice.
“If that is true, where is my letter of appointment?” she demands.
“That will come, that will come …”
She can almost see him patting her on the head as he speaks.
“Will you accept the offer?”
“Not until I see the letter,” she says. She tries to change the conversation, but Sam is not interested in anything else. He has come only to find out whether she will be willing to join him at the university. After watching him leave, she lets her mind wander back through years past, to when she knew Sam before.
Njide was first discovered as a singer by Sophie at a concert in the Nigerian city of Enugu organized for winners of a song festival. Sophie, a Frenchwoman, was in Enugu with her husband, George, an engineer with the Railway Corporation Enugu. She was a socialite, not particularly beautiful but very likable. George was tall, lanky, and craggy. He was pale, with drawn-in cheeks, and looked a little sickly to Njide. Njide saw Sophie’s house for the first time when she went there for a rehearsal; Sophie had started giving Njide weekly voice training, during which they rehearsed for Sophie’s parties.
What a house! Njide thought that first time as she walked backward and in circles admiring Sophie’s house. Sophie, who wore a sparkling white house robe, smiled up to her. She was petite and wore very high-heeled shoes when she socialized; Njide saw her only once without her high shoes, and she was so small. Sophie took Njide’s hand with both of hers, welcomed her protégée to her house, and led Njide to a chair next to a white Kawai piano in the left corner of her velvet-draped parlor. Njide circled the piano, touched and admired the pastel white surface, and dreamed of having one like it one day.
Njide turned on hearing a noise and saw George as he came out from behind the heavy velvet drapes. He had on a silk robe and did not look too happy to see her. He said something in French to Sophie without looking at Njide. Njide smiled at him when he glanced her way, and he waved two fingers at her and disappeared again. Sophie had forgotten that Njide was coming and was not ready. Njide smiled at Sophie, who was happy to see her and who did not seem self-conscious about her attire. She settled Njide on the chair and hurried back to get dressed.
Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
Joy Nwosu was born in Enugu, Anambra State of south-eastern Nigeria. Her parents were Charles Belonwu and Deborah Nwosu. She is the fifth in rank of the seven children of her parents. Joy was born into a music family.
Joy, now retired, was a music teacher, trained in Santa Cecilia, Rome, and obtained her Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Michigan, USA.
She has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.
Her short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/Summer, 2007, pg. 18, and her first English novel; Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language.
Joy is a trained musician, and taught music for 35 years. She writes, performs, and record folk songs.
Her new book: The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, which has just been released, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria. She loves reading romances and mystery stories.
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