Domestication of Munachi

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On a hot Sunday afternoon years ago…

…Two sisters walk in on their father’s sexual liaison with the family’s hired help which leaves them both scarred in different ways.

Years later…

Unable to bear the thought of marriage to a man she barely knows, the younger and more adventurous one, Munachi, runs away from home on the eve of her traditional marriage, unwittingly resurrecting a long buried feud between her religious mother and eccentric aunty. This conflict leaves a door open for the family’s destruction.

 

The Domestication of Munachi is a novel about the unnecessary pressure on women to take on life partners, regardless of who these partners are and the psychological impacts seen through the stories of two sets of sisters—Munachi and Nkechi versus Chimuanya and Elizabeth.

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I watched Aunty Chimuanya turn five shades of red before she lifted her hand to halt my story mid-way. Her right foot tapped against the floor; her bangles clattered; her head made rapid movements from side to side. I was enthralled because I had never seen her this angry. I had never seen her angry, period. I had expected her silence but I had not expected her to turn around and spit on my feet, which was what she did two minutes later. She was careful that the spit did not land on her Italian rug which Friday had told me was imported from Dubai. I was worried that I had been too quick to tell the story. Maybe I should have waited for her to rest from her Dubai trip.
“Are you a child?” A red painted finger pointed at me. “Ehn? Munachi?”
I shook my head.
“Were you born yesterday that you will disgrace me like this?”
“Aunty, I did not do anything oh.” I lifted my hands in the air to prove my innocence. I expected an angel to poke down from heaven and corroborate my story, but nothing happened. “He came at me like a…like a…”
“And so what?” She said and thought for a moment as her face took on the incandescent glow of someone who had just got an idea. “No wonder he refused to take my call. Hey, this girl you have killed me.”
I was at loss what she was talking about. Was it that my aunty could not understand what I was trying to say? Maybe I should have painted the story exactly as it happened instead of blocking off some crude parts?
“Aunty, Chief Momoh tried to rape me.”
She laughed. I could see a half chewed bitter kola lodged on a molar as she threw her head back and guffawed. Tears coloured her eyes.
“That small man? What can he possibly do to you?” She raked a hand up and down the length of my body. “All he wants is just a little play, that’s all. He likes small girls, didn’t I tell you before?”
I shuddered as the image of his cold snake eyes and quick fingers slithered through me. I pressed a finger to my temple and shut my eyes to calm the throbbing there and was unaware Aunty Chimuanya was studying me.
“My dear,” she said softly. “I wouldn’t want something bad for you. Mbanu. You are the child I would have wished to have had I been more homely. If you left Eliza far back in Awka and travelled all the way to Lagos to hustle like the rest of us, then you need tohustle to the very end.”
I heard a rustling and saw that Aunty had moved closer to me.
“Have you heard the latest?”
“What latest?”
She thought for a moment and shook her head chasing the thoughts away. An easy smile crept along the line of her mouth deleting the worry brackets that had appeared around her mouth.
“My dear, you don’t have all that time to waste looking for a half-baked job in this Lagos. Chief Momoh would have given you an easier and faster route up those ladders that many women will not find even if they go searching for it. My sales girl, Njideka? She holds a Masters degree from University of Lagos. Engineering. But life has taught her nwiiiii,” she dragged her bottom lids down to show the red mushy part of her eyes.
“Now that she has suffered enough, she is now a common sales girl. Do you want that to happen to you?”
I shook my head.
“Or wait oh…” She studied me with piercing eyes. I grew uncomfortable. “Are you a virgin?”
I squirmed in my seat. How do you answer that question to an older woman who happened to be your mother’s sister?

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