It was a voice that sounded familiar yet strange at the same time.
And it called from within, not without. If’anachọ had found space inside of me. I do not know how he got in there; I don’t recall making space for him but somehow, he found a way.
Even though Ugonna, Maduemesi and Izuchukwu had prepared me to find me, they had also left their marks on me. I knew who I was, I knew what I was but what I wanted or thought I wanted was tainted by what I had.
“I am here,” I replied.
But when I looked at him, I saw the outline of Ugonna, Maduemesi and Izuchukwu.
I did not think If’anachọ was what I was looking for.
He spoke plainly but I heard their voices.
He looked carefully but I saw their eyes.
He sat beside me quietly but I heard their noise.
“Is there something about me you do not like?” His calm eyes bore deeply into mine. I looked at him again, thoughtfully, this time. I kept my gaze steady; he neither blinked nor flinched. The longer I stared at him, the less I saw the vestiges of Ugonna, Maduemesi and Izuchukwu in him.
“Nkemjika,” he called again.
“If’anachọ, I responded.
“I am not them. I am me. See me for who I am. I found space in you even when you did not make it and I fitted in. Unless you permit me, I will not take of you nor bend you. Who you are, what you are, is all I want; all I need.”
If’anachọ, was the Looking that found me.
Not on a pedestal, not in the shadows, not waiting for failure to be my success.
Looking found me and filled a space it found in me.