Mother died when I was four. All I can remember of her is the smile she gave each time she handed me my plate of rice after Sunday service, and the way she hummed songs of strange tones whenever she busied around in her once orange singlet and star-dotted wrapper. I miss her. I miss having a mother. But then, father said God would be my mother. It didn’t make sense. God was supposed to be masculine. He couldn’t be my mother; not with the names they call him in church – “mighty man in battle”, “the consuming fire”. Instead, he could comfortably take the role of my dad, who is always in church and sparsely at home, preaching on the pulpit every Sunday and conducting deliverance sessions on Fridays.

Now I am twelve and I know only three places in life: school, home, and church. School is the direct opposite of the other two, and the church is the extreme of home. School is where I can laugh when I really want to, run gaily in the fields and shout out loud without anyone thinking I’m possessed. Home is where all my actions are wrong and demon influenced. Church is where I am declared possessed because my halleluiah doesn’t sound as loud as other kids, because I prefer the solace of my imaginations to noisy clapping and unnecessary gyration. 

And now, I am twenty and have made up my mind to be devil’s best if I can’t be God’s—if doing what I love really makes me that, as dad had said. I live in the world of my thoughts. I write about people dying but coming back to life, about a feminine God, and about a world whose beauty is in its strangeness. I take pride in my difference. And if the devil still has no space for me, I’ll make my own hell.

Mbagwu, Cynthia Ogechukwu is of the Department of English and Literary Studies at the university of Nigeria Nsukka.