I wake up to a buzzing sound "oh no, she didn't, why would mom set the alarm for my dentist appointment! I have a brain to remember for myself." I sigh.
I reach for my alarm clock, only to realize that it isn't ringing. "What’s that noise?" I look around for a while before I find my phone vibrating at the edge of my bed. Without looking at it I answer immediately "yeah?”
The familiar voice on the other end starts yelling “big sleepy head, I've been calling your phone, thought you had given it away!". I don't answer, so the voice starts yelling and calling my name, "Neze! Neze! Nez are you there?" I finally speak "yeah I'm here, I'm sorry, I just woke up!” "It's cool, you better get ready men or we'll be late for practice, Tumi and I would be at your place soon so get ready now!" she shouts
"Okay thanks Ange" I reply sleepily.
I say a prayer and roll myself out of bed. I was exhausted after the hectic school week and my Saturdays were all I had but even then I devoted four hours of it to playing rigorous basketball with my girls at the club after which I usually did my school work. As exhausting as playing basketball always was I loved it. "It's my passion, what I’m going to do with my life" I remind myself as I jump into the shower. I step out in a few minutes and I pick up my baggy basketball shorts and stuff it in my gym bag. I run down for a quick breakfast, wearing my grey Air Jordan t-shirt, jeans and my hair in a loose ponytail. "Morning mom" I smile.
"Hi honey, how was your night? I hope you know we're...”
"Hey, Tumi and Ange are here oh! They're going to kill me, I haven't eaten yet" I yell.
"Where are the three of you going?" she asks, looking at me from head to toe.
"For practice, mummy don't you know we go for practice every Saturday?" I reply rudely.
My mom never liked the fact that I took b-ball so seriously. She had never watched me play in school or even at the club when we went together. She was always with her over pampered friends and their "trophy" daughters that loved to talk about nothing more than each other’s love interest. My mom couldn't stand the fact that I wasn't as lady like or as prim and proper as her friends' daughters even though we had similar backgrounds or "financial status". Unlike them I could do much more than look pretty and talk about boys.
"We were supposed to go to the club today to meet up with my friend Sharon and her children, David just graduated and he would be leaving soon so we wanted you two to hang out" she says, trying to impress me.
"Ehn, I’m going to the club with Ange and Tumi, so you can take us" I reply, unimpressed.
"Wear the dress I got for you yesterday!" she orders.
"How can I wear that for practice, what I'm wearing is ok." I snap
Before she can say anything my friends walk in, "yo Nez!" Tumi says jokingly
"What’s up?" I smile.
They see my mom standing by the kitchen counter "Good morning ma!" they say together.
"Angela and Tumininu how are you, and your parents?" she replies formally.
"Fine thank you ma" they mumble.
I could see my mom staring at them from the corner of her eyes while whisking eggs. She had never really liked Tumi and Angela; they were too unlady-like for her.
My friends were very real and I loved them for it, they knew when to be girls and they knew when to be tough, above all they were focused on the game, the game we all loved.
"Nez, let's roll!" Ange says.
"Chineze I need to talk to you, now!" mom orders.
"But we're leaving now! Ok, I’ll meet you guys outside" I say.
My friends are barely out the door when my mom starts yelling "Chineze what's wrong with you? I told you we were going to the club to meet up with my friend and her children, but you never listen to me, you prefer to get messy and sweaty in those baggy clothes. I spent a lot of money on that beautiful dress I got for you yesterday, but you wouldn't wear it. Other girls would be very happy but you'd just dump it. Ifeoluwa never gives her mom trouble, she always looks pretty but my own is always different, am I the first person in the world to raise a daughter?"
I get so angry that I start to yell at her " it's always Ifeoluwa this and Ifeoluwa that, I’m sick and tired of all that, since you love her so much, you should adopt her!"
"Chineze don't talk to me like that!" she scolds.
"Are you saying I don't support you? I give you money; buy you beautiful things, I...”
"I said support my passion, basketball!" I interrupt. "You've never watched me play, at least daddy has watched me play once or twice, but you...”
She looks at me with a bit of guilt in her eyes and responds "Chineze, you're a girl and I don't think basketball is..."
"You don't think it's a good career path for a girl, you want me to be a lawyer like your dear Ifeoluwa, there's no point trying to change my mind about basketball, it's my dream and nobody can stop it!”
Immediately, I run up the stairs to get something. She calls my name but I don't answer. I run back downstairs and hop into Ange's car to go to the club.
We get to the club and my mood elevates as the game starts. My friends and I battle against three guys for the first game and as usual we beat them. Just as the first game ends, four sisters ask to play against us. We agree to play and the game starts. The girls are very tough, and we are still tired from the first game, but our love for the game keeps us going. The game finally comes to an end, we win and the girls congratulate us.
Just then, something catches my eye "mom?" I see my mom sitting on the bench beside the basketball court.
"Neze, that's your mom!" Tumi shouts.
I walk up to her and before I say anything she speaks "you're really good at basketball and well, I’m proud of you” she reaches out to hug me.
"Thanks mom!" I say, beaming.
"I'm sorry and I love you honey" she says.
"Love you too, mom!" I reply.
“Now please go and shower" she says.
"Hey, mummy it's not bad, but I’m going, I’ll be with you and Aunty Sharon soon".
"David and the others are here as well, so hurry up dear" she responds.
I run off to take a shower and I change into the white shirt dress my mom had got for me. I undo my loose pony tail and allow my long hair to flow to my shoulders. I take out my ballet flats from my gym bag and put them on.
As soon as I step out Tumi and Ange smile and echo "Neze you look hot!"
"Thanks guys" I reply, trying to act carefree. "My mom wants me to meet up with her friend and her children, aren't you guys coming?”
"No, we need to go back to my house to do my homework, my tutor's coming” Tumi says
"Okay then, see you guys on Monday" I hug them goodbye.
"Bye Nez" they reply.
I see my mom and Aunt Sharon and her son David from a distance, just as I get closer to them my mom taps David and says "that's my daughter Chineze, isn't she beautiful?”
"Yeah she is" David says, with a smile.