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BN Prose: Turn Down For What? by Ugochi Ukah

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“Try it, it is nice!” he tried to stick a fork loaded with prawns into my mouth.
“No thanks, you know that I don’t eat prawns” I said with a frown on my face as he brought it closer.
“Why not? You are just a village girl. This is what we eat in America. You need to adapt quickly; this is the States!”” He said with food in his mouth, spraying some of it in my direction.
“I said no, thanks. I hate the smell so I can’t eat it.”
“How can you say you hate the smell of something before you eat it?”
“Because I can smell regardless of taste” I tried to remain calm.
“Comm’n shor’y, just try…”

I pushed the fork away impatiently “Drop it please!”
“Why are you so rude?” he began to shout. “You never appreciate anything that I do for you. Do you know how many girls that would have loved to follow me to this expensive restaurant?”
“Please keep your voice down”, I said in a low tone.

“Turn down for what?!” he shouted even more. People were beginning to stare at us. “I was being nice and trying to feed you. If you had eaten this, would I have gotten angry?”
I wanted to leave the restaurant but I could not as I had to sleep at his place anyway and I barely knew where I would be heading to if I left. I knew that talking back would aggravate his mood so I sat there watching him continue loudly.

After a few minutes of silence, he took hold of my hands and began to apologize.
“Shor’y…you know I did not mean to shout at you. It’s just frustrating because I try to show you how much I love you and you keep pushing me away”

I tried to pull my hands away but he tightened his grip, making me wince in pain.
“This is exactly what I am talking about!’ he resumed his shouting “ Now you are pulling your hand. For what?!”

This was the kind of drama I had been experiencing ever since I came to visit Emeka in Houston about a week ago. Emeka and I had been dating for five years before he left for the States to obtain a Masters degree. We had met during our undergraduate program at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and our love had grown stronger and steadily over the years. I had never been excited about his going abroad, nor did I share his enthusiasm to live in the United States and start ‘our’ family here, as he had always said. Nonetheless, I was happy for him when he gained admission and secured a US visa. I knew I would miss him terribly but we promised to keep in touch and even though he did not propose formally to me before he left the country, he had given my family his word.

We spoke every day after he travelled and it took only a short while for me to notice his gradual change in behaviour. At first, I began to observe the introduction of swear words into his vocabulary. I expressed my concern especially when I found them unnecessarily used but he always found an excuse for his words and when he could not, he would say “That’s how we roll in Texas.”

Next was the change in his accent which I found odd; not only because I thought that he was too old for that but also because I knew it was too soon for that to happen naturally. The way he spoke, trying too hard to “Americanize” every single word made the artificialness even more obvious. In his defense, he claimed that people tended not to understand him if he spoke in his usual Ibo-accented way, the former one which I had loved. I knew a few Nigerians who had gone to the US long before him but still spoke in their usual Nigerian accents but oh well, I could not judge as I was not in his shoes.

Finally, it was when he started calling me “Shor’y” that I began to sense that something was really off about him. I immediately told him to desist from it as I did not like it but his response was always “Turn down for what?!” as was his response to many other things these days, even when the phrase was being used out of context.

Six months had passed since he left Nigeria and after several sessions of my mother and I pleading with my father to allow me visit Emeka in the US, I was finally given permission. My dad made his disapproval of my visit clear, stating that if Emeka was serious about our relationship he should have sent his people by now to “knock on our door”. We finally managed to convince him that I would stay with my mum’s second cousin in Texas and so he let me travel. Of course, I lied and went straight to Emeka’s place upon my arrival.

My friends and I were excited about my travelling as we all assumed that he would propose once I arrived, but it had been six days now and instead of a ring, I had to contend with new and weird habits. If I had thought that Emeka’s new manner of speaking and accent were the worst things that could have happened to him, I was entirely wrong. He had started smoking cigarettes and weed.

Every time I tried to say something about it he would raise his voice, something he had never done back in Nigeria. At some point, I began to fear that he might hit me because of his bipolar-like attitude. Now I had seven nights left to spend him and I could not have wished more for the week to run quickly by. I did not know how I would face the disappointed looks and comments from my friends and family if I told them that I could not marry Emeka. I knew my mother would say that his new attitude did not matter much as all she really wanted was for me to get married, but I no longer felt any love for him.

In short, I found everything about him unattractive now and I was irritated by his voice just as much as I was by his touch and his new look – braided hair, ear piercing, big chains and baggy shorts.
As I sat in the restaurant, I dared not to retrieve my hand again or tell him that I was in pain. I closed my eyes wondering how Emeka and I had come to the end of the road like this and I tried to phase out my hearing as I heard him say in his newly acquired ‘Ibo-Texan’ combo accent – “Shor’y, you look down. Turn up, turn up!”

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Jason Stitt 

Ugochi V Ukah is a student and loves writing in her spare time; using sarcasm, humour and wit to relay her thoughts. Visit her blog for more stories at: www.ugochivukah.blogspot.com and follow her on twitter @vivio_gogo and IG: @ugochiukah

43 Comments

  1. stayce

    November 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Lady, please do yourself a favour. Borrow a pair of boots from Usain Bolts and ruuuun!!! It doesn’t matter what mum says or what your friends think. Your happiness is paramount biko.

  2. LadyRocks

    November 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

    OMG!!!! Love it!!!!!

  3. le coco

    November 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

    this was lovely… i can only imagine.. all these people that cm and b forming yo yo nigga.. its annoying and highely unattractive.. i cant stand a man who cannot tlk to me with the maturity of a grown man… all this.. i wana, gana, .. smh.. i cant… lovely writeup

  4. Bleed Blue

    November 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    This got me laughing uncontrollably. I know it’s meant to be fiction but I visualized it to the point where I could even hear his shouting voice.

    And it sounds like Lil’ Jon with a touch of Osuoffia.

    • Sugar

      November 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

      @Bleed blue you know that kind thing. LWKMD

  5. Oyiza

    November 4, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Babes …..oh sorry Shor’y , you had better turn up and take to your heels…..

  6. Mimiejacobz

    November 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Turn down for what ,lol,dt Really got me laffn so hard

  7. Pweetygirlrock

    November 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Hahahaha, ”Shory you look down… Turn up turn up”. The funniest part. Beautiful write up.

  8. ada

    November 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    This got me in stitches “Shor’y, you look down. Turn up, turn up!” . Nna mehn o dikwa very risky.

    • Oge m dey

      November 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      EL O EL !!!!

  9. theisokogirl

    November 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

    hahahahahah…..babe turn up turn up .This ish happens all the time.In some cases,the girls overlook the behaviour for a life in the “US”.Her mother might even tell her to endure/bear,”life is not all smooth rides”.She should make an excuse of going to see her aunt and then come back to Nigeria from there….shor’y

  10. UB40

    November 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

    shor’y that’s how we roll………………….lol, berra shor’y yaself outta that relationship.

  11. Joan85

    November 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Lmbo!!! This was too funny. Was I the only one who read out that last line with an ‘Igbo-Texan’ accent? 🙂

  12. Amh

    November 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Run babe run. The guy don mara. Which kai. Local uneducated accent be that. Drop your emeka. He had tuned to hoodmeka. Run pls.

  13. Chyoma

    November 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Nice story. It looks so real!
    Bella how do I post my stories here?? Plsss

  14. mz zzy

    November 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Lovely fictional story. But seriously it is soo true especially with Igbo guys in diaspora. I remember how one insulted my whole being on facebook because he expected me to ‘lick his feet’ all because he left Nigerian. Someone I don’t even know, not just 1. Me is igbo o, so I aint hating on any tribe.

  15. ucylo

    November 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Emeka only fused into the stereotypic Nigerian Americana role in Nollywood movies (I see Jim Iyke as Emeka). There are people who have spent decades in the U.S and are still themselves….well, may be changed a little (few swear words here and there) but basically still themselves to a very large extent

  16. nene

    November 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    i knew it just had to be an igbo man.smh

  17. It'zme!

    November 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Turn down for what?! I loved this…thanks for giving me a laugh.

  18. jay

    November 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    *****can imagine the sick feeling , when somone u care about begins to fall out and u feel they are far gone ………hanging around makes it worse.******* its better to hang on to the memories of dem and not have to see the other side !

  19. Annie

    November 4, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Hilarious!! Love this piece! And I totally know the type.

  20. Jo!

    November 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    looool. Really liked this

  21. amiable

    November 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Well done girl, lovely piece even though I wanted to know how you fared the rest of your stay. Negative effects of Acculturation.

  22. Kodili

    November 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Ugo Shor’y…turn up turn up! ewoo….lmao…..

  23. audiee

    November 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Lmao……first of all the title got me! was expecting something totally different! Nne for ur own good run for ur life cos u might not have the energy to turn up next time……

  24. Gods child

    November 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    This is one of the best write ups I’ve read on Bella naija, well done, I had a really good laugh “turn down for what”………but felt bad for the lady who lost someone she was once in love with to hoodery and fakeryyy

  25. Okiki

    November 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Lol…..

  26. Blessmyheart

    November 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I beg your pardon, I know the phrases “turn up” and “turn down for what” are usually used in reference to parties but could someone tell me what they really mean?

    • Blessmyheart

      November 4, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      I only remembered google after asking the question. So according to Urban Dictionary, turn down for what is, “rhetorical question used by teenagers. “turn up” is the act of getting drunk and high and being reckless so “turn down” would mean sobering up. turn down for what is really saying i am fucked up and will continue to be all night no matter what. the only appropriate answer to this question would be “nothing”

  27. Chisky

    November 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    The worst part is that they speak serious bad grammar with the newly acquired accent n think its ok. You r told to calm down n yr reply is “turn down for what”… Only thing missing is the beats from d dj

  28. HRS

    November 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Shor’y turn up turn up! Turn down for what?! hehehehehehehehehehehehehehe 😀 Had me cracking…. misusing the phrase like kilode?!

  29. babygiwa

    November 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I totally enjoyed this. Best piece on BN this week, so far. Shor’y you do well! LOL

  30. Ijebu Boy

    November 5, 2014 at 5:36 am

    very well written. This has got to be fictional though as i would like to believe that no naija boy would use “turn up” and “turn down for what” in everyday sentences lmao.

    Knowing myself though, if i have the misfortune of knowing someone like that, i would like to hang out with them when i am feeling shitty cos i won’t be able to stop laughing. Unfortunately for this chic, no be laughing matter. lmao

  31. shina

    November 5, 2014 at 8:57 am

    lol nice one

  32. Ayaayo

    November 5, 2014 at 11:11 am

    shor’y “turn up” in naija fast by any means possible, hehehehe interesting piece, had to read it a second time, it feels so nonfiction.

  33. isima

    November 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Ha! Sis runs away, as in runs away very far and fast in the opposite direction.

  34. His excellency

    November 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Haha, I see you!

  35. ij

    November 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Biko nne… (let me speak the igbo) biko run ooo… #turnup #shor’y rubbish english speaking…..lmao…great piece by the way.u really nailed it

  36. Dee

    November 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    lmso!!! I hope this is not a true life story because I am trying to hold back my laughter so bad (at work) my eyes are becoming teary from withhold said laughter in. My hubby and I were sitting at a restaurant a few weeks back and saw an “EMEKA” 2 of them to be precise, complete with the smoking, sagging pants, braided hair and ear rings and ibo -american accent. But that would not have bothered me because they are very plentiful here the one that killed me was the way one of them was chewing. My hubby looked at me and said hope we (Nigerians) don’t all eat like that.

  37. D

    November 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    It took me a while to realize it was Shorty, he was/is calling you, tell him the t is not supposed to be silent even in American accent, and when next he tells you turned up what? tell me turnedtttt it down in your 9ja accent.

  38. Tru

    November 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Funny enough, I can relate to this. She could have been describing my own experience. It is well.

  39. G

    November 8, 2014 at 7:22 am

    One of the side effects of being abroad. The yield to be accepted… Rejection sucks.. Emeka is unfortunately one peeps who wants to be accepted. It takes a whole person to ignore how the society abroad treats you.
    Those who intend to live abroad. Know to have a thick skin… this is because you will be criticized looked down upon regards to your accent and your dress sense etc. Anything to belittle the person just off the boat. And you might repeat that same cycle to another person…. looking for that acceptance and glorification. When you don’t get it you get defensive etc.
    The effect of living there has affected him. Swearing is a sign of internal frustration… Pray to God for peace and love…
    Remember not everybody abroad is like this.. unfortunately for some, they are around some people who are condescending… Meanwhile others aren’t. And everybody reacts differently to each situation.
    Take a look at the character Obinze trip to UK in the novel Americanah. You will see an Emeka character….

  40. Spicey

    December 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Bwaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!! Lmao “turn down for what”???

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