Thursday, October 3, 2013
Our brown skins were tanned coal and trails of sweat slinked down our backs and disappeared beneath the bands of dirty boxers. We paused to catch our breath. Chukwudi's stomach growled like a famished lioness robbed of her cubs. He leaned on the truck to steady himself. His ulcer was acting up again.
"We could have some bread and share a bottle of coke," I said in ibo, in my bid to sympatise. "Since we haven't much to jingle in the pocket. These would do."
He said nothing. His eyes were shut meditatively and he gave off birdy whistles, knitting his brows in pain,in thoughts .
He was thinking of the contractor at the construction site where we worked,the fat bully and his demeaning,empty threats; He was thinking of our brash singing while our backs were bent to the rhythm of work.
He was thinking of his OND certificate, neatly lying in a brown envelope under the worn mattress we shared.
He was thinking of Mama, miles away and how fast her cough was wilting her away to nothingness.
Afar off was the lady of the mobile restaurant, Mama Olaedo, wheeling her truck which, unlike ours, was laden with delicacies that made our mouths water. I tried to wave at her, giving my most servile smile but my hands stilled in the air as she swiveled her wares to the opposite direction.
Mehn, nobody is smiling today o, I thought. Not Mama Olaedo who often gave us free food because she said I shared a resemblance with her last son. And not even the Sun.
(Image courtesy Phaneross Photography)
Monday, September 23, 2013
I am a sand castle battered by the storms and all my sides are coming off, unglued.
My heart, chiseled out of shape by pain.
Time and its magical prowess,
Turned a cocksure prince to a mullish bigot.
I beheld you in that moment of shallow-mindedness and thought to me,
This is good stuff.
And I, an eager-beaver
Squirmed all night
In my skirt for your touch.
But morning came, sure as dawn and you rolled over, feigning your snores.
You feigned, you feigned, lying too stiffly to be asleep. I speak to you softly but your reply came off like one whose caught hair between his teeth.
Your carefully picked words neutered my resolve to love you.
And I knew,
Like I always do,
That I just gave me for a song.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Love is kind.
Love is giving.
Love is sharing.
But it isn't love when it always comes with a shove.
It isn't love when my heart wears to shreds in your hands.
It isn't love when it comes at the expense of my dignity.
It isn't love when all you seek are your own ways.
It isn't love when our moments of euphoria come only at the exchange of bodily fluids.
Love me when my body is wrung of its juices and the fingers are too weak to reach and touch.
Love me when I fail to see your view and your own shoes feel too itchy for my feet.
Let there be euphoria in a hug, in a walk, in a kiss as light as feather, when you lay me down and I sleep like a child, sated at its mother's breast.
Let there be love in your acts of kindness - in the opening of doors, the pulling out of chairs, in that gentle inquiry, "what would you rather have?"
Love is the contended look in your eyes after moments of talk with me. Love is the misting over of my eyes, an apt response as I watch the rise and fall of your chest as you sleep, and I know that only I hold privy to your solitary moments.
Love is when you speak to me thus
Hold me thus
And it feels right
And I feel wanted.
Love comes in gentle strides, not in the quick dashes of sprinters; it is when I sit at your river banks and I dally my feet in your waters, without drowning myself in you. Love is in deep breathings of the aged, and not just in the pantings of exhausted lovers.
Love is staking my life on this truth, that the hands that hold me tonight would be there tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
You walked towards me then, you walk towards me now, exciting a flurry of activities. Papers swirl in the wind, curtains bellow with pride, beasts leave the lairs to watch, eagles fly from their aeries to peep.
The years have crawled past and I still burn for you. I burn for you, I burn for you, a fire past putting out.
Tonight I bestir my love for you. Let your warmth spread a covering over me. Let me love you without skimping and those you have loved in the past shall not touch me at it.
For I love you....and tonight, I will not keep it quiet.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Friday, August 9, 2013
Mummy would send Junior and I to go and buy blocks of ice from the factory in Azikiwe Road to keep the food in the freezer cold. One day at the factory, I placed money on the table of the woman who sold ice. She counted it and tossed the money back at me.
"You did not read the announcement at the gate?" She asked.
"Oh,small girl like you is asking me cross-question, ehn?"
I looked at her angry face. She would have been beautiful if she wasn't chewing gum like she was and if she hadn't shaved off her eyebrows and drawn eye pencil as if with a ruler.
I and Junior got to the gate and read the paper glued to it:
WE HAVE INCREASED THE PRICE
THIS IS DUE TO THE INCREASED
COST OF FUEL AND
OTHER PRODUCTION PROCESSES
BEAR WITH US
We walked back home and told mummy. Mummy wasn't happy.
"Ah ah," she said. "Very soon they will start charging the head of John The Baptist for just a block of ice. May God save us in this country."
There were a plethora of other unhappy circumstances that arrived in the wake of power's long sojourn in her new boyfriend's place: no Tom and Jerry by 4pm after school; no Super Story by 8pm on thursdays. We wouldn't be able to turn our morning tea to ice-cream and Uncle Uwadiegwu would put on his blue catapult generator and play loud Celine Dion songs when his annoying fiancee came visiting, suffering the ears of everyone in the yard.
I remember a time he had turned off his generator and everyone shouted, "Thank God!". He got angry and rushed to the filling-station to get more litres of petrol and he left it on for so long....
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
She raises her voice in the public squares:
"Don't you get it?
No man can earn me
I speak from the stance of one
Who has come to see man
For what he really is:
I am a gift to be given
Not a prize to be won."
Monday, August 5, 2013
They are not aliens from Neptune
Neither are they strange guests from Mars
I know the woman
Who bore the man
Whose rear end
seats in power
Was my neighbour
Whose little daughter
Shared a stick of biscuit
With my little brother
Time and chance happened to him
He woke and found himself in power
But the decietfulness of riches
Left a good man salivating
Rapacious like an open grave
They are from among us
Good daddies that bought their kids ice-cream
That sang them lullabies
That took them to the movies
But time and chance happened to him
He woke one day and found himself in power
And the decietfulness of riches
Left a good man salivating
Rapacious like an open grave.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
She likes her breakfast warm: oats or cereal with three slices of wheat bread. For oats, she likes it salted, and for cereal, she likes to have it with a lot of evaporated milk.
You are the kind of man that would serve a woman breakfast in bed, I presume. I was not. I am not. And I do not foresee me becoming one. For this cause and a multitude more she left. This was the bane of our love affair, the reason for all the acrimony our union suffered: my person was just not wired with such romantic tendons.
Send roses to her work place and if you want to be a little extravagant, toss in bars of chocolate. I did this once or twice when that hurt look crept into her eyes; when her responses to my "Good mornings" were just a muffled "mmmhn"; when she would whimper so long in her sleep for no reason at all; when I knew her heart was drifting from me.
The roses I sent did no good in our case however, and I love to liken the belated gesture to placing a bunch of red flowers on the tomb of someone you love. They loved you once but they are gone, far gone to lift the roses to their nostrils, to smile as they smell the scents.
Now that her eyes shine and dance with desire for you, now she has walled you up in the innermost parts of her heart, it is wise you maximise the moment. I have spent residency in her heart, and I know its labyrithine routes. But at some time, my life got hectic. I felt our affair had grown to maturity and that we could overlook each others vagaries. Sadly, I lost my map and groped like a child who has lost its mother at the marketplace.
I bumped into her at the bar a fortnight ago. She sat at a table for two, glowing under the red light. You were using the rest room, she said and I was glad I was beered up enough to face her and she was in such a good mood to face her pestilencial burden. Thankfully she held back the venom in her tongue custom made for me, but the way she stared at me could curdle milk; a man in coma could have awoken by the tension between us.
But she looked good, I must confess. No longer beleaguered by her catalogue of woes. I am surprised she found the time to smear on make-up. You must be doing a good job, fella.
How do you find her nightly need to chit-chat before sleep? How do you find her snoring? In the heydays of our affair, it sounded like a sweet symphony until the fire flies died in my eyes and it became the blaring of an elephant's trumpet. How do you find her watery egusi soup? Has she taken your name to Pastor for divine confirmation?
Call me when she bores you.
I will write you again.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
One day I asked Glory,my nanny, "Why does Aunty Chi-Chi's food smell so good?"
"Because she is looking for husband" she replied with a hiss. Then she added, "She would not even mind snatching another person's own. I bet her food will not smell so nice when she gets married."
Everyone said Aunty Chi-Chi was a bad woman but I saw no evil in her. She held my mind in bewilderment. When she walked by, her backside rolled like drums of joy. Bright rouge was always printed on her supple lips. Even her dustbin held a scenty mystery,and when Glory dozed off like she always does,with her big mouth dripping saliva, I would sneak out and join the other children in the yard to poke at her bin which never ran out of supply of strange balloons, empty perfume bottles and empty roll-on containers which we would smear in our armpit. Glory found out one day when I had sneaked back into the house smelling funny, and she made mummy beat me without mercy.
Aunty Chi-Chi did her laundry every saturday morning. Whenever I saw her outside, I would grab the plastic chair daddy bought me and race downstairs to sit beside her. I would watch her wash, wondering what magic prevented her acrylic nails from melting in the sudsy water. There was style to everything she did -even in the way she scratched her hair, tapping her head lightly and closing her eyes dreamingly. I could watch this woman forever.
One day, it rained all day. Glory had gone to visit her parents and mummy had placed a curfew on Junior and I,fearing the weather would make us catch cold. We yearned after the wet world outside, looking at it through the window in the living room; someone had left his clothes outside and some lay limp on the clothes line, some sodden on the ground. This was the day I had planned to teach junior how to torment earthworms and it was sad watching it pass by. From the living room, I could hear mummy's stertorous breathing. Junior looked at me, our eyes met. He was wearing his slippers on the wrong feet but that was not my problem at the moment. In an instant, we were tiptoeing down the stairs, careful not to touch the squeaky railings. The pockets of my jean skirt weighed down with a nylon bag of salt. We sprinted when we got to the end of the stairs and stopped when we came under the awning above Aunty Chi-Chi's window, standing there a little while to still our hammering heart before the expedition.
I found a slab of plastic and began digging with Junior squatting beside me. We saw an earthworm lying unsuspectingly.
"Take," I took out the nylon bag and handed to Junior. "Sprinkle salt on it." He did and we watched the worm wriggle and flip its tail in saline pain. Junior was in glee and I felt like the wise one from the east; I always enjoyed filling his four year old life with tricks. Yesterday, I had thought how to take hot food in his mouth and blow off the steam like he was smoking cigarette.
Junior's lips always drooled whenever he was lost in something and just then, my evil genius took over me. Mummy had told me to flick his lips with my fingers to teach him how to suck it in. And that was exactly what I did.
His sudden wail awoke someone.
"Who are those children that would not allow someone to sleep, ehn?"bellowed a man in Aunty Chi-Chi's room. We shook in fright. Junior's cry died as instantly as it began, his lip drooling still. After seconds of lull, he resumed,with hiccups, not giving a fig about whoever he might have roused from sleep and who he might awake. I leaned closer to him to placate him covering his mouth with my hands, but he dug his tiny teeth in my palms. I retreated in pain.
A short while, Aunty Chi-Chi emerged with a pregnant looking man. She was adjusting her bra straps and checking for stains on the seat of her red skirt.
"Good evening." I greeted the man. He did not respond. "Good evening Aunty Chi-Chi." Junior sucked on his thumb and was in no mood to offer greetings.
"Evening sweetheart, " she said. "How are you?"Then she turned to the man, "The kid is greeting you, now."
The man grunted and walked away and she followed him to his car.
"I will tell mummy when she wakes." Junior said. "I will tell her you begged Prisicillia for sweets and when she was not around you watched film in Uncle Moses house." I stuck out my lip to him.
Aunty Chi-Chi was walking back towards us. "Now who is making my husband cry?"she said, squatting and taking Junior in her arms. He buried his head in her ample bosom, turned around and pointed at me, thumb still in mouth.
"Ezinne! Junior!" We looked up in unison. Mummy appeared, standing on the balcony, her face swollen with sleep and anger. "Who told you to go down stairs, eh? Come on will you come upstairs immediately!" My bum sucked in instinctively in fear and anticipation of what would follow.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
It may not be so. Therefore you have to prepare for the long haul just in case.
As an undergraduate under the hawkish Obasanjo regime (as civilian president), I witnessed two ASUU strikes. One lasted for 6 months while the other 4 months. Initially, majority of us needed the strike, just to have a break from the suffocating lectures, assignments and term papers. Two to three weeks after, we were yearning to resume school. We then became automatic newshounds, scrambling for every piece of news on ASUU-FG negotiations, and of course roadside negotiators too, analyzing and apportioning blames between the two combatants.
By the end of the first month as the strike dragged on without any hope of resolution, our optimism has turned a blistering frustration. The boredom was biting hard. Family tensions and uneasy parent-adolescent relationships were resurrected, threatening to develop into a fracas yet none of the belligerent combatants was showing any sign of standing down. We cursed under our breath as we reminisced school days and idealized our friends (oh how we missed them especially in the absence of social media then). By the end of the second month, we had completely relapsed into a secluded resignation. The strike may as well last forever.
In all of this, we the students were the ultimate losers. ASUU will eventually force the FG to either sign agreements they don't intend to honour or hand them out some enhanced package akin to a placating tokenism. We, the students bore the brutal brunt of the needless feud with our academic calendar ruthlessly distorted and our expected graduation time elongated. Worse of all, a portion of our lives has been wasted. That's the point of this whole write-up. This is a time that can be easily wasted.
ASUU and FG can distort your academic calendar, elongate your convocation date but don't allow them to waste your life. Employ this time wisely. In doing this, you basically have two options – You either engage in some brisk entrepreneurial activities and make some money for yourself or you maximize this time for aggressive self development.
I will vote for self-development, after all its ultimately more rewarding in the long-run. Its curriculum has never changed, it comprises the usual fundamentals – read as widely as you can (you can make that a bit more strategic by focusing on areas of your comparative advantage and long-term interests), listen to as many audio tapes as possible, enroll for training on acquisition of vital skills and if you can, go for conferences and workshops.
You also need to know that you have some new enemies now and they are neither ASUU nor FG. They might be friends you usually engage in idle chit-chatting with, the truckload of DVD films you've acquired or borrowed, the cable news channels, with engrossing soaps and addictive reality shows and yes, the social media. Flee from your enemies.
Finally, this period might be the most exciting and rewarding time of your life or it may turn out to be the most frustratingly boring. Goodnews is – the choice is yours.
Tiny wet cells in my armpit conversed endlessly. If I made the mistake to look up again, I'd catch him smiling, running his hands over his neat beards, winking still.
"You see," my father was saying, "when Ngaji my first wife was coming in and out of labour with tiny female tots, I felt like I was the only accursed man walking the face of the earth. That was when thoughts of taking another wife danced in my head and I could not resist the temptation though I was warned against it. I could not resist even though right now,I have borne the brunt. A new woman comes with a brand new set of palaver. New responsibilities, another brick house to erect, more school fees to pay, another woman prattling and bending your ears with her naggings.
"But now, years later, I see the profits. The handsome dowry, haha, I have come to see that daughters are a certain kind of treasure. I don't know if you are getting what I am saying, the point I am driving at."
"Mmhn" The men nodded in agreement. "We get your point."
My father delivered his long lecture, his area of specialty but all the while my gaze never left the man just as his hands never Ieft his beards.
So these are the hands that would knead me in the dead of the night like pounded yam, I thought. The same hands that would hit me if I became uncontrollable. Are these the arrogant eyes that would watch over me, my goings and comings, the face my children would take a semblance to? This half-man, half-hipster would lord it over me? I shook my head.
"My son has always been at the city apprenticing for his uncle but last month his uncle established him and he branched out. He came in few days ago and I believe he has found what he came for."
"So son, what exactly do you do?" Father asked.
"Importation and exportation."
"Mmmmm,' my father's mouth watered, 'that's impressive. You must be very industrious."
"We give God all the credit." He replied. What a modest man! I thought.
"Mgbeke, you can go now, let the men discuss."
As I arose I became overtly conscious of myself, I felt their eyes were boring holes in my backside. As if on cue, the other man said, "Ah, those hips were made for the birthing of sons." Till this day I can still hear their raucous laughter, that kind of laughter that triggers your own laughter.
So I was leaving… no I was being given away and would be sent back if I misbehaved. One would not call this leaving for one left willing, on her own accord. I was being traded for with a goat, stock fish, bags of rice, tubers of yam, cartons of milk and tin tomatoes…just name it.
(Excerpt from 'A Certain Kind Of Treasure', a story that appeared in The Kalahari Review http://bit.ly/153Q9IU)
Monday, July 22, 2013
May they forget their drivers' licences
May they carry overload
And may they over speed.
May their cars have no inner lights
May there be thick hold-up
May they have some loose change
To slip into my fingers.
Let there be no robbery scene
I have no energy to pursue
No hit and run driver
I have no time to investigate.
But let there be a generous tip
Let me catch a drunken driver
Let there be a thick hold-up
Today I need some loose change.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Then this hoary man drags little Amina to his dark room....
He takes off his clothes and his pouch droops and he takes hers off...no, he's not that romantic. He orders her to take hers off and he leads her to the bed...
And his old stalwart penis stabs her and stabs her and stabs her....
And the song that plays in the background as her vulva weeps blood and her eyes bleed tears is K'naan's "Waving flag".
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
Saturday, June 15, 2013
(image courtesy www.weekinbehia.com)
Monday, June 10, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
For I looked outside my window and I observed two dogs licking each other's lips, taking time to smell each other's bottom.
I saw the seedy billy-goat mount the nanny-goat in plain view- they are so enraptured they do not deign to take cover, defying motorists and passers-by.
I saw the impassioned cockerel give the little hen a spirited chase.
If these beasts devoid of much reasoning know the throes of passion, then more is expected of men.
A love based only on the hinges of coitus and passion is missing the forest for the trees.
Sadly, I was alone in my discovery. It was too risqué to share with fellow playmates and too risky to confide in an adult. Prior to then, I thought boys only differed from me because they wore shorts to school and I, a gown. In class, I shared a bench with two boys- I sat between them- but after my discovery, I saw the boys in a different light. They piqued my curiosity and it was hard for me to keep up with the notion that they were ordinary playmates.