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Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Nigerian Xmas



‎We have bloodied our hands with the lives of innocent chicken. 
Now our lips shine  from mother 's stew

Sunday, December 14, 2014

For women who are tempted to make do




Tell him you've been loved
Deeply and sincerely
That you have had the full loaf of affection
Hot, fresh
Straight from the oven
Tell him you will not scamper for crumbs
Falling off the stingy mouth of a stranger

For Love 
He drags a one-eyed bull to your altar
And tells you to manage
For affection
He offers an ear of shrivelled corn
And says "Well, this is all I have to give"

Tell him
That you are not the household pet
That rejoices at its master's leftover 

Tell him
That you have stood side by side
with the image of the real thing
And you will not grovel
For a mere shadow

Tell him 
That you are not teething at the concept of love
Tell him you're no learner 
That vigils have been kept
Flights have been missed
All for the luxury of your company

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving



Then we would attend service in the village church. We always arrived late because mom would change her outfit fifty times and the gele would not just tie right. Dad would holler and prance, honk the horns and threaten to leave her behind. One year he almost did if mom hadn't chased after us bare-footed,her heely shoes in hand.

We would drive down the winding, laterite path, surrounded by green bushes,characteristic of all places rural. In church we would meet the dancing procession. There would be young men dragging stubborn goats to the altar, some shouldering bags of rice,beans or garri. The women would cause a hold-up in the lines because they wriggled and lowered their waists, rocking tubers of yams in their arms as if they carried babies, for they had become possessed by the spirit of music that flowed from the drums and piano.

We would see grandma at the end of the line, coming along with her ilk: old men and women who dream dreams. Age jerked the motor functions of their bodies which made them dance slow and irregular. 

When the music died, we would smile and return to our seats, sweating and fanning ourselves, and now the altar looked like a lively market place. The goats would be fearful being unused to so great a crowd of witnesses. The chickens manage better, only shrugging their clipped wings from time to time.

The choir would lead us in a hymn and if it weren't for Thanksgiving, we would giggle at the choirmaster's adam apple which seemed to have a mind of its own. But it is thanksgiving. When we sing: "All I have needed Thy hands have provided....", I look at my new shoes and cry.


(image source: ffffound.com)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Modern Pursuits



Do not pursue companionship.
Do not pursue it so hard you lose your individuality.
Didn't you learn lessons from your grandmother?
Until you saw her obituary posters, you didn't realise she had a first name, a second name and even a nickname. 
She was always somebody's something: somebody's wife, somebody's mother, somebody's relative. Her name was lost in duty.
Do not pursue companionship.
Pursue the singularity of your person such that no matter who you wed and bed,
No matter what great lives are pushed out from the spread of your thighs,
No matter whose friend or employee you are,
Your name is not forgotten. 
We were not all made for the spotlight, but don't we all have a right to a name? 

Do not always seek to be agreeable. 
Do not seek malleability in this world that seeks to bend you to conformity.
Haven't you learnt lessons from those women who have made "yes" their favorite language?
Yes to people who ride roughshod on them.
Yes to in-laws who keep meddling. 
Yes to debasing jobs.
Yes to society and its shallow concepts.
Do not always seek to be agreeable.
Pursue immunity.
Pursue it such that even praises sang loud and clear
And stones of cynicism hauled at you,  
None fazes you. 

Do not pursue survival alone.
Do not pursue to only get by, blending in to the ebb and flow of the ordinariness of everyday.
Do not pursue survival alone.
Pursue relevance, to be the answer to the wailings of muted hearts.
Because life...
this life is fleeting.




(image source: eatdrawlive.com) 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lazy Dreams On A Thursday Night





I want to be
A photographer's dream
A designer's muse
An artist's meditation
A poet's cogitation
Only for the vanity of being 
the centre of someone's attention 

I want to see the world
I want to hold a lover's hands while we gave at the magnificence of the EiffelTower.
I want to feel the texture of the walls of the Egyptian pyramids
I want to crash an Indian wedding and watch the bride dance in red sari
I want safari rides in the jungles of Africa 

I want the niceties of luxury,

the finer things of life‎
I want to be as bold as the thoughts
Milling in my head

One day,
I want to write my own gospel



Image source: pinklion.com 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The little acts of self-love



Self-love is not another ultramodern, cute, cheesy, insular concept that is divorced from the simple acts of everyday.

It is washing your own dishes more vigorously, less shoddily because the guest you're about to serve is you.

It is breaking habits like picking your teeth till your gums bleed.

It is ditching your brother's glasses and visiting your eye doctor for your own prescription. 

Self-love is buying orbit in the traffic jam.

Self-love is refusing to let the quack beautician use superglue for your faux lashes.

It is visiting your dentist. It is spending the weekend with your bestfriend rather than in the company of that boy that doesn't care two kobos about you.

Self-live is taking a bath at night, brushing your teeth at night not just when you want to snuggle up with a lover, for you too deserve freshness of breath when you wake up in the morning. 

Self-love is not rocket science. 
It is wearing less often those designer heels that threaten to shatter your ankles with pain.

It is just as simple as going to bed when your eyes are tired.
Self-love is as simple as taking a selfie before you do that.‎

Emotional Detox



If you're tired of being passed from arm to arm to arm like a child carried by every guest at its naming ceremony;

Or you're tired of taking detours, avoiding some streets because in them you have erected monuments of heartbreak which you haven't forgiven yourself for;

Perhaps you're tired of being trifled with like a slab of meat on the butcher's table that everyone fingers and haggles without buying;

If you're tired of having lost your originality because your ideas have  been drowned by voices of lovers past;

Then you need some time away to breathe.

Love is magical, I know, but it's dazzling splendour is not your prescription for such a time as this.

Love is sweet, I understand, but you've had too much of it that it has drilled holes in your teeth. 

Now come away for you have spread yourself too thin like blue band on every slice of bread and I am just concerned that one day, you might just disappear.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Come Away

Come away from this maddening crowd for some time alone; come away for a cup of tea and commune with your thoughts. Pull the window blinds and shut out the rowdiness from the world outside. Head to the shelf and pull down dairies of old. Wet a finger and browse through the pages. For we are in search of a little girl.

We’d search for that little girl, eyes shining with hope and a pressing need to see the world beyond the borders of the soil on which she grew. The girl who yearned to discard every strand of the mundane and all of society’s hampering notions—notions imbued with prejudice.

Listen. Hear that gentle voice of rebuke, like a mother’s, now building in your head:
“Many is the time I thought to reach you. Many is the time I called your name. Have you not grown past the point you pleaded and grovelled, with bruised knees and tear-stained face, all for to be loved?

“How do you deign to be so ordinary in such a conniving world; wrapping yourself with the sheer fabric of ignorance in the fierce storms of life? Do you not know, have you not heard, that naivety no more is a virtue? That the world holds no patience for the simple and that there are not enough people to trust to chaperon you through life?

Henceforward, you shall enjoy your own soliloquy and gasp at the profundity of your thoughts. Yes, show yourself some love in the plenty of time. You’d sift every friendship, every intention; you’d store the wheat of profitability and let the winds blow away the mundane.

You’d hold your cool through these tough times. For it is the butterfly with broken wings that will not leap up and color the skies with its wings. The poor bird does not sing in its nest. You’d sing your song and bask in the melody of your own voice, yes…even if no one is listening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Girl




                                        
(After Jamaica Kincaid)‎


Avoid boys. Avoid those boys whose hands never leave their groins. Do not eat at the neighbours' place. But if you must, do not eat like you are enjoying the meal lest they think your mother is a bad cook. Do not play with those neighbourhood urchins raised on goat milk. Stop eating so much, you will put on weight. Put a bowl in that corner where the roof leeks. Throw a pinch of salt on the earthworms to kill them. Make eba with very hot water. This is how to haggle with the tomato seller. This is how not to haggle before she throws tomato water at you. Squeeze lime over snails to take away the slime. Did I hear you begged those children for biscuit? This is how to shave your hairs. This is how to fix your pad so you won't leave a trail of blood in your wake. But I did not beg any body for biscuit. Always carry a shower cap in the rainy season. This is how to know a man that would take care of you when you marry him. This is how to know a man that would stop giving you money once you've married him. This is how to know the one that would become a he-goat and turn you to a fishwife. Do not accept gifts from unknown men. This is what to take to stop menstrual cramps. Have I not warned you to stop reading ashewo magazines under candlelight? Stop peeping through the neighbours' window to watch adult films. This is how not to reduce your bride price. But I do not read asehwo magazines under candlelight. This is how to chew gum in public. This is how to fart in public if you can't help it. This is how to dance in a ceremony without dancing more than the celebrant. At 28 you are still busy doing ashebi for others, where are my grandchildren? But you said I should avoid boys. You mean to say at your age you do not have a man in your life?






(image source: fineartamerica.com. inquisitive girl by Xueling Zou)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Heart Collector

I am a heart collector 
Hanging the artefacts of every misadventure 
Now my walls groan
Under the weight of each pain I've created


Mathew,
The room you made for me was too small
I was too tall for the bed you laid for me


Mark
I am not worth your ‎tears
I am not worth your sleepless nights


Luke,
This anger will corrode ‎ your mind
Selling our story to press won't make you rich

Dear John,
Forgive me‎ but I waited for you to evolve 
Not many women know how to mother grown men

I am a collector of hearts
Haunted by the relics of each misadventure 
And  nightly, my walls weep
For every pain I've created

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Once I Stalked A Beautiful Woman



I stalked a beautiful woman
A few years ago
When my gait was still shy
And I was not yet beautiful

I stalked a beautiful woman
With quivery  bosom and 
Ample hips
She had a dainty walk on heels
And a loud talk I heard
Even in my dreams

I tried her walk on heels
Buy my ankles got swole
Stuffed my chest with tissue
But they fell off by the way
I tried her loud talk
But my voice was too deep

A day came and she gave me a ride home
I sat flushed in her presence 
Her beauty stifling  me
I ran up the stairs ‎and cried 
For my tongue had failed me
I wished I asked the questions
Now milling in my heart

For some time 
She went away from our very little town 
I sat on her spot in church each Sunday
For I wanted to see the world
Through the eyes of this pretty woman

Then she returned 
Even more beautiful as you please
Bosom still quivery
But I no more was enthralled
Hips still ample 
But no more was I dazzled
Her talk was still loud 
But it ceased to feature in my sleep

And I never ever stalked the beautiful woman
For I too had become beautiful

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Your Brother



Your daddy was a preacher
In the church down the lane
Prescribing Bible-realities
For our everyday malaise

Your bother was the boy
Who wore a face so long it swept the floor
He had a badly drawn tattoo—head of an eagle
That appeared the artist was in shivers while he worked
Chickens and goats disappeared in his wake
Yet your daddy
Kept prescribing 
Bible- realities for our everyday malaise

Your brother only smiled—   
Gap-toothed, like a lecher
When he was with a certain wild-eyed girl
Under the staircase

One day
They took him away, loud and furious
And cudgelled his brains with clubs
I mourned him, deep and long
Till my daddy beat me out of my blues
“No one mourns prodigals this long”

Your daddy, 
Crying his son’s name in his dream
Died of a heartbreak
And the church down the lane
Lies empty and harangued







Monday, November 3, 2014

Learning To Exit

Little by little, I am unlearning tardiness, having seen how much 'African-timing' has stalled my individual progress. But over time, I have come to know that showing up punctually is not the only skill to be learnt in mastering time; there is a gift of tact that comes with knowing when to round-off; of making a graceful exit in ones daily encounters. 

Sometimes I take for granted that sixth sense, that inner perception that announces to me quietly that a matter has come to an end. It tells me when I have outstayed my welcome; It whispers to me that this love is going unrequited; it comes with this  knowing that dawns on me that I have just arrived in a place where I haven't been invited.

It's the sixth sense that tells me to end the call and quit yammering on the phone because I have lost the audience of the other person at the end of the line. It tells me   when the joke is over-flogged.

But at times some of us are so full of "faith" that we keep pressing, hoping to effect a change and in our faithful pursuit, we make a fool of ourselves.

I have come to know that there is a sheer line between doggedness and desperation; between the persistence of faith and the acts of foolishness. Sometimes I get drunk on my own sense of self-acceptance that I assume  that I would never suffer rejection. But I learn daily that not everyone would find me beautiful; not everyone would find me clever or fun to be with (and obviously their opinion doesn't count).

I have learnt  that desperation makes a puny out of you; that punctuality in arrival isn't enough.  There's a beauty in wrapping up tactfully, in closing a chapter without tearing the pages of the book; of walking away from that door that has chosen not to open and saving your knuckles the perpetual pain of knocking. There's a grace in slipping away quietly, without dramas, without creating scenes.

Arriving on time is beautiful but learning to exit is even more graceful.





(image source: 
http://cloud.graphicleftovers.com/37335/1089917/it-is-time-to-go.jpg)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Say Me Well To My Long Lost Love (by guest blogger Echezonachukwu Nduka)






Say Me Well To My Long Lost Love 

Very well, my dear 
Bless you, for the years I hung on your heart’s hook 
Like a wet cloth spread under the scorching eyes of the sun 
I knew the name we called love. But now, I know not my name anymore. 
I’m a somnambulist wading through the pool of your heart where our songs 
Are written with the ink of distrust; fear’s ugly hands stabbed my heart where our love lived. 
Alas, I caught its hands, snatched the sword and it turned to yours. 

Very well, my dear 
Bless you, for the soothing songs you sang when you sold my love 
And I knew not. We danced to the rhythm of the owl’s hoot when it perched 
On the silence of our yearning lips, secrets were boldly written on your forehead. 
Pity, I knew not my love’s buyer. But the seller is the fear that sits across me and stares. 

Farewell my fear, I do not know you 
Say me well to my long lost love 
Our kisses our buried in the waves of the sea 
On this shore, we paid love thirty pieces of silver. 

Farewell my heart, I’ll forsake you today. 
Say me well to my long lost love 
Your dirge was played when night died in distress 
On these pages, inks witness the weight of betrayal. 

Farewell. Farewell. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Ecclesiastical Musings.

1. There is a thing I have seen and observed in the affairs of lovers, in the affairs of men and the women in their lives. For I heard them in the moonlight, whispering after an energetic romp,and I perceived the ineptitude of their pillow-talk, and how misleading the words uttered in their moment of euphoria were.

2. For gone are those days men declared their assets to their beloved, while her soft laps pillowed their heads as she stroked it. Samson tried it and his eyes were gorged out by his enemies.
But what more can they do but for them to mouth their sweet nothings?Yet I say, Woe betide those who stake their lives on pillow-talks. Love is shown, not only in the soft cushions of scented beddings but also when the heat and pressures of life come pressing in. Love is questionable if the only time it is declared is amid a romp, while you are breathing hard down my neck.


3. There is an Ibo proverb that the lizard fell from a great height and landed on his belly. He looked left and right,awaiting a round of applause but no one paid him heed. Then he nodded severally and said to himself, 'If no one would sing my praise, I would go on and praise myself.'

4. Child, unless you are powered by a deep resolve and sheer willpower to enjoy life and the work of your hands which it has apportioned you, you would be muffled by the world's undue expectation of you.


5. I looked under the sun and observed:

- that marriage is over-rated: society's false panacea prescribed for all of life's woes; a snake oil to all of life's ills.

-and many have children not because they want to but because society would question if they didn't. Children have become women's gift to their men as a proof of their virility. A child, often, is what a woman uses to shut the trap of a nagging mother-in-law.


6. Child, there are some sweet things you would know in due time that would make your meals tastier, your gait comelier and your sleep sweeter. But if you know them wrongly, it would leave a gaping hole throbbing between your thighs.


7. There is a vacuum in the shape of Deity,lounging in the deep crevasses of the human heart; everything that tries to fill this void wobbles pathetically.

8. For vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Than These

I am more than these
More than my bespectacled self
More than this quiet smile
More than this crude accent.

I am more than these
More than this shy gait
More than these unvarnished nails
More than these old braids

You love me now
Cause I feel like comfy shoes
Like your granny's rocking chair
Like your favorite spot on your sofa.
You are eager to reach for me now
For all you see is:

This bespectacled girl with a crude accent
With old braids and unvarnished nails
Walking towards you with a shy gait.

But I am more than these small eyes
More than the birthmarks above my lips
More than these flared nostrils
More than those fearful resistances.

You adore this that I am
But would you love that which I'm becoming?

Would you feel dimmed
In my brightness?
Would you feel dwarfed
In my rising?
When this gait straightens
And my smile like a cloak
Puts on confidence
Would you still adore me?

I am your leaky faucet
And you are my eager plumber
Sweat on your kind brows as you get to work
And I yield to your earnest touch
Oh how I love the feel of your hands as you fix me!

But when I drip no more
When I stoop no more
And when I'm shy no more
Would you take flight?

Now is you time to strut in spotlight
Now is your moment to wriggle in limelight
But when you see my name in lights
Would you feel snuffed out?

Do you love me now
Cause I give you room to glow?
And would you adore me still
When I begin to beam?

Now, I am in the hands of the Sculptor
Being molded to shape
And chiseled to conformity
But when it's time to reveal me to the world,
Would you feel sidelined?

For I tell you again
There is more to me
Than this bespectacled girl
With a crude accent
With Old braids
And unvarnished nails
Walking towards you in her shy gait.