March 15, 2014

Goodnight Blogger...

So we have moved... to Script Street , a nicer apartment, a freer space...

Person dey grow pass something and I think we have grown past blogger. I am so excited about the new site. It was created by someone very special after plenty trauma from me. Lol. But it was so worth it. I hope to collaborate with some really amazing writers out there on that space. 

I am so thankful to all my amazing, amazing readers. Everyone that has come here over the years; thank you. Thank you for letting me pretend I am a writer. Thank you for laughing in all the right places. Thank you for letting me have a voice and listening even when I had nothing to say.

 It has been 3 years or so and it has been a worthwhile journey. I have grown and learned so much from all you guys. I have made some great friends too. So thank you, thank you,  for your feedback, for your love, for your sharing my art. 

I plan to keep doing what I do for as long as God gives me grace. So this is not a goodbye... It is a goodnight to blogger, a see you soon somewhere else, a hello, a welcome. 

Pleaseeeeeeeeee visit the new Kiah's Scripts and be sure to show some love.

Song of the day: Kirk Franklin & 1nc - Free

March 11, 2014

Wake Me Up

Short Story Time! Lol...

I believe short stories are a chance for readers to make up dear readers, do something about this story...give it a happier ending than I have done...Thank you.

P.S Here is sending love and loads of hope the way of the families of passengers on MH370

He likes to watch her dream. Whether she is dreaming with eyes wide open or narrowly closed; there is something about her face, her whole being that has him hooked, that he can stare at for hours and never be bored.

It is easy to tell when her dreams are going well; a shadow of a smile plays on her lips. He finds the nearest piece of furniture and settles even deeper into it to watch her. On the days she has nightmares, he sits on the edge of his seat, helpless because to save her would be to awaken her and he knows how she loves to be left alone to fight her demons.

Today she is dreaming with eyes closed and her breathing is done through soft lips he has tasted a million times. The shadow of her smile is hard to see from where he sits but he knows it is there. There is no reason for nightmares today.

In his right hand, he holds a doctor's report confirming one dream come true. The Afghan rug they purchased on last their vacation cushion two identical reports from different doctors. Each report, a confirmation that their dreams have finally come true. After 6 years, they are finally going to be parents.

He raises the glass of cognac he has been holding onto in his left hand to his lips but then remembers to toast the dreaming woman. She ignores his salute from the land of her dreams so he chuckles, downs the last drop of cognac and makes to carry her gently to bed.

He falls asleep to the lullaby of her soft snores. He never dreams. He has no time to waste on such things. He is practical and realistic.  It is why they are so well suited for each other. She, the dreamer; he the realist.

So he is surprised to find himself dreaming tonight. He dreams of the dreaming woman but in his dream she is wide awake and laughing in a field of lilies. White is the color of his dreams. White clouds, white flowers, a white dress... He doesn't know why but he starts to laugh too as she finds her way to his arms and shows him how to dance to music you only hear in dreams. His hand finds the hollow of her back and she smiles up at him as the wind blows her hair across her face. To fight the wind, he must retrieve his hand from where it lies safe behind her. That is when he sees the blood. That is when he awakens to the woman beside him with tears in her eyes and bloodied hands. That is when he wishes that for once, he was a dreamer and he could awaken from this.

Song of the day: Kate Miller-Heidke - The Last Day on Earth

March 4, 2014

Love like Golf

Oh has been a while. I have so many unfinished stories. Endings seem to escape me these days. Maybe like Inem and Tomwari, I am concentrating too much on happy endings and forgetting to appreciate the storytelling process.

This story has its hiccups but I love it still. Inem is one female character that I do love...I won't lie, I made up her name.  Lol. Inem, Idomokidem... If anyone can translate this in their language, please feel free. 

Here is to a wonderful March towards the good things. 

In the beginning was the joy. Pure unbridled joy that no one had to look too hard for before they noticed it. It was easy enough to find in the glow of their young skin, in the fire in their eyes, in the way they could not keep their hands off each other.

It was the kind of joy that outshone stars and outsang minstrels. It was the kind of joy that only love could bring about.

But that was in the beginning and the thing about beginnings was that they started things they were never able to finish. Finishing things off was the job of endings but endings, just like beginnings, were nothing but static points in the journey of life. Most people tended to focus on endings and beginnings and forgot to enjoy the green, green grass and still waters of life. 

A little while after teeing off their relationship, Tomwari and Inem had their first fight. Words were thrown around and sentences were strung together; love died a little and seeds for the end were sown. The fight didn't last long. First fights never do; and soon enough they were back in the blind stupor that is young love.

They got married soon after that fight, as if in defiance to it. They even had a big old wedding to celebrate the end of their beginning. In their wedding photo album, joy forces you to take notice of the way it curves Inem's lips, the way it fills Tomwari's eyes, the way it swells Inem's belly...

But joy didn't stick around for too long. One month after the wedding, Inem miscarried and Tomwari blamed her. If only she had not insisted on going to Abeokuta with her friends on a 'girls trip'. If only she had paid mind to the doctor's orders to be careful. If only she wasn't so headstrong and so beautiful at the same time.

Inem on her own part wore her guilt like a favorite piece of clothing. Soon it was all that she knew; to be guilty of wrongs and of rights.There was no place for joy where blame, guilt and sorrow were being nurtured and so it fled their home. Not too long after joy took its leave, Tomwari said the 'D' word for the first time.

He came home one day to find his wife passed out cold in their living room, the bottle of Johnny Walker he purchased only a week before emptied.

When she regained consciousness, he made her coffee and as they drank the bitter elixir, he said 'I want a divorce.'

She looked outside the window to the darkness that lay beyond their well-lighted home and said nothing.

'Did you hear me, Idomokidem? I said I want...'

'I heard you perfectly well.' She cut in.

'So you are okay with it then?' He asked after a while had passed and the woman continued to stare at the darkness.

She said nothing and raised the coffee cup to her mouth.

Tomwari sighed and went to bed. He stared at the ceiling for a long time before falling asleep. In the kitchen, Inem made another cup of coffee and watched the darkness.

The photos don't tell me this part of the tale. I gleaned that from Inem. She likes to joke that back in the day when you needed a photograph taken, you hired someone. Now everyone and their mother were professional photographers. She tells this joke with a wistfulness and I wonder what memories she has lost, what memories she is afraid of losing.

The next photo album I look at commemorates the twins' christening. To an untrained eye and to someone with no background on the story, these photos paint a similar picture to that of the wedding. 

The joy is back but I know better.

Unlike the wedding where everywhere you turned, joy screamed at you, the joy at the christening is subdued; a recovering cripple learning to walk again. You can tell from the concentration on Inem's face and Tomwari's set jaw that joy is no longer taken for granted; it is now something they work at. You can tell they are no longer stuck on tees and holes; they are more concerned about the journey now.

There are many other photo albums capturing different events in their 34 year old marriage. The twins' first birthday. Inem's surprise 30th birthday party. The twins fifth birthday. Vacations in New York and the South of France. The twins in matching golf outfits. Tomwari's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inem's father's funeral. Some family friend's pool party. The Disney World trip.

It is almost 2pm and I am ready for a break. It has been 3 hours since I began and I think I have seen enough.

Taiye and Tomwari are wearing matching golf shirts and heading to the golf course. They wave me a goodbye and I return the favor from where I sit surrounded by the past.

I find Inem in the garden where she plants tomatoes and Ugu leaves. In her wedding photos, she is not holding a bouquet of flowers. Inem doesn't like flowers. She is practical and only grows what she can eat.

I kneel and grab a small shovel to help her with her plants.

My mother is not as beautiful as she used to be but her face still commands attention with its piercing brown eyes and cheekbones that can slice paper in two.

'The ‘Tiger Woods' have left us to ourselves I see.' She says as I add mulch to the small bed she is working on.

'Yes,' I say.

She nods her gray head and we move onto the next bed.

'So?' She asks.

'So,' I answer, smiling at her.

She grins back and I can almost see the cheeky young bride she once was.

'You are too much like me,' she tells me. 'But you know you want to tell me so tell me.' She winks and I laugh.

My mother knows me well. My heart is full and my mouth ready to ease its burden. I am getting married in three weeks. Two days ago, I came home to my mother and whispered my fears to her and how I thought it best to call off the wedding. She made me Afang soup and Fufu and sent me to sleep in my old room.

The next day, she stole my father's country club pass and took me golfing. My parents have golfed together for as long as I can remember and as soon as I and Taiye could handle golf clubs, we have held one in our hands.

This morning, she loaded me with the photo albums and sent me in search of what I thought was lost.

I hesitate but only for a little while before speaking.

'What happened that night, Mum?' I ask.

She is startled and stops tending her plants. She is surprised at my question. She sent me in search of answers and I come back with questions. But I am my mother's daughter so she smiles and returns to her Ugu plants.

'Your father was going to leave me. We had gotten married so young and were foolish enough to take things for granted. We wanted happy endings every time, and all the time. We wanted the joy of the beginning always. What we failed to realize was that joy, just like golf clubs were our responsibility. You don't show up to play without your clubs. You don't show up to life without your own joy. I did what you did today. I brought out the memories, and reminded myself of the joy we used to have. The next morning, I smiled at your father and made him breakfast like I used to before the miscarriage. That evening, he hurried home from work and we danced to all the songs we had fallen in love to.'

'Getting married is a beginning. Marriage itself is a process, not the end. The best golfers focus on the process and not the outcome. Everyone will miss a hole or two. It doesn't mean you give up. It just means you find a way to try again. Remember that when you feel like giving up on Sosa. Remember that when joy seems to be hard to do. I might not be here always to remind you but remember.'

'So you think I am ready?' I ask my mother. We have made our way to the tomatoes section of her garden and are harvesting the juicy red and yellow vegetables for dinner. 

My mother smiles her trademark gap toothed smile and cocks one eyebrow.

'It depends,' she says.

'On?' I ask.

'On if you have been practicing. Are you and Sosa having good sex?'

I am shocked and almost drop my bowl of tomatoes.

My mother laughs and my fears fade away. When she is done with mirth, she reaches for my hand and clasps it to her face.

'Omokehinde Uyaiobong Asenath, no one is ever ready for life but if anyone is, it is you,' she tells me and tears well up in my eyes.

Dinner is my mother's trademark African Jollof Rice and peppered snail. We sit at the dining table, everyone and joy. I look at my mother and father for as long as I can. I never want to forget this picture; the laugh lines etched deep in their faces, the love in the eyes, the joy that sits in between them. When I and Sosa have bad times, I will bring out this picture and remember that joy, just like golf clubs are my responsibility.

Song of the day: Charles Jenkins - Awesome

February 8, 2014

A Time to Fall

I know I said I was retired...God had other ideas.

I wrote this story at around 2-3 pm EST today. I saw Philomena at around 6 pm EST today too. I just started laughing as I got half-way through the movie. Y'all best believe God has an amazing sense of humor. Of all stories for me to write today, it had to be this... 

Happy February Ladies and Gentlemen! Here is to Spring in a few weeks. God knows I am done with winter.

Photo credit belongs to an old classmate. And this beautiful place was my home for two years.... :)

She doesn't know the exact moment autumn found its way from outside, into her heart. One day they were stealing kisses every chance they got, in every impossible corner of life; the next, they were strangers, unable to navigate the tributaries of each other's feelings.

She watches him pack up the rest of his things in a box and feels nothing. No sadness, no sinking feeling at having failed, no hatred, no anger, no nothing.

Actually she does feel something. Disgust; at herself, just like the nuns at the orphanage in Calabar  had told her she was supposed to feel, almost fifteen years back.

He is done packing and reaches for scotch tape to seal away memories of his time in this place. She turns her eyes away quickly so as not to give herself away. 

She turns her attention to the yellow and red leaves outside her window that have lost the battle to gravity. Autumn is a good season, especially in New York City with its cold, unfeeling streets. It is the best time to fall apart because she won't be alone in falling. The leaves of summer will sympathize with her as they make their way to the ground. The autumn rains will drench her with their tears and remind her that she falls not alone.

'I am leaving now.' He says.

She turns from the leaves and immediately wishes she hadn't. He is so beautiful, this man that has held her heart for all of 8 months. She has the sudden urge to tell him she has changed her mind and beg him to stay but she ignores it.

'Okay,' she says.

He shifts his weight to one foot, uncertainly as if waiting for her to say more but she said all that needed to be said last week.

'I think you should find another apartment,' She said to him over dinner of the kebabs he had bought from some food truck on his way back from work.

He had put his knife and fork down and started to cry.  She had continued eating to push back the thing in her throat that would have eventually made its way to her eyes as tears.

'Was it something I did?' He finally managed to get in, in between sobs and snorts.

Yes, she wanted to say. Yes, it is the way you love me so effortlessly when even I can't love myself that way. Yes, it is the way you forgive me when I cannot forgive myself. Yes, it is the way you remind me of summer even in the cold of winter. Yes, it is because autumn is here, my season to fall apart and I will not take you down with me. I will be damned if I take you down with me.

'Chinwe, it isn't you. You are perfect. I just need to sort stuff in my head out.' she said instead.

He continued to cry and in the end she left him there at the dinner table; taking Zoe, her dog out for a walk so that Chinwe would have enough room in their tiny apartment to mourn.

By the time she and Zoe got back, he was asleep on the couch, looking like a fallen soldier who never even got the chance to try out his favorite weapon.

'You have my address and number.' He says now.

'Yes I do.' She says.

'Can I come see Zoe once in a while?' He asks, delaying the moment before he walks through that door for the last time as an inhabitant of this space.

'Anytime Chinwe, just call me first.'

He is frustrated by her coolness and she wants to kiss the worry off his brow.

He makes for the door finally and then halfway there, he changes his mind. His long strides catch her by surprise so that before she can blink he is in front of her and there is no where to escape to. She knows what is about to happen and she wants to stop it but her feet refuse to move. He grabs her in an embrace and steals a kiss.

The dam breaks and soon he is kissing the tears that flow freely down her face. With each kiss, he says her name like a prayer; 'Ima' 'Ima' 'Ima'.

'You should have left while you still had the chance,' she tells him later as they eat Afang soup leftovers.

He kisses her in response.

'I have always had to steal my kisses from you,' He tells her. 'I just had to try one last time.'

Later that night, when their bodies are sated, she discovers that she can feel more than disgust for herself. She gets out of bed, finds the only picture she has of the child and hands it over to the man.

'I was raped at fifteen but no one believed me. They said I seduced him. He was a married man, a good man and I was the girl who loved make up and used swear words. I got pregnant and had a child. I don't know what his adoptive parents call him but I named him 'Malaika'; for the angels. He was born in October. He will be fifteen next week Friday. Every October, I mourn the death of a living child, every October, I mourn the death of that girl...'

He holds her while she tells the rest of the story. When the tale ends, he steals another kiss and whispers,

'Will you marry me?'

Outside, yellow and red leaves dance in the wind, lonely in their descent, but content that at least, they have each other.

Song of the day: Indescribable - Kierra Sheard

January 28, 2014

A Ramble and Mark Anthony

I have written a couple of stories but I don't know what is wrong with me these past few weeks. I am unsure; unsure of me, my worth, my abilities. And no, I don't need reminding by anyone, I just need to look down deeper and write better.

Three more days for January to be over and what a rollercoaster ride it has been. I have nothing but thanks to give though. It is all working out for good.

There was once a girl; crazy, special and naughty. One day this girl woke up to find she was a woman and hardly recognizable in the mirror. The only thing to remind her of who she was were the things she had written, a boy she loved and her God.

That new woman is me. It is why I am not writing stories I love anymore. I am writing stories that sound like a woman and not like that special girl. Bleh. And I absolutely refuse to share this period of mediocrity with anyone. Well except for Funminiyi who is great like that and is too kind to tell me I suck.

Maybe I am going through mid-life crisis. Yes, yes I am far from midlife but I have always been precocious like that. I graduated high school at 13. That should tell you enough.

Anyway back to writing, there are so many good writers out there and maybe it is reading their work that has made me doubt mine but what the heck, you guys are too much. I discovered Akwaeke Emezi's work and I am such a stalker now.

Most times what happens after a writer's block or whatever these things are called is that I write a great story, the kind of story that blows y'all's knee socks off and all that business. In the main time though, I shall ramble on my blog. Who knows, maybe my next post will be a story.

Bear with heart is in no coffin and I have no Mark Anthony excuses to give you, but I must pause on story telling till it comes back to me from wherever it has gone on vacation to. (Seriously if you cannot tell I am quoting Shakespeare here, you have no business on my blog. You need to pick up a Shakespeare book and get some education. I am just saying.)

Here is hoping my heart/muse/the thing that helps me write is gone for only a little while. Till then, I will be seeking inspiration from y'all's blogs. When I say y'all, I am not referring to Twitter Celebrities or Gossip Giants and the like before some people start thinking this hiatus means I will start having time for rubbish. I am referring to blogs that make sense, that tell stories that make me sit up at night and want to be a character in one of their tales...yeah those kind of blogs.  Right!

If none of these makes sense, that's okay. It doesn't make sense to me either. But I needed to ramble. Deal with it.

Song of the day: Corinne Bailey Rae - Like A Star


January 16, 2014

Where Dreams End

This one was inspired by Mr Kiah. 

What? I can't help it if my boyfriend is also my muse; well at least sometimes. :) I am still playing with titles. i first called it 'Finishing Dreams' but somehow it didn't seem enough. Oh well!

Are you guys excited about 2014? I am. Still. So very excited for the stories with happy endings or at least happy 'continousnesses' (yes i make words up, deal with it) that will happen this year. 

So here is to a 2014 and a reality that exceeds our happiest dreams. Enjoy

He was dreaming. She was perfect again, beautiful again, stretch mark free again, slim again. She was so close and yet his hands refused to touch her even though he wanted to. He opened his mouth to breathe her in and gagged. That was when he heard a familiar sound and woke up.
The electricity was out again and no one had woken up to put on the generator. He was sweating enough for two but the light from the full moon showed him that the tears from the woman’s closed eyes were more than his sweat could hope to measure up to. She was sleeping and crying with a smile on her face. It was this silent weeping that had woken him from his dream. 
He settled back on the pillows and watched her for a while, wondering what it was that felt so good and so sad at the same time. When the tears stopped, he shook her gently.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hmmm..” She moaned.
“You were doing it again.”
“I was?”
She turned to face him and smiled. She was beautiful in ways he could not comprehend and that he hoped he never would. Beauty was not meant to be understood; it was meant to be enjoyed, admired. It was in seeking to explain it away that left people damaged and ugly.
“My first man”
“My only woman”
“How many more minutes before she starts to cry?”
“She is taking longer these days.”
“She better. Ain’t nobody got time to be waking up at night because one child wants company.”
He laughed. The dynamics of his wife and his daughter’s relationship never failed to amuse him. He reached out  to touch her skin, skin that had been without blemish 13 months ago but now looked and felt like the drawing of a river with tributaries. His hand did his bidding this time unlike in the dream.
“You think we have time before she wakes up?”
“I doubt it. If there is anything your daughter has, it is bad timing.” She replied.
He laughed again and reached to kiss her.
“Let’s try anyway; we can always continue where we leave off.”
“Hmmm…” She answered moaning.
They were halfway there when the child’s wail came piercing through the walls that divided their room from hers.
“Dammit.” He swore.
“Told ya,” She teased, reaching out for the sleep shirt she had only just taken off.
“No.” he said reaching out to stop her. “I will go get her; you rest.”
The child stopped crying the moment his shadow crossed her door.
“At least we know you didn’t get your deceptive tactics from me.” He said to her.
He reached out for her tiny body and she chuckled in a way that mended every tear in his heart.
“Did NEPA wake you up as well or was it the sounds I and your mother were making? Or are you like her; a dreamer, an angel that spends the day on earth and nighttime in heaven? What ails you, Imole, that you have chosen to return to earth? Tell me where your dreams stopped; maybe together we can finish them.”
His soft crooning and the gentle breeze that flowed in from the windows soon sent the child back to sleep.
“She asleep?” A voice called out to the man as he stood by the crib watching Imole’s eyelids flutter.
“Hmmmm…” He answered unable to tear his eyes away from beauty he could never comprehend.
“Come back to bed.” His wife said as she joined him to stand by Imole’s crib.
“Thank you.” He said to her. “Thank you.”
She didn't ask for what. Loving a poet meant figuring out things yourself a lot. It meant baring yourself so he could see into your soul and write about it. It meant listening to words he never spoke. It meant saying 'I love you.' and sometimes not getting a response because his heart was too full, with nothing left for his mouth. It meant him saying 'thank you' and you knowing what for. It was a reality she wouldn't give up for a thousand dreams.
They would stay that way for a while, watching beauty they couldn't comprehend, the soft rise and fall of their creation’s chest, the clenching of the tiny fists as she reached out to touch angels, the slightly open mouth as she chuckled at heaven’s delights.

And then, they would return to bed and help each other finish from where their dreams stopped.
Song of the day: Tye Tribett - What Can I Do

January 1, 2014


So this one is a little long...i do not like long stories. It is also a  result of spending these holidays watching one Yoruba movie after another. Names inspire me. The name Moromoke is a beautiful one - 'I have found a child to love, to care for'. 

Happy New Year darlings. Shout out to Sholape from Lagos. Thank you so much for your email. It did so much for me. This one is specially for you. 

The sun was starting to find its way home when we finally set out. I had wanted to leave earlier but Moromoke said it was not a good idea.

‘Some things are better done behind the sun’s back’ she had said to me smiling as she massaged my swollen feet.

She had taken off her head tie sometime between when she arrived at the palace in the early hours of the morning and when we had lunch. I sat on the couch, my back propped up against the orthopedic pillows Aderemi had purchased for that very purpose and let my mother massage comfort back to my tired body.

But it wasn't only my body that was weary. My soul too was burdened. My nights were discolored by nightmares, my days were darkened by thoughts that came and went as they pleased, and my heart was burdened by something that loomed larger than my protruding belly. I had always known there was evil in the world but for the first time, it felt so close that I could almost hear it breathing its fumes upon all that I held dear.

I had called my mother after the latest nightmare. As a child, when I had nightmares, all I needed to do was find my way to her bed and hold tight to the hips that pushed me into this world. Things were not so simple anymore. 

‘I am sure it is nothing. It is normal to be apprehensive when you are so close. It is your first time as well so it is only natural that you are anxious.’ My mother said as she reached for the jar of Shea butter.

‘Did I give you nightmares too?’ I asked her.

‘Many!’ My mother said but the smile in her eyes told me differently.

‘You gave me nothing but pure joy. Why do you think your name is Ibidun? I don't think you should be too worried. Every mother goes through this. It is just probably the fear of childbirth.’

‘But I am not afraid Maami. I love Adegoroye already and  welcome the pain without which it would be impossible to bring him to this world. I welcome the swollen ankles and the stretch marks. I even welcome the tearing of my vagina.’ I laughed as my mother’s jaw fell open.

‘Come on, Moromoke; I am a big girl now, about to birth a child. Surely I can say ‘vagina’ out loud.’ I teased my prude of a mother.

My mother shook her head as if by doing so she could change the fact that I was no longer her little girl. I laughed again and the child within me joined in my dance of mirth.

‘Anyway, you were telling me what it is that ails you.’ She said, bending her head to resume the massage. There were a few gray hairs on her head and I was caught by surprise. My mother was aging; aging meant more ways to die, more ways to lose her.

She had me in her teens and we were always more like sisters than mother and daughter. I had called her by her first name since as far back as I could remember. I didn't know any different until I went to school and made friends with children who  called their mothers by a common name. They thought me as weird as I did them. For how could any child possibly hope to summarize the essence of its mother in a word that also meant silence? 'Mum'? Really? How could I be expected to possibly capture all Moromoke was in that word? I chose to call her by her given name instead. Moromoke because I could climb into her bed at any time and find a wealth of comfort. Moromoke for the way she could walk into any room and light it up. Moromoke because she was a puzzle with more pieces than being a mother. Moromoke for her courage in the face of a society that treated single mothers unkindly. 

I continued to call my mother by her name even after I knew better. In the presence of others, I called her ‘Maami’ but when it was just us two, it was ‘Moromoke’.  I purposed in my heart that my child, Adegoroye would do same. He would call me ‘Ibidun’ in addition to any other fond name he so chose, but ‘mum’ would not make the vocabulary.

‘I wish I could explain what this is, Moromoke. But I have no name for it. I just know it is different from any feeling that I have ever had. I also know that it is nothing good.'

My mother raised her head to look at me and frowned. She gestured for my other foot and reached for some more Shea butter at the same time.

'Then we will go to Fayemi. He will know what to do.' My mother said confidently. I smiled even though the doubt in my heart didn't share her conviction

The streets were empty when we began our journey to the seer's. Gone from the streets were the children that during the day would stake the roads as their playground. I wondered if my child, the crown prince would ever get the chance to play on the streets with children just like him or if his position will imprison him as it had done me. Gone also were the young lovers that sought refuge from the prying eyes of their families under the gaze of strangers on the streets. Gone were the young girls gracefully balancing their baskets of produce on their way from their parents’ farms. Gone were the young men with their muscled thighs and sun beaten brows.

The old man was waiting when we arrived.

‘My fathers told me I would have a special visitor today. I have been waiting for you, Olori.’ He said in welcome.

He led Moromoke and I into his consultation room. 

'Give me your hand' The old man said after listening to my tale.

I gave him my hand of peace and held onto Moromoke's hand with my right hand. 

Fayemi said nothing for what seemed like forever.

‘Our fathers say that a person who has children does not die.’ He began and then paused to grunt. ‘I congratulate you Olori, you no longer need to fear death.’

‘Don’t I have to birth the child first?’ I snapped at the old man. The room suddenly felt hot and stuffy and the mat I shared with my mother did nothing to cushion me from the discomfort of  the cement floor. We had come here for answers and yet the priest chose to speak in proverbs.

Fayemi chuckled good-naturedly and shame filled my heart for my impatience with a man that was old enough to be my grandfather.  I opened my mouth to apologize but he continued.

‘You will birth the prince with no difficulty, Olori. As a leaf falls from its branch without causing the branch pain, so will you bring forth.'

'Ase,' Moromoke answered on my behalf. I squeezed my mother's hand to thank her for lending me her voice as mine seemed to have gone on a journey.

I could feel sweat pool in the hollow of my left palm and yet the old man held unto it. I wanted to snatch it away from him to wipe it against my wrapper but he started to speak before I could.

'Our fathers say that a person that has children need not fear death and yet there is one who needs not fear death but  fears it all the same. It is this woman’s fears that have found you. It is her nightmares that have become yours.’

Beside me, I felt Moromoke shift uncomfortably and I knew it had nothing to do with the hard floor.

‘Who is this woman, Baba?’ My voice was back but as a whisper, a shadow of what it once was.

‘You asked the wrong question, Olori. Your question should be ‘Who am I ?’ My work is done here, Olori. There are some secrets that no one else should have to reveal except they that own it. Find your mother, find the woman who needs not fear death but does, end her nightmares and yours will end.’

We thanked the old man and bid him goodnight. We had only walked a few steps away from his abode when the owner of the secret began to speak.

'Your mother's name is Morolake but back then everyone called her Rolake.'

I slowed my steps and signaled for the guards that accompanied us to fall back even farther.

'She was always the calm one, the dependable one, the favorite. I was the rebel, the one who broke all the rules, the black sheep. I was wild back then; sneaking out for parties and to places our parents would have rather died than let me go to. Rolake was my opposite; the perfect daughter and sister. She made our parents proud enough for two so I did not need to try. She covered for me too, sometimes doing my homework and chores to make up for my absence.'

I could hardly believe the tale that was coming out of Moromoke’s mouth. It felt like one of the bedtime stories I had grown up with. But I knew this tale was real. I remembered our few visits to my grandparents in Lagos and how the photos of young Moromoke always included another girl of the same age.  She was a cousin sometimes, a distant relative or close friend at other times. She had no name until now. She was nobody until now.

Moromoke continued to speak. ‘One day, I convinced Rolake to follow me to one of these parties. We were done with our O'levels and eagerly awaiting results to the university entrance exams. There were no books to read, no assignments to work hard at. Our parents were out of town for a relative’s wedding and we would be back before they knew any better. I don’t know what it was that made her concede but I remember being giddy with joy and laughing out loud in surprise. Maybe it was because it showed that my sister wasn't as perfect as the rest of the world thought. Maybe it was because we would finally have something in common besides our blood line and last names.'

‘The moment we arrived at the venue, the boy that invited me drew me away from Rolake. The next time I saw my sister, her eyes had forever lost their focus and the beautiful Ankara dress that mirrored mine was stained with the blood of her virginity. I will never know what happened to her that day. She never said a word to me about it but blame was in her eyes every time she looked at me. Our parents said nothing when she began to throw up. I think they were more afraid than mad. If anyone should have ended up with a teenage pregnancy, it should have been me and not their ideal child. Still it was 1984 and pregnant single mothers were not only frowned upon; they were ostracized. They sent Rolake and I here, to your great grand mother. You are probably wondering how and why I ended up here too. After all, I wasn't the one pregnant, right? I have no answer to that. Maybe it was guilt. Maybe it was time for me to live up to my name, Omotaiyewo, and lead the way for my twin sister.

‘9 months after the incident, you were born. Before we could even name you, Rolake ran away. We thought she had run back home to our parents but they did not know where she was either. I decided to remain here with you against the wishes of our parents. Lagos no longer held anything for me. Maami Agba took care of you while I went to Teaching College. The rest of it you know.’

We were a few minutes away from the palace when she reached the end of her story. She was right -I knew the rest of the story. She had given up her life for me, taken up a burden that was never hers to begin with and borne it gracefully. She remained unmarried all these years because all the men that wanted her did not want me. As a child, i had heard the taunts of grownups and children alike. It had hurt but I also knew that my hurt was only a tiny sliver compared to hers.

‘Do you know where she is?’ I asked.
‘I won't lie to you and say I have looked for her much. Maybe if I had I would know.’ She replied to me in a voice so small it needed to help from the night winds to carry to my ears.

'After a while, all that mattered was that I had you. Maybe it was selfish and I am sorry if you think it was but I loved you so much that it was just easier for everyone if things remained the way they were.'

‘Do you fear death, Maami?’ I asked her. I had stopped walking and all around us creatures of the night sang melodies to herald the onset of darkness.

‘I have feared death since the first time I held you. At first the death I feared was yours. I feared that something would happen to you and then of what use was it all. These days I look at the mirror and a woman I do not recognize stares back at me. She is graying,  wrinkly and with many more ways to die.’

I took her hand and placed it on my belly. 

‘You do not need to fear death anymore. The old man and our fathers agree that a person who has children will never die. I am your child and soon your child will have her own child. Someday my child will bear his own children and so on. The day you chose to love me as yours, death lost its victory. You will never die, Moromoke. You have a child, you will live forerver.’

She reached for my face then and cradled it with one hand while the other rested on my belly.

'Ibidun' She said over and over, repeating my name like it was a prayer.

We walked the rest of the way in silence, hand in hand. I slept better that night than I had done in a while. My mother’s fears were gone and with them my nightmares.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”
- 1 Corinthians. 15:54-55

Song of the day: Ariana Grande - Tattooed Heart

December 24, 2013

The Fridge

When it rains, it pours, and then some. 

I have been writing nonstop all week and loving it. I started this story (the first paragraph) sometime this year and abandoned it. This week I was tying loose ends in preparation for 2014 and thankfully inspiration was on my side.

Merry Christmas everyone. Here is wishing you a full fridge and a heart filled with love and Christ now and always.

He had not changed the locks.

A fact that meant everything and nothing at the same time.

Sikemi closed the door behind her before she could change her mind. Everything was just like she remembered: the house plants had grown a few inches and there was some dust on the mantel but aside that nothing had changed. 

Kitan had always been the neat one and she, the scattered one; the one who failed to put anything back in its place and left his house in disarray everytime she visited, the one who left one day and failed to put back the scattered pieces of his heart.

She sighed as she touched the painting she had made of him. She was surprised and glad at the same time to see it was still hanging in its place. In the painting, his lips were thicker than they really were, his eyelashes longer than God made them and his ever present smile was non-existent. There was a seriousness in his eyes that was not his but she had painted him the way she wanted him to be. 

It was the way she painted. She would look at something and immediately see in her mind’s eye how she could make it better. She was always trying to make things and people better than they were. She never stopped, not even when the people or things were like Kitan and had no need to be better.

Her first painting had been of her father or at least the father she wished her father could be-kind, with a rotund belly, and smiling. Her father never smiled in real life. In real life, he didn't have a potbelly either and was not known for kindness but Sikemi had taken care of it. She had painted him kind and into the father she wanted him to be.

“I don’t think we should be together. “ She had told Kitan the last time she was here. He had been facing her, with his back to the painting and it had crossed her mind that for once he looked a lot like her painting; serious and missing his smile.

She took off her sandals and let her feet sink into the plush rug they had bought together at a flea market on their first and only vacation together. They had made love  many times on the rug so that as she looked at it, she could see them entwined on it. It was a painting on its own, a painting of a life that she wanted back.

She walked to the kitchen, tiptoeing even though there was no one in the house to hear her. She had written the note before leaving her house. The plan was to leave it in the fridge, just like she used to do.

It was stupid really, all of it; her coming here, her falling in love with someone so good that saints would gladly give him their halo, her still being in love with him even though she knew she did not deserve that kind of goodness and could never paint herself into deserving it.

She had spent more than three hours writing the note but as she stood by the fridge, she realized that words would not do. Words were the weapons with which she had torn his heart out of his chest in the first place. Words were the excuses, the ‘I am sorry’s, the ‘goodbyes’, the ‘no mores’. Words would not be the balm to heal them. Words would not do. Not this time.

She crushed the note in her palms and started to cry. The tears flowed fast and freely as she looked around the kitchen for how to make it right. They continued to flow even when she found a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil.

Kitan would get home late. The traffic was worse than usual but he never noticed anymore. There was nothing to go home to anyways; Sikemi was gone so traffic and the mad drivers of Lagos were a welcome obstacle to the emptiness that awaited him at home. It was late evening when he finally arrived and he needed a drink badly. He didn’t bother to turn on the lights but made his way in the dark to the fridge. He stopped just before opening it. It wasn’t really a drink he was looking for. He had done this for every day since Sikemi left him. He would come home and go straight to the fridge hoping that she had finally realized that she needed him as much as he needed her and left him a note in the fridge to say so, just like she used to.

Most people looked to their fridge for food and drink, he looked to his for love and forgiveness and hope.

It was time he moved on, his head whispered to him. It was time to pick up the pieces of his broken heart and to stop waiting for the woman who broke it in the first place to heal him. It was time he got rid of that horrible painting of him that she had drawn. It was time.

He slammed the door of the fridge loudly and walked fast, almost running to the place where the painting hung.

The thud of the fridge door woke Sikemi from the rug where she had cried herself to sleep. Kitan was home and from where she lay, she could see him standing in front of the place where her painting of him used to hang. He had turned on the lights and now they blinded her.

She waited for her swollen  eyes to adjust to the brightness of the room and of the man she loved.

“It is perfect” he said when she came to stand beside him.

“I love you.” She said.

“It is perfect” Kitan said again, never taking his eyes of the new drawing that she had done on paper.

The drawing was of a fridge and a man standing beside it. The man looked like he could stand by that fridge for the rest of his life; his eyes were filled with hope for what lay within that fridge, for the treasure that lay within, for the happiness the treasure would bring. His smile was content and sure of what lay within that fridge and what the future held. The man looked a lot like Kitan and he was alright with that.

He reached for the woman beside him and kissed her hair. Because words would not do. Not this time.

Song of the day: Lauryn Hill - Turn Your Lights Down Low