December 29, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Another Christmas alone. 

I had hoped that this year would be different. I had prayed that this would be Christmas she would come home; just like i had prayed for the same thing last Christmas, and the Christmas before that. Fate mocks me. God despises my pleas and relegates my desires to the bottom of His priorities.

The househelp left for home yesterday; the cook, the day before that. All that remains of the retinue of people i surround myself with is Sanusi, my mai-guard. For him, the journey to Niger, the country he calls home is better dreamed of than realized. Yet even he has retired early tonight. He failed to show up for our nightly chat in the garden. I do not blame him. My heaviness weighs everyone around me down.

Ibidun, we had named her for her birth was sweet and an answer to prayer. We had loved her and done our best as parents. Somewhere along the line, she had decided all our love was not enough and she had gone in search for more. She left when she was 22 and has since returned only once, to her mother's death bed and to say goodbye to the woman that gave her life.

"'Brooding again, I see"
I look up to find the ghost of my wife adjusting her head tie as she makes for the seat beside me. 
I smile and the ghost smiled back. She only visits at Christmas. She looks exactly like the day we met.

"You look lovely as usual" I tell her. "Did you tie the gele all by yourself" I ask knowing fully well that the woman I married couldn't tie a gele to save her life.

"Flattery will get you nowhere and neither will mocking my head tying skills! Don't change the subject. We are talking about you" She answers.
My wife's ghost is no ordinary one. It is the very essence of her, witty, smart and beautiful. I have asked her on previous visits what exactly she is; spirit, ghost, lost soul??? She always shrugs and changes the subject.

I look at the half filled glass of cognac sitting on the table, untouched since I poured it and I ask the ghost, ''Do you ever wonder, Fadeke, if we somehow failed Ibidun? Do you think it is possible we didn't try hard enough or maybe we tried too hard?"

"This is getting old Bamtefa. You ask me the same thing every year. Can't you make these encounters a little more interesting? I am the dead one here meaning i am the only one allowed to be boring." The ghost of my wife pouts.

She sighs and continues "For a long time, I wondered too. If Ibidun turning out the way she did was because I didn't love her enough or in the right way but I never wondered, not even for a second, if it had anything to do with your love for her. Any fool could see you meant business when it came to loving that child. We didn't fail Ibidun. She failed us. Stop torturing yourself, Bamtefa. Some children need to go wrong to find the right in their lives." 

She adjusts her headtie again. It is all I can do not to reach for her but I know from past experience that i will only be grasping for air. I have often wondered if this seasonal apparition is nothing but a figment of my imagination.  It would only be fitting that my mind conjures the person I love most in world when memories are all that attend me.

"And no, I am not your imagination" She says reading my mind. "Just to prove it, I will drink your cognac." She says mischievously. She gulps it all down in one drink and I laugh as she grimaces from the taste.

"A ghost that can drink" I say. "You are definitely not a figment of my imagination."

"Remember how we both loved Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and how we read it to Ibidun every Christmas?" The ghost asks and I nod in reply.  
"Sometimes I feel like it’s our preoccupation with this season that brings me back here every holiday. Think of how the things that gave us the most joy happened around this time. Our wedding, Ibidun's birth... I have become one of my best loved characters in a book-The Ghost of Christmas Past and you are Ebenezer Scrooge."

"Hahaha! Very funny, Fadeke. I am not a scrooge and you know it" I say in defense.

"At the rate you are going it’s just a matter of time." She snickers in reply "Sitting here and grieving for a past you can't do anything about will turn you into an old sour man in the nearest future. I had a good life and your grieving for me for so long is so unfair. I remember how your laughter used to resound through the house and make me feel safe. It makes me so sad to think it was my leaving that took away your laughter."

 She is right, I know but it is so hard.

"You have got to try, Bamtefa. There is so much to live for and to look forward to than errant children coming home for the holidays. Come to think of it, you have new neighbors. Have you been over to say hello?" The ghost asks with a wink.

"I was waiting for you to get to that” I say smiling. 'I am too old to go knocking on neighbors' doors especially when they are widowed and pretty"

"Ah ha! I knew it! You still have a good eye for pretty women!" Fadeke's ghost exclaims.

This time, I laugh the resounding laughter and the ghost laughs with me. I wonder what Sanusi will think of his boss laughing aloud in an empty house. 

I wipe off the tears that accompanied the laughter and I tell the ghost how much i miss her.

"I miss you too. Oh look at the time! It’s time for the carols and the angels will not find it funny if i am late. Merry Christmas, Bamtefa. Hopefully we won't have to do this next Christmas."
I smile again and watch her disappear. I wonder what the angels will say to a heavenly chorister with alcohol on her breath. I look at my watch and it is almost 12am, Christmas day.  

I drink my half-filled cup of Cognac and make a note to myself to take my new neighbor some of the spiced chicken my cook made for Christmas.
I wrap my daughter's gift and place it under the Christmas tree, next to the unopened gifts for two Christmasespast. Who knows, maybe this will be the gift that has its day in the sun. For now, it’s time to dwell a little more on ghosts and their recommendations.

Merry Christmas People. Jesus, the reason for the season.

Song of the day: Asa- Eye Adaba

December 20, 2011

Thankfully, Kiah

Lately i have done nothing but moan!

And groan, gripe and complain. I cannot seem to find any reason to be thankful. Ok that is not true. I do see reasons to be thankful but i think i am forgetting how to be thankful.(Heaven forbid)

And somehow i stumbled on this

I am still the same girl that wrote that. Yes it has been a year but look how far i have come and all the wonderful gifts i got on a platter of GRACE in 2011. Right now, i am feeling like the ungrateful heel that i am. 

Today, i am especially thankful for my amazing friend and fellow blogger SN. Its his birthday and like December, he shines.
I am thankful for life, Jesus, my family, friends, school, my unborn children (all 4 of them), my soon to be husband (faith people, faith!), my career, my ability to put words together and weave tales, my amazing hair that has weathered Virginia's winter beautifully :), my pink nail polish, music, books, my bags that are packed and ready to flee this town, my Gucci by Gucci perfume bottle that is somehow still full, good health, my country, my dry flaky skin that hasn't weathered winter as beautifully as my hair, hope for tomorrow....etcetra, etcetra...

Heavenly Father, for everything,  Imela!!!

Song of the day: Tye Tribbett- Bless the Lord (Son of Man)

December 2, 2011

Blood on my hands

The blood would not stop flowing. It had been 3 days. Nsa and Wonuoma had promised me 3 days at most. Well, Nsa had initially said 2 days but Wonuoma had retorted that Nsa was a sickler so her experience did not matter. How much blood could she afford to give away monthly anyway? Three days was what normal women had, no more, no less, Wonuma had said with a finality that brooked no argument. Nsa had turned red and her pale eyes had become paler and i worried she would faint like she so often did.

Nsa was the prettiest of us best friends. She was also going to be the first to die. Everyone said sicklers never lived past a certain age. My mother said we were unchristian children not to believe in the power of God to heal Nsa. I believed but i also knew that some things had to die to give way to better things. Nsa would die and something even more beautiful would take her place. I and Wonuoma waited with bated breath for our friend's rebirth.
In the mean while, Wonuoma had the final say on most things and the length of my monthly cycle was not going to be any different.

I woke up early on the morning of the fourth day and checked the white pads of tissue paper my friends had lovingly made for me. They had made 9 pads, 3 for each day. Something was definitely wrong. I began to cry silently and pray to my mother's God to take this thing away. This thing that Wonuoma said marked my entry into womanhood. This thing that Nsa said was the determinant of if i grew any breasts at all. This thing that both my friends agreed were my unborn children who had died because i did not have a father for them yet.

I wept in sorrow for my unborn babies. I cried for the essence of childhood that flowed ceaselessly away. I was so involved in my weeping that i failed to notice the shadow that stood above me till it called out to me.

"Nneoma!!!" I looked up from where i sat in despair on my raffia mat.
"What is it biko? Why are you crying this early in the morning? Did you have a bad dream? Did you fight with Wonu or Nsa?"
I nodded in negative to my mother's barrage of questions.
"Then what is it? Talk to me biko!" My mother pleaded as she joined me on the raffia mat.
The thing with my mother was she never stopped to breathe. Whether in loving or in scolding, Mama had no breaks.

"Tell me what is wrong before you give me high blood pressure , you this child" My mother asked again. This time her voice was raised higher than before.

"The blood won't stop Mama!" I answered my mother.
"Blood? What blood?" My mother asked looking up, down, left and right.
I sighed in exasperation. Sometimes my mother amazed me with her cluelessness. I stood up to show her my stained night gown.

"Nneoma!" My mother called in a hushed whisper. "You have started! When? How?" She asked as she pulled me towards her in a warm embrace that felt more congratulatory than comforting. The hug ignited a fresh round of my tears. Through the sobs, i managed to ask her if i was bleeding to death as Wonuoma had said anything over 3 days meant death.

"Chei! Wonuoma of the big mouth and empty head" Mama said, not unkindly. She loved Wonuoma almost as much as she loved me. Only Wonu could get away with cradling my mother's bosom and telling her it was the best pillow ever.

"Never you mind Wonu and her tall tales. Every woman has a different cycle just as we are all born at different times. There is nothing the matter with you Nnem. You are beautiful, perfect and a woman. Soon i will carry your children on my back but not too soon oh.  For now stay away from boys and men because some men can get you pregnant even by looking at you"
We laughed together at that and talked long into the new day till i was late for school and my mother, for work.

My friends showed up in the evening and Wonuoma's ears got a twisting from my mother for her tall tales. I sat with Nsa and laughed while my mother and my friend teased each other. I looked at Nsa and pleaded with my mother's God for her not to die. Nothing could ever take her place. I didn't mind the death of my unborn children. The ones that were meant to be born would be born but Nsa was here already. I had got to hold her, to laugh with her, to defend her, to watch her pale face flush with joy and laughter, to love her translucent skin that looked like a new born baby's...
There and then, under the watchful gaze of the moon; while my father drank palm wine and my brothers played noisily; with my mother's and friends' laughter cheering me on, i made my transition from careless childhood to nurturing womanhood.There and then, i decided my best friend would not die. I had enough blood on my hands as it were.

P.s Most people ask why most my stories are set around Igbo characters...especially as i am a Yoruba girl who has lived 90% of her life in Lagos...
I have Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, Buchi Emecheta, Chimamanda Adichie and countless other amazing writers of Igbo origin to thank for that. Their stories, their dedication to creating a better reality through fiction...these are some of the reasons i am proud to be called a Nigerian and not just a Yoruba girl.
Song of the day: Amy Winehouse: Tears dry on their own

November 24, 2011

Of shells and tortoises...

Today you crossed my mind. Ok, scratch that. You are always on my mind but today the day you died and images i thought i had forgotten flashed clearly before my mind's eye. Damn but i still miss you...i will go my grave missing you. It is the way it is. I wouldn't have it any other way. I need to feel this pain to be. I accept that. I can live with that.

The images came and went but what stayed was everything that remained after you left me. After you, people failed me. They looked at me and refused to see beyond the girl who pushed everyone away. They refused to come a little closer or look a little harder and see a child scared out of her wits, a child who had just lost her champion and the only person who saw beyond the hard shell.

Do you remember the tortoise that was my pet. It went away someday and never came back. I think maybe it died and you did not want to tell me. I think about it often and the speed at which it retreated into its shell whenever anyone crossed its radar. I feel like that tortoise a lot of times. The world out there is harsh. There are people who make it their business to hurt you and they keep finding new ways to do it. 

Unlike the tortoise, i chose not to cower in retreat. With you, facing the world was easy. Without you it is harder but i am giving it my best shot. I am a woman now or so i like to tell myself. But i am still your little girl. I look in the mirror and i see your smile. My heart is not the only place where it looks like you. It is eerie and the best feeling ever. 

Iyawo mi...knowing you was amazing, having you as my mama was God's gift to an undeserving me. Thankful as always for you...

Song of the day: Sarah McLachlan - In The Arms Of An Angel 

November 19, 2011

Facing my fears

They say coming face to face with your fears is the best way to deal with them.

Last night, i faced my fears. I was calm, unmoved, fearless. I was a warrior with no more battle left in her but damn if i was going down. I listened. I laughed. I forgave myself. I am still here. Unbowed. 

I woke up this morning and the sun was shining brightly despite the chill. This is life. Two sides of a coin. Two stories to be told. Your version, my version. I have no control over your story but my story is all mine. I have no intention of letting anyone determine my story. 

Happy thanksgiving people. This is what i have to be thankful for.

1. God's love
2. Life
3. Family
4. Friends
5. Love
6. School
7. Stories
8. The future

Here is a to a longer list next year...twins maybe? ;)

Song of the day: Asa - Eye Adaba

November 11, 2011


Memory cheats.

In this game called life, memory knows it has the upper hand. And so it waits till a couple of months later; when you think you are healing nicely and the dull ache where your heart used to be is gone. 
Memory bides its time till laughter is your friend again and your happy days are no more few and far between.
Memory waits like a thief lurking in the shadows; waiting for the perfect moment to strike and steal what you thought was here to stay.

It is a beautiful day. You drive and sing along to the radio. You marvel at the leaves turning red, gold and all the colours of a new season. You step out of your car and continue to whistle the tune stuck in your head. The sun is shining and there is a rainbow in your heart. You walk with a  jaunt in your steps and smile at the litle girl skipping her way to school. You take a few more steps and that's when memory plays its trump card. It reminds you of hours spent on the beach, holding her in your arms and dreaming up little girls with her smile and your eyes. 

You stop walking and turn to watch the little girl go. The dull ache in your heart has returned. The clouds have caught up with your rainbow. While your memory was at it, it stole the tune you had in your head as well.
You watch her skip away from you and wonder what more you could have said, done, to make her stay.

Memory cheats. In this already unfair game of life. It waits till you think you have a winning hand. And that is when it reveals all its aces. Today it was the little girl. Tomorrow it will be the old man that sweeps your building. He will be singing her song. Next month it will be the smell of new rain that washes Lagos away and leaves behind a city beautiful and unparelled in its resolve. It will remind you of how much she loved her city.

There is plenty you can run away from in this race called life. There is one that will always match you pace for pace. Memory...

Song of the day: (this one is for you Ohj) The Script- For the first time

November 5, 2011

He calls me 'love'

He calls me 'love'

Every time and all the time. When its my turn to say it back, the word hooks somewhere in my throat. When we are writing, its easier and i can blame every hesitancy on the 'stupid network'. I tell him how lost i feel. He asks me if i want to be found. I have no answers. 

Is it possible that when God made me, He designed that i would walk through this path fraught with thorns and be wounded and never recover? Could it be part of His perfect plan that i am never able feel love after that one time? Or did i with my own hands mess up His perfect plan? Am i doomed to suffer for the rest of my life? 

I want to be happy. I am happy now but for Pete's sake, i am a writer. We writers need to be as deliriously happy as the characters we weave tales about. I want super happy. I want to be able to write my own story and that is where the problem lies. I see God weaving this wonderful story but I am too impatient to get to the deliriously happy part. So i stand at His elbow and try to help him out. " Add a little humor there, some adventure here", I say... I am screwing up very badly in helping Him tell this story. The thing is i don't know how to let go and let Him.

In happier news...i tried singing, real singing, in the shower today. My voice is as good as new. Unlike the little Mermaid, i didn't lose my voice too. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for me...

I wear you like the tribal marks of an Ibadan man. 
You know those men that turn their faces away when they know the rest of the world is staring?
They turn away forgetting that they are marked on both cheeks.
Any way i turn, i cannot escape you and the scars you have left on my soul.

I saw an Ibadan man the other day.
I starred at his marks for the longest time.
He turned towards me and smiled.
It was the most beautiful smile ever.

I smiled back and the scars you left me forgot how to be ugly

Song of the day: Nosa : I go always pray for you

November 2, 2011

Fairy tales

I want to fall in love. If not for anything, to prove that i can. To prove that i have healed. To prove that in healing, my heart did not turn to stone. To prove that i still believe in the goodness of others. 

My greatest fear these days is that i will end up with someone that i do not love. It is what keeps me awake at night. It is why i wont take a second look at opportunities that are staring me in the face. It is why i say my prayers with tears-well among other things.

I want the old me back. The girl that was unafraid and unencumbered by this fear. If i don't ever get that girl back, i would have lost something only me and God knows its value. There is such a thing as healing too quickly.

I love November. The buildup before Christmas. In my head is a picture of what the Church of Assumption, Falomo will look like soon. In my heart is an image of Ajose Adogun and Zenith Bank outdoing themselves year after year with Christmas lights.

It has not snowed here yet but if it does, i will be hibernating! Classes or no classes. There is only so much an Ijesha girl can take. 

There is a fairy tale somewhere that has lost its princess. Counting the seconds till i believe again...

Song of the day: Coldplay - Paradise

October 25, 2011

Time flies

My bosom used to be his resting place
My belly his hideaway

Time flies
And with it blows away all that i was once to him

His babies have sucked my bosom flat
His seed has left my belly scarred

Time flies
And with it blows away all that i was once to him

My arms were all she used to hold onto
My muscled abs were where she laid her burdens at the end of the day

Time flies 
And with it blows away all that i was once to her

Her burdens have weighed down my arms
Her good cooking has turned muscle to flab

Time flies 
And with it blows away all that i was once to her


Time flies
And with it, the bodies we once reveled in.

The things time leaves behind:
The warmth of your smile
The courage of your heart
The trueness of your spirit
The power of your faith.

Time flies
And in its wake,
is everything i fell in love with.

Song of the day: Lighthouse Family - Keep Remembering

October 22, 2011


Clearing the cobwebs in my brain ... :)

So today i attended my first American football game today. My Catalonian blood boils at the very thought but i find that men in tights appeal very much to me. I will be attending many more... :)

The leaves are turning orange and brown and beautiful. it is my first autumn. It is like everything i saw in the movies and read in the books. Remember Autumn in New York, anyone? sigh...

I have nothing else to report. My muse has gone on to somewhere warmer. She will be back. She can't live without me or so i tell myself. I have written loads of stuff that i am keeping to myself these days. I fear to put them up here would mean to show my vulnerability and we cannot have that, now can we? Mostly i fear that to post them would force me to confront all the stuff i rather not deal with. What can i say? I am the bravest coward there is.

There is a tattoo in my head
It is of your smile
I have forgotten everything else
But the curve of your lips
Time heals all wounds
But it forgets to cover up the scars
It is why after 9 years
I still see your smile in every beautiful woman.

Song of day: Cher-Believe

October 19, 2011

I 'Bore' easily


Forgive me Miss Bedingfield...i love your music but i couldn't resist bastardizing your lyrics to express myself this morning.

I bore easily...very easily...i find my mind drifting in class, in conversations with others, in love...

They say if you can admit your problem, you are on your way to a solution. I am going to stop trying not to be bored by others. I am going to focus on me and figure out ways to keep myself intrigued.
I find that the more i rely on others to hold my interest, the more they fall short even when they were not falling short before.

I need to get the blogging MOJO i had back in June/July/August back. With finals approaching, i won't hold my breath. But the rest of you rethots, OhJT.Notes have absolutely no excuse for these sparse posts you put up. Freaking get back to blogging and holding my interest...


Song of the day: Tracy Chapman - If not now

October 9, 2011

6am Feeding

The phone rings. I have been staring at it for the past two hours, willing it to ring. I called but her phone rang endlessly and i knew it meant she got stuck in the land of her dreams where even I am barred from entering. So I have waited, counting the seconds, then the minutes, and then the hours till she stretches upon our huge bed and reaches for the phone to reignite my life.

She never fails. 1am every day…I have come to live for that hour. 23 hours pale and all the madness of the world is made sane when her voice comes on over the phone at 1am. Today, the phone didn’t ring until 3am.
I am jolted out of my reverie as my voicemail picks up. I pick up.

“Obim” she says like she said yesterday, like she will say tomorrow.
 “Hey” I answer as I let my mind wander to another time, another place, to her life.
“What happened? I was scared stiff with worry when you didn’t call at 1am like you always do”. I say
“Sorry” she answers with a tone that lets me know she is anything but sorry
‘What time is it’ I ask her.
“You know what time it is. Why are you asking me?”

I feel her frustration because it is mine as well. I wait for the flood that is threatening. It won’t be much longer.
I hear her breathe in deeply.

“I am sorry she says. I had to take Ego to the hospital. She was sick in the evening and we got home late. I hate it that you are not here. She is growing up and you are missing it. My breasts ache because she won’t drink my milk anymore. She cries a lot and won’t let anyone help me with her. Do you know the only thing that is sure to make her smile? When I stand before the mantel that has your picture and point at Daddy. She is crawling and I am afraid someday when I am not concentrating she will crawl away from my life. I am afraid, Obi.’

I let her cry a while.

“What time is it?” I ask her again. I need to hear her say it. I don’t know why. I am aware of the exact hours between us but all of it is unreal till she says it. Until she says it, I am helpless, lost in time, lost I translation…
“8am” she answers. For the first time since she was born, I have missed my daughter’s 6am feeding.
“How much longer till you are home?” she asks with a solemnity that should only be reserved for prayers.
“Not much longer now.”  I reply with a certainty that only God should possess.
“Where are you?” I ask.
“On the balcony”
“Describe it to me.”

She knows I mean the sunrise. So she does. I fall asleep to the sounds she makes as she paints bold pictures of the sunrise that was once mine and that I fear I have lost forever. 

When I wake up, its 7am and it is a different sunrise. The message alert on my phone is blinking. I pick it up and there is a photo of my girls, on the balcony backing the sunrise. Their smiles defeat time zones and distance. There is a mesage attached to it.

“The sun rises for us wherever you are. I will call you up for the 6am feeding...”

Song of the day: Westlife - Close

October 3, 2011

Let there be light

‎'When God said, let there be light, in the life of a boy who will remain unnamed, He meant let there be you, Kiah...'

The above is a direct quote. Every time i talk to the man who said the above, a certain kind of peace rests upon me. I forget my worries and i just live. At least for that day. There are few people who have this effect on me. Infact, let me not deceive myself, it is just him and God.

I haven't seen him in years and yet it feels just like yesterday we were kids, learning new things and in such a huge hurry to leave home. We both got our wish but you know what they say about being careful what you wish for. We talk every other day but it is not the same.

I used to day dream about seeing him again one day and telling him all the things i should have said. Stuff like 'Thank you' and how i admired his serenity and how he had the best smile in the world. I don't dream about it anymore. I don't think it will ever happen. I missed out on all my chances: first, second and thousandth chances. Mo ti gba kamu!!!

I do this all the time. I take people for granted till they are no longer accessible and then i start with the 'shoulda, woulda, coulda'.

So my October resolution ( and yes i can have a resolution three months before the New Year. If e pain you, Lagos Lagoon beckons) is to hold on to people a little bit longer, kiss them a little bit deeper, love them a little harder...

Its 11pm. I have an exam tomorrow...i should be reading but here i am keeping my resolution and sending out my kisses in search of the man to whom i was once light and everything bright...

Song of the day: Asa - Babe gone

October 2, 2011

Random Ish

Just saw a photo of M on Facebook.

It brought a tear to my eye...emphasis on the word "tear" and not "tears".

I miss that man die. I have to let go of my pride and say hello to him one of these days. Stubborn donkey that he is, he was my friend once. A reminder of all the things i am not brave enough to be...sigh...

It is getting colder everyday out here. I miss Lagos and the sun that pierces through your every pore and warms the coldest recesses of your heart. I miss the beaches. Let's close the curtain of charity on all that i miss. I have exams tomorrow. I cannot afford to go to bed crying. Deep breath....

I am falling in love with my new friends. The way their faces light up when i hug them. The way they are beginning to see through me and my Facades... The way they accept me and my Nigerianness. 

It has taken a while but slowly, surely, their stories are becoming my story. I think i might be able to tell it soon. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Where is everyone??? SNOhJRethotsBeautiful ???

Happy belated birthday Nigeria! We are on the side of angels. Shine, baby, shine...

Song of day: John Mayer - Who says

September 24, 2011

Battle of words

Words...they can heal and they can repair as much as they can disease and destroy. The Bible says the tongue is a little fire. Fire can warm. And it can burn. 

Thank you John Doe

If i had a dollar for every time i have unpacked these boxes,
I would be on the Forbes list.
Alas my packing skills come cheap

Goodbye is so final, you say.
So you reach out and kiss me fare well instead.
And then i forget why i wanted to leave in the first place

Until the next time.

Mere words, 
And yet i rely on them to help me leave you
Mere words,
And yet i find myself tangled up in them time after time.
"Goodbye, fare well, i am sorry, don't leave, i hate you, i love you"...

The boxes are packed again.
I know better now.
They are but mere words.
Unable to heal, powerless to repair,
Until you mean them.

So we will not be saying these words.
I will be taking the back door out.
Silence wins more battles than words.

Song of the day: U2 - With or without you.

September 23, 2011

Inspiration runs dry

I hate this place.

Inspiration runs dry. My muse has taken a leave of absence. The faces are unfamiliar. Their stories are not mine to tell.

I might as well just give up. :(

Song of the day: Aaliyah: Miss you

September 22, 2011


There are some names you hear and you never forget. Imamuli is one of those names for me. I never even learnt its meaning or origin. The Imamuli i met is beautiful and her eyes shine like the stars. Wherever she is i hope she still shines

I woke up and she wasn't there. I reached out for her just in case my eyes were playing games with me. The familiar outline that crisscrossed my sheets every other night was gone. 

Her purse was gone. She didn't need her purse to make the early morning coffee she could not do without. Her clothes were not neatly folded on the drawers where i had left them after undressing her last night. Imamuli had no problem walking around in her birthday suit. I smiled as i remembered the first night she slept over. I had almost gotten a heart attack from running round the house, trying to pull down the window blinds before she sashayed her naked way past them. The neighbors thought me weird enough as it were.

Before Imamuli, i was the puzzle with the missing pieces. Surely it would take more than this five-foot high woman to fill in the blank spaces of my life. One woman could never be enough to sort me out, i had boasted many a time to my friends. It turned out i wasn't missing pieces, just some thing to keep the pieces from falling apart. Imamuli turned out to be the glue.

Last night, Imamuli hit me. And then she cried while i rocked her to sleep. It took a long time for the tears to stop falling and for her to sleep to. With every tear drop, a part of my soul leaked away.

"I would have told you eventually" I said to her before the slap and the tears. "Eventually???" she asked looking at me incredulously. "Pray tell when or what is eventually to you? When you are dead??" The British accent was back. The one she used with the obnoxious sales girl at the grocery store.

"I am supposed to be your best friend. Every other freaking person knew except me. How could you let me find out from someone else. How could you have gone through these past months and not needed me when all i do is need you? And i am not even the one with cancer!" 
" Maybe its because i am not weak and needy like you" I replied. As soon as the words left my mouth, i knew i had made a mistake. The slap that followed confirmed it. 
"There is a difference between being needy and needing you" She said in a voice that would have felled giants and then the tears began to fall.

I had held her and whispered how sorry i was. She had not said another word. 

I had hoped that morning would come and it would be as if none of it had ever happened. Not yesterday, not two months ago when i got my results from the lab, not whenever this evil decided to wreck its havoc on my body...i would give anything to take it all back.

I got out of bed and stepped onto the balcony. In another four hours, i would be up for my first round of chemotherapy. And then what?? 


I turned around and she was there. She was backing the sun and even with her puffy eyes, i had never seen anything more beautiful.

"You are dressed." I said
She eyed me, daring me to say more. "Yes. I went to the store to buy stuff to cook breakfast." 
This from the woman who burnt even toast bread. I wanted to laugh but my cheeks stung from the night before so i walked over and kissed her instead.

"You are not going to die, dammit. I will not let you die, you hear?" She said as she reached up to cradle my head. 'I need you too damned much for you to die". 

My cheeks were disinclined towards getting fresh abuse so I agreed with every word she said. As i held her, i realized - this was as complicated as it got and as simple as it would ever be. For my life to make sense, i needed for this woman to need me. If she ever decided self-sufficiency was the way, then there was no telling if wholeness would ever find me again. Chemotherapy could only go so far. 

Song of the day: Dido-Who makes you feel?

September 17, 2011


I have been staring at the screen for some thirty minutes, more or less. So much i have to say but my fingers fail me. My fingers and my heart. My heart is where the words come from. My fingers only do it's bidding.

I spoke to an old friend today. He asked me out a long time ago and i gave him a resounding no. That NO resounded through our conversation today. We skirted around the issue, indulging in small talk instead. Catching up on the years. He asked me when i was coming over to his city. I said i had noone and nothing that would bring me there. I know he read the underlying meaning. There was a long silence after that.
That was the summary of our 5 minute conversation...small talk and huge silences.
I have few enough friends as it is already in this place. I want to keep him. I hope i can keep him. He sounded the same. Naive and innocent. Unspoiled and virgin. So trusting and so believing of this facade i have put out for the world to see. I want to keep him that way. After another long silence, i told him i had to run. He said he will call again soon. A shiver ran down my spine. I am not sure if its from fear or from anticipation. I am leaning towards the former.

I need to stop pushing people away. It is just that this is the only way i know how to be.

Song of the day: The Script-For the First Time

September 12, 2011


I got a teddy bear today. He may or he may not be my new muse. Bear with him...he just got into this writing business... :)

They warned you but you would not listen. 

The newspapers screamed the words in apostrophes. And yes, you could read. You dropped out of school in class 5 because the creeks and oil bunkering was a better use of your time anyway! But you knew your ABCs and the three letter words that the papers spat at you were easy. Not that you ever bought any papers from Soibi, the vendor! Who had money to waste on such frivolities when there were better things like beer and palm wine to buy?

The radio blared silly tunes over the airwaves. In English, in your native language... Could you claim not to have understood the urgency in those songs?
Night after night, they interrupted your beloved football games with TV commercials that seemed to last forever. Even when Arsenal, your team was playing Barcelona(those bullies), they still would not ease up. 

And the whispering? Ah, those ones were even worse. The way the market women whispered to themselves about Iroro who died after a long illness. They sighed and looked towards her mother's stall and spat on the floor before raising their eyes to the heavens to plead with the ancestors to take evil far from them and theirs. Or the way your beer parlor buddies avoided each others eyes whenever someone whispered the dreaded word. The whispers were what drove shivers down your spine even though the shivers never survived the next round of drinks.

They warned you. They screamed themselves hoarse but their message was not for you. You were invincible, immortal. Money was pouring in from the creeks. Your one bedroom apartment's days were numbered. Death did not take people like you. Death was for other people.

So you ignored the charts in the doctor's office that preached abstinence or single partners. You left your girlfriend when she gave you a choice between condoms and commitment. You ignored the jobless social workers that would not mind their business but kept organizing road shows and events to create awareness.

Tonight, the words in apostrophe have come back to haunt you. Your ears echo with the tunes of the commercials you sniggered at . You have a collection of pamphlets and charts you snitched at the hospital when the nurse was not looking. You kept your eyes out for the social workers on your way back home. You wanted to hear them say again how it was possible to have a normal life with this disease that might have taken up residence in you body.

It was the  whispers that did it. The beer parlor was closed when you visited it yesterday. Rumor has it that Amaechi, the beer parlor owner has HIV. Your closest beer parlor buddy, Umukoro, called it "HIP". You are not sure whether he has suddenly developed a lisp or he just doesn't know any better.The whispers were even quieter as you stood in front of the beer parlor last night but everyone is listening now. The whispers led you to the hospital first thing this morning.

So you got tested today.

Tomorrow you will know your fate.
Tomorrow the whispers will either be drowned out by relief or enhanced to full volume by your conscience.
But for now consolation lies in the woman beneath you and the pack of condoms you filched from the pharmacy.

Song of the day: Jill Scott- Golden

September 7, 2011

Left behind

I have absolutely nothing to write about. It isn't for lack of trying.

Nothing seems to stir up my imagination here. Maybe i haven't looked closely enough. Maybe i am still adjusting. Maybe it will get better. I am counting on it. I am not sure what will happen if i cannot write. I can't say its all i have. But it is all i have that is truly mine...undiluted, uninhibited...

It's not about missing home anymore. Its what i seem to have left behind that shadows my life. It gets worse - i have no clue what was left behind. Maybe if i did, i would find a way to get it back.

Be happy people...

Song of the day: U2- All that you can't leave behind.

August 28, 2011

Unequal Scales

I am too intense for my own good. I wrote this as the hurricane blew through my town. It wasn't that bad after all

He is not the same. Then again neither am I. He smiles a lot still but it has stopped reaching his eyes. I mentioned this to Mama and she said I was wrong.  “There is nothing different about his smile or the light in his eyes”, she told me “except the reasons behind them”. I smiled back indulgently and let her have her way. These days, I find that it’s easier this way.

I look at him sometimes and wonder how he leaves his bed every morning and carries on with life. I still struggle to get out of bed. Most mornings, all I want is to drown in the sea of sheets underneath which we whispered secrets and giggled our way through life. 

I lie awake at night sometimes and weigh all of our pain on scales. Which one of us should have the largest pain? He seems to win in everyone else’s book. People rationalize and say he was your soul mate, your husband and so he should have more than pain than the rest of us. I tell them you lacked many things but a soul mate was the one thing you had from the day you were born. They look at me strangely and I stare back at them till they go confide in Mama about how they fear for my sanity.

He has no right to hurt that much. He has no right to mourn the loss of what he only experienced for three years. No right at all to walk around looking irretrievably lost without you. I am the one who was born with you and the one who is left wondering if I missed my destiny by failing to die with you. He has no justification for taking away the pity that is my due.

He came to see the child again today. He comes everyday bearing gifts and flowers. I felt the bile rising in my throat as I watched from my window as Mama welcomed and ushered him  into the nursery. I have never been in that room. It holds nothing for me. Mama spends all her time there, trying to replace you with your own child. Somehow I am not enough. Even though I look exactly like you.

He was on his way out as they came in through the kitchen, mama holding the child and talking a mile a minute while he listened, smiling in that way that you loved so much.  “You are getting thinner every day. Wait let Taiyelolu make you dinner before you leave.” Mama said to him. It took a moment before she even realized her mistake.I stopped chopping the vegetables. Your husband stopped walking. Mama finally stopped talking. She covered her mouth with one hand, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Time stopped for the rest of us. Only the child kept cooing. 

“My name is Omokehinde. Taiyelolu is dead. You have only two children. How hard can it be to remember which one lives and which one doesn't?“
Tears filled Mama's eyes but I could not be bothered. Her pain is of no measure to mine. I washed my hands at the kitchen sink, cleaned them with a towel, turned a deaf ear to his "she didn't mean it"s and walked away from it all.

I walked to the old place that houses our childhood memories. Papa told me the other day that some young family now live there. My feet hurt from all the walking. The guava tree is still there. I sat by Mallam Musa’s abandoned shed for the longest time and dreamed with my eyes open that we were little girls again climbing the guava tree. Only this time I lost sight of you and when I called your name, you didn’t answer back “Yes Aburo” like you used to.

When I get back, the house is quiet. The maid tells me Mama and Papa are in bed. I cannot sleep so I sit and try to measure each of our pain on scales. I hear her cries before they become audible. I hear them in my heart before she voices them out. It has been that way since she was born.  I wonder if she has pain of her own. I wonder if it is of any measure to mine.

I walk to her room and linger a while at the door, afraid to take the next step. She stops crying and begins to coo as if she can tell I am here.  I cannot take my eyes off her when I finally find the strength to walk to her crib. She holds my stare and smiles. I know now. This will be the measure of my pain. It will be present till the day I die. It will deepen and it will lessen. Like an Amoeba, it will change dimensions but it is going nowhere. With every inch she grows, I will find it easier to leave my bed. With every step she takes, I will learn to step out of your shadow. With every word she speaks, I will be climbing new trees. This will be the scale of my pain.

Song of the day: One Republic- Good life.