October 28, 2013

Choosing to Live

Your body hates you. This much you know. It is something you have always known. It is something you do not need to be reminded about.
For who better to tell of the many times your body has let you down than you yourself, the victim? Of the numerous  times when as a little boy it had chosen the shame of urine over the fear of monsters that lay beyond the door of your bedroom and guarded the path to the bathroom? Of the blinding pain it inflicted on you, crisis after crisis? Of the many diseases it has embraced with open arms over the years-malaria, typhoid, cholera, mumps, measles, asthma, diabetes- the names sounding more complicated as you aged. Of the day it succumbed to fear and the heat of Lagos as you gave your daughter's hand in marriage to a man you knew would never make her as happy?

And now, this...

You listen to the doctor go on about new research. He suddenly looks so very tired-like a man who has given the same speech too many times to too many people and no can longer hear himself. You want to tell him it will be alright but your body again refuses to do your bidding. So you stay silent and let your mind wander instead.

You think about your grandmother, your father's mother. You remember that time your father had dragged his reluctant city living family to the village to visit a woman as far removed from their world as night was from day. It was so long ago and yet you remember the events of those days like it was yesterday.  
You remember seeing her for the first time and falling hopelessly in love with the bald head and wise old eyes. You remember how she had looked at you suspiciously at first; and how when you had bowed in greeting, she had caught you before you could touch the ground. You remember how small her hands had been but also how strong. How she had held you to her and began to sing. Later, your mother would tell you, the song was your Oriki.

“What is an Oriki?” You had asked your mother.
“It depends. Sometimes, it is a song of praise. Sometimes it a celebration of an identity. Other times it is a prayer.”
“Which one was mine?” You had asked your mother as you watched her dole out your prescriptions later that night. Flagyll for the tummy aches. Ibruprofen for the joint pain. Chloroquinie to fight malaria. Calcium tablets for your bones.
She had looked at you for a second or two before saying.
“Take your drugs and go to bed.” As you slept on the soft mattress, you had wondered if the way your mother’s eyes glistened as she looked at you had anything to do with stars that were a little brighter in the village. You had hoped with all your heart that it was the stars and nothing more.
You had spent hours sitting with the old woman in the days that followed; watching her weave her baskets, listening to stories about your father that you were sure were made up but you loved anyway. It was she who told you that you were an Abiku. A child who didn't want to live.

"But I want to live." You had said to her, coughing as you said the words.

"So why then did you die four times already?" She had asked you smiling.

It was from her that you had heard of the ones before you. It was from her you finally got an answer to the question you had peppered your parents with for so long.

"Can I have a little brother? Or sister?"

It was from her you had learned the reason why you were born in Nigeria even though your parents had always lived in London. They had come back because the old woman had insisted on birthing you herself. She would see to it that you did not die like the others had done in Charing Cross, she had promised your parents. She would birth you with her own hands and you would live, she assured them. And so they had gotten on the next plane they could find and put their faith in the old woman.

 It was your grandmother that told you everything and when she was done with telling, you said "I will live, I won't die this time."

"I believe you." She had replied. "Now go and drink the ‘agbo’ I made for you this morning."

You had made a face but acquiesced. If drinking the bile inducing 'agbo' meant proving to her, to the world, to your body, that you wanted to live, then you would gulp it down by the gallons.

You look at the doctor now and smile. He knows nothing about you. Even though he has known you for years now, even with his fancy tools, complicated diesease names and all the information he has on your body; he knows nothing about your grandmother or the 'agbo'.

You interrupt him to say.

"When do we start treatment?"

You can tell he is caught off guard and you almost laugh. You miss your grandmother and her bitter elixir at that moment, her easy solution to living well.

"Olu, it is Alzheimer’s. I am not even sure where to start from. I have to consult with other doctors. There are no cures for old age, Olu. You know this, you are a doctor yourself. You can stop teasing now. There are some medications of course but there isn't much they can do to halt it. All we can do is prepare for it."

You smile again at him and tell him you would like to go home now.

The drive back home is short and you are thankful the traffic has chosen another part of town to belabor. Your driver is quiet and you want to ask him if everything is alright but then you know the answer to that. You still remember regaining consciousness to find the poor boy crying like the world had ended. You can tell he is still not over it and so you let him be and watch the world from your car window.

Your daughter is waiting at the door when you arrive. You wonder who it is that called her. Probably that pesky housekeeper of yours or the driver-it would explain why he kept mute throughout the drive. Her hair is starting to gray and you are taken aback by the realization that she too has not escaped the disease of old age.
"Well , well, what did the doctor say was wrong?" She asks wiping her hands on the dish towel she is holding.

There is a reason you named her ‘Yewande’; for that old woman who had made you feel like living was worth doing. ‘Yewande’ to remind you of your promise to live.  'Yewande’ for the nights when you wanted to give in and give up to the pain. ‘Yewande’ for the good times, Yewande for the bad times; Yewande,an ‘agbo’, a ‘cure’ for every season.
She is smiling but you can see the worry in her eyes. It is alive and breathing; waiting in the shadows, ready to take over the rest of her and leave you with nothing to remind you of the amazing woman you have created. You don’t want that. You want to remember her as the reason you have stayed with your body all these years, even though it has let you down one time too many.

“He says you need to start minding your own business and to leave this old man alone.”

You take her hands and kiss them- they are small and yet so strong, just like the old woman's. She blushes and it warms your heart to know some things do not age and never grow old.

“How are the boys?” You ask her.
“You can ask them; they are here too.”
"I should wander away from home more often then. I try it once and the whole football team is here to see me.”
“Don’t joke, Baba mi.”
You smile at her and want to ask her forgiveness- for the tears she will cry, for the emptiness that will soon replace where you now stand, for the diseased and old body you will leave behind.
“The doctor  says hello and to make me some agbo for the malaria."
“Agbo??? Since when do medical doctors prescribe ‘agbo’? You better not be lying to me, old man. You know I will find out. ” She says as she kisses you on the cheek and takes your hand to lead you inside.
You hold onto her small, strong hands for as long as you can because you know that when the time comes and you have to make your way from life to death, from one world to another, from everything to nothingness; the only way not to lose your way will be by holding on to the hands that guided you into this world, the hands that saw to it that you did not die, the hands that saw to it that you lived.

Song of the day: Jason Nelson - Nothing Without You

October 15, 2013

The Liberation of the Tortoise and other poems

So these days I have been listening a lot to Alysia Harris and the Striver's Row. This is the result of that. i am trying my hands on poetry again. Here are two wacky ones.

And of course they tell a story. I am all about the stories, people. :)

He waits till you are breathing again before he steals your breath away

He waits till your tears have dried up before giving you new and beautiful reasons to weep

He waits till that moment

When you think it is safe to come out of your shell
Before he breaks it,
Before he breaks you,
To pieces

So that there is no more hiding

No more shells
No more heavy burdens to carry through life

You are no longer a tortoise
You are free
You are his
And you steal his breath away,
Time after time.

Her skin is the color of nighttime and though I have been here many times,
I find that it is still easy to get lost
In mountains and valleys and waterfalls

Time is my GPS
And so I spend it tracing her body with my fingers

Seeking directions to truths that were never lost

But there is never enough of this thing called 'time',
And soon another night finds me lost
In ancient streets of warmth
In dark rivers of joy
In valleys laced with milk
In her midnight skin...

Song of the day: Lorde- Royals

October 9, 2013

Social Media and its Pitfalls

I am putting in this quote late, probably everyone has read this already...but better late than never

“You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness.” 
Alice in Wonderland

It has been a while since I ranted on here.

This has been a long time coming... Y'all have had it coming.

And feel free to tell me I am pot calling kettle black...

Like everything we lay our hands, Nigerians tend to take something that was meant for good use and find a way to make bad use of it. Social media, Twitter specifically has not escaped our leprous fingers.

From ordinary people pretending to be all that they are not
From uncrowned princes crowing in their pajamas about lives lived in their castles
From unknighted preachers telling you what to do and how to do it and failing everyday to swallow their own medicine...
From writers with no shame pining for votes

The list is long and boring.

I stumbled upon a blog recently and I was so enamored by the writer. This was the real deal-tackling real issues and sharing experiences. And then Twitter got ahold of the blogger. Today, said blogger has become a Twitter celebrity. I resisted the temptation of following for a few weeks and then I did. It took a few weeks for me to retrace my steps.

Why do we need validation? Why do we crave love from people we might never meet? Why are we so hungry for things what isn't ours in the first place? And in so doing, we soon loose the essence of what it was all about in the first place.

Today, very few real people blog anymore. What we have now are preachers who have never been to Bible School, writers for whom writing is all about gaining popularity, relationship experts who wouldn't know real love if it slapped them in the face...Name it, we've got it!

And I will be the first to say I am guilty. I can smell crap on myself too.

Even on here, i find myself writing stories i know people will like, stories that are not me and ring hollow, just because I want people to say 'oh you are a great writer.'

But I AM a great writer. I am validated in myself and the feeling I get when I read my own work. I don't need anyone else to tell me this. (Feel free to tell me though. :) )

This weekend some guy copied me on his 'Letters to my Daughter' or something like that. I read it and all i could think is 'what an insult?" to fathers everywhere. I asked the said dude if he was a dad, if he knew what it was to birth a child and watch that child grow away from you and you can do nothing about it? if he knew that fathers went to bed sometimes crying for their children? If he knew that fatherhood meant fear and courage at the same time? (i dont know all these things either -lol)

Guess what, dude has no child. And yet he writes "letters to his daughters". These letters, according to him are based on his experience as a relationship coach. I swallowed my next question but i am sure you can guess it.   

I am so tired of the rubbish I read on blogs these days.I am so tired of people telling me to hold my tongue and not say anything. I am so tired of conforming. Why can't we stop for a moment, breathe and ask ourselves why? Why am I doing this? Is it for the praises or because I will get no sleep if i don't type out the words burning in my heart? Is it because I bear a  burden for the unsaved or because I want to be called a 'man of God' or whatever titles people use now? Is it because I love my neighbor or because I love myself and the sound of my own voice? is it because I love what I do or because you love it?

I am a great girlfriend, an amazing sister, a loving daughter, a friend that sticks closer than a sister, a smart business woman, an evolving great writer (lol), a Child of God. I do not need anyone's validation of any of these facts. It is like asking for validation from the next person on my skin color. Don't I know I am black? Don't I know who I am? Why am I waiting on your approval to go ahead and be me? Why won't I stop, breathe and just do me and let you jump into the Thames if you don't like it? Why do I open myself for definition from people who wouldn't know where to start, from people who have no sense of worth, from people who go along with the crowd always?

I am Kiah.
I am a Season's beginning
I am a lover
I am a warrior
I am more than what you say I am
Who are you?

This one is for all the amazing bloggers who have kinda let the mediocre ones take over. Come back! Yeah, you, T.Notes, to start with. Then maybe we can Muse to come back too. Stay away from Twitter though- there are Mad Hatters thereon.

Song of the day:  Jewel - Hands

October 1, 2013


This was written by one of my favorite writers and an amazing human being...He says I inspire him and he is only trying to be like me... i think he is flattering the crap out of me. He has his own style so jst in case you don't like my work, hopefully you will like his. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the one, the only, ooluwafunminiyi . 

He had been talking about it for a while, and when he was excited about something, he became a child again - sated only by the fulfillment of his fantasy. 

It was their son's first birthday. He said they could not make any noise about it, for obvious reasons. Instead, they'd have a sunny day out in the park, just the three of them, and cap it off with a photo shoot at the new and expensive studio where the creme de la creme took powerful photographs with state of the art cameras and printing machines. He talked animatedly of the poses he would strike with his son. She watched him handle the child like a pearl while he dreamed up pose after pose; she eagerly agreed with the poses he tagged 'fantastic', and laughed indulgently when he discarded others. And when their son began to cry from all the activity, she had stuck a nipple in his mouth before asking his father to show her the poses he and she would strike.

There had been a new light in his eyes when he described those, a light that held hope in its beams. Laughter rang out in her little apartment that night, the first time in a long while. Long after the baby had slept and she had placed him in his Graco playpen, they practiced their poses under the flickering lights of the muted television. It felt a little awkward at first, their bodies touching like that. He had not touched her since she had broken his commandment. The sun rose in her heart when they held hands and locked eyes across the miles that stretched out between them. Finally, they practiced 'the pose of the shoot' - as he called it, the one in which she laid on the rug, her head propped up by a palm, and he got in behind her.

'This is a risky one,' he laughed, his voice suddenly husky, his breath hot against the nape of her neck.

They knew they were going too far when they stayed like that a little longer than was necessary, 'refining the pose'. It wasn't long before she felt him hard against her back, before she felt her skirt lose its tightness against her stomach - before she helped take away what was left of his inhibitions.

The made love like a prayer, a word less plea for forgiveness - for her desperate attempt to trap him with a child, for her inability to bear the thought of losing another woman's husband, that he forgive himself also for cheating on his wife, and for the many other wrongs he had done to her and perhaps, countless others. Her passion implored him to stay with her and with their child. Yet when she had paused and held his face between her palms, earnestly searching for answers, any at all, he had kept his eyes shut, refusing to let anything through except a recalcitrant tear drop.

And for that rare moment, no matter how much she was hurt, she had been eternally 
grateful to him.

The following morning, they had gone back to yesterday. He was gone before she awoke. Her world was empty once more, the harsh silence of the apartment interrupted only by the cries of her baby and the ricochet of the curses and threats they had traded in that room.

It was also not surprising either when three days later, at the photo shoot, he had taken gleeful pictures with his son - and when they had gotten to the part where she was supposed to join in, he had refused, asking her to take her pictures alone with the baby.

She was stubborn too. 'Let us go then,' she said, and picked up her hand bag, her voice quivering, her eyes brimming with tears. The photographer had never met a stranger couple.

That evening, she left the apartment that he had rented for her and her baby in a part of town where he was sure his wife would never have found them. She had no clear idea where she was headed. She would let her destiny work that out.

'Where ever we go, your father will never find us,' she smiled sadly at her babbling baby as they melted into the night.

Song of the day: Ellie Goulding - Burn