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 me...my 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