POEMS: God dey, Most lost, Tears, So, Breeds, Swine, Kishiya & Fever

GOD DEY *

When I trek with daily rain
To find work or sweet life,
Guardsmen with dogs reign;
Making morning every night.

Where the mouth for food?
Like na only me yawn alone.
Bad laughs and us go good?
I can not stay to boil stone.

Whether life better, money stay;
Owners fold their own mats.
Tomorrow can mirror today
And patience never does lasts.

Families’ eyes pour its pains,
Daily need’s shame they pray.
Yet they wake with last grains,
Again their faith says God dey!

MOST LOST

Who says we are most alone
When we are with the most?
And all alone with its none;
Enjoying life at its own worst?

Attempting to be on our own
We had often found its cost;
Sought glories for the stone
And won prizes we had all lost.

TEARS

Boiling pots let off steam,
Pressured heat sweats a beam.
Merrily down a peopled stream,
Tears must decimate life’s film.

SO?

Let us play a game of trading places,
Pausing triggers of mud slinging tongues.
Viewing with glasses that mirror chances,
We’ll find all toes fit the shoes it belongs.

BREEDS

The mind eats, then it sleeps.
Where it sits, there it breeds.
Then it would end and cease,
Leave in hope for some peace.
Still this life ever only breeds,
If what it learns today it heeds.

SWINE

Who makes the most noise
And is as dirty in his poise?
Who soils his needs as toys
And spoils all his ego hoist?

KISHIYA / MATE #

Haka ta che,
“Wa ni da duk mache,
Kishiya ta ta fi ni.
Ko ya ta yi da shi, da ni?
Ko de na kasa,
Har ya sa ya fasa?
Ko ya zaka fasara,
Kishi ne, ko duniya na maza?”

So she said to I,
“To all women as I,
My mate is better than I,
What did she do to him and I?
Or had I failed him as I,
To make him withdraw from I?
How else do you interpret to I,
It’s envy or it’s all male to I?”

FEVER

Through eventful years the sticks ever pile,
Hopes with the trunk that vomits emptiness.
The mighty broom swept so long a mile,
Still dirt abounds as its proud fruitfulness.
Mourning tears leave this feeling of numbness.

Eras of evolution has not changed the egg,
The needs of man same and ever will be so.
Maybe a broom will kill lizards on a clay keg
And not break it too like the stick did before.
In this concoction only soluble particles’ temperatures soar.

Promise of the lands are all pointing,
Yet the future is hot food in the mouth.
Bodies buried and alive, had and are, waited and waiting,
For the joy in swallowing and satisfaction they sought.
Over hard filled years waiters without appetite rot.

The dogs in this story are the traitorous pigs,
Their patriotism is fake like sweeping grains with a rake.
Locusts that plunder the field leaving tiny dry twigs,
Their determined whispers stir reasoning ideally fake;
These dishonourable gentle heads that ache.

The locusts ate the grains, the rake wasted the rest.
The broom was left so little in its fold.
In this farm, pigs serve dogs for it’s their best.
The egg will likely shatter in hands that shouldn’t hold.
They chest indifferently the agony of the rest in the cold.

POEMS: Let it rain, It rained, The Spouse of Sentiments, Walls of China, Weird Feet, Elegy of this Mummy’s & Monarch

LET IT RAIN

Clear as skies have ever been,
Then stirred a slight breeze.
Gently woke a dusty scene,
Helpless pedestrians sneeze.

A clouds’ parade is called;
Smoky pawns first appear.
From the horizon they strolled
With a breeze winded in despair.

Officers’ darker mien show,
As an angry thicken sky spread.
The world’s mood goes slow,
For a brief moment, in dread.

Suddenly the tempo is upped,
Like an adrenaline spiked heart.
The living world all robbed
Of all its plans as droplets pat.

The tar-less streets go empty,
As commerce pauses in pain.
Hawkers shelter all so hasty
As the clouds cry, let it rain.

IT RAINED

Sleep is death everyday
And dreams, the after life.
Morning wakes Lazarus
Into a very moist terminus.

The birds call out stops,
Jetting in over roof tops.
The sun arrives from the east,
In its twelve hourly haste.

Wingless termites each pair,
From glassy littered floors appear.
Lizards leave damp cracks
Amidst frogs’ conducted croaks.

Each awakes as another
To catch the day younger.
The wet early mood hurried;
For surely last night it rained.

THE SPOUSE OF SENTIMENTS

Daddy smiled and coughed light,
Understanding my explained plight.
Men are lonely and they know,
Yet they conspire not to let show.

These women are assisted all through
By their very own sex, unlike you.
Firstly by mothers or sisters, then peers.
All thrust, show or coax their shares.

Ladies understand the bodies’ world well
As they grow so guided, you can tell.
The boy discovers on his very own.
And thus, what he finds is his fun.

WALLS OF CHINA

The old London Bridge is falling down
Yet everyone still swims back into town.

When the new walls of China do crumble
They won’t stay back there to just cuddle.

WEIRD FEET

Imagine if your feet points inwards
And your heels are aligned outwards.

Your legs do not end with any toes
And look like thin straight fleshy poles.

You walk like a tall naked chicken
And take only small steps for no reason.

ELEGY OF THIS MUMMY’S

The produce of your womb is true,
For this only a mummy are you.
You swell and pine till cords’re cut,
This much dear credit is stolen not.

In the start of it all you were
Willing that all elements be there.
You mothered it all from scratch
To be as no other would match.

The availability of all that’s good
Is so limitless and has no mood.
You were to be of such a mould;
An embodiment of this idea so old.

You saw with your own blind eyes
And discarded others and their lies.
As all came and as all so went,
You blur the real and just dreamt.

Indifference is that able chance
Not just affordable to all hands.
This you grew to learn as all do;
And seek to murder your dead anew.

Compassion has love in its nature,
It lacked in past, present and future.
You are history as an origin is;
History as any Tomb-Mummy’s kiss.

Dead as dreams bubbles in a diamond,
Your aged love will never find them.
Till you died, to these lives you’re death
That came back down to this earth.

MONARCH

From the high trees in Mexico;
On the way back to this Mexico,
The great-grand Monarch will stir
As she, this same time and there
Starts a migration of off-springs
At times winters meets springs.

In flight onto the vastness of Texas,
They will briefly settle in Texas;
As did cows, boys and their wives,
Like an established glow of life’s.
Waving cloud of flickering beauty,
Floating yellow specks, so mighty.

The first generation will here pupa,
Here crops feed and protect proper.
Well fed, they cover up and mutate.
These Milk-weeds they do cultivate
Dictates their site, flight and path;
After it, the caterpillars had sought.

Another generation is alone and going,
Together following meals and dieing.
Onward northeast with their destiny,
Eighty kilometers a day their mystery.
Their next route only goes on forth;
The generation that returns is fourth.

They had congregated in far Canada,
This generation is journey harder.
Their numbers much as to boast,
As they wait out storms at the coast.
At last in the Augusts’ clear season,
They sprint four thousand miles of ocean.

If Human restlessness keeps its place,
Together like they left this place;
With earth where it was again in orbit
And nature its only possible culprit,
Southwest this living cloud always returns,
To the same trees the Monarch returns.

SPORTS FOR PLAYERS ~

THE COACH

I am a reluctant Coach. The first time I tried coaching was in school. I was the tertiary institution’s Basketball team captain and we had a non-official Coach; a short middle-aged fellow, who was not a staff of the institution and only lived behind the school’s main campus. We were not sure he had played the game competitively himself and tolerated his feeble attempt at guiding us out of respect. I was looked up to by my fellow team mates, and most especially by the female Basketball team.

I liked that. If getting all that attention from pretty girls came with it, why not? It was just a game I played then. Not the Basketball, but the coaching. The presumed remuneration was cosy and quite good! It came in doves of willing babes, hyped up campus status, popularity, travelling and fun. It was unlimited fun my parents paid for with my school fees. It was free fun like campus life always would be and life never ever is.

The second stage of my Coaching-hood dawned on a prolonged holiday. In the pigs ‘invaded’ slump my father housed our entire family in, was a group of young men who played amateur soccer. Out of idleness, not even youthful curiosity and certainly not professional pursuit, I teamed up with them.

I was the least skilful of the whole lot, but was respected mainly because my family had a posh status in the ghetto community, and also because of my higher education and maybe also my relative advanced age. I was allowed to play, even in competitions. Though my knowledge of the game exceeded my physical display of it, I gave a good account of myself with the number of goals I scored and the lots more I ‘almost’ scored.

One day, the oldest and most experienced leader of the team; who we obviously called Coach, suddenly named me his assistant. That was it. My first solo assignment was to handle our junior male team. I made a show of it, encouraged some idle girls to join in on the fun as well and started a female team too. This time though, these girls were a lot younger and I was sincerely interested in only improving myself as a soccer Coach with the work I did with the younger players. This I continued to do pretty well, while I finished school and waited to farther my education or get a job, still much the reluctant Coach.

The third stage was longer. My young female team played in its first competition. We did well and got rewarded with a friendly match against a State sponsored side. Afterwards some of my players were asked to play for the State side and I was asked to join the managerial crew of the team. The State team did well, but it soon got off-loaded by the State and a group of tradesmen took over the players. I willingly stayed with the players on a part-time basis, while I worked and schooled full-time.

We won a National competition and did well in another National contest. This brought me and the team a drop of national recognition and I was offered a regional role in a National programme by a prominent National soccer Coach.

I would work at my job as well as pursued a full time advanced course in the city’s polytechnic on week days, while at weekends I spent hours coaching young children under the National soccer programme. I was able to polish my coaching abilities under the tutelage of an ex-professional player, now an established seasoned soccer Coach. Taking it one day at a time, I managed my time according to my prevailing priorities. It was always work first, school next and coaching last.

I had made it the quest of my reluctant coaching career during this period to improve the general lives of all the young players I handled. My principle was simple: ‘Sports is recreational and recreation is temporal.’ Hence, I ensured that all my wards pursued a more permanent career alongside sports. Mainly it was schooling, but some learnt other trades too. My quest became a means of recreation for me too. And though by my actions I had assisted in ensuring that the aspirations of many families for their young ones were achieved, it was always a past time to me too. Soon it developed into something special as I simply dedicated myself more to it. It became more important to me than actually coaching soccer. I will coach for a lucrative package when I got the chance, but I am still a reluctant Coach.

THE PLAYER

It was a secondary schools’ female soccer competition match and our team was winning with four goals. But though our team was five goals up by half time, we were still worried about a skilful, natural left footed girl in our opponents’ midfield. She had repeatedly dribbled, waltzed and shot through our entire defence line like we were playing against her alone and not another team of eleven girls. We won the match by a whooping seven-nil, but everyone was looking at that talented girl like she had netted all the seven goals we scored against her team.

I wanted her in our team and I tried to get her by every legal means conceivable. Every attempt to get her interested in our school was foiled by her then handlers. I got to know that she had played that match illegally because she had not even been a student of the school she played for and had indeed dropped out of an entirely different junior school two years earlier. It only made me even more interested in her.

I tailed her home from her local training field one evening and met her parents with my very ‘palatable’ offer. Unknown to me, they were prepared for me. The girl’s then handlers had falsified some details about me and warned her, and her parents about me. They had been told that I was a profiteering schemer who wanted to deceive them, and that I had no good intensions for their daughter. I was then disappointed that I had probably seen (maybe) the most talented female soccer player ever identified in my country and she was wasting away, out of school, hawking sugarcane, flirting around and utterly poorly handled.

She could have very easily been schooling on a full scholarship in one of the best schools in the country like I had offered her. She could be polished and managed into becoming an educated success in both sports and in any other career of her choice. It hurt me, but there wasn’t much I could do but wait and hope.

I didn’t have that long to wait though. In sports two years is not a long time. In sports we remember and forget too easily. I had stopped to change a flattened wheel and habitually responded to greetings from behind me, as I changed the punctured tyre. At first I didn’t recognise any of the girls sitting behind full trays of neatly stacked well cut sugarcane sticks, they were selling.

When I finished changing the tyre and had put the flat tyre away in the car’s rear compartment, one of the girls came over with some water for me to wash my dirtied hands with. It was then I recognised the talented left footer. After holding up the water for me to wash my hands, she insisted I took at least a stick of her sugarcane with me. Before I drove off she shyly asked me if she could come to see me sometime. She claimed to know my office and pleaded that I gave her a few minutes when I could. I gave her an appointment, drove off whistling. Patience does pay.

She came early, in time. I gave her something to drink, which she didn’t touch eventually. She wept as she told me how she regretted not joining our school and what a mess her handlers had made of her prospects as a promising talent. She then wanted to join up with us but didn’t have the courage to face me until she met me recently. Though I knew it was too late to get her admitted into the private school where I coached part-time, after the proprietor had given seventeen girls from my team admissions on full scholarship. Since he died in a car crash on his way for an inaugural meeting of a federal sports panel, the school hadn’t taken any more students on sports scholarships.

I was so thankful that his family held up to their end of the arrangement and still allowed all the girls (and some boys) to complete their studies on full scholarship. To request for an additional space, at that time, was asking for too much.

I however asked her to return with photocopies of her most recent academic credentials and lied that I will try to get her accepted into the school. I had however explained to her the difficult situation truthfully. I just wanted her in our team first, so that I could have a shot at handling her properly. I was certain I could make her an outstanding future star.

THE SPORT

A year passed and she was now fully part of our team. I finally had to get her settled into a public school and assisted her ‘struggling’ parents in paying her school fees. She blossomed into a wonderful team player and she travelled with our team everywhere, playing in both local and national competitions for the private school’s team too. She was the toast of every match she played in and I started getting doves of hugely promising requests for her from big professional club sides.

My refusal to accept any of these offers started a feud with her parents. They had been told that their girl will earn a lot if she joined a professional side. Though this is partially true, I had my reasons for refusing. This I explained to her parents. But against my best advice her parents soon insisted she joins a professional club. I had two reasons for not wanting her to go just yet. Firstly, I thought she was still rather young and inexperienced in the dirty ‘game’ behind the sports scene.

Secondly, she had to finish secondary school to enable her continue her education any farther. If she is to have a decent life after her very limited sporting career, then furthering her education was paramount. This I considered was appropriate then and not at any other non-feasible time in the future.

I lost her, but happily not her trust. Her parents made her join a big club in the south of the country for their own selfish reason. I was given some money to sign her mandatory release papers, which I took and did. She was gone for only one calendar year and though she is an incredibly talented player, she never got to play in even one competitive game for the club. She was not even registered for the national league in two abridged seasons.

It was soon revealed that one of her Coaches there wanted sexual favours from her and the other considered her a threat to his most favoured player. Then she broke her leg in training and had to return home untreated and without any savings to fall back on. Her folks had used up every dime she had sent home. I got a specialist to treat and manage her leg. And in those eight months, while she healed and rehabilitated, I got her re-admitted to finish her secondary education in her last school. I paid for her extra lessons and her examination fees too. She was able to resume training exactly nine months after she returned home.

Three months later, her results were out. She had passed averagely and it coincided with her regaining her previous playing form. By the time we started processing her admission into a tertiary institution on a sports ticket; she had healed completely and was thrilled to have attained the ‘form of her life’. Then she did the unexpected. You just never know with young girls and lying cute good looking boys. She called to tell me that she had ‘run-off’ with her mechanic boyfriend, who just got employed into an engineering firm somewhere in the biggest city in the west of the country. It was a huge blow.

The necessity of sports in teenagers’ lives can not be over emphasised. It makes them burn up their excess energy, tow the line of good behaviour, stay healthy, imbibe important values in their characters and provide an immediate alternate means of livelihood, and if they are among the lucky talented few. Sports could also ensure a comfortable life subsequently.

I had always insisted that my players get a proper education, the highest possible when obtainable. The risk and luck involved in making it in sports hugely out-weights that involved in making it straight from a proper education. I pursued the same course myself; thus I subjected all my players to the same pursuit. Most turned out well, but a few derailed. She was no exception, though hers hurt me a lot because of the promise she personified.

Five months later she returned, visibly pregnant and sent away by her boyfriend, who she told us had moved in with another girl. Her father came to me and I followed him. Amidst her entire family’s continuous onslaught of curses, I insisted she is allowed to pick up her life and not discouraged by our disappointment or indeed hers; not even considered. I was secretly certain that this experience will serve a good purpose in the future; for others too, through her.

THE GAME

To keep her mind off things and in an attempt to give her some confidence, I got her enrolled into a Computer school. She finished the brief course just in time for the birth of her baby. Three months after her son’s birth, she started a two years course it a tertiary institution in our town. Eight months later she was back in training, her son weaned and in her mother’s care, most of the time. She made the institution’s team to its biannual national competition, which they won. She was a member of the State’s team to the national sports festival, a team I was given the privilege of handling.

She was simply so brilliant at the tournament that she couldn’t be ignored by our country’s junior national team selectors. The two years of her course ended swiftly and she was invited to join the junior national team in preparing for the world cup. Everyone was excited but I advised that she took her final exams first and wait for another chance in the future. She was still young and officially eligible, even if she should be younger. I expected some resistance but I got none as she readily agreed.

I however made her understand that it had to be her choice, not minding that I was assisting her with her education. She replied me with what is the most touching response I have ever received from any of my players. She said I was her guiding angel, sent by God to steer her through life. She added that she was not the only person I handled, but I had dedicated most of my time, effort and money to her and her troubles.

She did not go to that juniors’ world cup. Instead she finished her academic course and proudly got a National Diploma. It was afterwards easy for her to get into a National females’ League club side. The next two years were quite great. She actually won every competition she was featured in.

The National female soccer league and The National Football Association female clubs’ tourney, The National Sports Festival soccer and a women soccer tournament in Europe were all won by her teams that year, with her playing a very prominent part. She was to later play in the very next edition of the junior world cup she had missed previously, and later won a female soccer continental championship. She became an instant big star and was well off with her financial earnings now.

I sort of managed her affairs for her back home and supervised the construction of the two residential flats she built. Her parents moved into part of the building, leaving the rented abode they had been living in all this long while. She had the other flat fitted and furnished for her own private use.

She agreed with my suggestion to buy a small commercial bus for her first vehicle, instead of the family utility van her father preferred. This was a sore point between her father and I, but she saw the sense in generating money with the vehicle to maintain itself, while it still served the family’s needs. When she returned for her annual holiday, I suggested that she changed her club so that she could farther her education while she still played actively. She did. She was now a big star and it was easy to get into just any other club she so desired.

So she moved to another club, secured an admission into an institution in her new club’s home city and in another two and a half years, she graduated with a university degree. I went for her graduation alongside her brother and father, in the same vehicle she bought. Then she changed clubs again, this time to the city she was posted to for her mandatory National Youth Service. In those two years she made the senior national team, won the continental nations’ cup, and featured in the Olympic Games and in the senior female world cup.

She was soon engaged by a small club in Europe for a two years contract. One year into the contract, her contract was sold by the club to a much bigger club in a different European country for a heart warming sum that was assessed a world record for a female player then. Her new personal package was quite huge. I asked her to take an insurance policy for disability and retirement, and with the assistance of her new foreign club’s secretary, she did. It was such a great idea as the unfolding events that soon followed was to show.

Returning home for an off-season holiday, her plane had to make an emergency landing. As a result of the ensuing crash, she was among the few that got injured when her right femur was fractured in two places. She had stayed behind at home since then. The insurance company paid up and with the statutory settlements she got from her big European club and the Airline’s insurers, she had enough to retire many times over.

She healed well in four months and wanted to play again, but I made her realize that her whole soccer career will end eventually and she would then want to start off in another field. She might never make more money than she had already made and it was a perfect time to start off in a life long career that will define her future status as someone other than just an entertainer.

We looked at all the options opened to her and concluded that she invests most of her considerable fortune in landed structures and pursue a career in the field she already studied. So because she had read Banking and Finance and had a favourable public image, we had; with a little persuasion, got her employed as a junior manager in a bank she had also invested heavily in. She bought a small store and built a small office structure, which she rented out. Now her son is doing very well in the private school she couldn’t get into and I am as proud as a stuffed bear.

The Coach isn’t selfless but human too,
He is the person with a plan for everyone.
With abilities as experience all learnt anew;
He is an optimist, patient as sure as the sun.

The Player obeys the norms and urge,
Enjoying the dreamt up living, yet real.
Dancing to all songs with a new surge,
Blinding days are lit with a light to feel.

The Sport is heartless and demanding,
All companies it keeps are envious of it.
Consuming lust filled, never satisfying;
On its sure ride it will keep every bit.

The Game is simple and easy to chase,
Embraced in choices to choose and make.
Stages of gains at every level of the race
Made the whole thing Sports for players’.

POEMS: A Hole in the Sun, Jiggle Bells, Date, Masses, Predator, Zoo Keepers, Sir & True

A HOLE IN THE SUN

Dancers in the sun’s light
Amaze my privileged sight
And fill my heart with delight.

Floating in some physical void,
Dazzling the spectacle they lord;
Visible in the air I cannot avoid.

What I see likens a light dust,
Entertaining my eyes’ own lust
As the ray blows them all out.

A comet must have just gone by
And beamed pass my open eye,
From the bright splendor up high.

Its mild rays’ lonely lights tread
On a woven lit path boldly made
To awaken the soul’s long dead.

The mystery is doubt’s glory
That yields an affectionate story
Daring every notion’s theory.

JIGGLE BELLS

Single hell, triple fell;
Wiggled yet it didn’t jell.
Oh, what rings that little bell
That tries and ever fails to tell?

DATE

Silly days made our teens,
Sorting out our teething genes.
Over those moons, new till old
Our hormones shiver their cold.

Tasting all those many dishes;
Many we met with their witches,
Others we borrowed and mended,
But lots we created and trended.

The sting of disappointments sore,
Betrayal and pain and much more.
Ageing fear is sour but caught;
Yet still we trove amidst death.

To all morrows we cherished
That date we shared perished,
And thank it so for that spice
It puts into this new date so nice.

MASSES

Where the eagles dare
The vulture does fear.
We’re weaklings there,
Patience stole our lair.

Anthills grew where
A colony learns to bear.
That beach is so near
When a lost ship cheer.

PREDATOR

Wisdom is the Owl’s,
Opened eyed it saw
Cooking sun bowels
Blurs its sight more.

Little shows the moon,
Like stars in the dark.
To hunt it glides as soon
As dusk shows its back.

The prey that hides
From shine of day
See less of the rides
And the Owl’s hurray.

ZOO KEEPERS

The chimps’re gaily as will ever
As the fauna king will rule never.
Penned in a checkered metal home,
Their chatter and roar just a hum.

Huge trumpeters cupped for show
As archaic aquatic lizard’s flow.
Their mud puddles not more free
Than the walled rivers to be or see.

Eagle soars only in its mind
And serpents share their kind.
All the skies they see and saw
Lost like their choices as before.

SIR

The world is that common mirror
That our reflection bounces off.
All these people we all so follow
Always seem to show us enough.

When I see my reflections ever,
I climbed your mountain so rare.
Then I found honour owns never
And where you were come I sir.

TRUE

That man isn’t God;
Who flaunts not his might,
That secret is mere mud;
To the truth I can bite.

Silence as a weapon is my right;
The trophy of loot in man’s fight.

POEMS: Time Concept, Worthless, Tall Dream, Widowed Dreams, The Coloured Sheep, Own to Owe, Cheats & Fools of Africa

TIME CONCEPT

Six seeds of time dropped from its void,
They arrived as miniatures of old cut-out foil.
Once here they germinated into its concept;
Those half dozen hideous monsters we accept.

They search for the lovely maiden in man.
In her flowery easy gown she now ran
Towards the mirror at the end of time,
Where ends all life-sweet misery’s crime.

First time they caught up with her in a pool.
As she bathes they unleashed their fierce tool;
The devouring mystic swamp behind their teeth
Swallowed the whole lake’s water in a breath.

Then they missed her in the air’s grip,
As she flew in a dream with her sleep.
Again their devouring teeth slashed all wide,
And ate the skies winds as she fell off to hide.

She found the drawn carriage and rode it,
In hot pursuit they caught up and bit at it.
The transport means and yield it coughs up,
And land the horses pulled, they chewed all up.

Lastly the depth of earth sneeze its protection
And its molten heat threw out its combustion.
Though it covered her all up, they still did more;
Devoured fire’s fury and left her alone for sure.

She made it to that final aged tunnel of the old
And had to walk its slow dense forest alone bold.
Behind her, the quick hunger of time reaches on;
The future’s uneasy peace mirrored unknown.

Just as she did make it and melt inside it,
The milky embrace silvery end didn’t admit;
The monsters that had made her their bait,
All six; love, pain, joy, sorrow, need and hate.

She ends the long journey just as she began,
As a little helpless babe time held in its hand.
Time will always be a bountiful bondless chain,
Releasing yet holding its ever shortening reign.

WORTHLESS

What profits this mind,
To its end it never finds.
When it says its heart’s pain
It looses the grip of its chains.

Am I always on trial,
My soul alone on its isle?
I am mindful more than less
That is the value of the worthless.

TALL DREAM

Closed eyes clasp the warm darkness,
Shutting out the silvery glow of the moon smile.
The cantata contest invade with its happiness,
Carrying all in the still air of the mating mile.

Oh how simple the peace of this revelry,
The mind and ears wonder the vastness of it all.
Clinging on sanity with man’s overt mystery,
Wishing all love melts into this dream so tall.

WIDOWED DREAMS

What claims have dreams, each on its scale?
One solemn day they all see and they fail;
The egg they lay carries another’s shell.

Thank goodness for a glance at posh’s hell,
When lust toyed with life’s curtains’ rail;
Behold the widowed dreams yet trail.

THE COLOURED SHEEP

Bah, bah black sheep, they always point you;
Wolf in your clothing or something ever new.

Rainbow and gold pot in your closet is true,
If you’re concerned, skies aren’t ever blue.

The skeletons you cupboard are there for show,
Honeycombed for Bees, you Bearnessly shoo!

OWN TO OWE

I have always wondered
What goes through the mind
Of the infant we so conceive?

If he know he is or if he was
And how then I can never tell
If he wanted or wish to need?

I need not wonder to know
All about the known conceivers;
Their want, wish and need they say.

I know the person as a being;
His want, his wish, his need.
These same I didn’t know before.

I couldn’t tell before he is,
From where he is or has been.
His hopes are all lost to me.

I then can not justify
All this favour I’ll do him;
If I do know he knows not.

If it is all I, mine and me;
His life ever has been mine
To want, to wish, to make?

I owe him more than knowledge!
What is more human and selfish
Than to owe who you own?

CHEATS

To a mass we wore those frowns again,
Webbing lines on our brows with pain.
These insects spanned and trapped we are,
Drunken hulks with secular cheats we spar.

FOOLS OF AFRICA

Were you named as you sat on a shelf?
Who named you what you call yourself?
Are you really what you say you are?
Or basically you just turned out as you are?

Every man has only his fingers and toes
And they are to be thanked for all numbers.
His logic of senses beyond his own shores
Made perception a bias heap of blunders.

When the timing of the African’s existence
Is entirely based on another race’s perception,
Then his foolish identity by every instance,
Likens his time; another European conception.

GONE ~

GONE~
Father had been very angry all day. It is so clear that mother must have said something to upset him again, like she does again and again. You could see his effort to stay in control of his emotions, not to do anything rash, to be polite and keep a smile on his face. It always gave him away, every time.

We had a flat tyre and stopped behind a parked lorry on the highway. I saw the little monkey too, as it swung and played beside the huge lorry’s doubled rear tyres. It was swinging from a rope which was keeping it fastened to the lorry’s roofless wooden cargo-hold caging. The monkey made a grotesque picture against the amateurish painting of a fighter jet spread across the lorry’s big rear door. That notwithstanding, it was a sight to savour; and if father hadn’t need of my help with the flat tyre, I would have gladly enjoyed the sight more than I had.

The large nuts tightly holding our vehicle’s flattened wheel were rusty. Father had to ‘tap’ some oil from the car’s engine to lubricate them before he could finally loosen them. In between the wait, I had to help Sani ease his six years old bladder beside the highway and back inside his wide lonely back seat again. Sani and I had made silly noises at the playing monkey before I hurriedly returned round, to help father with the flat tyre.

I remembered seeing Sani toss pieces of his lunch-bread at the monkey, through the open rear window he was seated beside; his window was on the other side of car, away from the sparingly moderate traffic that sped past our car in seemingly endless hurry. Their speed gave such force to the gust of hurled air that blew at us in short busts, as it literally shook our stationary car, while we worked at changing the flat tyre.

Father had dirty hands after the flat tyre had been changed and I held up a bottle of water for him to wash his soiled hands. We both eased ourselves beside the highway too, in front of the car, in the small space between the parked lorry and our car, by the edge of the graveled highway side-walk. Then we hurried back into our front seats and father drove us off home. It was my first holiday back from my new boarding school. Father had come along with my younger brother Sani, to pick me up.

Twenty quiet miles later and we were home. I got out of the car first and was opening the huge metal gate to our house when I heard father’s shout. Sani wasn’t in the back seat! We lost Sani that day and twenty long years later, the pain and regret of that single incident killed father. It is still a mystery to this day and every single possible theory had been discussed and pursued to its logical human and orthodox end, all to no avail.

Mother blamed father and he agreed. He had accepted that his absentminded state had made him less vigilant. The anger in him had made him lose his little boy so strangely. Nothing we did brought Sani back to us. Mother changed her thoughts much later, rather belatedly. It always feels good to recollect that she made father’s last few years less painful with her support and love. But for father, all through those twenty miserable years, there was no worse crime in the world than to be angry:

Yearning not out loud,
Judgment does complain.
The verdict is yet proud,
Its picture coloured in pain.

Wisdom suddenly goes up,
Patience flew its balloon.
Decision flirts with hope,
But it’s still so much alone.

Restrain the wild stallion,
With a branding hand about.
Hurts enough to melt iron;
As penned up heat cries out.

Tomorrow returns somehow,
Mindful of its joyous winning.
And consequences whistle now,
So it all sits to wait for morning.

On my wall now, as just before I got married, is a picture of Sani. It was taken earlier that same year he got lost. The family had mourned him for so long; for too long. As the only child ever again, I knew just how much he was missed. In those long twenty, laughter-less years of an endless stretch of mournful sore existence, the three of us mentioned Sani like he was still there with us, through the nearest open door, in the next room.

I have since grown up to fully comprehend all sorts of feelings like pain, joy, disappointment etc. Most of my experiences had been of the kind that renders the mind skeptical of happy possibilities. Those that question every sad event with a resignation that says it is just fate. Life became a vast open field under an ever mobile parade of tears filled clouds and living is a ceaseless downpour of pain and timeless rain.

I have lacked so much, that I have come to miss my family so much more now. They had all left me alone on my own. First it was Sani then father, and mother is most recent. It isn’t strange that I should remember her least of all, she being the last one with me. Her death was weird in a sense. Though I did cast soil into her stuffed grave like I did father’s too, I was completely unprepared in her case. One moment she was nagging about my childless marriage and the next moment I was fully parentless.

But then she was always just my mother. Unlike my dear wife, who is more of the finest breed and is so inappropriate for me or her family; which I never got along with. She is as different from me as an Ant is to a Spider. She is the ever searching, busy and industrious type but I am not. I scheme and wait. Most times I wonder why she had a thought for me. On this one point I agree with her folks wholly, for I had been brought up spoilt and calmly bred to take things as they come and wait forever for fate and destiny. She faces her fate and makes her destiny.

Mild as milk yet sharp as acid, my life and mind respectively contrast the existence I grew in. I had naively conspired to be wrongly trained in a neglected field that it seems my inherited intelligence was being wasted. In my wife I found purpose and direction; most of all, patience. These were both comforting and conforming as I trove mentally and to a great extend, spiritually.

Her simple smiles spoke in invisible words that showed and said her daily looks of profound angelic niceness wakes up mean vengeful gods in fair moods. Her face steers nature’s soul with its uncomplicated beauty in a mythological sense. Her eyes lit sceneries that warm every heart that meets them, know them and experience the internal simplicity they mirror.

It was like a joke of some sort when my Best man gave my wife and me a puppy as a wedding gift, right there at our wedding guests’ reception. He had the puppy brought in just before he made the customary toast, which he choose to conclude with the cheeky lines; “The little pup is now about; May the little Bob soon pop out.” So when my wife named the puppy ‘Nisa’, meaning ‘Far’, I guessed she saw the dog as a symbol of our union and made a statement with its name to all and sundry, that our marriage will go all the distance. I guessed wrongly.

Nisa became the little ‘Bob’ that hasn’t popped out yet. But it filled our early years of coupled existence with fun, love and joy. The dog turned out to be a witty, disciplined, smart and dedicated animal. He was just a dog to everyone else but to me and especially, to my wife. She and Nisa were practically together all day long and if I didn’t love the animal too, I would have really had enough reasons to dislike him.

Some of our regular guests had sworn the dog was more human than canine. He has been known to sit in his four legged way beside our two rooms’ front door for hours without moving an inch because he noticed we were both out of our modest abode and had forgotten to lock up. He once incredibly guided a desperate visitor to a nearby house where my wife and I had both gone for a neighbourly chit-chat.

Not a trained dog by any means conceivable, it incredibly had an almost human like intelligence. He ate everything he was fed, never stole or sat close to anyone eating, like local dogs are fond of doing. He would dutifully guard a tray of meat or fish laid outside to dry or cool off, barking away interested lizards, chickens and other dogs with as much dedication as any of us would. Built like a prized sheep, he had a beach-sand coloured thin hide that looked almost faded yellow in visibly poor light.

When very lean months soon engulfed us, as it is usually the case for most people of average means, I became so ill from malaria that my wife feared the worse. We had no money for food or drugs and she was at a complete loss of what to do. She called Nisa into our inner most room and he came in reluctantly. It was the first time he had entered any of our rooms, ever. I was barely awake but I could hear her whisper to him that she was going out to borrow some money for drugs.

As silly as I thought it must have sounded, even to her obviously confused mind, she still went ahead to converse with him. I knew they were quite close but as a matter of fact, I doubted her sanity at that instant. I watched them in a bemused pain induced stupor, as she further instructed him to come and look for her if I got any worse. I called her back, as she was about to leave and a very brief one-sided argument ensued.

As we spoke I would have sworn Nisa was following our exchanges with much more than his eyes and head. She retuned a couple of hours later; I was barely conscious and moaning in pain when she entered the room. She had been unsuccessful and broke down in tears as soon as she saw me twisting in pain beside a tensely still Nisa. I tried consoling her but it was such a pathetic attempt. She ran out again and sped into our empty compound in the huge cosmopolitan low-rent, many tenants building we resided in. She was in one big panic as she dashed about, hoping for assistance from any of our many neighbours.

Everyone of our fellow tenants was home that early evening hour, yet the best they could all do was give her a small cup full of raw rice and lots of kind words of encouragement. She somehow cooked up a miracle dish with the cup of rice, throwing in some left over fungus infested spices and some old forgotten dried fish. It smelt nice and it must have tasted good too, but I couldn’t swallow anything but warm water.

Her tears spoke to me words that hurt and I feared for her like I never thought possible. As death wooed me for that brief point in time, I momentarily was selfishly glad that I wasn’t going to see her leave me, like I have always dreaded. In the quiet mazy-whirls of my mind I saw my father dieing again and my old questions all came up for answers again;

Baba, mutuwa na da wuya?
Mun amince duniyar ka da wuya.

Father, is it hard to die?
We acknowledge the hassles of your world.
With life’s wards always roams a lie,
We all are reproductions of its mould.

Choking in the presence of its grip,
The inscrutable crux not familiarized.
Do we sit out the stages of its trip
Like your peaceful love that wasn’t recognized?

From the weep the baby wails
To the whip’s lashes life hails,
These tastes we own and inherit.
Say oh father, is there better to merit?

The strangest thing happened. My wife sang a prayer as I took in long deep breaths. Nisa stood up on all his four limbs from where he was half sitting. He gave a curt bark and licked her arm before running out. He kept barking inside the compound and no one could shut him up. My wife hurried out impatiently, cursing him for not knowing better. Nisa came at her swiftly and tugged at her wrapper with his teeth.

She didn’t call him her son for nothing, she recounted was her very thought when the urge to let him lead her on overwhelmed her. She followed him; filled with curiousity, as he walked on determined and unhesitant, head down in a solemn meditation like posture. He led her to the local dog-meat butcher’s stall, where he folded his limbs and laid still on the soft ground.

She came over to his head with her eyes instantly tears filled. He closed his eyes firmly and licked at her hand as she patted his motionless cone-shaped face. It was such a very pathetic and uncommon sight that it lost the dog-butcher lots of dedicated patrons later. She was paid handsomely by the unrepentant meat merchants because he was a fairly big dog. Though she didn’t see Nisa slaughtered, but we were told later that he ‘cooperated’ fully. That word had never sounded so inappropriate.

The next morning I woke up feeling much better. The drugs she had bought and given me the night before had worked well for me. She cleaned me up and fed me a hot, sweet smelling and good tasting breakfast as she sang a popular funeral hymn. Still in the dark about Nisa’s strange demise, I was quiet all the while until I saw the single tear drop float out of her eye and run down her cheek. Then I tried to ‘break the ice’ with a joke. I asked her if she was rehearsing for my funeral. She replied, with so much feeling, that she was not rehearsing, but was singing for real. I guessed she meant I had died and was ‘reborn’ again, after our ordeal the day before. I guessed wrongly again.

This time she didn’t keep me in the dark for long. She couldn’t hold back her tears as she told me everything. It was then I learnt that she had named him Nisa in memory of Sani, my late and only brother. She knew from the stories we told that a big chunk of our lives disappeared with Sani and in her own way she preempted the family’s preference for a name for my future male child and named the dog after Sani, without desecrating our memories. There it is, as it always is and will always be. Life congregates us in one loving hub of family and friends, wooing us to have and share love for one another, as it educates us with the knowledge of our inevitable end and final separation. But it never empowers us with the secret of bearing its insipid emptiness and harsh betrayal. It is cruel and just not fair.

This we can only experience; life comes and then it is gone also. Like all those I have come to accept as mine, life will all too soon be eventually gone. It is discomforting to know the endless list of those gone is never ever complete, one way or the other.

They had all gone,
I only heard how.
They made the home
That I have now.

They met my sun
At its very dawn.
Made day my own,
As their night’s done.

They are all gone,
I saw them all go.
Where they’re borne
I will come to know

POEMS: Presently Old, Déjà vu, Singled Out, The World of Forgetfulness, Harvesters, One Big Sport & My Friend

PRESENTLY OLD

The bud’s blossom is past glossy,
Time passing has folded its shiver.
Age wither and dry up the rosy
In certain preparation for shivah.

The past left without all of its,
As the present live any place else.
And now, always alone like this;
How then can the old ever bless?

Dryness of thirst spoke its waste
As all bare feet thorns had hurt.
Peacefully alone, wait for fate
With memories in a bodily hut.

When time has consumed its old
As water passes under the bridge;
This route for all, floods any hold
And water must pass under the bridge.

DÉJÀ VU

They always return like it’s shown,
Somehow better, on their very own.

When they were nothing, they knew.
And as they were begotten, they threw.

Just like such was predestined,
Man’s priorities shifts ascertained.

It was seen and again it will be,
Like again repeats all tides at sea.

They’ve always forgotten man feeds
Just like water kills and still it breeds.

SINGLED OUT

Found out amidst the threshing stones,
Sort out of the cupboard of bones.
Where the situation was doctored
Fell out that one not to be mastered.

Revenge consumes like any fire
And depends on sentimental air.
An action sought to set any aside
Is vengeful if reason and sense coincide.

When anybody is singled out
The stone-casters dance about,
Exposing ignorance and malice;
Ironically with the drummer’s piece.

THE WORLD OF FORGETFULNESS

Amazing how easily we forgot
The cold as soon as it’s again hot,
Or the raw feel of our thirst
As soon as we had water first.

Pain, only as long as it linger;
Ends when joy points a finger.
The many promises we had sworn
Are as soon not again our own.

The personal stories we told
Long before we got this old,
Or plans we drew up and made
Before we realized what we said.

The friendship’s wasted hugs
As quickly, is all stale and bugs.
That shoulder we so cried on
We now see and as quickly run.

Those hands that shook ours
We now reach out to from towers,
As soon as we forgot again;
It’s dry, but again it will rain.

HARVESTERS

Whistling by the lined woody pine;
The only one who doesn’t see me mad.
I finally see that which all this time
Had been there, glad to see me sad.

Constant change can make it possible
For my senses’ to see and finally hear,
The breath and living of man’s trouble;
Like the sounds of reason ever there.

Bodily quests had blunted all the men;
Had made our sharp seasons cut less.
And we reap when we sow and then
Make worldly riches more aimless.

ONE BIG SPORT

How easily the same are the different,
The serious life trends and fun learnt.
Common norms evolve, made as nurtured;
Incorporated as accepted and featured.

The giant loom that is our society
Is loomed with its pretence of piety.
A course is unset as it is assumed,
Thus the winner is just only presumed.

In their sameness we see a shortcoming;
Of macro life as against the sporting.
Like we may never ever put to its sort,
We find life is one big contact sport.

MY FRIEND

Again and again it’s replayed,
Assistance not even repaid.
Acquaintance that made an Us,
Not maintained with new status.

But I heard your smile
Come across another mile.
I saw your heart and felt
Your mind like mine, melt.

I’m in harmony with you
And I perceive this as true.
You’re my friend come pain,
Or still over and over again.

POEMS: Piggies, Tempestuous Tranquility, Death, Waters, Wean, Santa, This Fear Of Joy & Man

PIGGIES

When I go to market, another stays at home.
If you had roast beef, another had the bone.
Funny how all cry (we); and still end with none.

TEMPESTUOUS TRANQUILITY

The wisdom in every beauty
Is not buried within its scenery,
For its goodness and overt sincerity
Consoles every form of misery
And looses every kind of enmity,
To love its sheer sight and merry.

DEATH

Cruel, cruel death
We have never met.

I only just heard
Of the fear in tears you said.

You’ve been about the herd
And oh the wonder you fed.

Who tells if you’re sent
When you only just left?

WATERS

Look at the waters, compare and see
How like man it turns out to be.
With substances or matters joint,
It changes form and focus point.

Piffling people see evil before it reveals,
And all good only after it has surfaced.
From unlikely substances pain heals
And old valuable matter, are defaced.

No action without its consequence,
Then this love is basically insanity.
Take a dip and the source is essence;
Faith’s indulgence keeps humanity.

WEAN

Bo! Little weenie, boo!
Has Mama whispered the scores?
Love draws its busy bow
Over the horizons of many bores.

The taste of many sowed
Weaponed you for battle, yee ha!
Your taste buds tempted and woed
Cried your resistance thus far.

Shh, little one sleep.
You’ll know good won’t always win.
Flesh for teeth, yet grass for sheep;
You, surely Mama will wean.

SANTA

When you say yes or nay,
He beams okay and offers to pay.

Your nappy ever neat and white
To his nostrils, wit and sight.

Though sheared, running all naked;
Of all to busy the streets, you he mated.

Put the (n) behind at the end;
Lucky fellow, you know your friend.

THIS FEAR OF JOY

Bleeding trees don’t all die.
Into our lives a lot will pry.

The driest seed will germinate,
Its pains would compensate.

All leaves die, dry and fall,
Surely will those today so tall.

The little shoots rises we know,
So will all small people grow.

Every growing bud has its own day,
Eluding this fear of joy is our way.

MAN

Man is built and made to a form,
Yet he so searches to end this norm.

POEMS: Eclipse, Pearl, Manna, Divine Human, Isn’t Human, Ceasar’s Own, Raca & The Whore

ECLIPSE

Master though you be,
Lord over life as it’s set.
Moments looms for we;
Conquered mortals, you we net.

PEARL

Oyster sitting on the sea bed
Is invaded by a tiny sand grain.
The instant healing power it’ll send
Is a Pearl, its exquisite product of pain.

Marshalled by the little mollusc
And only as this harsh time is close,
At the point of such danger and peril;
The small oyster gathers as it feel.

It exudes a precious secretion
By its act of self desperation;
To heal, mend and save its life,
The result is a rare Pearl for life.

MANNA

Is to live a curse or gift?
If you wonder, you need a lift;
Up to the skies of living memory,
Back and forth man’s own glory.

DIVINE HUMAN

This very same old moon
Is ever again so young.
Surely as man has a head on
To his own nature it belongs.

Forever always he forgets
And not succeed in the sacred.
It is as human as he ever gets,
For divinity isn’t as he is bred.

For nothing forgets like man,
Far as he’s concerned, it’s fine.
Indeed to forget is so human
And to truly forgive is divine.

ISN’T HUMAN

If man is made in God’s physical image only
Then every one resembles God’s looks wholly
With all the imperfections that our looks have
Which we had no part in, from cook to serve
Then we must wrongly view God as us all
A single personification; all of us in one roll

Now also look at man’s inability to be alike
In all his abilities to solely take and make
Then surely we can’t then resemble God here
With our divers capabilities here and there
Certainly we do not see that image of His
In our hugely depleted mental capabilities

Then there’s Justice not being same as fairness
Man gets it all wrong and in a very huge mess
Man merely is egoistic and Grace isn’t human
Who is only as good as his word like man?
The likeness here too is blur and all none
God’s monopoly dominates here too, all alone

This image, is it then compassion or apathy?
Could be faith, truth, love, humility or sympathy
Here too in fits and starts man grinds to a halt
Sieving grains his scales retains the shaft
And the God advocated Greek agape love;
He abuses, confuses, misuses, diffuses to solve.

In giving its all, to find it all; love is deepest
Unconditionally compassionate, patient at best
Unselfishly forgiving, indiscriminately generous
To trust this image in man is surely dangerous
Then what is this image to which man so likens;
God-like yet human when raw till he ripens.

Man has choice like all living fauna do
But it is all he has and allowed old as new
Life is definitely the wonder that is common
In one huge miracle of creation God summon
His likeness made man’s trinity transcend age
Life, soul, conscience is this transparent image.
GENESIS 1:26-28

CEASAR’S OWN

As constant as the northern star,
Glowing close but won’t be reached.
It is not only guests from a far
A household betrayed and ditched.

Beware the Ides of March
Ringing like bells in Rome.
Inherit, merit or yet search,
Either way it all ends at home.

What name is born not to die?
Praise sang so close, steps are silent.
As to bury and forget drew by,
What’s to be or not to be are learnt.

Some slaughtered sheep are mourned,
Insignificant a life as they had had.
Their wives did not dream or warned,
Their lust did not make their ears hard.

Give unto him what is his,
Is his proud face not on it?
Off a gigantic face, stars are a piece.
Like all had and will, they return their bit.

RACA

The words mouths say not
Are alive within and about.
Thought is first of all itself;
Certainly, initially it is safe.

The evident risk in freedom
Is as criminal as is boredom.
In these our unending quests,
Cost unveils their own beasts.

Their hunger feeds or burst,
They live off needs and lust.
Their prayers edge into skies,
Barren with doubts and lies.

In the game life plays us
We know who is at a loss.
Momentary gasp for breath
Akins grasp of life by death.

The only failure story told
Is solely told new as old;
Man seeks profit to excel,
Falls again because he fell.

In perfection man will fall,
It is only because after all;
The nature of man is rude,
It is so, so hard to be good.

THE WHORE

With dunes like empty breasts,
The victim is her own lost foe.
Agony as sorrow is her guests’,
For in her womb no one sow;
Surely the land is made a whore.

THE SENSES OF THE SEASONS ~

THE SENSES OF THE SEASONS ~

Seasons come and seasons go. None is first and none is last, for they come and go in their mild and in their harsh, as a loose fitting circle, which is reflective of the daily striving continuous spiral spin that rotates round and round. The timeless survey of natural logic doesn’t give it stature, even if it identifies a form for it, because no single one day could start a season or indeed end one, no matter how melodramatic it is.

On different occasions, with one glorious dawn or a hideous evening; with a frighteningly mean spectacle, one season melt into a void that cocoons into a state of anticipation and sense. One season will caterpillar about in an endless walk of leggy lethargic days, then it timely folds up in the secrecy of a covert day and suddenly it flies out in one beautiful open splendor, with its refreshing breath of colour and life. In between them is a mingled confusion of silent insolent void that is none of both.

How elegant she looked in her loose fitting grand wedding gown. The calmness she represents made the setting mild, totally misrepresenting the harsh life-long build-up to their marriage. It is so much like all the seasons in their mild and in their harsh personalities, together. Her loose fitting elegant cloth was a miscreant, she looked graceful in it. How easily she could stumble and fall because of its flowing beauty. Most ironic!

If to compare the seasons with the butterfly’s all too famous serendipitous life stages is clever, then certainly to liken it to her life’s memorial moments is most appropriate. From such a long past comparatively young age, she had been the type to identify her blessings as they come and not scale them with measurements and glut at how better off she is or not or such.

If she would have bothered, like most others around her did too sickeningly often, she would have seen her scale floored on the plate of blessings gone. But then, not perched on the safeness of height to prey on time with such an impossible patience so endlessly real to be innocent, she detached herself from all the remarks and simply lived on. She didn’t copy those who only humbled themselves because they were powerless.

With the increase in her age, she had proven that what matters most is the destination of the frail soul, surely and certainly burning itself out. The stakes were always too high to falter. Yes, she had ‘stuttered’ throughout on the way, but was never astray. If she cannot, by herself, justly and fairly satisfy man, then she most certainly cannot satisfy God, who is poised everywhere as time and patience; all in one sameness and form.

She was endlessly embracing humanity in a loving embrace like any mother would do while saving her drowning only child. Struggling along, she had identified God’s invincible arms from the deceptively entangling long ropy sea weeds’ leaves of the wrongly labeled evil and their manly harbingers, the Waters;

Look at the waters, compare and see
How like man it turns out to be.
With substances or matters joint,
It changes form and focus point.

Piffling people see evil before it reveals,
And all good only after it has surfaced.
From unlikely substances pain heals
And old valuable matter, are defaced.

No action without its consequence,
Then this love is basically insanity.
Take a dip and the source is essence;
Faith’s indulgence keeps humanity.

She has six children; three boys and three girls. All from the same marriage she gave her all. The marriage became the predicament it wasn’t meant to be. It demanded and got her best. At the end it was all worth it because she entrusted what little faith she had on the limitless hope she covered herself in.

Her late husband was a good man, if there ever was one. It had nothing to do with him but with what he had to done. He ran away into the lifeless embrace of another entity, when it was obvious that he was financially ruined and socially discredited. Widowed young, with six children after ten years of marriage, she struggled on. That cold season was harsh as hard winter. Her senses repelled its tough monster. She pegged faith, hope and future in God, her children and the roving power of change;

Only those friends
Because they know you
Would dare tickle you.

Though friendship ends
As time will all change;
For time is itself change.

This very air that fends
Will one sure solemn day
End each and every single day.

With God she won yesterday and was poised for a successful today. Change made sure her case wasn’t unique. Her children’s actions and in-actions claimed they weren’t indebted to her or the memory of their father. If she knew their minds as infants she conceived, if only they knew where they were then or will be, eventually? She couldn’t tell if they wanted to be living and wanting and wishing and needing. She only knew what she and her husband wanted as they ‘conceived’ to have them.

Like every parent, they said their want, planned it in a broad sense, if not in every detail. They did their wish, satisfying their need by consuming their wants in the birth of child after child, six times over. They unconsciously kept making one relationship after another like small steps on a staircase of a lifelong ascension that will certainly end with one fatal drop.

Unconsciously still they had stepped on their individual off springs to get to yet another next level. They fed an old idea and refused to nourish a healthier new one instead. They fear that when too many new ideas are being mooted out to replace old ones still in use, they are being changed merely for being old and not for being obsolete and utterly harmful and unhelpful.

As the children grew, each child revealed their person. Their wants; all their wishes as well as their needs, were all made clear with time and its slowly piling age. These same things that the couple didn’t know about each of their six offspring, before the children became their true selves, were clearly revealed. No one could tell their hopeful aspiration before they took form in them and were stated in their words and deeds. They are lost now as then and ever, as is the vagueness of their knowledge.

The knowledge of where they were or had been are lost, lost as their hopes then, as well as those they still have at present; those their parents, peers and society groomed for them and they innocently nurtured as theirs. Naturally, she cannot justify all this ‘favour’ she came to do for them, if she knew they didn’t know before they were themselves. It was always hers then; the wants, the wishes and the needs. Their lives were always hers to want, to wish and to need; hers to make as she craves. She thus owes them a good life and not only explanations. So when these two collided, one must give and did. What is then as selfish as to owe who you own? And it is so human too.

Her late husband had been incensed by the traditional logic behind being successful in the amassed might of being remembered long after he was gone. Still when he queried her endless pride in these living assets and she averted her eyes respectfully in the same traditional fashion, he thought it was rude by his enlightened European standings. His mental gaze followed the living crowd but he walked alone, like a violently funny madman in a crowded market at dusk. The late market people looked on amused, but stayed a safe distance away and still stayed for the entertainment and didn’t hurry home.

All her children went to very good schools at her expense, her slaving humiliation and her selfless sacrifices. Now they are all established, with self chosen spouses and in the most reasonable comfort, each child had turned away from her over powering love with a diplomatic apathy that always seems to speak for the younger ones when it involves their much older kin. She continues to live alone with none of her children offering to take in her ever present love for keeps. The big house they bought for her and maids they hired for her couldn’t share the love she craves to off-load; until she met him, long after.

He had lost both his legs in the Civil war and his entire family too, that was thirty-five years ago. She met him beside the big shopping mall in town, as he sat in his wheel chair, playing a small acoustic guitar. She habitually dropped a crisp money note on the small neat mat conspicuously placed in front of him as she went by. He smiled and nodded his familiar appreciation at her and sang on. She had barely looked at his face and had merely responded to a sense of duty to the disabled, like she is sympathetically accustomed to. Then with an unusual swift backwards glance her eye caught the sight of a fair-skinned, beggar child suddenly snatch up the money note and sprint off.

She was stupefied by the quickness of the sharp incident and the apparent audacity of the escaping boy as he called out excited words, still racing away in the radiantly bright early sun of the late morning. She suddenly stopped, called out and demanded for help on top of her voice, concluding that the beggar-boy was stealing the guitar playing man’s money. Then she hesitated as she recollected her glimpse of the angelic happy young face of boy that picked up the money note. She knew she couldn’t wish any harm to come to him, but the guards from the mall heard her and had quickly responded to her call. They had followed her pointed finger and chased after the running beggar-boy.

She didn’t stay to wait for the outcome of the hasty chase but walked into the mall, so full of admiration for what she thought was the guitar playing man’s indifference to the theft of his money as he played and sang on. The calmness in his face had remained motionless in its honesty. It was obviously real.

An hour later, when she came out of the mall, she learnt she had been mistaken about the incident. She was amazed but relieved that she was wrong about the incident and then she wanted to know what actually occurred. The story she was told touched her so deeply that it had made her be-friend the guard who told her the story and is today marrying the crippled guitarist.

She came out of the cocoon of her loneliness and embraced the morale in the crippled guitarist’s story of love and selflessness, devoid of expectations. Like her cagy children she chose to live her life, even if they desperately disapprove of her demeaning choices. She had sought to enjoy the company and intelligence of the crippled guitarist who had embraced her gentleness in return. She gleefully sank herself into loving; selflessly, without expecting anything back in return. She flicked her beauty and flew her peace, like a freshly emerged butterfly.

Like the seasonal butterfly that keeps a circle going with no demands on it. It was her spring of happiness after a long barren spell of murky confusion. She had meddled in and out of the many complicated seasons. She had been confronted often enough and severally had to jump into the shallow calm waters.

Reason stir things up, muddles up the calm pond and made things worse without ever meaning to. I told her the crippled guitarist’s story. I told her why the leg-less retired Army captain and pensioner plays his guitar for alms, so that he could give the money to the street orphans. They both chose to make me their best-man today and I will toast, ‘Their true selfless happiness’.

Cold, harsh and hard winter.
As skins feel and muster,
The senses repel this monster.

Water, green and breed spring.
As tongues taste and sing,
The senses eat everything.

Warm, lazy but busy summer.
As eyes see and shimmer,
The senses ponder in wonder.

Windy, dry and dead autumn.
As ears hear and minds fathom,
The senses prepare the burial drum.

THE SUBTLE versus THE TACIT – Lamentation of A Northern Christian

It is quite frightening that in this day and age we still have people that think the best way to make a point is not by saying it out loud or even insinuating it. I’ve found myself falling in love with the sincerity of the Muslim terrorists that abound the world over in recent times, simply because they’re saying or insinuating in the clearest terms possible, their point. It is clear to even the most naive Christian that these Muslims that especially target Christians, do not hold Christians with high regard and consider Christian lives as fair game. Believe me, I’m not being cheeky here, but completely sincere. I’ve come to respect these persons the more because they’re true to their belief & honest with me.

By their every action, these people have chosen to emphasize the obvious differences between us and taken measures to point out that I’m indeed beneath them and they consider my faith as unclean, such that they need to expunge my kind from their presence. I’ll limit my inconclusive comprehension of any continuous relationship with these people simply to my own ever obvious perception of their cruel actions towards me.

My little understanding of the Muslim faith points out that no true Muslim can deny a portion of the Muslim Sharia law without being insincere to his or her faith. This is absolutely true to any true faithful of every distinct religion, as it is obvious that there is a cardinal principle held sacred by every religion. I don’t have a single concern with this and respect this totally. It is a statement of fact that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” and the issues I would forward as my misgivings with a different faith could easily be the most sacred principle of that faith. I know you’re waiting for the catch. Sorry to disappoint you, but this is it. There is none. But don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m conceeding to this endless injustice meted out to me and my kind either.

How do I protect myself and my faith then? Who said I need to, anyway? I don’t! Yes, I really don’t. I’m supposed to turn the other cheek and die at it, remember! And by God I’ll do just that. Well, maybe with a little variation here and there. Firstly, I’ll reach out for safety and take measures to keep safe. Then I’ll adapt myself to living outside the metaphorical world of my obvious prosecutors and try to prosper outside their sphere of existence. Finally, I’ll simply wait for that inevitable peace that will surely come. And come it will, outside my own and their own making. I’ll not reach out to them in any sot of battle and try to bomb them out of existence because I’ve my own demanding faith and my own sacred covenant with God to live up to. This is my own cardinal and holy principle, for I shall not kill me neighbour or fight for my very capable God. He told me vengeance is His. And besides, I don’t have loads of virgins and a foaming brook of beverages waiting for me in my paradise when I kill myself while trying to fight for God.

Ah…. least I forget, I’ll be running and hiding away from the most dangerous kind of Muslims too. Not the terrorists and those very vocal Imams I hear discrediting everything I hold dear over loudspeakers everyday. No I’ll be running away from those smiling friendly Muslims that tell me sorry when I’m hurt, those that sit and weep with me when my brethren are murdered. Those that debated with me over political and economic matters, pointing out to me that my churches are being bombed because of the same difficult economic situation I suffer under. I went to the same schools with these friendly Muslims. I married my sisters and brothers to them, even though I don’t likewise get theirs in return if I love them enough to wish them very healthy fruitful lives.

I work alongside them and even pray with them daily in the fields of our laborious duties and merry pastimes. They wear the same clothes as I, read the same books, listen to the same music and watch the same films. They’re every bit like me and are in the complete majority, compared to my tormentors who are clearly a very vocal and vicious minority. Yet they do not warn me or fight for me or expose them. They say it is bad that I’m subjected to this terror and then they blame those who cause my pain, to my own hearing but not to my deadly prosecutors’ hearing. They stress every other possible reason for my woes but not the arm that struck me with death. They show the role of the polity in my present state, pointing out the consequences that I suffer but not the person that killed my family as they worshipped or my brethren when they converged to bury them.

They ask me to blame some distant corrupt Politician while my own equally starving Muslim neighbour is actually the one killing me and identifying himself to the whole world clearly for what he did. I fear them more and respect the terrorist more. The terrorist is true to me because he slaps the same cheek they had kissed many times. I rather they both just slapped me long ago, so I would have taken to my bleeding heels and run away to safety, away from the terrorists I know and the friends I don’t recognize.

I can not aspire to a theory that doesn’t substantiate the fact before me and the fact is there are self identified Muslims in Northern Nigeria killing Christians. Every Nigerian Christian should have no doubt that this presents certain and clear danger. As such they must protect themselves from both the dangerous actions and unhelpful inactions that surround them. This is the greatest of all evil to the safe existence of Nigeria today and the real current evil to the aspirations of our so called ‘young democracy’ and economy.

Nigerians Christians will never retaliate as a unit, but they will also not be distracted away from their real enemy at the moment by the economic issues and difficulties, even as they try to bury their dead in peace over and over again. Those who claim that we are all fighting the same course and the same common enemy but don’t call for anti-terrorist marches and labour strikes, we appeal to you to veer our way. Those who remember to sing the national anthem every one hour and spare a minute silence for their fellow Nigerians who are being killed in their worship places, homes and business place, we ask you to make us your main issue. Not only in the streets as roam with your cardboards full of anti government slogans, but also in your civilized heart, your peaceful homes, in your vocal utterances, in your solemn prayers and in your obvious anti-terrorists actions.

For those that torment and kill us or allow this terror to punctuate our harmless way of life, the blood of the innocent you spill or let spill will flood all your peace and call you out to account for your actions and in actions, where ever you are. These terrorists struck both our cheeks and didn’t spare our heads because hate has blinded them with what they lack, true faith in their God to fight their battles and His. There is no end to their evil quest because it could as easily bring every one into its fold. They got tired of waiting for the expected Christian retaliations, that didn’t not come and then they struck innocent southerners resident in the north at their clan meetings, giving southerners deadlines to cross over to their side of Nigerian with the hope that by veering towards other ethnic groupings they would get the desired response and trigger off another civil war.

Tomorrow, what is to stop them from calling for the heads of Muslims of other sects? None of this is new if you are a follower of world happenings. Why can they not shout out their misgiving in the streets or through their elected legislature members like other beleaguered but civilized Nigerians and earthlings of every creed and faith do? Maybe it is just so true that ‘when you argue with an idiot, someone else listening may not know the difference’ and we are the civilized idiots they do not want to be identified with? The present fear is as Christians are being shot indiscriminately and are forced to hide away in fear as they bury their dead, they aren’t sure their patience is worthwhile anymore.

All Nigerians Are Corrupt: Substituting Subsidy

Don’t mind the title; I had to grab your busy attention from the onset. But really, are we sure we are not all Corrupt in the true sense of the word? Corruption, corruption! All this talk of not trusting our leaders, even when they make policies that are sensible is rubbish. Okay we are corrupt in Nigeria. But do you think we are more corrupt than the Italians, the Chinese, the Indians or the South Africans? We are just a whole lot more lazy, it would appear. We prefer easy Government jobs that guarantee steady salaries and afford some privileged Nigerians the opportunity to sit around doing nothing for weeks without end, giving them time off to do their own personal stuffs at the expense of public funds, allowing them to go on pointless labour strikes for any reason at the slightest prompting.
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They incredibly get to buy very expensive modern cars they can not ordinarily afford with five whole years of untouched regular wages. Nigerians spend huge fortunes on festivities and live well beyond their formal means. Most ordinary Nigerians are indeed as corrupt as the worst politicians and actually even more dubious in their own micro sphere of operations than is popularly admitted. A whooping eighty percent of working Nigerians, in every sector are just like their leaders that rob them. The only difference is that they can only nick the odd naira off fellow Nigerians as a mere bribe or as the unwarranted overpricing of essential items. Some of Nigerians are even worse because they as easily kill their own neighbors in their worship places and burn up their fellow citizens’ homes while they are in bed, for the flimsiest reasons. Their leaders do not do that to their neighbours but they easily give them pittance to murder their fellow masses.

At this juncture let me define corruption from the Nigerian’s general perspective, which incidentally doesn’t differ from the conventional one but emphasizes one Nigerian’s misgiving and particular distrust for another Nigerian having the means to exercise their advantage over him. Corruption to the Nigerian means ‘having undue advantage’ and the definition of the phrase ‘undue advantage’ is relative to the individual, his orientation or bias. Already some Nigerians have started exercising their advantage by making fellow citizens pay over hundred percent more than they ought to after just a few days of no fuel subsidy, making them pay more for stuffs that don’t even have anything to do with fuel.

We blame everything on Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan because he is the president and rightly so, but then we find ourselves completely blameless for the pains we inflict on our fellow citizens and our own lazy carefree-ness, for craving so much more than we earn. We need a pinch in the arm so that we would wake up and grow up to the reality of things. When we grow up to our own simple honest responsibilities then maybe we can have the moral right to “Occupy Nigeria” as progressive citizens and not the disoriented, cheapened & perpetual government welfare population we have made of ourselves.
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It is such a pity that so many intelligent people can not understand the simple economic advantage of removing oil subsidy. It is such a pity that they actually chose not to because it quite conveniently fits into their larger plan of discrediting this president for either fraudulently ‘winning’ an election, or ‘hijacking’ the PDP apportioned Northern Nigerian presidential slot! It is a huge insult to our teachers who had painstakingly taught us the viability of market forces. We either conveniently dumped their lessons on demand and supply, with their elastic curves or actually failed our O’levels school certificate.

If we would just study the GSM progression in Nigeria and the glorious demise of NITEL as a direct result of this, we would draw parallels on why the over pampered civil service is in the forefront of the Pro-subsidy campaign. The old NITEL staff had tried to compete with the flock of new telecommunication companies then. NITEL floated a GSM venture (M-TEL) and it was always destined to be a stillbirth. With this deregulation drive, the old NNPC and old NEPA entities seem destined to go in that direction. It will be a pleasure to see this because it would mean an efficient market driven economy with less idle civil servants to pay with public funds for inefficiency.

I have woken up to the fact that a lot of Nigerians are hell bent on having an economy that is predominantly dependant on government policies and not on market forces. The former (Government Policies) is prone to corrupt practices while the latter (Market Forces) is mainly in the hands of the people. The developed world has since come to terms with the fact that there is no substitute for a market economy. This debate has since left the realm of academic theories and transmitted into proven practical facts. The demise of USSR and other nations of the Soviet bloc is an eternal endearing case study.

Presently the Chinese are cheating their way to world dominance through the rewards of demand and supply; cheating because they steer the factors to ensure that it is more of the western world’s demand and their supply. The simply practicality of market forces makes it virtually impossible for prices to go beyond adjustments of Productivity, Availability, Profitability and Acquisition (PAPA). We must discipline our minds and perspectives.

Nigerians prefer the former because they love to demand and wouldn’t bend over and supply. Most Nigerians lack the personal discipline to be progressive and task themselves to persevere under a strenuous regime of creativity and its prolonged lingering changing effects. This is plainly because of the popularity of the age old quest of hanging to the past way of doing things and lying to ourselves that we live in a market driven society.

We grew up hearing tales of new university graduates driving into waiting jobs in brand new company cars. We learnt of; and sparingly got, education scholarships from the Government and glutted on how easy life should be if it isn’t. The persons who had shouted to the roof tops about our corrupt officials are now old in Government and they are worse than those they complained about, when things were a whole lot better that they are now. As such it seems better for most Nigerians to just sit back and watch, while amassing more fraudulent wealth for themselves and their kith & kin. Thus the corruption hydra would only thrive if the status quo remains as we endlessly pursue a vicious cycle.

We are still under the impression that Nigeria is rich and we can some how get all our stolen money back and have incorruptible diligent leaders in waiting to take over and take us to the promise land. We are dreaming still. For these reasons I am therefore so sure the Occupy Nigerian movement will lose in the very end, if it indeed succeeds in getting the status quo back. We will go the way of Greece, Ireland & Iceland when our corrupt cronies are done with us and we haven’t taught ourselves to market our resources and trade amongst ourselves but to rely on the flow of our abundant oil that is dwindling fast.

We also forget that we have a lingering sentimentality problem which is ceaselessly harnessed by a small portion of our parochial ethnic, religious and political elite in pursuit of their own selfish quests for relevance and dominance. So it is very difficult for the typical Nigerian to rummage through all these factionalized mess and determine the reality of thing as they truly are. It is important that we are not fooled about the true state of things about our national economics as they are now. These facts are in summary;

– The Nigerian nation is broke; how or why it is broke doesn’t change this fact.

– Nigerian can not gamble that things will change if they remain as they are.

– Nigerians must pay their way through this period ultimately, now or later.

– The Government is unreliable and can not be depended upon, now or later.

– The people can not guarantee fuel subsidy but can determine every price.

– Market forces will empower Nigerians economically and thus politically.

– Only empowered Nigerians can change the nation with their votes and activities.

Nigeria needs the price of fuel to be determined by market forces more than it needs anything else now. A lot of things rest on this, from the price of a cup of Gari to the exchange rate of the US dollar. The capability to determine the unit prices of every single item in the country should be in the hands of the final consumers of these items, to a very large extend! With proper handling the Nigerian economy will explode and we will stop stocking dollars indoors and waiting for its dilly dallying exchange rates to guide us. As it is now the dollar continues to have a dual rating; an unrealistic pegged government one and another unrealistic Black market maneuvered one, both playing games with us.

We will weep for Nigeria if all is lost when we refuse the present truth because of the old lingering lies. The world economy is not healthy, why do we think that somehow we will be immune to that effect. In the last five years Fuel prices in Nigeria has been fixed and unchanged. Within the same period every other price elsewhere soared and it is amazing that a lot of intelligent people can not understand the need to put an end to this uncertainty. Just as the decision to favour either creation or evolution theory is beyond the academic minds of a lot of very educated persons, they likewise find it difficult to see how increasing a price today will make the same price to fall and stay down tomorrow.

Already the fuel pumps that were selling fuel at crazy astronomical prices after the first few days of subsidy removal have dipped their prices by as much as 5% after a single day, without Government interference. That is unheard of before now. Also a majority of the urban commuters that paid rates increased with 100% overnight were confronted with newer rates reduced with as much of 40% after just one day! That is market forces at work, reflecting the simple fact that commuters reduced and transporters bought less fuel. There were even early signs of the naira gaining on the US dollar because confidence in the world economy toward Nigeria soar suddenly, making the Nigerian economy a potential home for more foreign investors orphaned by the financial crisis in the west.

Now the almighty Nigerian Labour Congress decides to sit back at home again for so long, because their predominantly civil servant members’ salaries are fully guaranteed to be paid while all those daily earning masses suffer the strike they call for. Everybody that is Pro-subsidy forgets the fact that any other president that wishes to have an easy time in office will gladly keep the subsidy in place with a brave face and leave office a small hero. The nation suffers eventually with a lean purse, huge debts and angry citizenry still.

President Jonathan is considerably unpopular up and down the country because he is sitting in a northern Muslim‘s presidency and he is not a Yoruba or Igbo southerner. These are the three major factions in the country that form popular opinion. It is now common knowledge that this president inherited a mine field for an economy and those who know better agree that the end to all subsidies is inevitable. There is hope still, if we could put measures in place to fix the real trust and corruption issues we all have against our leaders. Once empowering the masses is prioritized, subsidies will not me craved for.

Most feelings generally accept that removing the subsidy is not in itself wrong, but many people had emphasized that plans to subsidize mainly the transport sector and agriculture while enforcing existing laws that are presently ignored, will curtail excesses amongst those saddled with managing public resources. There must also be a drastic reduction of the crazy fraudulent overhead costs of government. As it stands now, it just amounts to ostentatious waste that gives the impression of blatant thievery. Still this endless Government intervention in prices only empowers the black market, it only enthrones a dual economy in parallel contradiction, discourages investment because of the lack of confidence in the profitability of returns and that ultimately transmits into less viable paying jobs for the teeming unemployed. With the right handling, this subsidy removal would make Nigeria‘s economy more viable and definitely more realistic; at last.

In Nigeria, all prices go up around the end of every calendar year anyway. Business would then slow down around mid to late January and the prices start to fall. Hence this hike in prices fitted into this period snugly, making a good unexpected cushion for the increase in fuel prices. The timing isn’t the best but what timing will really be, honestly? The people in Government and the rogues in the Black market are persons that only seek to please themselves firstly, so the masses can really only rely on their demand and supply to force the hands of everyone else, even the organized private sector. Also a free market will ensure competition and not a monopoly that is impossible to regulate.

As long as the old practice of the federal Government, the informal Black marketer and a monopolistic sector continue to controls prices in Nigeria and not the real market forces, the masses will never have a real say in these matters or any for that matter, no matter what impression is created by some aspiring future government leaders who are still making unrealistic and utopian economic promises to the naïve and gullible masses.

A partial removal of subsidy is as good as useless. Actually it will possibly be the most detrimental outcome if the present pro-subsidy campaign results in such a compromise. History should teach us this lesson best of all. Every single time the military regimes of old and their civilian successor removed a tiny piece of the subsidy, prices still soar by as much as fifty percent at least; much more in some regards, irrespective of the percentage of subsidy withdrawn. This has over time been the sole driver of high inflation in the Nigerian economy. As such a partial removal will virtually have the same effect on prices as would a full withdrawal, without the many gains of the finality of a full withdrawal.

The people can only control market forces and the complete removal of fuel subsidy is the only certain way we can end the annual year ending fuel panic buying, hoarding and price increases. It is the first essential step in ending the habitual inflation gallops based on the arbitrary surging of prices in general because of our huge reliance on fuel. Market forces also guarantee diversification of the economy, investments and jobs. These are all devoid of whatever any government would promise now. This is the only true substitute for the removal of fuel subsidy, which will actually empower Nigerians more, rather than further enslave them. Keeping the subsidy is mere postponing the inevitable anarchy.

POEMS: Philanthropy, Toddler, Stairs, Sin, Clouds of Salt, Man Must Wak & Temptation

PHILANTHROPY

Every moment we ably blink,
Yet it’s some big deal to wink.

TODDLER

Babbler’s spittle drips as crawled,
Nice rosy cheeks behind sprawled,
Innocence pure and surely brawled.

STAIRS

Climb or fall these stairs
With my thoughts and fears.

Cheering amidst cries,
Roaming these same lairs.

In agony no one cares
And victory everyone shares.

In dark shadows for jeers
Or painting an admirer tears.

If I ascend to what’s theirs
Or descend to suit my peers;

I can only pluck my hairs,
No one ever does satisfies.

Picking what’re life’s wares,
For my life are my own stairs.

SIN

Emerald green reigns the being,
Capable being all living green.
To scavengers’ bin cometh sin,
To prey lean the unwary being.

CLOUDS OF SALT (Hadarin Gishiri)

Sama na kiɗi,
Jiki ya ɗauka.
Hadari na biki,
Ya gaiyache iska.

Jiki na sauri,
Kowa na mushe.
Ko zafi, ko ɗari,
Gishiri sai ya jike.

Skies are drumming,
Body joins in too.
Clouds are partying,
Invited winds are too.

Body is hurrying,
All corpses are met.
Hot or chilling,
Salty must be wet.

MAN MUST WAK *

Who talk pass words,
And taste with lips,
Chews big iron rods
Or live without piss?

Na who fit say
Only man born am.
For this old play
Man be like Ram.

Where we see peace
Someone don try.
Even if we hiss
Na food go cry?

TEMPTATION

Misty prospects in the skies
Yet this sun blurs the eyes,
While the bright light of day
Carries the whole mind astray.

The bride of shame courts
All yearnings, fantasies, lusts.
The comforts of home pushes,
Sin’s cold hands outside urges.

Can man sneeze not
Or blink like is his sort?

To run at first sighting
Or just dare all tempting,
This he never will elude;
His ways must all conclude.

Not all his wishes go to sea.
For lust, many beaches only will see.

POEMS: Patience, Friends Change, This queer ode, Choices, The Manhood in the Butterfly, Peace & Dry Tears

PATIENCE

Wait’s lone stance eats away
And wears away hope’s ray.
That peace wrecks pride’s ego
Made patience a victor long ago.

FRIENDS CHANGE

Only those friends
Because they know you
Would dare tickle you.

Though friendship ends
As time will all change;
For time is itself change.

This very air that fends
Will one sure solemn day
End each and every single day.

THIS QUEER ODE

Our waltz soothe the blindness
We have suffered as we yearn
For this same blank happiness
That managed us and our concern.

What force carries us on-ward;
Fair to our just wish to love,
Grills our oneness real hard;
That its aroma is seen far above.

That urge we fear to peep oft,
Chokes us with its vague numb.
And with time we waited out,
As worldly ties our hairs they comb.

CHOICES

Winning ways sought
Speak for their sort.
In their early thought
They very often do not.

From many we choose
With more to loose
And in all these fuss
It can only confuse.

So with cares of lusts
We live their costs;
In picking from lots
That chance is still lost.

THE MANHOOD IN THE BUTTERFLY

The egg hides the being within it,
Breaks out shade, shape and sex with;
To unfold a child sprawled in the seat.

The caterpillar walks on many legs;
Learns roads, mealing its short time’s trek,
To the yearning adolescent, the world only begs.

The pupa mangles everything inside,
Reform and molding chrysalis, itself hides.
Teenage cocoons its world ready for its rides.

The butterfly spreads out its glory,
Formed and grown, coloured it does flurry;
The adult’s world flies its own story.

PEACE

Sweetness can be knitted,
Not only in its taste fitted.
All man’s units appreciated,
His entire being very saturated.

DRY TEARS

Blessings come, blessings go.
What says the most
Than the weakening soul?

In the vulture’s lofty world;
Scavengeous patience,
Unholingly possible and cold.

THE OLD WOMAN’S MAID ~

SHE INSPIRED THIS COMPARISON!

To the memory of a lady from Bauchi,
Who I most certainly here will never meet.
In the peace and sanctuary of only He,
May we dwell as conquerors of this feat.

THIS IS NOT HER STORY!

To the memory of this oldest woman,
Who I most certainly here will never have.
In the pieces and mortuary of her son man
May the duel they conjure pray behave.

THIS CAN ONLY BE HER STORY

I

Is to live a curse or gift?
If you wonder, you need a lift;
Up to the skies of living memory,
Back and forth man’s own glory.
(MANNA; Yas)

She must have come on a visit. Though not the ‘all-talking’ type, she did all the talking. This story can only be told by her.

“She made her way; her own, very own way through life. No one helped. She wasn’t alone, but no one helped. She had to start quite late in life too, but she did it all on her own.”

The maid coughed softly. She reached to her right hip and unfolded her wrapper. She untied a knot at the wrapper’s edge with both hands and got out a piece of kola nut which she offered round. No one wanted some. She threw the whole piece of kola into her mouth and started to chew it noisily.

“Everyday I look at her and I say to myself, ‘God, is this what we struggle all our lives to be, alive; only alive?’ I look at her and she looks back at me. Again I ask myself, ‘Where is the fun in living?’ You are born to want to live, to live and live. Is that it? The answer was in the depth of her mind’s inner recesses somewhere, out of sight, but I wasn’t looking for it.”

Somewhere in the street outside, in the breezeless thick humid dusk air, a hawker calls out loudly the names of her wares, as she quite noisily solicits patronage from those she disturbs. The maid is silent. Only the soft sound of her chewing reaches her listeners for a short while. The kola in her mouth is slowly being broken down into small pieces.

“She might have been eighty, ninety, hundred or more. I did not know which was closest nor had I any way of telling. She was so old she seemed to need help to cough or even whisper. But the Lord has mercy for the things that came out of her mouth! The things that old woman will say, you never would have thought it possible of a ‘Believer’. The curses! God! She could call anything or anyone with names off a list as long as my arms, both! And she still manages not to repeat a single name again for ages, like only the aged could. Ha!”

She shrugged like only African women do, pulled back her lips and a deliberate click is heard somewhere in the borders of her mouth and throat. With a sinister grin and an unforced hard stare she very carefully shook her head. She paused in her chewing and it looked like she winked with both her eyes. Then she slowly closed them for a short while, firmly. And quite suddenly, she swiftly opened them again, focused.

“I think it is because she grew up with the Hausas. You know how free with curses and mockery they can be. She must have gotten this vast abusive vocabulary from them. That is the only reason possible. That notwithstanding, she became a Believer! Well, anyhow you do not expect a life time long habitual way of talking to change abruptly, do you?”

The maid was silent, as if waiting for the solicited answer she had insinuated she didn’t want. The listeners looked on, obviously waiting for her to fill the silence with some more words or action, but she made none for that brief while. The so many ways people fill up those uncomfortable periods of brief silence reveals, more than it is often acknowledged, the hypocrisy in their act of honest conversation; which is most often just the two sided polite hearing of the others’ boastful revelations of privileged experiences already known and felt.

“The Pastor promised to look her up all the time. ‘The Pastor promised to see me a lot!’ The old woman would complain always. The way she said it always, it was obvious that the holy man didn’t show up as often as ‘a lot’ interprets itself to her. The man was visiting her almost thrice weekly! I know how large his ‘flock’ is. And at the rate of thrice weekly visits to every family; even for a few minutes a visit, no sleeping or office work and ignoring travel time; it is impossible! The old woman was getting special treatment and she knew it. She not only knew it but demanded it with her continuous bickering. Like the desert traveler gulping more than the helpful bowl of water, I knew the Pastor’s patience will soon start to hurt.”

She grabbed the edge of her wrapper, where the kola nut had been, and suddenly folded it back into place on her right hip. She made an unpleasant face and that click is heard again, faintly above the fading voices of a passing group of people just outside the wall. Their conversing voices just audible enough to hum out words not loud enough to render the said words comprehendible, as the sound came over the wall.

“The smell was sickening. She smelt like…I don’t know. Her body just smelt badly. The rooms always smelt like someone just threw out a rat that had been dead in the room for weeks. You could never get use to the smell. You may think coming and going, in and out of the smell will help, well maybe staying in it all the time like she did might help. I doubt if it did. The smell hovered over the densely furnished rooms like an invincible ceiling and depending on the humidity, it changes its intense offensiveness incredibly so regularly.”

She untied her slacken head tie and firmly retied it again.

“I really didn’t like the job that much, but the pay wasn’t too bad. I did very well with the extra money I got. Little as it was, it helped. Everybody would do well with extra money these days, things are so hard. Kai! Things are so hard.”

She widened her eyes and looked hard at her listeners, craning and stretching her long neck almost painfully. For only a brief while, it looked like a habitual facial expression.

“My youngest; Markus, just got into secondary school and I have to give him money for transportation everyday. I am planning to buy him a bicycle. It will make things easier.”

She was quiet again, her forehead lined with thought, like she was wondering where the money for the bicycle would come from. She moist her lips with her tongue and noisily cleared her throat, all the while she continued to chew. The kola nut in her mouth had slowly tuned into a saliva soaked mash, leaving dark brown stains on her lighter coloured full plumb lips, which she almost ceaselessly protrudes habitually.

“She said she has four sons and six daughters, all living married and doing very well. Her husband had been dead for a very long time now. She was his only wife but he had many mistresses. There were nineteen children in their house then; ten of them were hers with him and the remaining nine were his, with the other women. They all lived together in the big house her husband had built, but she showed no difference. She looked after all the children like they were all hers. I figured, they were all his anyway and she hadn’t a choice. That is why he had them all in his home anyway. Her hands were twisted all along and there was only pain in her gain.”

She shrugged and moved in her seat, protruding those lips.

“She hated taking her drugs. She promised to give me money if I don’t make her take them. I protested only briefly; and falsely, and then I told her I agreed. Then I collected the miserly money she offered me and I still secretly mashed and mixed her so many colourful drugs into whatever food I fed her. I would not lie that I didn’t want the money, meager as it was. Everybody would do well with extra money these days, things are hard. Kai! Things are so hard. But honestly, it was only fair to her I reasoned. If I didn’t take the money and promised not to make her take the drugs, she wouldn’t believe me or trust me. I will accept that my only sin is not telling the Pastor about this. But he would have made me return the money, which would have made things harder for me. I mean, I gave her the drugs, not him. Then he would have probably insisted I give the money to his church as an offering, since it was ill-gotten money. I would have refused still. So I kept it quiet.”

She choked and coughed but continued to chew softly.

“She lost all sense of most things; touch, taste and smell, definitely. But she still had complete cognizance of her money, her hate and her God. She could curse and pray in one short sentence. It is a first for me. I don’t know about you, but it is new to me. She is the only person I know that can do that and she did it in a way that almost normalizes it, making it appear proper and not the blasphemy it really is.”

She laughed. It was a good laugh; short, just the necessary length. Her listeners join her, politely. The unheralded burst of all kinds of sounds, which mostly should pass for wailing, encouraged her. She went on before the noise settled down.

“The old woman’s house is very big. I grew up in a village, but even now in the pigs ‘infested’ part of town I live in with my family, there are no bigger compounds. Her house has as many as fifty doubled rooms, with tenants in all of them. She occupied four rooms with connecting doors, a toilet and a kitchen. I slept in the room that served as a sitting room. That is not to say that I slept much while I was there with her.”

The maid cleaned the dark moist stains on the corners of her mouth with her right hand’s thumb and fore-finger, in one swift elegant move. Then the annoying protruding lips again.

“She always wants something. Sometimes I wonder if she doesn’t spend her days sleeping so that she could be awake all night to torment my nights. But I suppose, it was what I was paid for and she was just putting me to work, typical.”

She looks away with an insinuated disgust her expression hid.

“I have wondered for very long what I will find myself doing more of when I’m really old. They say with the insane, it is always those things one thought of the most when still sane. But what of the really old, they are still sane and mentally alert to know what they would prefer to do. Being mainly unable to physically do most of what they would rather do, what options are open to them? It’s like being in prison. I think it is worse. It is worse than insanity too, because the old have complete knowledge of everything and everyone. It is worse than being in prison too, because in jail your body still has its physical abilities. It is like being physically disabled. It is.”

She smiled. It was a good smile too. She didn’t look middle-aged when she smiled. Her smile lies about her age.

II

Master though you be,
Lord over life as it’s set.
Moments looms for we;
Conquered mortals, you we net.
(ECLIPSE; Yas)

“I got married the same year as her last child, going by what she told me. Mind you, I wasn’t a teenager when I got married. But from both our calculations of the years involved, we worked out that her last daughter is just twelve years older than my first son; that is her last child. She didn’t say how many children her last daughter has though. I tried to work it out this way on my own. I thought that with the kind of early start she must have had, she should be well beyond my five by now. And mind you, she is still going on strong, full strength! One thing is very clear though, the old woman is quite fond of her last child.”

She smiled at her listeners in her most pleasant manner, some of them smiled back at her genuinely. Some looked on hard faced, while others looked away politely. She didn’t show she noticed their countenances or mind in the least, as she turned away and blinked at the slowly setting sun, sneaking down behind the ‘horizoned’ western wall. The weaken sun rays it casts looked brighter from within the shadowed shaded surroundings of the fenced buildings. The small tree’s shade she was seated beneath had crept on eastwards, just behind her, unnoticed. She sat in the glow of the late twilight sunlight like the witness she is, shielding in the lonely guilt of the shade while facing the all knowing celestial Judge, seated on its all seeing pedestal, the unsmiling, unblinking and uncompromising everlasting high presence; a true master of the universe, setting in our east.

“Would you believe that despite her poor state of health, the old woman knew how much money she had, to the very last coin? And don’t you go thinking that it was some small amount. It was plenty, so much money. Not kept in some bank somewhere. No! Banks were not for her. She never had any dealings with banks. The money she hid was plenty. I knew where she kept it. She knew every coin and note by heart. She clearly thought I had no idea where she hid her money. She went through a lot of trouble to secretly ‘fondle’ some of it, when she thought I wasn’t looking, and then quietly hid it all again. But I knew. I had never seen so much money in my entire life. She also knew who owed her what and when exactly she should be paid.”

Another fine smile graced her face nicely.

“The old woman told me her sixth child came to see her once, not too long ago. She said that daughter of hers told her if her husband knew she came, he would divorce her and send her packing. When you are the current fourth wife of a man that has sent away three other wives before you, you know he doesn’t need much prompting or excuse to send you packing too. But can you believe that? Your child, who you carried and bore in and out of you for many selfless eventful years, cannot come to see you because of a stranger she married?”

The maid hissed surprisingly loudly and shook her head from side to side as she protrudes her plump lips in apparent awe.

“Her husband was a good looking man. His pictures were all over the place. She even had one of his framed large pictures placed on a cushioned armchair. I had silently crept in on her talking to that large picture a number of times. She spoke to it as if it heard her and was capable of talking back to her.”

She coughed once, with her full mouth open and uncovered.

“It is so strange what pictures can tell you or confirm. Her husband loved life; that much was clear. He was always dressed in very fashionable attire in every picture and the pictures were always taken in the most breath-taking scenery. Her husband’s pictures spoke volumes. The pictures she took had lots of family members and friends in them; and some few foes too, you would imagine. There were pictures of all her children too; she affectionately pointed them out to me.

“Most of her pictures were quite old-fashioned and funny-like; going by our current modernly coloured tastes. Posers all had their hands crossed at their wrists and she proudly introduced them all. ‘They are all alive and somewhere, some place,’ she said of some people in a picture one day. ‘They will not come to me.’ She said it painfully even though she smiled. I knew it hurt her so much. I saw her sacrifice, recognized her pain and honestly, I really do respect her for them.”

She smiled and swallowed visibly. What was left of the kola nut went down her throat with that gross action. A quick lick of her wide mouth, accompanying the hiding and revealing of her lips, only served to make her listeners more anxious.

“There was no way; definitely, no way I could possibly carry her to the toilet by myself. It was just not possible because of her large size. It was all I could do to carry her off and on her big and average waist-high metal cage-like framed bed. She was a big woman. I was alone with her every night and it is a task quite beyond my considerable physical capabilities”

She asked for some water and someone left for some.

“She was a pretty woman in her early married years. The pictures said so abundantly. Hers was a very big and happy family. She said so proudly. Her husband had worked at the railways. He was the fellow in-charge of what goods the trains carried; what was weighed, billed and paid. And you know, in those days everything traveled by rail. He made a lot of money from either over-weighing or under-weighing goods, as well as from over-billing and under-billing the customers. It is one of those jobs were the system is at the complete mercy of the worker’s sense of proper values and the customers deliberate ignorance, usually expressed in both relief and astonishment.

“Her husband made lots of money from his dubious dealings, lots of money for himself and his bosses who ensured he stayed at the same lucrative job for much longer than it was ethically right, because it was convenient. He had many houses built and bought for him. He and his family lacked nothing. He wanted everyone to be provided for, long after his death. She told me all these. She said it slowly and took her time in saying it, but it all came out clearly and surely.

“In front of the old woman’s house is a mosque. It wasn’t much of a building. It had no loud amplified speakers or rugs or ceiling fans (or ceiling) or window and door frames. The building was simply cement bricks erected walls with the usually edged out spaces left to fit in the doors and windows. The building had reused zinc roof sheets neatly fitted over it. And for a floor, it had only loose building sand on the ground inside. It was far from finished, though it was in full use.”

She licked her lips and swallowed, betraying that she missed the sensation of the kola nut. The water arrived and she paused to noisily drink quickly. She cleared her throat after emptying the cup. It looked like she had just started the story.

“Every morning, after the first Muslim prayer, two elderly men came to greet the old woman (if she was awake) and then left for their respective places of work. They were not important to me, but they were to my work. I got to know later on, that one of the elderly men was the muezzin who called for prayers, and the other led the worshipers in prayers at the mosque. Also in front of the old woman’s house is a young Yoruba lady who fried beans cakes and yams in the evenings.

“This lady pays the old woman a certain amount of money as a daily rent for using the front of her building for her small business. Since the lady leaves for home late every day, she brings the money quite late at night. She had to pay up after each day’s sales because the old woman will have it no other way. The old woman is always awake to collect the daily payments, no matter how late. It is a daily event we both looked forward to for our own different reasons each.”

The maid is quiet for only a while.

“The Yoruba lady was also not important to me either, but she was to my work. She and the two elderly men from the mosque saw me everyday, so I had witnesses to account for my being present at work always. I am sure the Pastor asks them. He had warned me not to stay away from work. He said when he finds out I stayed away, he would not pay me for being absent. So I made certain the Yoruba lady saw me every night when I arrived and the two elderly men saw me before I leave the next morning, everyday. It was a daily routine I was to personally follow through, religiously. I felt a time will come when I will need somebody else besides the old woman to prove I was present for work. With her vindictive nature, there is no telling what she is capable of saying or doing for extra attention.”

A baby starts to wail in the next house. The maid looks in the general direction of the next house; slightly left of the fast setting sun. She shook her head with contempt and quickly picked out the few other mothers amongst her listeners with her eyes. They incredibly join her in meaningfully piercing through the view obstructing wall with their eyes, in what appears like a cultish attempt at soothing the poor wailing baby’s troubles and/or its erring mother’s desperation too, or whatever way they choose to understand it at that moment.

They all showed clear contempt, in complete irony to the vagueness of the situation. It is always a ‘mothers only’ thing it seems. No one else comprehends it fully because it is a ‘mothers’ only’ concord. Only they comprehend it; that is every other mother at that point but that single mother of the crying child who is presently marooned in the lonely embrace of motherhood’s daily dilemma; the mother’s instant comfort or her child’s? It’s a ‘mothers only’ thing, only they venture.

“She was born a Muslim, she is so quick to remind all and sundry. At least she never lost an opportunity to remind me, repeatedly. You wonder, why the pride still! I understood this better when she once pointed out, with the words; ‘I have been there and I know what it is like to be an Unbeliever.’ I saw her point. Her father, mother, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws, husband, children, village and clan were, are and will always be Muslims.

“Everybody she had anything to do with was a Muslim. She only had something to do with non-Muslims when it became unavoidable. Like a Doctor here, a nurse there or a taxi driver here and fellow bus passengers she must tolerate on a bus ride. These were the only contacts she had with non-Muslims and they were as far between as they were unavoidable.”

The baby’s sobs became silent as the maid stretched out her fleshy legs to its straight full length in front of her and crossed them at the ankles. With her wrapper now pulled up, just above her revealed knees and the hollow indentation at the back of her fleshy knees filled out, it is much more clear how close to the ground she is seated and how low the traditional round wooden stool she is sitting on is. It didn’t look like a comfortable way to sit from the bodily posture, but it is.

“When her first son started formal school; to learn European-styled education, he returned home very excited daily and she easily make him repeat all he had learnt in school. It was her husband’s idea and it worked like clockwork. She followed it through with unwavering discipline and focused dedication. Before long she could write her name and say all the alphabets. By the time her last son was old enough for school, she taught him his alphabets, and to read and write elementarily.

“None of her daughters went to school, but no one heard the last of their intelligent mother who could read and write. And it turned out to be a very good thing she could too, because it became her only real source of joy and entertainment in her old age. With her still very strong eyes, clear as good boiled water, she reads and reads. Fortunately for her, she never lacked things to read; the Pastor made very sure of that.”

The impatience of her listeners was beginning to appear on their faces. Their body language was not as truthful because while their limbs aimlessly wandered in a reflection of their real lack of rapt attention, their heads routinely nodded the falsehood in their deceptive minds. The maid was indifferent to all this as she told her story still. Momentarily she paused to scratch her left forearm; it was a very simple act she made look flawlessly graceful and pleasant, like her cheery smiles.

III

Let us play a game of trading places,
Pausing triggers of mud slinging tongues.
Viewing with glasses that mirror chances,
We will find all toes fit the shoes it belongs.
(SO?; Yas)

“When the old woman’s husband died suddenly, she knew exactly what to expect. Similar drama had been played around her many times before and she was knowledgeable if not experienced, prepared if not ready. She broke into his cupboard, opened the cardboard box she knew he kept his money in, took all the money he had left there and hid it somewhere else. Events soon overtook the family’s grief, as it most quickly does for the wealthy families and attention veered towards his assets.

“There was enough assets to go round his extended family twice over and no one bothered about a ‘few change’ they didn’t even know existed. There were no quarrels at all. ‘It was hardly surprising because there was enough to go round,’ she told me. No one complained. She got nothing of course; she was just a ‘wife’ and mother to ‘some’ of his nineteen children. Her husband’s brothers took over, promising to handle all his affairs until his sons were old enough to take care of things themselves. But that was the end of it. They simply kept it all.”

The old woman’s main swung an arm and accidentally knocked over the empty water cup beside her. It rolled in an uneven semi-circle, as far as its one curved arm will allow it and stopped. She picked it up lazily and placed it carefully beside her stool, right where it was before. Deliberately fitting it precisely in the same small moist ring it had earlier made on the concrete ground, where she had placed it down initially.

“She didn’t go back to her parents in the village because it was clear that she was now ‘too’ literate for that kind of life. She also didn’t like the idea of another husband. She said nothing about the offers that were made for her hand, yet it could be imagined that for the sheer pride or luck of having a late wealthy man’s wife, offers were certainly not short in coming. Also for the purpose of getting her permanently out of the inheritance picture, persuasions were surely plentiful too from her in-laws. Not to mention her own desire to fit in somehow into the traditional and religious scheme of things.

“She was then still quite young by our modern standards; considering the age in which she got married, her two-children-every-three-years average and her less than a total of seventeen years of married life. She would have been a good ‘buy’ in the scrap market of the ‘once-married.’ But she wasn’t going to have that again. She wanted her life back the way it was before. Since that is not possible again, then she would only settle for something else, according to her own terms. She started a little trade and rented a room. Her late husband had left many houses scattered all over the place, yet there she was renting a small room on a side road. Her children stayed with their uncles.”

Soon the sun can barely be seen over the top of the broken bottles lined western wall. The mild sun rays glowed through the all green pieces of broken glass, casting a halo light-green display of lined lighting on the opposite eastern wall, far behind the maid. The sight achieved more of a viewing attraction at this time of day than it achieves the anti-burglary objective the crudely enforced walls were conceived and defaced for.

“A number of years passed by and as soon as she could pass off all the money she took from her late husband’s stash as money she had made from her business, she bought her own house.”

She exhaled as she conquered a yawn and rapped two sharp knocks on the centre of her head to warn the onset of an itch.

“Her late husband’s brothers started to peddle silly tales about her. They were saying that she was now a whore. Her children were ordered to stop seeing her and they came to see her only in secret. Soon they stopped altogether. She only heard when they got married. As years added up into decades, she saw her daughters, daughter in-laws and grand-daughters when they were pregnant, then their babies. She never knew when they gave birth. It hurt her so much but there was nothing she could do about it. They tried to come to see her secretly but she wasn’t allowed to go to them, ever. Their uncles did not allow that and they had ‘poisoned’ the minds of her sons too.”

The strain of talking is usually managed with the love for ones own voice and not the point being made or the reason for it. With the old woman’s maid, it had to be something else. Maybe it is the silent encouragement? It could be the attentive eyes following her every twitch, or all those knowledgeable nods she kept getting. Maybe it is the apparent riddles snared inside another person’s misfortune in the almost reluctantly unfolding story she is telling in her own jerky wavy self-entertaining way?

“The years didn’t change anything in her situation. Still she prospered in her trade, she grew older and she started to have great grandchildren. She grew so old. Some of her great granddaughters got married! That in itself was an unusual thing. The years were not being fair though. With so many years beneath her skin, her body organs started to wear-out. She became very ill. It started quite normally though, like the onset of most fatal ailments; common headache, knees and back hurt, belly ache, that sort of thing. She was turning bad inside out”

She cleared her throat and appeared to swallow with difficulty. Her eyes fazed up momentarily then cleared up as she blinked.

“For someone her age, not being ill is very abnormal. She was alone and that in itself was an illness. Over the years she had massively changed the little building she had bought on a huge piece of land. The price was ridiculously low. Finally, she had sold off two-thirds of the land and built an impressive house on the remaining land. Later she had the old renovated building initially on the land completely demolished and further expanded the new house. A huge modern building now graced her land, instead of the original one. It is a simple styled solid structure, common in all its four sides, a very well made house.”

She choked, coughed and cleared her throat. She appeared relieved, with no trace of the brief discomfort she had earlier experienced. It almost epitomized her personal decision to tell this story, which like the cough, she had initially tried to suppress, had been choking her up. Telling this story was theoretically relieving her conscience, which is why she must.

“Her illness took a turn for the worse and some of her tenants took her to a nearby government owned hospital, but all the Doctors were on strike. So they rallied round and took her to a private clinic instead. None of her family members came to visit her during those two months she was in the clinic. But honestly, they didn’t even know. All the time she was admitted in the clinic her most frequent visitor was the Pastor, who came to visit and pray with all the patients in the clinic’s wards. They had met on her third day in the clinic, chatted for a while and the Pastor was impressed with her mind.”

The maid politely asked for more water and the cup beside her was taken away as someone left for more water for her.

“The Pastor took a special interest in the old woman, and unpredictably, in addition to his regular routine of Saturday morning visits; he came mainly to see her every Tuesday afternoon too. They talked some more and he brought along books for her to read. He prayed for her at the end of every visit; even though she kept telling him that she is a Muslim. She got slowly better and her bill slowly grew into a huge sum. Sometime after she got to know about her bill, she chose to tell the Pastor her whole story. Smart move, if you ask me. He then seized the opportunity to preach to her. An even smarter move, if you ask me. But hey, I am only telling a story here.”

She laughs in her gaily way, a shade longer this time and then she stole an impatient look in the wake of her yet to appear water, her discomfort worsened with her evident impatience.

“She told me that it was on that rain soaked Tuesday afternoon, after the Pastor had preached to her, that she made up her mind to give what was left of her life to this new faith; that is new to her. And she did, though not on the same day. But she did on the Pastor’s very next visit. The owner of the clinic, who is a member of the Pastor’s church, told her not to bother about her bill. A nurse in the clinic revealed to her later that the Pastor’s church had paid up her bill in full.”

The water arrived; she gulped down half of it and placed the cup beside her again, gracefully and without looking down.

“The old woman was so touched. These are people totally new to her, yet they are doing things for her that her own folk are not doing for her. She concluded that these people must belong to a faith that is actively true. She gave her life to their Christian faith and willed her house to the church.”

Wiping her perspiring palms on her wrapper, just over her thighs, the maid smiled into the space between her and the western wall. Her smile said something to all those who saw it follow her eyes over the wall, transfixed as it followed the fading lightening of the dusk skies, giving up its retiring Judge, who had started his daily trip abroad for just another night.

“Her family heard all this and then they started to visit her in large numbers. They came in doves like vultures to a fallen lifeless corpse. It is strange how word traveled to her family. Even her late husband’s brothers; whom she hadn’t seen since his funeral, came to see her on more than one occasion when the story got out that she was now a Christian. I came into the picture much later, but I have a strong feeling in my guts that those old men from the Mosque outside her house were the early pair of vultures that escorted her juicy story and reported every vowel and syllable of it to her people.”

She stressed her perceived ingenuity by widening her eyes.

“Her grandchildren and their spouses and their own children; some of whom she had not even heard of or seen before, all came to see her. They couldn’t change her mind. They had cut her off completely. She had been like a heavily bandaged bad arm they had neglected, and then they had amputated her with their desertion. She was alone and the Pastor, the Doctor and their fellow church members all became her family now. She was picked up in flashy expensive cars for church services and brought back home with small gifts weekly. She even got a social life again. Her family’s desertion did not hurt so much after her conversion because what relationship she had with them before was not worth weeping for. Soon afterwards the Pastor baptized her in a simple ceremony.”

She leaned forward slightly.

“The church took care of her. Soon, even some short evening prayer sessions were held in her compound. The church got her a young maid to stay with her and paid the maid handsomely too. The church also gave the old woman a monthly allowance. They actually gave her money! Can you imagine that? She is by far, so much richer than eighty-nine percent of the church’s members, who gave money regularly to their church for nothing back in return. Still the church paid only her bills.”

She cleared her throat thunderously and made a face.

“She became ill again. She was so ill this time that the Doctor said there was not much he could do for her. She was just too old and getting older. She was returned home from a second sojourn in the private clinic. The young maid left while she was in the clinic, so I came into the picture when a member of the Pastor’s congregation told me about the job. No one who was approached wanted the job. I already had a morning job at the government general hospital. But when it was agreed that I can manage both jobs and I will cost them much less because I will not be working full time, I started.

“It was established that the old woman is always cared for by her married female tenants during the day and as such, I was to stay with her from the late evenings till dawn. Since in the mornings and afternoon she was cared for; when the women weren’t too caught up in their other daily chores, I naturally assumed that I would just have little to do for her while I was there. Little did I know that I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assessment of the work laid down ahead for me. To think that the old dying lizard had so much money hidden away all this while, was such a rude revelation. No one knew but me, I am certain of this! But that is not why I thought of killing her.”

IV

Emerald green reigns the being,
Capable being all living green.
To scavengers’ bin cometh sin,
To prey lean the unwary being.
(SIN; Yas)

The maid unfolded her wrapper once more and wiped her shiny perspiring face with the edge of the wrapper, and then she let it fall off over her right hip, letting it hang there.

“She didn’t know I knew about the money. I wanted the money. Oh how I wanted that money. No one deserved the money as much as I did. No one! The Pastor came around mostly during the day. He stayed around to talk, preach, pray and he brought her loads of books too. Often he will give her the Holy Communion feast. She joked that even the Holy Communion wine was a sort of medicine because it tasted like cough syrup. I almost never saw the Pastor but for my pay days, when I had to go over to the church to collect it.”

The maid sipped some more of the water. She looked down in the faint light and paused before replacing the cup on the ground. She now had two moist cup imprints ringed on the floor beside her stool. She ignored the fresh one, retraced the older almost dried one with the cup and carefully sets it down again.

“I knew I had to be careful. Yes, she was old and very ill. She was a dead body with some life still loitering about in it. Her body became stiffer as the months dragged. The smell grew worse. I was sure something was spoilt and rotten inside her. ‘She will die any day now,’ I told myself. But what if she got worse and is taken to the hospital and she dies there. I would have no reason to be in her house after that.”

She sat back and looked away briefly.

“I knew the Doctor still visits her and could have taken her back to his clinic anytime he considered it necessary. I wanted no one to see me when I carried the money away. Since no one knew about the money, I wanted it to remain so. I planned to go to work…her place, with a very big bag. She must be dead before I move a single note from where she hid the money. I had worked it all out and planned it carefully.”

She picked up the cup beside her and drank up all the water left in the cup. She didn’t return the cup to the ground immediately. She just held on to it, like her slow story.

“There was the Yoruba lady and the two elderly men from the Mosque to consider. I had to plan it well. I could have poisoned her but I had no idea how fast the poison will work. I didn’t want her to die while I was away. If I tried to get the money while she was alive, she could very likely see me because she rarely slept while I was there.”

With two swift simultaneous movements of both her chubby arms, she handed over the cup to the person seated closest to her and at the same time folded her wrapper back into its unusually common right-hip place, with her right hand.

“I had to plan it well. I couldn’t stab her of course; maybe strangle her, if I dared. But I will be doing everyone a favour by putting her out of her pains and misery. Her family will be put out of its shame, the church will get the house it can’t wait to get its hands on, while I was to get all that plentiful free and loose money she had stashed away. I deserved that money, no one but me. I worked it out carefully for days. It had to look very real. One early Monday morning I left her house knowing she would be dead in a day or so, and I was so right.”

She leaned forward, this time resting both her elbows and flattened fore-arms on her thighs. She seemed to roll up like she had stomach pains. She merely concentrated in talking.

“When I got to the old woman’s house early that evening, I had my largest bag with me. Her room smelt like someone had brought back the dead rat. She had eased herself on the mat, right there on the floor, where her female tenants must have placed her at her request. She had eased both her bladder and bowel all over her body, completely ignoring the bed pan beside her, in her innocence and helpless disability.

“I was glad they had moved her from the bed, where I had left her before leaving in the morning. Ordinarily I would have complained because I was certain there was a conspiracy amongst the tenants against me. I always struggled alone to put her back into bed, that was why I wasn’t keen on having her put on the mat. They all knew this but persisted. This once though, I was glad they moved her as I cleaned her up and her mess.”

She paused with a hardened expression and a brief silence noticeably passed like a reflex shiver among the small group. Then she half-yawned as she straightened up in her low seat.

“Her senility had reached an advanced stage. She was so stiff she couldn’t move her fingers to hold properly. I wasn’t sorry for what I was about to do. I refused to think of good and God. I just cleaned the floor and the whole room like always did. I gave her her meal and more out of habit than anything else; I mashed and mixed her drugs into the food. She ate all of it. ‘Your last supper,’ I said without even feeling bad about it.”

She exaggeratedly blinked, repeatedly in quick succession. It was all of a sudden as if she couldn’t wait to say it all.

“Late that evening the Yoruba lady came into the room as usual, she did her business and left. Then the old woman started to talk. She told me about her village, her mother, her brothers and all her friends…. I listened patiently without interrupting her. I was so tired. We had scrubbed the entire general hospital’s wards, where I worked mornings. The Doctors had resumed work that same day, after many months on an industrial strike action. There is no telling how many people died as a direct result of that long medical unions’ strike. We had to clean the whole hospital and I was so very tired. I soon dozed off. When I woke up, I could hear someone sweeping in the compound outside. It was morning! Oh God, I had over slept.”

She paused momentarily, not really to quickly look round at her very attentive listeners; which she still did, but to rest her mouth.

“I looked at the old woman on her high old fashioned green metal caged bed, where I had put her back with much difficulty the night before, as usual. Her eyes were shut and she had a smile on her lips. She must have been dreaming. It was too late for me to do anything then, I mused. ‘Tomorrow,’ I thought. I opened the windows and saw that it will be light soon and I must be at work on time. With the Doctors back now, we had to be at our best behaviour. You don’t play with government jobs these days because they don’t come by easily anymore”

She giggled alone at the honest fact she had just made.

“I didn’t even bother to change the clothes I had on. I left her sound asleep, grabbed my big bag and hurriedly left for work. I greeted a tenant as I walked out; it was an Igbo woman sweeping outside and I left the compound. About twenty yards or so from the house, I didn’t even cringe emotionally as I meaningfully said to the old woman in my mind, ‘Tomorrow!’”

For a short moment the sparkle left her eyes and she looked sad. Realizing this she looked away, but not quick enough to hide the fact that her disappointment was all too evident.

“I turned to look at the old woman’s house just before I turned round into the next street. I saw the two elderly men from the Mosque entering the old woman’s compound. I stopped when I realized that they hadn’t seen me. In my haste I forgot to wait for them before leaving and they will wonder where I was. I made to return, and then thought against it. I figured there was no need since they would meet the Igbo woman sweeping on their way in. ‘She will tell them I just left,’ I comforted myself and hurried away to make good time for work.”

As the skies darkened and the buzz of the mosquitoes over head began to faintly usher in their impending foray into the tropical evening outdoor gathering, the mood in the setting was wholly entrapped in that one female voice moulding it.

“The next evening I arrived with my largest bag again. There was no one about in the compound when I entered. All the tenants were in their rooms watching an international soccer match involving our over-hyped up senior national soccer team. The front door to the old woman’s rooms was locked up. My heart skipped a beat. Her door was never locked.”

She shifted in her low seat.

“I knocked on the next tenant’s door with some urgency. The Igbo woman, I left sweeping that morning when I left for work, appeared at the door. She was surprised to see me. ‘Ah! You have come?’ she exclaimed. ‘The old woman died just after you left this morning,’ she said excitedly. My heart missed another beat, this time I felt a slight pain as it metaphorically dropped.”

She shrugged the way only African women do and the latest click that is heard from her conspires to purely accidentally synchronize with the sudden joining in of the early crickets, as they brought in their louder shrill sounds into the tropical evening’s outdoor gathering’s sing-songs for all insects.

“The Igbo woman told me how the two elderly men from the Mosque came to see the old woman just after I left. I didn’t tell her I saw them. She went on to tell me how one of them stayed behind with the old woman while the other one briefly stepped outside the compound, apparently on some errant.”

More crickets legged in and complimented the music of the consciously visible lively breeze of mosquitoes floating over the heads of the gathered people. This left the people no choice but to swing their arms heaven-wards as would conductors of this impromptu tropical orchestra and choir, playing away to the discomfort of the beautiful evening’s outdoor gathering.

“The Igbo woman went on to tell me how she could hear the two of them talking. That is, the elderly man that stayed behind and the old woman. Though she didn’t hear much of the old woman’s weak voice, but she heard the man’s voice clearly. He did most of the talking. She usually would have.”

She chuckled as a short burst of hisses and claps rang round the gathering. This caused a brief lull in the insects’ noise as the tropical orchestra music is forcibly stanza-ed.

“‘Shortly,’ she went on. ‘The other man returned with fruits in a bag, much too big for that purpose. He went straight into the old woman’s rooms. He was away only briefly and I was bathing my son by the tap when he returned. He even gave my child a banana.’ She was adamant that she didn’t see them leave.”

The maid suddenly belched loudly.

“She told me how she had entered the old woman’s rooms to greet her and see if she wanted something. ‘When she didn’t answer my calls from the sitting room, I thought she was asleep so I entered her bedroom and the moment I saw her, I knew she was dead. Her eyes were closed and she had a fixed smile on her face. It looked like she was dreaming.’ She said there was a peeled banana in the old woman’s right palm as it lay lifeless beside her. My heart skipped a third beat, the pain I felt lingered as I went home a sad person that evening. This was my first night at home in months but I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep.”

She looked around at the discerning looks returned at her. She grinned and a glossy white slit showed and split her mouth as her dark lips parted, revealing strong white teeth.

“The very next afternoon, after work I went to see the Pastor at his joint place of work and residence. He excitedly told me how they sent someone to him from the old woman’s house with the news of her death. He didn’t know the loudness in his voice gave away his excitement because he tried to keep a solemn expression on his face. She was buried that same day, like a true Muslim would have been; which she ironically isn’t any more.”

She smiled intelligently; or tried to, like most people try to do when they are pleased with a smart remark they just made. A silly thing we manage to keep repeating always.

“She was summarily buried with a very short grave-side service conducted by the Pastor. He told me this with such pride, as if I should be proud when he should be ashamed he was. He went ahead to thank me for a job well done and gave me two months’ full pay in advance, even though it was only a week into the new month and I had only worked a few days of it.”

She smiled again, in her refreshingly beautiful way.

“I went by the old woman’s house just last weekend. The Mosque has been completed! There is a big thick rug on the smooth ceramic tiled floor. It now has huge glass windows fitted in and four massive wooden doors, a spotlessly white ceiling, lots of ceiling fans and a very loud amplified speakers’ system. I could see all that from the street, since all the doors and windows were wide open. A tenant I met by chance told me the Church had already sold the old woman’s house! It is not yet two months after her death and that house she had been so proud of has been sold out to complete strangers.

She scoffs with contempt.

“I saw the Yoruba lady too. She said the new landlord doesn’t collect any money from her, but simply lets her do her trade undisturbed. Everyone is happy now…. I think. The Church people are happy, the Mosque people are happy, the Yoruba lady and the old woman’s folks are equally happy, the old woman is deadly happy and I am too. Yes! I am! I really am!”

No one argued, but she didn’t look happy and frowns. She laughed her short laugh with her forehead lined up with thought. It said so much for her feelings at that moment.

“You see, I had prayed and thank God for the turn in events. The guilt would have killed me. I am happy because I kept my innocence. But…! Does the old woman get her heaven?”

The late old woman’s maid sat back and shut her eyes. It is obvious that she had finished the story, but no one moved or spoke. The tropical choir continues to moan a low humming tune outside the seated people’s conscious notice, as the night quietly pulls out its dark sleeping blanket overhead.

“That is presumably the ultimately proper destination?”

In the semi-silence ignored by every personal thought in the small gathering seated round her, the old woman’s maid still spoke. Her emotion laden voice sounded as if only to itself, but still quite audible in the hushed attentiveness.

“Do any of us get this heaven?”

Who makes the most noise
And is as dirty in his poise?
Who soils his needs as toys
And spoils all his ego hoist?
(SWINE; Yas)

History itself nourished,
It might’ve thus been humbled.
In her need she’s again banished
And her steered nurses, all bundled.

Seasons are overlapped famished,
All the shaft and wheat are rumpled.
Her senile stroll is beautifully enriched
And for nothing else, her maids are long rustled.