There’s a sign that says: Four people died here. A cascade of water tumbles over rocks into a pool. On the edges, it’s clear; you can see silt at the shallow bottom. The pool, though, is dark. It leads to a cavern hidden beneath the surface, undercurrents dragging the water there and holding it. […]
“As it is usual when talking with the speech impaired, the three of them ended up mostly loudly exchanging cheap pleasantries than anything else. It is simply hilariously hard to maintain any serious discussion with the old man. Aside from Baba Yafku’s insane love for veering issues towards his affection for nurturing plants and his natural gift for it, conversations with him is always an ever frustrating experience.
“Thomas had little difficulty in understanding Baba Yafku but it is hard for most others to comprehend what the old fellow is trying to say. Even when a discussion is about Baba Yafku’s favoured plants, communicating with him doesn’t get any better for most. Still the former gardener’s limited verbal communicating ability didn’t stop him from doing a great job of representing the interests of Thomas in Badagry. He supervised the delivery of agricultural produce to middlemen in Badagry and collected payments on Thomas’s behalf. The old man made purchases of essential items needed in Samiku and sent them over promptly. It was a brilliant arrangement and Baba Yafku lived up to his part exceptionally well.
“Baba Yafku managed quite well though he is hugely handicapped in speech and conversations. His repertoire of sounds assisted in making himself understood well enough over time. As the persons he dealt with grew increasingly familiar with his humming, clicks, hisses and coughs alongside his elabourate hand gestures as he expressed himself, the old man’s impromtu sign language easily served its intended purpose. Still most times his crude manner of expressing himself does not give him the seriousness and logical effect he requires to make salient points and make himself fully understood as comfortably or as adequately as he wants.
“That night, as Thomas and Sweet talked with Baba Yafku, the old man tried to tell them his pathetic story. He tried to speak of his worries and sufferings but in the frustration of his speech handicap he only struggled to say little that was comprehensible to the couple. He was emotional and it was a lot harder for him to make himself understandable. He told his personal story like he would a parable and the desired immediate impact of his tale was sadly missing, even though it was clear to see that he was hurting. That visible expression of pain plastered on his old wrinkled face soon got him the couple’s undivided attention and it relieved Baba Yafku to see this. He briefly felt a high sense of achievement. This was however marginal and it proved to be short lived because in the exuberance that it ushered, Baba Yafku hurriedly ended his story with a sudden unexpected request.
“The old man implied he wanted to follow the couple back to their hinterlands home in Samiku. The request wasn’t expected by the couple and they reacted to it with what they considered as a moderately civil response. It seemed logical at that point in time for them to be mature and proper. So they did what felt right to them, for the sake of soothing the emotionally hurting man sitting right before them.
“Thomas and Sweet looked at each other before they took turns in speaking. They were subtle in the unintentional nature of the arrogance they exhibited. They gently declined his request and in their shallow understanding of what he tried to tell them, they had merely assessed his importance to them only if he stayed in Badagry to take care of their business and house. They wanted him to maintain his trusted vigilance over their town home and also keep eye on their other interests.
“Baba Yafku’s serious speech defect had failed him in his attempt to tell the couple about the sad events he had experienced. He wasn’t entirely successful in conveying the gravity of his second wife’s recent act of cruel betrayal when she absconded with her younger lover. Fuafa was the first woman to want him, ever. She was almost as old as him but he wasn’t conditioned to be selective. His speech impediment didn’t bother her and Baba Yafku loved her dearly for this. He didn’t mind the stories told about her past, of how she was said to have abondoned her old husband in the village years ago and returned to Badagry to peddle her body to construction workers and fishermen. Fuafa loved him and he loved her.
“He loved her more when in his old age, she gave him a son. She returned from a brief visit to the village with a five years old boy and a glorious story of getting the boy from amongst the countless orphans in her village. Then when their son was twelve she suddenly left with Baba Yafku’s savings. He was hoping she will return when the money runs out but its been a year now and no sign of her. Baba Yafku feared the worst as he has asked around for any news of her. Most people were blunt in telling him to be happy he is rid of her. Still losing Fuafa wasn’t half as painful as the more recent sudden death of his only son in a boat accident. The young boy took a liking to fishing and Baba Yafku thought it is a noble trade. The state of mind of the old fellow wasn’t quite clear to the couple and they were unable to properly identify the true value of his leaving Badagry for good. Leaving with them at that moment of his asking was his remedy to living the rest of his life all alone, in utter anguish for his losses. The thought of staying with Thomas and Sweet in far away Samiku felt like heaven to Baba Yafku. He would grow crops, his dearest passion. He would have a family and two lovely children to live the rest of his life teaching the splendid pleasures of agricultural wonders. It was a dream the couple was denying him.
“The nature of his unfortunate abnormality didn’t help in conveying this to Thomas and Sweet. As such his delivery of the painful loss he felt didn’t give off well and win over the sympathy he craves from them for his patient suffering. He had instead encountered what seemed like unsympathetic faces, devoid of the understanding he sought in his current crippling emotional plight. It was a hapless feeling for him as the couple showed the usual response of humour for his tasked communicating and not the sensitivity they ought to express for his predicament.
“This worsened things for Baba Yafku as he discovered the only people he had any tangible hope of understanding his difficulties weren’t offering him any solace. The couple appeared to hold themselves away from his inner pain by their own personal preference for his selected service. This realization hurt him so much. It hurt him with the rekindled feeling of emptiness, with such heartfelt pain. The old man’s emotions held him penned in, in subconsciously conceived hostility. It was suppressed by a judgmental hatred, the type that reveals in being found to be less agreeable and hospitable to denial and rejection, than being civil.
“Baba Yafku felt betrayed and disliked farther. For someone who grew up in the limelight of little value and had relatively succeeded in his struggles to put some value in his existence in the face of everyone who had belittled him, the old man still wasn’t prepared well in advance for the magnitude of these series of harsh rejections, from a wife he loves, from the death of his only son and from the people he respected the most. All of which came together, at a facet of his elderly life when he thought he was happiest and from the most important people in his life. The wife running off with yet another younger man, reeked of his failings and his bodily inadequacies. His beloved son’s sudden death hinted of fate not being tolerant of his happiness and finally the refusal of companionship from the persons he thought valued him the most farther cemented what everyont thought of him.
“Baba Yafku’s sense of overwhelming disappointment showed as they all went to bed, that uncomfortably night. Thomas and Sweet hoped he will shake off this moody spate by morning but they were unaware that Baba Yafku was determined to explore the only exit he felt was still open to him. The first sign of something is afoot was when there was no sign of Baba Yafku when the small family prepared to leave their small Badary house in the morning. Baba Yafku knew they had to leave early to catch the lorry but he wasn’t around to bid them farewell.
“The severity of the situation appeared out of the blue. It belatedly woke the couple from their revelry of quick early morning departure. Someone unknown to the couple raced down their street, like a serious contender for a sprints medal, to inform them Baba Yafku had hanged himself to death from a tree in the dark grey early hours of that morning. The couple’s shock was absolute. Their old gardener had only the night before confessed his struggles and problems to them. They had seen indications that he was losing grip of himself but dismissed it as merely a bad mood and they did nothing to soothe his worries. They were mainly preoccupied with their own selfish need of him and didn’t really help him. It was not so much the scale of their contribution but the seemingly lack of honest quality to it.
“In the annals of every sort of emotional problem, the inconclusive pages of remedies reveal that no problem is ever completely solved. No chosen solution to emotional problems comes with the most dramatic impact like suicide does. Its impact is everlasting and final. It leaves the successful applicants of its harshness permanently quieted by its unworthy experience and their hapless confidants feeling cheated and betrayed by the selfish worthless imps that thought they knew better. The framework of the human nature enables people to thrive on the unique ability to overcome almost every emotional challenge by just facing up to them.
“The naturally empowered person really has only his speech to make a case. It is certain that free speech always patiently unshackle and vindicate itself verbally. The guidance of common wisdom isn’t as available to the mind as it tends to appear to be in most instances. Hence the most literate and exposed minds will fail in drawing from their wealth of knowledge at times they ordinary should. It isn’t that there are physical or emotional reasons for this, it is simply because human shortcomings manifests in their expressed actions, showing off in their bias nature towards some of their superficial desires. This twists and mangles the unconscious preference not to be objective and with no hiding place for the illogical choices readily available, people are led farther astray on perceived higher adventure for naught. Nothing worthwhile is achieved from their pointless quest in the long run.
“Each passing day seems to constantly remind life of its impending certainty of demise, as it fans the flames of memory with the hopelessness of living an ever ending life. Humanity goes through its troubled times mindful of the unworthiness of its difficult unfortunate struggles. Ashamed that he had lost control of his emotions, which had kept him rational all this long while, Baba Yafku didn’t wish to live any longer. His most bitter thoughts couldn’t farther entertain such tasking times all alone. He couldn’t again recover to stand firm on his feet and keep his already grounded fears aloft, without any assurance of respite subsequently.
“Over the years, in his sustained push and search for respite, he painstakingly concluded that the only true respite is not in his final destination after his physical death, but death itself. Still with suicide, Baba Yafku got it woefully wrong without the slightest option or chance of reversing his bad choice when he subsequently discovers he is wrong after all, if he ever could.
“The crooked manner of suicide never really has truth in its comprehension, hence suicide is quite varied in its assessment. Its invariable judgment is greatly impaired by its mortally inconclusive rationale. The handiwork of this sort of very personal self-accusation, trial, judgment and execution, is unequalled in every other regard. The normally singled out nature of it appears to chart a course that clearly disagrees with the logic of it and its very own emotional compass.
“There isn’t any real difference in every kind of induced unnatural death, because all killers are basically only murderers. In the perspective of the only possible beneficiary of suicide; as sure as something is wrong, so is it right in its wrongness. Obviously this view isn’t shared by most. The essence of any thing wrong is in the absence of what makes it right, as in the presence of what makes it deemed wrong. So it could really get complicated to determine what is right or wrong most times than often. The marinated perspective of that lone suicidal person is excused by his emotional rapacious intelligence. Logic is handicapped at the instance of deciding to commit suicide, that it cannot see its own abnormality.
The simplicity and complications are quite liberally intertwined with the individual’s ego, or a lack of it. Their sense of purpose at that point in time is incapable of taking any other decision. It is more so, for such an important decision with far reaching finality implications. It thus appears incomprehensible from a detached perspective. Baba Yafku was grossly bias in his thinking for himself.
From where comes all this dew,
Delighting thoughts with to chew.
Soothing pressures that boo,
But sound frightfully so lewd.
I grabbed the wind horn I blew,
For I alone do hear it so true.
A loss I think I’ll cause you,
The pains might escape a few.
My swift scheme hardly new,
Like good cheats daring who.
Life is the full pot of new stew
Emotional foot found with its shoe.
Man ever shies away from the good things he needs to do and he knows this well. Vaguely though, it is because people are of the misguided conception that it makes them appear endlessly physically weak and mentally soft by doing so. Yet clearly they acknowledge it isn’t.
People are thus destined to a gloomy life of decayed doom, as proof of the perpetual state of atonement which couples the meanness that reigns supreme in the world of endless restitution they created. But then it is man’s subsequent death, and only his death that has the final erratic say. It is a prevenient reality that reveals itself in a lethargic manner, which ever lacks where it shouldn’t.
Like the story of the little duckling hatched by a hen and grew amongst little chickens
THE HEN’S ODD CHICK
The grass blades shake off droplets
As she led on her mild yellow train.
Her own adorable dozen little pets
Squealing within their own tiny rain,
Before the morning dew finally melts
And all the worms go deep down again.
She beaks a large borrowing worm
And they crowd round her as quick,
Wrestle the struggling stringy form
From her higher and bigger beak.
They pieces it all amongst their sum,
Except again that weird odd chick.
Scratching off the sandy soil top
To pick and feed on the grains sort,
The serious Hen and her low troop;
All except that chick which does not.
Strangely though in a marshy mud top
It walks easily as fed with its beak blunt.
Then it happens like it does always,
Her dozen subtracts after and after.
At the stream where a worm ever plays
Danger is more and always there to alter.
The odd chick water takes in its ways;
Strangely it floats on, to the Hen’s whimper.
“Through eventful years the sticks ever pile,
Hopes with the trunk that vomits emptiness.”
The recent loudly revisited agitation for a Biafran state from Nigeria calls for another look at my poem “Fever” and excerpts from my Fever Series (Books I-V), where I told a somewhat fictional historical tale of the Nigerian state. I am currently rewriting the series and almost done.
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
Excerpts from Fever Series Books I
“Through eventful years the sticks of time ever pile, just like the people, what they represent and what represents them. The people have become a loose fitting collection that isn’t a strapped up and bonded broom, just like their land that is rich and rife with such inspirational promise.
“Nigerians are willing to be bonded up as one unit but they couldn’t possibly give an ear to the assumed wisdom in the words and experiences of their past. The people have since learnt the hard way that the sweets they have are actually sour and the sour taste is soon made bitter by their refusal to swallow their constant rejection of dependence on any sort of bonding.
“Though Nigerians are reflectively one and their historical past the same, the people can only remonstrate together over trivial issues, reminiscent of their ancestors and their quaint past that they endlessly repeat in their infantile present.”
Victors don’t flourish if their vanquished had perished and death can only lose. If the fear we bear of death doesn’t give death peace of mind, then what has death? Death can’t have us or keep us for he passes on only, going through us for the briefest of moments. Death tends to reveal the two most important lessons in our limited lives and these are firstly; Where there is a life, there are always lies. And secondly; Every road leads to the same place. Death’s power ends where it starts.
Death is always an unexpected familiar guest that steals from all.
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?
The old woman’s maid
Twenty years today we lost our father and we suddenly aged beyond our ages.
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?
Rest in peace Baba. We miss you so much, more now than ever.
“These classifications of races we use are flawed. They do not identify us like they ought to and are only popular by default. The term Caucasian got redirected to refer to the European race. It was devised as Caucasoid and initially only used to describe the people native to Europe and not North Africa, Asia, North and South America. Caucasoid was originally used for Europeans without regard to their different skin tones. It was used to denote one of the three manufactured classification of human races, the others being Negroids and Mongoloids. These three races are still in use, regardless of inaccuracies.” More pedestrians tarried and stopped to listen. Leroy raised his face and voice.
“The origin of classifying white people as Caucasians came with the discovery of the Georgian skull in the sixteenth century, it was used to hypothesized the origins of Europeans. Caucasian was coined by Christophe Meiners, a German philosopher, and got widely circulated in intellectual circles amidst criticism of its correctness. Meiners proposed only two races; Caucasians and Mongolians.
“In comparison to Mongolians, he described Caucasians as more physically attractive, with pale skins and Caucasians as more sensitive and morally virtuous than Mongolians. Christophe Meiners made further distinctions within Caucasians, deducing that his indigenous Germans are the most attractive and virtuous of all, claiming their region to be the epitome for the Caucasian race. His classification is not based on any scientific criteria. The classification was more subjective than objective. Meiners posed that Caucasians had “whitest, most blooming and most delicate skin” and Europeans with darker skin are “dirty whites”, tainted with Mongolians. Skin pigmentation is still regarded as the main difference between the races and Adolf Hitler had borrowed from Meiners’ logic.” The numbers of listeners grew. The black leather jacket steered at the back, his shaven head’s eyes narrowed. Leroy smiled and relished the discomfort he caused.
“Later the expanded human races were spread into five, based on skin colour, justified with scientific coincidences like cranial measurements and facial features. Caucasians the ‘White race’. Mongoloids, ‘Yellow race’. Malayans, ‘Brown race’. Ethiopians, ‘Black race’. Americans, ‘Red race’. Later still, the importance of skin tone was down-graded when it was observed that peasant Caucasians work outside and had darker skins through a lot of sun exposure and darker skins are a natural feature of Europeans around the Mediterranean. Still there was never any scholarly consensus on this findings. However scientists maintain racial categorizations of colour works. In the twentieth century it was increasingly used to justify political policies based on prejudice, like segregation and immigration restrictions.” Around thirty five people now stood in front of the sixty year old migrant from Jamaica, who has worked as a handy man in the same London elementary school for thirty five years. The attraction was swift and they listened with rapt attention, taking in his every word like the mild sunlight shining on them with little warmth.
“Races are presently classified based on colour, skull collections based on cranial features and anthropometric measurements. Caucasian traits are accepted as a narrow nose, a small mouth, thin lips and a balanced facial angle. These features are recognized in contrast to that of others. Caucasians have minimal protrusion of their lower faces with retreating cheekbones, making their face look pointed. Their hair texture vary from straight to curly or wavy, contrasting the Negroid’s springy and the Mongoloid’s coarse and sparsely distributed varieties.”
Leroy tugged at the remnant of his bushy hair as he said ‘Negros’s springy’. In a classroom of six year olds, his hair will make a perfect teaching aid. But these are not kids, just misguided grown ups. Another thought flashed through his mind.
Leroy: People age but remain like six year olds till they die, still learning.
Life tends to 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 truly fair.
The following poem is an experience also documented in the novel: ‘The old woman’s maid’
A strong gust of air blew
And twin curtains withdrew.
Float horizontally in mid-air,
Like Angles’ wings would pair.
The mother walked in her peace,
Embodied in that first brief glimpse
From within a curtained covering;
Into our world an Angle steps in.
Unique as, loving every person;
Everyone passes her tests’ reason.
Saw goodness, polished badness;
Her large heart sought happiness.
This world her one own family,
Which will see her out, sadly.
Her motherhood a duty not a task,
In her circumstances that lack.
A right for which she had fought,
Is her motherhood in every breath.
She lost physical battles down here,
But won the war with years to spear.
Then she had cancer and died,
Joining all those from us deaths hide.
The victor hasn’t yet flourished
When his vanquished all perished.
Death can only but surely lose,
Yet the fear of him we choose.
He doesn’t get the peace we see.
Then what really, really has he?
He can’t keep us as ornaments,
Passing for the briefest moments.
His power ends where it starts,
Coming and going, never ever lasts.
He reveals two very key lessons
In this very life for all persons;
Where lies a life there are lies
And all roads to a same place plies.
It is really true then and no fuss;
God sends his Angles amongst Us
Takes them when he misses them,
Out of a world that cherishes them.