LIFE IS ALL THERE IS

What a waste will be all this
if all this life is all there is.
What will all the good breed,
or all the wickedness feed?

What thoughts set out to achieve,
the deeds done set out to receive.
Men are born to die all alone,
as they always lived all alone.

It goes without much comment,
that now is always the moment,
to do and be done with all doing,
for life is forever for the living.

DEATH

Aliyu Musa Araka


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 SPOUSE

The spouse is the chosen partner;
either by craft, design or choice.
Becoming indeed a legal partner,
regardless of thought or noise.


No other legal relative is such,
not even the adopted children.
For they never share that much,
not in bodily or geno brethren.

Spouses come to a disadvantage,
one that timelessly edges it on.
Success makes it an advantage,
failure casts it good in rusty iron.

Spouse is a lengthy subscription,
one that needs constant renewal.
Spouse is one true legal relation,
in danger of instant withdrawal.


SKELETONS ABOUND

Skeletons still in the cupboard,
are still new, across the board.
Just a step into the near past,
reveals old habits always last.

Tombstones mark old cruelties;
hidden, mean, untold mysteries.
Looks are most deceptive tools, lying to the most gullible fools.

Stages of Death

“Their trip back progressed quietly mostly and was rather quite uneventful until they came upon the scene of an accident that blocked the entire road, so they had to stop.

“Kengua had strolled over to the crash spot to have a closer look. He wished he hadn’t. There was a victim lying on the unpaved roadside being attended to by a number of over-enthusiastic people. These untrained first responders just kept fumbling with the man as he laid flat on his back on the dusty ground, face up and breathing unevenly heavy.

“He was foaming profusely in the mouth, with the dark part of his eyes sneaking upwards, into his upper eyelids, as if he was trying to see something overhead without trying to arc his neck backwards to look up.

“Soon his hands left his sides and started lifting upwards slightly, then falling back into place swiftly, with only his elbows bending at each time. Within the second minute, the victims legs joined in, his shoeless bare feet stabbed away from his body in a continuous stretching motion.

“Kengua was transfixed, too scared to keep looking but yet he kept his eyes on the obviously dying man, as if watching the poor chap death was an act of charity.

“Later on Kengua remembered thinking that maybe if the mans legs had found something vertically stationary to rest on, the agonized departing spirit of the dying man just might not leave when it did. Maybe it is because he didn’t strike at anything with his leg activity that his departure from the realm of the living was completed. Maybe people wouldnt die at such moments if they stood up defiantly.

“Though Kengua wasn’t alone there, he sort of felt he was the only spectator who could actually claim to have seen the man die, but he doubts if he really did see him die. He only saw a pained man briefly struggling to live on endlessly and then the same man, against all his desire to live on, became quite still and motionless. He didn’t see life leave the man. If that was ever humanly possible, the privilege wasn’t granted him that warm humid afternoon.

“So Kengua strangely romanticized that gross occurrence by curtly summarizing that the brevity of death is like an orgasm. That is if what he saw is indeed the moment of dying, which is arguably death.

“They recommenced their rudely paused journey an hour later. Kengua made a comparative analysis in his mind on what he had just witnessed and what he read some living sage wrote to win the world over into believing and accepting his listed five stages of death. Kengua was now certain that the writer has not seen these stages exhibited.

“The five stages were made easy to remember by sequencing them to DEATH as an acronym, as;

Denial, Enraged, Appropriating, Tension and Healing.

Or more aptly:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Kengua saw none of those that afternoon as he watched the man kick the air to his death. The least of all to be exhibited is Acceptance.

“Death simply damned the mans Desires, nullified his Energy, shrugged off his Activity, Terminated his life and Held him eternally Hostage. Kengua concluded that for want of a more suitable break down of the DEATH acronym;

Desired Energized Activity Terminated and Held Hostage

….would be a whole lot more befitting.”

Both Sides of Abba Kyari

By Remi Oyeyemi & Simon Kolawole

SPEAKING ILL OF THE DEAD

By Remi Oyeyemi

“The evil that men do live after them.” — William Shakespare

I am aware that this is breaking with the conventional wisdom. I am conscious that this is a rebuke of tradition. I am not oblivious to the fact that it is against the norm. I am not unaware that this is not in tune with the mainstream. I am aware some would loath me for it. Some would deride me. Others would call me names. Those who really never liked my guts, would have this reinforced it for them. But those who have the objective ability to see things the way they are and are able to call them as exactly as they should, would see some sense in this.

The idea of not speaking ill of the dead is not a good idea, especially if the dead person did nothing deserving of praise. The idea of praising the dead, regardless if the dead, during his or her life was mean spirited, greedy, selfish, inconsiderate, odiously acquisitive, ruthless and disdainful, is totally unacceptable. It is wrong and should be done away with. We should be able to say exactly what kind of person someone was during his or her life.

I have been reading in the media unbelievable eulogies about the late Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari. I have been reading some hypocritical praise – singing of this man who, to many Nigerians who celebrated his infliction a couple of weeks back, was no less a monster, because he has become the casualty of the Coronavirus 19. I have read from those who hated him saying embarrassingly ‘nice’ things about him. What a fraud. What a dishonesty.

It is a sad day when people cascade into casual casuistry with unbridled audacity. It is an act of deliberate undermining of the societal values to heap praises on someone whose remains ought to be used to cast away evils from the entire society. To project a mean – spirited public office holder as a saint when he is not, is a sin in itself.

I take serious objection to the rain of praise that has been raining down on the corpse of the late Abba Kyari. Though, this is a matter of choice to which we are all entitled depending on the way we see it. In my own view, Kyari is not deserving of any praise whatsoever. It is alright for President Buhari to cry himself hoarse. Kyari was his Chief of Staff and his relative. It is okay for his goons in Aso Rock, his partners in crime to weep without end. It is okay for those who are beneficiaries of his corrupt practices, his impunities to gnash their teeth to numb. It is their loss. His immediate and extended family members reserve the inalienable rights to mourn him infinitely and indefinitely.

I also believe that it is alright for the rest of us who are victims of the first family and their collaborators in Aso Rock, to acknowledge the loss of a soul, not because of any other reason other than the fact that we are all human beings. And this is where it ought to end. No more, no less.

For those who are Buhari’s sycophants and who still hope to benefit from the misery he is visiting on Nigeria, it might be acceptable to them to shed their crocodile tears even if they really did not like the man when he was alive. They are welcome to do so.

Here is a man, who never got a single vote, whether rigged or not, from the Nigerian people, but who hijacked the executive powers of the Presidency. He held Nigeria and Nigerians to ransom since 2015. He rode roughshod over the people of this country. He appropriated all the appurtenances of power for his personal idiosyncrasies.

Abba Kyari never cared. He never gave a damn. Yes, he did not give a damn how many Nigerians died. He did not care how many Nigerians went hungry. He did not care how much injustice was perpetrated. He did not give a damn how many innocent Nigerians were murdered. He did not give a damn how many Nigerians were chased off their ancestral lands. He did not care how many of our daughters were raped. He did not give a damn how many were maimed by his tribesmen.

He was a perniciously greedy soul. He was remorseless in his ways. The 500 million naira bribe he took from the MTN was emblematic of his innate rapacity. It was emblematic of his bloated edacity. He appointed himself to the Board of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). It was the first time in the History of Nigeria for an incumbent Chief of Staff. It was against the norm of decency and restraint. It was impunity at its worst.

Kyari relentlessly harassed the Vice President, licentiously anchoring Professor Osinbajo’s deliberate disempowerment. He unabashedly intimidated the Ministers and prevented them from meaningful collaboration with the man who appointed them, or whom he helped appointed. With a mien akin to that of a dove, he was a heinous hawk, a vicious vulture that is egregious and atrocious in its debauchery and cupidity.

He was mindless and mean. He was cruel and cold. He was crude and callous. His greed was congenital. His insouciance encrypted his guiled mendacity. He was hung up on power hunkering. He had disdain for the rules. Like his principal, Buhari, he believed and acted above the law. His arrogance was horrifying. His condescension, sardonically sickening in the way and manner he exercised unmerited power.

Yes, the idea of not speaking ill of the dead is a VERY WRONG one, especially if that dead person never did anything to deserve it. If this practice was to continue, it means every criminal in our midst should look forward to being praised after he/she was dead regardless of the crimes committed. This would also mean a genuine disincentive for those who strive to do positive things and improve their communities.

It is very important to ensure that dead people’s memories be imbued with their acts of omissions and commissions when they were alive. It is an act of injustice to arrogate false achievements, fake qualities to monstrous figures more notorious for their kleptomania as they gallivant through the inner rooms of power.

Hopefully, when I die, people would have the unburnished courage to say exactly what they feel about me and not deodorize my omissions and imperfections. Hopefully, those who would feel the need to mourn me would not see the need to be hypocritical and dishonest in their elegies.

In all this, what became clearer is the vanity of vanity itself. It brought to the fore the cliché popularized by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State in the early 1980s, “,,, vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.” It underscores the ephemeralness of not just power, but of all things that are human, except our deeds. This probably informed William Shakespeare’s ageless rumination captured in the phrase, ” The evil that men do live after them.”

We should not praise villains when they are dead. It is a great disincentive to those who laboured to be above board and did the right thing. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to like me. Please, don’t like me, just respect the truth.

“The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.” – Pope Francis

Lies never last, History never dies and the TRUTH is always constant.

©Remi Oyeyemi

Now for the other side of the divide….

____ ______ ______ ______

Now That Abba Kyari is Dead

By Simon Kolawole

April 19, 2020

On January 18, 2020, when I first read of the new coronavirus on the BBC website, my heart missed a beat because of what China means to the world. The headline was: “New virus in China ‘will have infected hundreds’.” And these were the opening paragraphs: “The number of people already infected by the mystery virus emerging in China is far greater than official figures suggest, scientists have told the BBC. There have been more than 60 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but UK experts estimate a figure nearer 1,700. Two people are known to have died from the respiratory illness, which appeared in Wuhan city in December.” I feared for Nigeria in particular.

After reading the story, I immediately sent a link to Mallam Abba Kyari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, with the note: “Good afternoon Mallam. We need to watch it.” How on earth would I have known that exactly three months later, Kyari would be gone, consumed by the same virus? At the time, as the BBC reported, there were only two deaths from the coronavirus disease in the world — and both were in Wuhan. It had not been declared a pandemic by WHO. No other country had recorded any case. It looked so distant that I was even asking myself: “What do you want the chief of staff to do about it?” The whole experience now looks surreal to me.

We regularly exchanged chats and compared notes as the virus began to cause more concern across the world. Shortly after Nigeria recorded its index case — an Italian — on February 27, he finally began to express his worries to me. Let me reproduce his chat in whole: “How many intensive care units do we have ready to admit acute cases? How quickly can we increase the numbers if the virus spreads? How many nurses do we have to deploy immediately and how quickly can we increase the numbers? How many ventilators do we have and how many should we ideally have and how quickly can we increase the numbers?” He said these were his own concerns.

Along the line, Buhari directed Kyari to lead a government delegation to Germany to discuss with Siemens about power infrastructure in Nigeria. The discussions were on how to improve the national grid, which is one of the biggest problems of the power sector. They also discussed building additional plants to improve generation. After the discussions in Germany, he travelled back to Nigeria via the UK. On the weekend of March 21, he was involved in a series of meetings on measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak.

He was said to have coughed frequently, leading to suggestions that he should run a test since he just returned from Europe.
For the record, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had not officially classified Germany and UK as red zones requiring self-isolation as at the time he returned to the country. He was in Germany and the UK from March 8 to 12, and arrived Abuja on March 13. NCDC designated Germany as “high risk” on March 16 and added the UK to the list on March 17. When the result of his test came out on Monday, March 23, he sent me a message that he had tested positive and was going on self-isolation immediately. I was shattered, shattered because I knew he had an underlying medical condition, but hopeful because his symptoms looked mild: just the cough.

While he was on self-isolation, we had regular phone calls. I normally would call him on WhatsApp voice but he would switch to video and I knew why: he wanted to prove to me that his life was not in danger. He knew I was really worried for him. Rumour was all over the internet that he was on a ventilator, that he was at Gwagwalada Hospital, that he had been flown to the UK or Cuba. Ironically, he was not bothered about the rumours. He did not sound bitter. He was even forwarding them to me and we would share a laugh. He said he was more interested in the goodwill messages he was getting. We still don’t know if he caught the virus in Germany, UK, on a flight or in Nigeria.

On March 29, something happened that got me worried again: he was not picking his calls. I later understood that the cough had worsened and he could not use the regular syrups because they contain sugar. That made his treatment more complicated. He later sent me a message that he was coming to Lagos for further checks and observation, and that the cough was not getting better. That was the last time we exchanged messages or made contact. As soon as he got to Lagos, all messages to his phone went unread. I had to rely on family members and friends to get updates and the impression I got was that he was getting better but the recovery was slow.

In the meantime, he was getting bashed all over the internet. His “death” or “removal” was regularly announced on Twitter or Instagram. But I was assured that, indeed, he was getting better with “encouraging signs”. As of 5pm on Friday, the message I got was that he was “much better” but the doctors were being “cautious”. A few hours later, Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, tweeted that Kyari had passed away. It was most devastating. What began with mild to moderate symptoms had gone out of hand. I understand that COVID-19 kills many patients that way: when you think it is all over, like it’s one step away from the worst, there comes a sudden lethal blow.

Some people have been rejoicing since Kyari tested positive for the virus. The gloating has been massive. Some are not even satisfied that he is dead. They wish they could kill the dead body as well and desecrate his grave. They are all over the social media denigrating the dead. They have their reasons, I believe. I know for sure that the mortal hatred for Buhari was extended to him, so even in death they can’t leave him alone. They said he was Nigeria’s biggest problem. He was to blame for everything that was not going well in the country. Now that Kyari is dead, I am anxiously waiting for all Nigeria’s problems to be solved finally. It would be a thing of joy.

Some said they hated Kyari because he was the one responsible for the relegation of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the power structure. Now that Kyari is dead, let us see what happens next. Some people told me Kyari is a “usurper” — that nobody voted for him yet he was the one “running” Nigeria. Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), the national security adviser, wrote a stinging memo last year accusing Kyari of overriding presidential powers and preventing him from buying arms and ammunition for the military. Now that Kyari is dead, let us see what happens next. My understanding of power is that you can only be as powerful as the president wants you to be.

My biggest disappointment with Kyari is that he refused to tell his story. When he was accused of taking a bribe from MTN, he explained to me how he opposed the reduction of the $5.2 billion fine, how he was excluded from the resolution committee because of his stand, and how some people met in Dubai and drafted a position paper that formed 80 percent of the final settlement agreement. He said he didn’t know if anybody took bribe, but he was not part of it and his conscience was clear to God. So why not grant an interview to clear your name? His reply: “My boss knows I will never betray his trust. I don’t need to defend myself.” And there is no counter narrative till today.

Anytime a serious allegation, especially of corruption, was levelled against him, I would put him on the spot. He would explain every detail and tell me who was behind the allegation and why they were after him. I would say: “Okay, Mallam, can we publish?” In the most frustrating manner, he would reply: “No. I’m only explaining this for you to know the correct facts. I’m not asking you to defend me. But even if you want to defend me during arguments or discussions, I want you to do it on the basis of facts, not emotions.” I once told him in despair: “It is not about you alone, Mallam! I worry about the stigma your children will carry for life.” He could not be bothered.

Clearly, there was a well-oiled campaign against him basically because of the allegation that he “usurped” power. On his own, at times, he would forward links to the damaging stories to me. “Simon,” he would say, “don’t forget that I was once an editor. There is a difference between investigative journalism and planted stories. These are planted stories.” The narration of everything that went wrong in Buhari’s government was constructed to put the blame at Kyari’s doorstep. He was definitely not a saint but I know that when one person is being blamed for every wrong, there is certainly an orchestrated agenda at play. I have been a journalist for 27 years of my life.

I knew Kyari closely for 10 years. He was a simple man, deeply intellectual and not one to run away from enforcing the rules. We argued frequently, particularly on economic policy which was his major area of interest. He regularly bought me books on economics and sociology. He often invited me for lunch or dinner anytime he was in London and all we discussed was Nigeria and the development challenge. He was very passionate about infrastructure and industrialisation. But he always kept quiet on damaging media reports against him. Maybe that is what chiefs of staff do: take the bullets for their bosses and go to their graves with all the secrets. Adieu, Mallam.

© Simon Kolawole

When salt losses its taste

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe


I do not know why the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) chose a day after President Buhari’s national broadcast on the Covid-19 pandemic to demand N1.1 trillion from the FG for the “revitalization” of the Nigerian university system. It is truly apalling with the current economic situation!


But then, this is Nigeria where any proof of life speech by the leader in standing position is breaking news. We are indeed a cynical federation! as ours is breaking news. While the periodic distraction that the national speculation on the whereabouts of Mr President might be temporarily strategic it has a cumulative effect in the progressive bastardization his political legacy in the long run. Being a president is not a call to be an expert. Rather it is simply being in charge which in an internet age is not a picnic.


The contents of President Buhari’s speech in overall context commendably covered all the relevant issues. That it was short on details is perfectly understandle. This is because unlike President Trump that briefs his nation daily on the pandemic, ours only addresses his national constituency “after hours and hours of rehearsals, which nonetheless unmasks his declining cognitive faculties” as his leadership template is apparently that of “presidency by absenteeism”




The world we live in is a global village. From Uganda, a young lady Kenyangi Bale tweeted at 7.58am Kampala time on March 27, 2020 just 2 days before President Buhari addressed us ” I know Ugandans deserve better. But, our president, Museveni has addressed this nation the 5th time in 2 weeks on the COVID-19 pandemic. You guys needs to visit Nigerian Twitter. They are looking for their president. He is no where to be found”.


Last night (Nigerian time) Mr Trump started his usual live briefing by announcing that the US Navy hospital had sailed into New York ready for medical battle. The former oil tanker was converted to a hospital ship in 1987 has 1000 beds, 12 operating theaters, a dental clinic, 4 X-ray machines, CT scanner, 2 Oxygen production plants, Optometry lab, 5000 unit capacity blood bank, daily 300,000 gallons fresh water plant, helipad and morgue. According to the US Navy, the hospital ship that is the equivalent in height to a 10-storey building and 3 football fields long was due to sail for New York in 8 days but when the Army Corps of Engineers was drafted in it sailed in 5 days.


Meanwhile, it took 35 days between when the first Covid-19 case was announced in Nigeria and when President Buhari addressed the nation. In India it took an Indian academic, Virologist Minal Dakhane Bhosale 42 days to develop an indigenous test kit. She unlike her Nigerian counterparts was not on strike, rather as soon as she finished her project headed for the maternity ward to deliver a bouncing baby girl. What is the difference in distaste between Mr President and ASUU?


Anyway soon after Mr. President addressed the nation a disturbing video started making the rounds on social media showing an obviously distressed Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, the CO of Operation Lafiya Dole apparently addressing, his boss the army chief.



“We have been met with very strong resistance – from more than pockets of Boko Haram. From every flank not less than 15 gun trucks were facing us. I’m standing here with Sector 2 Commander; the armed helicopter has just come to hover our air, the instruction I gave them was that anything they see moving they should engage because most of my gun trucks are not moving. Like I said earlier, the three battalions are fighting as deployed — nobody is running” He went on “But what we have here, I will give you some estimates. Boko Haram has fired more than a hundred mortar bombs at us; they have fired 80 to a hundred RPGs at us; in addition to eight to 10 gun trucks firing at us from all sides. We have not run, and the soldiers are not misbehaving or disobeying orders.We have casualties. I will come and see you in person on what we need to do. But we are not running. We lost about 20 MRAP tires here. We have changed close to 250 Hilux tires due to the terrain.”


According to a report that accompanied the viral video “Several wounded soldiers could be seen crying in the video while bodies of their colleagues was scattered all over location. Recall that Boko Haram recently ambushed troops in Borno and killed more than 50 soldiers during that attack”That such a highly classified communication is being circulated in the public domain is shocking. It however means the video was perhaps deliberately leaked by whistleblowers in service to alert the nation on the deterioration of affairs in the North East.
Nigeria’s security and military apparatus cannot afford to be distracted because elsewhere in the world either by hook or by crook according to the newspaper Times of Israel in its March 27 edition; “The Mossad intelligence service on Thursday helped bring another 400,000 CoronaVirus test kits to Israel from an undisclosed foreign location, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. That was in addition to the roughly 100,000 test kits the spy agency brought to Israel last week. The PMO, which is responsible for the Mossad, said the intelligence service had imported the chemical reagents needed to perform approximately 400,000 tests. The swabs needed to carry out the task are being sourced both internally and from a number of foreign countries. The PMO refused to comment further on the matter, specifically on the country or countries that sold it the testing components, leading many to assume that it was a country that does not have strong or formal ties with Israel.


In another report in Blomberg.com dated March 19, 2020; “Earlier this week, the Shin Bet (Israel’s) domestic security service was authorized to use a technology developed primarily for counterterrorism purposes to identify who infected people may have come in contact with”
So on one hand, while in our country the military is besieged by a seemingly endless insurgency in others the armed forces and security are being used to assist a national effort in medical health care delivery. No doubt it is all about a coordinated leadership that has purpose and direction. Ours unfortunately is mostly about an “absentee presidency” If so what is the way forward? It is all about to be seen to be in-charge. Leadership is mostly about effective presence without actually saying much or being an expert. Just be there!


Law 16 of 48 Laws of Power recommends “Use absence to increase respect and honor. Create value through scarcity” There is however a caveat “Absence is dangerous – instead of fanning the flames, it will extinguish them. In the beginning, make yourself not scarce, but omnipresent. Only what is seen, appreciated, and loved will be missed in its absence” It is against this background that Law 6 is instructive; “Everything is judged by it’s appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention”

One Hundred Tributes for One

We recently lost our Grand mother…

She passed on in the morning, on Monday, 2nd September, 2018.

She was laid to rest on Saturday, 8th September, 2018.

She was a few years over hundred. Her exact age was a point of debate. Since it was unanimously agreed she was over a hundred years old, the logical thing was to state her age simply as hundred.

She matched amongst plus the hundred,

Amidst all and sundry, her kindred.

She lived her plus the hundred,

And stood out like one in a hundred.

Our Mama lived cherished,
And will never for us, be perished.
Ever she is so revered,

For so long very endeared.

Rest In Peace Ngo….
We fondly remember your cheer..

Death only passes by…

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 memonts.

Death tends to reveal the two most important lessons in our 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.

The Suicide Dilemma

Baba
(Excerpts from the Fever Series Books II)

“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.

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“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.

SUICIDE

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.

fever 2 - Copy
Fever: Rising Temperature of Fever (Book II)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425270

http://authl.it/B00YUNKGK2
https://www.createspace.com/5195612

the poet in the poet - Copy
The Poet in the Poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

http://authl.it/B00SLWGOMM
https://www.createspace.com/5195332

THE ODD CHOICE

chick

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.

the poet in the poet - Copy
The Poet in the Poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

http://authl.it/B00SLWGOMM
https://www.createspace.com/5195332

Nigeria is a Fever

ojukwu

“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.

the poet in the poet - Copy
The poem
The Poet in the Poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

http://authl.it/B00SLWGOMM
https://www.createspace.com/5195332

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
nigeria

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.”

FEVER SERIES
fever 1

Fever: The Origins of Fever (Book I)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/397851

http://authl.it/B00YULOCXQ
https://www.createspace.com/5195609

Fever: Rising Temperature of Fever (Book II)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425270

http://authl.it/B00YUNKGK2
https://www.createspace.com/5195612

Fever: The Appetite of Fever (Book III)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/425271

http://authl.it/B00YUOGCTA
https://www.createspace.com/5195617

Fever: Gentle Aching Fever (Book IV)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/432470

http://authl.it/B00YUOGDFS
https://www.createspace.com/5195618

Fever: The Coldness of Fever (Book V)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451306

http://authl.it/B00YUOYL7K
https://www.createspace.com/5195619

2014-10-27-14-36-47

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.

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?

old woman's maid
The old woman’s maid
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383830

http://authl.it/B00SPMJXJY
https://www.createspace.com/5277712
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/8763

the poet in the poet - Copy
The poet in the poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

http://authl.it/B00SLWGOMM
https://www.createspace.com/5195332

20 YEARS TO THE DAY

IMG0175A

Twenty years today we lost our father and we suddenly aged beyond our ages.

FATHER

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.

the poet in the poet - Copy
THE POET IN THE POEM
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

https://www.createspace.com/5195332

The Caucasian

laughing-676x4051
Extracts from “The Man in the Moon” in “Everyone hates the English”

“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.

EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH - Small
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/559891
https://www.createspace.com/5650770
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/9867

AND THE MOTHER DIED

mama & baby
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’
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383830
https://www.createspace.com/5277712
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/8763
old woman's maid

tears (1)
“And the mother died”

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.

THE POET IN THE POEM
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

https://www.createspace.com/5195332
the poet in the poet

EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/559891
https://www.createspace.com/5650770
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/9867
EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH - Small

PESSIMUM

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People loose their own mark,
Showing off what they lack.
Each time brings its fear to us
And it shows in our every fuss.

Ours is made just as real,
That is not just how it feel.
For in giving what we have,
We only take like we gave.

Never really asking for trust,
For we do know what it cost.
Desire should make a picture
That should show its future.

the poet in the poet
The poet in the poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

https://www.createspace.com/5195332

NIGHTLY

bygone

Black like blind,
Silent as the mind.
Faith is in the act
And not in the pact.

Early all the time,
Always in its prime.
The sights are blind,
At night we all find.

So in their prime,
The nights of time;
Whiter though blind,
Says what is to find.

In whirls of a mind;
Never there to find,
Nights sure as time
Are safe for to pine.

the poet in the poet

GOLD AND SILVER

hands

This poem is not about money & wealth, but about people & their sexes….

Heat maketh we both;
Rich soil’s own waste.
Woke us to its breath
To breed it and eat.

The furnance is bold
To have and to Gold,
Mere crucible to hold
Silver crusts it fold.

Stallion run over care,
Strife lil’ earthen mare.
What stages we share
Sow values not fair.

the poet in the poet

FIRST PAIN

BwkEnHkIEAAyieh

When I felt it happen too;
Like I heard and saw it too.
I died that day that I knew;
I was just me and not new.
Then alive I sprout out again;
Living as all do, after their first pain.

the poet in the poet

STRENGHT OF A WOMAN

Balarabe
Where is the bird that hatched this egg?
Flying above the world, up so very high.
And the monkey the farmer wouldn’t beg?
Laughing up a branch, he threatens not near.
Will they ever marry their ideas, so very big?
As always they steal, flock, eat and do share.

Flying above the world, up so very high,
The bird still returns down to hatch its egg.
Laughing away harmless threats if not near,
The monkey’s hunger for the farm will beg.
Their ideas created their world and it is clear,
That strength of the woman gave marriage a leg.

Strength of a woman

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383812

https://www.createspace.com/5252496
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/8963

FEVER

Ununted & Troubled
Ununited & Troubled

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.
flag 9ja

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.

Sick & Sleeping
Sick & Sleeping

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.


the poet in the poet

fever 5

fever 1

TALL DREAM

Calm & Peaceful world
Calm & Peaceful world

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.

Are some dreams so spectacular that they are meant to remain unrealized?

the poet in the poet

MONARCH

AA- IMG0200A (4)

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.
AA- IMG0200A (7)

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.
AA- IMG0200A (6)

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.
AA- IMG0200A (4)

Another generation is alone and going,
Together following meals and dying.
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.
AA- IMG0200A (5)

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.
the poet in the poet

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/496472

FATHER

daddy
(ascerpts from The Old Woman’s Maid)

As death wooed me for that brief moment in time, I was momentarily glad; quite selfishly, that I wasn’t going to see (my wife) leave me like I have always dreaded she would some day. In the quiet torment of the mazy-whirls of my mind I saw my father dying all over again and all my old unanswered questions came up for answers again, questions I have always wanted to ask him, especially after he died.

‘Baba, mutuwa na da wuya? Mun amince duniyar ka da wuya.’
‘Father, is it hard to die? We now acknowledge the hassles of your world.’

I have since learnt that with life’s many diverse wards, there always lingers and roams a lie and that we all are ordinary reproductions and effigies of these many lies. We are all choking in the presence of the grip this glaring falsehood and still the inscrutable crux is never familiarized by us. Now that I know all fate is death and yet all knowing, I will love to know from him what is the best thing to do.

‘Do we sit out the stages of life’s ending trip, like you did in peaceful love for all that wasn’t recognized by those you showed real love or do we ignore it all?’

From the initial maiden cry each baby wails as it enters the world, to the difficulties of life it grows to experience as cruel lashes from mindless whips, these tastes we all come to know, own and inherit with time, age and experience.
‘But say oh father, is there better to merit?’ I would want to know this.

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?

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/383830

LOVE’S LOVE

Balarabe
This isn’t the story of our wives;
With each and all we share life,
Parting and bridging as we leave.
Each and all of us is this thief.

We lead with all emotions canal,
Lustily wanting all just temporal.
For we only tell from the external;
Wishing, hoping it is so internal.

Rolled in next is the nature,
The feelings growing to mature.
We regard or discard a culture
To marry dreams, make a future.

The investments yield their sanity,
Our character tests its immunity.
The lucky are in blissful humility,
Off springing, living, fostering humanity.

Measurement elude even more less,
For all other lust is meaningless.
Finally, love rules all the featureless,
Together we die till eternity endless.

https://www.createspace.com/5195332

Amina Allgrownupandborin Mohammed

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Dear Almighty God,
Take into your most gracious embrace my dear friend and sister. Keep her in your divine presence and rest her gentle soul in your most perfect peace, for all eternity.

I miss her already, beyond words. My tears have dried out, my throat is raw.

The rest of my world will not be the same again without our years long endless chats. Sitting across from each other we talked and argued, debated and planned. Hundreds of miles apart, you were ever helpful and ever there to lend a hand, give some advice and edit. Just as we still talked on, mindless of the incredible phone billings, be assured that we talk on still. In my thoughts and in my mind, we talk on.

Capture18_2_45

This act of cruelty is meaningless, beyond comprehension and reasoning.
Who will want to spoil such beauty and decency, or remove from amongst us?
WHO and WHY?!
Righteous God in our comforter.

Who will understand my peculiarities like she did? Who will be my unconditional friend like she was? A part of me died with you, Ameena.

You were my most special friend, you always brought the best out of me.
I became a better person by just being your friend, a privilege you allowed me.

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Ameena, you died terribly, yet you live on beautifully in our thoughts.

REST IN PIECE
https://www.facebook.com/amina.a.mohammed.7?fref=ts

SUICIDE

BwkEnHkIEAAyieh
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.

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Collection of over 250 poems (FREE)
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LIGHT OF DEATH

1554493_241905279304957_1436764750_n With fools death is celebrated,
For understanding gains height.
When death is communicated.
The moon hides its very light;
Today it’s clear, tomorrow cremated.

Hausa translation
(Hasken Mutuwa)
Da wawa a ke rawan mutuwa,
Domin haske na chan sama.
Ranan da dare ya ga mutuwa,
Wata za bache daga sama.
Yau da haske, gobe mutuwa.

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MIGHTY FLEA

Roach to the Rescue
And where are you off to
You little mite, busy so so?
To gather as you go through
Or borrowing to hide down low?

This wind that carry you
Draws a ring as you sing.
For one that reigns so true
You live shorter than you bring.

Your bite is so you can live
Like all who prey on fatality.
How true it is, in all who live,
That death is but a formality.

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ELEGY OF OUR MUMMY

IMG00035-20130120-1439 - Copy

ELEGY OF OUR MUMMY

Your produce is here and true,
For this surely a mummy are you.
From the start of it all you were
Willing that all elements be there.

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

You could see with blind eyes
Embrace truth and discard their lies.
As all came and as all so went,
You blur pain and just dreamt.

Indifference is that able chance
Not just affordable to all hands.
Compassion has love in its nature,
Lacking no past, present or future.

Dead is an air bubble inside a diamond,
Your aged love lingers on inside time.
Till you died, to these lives your breath lives on Though death ever comes back down to earth.

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AA-IMG0167A (3) - Copy

MANDELA WAS ALLOWED TO DIE?

mandela 2

Nelson Mandela had an acute lung infection and was having serious breathing complications. He was ill and bedridden for months and kept hidden from the public eyes all through this time. This certainly meant he was in such a bad state and needed help to breathe well. He most likely was put on a ventilator or assisted by some artificial means.

This assistance had most probably kept him alive all those last few months he was alive. For how long was this the case, you wonder? If this assistance was finally taken away, wouldn’t we be correct to conclude that Mandela was finally allowed to die?

mandela 1

Whose decision was this & was it deliberately timed to suit someone’s own idea of the perfect time to let Madiba die?

What do you think?

AA-THE OLD WOMAN'S MAID (Cover)

Does Madiba get his Heaven?

WHAT DO YOU TELL A SON? ~ (PART 3)

The mountain top

III: Not one good deed is free

The vultures do not live on our mountain. Their nests are below in the tall trees on the mountain’s northern side. The old stories told of how the vultures had their nests on the mountain long ago, before they descended. They had to leave when they were hunted by the new human inhabitants of the mountain. We never saw their new nests because they were much lower than it would have been safe to lean over and crane out of the steep edges of the mountain to look down and see them. But we always knew they were there because we were told they were there. We co-existed and cooperated with the vultures in two major ways that circumvented our death or theirs. They clean up the flesh of our dead and we hunted them for meat and feathers.

The mountain top is fairly large with three main parts to its diverse terrain. There is the rough rocky area with huge boulders wonderfully placed on each other in the surrounding hills. Our village is sited on this area. Secondly is the trees and vegetation covered area. On this part of the mountain top is an impressive purely naturally occurring orchard with Banana, Pawpaw, Palm, Mango, Orange, Pear, Guava trees; all randomly but closely flourishing in the dark, thick, moist, rich soil on this part of the mountain. The father of our village found them all already here, high up on the mountain’s fertile loamy soil.

The soil must be as old as the mountain itself and we are very certain the mountain grew out of the ground beneath it, carrying the rich dark soil up with it. The trees must have sprout out of seeds brought up by birds of all sizes to crack and eat or simply eat but didn’t. Or yet still carried in the many birds’ dung, littered all around. The constant rains and fog watered the soil. Particularly during the rainy seasons, this area gets quite swampy because water flows downwards from the smooth rocky hills to settle there and it never drains away. Finally on the mountain top is the mainly smooth broad, flat rocky southern side.

This part rises upwards gently from the centre of the mountain, raising almost steadily outward towards the mountain’s edge and then curves sharply downwards to form the steepest and smoothest side of the mountain, all round to its whole eastern side. It is on this broad flat inclined rocky side that we fed an ageless population of vultures with the flesh of our dead, stripped off the corpses’ bones ourselves.

The bones are thrown over the steep edge of the smooth eastern side of the mountain, all the way down to the sparse shrubby vegetation of the brownish green plains beneath, with the sole aim of terrifying the people of the village below. My father is also a soft hearted man and not the type for aggression or violent behaviour. As a grown man, it also his duty to take his turn in performing the bone stripping ritual at very numerous burial vigils. He always found it difficult to sleep for days afterwards and late on some of such sleepless nights of his, I will hear him talk to my mother about the stomach retching rituals.

He spoke of how they have to use their bare hands to tear off most of the flesh from the corpses’ bones. He described how they dug their finger nails deep into the bloody moist slippery fiber texture of the dismembered dead bodies and slowly collected the body fat. This was set aside for use in stuffing tightly woven small baskets, which are used as the main water containers by the villagers. He had vividly described the gory act. I am glad I never actually saw it performed.

It was always done somewhere within the rocky hills, by the rotating bunch of assigned elderly men, while the rest of the villagers kept an all night noisy festive vigil in the village’s centre clearing. Later when the men had finished, just around visible dawn, everyone is assembled to witness the tossing over of the bones down the steep side and the spreading out of the flesh on the broad flat inclined rock for the vultures. The gathering disperses as soon as the vultures start to perch on nearby rocks. I learnt from eavesdropping on his night talks that the father of our village had designed this type of funerals.

It is so obvious that he had designed this sort of funeral with the main aim of instilling more fear into the hearts of the people residing in the village on the plains below the mountains. This type of barbaric and quite dehumanizing burial style was however naturally convenient for the entire village community that resided isolated so high up on the predominantly rocky enclave. It had its own special merits, which also suited the overall objectives of the founding father as well.

It ensures that our men are hardened and fearless, for only the strong hearted and brave person would painstakingly embark on tearing away all the flesh off the bones of the corpse of a person well known to them. The almost routine display of the heaped flesh of the dead people also attracted the mass of flocked vultures, which we hunted for their meat and feathers afterwards, when they linger around after their meals. Then finally, this sort of nauseating funeral further heightens the fear of the dreaded mountain by the people below it.

Naturally this kept them away until such a time when the grand quest of The Return is activated and actualized by the sudden secret descend of the mountain people for a final war, destined to settle all the cruelty meted out to our ancestor. We were fond of imagining and jeering at what the village people beneath the mountain thought of the bones we threw down after a funeral. We visualized them being terrified with the sheer mystery of the fresh human bones they discover repeatedly beneath the mountain every now and then.

These were bones the residents beneath the mountain would obviously know had been thrown down from their superstitiously named Sacred Mountain of the Gods. They could tell this by the telling bloody markings of the bouncing and sliding bones as they descend down the smooth steep rocky surface of the high mountain. Because they revere and worshipped the mountain, they also feared what they didn’t know about the mountain and the supposed spirits that dwell on the rocky mountain’s misty cloud covered high summit.

This partly superstitious and mostly uncertainty induced dread, ensured they distanced themselves from the mountain side and never attempt to climb it. Not a single attempt is recorded of anyone trying to climb from the inhabitants of the village beside the enormous mountain. Meanwhile, high up on the mountain the peace our village enjoyed was truly based on the fact that we are all actually related. Everyone in the village is from the same single founding father and his two stolen wives. We all considerably look alike; with hard dark hairy skins and thick black springy hair that we always shave off clean with sharpened vulture bones. Our bare scalps are well oiled with bird fat or palm oils. We all go about completely naked, always.

We remain in our compact home shelters most of the time because it is mainly cold up on the mountain, in between the brief display of the harsh low blazing sun. We huddle up together in tight groups of separate families, with the grown ups taking turns on the outside of the family huddled up clusters. These huge embraces kept us warm on cold nights. It was an effective way to keep warm. Occasionally we all stay outside our shelters, around a large fire to tell stories, sing songs and dance. Only the Eldest has the ability to make fire, it is never taught to anyone else. For this reason fires are not lit within home shelters. This had ensured trees weren’t habitually cut down to satisfy this purpose, indiscriminately. Only naturally broken down dead branches that fall off the trees, are collected for these large fires.

The usual cold gets unbearable most times and many families slept underneath extensively woven stringed-out fresh grass mats, patched up and decorated with feathers and leaves. Few privileged families, normally the family of the serving Eldest, own very old sewn monkey hides to cover up with. These were gotten long ago when the earliest residents of our village was still alive and monkeys still lived on the mountain top too. The monkeys were hunted to extinction on the mountain. It is also known that some of the monkeys bravely leaped into the tall trees beside the mountain side, to escape certain death.

I started wanting to leave the mountain right before your birth. I wanted to leave the village and its people. I wanted to find a peaceful place to live, away from the hostile people of my village, to be more comfortable amongst people that will appreciate me for what I am and my child too. I knew that the rejection I was experiencing will be extended to you soon enough and it would have stayed with us for the rest of our lives. I also was certain that The Return will be called in my life time or most certainly in yours. I was then in my early labour pains. My pains were said to be more than usual because you were an unclaimed boy, my mother had confirmed that assumption as well.

This all made me more scared of The Return. I feared I will lose you in the war. The thought occupied me and scared me greatly. I was even more terrified when the Eldest started calling out all the men and older boys for extra war practice every other night. For the very first time younger boys were allowed to take part in performing the bone stripping ritual of the Burial vigils. The Return was surely upon us and it appeared to be quite soon. The many signs were all around us, even though it wasn’t mentioned out-rightly or discussed. It was almost as if thinking and talking about it will carry our words and conversations down the mountain and alert of our planned descend.

One unusually warm night, not long after I had you, I had to come out of my family’s home shelter to empty my rumbling bowel behind a large boulder, just outside our modest abode. It was a dark night; I could not even see my own hands as I spread them out in front of my stooped and squatted frame to stabilise myself as I went about the strain of forcing those relaxing deep breaths that empty the bowel. I had fully bent my knees, taking the ideal position for emptying my bowel. When I finished excreting and was cleaning up my rear by rubbing any residue off against an edge of the boulder, I saw a bright fire lit up at the edge of the north of the mountain, just near the trees.

I silently crept to the spot, hiding myself in the shadows regardless of the darkness of the warm night. On getting there I saw a group of men slowly lowering very long ropes down the northern side of the mountain. I counted twenty ropes lowered and each of the ropes lowered had its still visible end tied to a big strong tree’s trunk. I stayed hidden, choosing to remain there until the group of men had left before I moved, for I feared they might see me. From the dark shadow cast behind a mango tree by the lit fire, the Eldest stood up as they prepared to leave the spot. He had sat there supervising the entire work. He spoke clearly to the few men with him as they gathered round the fire after they had finished lowering all the ropes.

He told them that the entire village’s war force would descend on the plains and attack the people beneath as soon as the night air gets cooler and every sleepless head down below is surely in a deep sleep at last. He assured them that the next morning would be a victorious one after the entire grown up male population of their village had successfully conquered all the people of the plains below. Then I realised with such dread that The Return was the very next morning! It was the moment we had existed for and had waited all our lives for.

The Eldest spoke with such vigorous venom that I almost did not recognise him as the gentle man that gave the best judgments, the most reasonable advises, told the funniest jokes and sweetest stories. He was actually this mean blood tasty, war crazy old man after all. Because I had tarried behind a while longer, I saw that they had left the ropes unguarded. When I returned to our damp home space, I was deep in thought and so apprehensive of the imminent doom of my family and loved ones, as I was convinced it would ghastly turn out to be. I looked at my sleeping family and felt no doubts for what I thought was the right thing to do. I picked you up from my sleeping space, as you slept peacefully and crept out silently. Holding you close to my body, in the fast cooling night air, I still kept in the shadows, as I quickly stole away from home completely unnoticed.

As I quietly hurried towards the tied ropes, I kept strictly behind the barely visible huge moon-coloured boulders that are scattered around the village, with the hope that I would remain invincible and not a dead give away mobile silhouette against visibly brighter background to any observant onlooker. When I got to the trees, I set about untying the ropes with my shaking fumbling hands. I untied eighteen of the ropes and dropped them over the mountain’s edge, all the way down; with no regard for all the hard work that was put into making them. I left the two closest ropes untouched and kept part of the last rope I had untied and used a small part of it to strap you, still sleeping, firmly on my back, before tossing the rest over the edge too.

Then I used the two ropes still tied to the trees, to slowly descend the mountain. I was scared and slow as I went over the edge in the dark; holding the ropes firmly, and climbed down with you strapped to my back. It took so long getting down but I did it with blistered palms. I got very tired as I got lower. Bruised, tired and scared, but I did it with you fast asleep strapped to my back. My actions had a selfish intension but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had since paid for it with the loss of my people’s trust. I paid for it with the fear I still experience. And I paid for it with regrets and much pain to follow.

I had since learnt that evil would be punished, no matter how long it takes and nothing is truly free. Since nothing goes for nothing; it must always be purchased and bought some how. Someone pays a price. Someone always pays something for it; tangible or not, whether knowingly or otherwise. Not even freedom is completely free. There are many kinds of currency for payment. Freedom is the absence of force and force is ever present, then freedom is non-existent. My son;

‘Not one good deed is free
Or unpunished evil to see,
Nor something for nothing;
Someone pays something.’

(1 PART TO GO)

Pictures used with the kind permission of Tracie Louise

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Email:tracie@tracielouisephotography.com

WHAT DO YOU TELL A SON? ~ (PART 2)

CLEAR SKIES

II: Expect anything in life

The stories were told of how the father of our village once came down the mountain top after so many seasons away, hidden from his own people on his long drawn out self exile. He was now a fully grown up man and actually wanted to return to his people because he was lonely. He had thought about it and came down well prepared. He took with him lots of gifts. He had with him lots of dried fruits, feathers from hunted birds and dried bird and monkey meat.

He also had large sharp monkey bones for tools and dried up monkey blood; he had grounded into powder for body paint. He had with him tree gum and monkey hide, monkey body fat for body oils and plaited ropes from freshly cut tall grasses bark. He had tied everything into one huge bundle and lowered it down the mountain side with a very long thick rope he had plaited. He tied the end of the rope to a huge tree on the mountain and used the rope to climb down the mountain.

Once down, he hid his gifts, waited till it was dark and walked in the cover of the darkness into the village of his indigenous people on the vast plains beneath the mountain. These are people of his childhood, from the village he had run away from so long ago. The stories were sketchy and it is not too clear what happened on his return back to his childhood village; though it was obvious that he was not recognized.

After being away for so many seasons and only returning when he was already a fully grown man; clearly not the same small shy boy that ran away from the village long ago. He was not recognized. His bad speech was worse and his words could not be understood. It was said that his body smelt offensively and his hair was very unkempt. His badly cut lower lip appeared wider. He must have been a very repulsive and scary sight with his face covered in uneven facial hair.

They must have been suspicious of him and his intentions. That must have been why they chased him away with stones and sticks. It is said that he was stoned, beaten and pursued out of the village. He ran for his life for the second time in his life time; for the second time from the same village, villagers and his own people. He vowed there and then, never to run again. He promised himself that for the remaining seasons of his life time, he would never run again and he never did. He was determined to be the aggressive chaser next time instead.

He spent that night beneath the mountain, beside his bundle of gifts, where he had hid it. Morning came with his final decision taken. He decided to be vengeful. He swore and vowed to have the whole people in the village pay for the way they had treated him. He swore loudly to himself that he will make sure they all die and forfeit their comfortable village for what they had done to him. It was then he made a grand plan to start his own village up on the sacred mountain.

He decided to originate and grow his own descendants, a specialized breed of the most fearless people up on the mountain, hidden away high up and covered up by his old village’s myth of the sacred mountain. In their revered fear and worship they would never climb up the mountain. He would beat drums and the village people below the mountain would say the Gods were singing. He laughed with the thought and he was so happy with the idea. He stayed in the shadows all through the next day and did not climb back up the mountain yet.

He knew that to start a village of his own, he must have a woman. So he waited until it was dark again on the second day and then he stole back into the silent village. As almost the whole villagers converged together in a small clearing, beside a huge fire, telling funny stories, he sneaked into a hut and quietly stole away with two young girls as they slept. He had discreetly tied and gagged them up before they woke up and carried them away quickly, without being seen. He left the still sleeping girls beside his bundle of gift, by the mountain side.

He had already tied up the end of the rope he had descended with to his bundle of gifts, all ready for lifting from the mountain top. Leaving the tied and gagged sleeping girls beside the mountain, he hurriedly returned back in the darkness, to sweep off and wipe clear his tracks, by walking backwards while haphazardly sweeping his foot-prints with a broken short tree branch. A coincidental very brief heavy rainfall that soon followed his quick attempt to disguise his nefarious activity, further conspired to cover up his tracks pretty well.

Then he strapped both the young girls to his back before climbing up the mountain with the rope he had descended with. It was a real mean feat, but he was a very strong young man. Though he had to rest several times on the way back up, he managed to make it all the way back up by using the strong plaited rope with such dexterity. He had managed the ascent with such animalistic skills that made his outwards appearance seem more like a monkey in human disguise.

By dawn he was already on top of the mountain and had pulled back up his bundle of gifts after him. He then set about removing the fresh leaves he had gagged the girls with but delayed untying his captives, as he forcibly fed them fresh fruits amidst their frightened cries. They had woken up as he ascended and had struggled to free themselves all the way up, but since he had tied them up and gagged their mouths well enough, he was able to make it up the mountain with much less difficulty than would have been the case if he hadn’t restrained them.

As he fed them, they still continued to struggle. But after they choked a number of times, they simply ate and drank quietly eventually. He had kept them tied up, without gagging them this time. When he was all done, he felt so drained and afterwards he slept all day long. The two girls had remained tied up for quite a while until he was satisfied they wouldn’t try something silly or stupid. He had to be sure for their own safety too. Soon the girls fully comprehended their situation and like it is usual with children, came to terms with it.

As our village on top of the mountain grew and became a populated community, it very naturally lived for this sole old revenge of our founding father. Old as the village’s existence, this revenge governed the whole existence of our village on the mountain top. We practically lived it and for it. It had conceived us, nourished us and it is us. When I was a little girl, a boy I was purely coincidently seated beside one cold Story night, asked the Eldest what the name of our village is. Without any warning, the old man picked up a large pebble and threw it with such force at the boy. It missed him and hit my fore-head. I bled from the cut of the impact of the sharp stone. I still have the cut it had made on my fore-head. It had healed to leave this straight short vertical mark on my fore-head, which has since been admired by so many as a beauty mark, and I had since pretended it is.

It has always been considered a great taboo to even make reference to a name for our village because it was considered only a temporary abode, until we conquered our real village at the foot of the mountain. Hence naming it, would insinuate otherwise. All the boys of our village are routinely trained in physical combat. The village has maintained armory, consisting of the most diverse arsenal of the crudest contraptions of dangerous weapons. The founding father of our village fashioned out a comprehensive plan that had as a key part of it, the military training of the entire male population.

Systematically, generations of boys were taught the act of war, trained as fighting men. They steadily grew into a fairly big army of strong fearless men that would be needed for that final war. Only the current serving Eldest has the generational privilege of knowing the predetermined exact number of warriors required and fixed by the grand plan of the founding father of our village. Only he will determine when it is the right time for the final war; that one impending war we all called ‘The return’. It is the war that will seek our long sought revenge. We all awaited it for it with hidden mixed feelings, even though we were all conditioned to pretend we didn’t.

The father of our village spoke badly. His ability to talk clearly had never been good. His speech was impaired by the cut on his lower lip from birth. The two wives he kidnapped had clearer speech initially, but since they were still quite young when they were forcibly taken from their family and hadn’t completely developed their speech then, they spoke loosely too and their vocabulary was quite limited as well.

The family they all started had no option but to learn a kind of speech that was a hybrid of their father’s impaired speaking and their mothers’ adolescent vocabulary. Hence their off-springs also spoke in this disjointedly impaired, undeveloped and limited manner. This eventually made the language of the entire village sound funny and with fewer words than is normal for any tribe. We had a hugely depleted vocabulary and we used sounds to mainly register feelings.

Sixteen children in all were borne by these first two kidnapped girls. Nothing is known of which of them had what number of children or amongst their children, how many wives a brother took from his own sisters in the second generation of the family that pioneered our close knit village on the mountain. It wasn’t stated if the founding father did or didn’t add to his two wives from the ranks of his daughters. It was known that no one came down or up the mountain ever again and that there were just six brothers and ten sisters in the second generation. It was the father of our village that out-lawed marrying more than a single wife, around the time of the second generation.

So we know six of those first ten sisters would have married their six brothers, leaving four unmarried sisters. But it is also known that all the ten sisters had no less than six children each. So we speculate the rest of the story. Brothers had since made wives of their sisters and it is still one woman to one man. The communal coupling rite isn’t new and it was said to have been necessitated by certain skirmishes. The unmarried free girls are still only permitted to conceive at the special combined village ceremonies and give birth to their claimed children.

My only brother is much older than me and already had a wife, so he could not shield me from the shame of the humiliating rejection I lived with. He is not the sort for such strong protective masculine actions. He is a timid emotional sort and was not the type to seek redress through any form of violence. He is the last person to rely on if such act of bravado was required. He was however the most sympathetic of my situation, though he didn’t vocalize it.

The moon lit the village well on its full days. Its gray light reflects on the rocky surroundings and casts a glow that is friendly to the eyes. It embraces the cold nights and calls out the villagers to play. To warm up the people, a dance is often called on such cold moon lit nights and a Story telling night is declared if it is a warm moon lit night.

On these Dancing nights the old and elderly clapped and sang along, as the young danced. The pregnant girls are made to join in the dancing because the older women always said a good exercise eases a child’s passage and a mother’s pains. One of the first things I realized on the next set of moon lit dancing nights, was that no one urged me to dance as usual and I was left to sit alone on my own. Then I heard the words of the new song the new free girls were singing and I knew I was not special anymore. My time of honour had passed and I had turned into a joke, a ridiculed clown for silly songs.

In the new song, they sang of a beautiful bird that once sang and danced well, but it is now all alone and will die alone. The bird is alone because all its mates had been caught and eaten up by the Gods. Only the bird was left alone because of its pride. It wasn’t chosen and it must now die of loneliness, nursing its single egg that will never hatch. The song did not worry or bother me, but seeing my father clap to the tune and the rest of my family joyfully dance and sing along to the words of the song too, was very painful. I felt like the father of our village must have felt. I comprehended his feelings and I was hurt so deeply like he must have been, those so many seasons ago.

My father had told me that the father of our village’s last living child had died only two nights before my great grandfather was born. This second generation son of our founding father was buried differently. His burial vigil was said to be the longest ever held. It had lasted two full nights. It is said that his bones were not displayed and shown to the village until the dawn of the second night. His were the only bones dropped down the steepest end of the mountain at dawn, when the whole world was well lit up and not at night like it is usually done.

We were told the gathering watched as vultures feasted on his flesh, placed on the highest peak of the highest hill on the mountain. Usually people go about their chores as the vultures descend, but his was a symbolic vigil, unique in every sense. I sort of reflected on this as my peers began to let out their babies, one after the other. My own full burden was now large; my skin fully stretched out thin at the place it was housed. The other new mothers received guests bearing gifts from all over the village as I waited for my turn to let out my child. One hot night it was my turn and it was almost easier than I thought and feared it would be. I had eased my child out with little prompting, restrained quiet screams and lots of exaggerated panting.

Then my situation dawned on me when I held you in my arms, not inside me. For days no one came to see us to wish us well, besides my family. No guests came or little gifts sent; even from friends. I knew I was wrong to expect anything in life and right to expect anything. People will only strife for their own good and can be unfair if it doesn’t concern them. Most of those we think are good, are often not worth trusting. I knew I will never trust people again. My people are my family. If I cannot trust them, then who do I trust? My son;

‘Expect anything in life,
In its all human strife.
That very fair sort
Are often so very not.’

(2 PARTS TO GO)

WHAT DO YOU TELL A SON? ~ (PART 1)

IN THE HIDDEN HILLS
I: Looks aren’t everything

In the hidden hills of my birth place, the sunrise is never actually visible. For most of the day we do not actually see the sun. We see its shining rays very early in the day, as it lights up the steep sides of the rocky mountain our village is settled on. Then much later at late noon, the sun almost suddenly appears overhead and instantly it is quite hot and very bright. The hills closely clustered on the eastern and western sides of the mountain also make it impossible to see the distant horizons from these sides of the high mountain top.

The vast expanse of the mountain top is edged out like a rough hollow bowl. On a hot day, the rocky surface of the hills’ smoldering heat burns and dries up our hunted bird meat. Only children dare out to play in the hot sunlight, at that time of day. Our days are short and the twilights long. It is almost like every one of our shaded dawns and dusks are perpetually prolonged. Just like in the morning sun rise, at dusk, the sun just falls and hides behind the hills on the western side.

The northern side of the mountain, high up and barely hidden by the clouds, is covered by all sorts of large fruit trees and dense vegetation, while the southern side is completely hard smooth rock. The southern side rises gently upwards and then sharply downwards to form the steepest side of the whole mountain sides. And because of this, long before night falls, the village is already in dark pleasant shadows.

We all literally grew up with eyes that were not very tolerant of the harsh sun light, because we stayed in the shadows most of our lives. A long time in the breezy shade of our shelters, out of the blazing sun light at mid day, was hardly the way to get used to sun light when it does appear. As such the number of generations that grew up in the village on the mountain had this blurry conditioned eyes defect.

Then early in my teens, I had the misfortune of being singled out as a result of an unfortunate happening and for more weeks than I could count, my father will not even talk to me. He simply looks away when I appear. Mother only smiles politely but said little. I felt my family’s pain. I knew it too well because I was the source of it and it consumed the whole of me. Many stories I had heard over time, had not prepared me for the kind of pain I was to experience. My sisters before me and my lone brother’s bride’s puberty ushered experiences, which they had spoken of always, had not educated me enough.

I heard it is always an anxious time to wait for the groom to make his claim of the girl’s germinated seed. For only him, it is said, will know and recognize his seed. He planted it from the rear, in-between her twin ridged mould as she sprawled on her four limbs, waiting for the pain of his dominant penetration that nature had cursed her to suffer.

Our grandmother told us long ago that the father of the village saw the gullible bearded goats mount their female from behind and they taught him this way only. It was in his early days as a Herd boy on the flat plains beneath the mountain; when he was still with his own people. She said he was mocked for his bad speech, caused by a badly cut lower lip he was born with. He was then a very lonely early teenage orphan, daily watching over his powerful uncle’s large flock.

He chose to run away when four goats drowned while he slept on his watch. Much earlier he had been starved and caned for a whole week when only one small kid had broken a limb once. Surely if he had stayed he would have been starved to death this time. So he ran up the mountain on self exile. For two days he struggled to climb up the only route he had painstakingly discovered up the huge mountain our village is now incredibly well settled on. This was the very same mountain his own people revered and worshiped for much longer than the oldest living generation on the plains could remember.

Our tradition demands that the last rain must have dried up for weeks before the oldest man in the village calls out all the free, newly readied girls to him. They stayed with him all day to listen to his teachings, until the sun goes down over the rocky western hills, for another long dusk. Then he sends them away to find a spot in the northern vegetation, to kneel and wait for the pain of penetration.

With the real onset of night fall, the oldest man permits the variously aged free boys and men to pursue the girls to their chosen kneeling spots. The race is short and it ends with each male’s return back to the oldest man afterwards, to confirm a successful penetration. For a couple of weeks afterwards, many free girls walked wrongly, with some strange discomfort that showed they were in pain for days.

Mothers make these girls sit on their bare upper legs’ rear cheeks with their knees apart and pointed up, as they position themselves closely spaced and all seated on the hot rocks at sun up. The older married men enjoy these very revealing sights but kept straight faces and never point in the seated girls’ direction, as they also appear to sun themselves in this daily solidarity pastime. Then five weeks pass by and some of these successfully ‘Penetrated’ free girls do not need to hide for a few days in their home shelters, like they had done for a few days before; each and every four weeks.

They don’t make sand seats or sit still all day long or change bloodied sand seats, because they did not bleed naturally for weeks. Soon the bare flesh above the bushy triangles around their hips’ frontal centre and beneath their firm liberally exposed breasts begins to swell. Then the very anxious wait for the groom to make a claim starts. A wait so tasking and unfair. It becomes a pastime of the girl’s whole family. All young or older free male visitors to the family’s home shelter are hopefully welcomed until their mission is stated. I found my own wait quite unfair because I knew my discreet groom was watching and keeping away deliberately, for his own malicious reason.

I started to wish I hadn’t been penetrated like many other free girls, who pretended for weeks that they had been. It wasn’t until the customary few months had passed and I was the only free girl, who was visibly successful with child, that hadn’t been claimed by her supposed responsible spouse, that my father stopped talking to me. He looked away when I came into view and my reluctantly compliant mother only smiled at me politely, like all the other women did too.

This was a totally new situation, quite unusual and it was completely unheard of in the well detailed verbal history of the listed generations of the mountain top village, as passed down. No other pregnant bride in the meticulously passed down history of our village had ever remained unclaimed, that is before me. Soon all the revered old men in the naked community were said to be holding constant secret talks about the unique situation. It was clear that my case presented them with a situation they were quite unfamiliar and uncomfortable with.

The whole nude village is peopled by one spiral large family, all descendants from that one self exiled Herd boy that climbed up the sacred mountain so long ago. He had lived alone in the natural weathered carvings and cracks in the rough rocky hills and basked in the luxuriously fertile vegetation on the mountain, for many seasons on his very own. He lived off the plentiful produce of the rich fruit trees and drank the collected very frequent rain water or the daily dew drops, just like the whole village still does now because there are no water falls, brooks, streams or rivers up on the mountain.

I became the main talking point of the village and boldly they point at me as I walked by, doing my daily chores of collecting dew drops or gathering fruits. These simple tasks didn’t give me the pleasure they used to because of the many staring eyes and pointing fingers. It hurts even more because I hardly knew what was to become of me and my yet to be seen child, still visibly buried within me. But I’m pretty; I knew this in my own deliberately arrogant immodest way.

As a young maiden I had a very dark clear skin, with little body hair. My ears were cut well, with three spaces on each earlobe for my flowers. My mother had asked the village ear-cutter to make two extra cuts on each of my ears, not just the conventional usual one on each ear. She wanted something different and she paid him well for the extra cuts. She also sought to ease his apprehension since his concerns were well founded, because it had never been done before. He had to succumb because the handsome price of two large pieces of dried vulture meat for just four extra cuts was too tempting to refuse.

I grew up being able to fit in more plant blossoms into the holes in my earlobes than every other woman in the village. Sometimes I wonder if these extra ear spaces are not the reason for my misfortune. Just maybe my mother’s hasty deed is the source of my worries. But it only served me well in my envied fame as the prettiest girl in the village. I was especially spectacular on celebrative occasions.

On dance days, story nights or burial vigils; I was always the most colourful maiden around, with lots of flowers and feathers stuffed into my broad earlobes. My clean shaven head was always well oiled with palm oil and shinning in the sun or moon light. I always stood out and everyone looked at me with admiration. I actually thought every girl was my friend and everyone in the whole village liked me.

I talked very little and enjoyed all the free boys’ attention, which I mostly learnt to ignore. I worked hard for my family and tried to be very respectful to all my elders at all times. I knew lots of erring free girls were told to be more like me and that felt good. I danced very well, like my mother had taught me. In the quiet dampness and half darkness of our home covering, my mother had taught me how to twist and turn my body, how to bend down low with my head and shoulders close to my knees and my bare rear leg-cheeks raised up to the crowd; exposing the slit in its middle divide. She taught me to shake, swing and dangle my bare breasts in time with my arms.

She taught me how to stand up-right and kick my legs up and down, not just straight and horizontal from the ground and front-like; this only showed little of my highest leg partings. It should be side ways as I bend my waist in the opposite direction, so that the crowd can see the centre of my legs well enough. She taught me to jump with my hands on my head, it always gives my breasts a very full look, frees them and hardens them so that they are more erect and vibrate well in their frontal fatty response to my irregular jumps sharp energetic vertical rapid hops. The crowd cheers each time I dance and the free boys and men watched with mouths agape, as they cross and uncross their legs repeatedly in an obvious display of masculine discomfort.

None of my teeth is bad or missing and is revealed as evenly yellow when I smile, and I smile quite a lot. My sweaty smooth skin was the best in the whole village and every one knew this. I thought I was loved and every free girl appeared to want me to be her main friend.

I made plans with different girls on how I would lead in ceremonial dances and sing special songs at these graceful occasions. My speech was clearer than most of the other villagers and I sang like the morning pretty little birds. My family was highly respected and we lived in one of the largest home shelters in the village. My looks spoke for me and my family also spoke for me with its revered status.

With that rash quest to be acknowledged I inherited from my mother, my looks also spoke for me last of all and I felt appreciated. I had a good body and I entertained sights as well as imaginations with it. I sang with a sweet clear voice and I danced flirty steps that made mourning men forget to frown at burial vigils. Yet there I remained, unwanted and left to pine with a fatherless pregnancy. My son;

‘Looks aren’t everything,
But certainly something.
For they do speak first
And last too in their haste.’

(3 PARTS TO GO)

THE OLD WOMAN’S MAID ~ (The series: Part IV)

THIS IS THE LAST PART OF FOUR POSTS ON A VERY COMPELLING NARRATIVE!

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.

THE END

THE OLD WOMAN’S MAID ~ (The series: Part III)

THIS IS THE THIRD PART OF FOUR POSTS ON A VERY COMPELLING NARRATIVE!

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.”

THE OLD WOMAN’S MAID ~ (The series: Part II)

THIS IS THE SECOND PART OF FOUR POSTS ON A VERY COMPELLING NARRATIVE!

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.

THE OLD WOMAN’S MAID ~ (The series: Part I)

THIS IS THE FIRST PART OF FOUR POSTS ON A VERY COMPELLING NARRATIVE!

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.

DARE DA MUTUWA (Night and Death)

I

Satan cooked his soup
Down in his darkest loop,
Where the Angel does reign
With cunning, fear and pain.

In some pit in that bowel
Of cooking fiery hell
Stayed two trivial ones,
Only peasants here once.

They didn’t say at first
What lust and thirst
Had conceived for them
Eternity in that realm.

How they did manage
To slip the timeless age
And torments they live,
Is beyond its believe.

To his loop they went;
All fearless and bent,
Stealing his whole pot
And left with the lot.

His sinfulness’ roar
And his flames tore.
All hell broke loose,
A search he chose.

Emptied pot aground.
They were then found,
After a taste revealed,
His dishes aren’t mealed.

His food all waste;
Brewed of the haste
Of souls he did tap
Missing their last lap.

How do you punish
All those to finish
Forever in those hells,
Within their dead cells?

They did though say;
Here once as they lay,
Their ten years old ma
Calls ‘em Dare da Mutuwa.

II

Within the abyss rule;
Hidden is a secret pool
Of very cool pure water
Satan uses as it matter.

Because in all his might
He has only just sight
And can not ever know
A thought until it show.

He bribes and tease
His tenants with ease,
To know their thought
With the water sought.

How they always manage
To cheat timeless age
And agony they live,
Mortals cannot believe.

As Satan does prowl;
They nicked his bowl.
The water-skull whole,
Hell’s only thieves stole.

His cruelness’ roar
And his sulfur pour.
All hell broke loose,
A search again chose.

They were again found;
Empty skull aground,
After they drank its fill.
Their grin said a deal.

How may he punish
Those set to finish
Their lives in his hell,
Hopefully in their cell?

That’s where they failed,
When here they sailed.
For of all man has met
It’s always choice left.

That night she flirt
With death and dirt,
Their ten years old ma
Called ‘em Dare da Mutuwa.

III

Away on bad business,
Satan sets hell’s sadness.
Off to gain souls more,
He left hell as before.

How they again manage
To trick timeless age
And the pain they live,
Satan can’t just believe.

To his loop they went;
Again fearless as bent,
Stole his best soup yet
And with the lot left.

His demons they gave,
Smiling all so brave.
Hell has no conscience;
It produces disobedience.

As the guards ate away
Hell’s tenants stole away.
To his loop all went,
Many scared but bent.

They found in his rule
That hidden secret pool
Of cool water so pure.
Every one drank his cure.

There in warmth all stay,
From cell-pits’ heat away.
Here Satan found all;
He needn’t a roll call.

It was clearly mutiny
Beyond hell’s immunity.
He cherished his reign
And fear for his domain.

He casts the twins out,
They went with a shout.
How else could he punish
Those who seek his finish?

Again here they return
Like before are reborn.
Their ten years old ma
Calls ‘em Dare da Mutuwa.