I hear Buchi is dead, I cannot understand it. How can she die when I have not met her and told her all the things she means to me? How can she depart when I haven’t told her how reading The Slave Girl at eight made me want to build worlds with stories, just like Buchi and fall in love with Ibuzo, just as she told me to. Continue reading →
I haven’t listened to Luther Vandross this year and the pull to listen to him has been phenomenally strong. This evening, I finally found time to listen to him (I don’t listen to Luther if I have things to do, he deserves total attention), singing along as the music took me on that beautiful ride that only Luther’s music can. Continue reading →
I have tried to write something for you here, for this birthday. The words are hiding, I guess they are ashamed because they know they are not enough to capture you.
When people meet you, they always comment on your beauty, even now you still turn heads and it’s always hilarious when those primary school advertisers come for you, without knowing your last child left primary school more than ten years ago.
When they get to know you, it is your wisdom that enthrals them, your kindness that lifts them and that quiet strength they quickly come to rely as well as those delicious meals that cause people to “book” visits as often as they can.
When I first met you, the day I was born, I knew you were awesome. Bringing me to this world was harder than any of Hercules’ trials, yet you did it all and have NEVER made me feel like I owed you anything, It was Daddy who told me the stories, not you, never you. But as I grew older, I realised that was just the preamble, almost inconsequential even, because you outdid that all the time.
Remember when I was the hot-headed teenager who knew everything? I wonder now how you navigated that era without losing your sanity or given me brain-resetting slaps on per second basis.
Or that time in Bida when I needed to see you so desperately and you appeared like a hallucination with apples and digestive and that hug that made life right. Or how you know the times to hold me and let me cry and the times to tell me to wash my face and hold a sword.
Memories buzz in my head now, chanting release slogans and humming Redemption song but a blog post is not the place to let them out. Maybe I will write a book about you, how you made me love reading before I could read, just by watching you curl up and read- I wanted to know what power the black squiggles had and if they would made me as happy as they made you. How you gave me this fierce love for music that is one of the key joys of my life as you played your eclectic collection on the cassette player and on that Toshiba video player.
How can I forget the stories? You would make up stories on the spot, complete stories with made up songs too. Rather than flog or slap, you’d tell a gripping story and extract a promise from the mesmerised errant child, promises I haven’t been able to break more than twenty years later.
Then the writing, you would write my long letters to Papa Kenneth, Papa Vincent and okuko because I was too young to even write. How did you not laugh as you wrote? Instead, you sat solemnly like I was talking about matters of national importance, and you put the words on paper. Thank you for understanding just how important that time was for me and for that patience.
Or how you could make three children each feel equally loved, the centre of your world and make them best friends. If I were half as great a mother as you, my children will be triply blessed.
Or how you stand in the gap, interceding for us. One day, I’ll tell the rapture story and how you made fears melt away just because you were there. And how each day, you show us there is a God because only that can explain you, my precious, wonderful mother.
I pray for God’s favour and grace to continue to abide with you, for his love and mercies to remain your constant companion and that your prayers always get answered. As for blessings, they are yours already, abundantly.
Iya ni wura- mother is gold. You, Onyeomachi are all the diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Happy birthday, Nnem.
Ike-bobo, Continue reading →
Yesterday someone at work told me a story that made me rather sad.
An army officer was about to be deployed to a war zone, he gave his wife his atm card to withdraw money when his salary is paid. His salary was about 80k and his wife had full access to everything so she could take care of herself and their two children. Continue reading →
Her memories of him always gripped her throat until she choked on the bursts of pain that flowed from her heart to her lips. At those times she’d wished she didn’t burn up all his pictures when he left her, she wanted to burn them again after sprinkling Cameroon pepper on his still form so he’d writhe in agony wherever he was and if he was with her, maybe the pain would scorch her too.
When he first left her, she cried daily, calling his name and phone, begging him to fill her arms again. At first he laughed at her when she called, his voice swollen with something that reminded her of pride. Sometimes she heard her laughter in the background, she longed for ten minutes alone with her and a pair of pliers strong enough to uproot her brown and scattered teeth, maybe he would be so disgusted by the witch that he’d run back to her. He soon started ignoring her calls and eventually blocked her number. She wept and made up silly revenge plots while her friends and family watched her closely and prayed for her. He never called, not once. She immersed herself in work, making more sacrifices than anyone and had the scars and plaques and hefty account balance to prove it.
But years were born and they died, with each one rolling her heart in a new layer of bitterness. News of him still percolated into her life, they were still together, he still laughed at everything she said just as he’d done when he first met her but she’d been too secure in his love to realise how dangerous that was. Their house was still quiet even though they’d filled it with art from far flung places and redecorated every quarter, it was just as quiet as hers.
Then she spotted two grey hairs, one at her temple, the other near her nape. She sighed and got her scissors, taking care to cut off only the offenders. She saw five more, two weeks later, she’d turned thirty nine the previous day and it had been seven years since her husband and the witch walked out of her living room with linked arms.
She played Jimmy Cliff’s Wild World on replay loop on her car’s mp3 player as she drove to the fertility clinic. Minutes later, the cracked voice singing Wild World in the car startled her. It saddened her that she’d let her voice die, that she didn’t know her own voice anymore. She dabbed at the tears collecting at the edges of her eyes and blew her nose with the pink handkerchief a prophet had given her in the past that would help bring him home, two years had passed and her husband was still married to the devil’s chief priestess.
Walking into the clinic was difficult, her legs felt like concrete boulders and her heart seemed to be playing a rock song as she walked into the doctor’s office. Her mouth dried when she saw him, even though they’d spoken five times on the phone and each phone call lasted at least twenty minutes as he reassured her that their sperm donors were all healthy, intelligent and kind men. He hummed Lagbaja’s Cool Temper while he reviewed her scan results and hormonal profile.
“We will start the first cycle next week”. He said just before squeezing her shoulder gently.
She smiled and nodded while she continued to battle doubt.
When her period didn’t show up for business after two months, she gingerly bought pregnancy test strips. She danced after each one changed from one line to two, then she called her sisters to tell them the news.
She’d barely began to show when she abandoned all her clothes for maternity gowns. People stopped her on the road to rejoice with her while she saw her story on certain gossip blogs and on social media.
She was drinking a mango and pineapple smoothie when her phone rang. His voice crackled with animosity on the phone as he launched into a tirade about her morals and accused her of faking the pregnancy.
“You’re so very funny”, she snorted as she cut into his diatribe. “You left me- the barren idiot, hooked up with Queen who would give birth to your football team. You did this nearly eight years ago and you have the brazen effrontery to call me and say dust about my morals? Get the fuck off my phone, you expired piece of shit”
She ended the call, switched off her phone, settled deeper in her chair, sipped her smoothie and said a prayer of thanksgiving. In a room across town, her ex-husband buried his face in his hands and sobbed, with the test result his wife threw at him just before she left with all her possessions, still on his lap.
For part of my sojourn at the University of Benin, I attended GPA- Gospel Power Assembly. We had a fellowship anthem but we also had unofficial anthems- songs we sang at almost every meeting and the chief of them was Your Majesty by TD Jakes. I love that song, extravagant worship at its finest and it brings back memories of some of the best times in my life and some of the best people who have walked through it. It’s based on Psalm 24 and it’s awesome! Continue reading →