Rekiya’s Tale.

They called her Rekiya, the name her mother whispered into her ears when she was born had been lost to time. She made Bambara under the dogoyaro tree near Aisha’s shop just before the mango groove where the village children plucked mangoes to sell at the market near Dutse. Her Bambara was the best in the whole town and just before she mixed the dough and pepper and set her rectangular pan with the round holes that formed the lush, oily, stretchy masses of perfection that had people queuing even before the first batch was ready.

 

No one knew when she began selling, even grandmothers had remembered stealing money from their mother’s purses to buy her Bambara, but life went by very quickly in these parts with women in their thirties already grandmothers of many children. Apart from the Bambara, she also was the local midwife and was responsible for the births of nearly everyone in the town and she listened to all the secret crushes and knew all the hidden love triangles in the town. Everyone loved her except Fatima.

 

Fatima also sold Bambara but hers was too oily, too runny and never had enough pepper to give it a kick. Only people from her village bought her Bambara, they would buy two pieces before sneaking to Rekiya to buy enough to fill their belly- you see Rekiya’s Bambara was the lunch staple in the sleepy town of Katangara.

 

Each day Fatima seethed as she imagined the heaps of money Rekiya made while she barely made ten notes to squeeze in a ball of frustration. The bitterness that swelled in her heart had no outlet and it began to puff up her skin and she soon resembled a sleek ball of fat and she went from marabout to marabout to alfa in search of answers. They further reduced her shrunken pile of naira notes without answers, killing goats and chickens which their wives made delicious peppersoup with, while they sprinkled her with the blood of the animals. She did not get better.

 

It soon occurred to her that the only way she could get better was to kill Rekiya, she knew just how to do it, the opportunity was the problem and she plotted daily, disregarding schemes as impossible, foolish and plain stupid, until she hit the right one.

 

She crept into Rekiya’s room at midnight, she held a huge stick to reduce Rekiya’s head to a mixture of skull, blood and grayish-pink rubbish when Rekiya’s voice stopped her.

 

“What do you want my child?”

 

She began to scream, she ran out of the room knocking out Rekiya’s legs and arms strewn on the clay floor, with her screams echoing in the surrounding houses. No one heard her though, they just felt a vibration of energy but didn’t stir out of their beds. Rekiya chuckled softly and returned to her perch at the left corner of the ceiling, her scaly skin glistening in the moonlight.

 

No one ever saw Fatimah again, no one missed her and no one questioned the secret of Rekiya’s everlasting youth.

 

 

Lorji- Aboh-Mbaise

26th May, 2017.

Home is where I am me. 

I’ve been in Benin-city for less than six hours and I’ve already heard the most outrageous (true) stories, laughed until my stomach clenched in protest and howled from every spectra of emotion from the things I’ve seen and heard. 

I could write an essay, several actually; on what this city means to me. How the differing landscapes are as familiar as my name, or my ears receiving  the flavour of Pidgin English makes my heart crackle and pop and how it is the language I’m most comfortable with, even though I first heard it after my seventeenth birthday. Perhaps it is the abundance of plantain and how you can get masses of it at prices that would shoot guilt daggers in you, or my favourite people calling this city home- especially that five year old girl who makes me believe in soul mates and past lives. 

Maybe it’s the ease of conversation here, and the music with the words I don’t understand even if I twirl the rhythm  around my fingers, as my mind uproots stories I am too lazy to sit in front of a computer and strike the keys that unlock the magic. 

I should write “I love Benin-city”, but that is not wholly true; each time I scoop from the cauldron, the emotions are never the same. I’ll just write the truest thing- this town is where all my parts collide, where I am most capable of being me.

Lyrically- Look what Love Has Done to Me

Tomorrow’s my friend’s birthday, I met him on his birthday… not physically, on WhatsApp. It was his picture that brought us together, he was posed with a toothpick in his mouth and for a reason I cannot decipher even three years later, I was so irked by it that I kept complaining to Hero who’d put up the picture. Hero was irritated by my pestering and forwarded his number for me to tell him myself.

That was the start of one of the most beautiful friendships of my life, I’d have said the most beautiful but Hero would sulk and Zagira would send a barrage of WhatsApp messages. Anyway, he’s the quickest connection I’d ever made, he almost seemed to have a brand of truth serum and got me to tell him all my secrets. 
Three years on, I count him as one of the major blessings of my life, the one who knows me better than I know me, the one who will listen to my problems at midnight when he has to leave home at 4am (if you think the hustle is crazy in Naija, you should try relocating to Illinois USA). He’s still the one who has refused to find me an American bobo 😦 I’m mega vexing for him, like all my married friends who rub marital bliss in my face but refuse to hook me up… Is it fair?

I wanted to put up “That’s what friends are for” by Dinner Warwick but I was listening to a random selection on my phone and Patty Smith’s “Look what love has done to me” came up and I knew it was the right song. Knowing and loving Christian (Baby) has changed my life. Agape love oooo he’s a married man, biko. 

 Look What Love Has Done

I woke up this morning feeling lonely

There’s so much my heart just does not understand

There were times when nothing really mattered

But now I find I care too much

There’s life in everything I touch
Look what love has done to me

I am not who I used to be

Everything is changing, now we’ll never be the same

Look at what love has done to us

Will we ever learn to trust

We’re running out of time, there’s so little time

Baby look what love has done to me

Oh, yeah
Now it’s late at night, I’m here without you

I’m trying to make my way to where you are

Can’t you see, I’ll still be here waiting

Can’t you see, our two hearts were always meant to be as one
Look at what love has done to us

When will we ever learn to trust

We’re running out of time, there’s so little time, baby

Will you look what love has done to me
I’m calling out your name, baby

Calling out, calling out, yeah, yeah, yeah
Now look at what love has done to us

When will we ever learn to trust

We’re running out of time

There’s so, so little time, baby

Oh, look what love has done

Baby look what love has done to me
Look what love has done

Done to me

The sins of the father…

You were looking out of the car window, wincing at the mother who was flogging her son too furiously for his sin- whatever it was, when you heard your father’s voice and the tapping of his fingers on the steering wheel. You turned to him sharply, your brow arched already and concern drawing your eyes together.

“I wonder why he doesn’t greet me anymore,” he said

Who doesn’t greet you daddy?

Look at him” he tilts his chin left to a man walking with a little girl who looked to be about four or five years old.

Who is that?

“Gerald, remember him? He lived across the road with his parents, they were my friends. Can you remember them?”

“How can I not remember them?” you muttered through a suddenly parched throat.
The car suddenly felt like a furnace, you wanted to jump out of the car, out of your skin even, anything to escape the memories about to hit you but you sat still with legs pressed together and your hands gripping your knee as the dam shook and  then collapsed.  Continue reading →