tIck-tOck

Tags

, ,

The arms of the clock they sway to and fro,
With the sound of a tick and then a tock,
Hands moving down and up as they spin round and round,
Marking the time of day, announcing to all the hours.

Minutes go by, the earth strolls past the sun,
Kicked out and blocked, moon shadows displayed,
Days go by, the earth spins round and round,
Alas, the years speed past.

I look upon myself,
Frail hands shake as this pen I hold,
And yet another snowy lock falls to the ground,
Tis the signs of old age they say.

The bass in my voice replaced with a croak,
The spring in my step gone,
As I walk with a limp, a stick and a shuffle,
And it all started with the tick-tock of the arms of the clock

Advertisements

Musing and Confessions

Tags

, ,

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

Happy New Year

~(‘,’~) (~’,’)~ \(‘-‘\) (/’-‘)/ ε(‾^‾)з

So I just feel like doing a bit of rambling today for reasons unknown, please bear with me.

Writing has been an amazing outlet. It helped tremendously in times when I felt like I was drowning and needed to pick myself up. I could not have done it without you guys, even when there are no comments on posts, I would see site stats and go at least someone out there is reading what I have to say. Then I stopped writing because I got scared.

“Is this really any good? Am I learning? Am I growing?”

At the moment, I still can’t answer these questions but hey, where’s the fun in it if I don’t keep pushing? Maybe it won’t be as exciting as when I was exploring fresh, virgin territory, because now I have to prove myself and sharpen the sword, but it still remains an area I want to develop myself in.

Starting this year on a clean slate seems like a wise way to begin. I write under a pen name, I’m not quite sure why at the moment. When I decided to work on my writing in June last year, I did not want false praise and idle flattery from friends hence the anonymity. I envisaged a situation where even if it was crap I would have people applauding my efforts simply because

“oh she’s an amazing person who is near and dear to my heart”,
“ah, I don’t want to hurt her feelings” and so on and so forth.

Looking back, perhaps it’s also because I didn’t want to bear the weight of their expectations.

“Is this the crap she delivers? I know she can do better.”

My outlook has not changed, I’m not sure I will ever be able to go about with a banner touting my work but I have decided to simply let things unfold as they may, who knows where the road may lead.

Oh, and lest I forget, I wrote about my year on Efe’s blog, you can read it here

Out with the old, in with the new, welcome to 2013

Misadventures of a Village Girl: Anu the Soupastar

Tags

,

Gbemi soke, gbemi dide,
Fami lowo soke, kin ga ju a’iye lo,
Ogo a’iye me, jeko yo jade,
Fami lowo soke, ma ma je ko pe¹

Anu sang around the house as she mopped. This song has been her mantra for the past few days. Today was no different, until all of a sudden she went quiet then asked Kunle to rewind what he was watching on TV. I looked up from my book to see the call to auditions for “Nigeria’s got Talent”. I immediately made a resolution not to be roped into the madness I knew was about to ensue. However, much to my surprise, Anu successfully enlisted Kunle’s help. Over the next few days, they shot a video of her singing “Yes You Can” by Donnie McClurkin with daddy’s camcorder and emailed it to the given address.

Weeks later, we got a reply with her invitation for the Lagos auditions, which were to hold on December 21st. Her enthusiasm was contagious and mum bought her an outfit to wear, and agreed to have the driver take her all the way to Ojodu-Berger where they were to hold. Kunle and I agreed to accompany her. Yes, I know I said I would not take part in all this, but are you kidding me, why would I pass up an opportunity to get up close and personal with Dami Cole, one of the judges; as hot as he was talented.

The day finally rolled around and awed would be an understatement to describe my reaction to the vast number of people present when we got there. Human traffic stretched for blocks around the venue. For the first time ever, I saw a new side to Anu; fear took hold and she paced up and down rehearsing quietly. I left her backstage with Kunle, and went into the auditorium to watch the performances. Contestant after contestant came up; ranging from the bizarre to the bland to the exceptional to the delusional.

Finally her turn came around and after a brief discussion with the judges, Anu launched into her song “Fire on the Mountain” by Asa, she started off beautifully and the audience went so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

I suppose what happened next can only be attributed to stage fright; she stopped a few seconds into her song and started dancing along. It was awkward and painful to watch, not because she couldn’t dance, but because it was a run, stand, run sequence and she was mumbling her words. Next thing we heard was

There is fire on the mountain, run, run, run,
A big, big fire, run, run, run²

I suppose it goes without saying that she failed to get through to the next stage and came out in tears. We gathered round to hug her and reassured her there would be more opportunities in future.

¹ Lift me higher, lift me up, take my hands and lift me, that I may be higher than the world, the glory of my life, let it come out, take my hands and lift me, don’t tarry

² Words of a Nigerian children’s game

 

If you haven’t read Anu’s earlier tales, you can find them all here

Dreaming of Eden

Tags

,

I sit here staring into the distance
Struggling to express me
But words fail me, they always do
Maybe my eyes can tell the story
Look into them, tell me what you see

Numerous needs and wants consume me
The quest for the golden fleece
The insatiable desire for riches
To belong and be accepted
To be loved and welcomed with open arms

I dream of Eden
Awe-inspiring beauty, a paradise unending
Love, fulfilment, joy, all nicely wrapped up
No price to pay, and ripe for the plucking
Walk with me till we find it, will you please?

Of Vellum and Twine

Tags

, ,

Spotted from across the room
Printed on vellum, daintily wrapped in twine
Picked up carefully, longingly
Getting lost in the smell, the feel of its essence

Taking me places I’d never been
To a world ages before mine
Travelling the seven seas on a wild roller-coaster ride
Swinging from laughter to tears and back

Time came and went
But failed to part us
Till the last page was lovingly turned
And to the shelf it returned

Broken

Tags

, , , ,

I love you, I hate you,
I miss you, I don’t need you any more,
Thoughts of you, of us, make me smile
Till I remember your parting words
And my heart shatters yet again.

Not woman enough, not worth the wait,
Your loss, my gain,
Greater is just around the corner,
Here I wait to grab with eyes open wide,
And feet firmly planted on the ground.

He said ’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,
So I did, and now I’m better without you,
My battle scarred heart is stronger now,
The foolish girl you knew is gone,
And in her place a wise woman stands.

Tiwalade

Tags

, , ,

After my submission for TNC’s competition here, I was called out for being partial to females and asked to write a story of my choosing with a female as the villain.
This is the end product, please let me know what you think

Most people live their entire lives without realizing the power we wield at the tip of our fingers, and the pleasure it can give.  I still recollect the faded, grey classroom with its wobbly tables, where it all started.

Biology class was after lunch, and not long after the bell was rung, Mrs. Jaiyeola walked in with a trolley. The entire class went quiet, as she removed the cover, revealing rats for dissection. Some of the girls ran out to throw up but I was one of those who didn’t. We were called out one by one to receive the rats we had paid to examine.

As the class began our feeble attempts to reveal its inner secrets, I remembered its distant relative who kept me up last night in the boys’ quarters my mum and I currently lived in. My aunt Funmi took us in when dad brought in a new wife to replace mum because she was unable to give him a male heir. I suppose I should have been grateful that we at least had a roof over our heads. Here’s the thing, I was fifteen and in the flash of a second, we went from elite to beggars. Having to sponge off cousins you once considered beneath you does wonders to a girl’s confidence.

The sight of the congealed blood brought me back, bringing another memory to life. Not long after I resumed in this school, I started my first menstrual period in class – the school toilets are horrible so I never use them – and walked about unaware for the entire day. As a result, they started calling me Bloody T, the T coming from my name Tiwa. With each cut, I gained a measure of peace; at least this was one less rat in the world to worry about.

School ended and I walked home, I entered the compound and was greeted by one of the new pups from aunt Funmi’s dog. His siblings were huddled under their mum but he was yapping around my feet, paw raised high, not dissuaded by my shooing. Surely this was the noisy one, so I brought out my newly acquired knife and gave the pup a slight jab. It howled and retreated, I looked around and there were no heads popping out. I continued walking, and there it was again, following me to the back of the house where our rooms were.

Till today, I have no idea if it was a he or a she. I picked it up and stabbed it again and again, fascinated by the blood flowing out, seeing the faces of the girls in school as they laughed at my ill-fitting uniform, cast-offs from my cousin, never caring if I could hear them or not. It howled louder with each prick, squirming for release. In my mind’s eye, I saw them all trapped, begging for mercy. Thankfully, the distance from the house kept its noise from carrying. I pictured my father grovelling at my feet, the girls in school at my beck and call. I was in total control, and in my hands rested great power.

Reality came crashing when I heard uncle’s horn at the gate. My clothes were a bloody mess, and the pup lay in my hands weak and whimpering, barely alive. I had been so lost in my thoughts I didn’t notice when its howls quieted. I hurriedly tossed it under a pile of manure in the garden and rinsed the blood from the pavement with the watering hose.

Once I got indoors, I washed then soaked my uniform in bleach and started on my homework. Mum came in hours later, from her job as a cleaner in a bank where she was once a top customer. I overhead my uncle cautioning her, it would seem that someone had performed a sacrifice with one of the pups and no one knew why.

For the first time in months, I slept through the night.

Misconstrued: The Peril of a Single Witness

Tags

,

Here I was, merrily making my blog rounds when I stumbled on a competition on one of my favourites, TNC. They turned two and so we were asked to complete a story in implements of two, working backward. Grabbing any opportunity to learn, I resolved to write but eternal procrastinator that I am, I penned a draft and left it to percolate. So I’ve finally decided to grab the bull by the horns and put it out there.

The initial text in black is the fixed portion that I was required to complete, with my ending in blue.

Long story short, here’s the result; hope you like it

Now

Aigbe smiled callously as he watched Esosa tumble backwards onto the floor. He thought to himself that she quite looked like a fish out of water – flailing about, reaching for support that would not be forthcoming. His smile very quickly evolved into a cruel laugh as he watched the back of her head crash onto the cold, tiled floor with a sickening, wet sound. Leaping astride her semi-conscious body, he rained three solid blows onto her torso, working his way from her lower ribcage to her sternum. She yelped, shook and choked with each blow, unable to fight back.

“You are the one that will die, not me, Stupid Harlot!”

He spat into her face as the last blow landed and she choked violently, jerking with the impact of the blow and recoiling from the glob of projectile spittle that had hit her face.

“You! Are! A! Mad! Dirty! Prostitute!”

Each word was punctuated by a slap that sent waves of pain coursing through Esosa’s head. She could barely speak or shout or scream in protest, much less move. She felt herself start to slip into a numb blackness but she tried to hold on. Aigbe wrapped his hands around her neck and muttered.

“Witch! Harlot! Your plan has failed!”

Esosa closed her eyes and let the numbing darkness take her as her husband choked the remaining life from her, his wedding ring pressing into against her carotid artery.

2 hours earlier 

Esosa smiled to herself as she poured the brown powder into the bottle of Merlot. She re-corked it and shook it violently until the powder began to dissolve. She knew Aigbe was already on his way home.

Every fibre of her being buzzed with expectancy. The pharmacist had promised that the virility-enhancing drug worked wonders. Her body was currently at its most fertile and the doctor had said that as she no longer had fibroids, the risks expected during pregnancy were minimal. Hopefully this time next year, the house would be filled with the sounds of a little one.

Aigbe stood outside the door and watched, anger filling every pore. In all the years of their marriage, not once had he cheated or raised his hands to her. His friends often teased that his infamous rage had been subdued by love.

“So this is how she chooses to pay me back, not only was she cheating but now she wants me dead” he thought “I was waiting for the right time to ask who Teni’s father really is, and why she betrayed me, but I guess I no longer need to”

He pushed the door open, and landed the first blow before she had time to work her magic and make him forget her sins.

  

2 days earlier

Work today seemed to stretch on forever, everything upset him. He had finally gotten the call from Dr. Peters that his test results were out. The doctor insisted on him coming around personally. “Cancer, cancer, cancer” continued to ring in his thoughts as he drove down to the clinic, why else would Dr. Peters refuse to give him his prognosis over the phone.

Finally, he parked in front of the clinic and headed up, where the nurse on duty ushered him in.

“How would Esosa take it? Did he have the strength to go through the treatments? Would he even survive?”

All these and more went through his head as he paced the lushly rugged floor of Dr. Peters’ office. A few heartbeats later, the door swung open, and he asked

“How bad is it, how long do I have to live?”

Dr. Peters sat down and beckoned him towards the adjoining chair,

“The tests came back clean, the lump in your prostate was benign and will dissolve with time, however another issue was discovered that I feel you should be aware of”,

“You mean I don’t have cancer” Aigbe interjected “then, why the urgency?”

He shook his head, “During the course of our lab work, based on the sperm sample we took, we found out that you’re sterile, the reason is unknown. Did you have mumps as a kid?”

“That can’t be possible, my wife and I, our baby boy Teni, are you saying what I think you are?” His head swirled till he could take it no more, so he simply thanked the doctor and headed out.

 

2 weeks earlier

 Aigbe stumbled in shock as he felt a lump in his prostate area during his morning shower. Surely, they had been through enough, Esosa was only just starting to re-enter the world from the shell she had withdrawn into after their son Teni’s death. He waited till he got into the office, to avoid Esosa overhearing, before calling Dr. Peters. Despite the ongoing fertility promotion, there was a slot available a little later in the day so an appointment was made.

The day dragged on till he got to the clinic. After the initial examination of the lump, he was subjected to a barrage of tests and left feeling more scared than he entered. The sperm sample was the hardest to give, and the harried nurse standing outside didn’t help matters any. As he handed over the bottle, he noticed she had just collected a sample from next door and was labeling both as she walked out. If only he realized that in the stress of the day, she would end up mixing the names on both, and he would get another man’s results.

  

2 months earlier

 The pall of mourning filled the air as well-wishers queued up to offer condolences. Most people stuttered, stumbled and simply offered a hug or a handshake. How does one go about comforting a family who lost their only son; no warning or premonition given? He was hale and hearty one day, and was met dead the next morning. The doctors had no explanation and attributed it to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). No parent hopes to outlive their child, and this was no exception. Teni had begun to show signs of brilliance; talking before he was nine months old and walking not long after. Aigbe held tight to Esosa after the funeral was over, and everyone had left. Despite all his attempts to get her to let it out, she was yet to shed a single tear, still being in a state of disbelief and shock.

 

2 years earlier

“Push, push” the nurses screamed “he’s crowning”.

Minutes later, Esosa laid her head back on the pillow as her baby boy was placed in her arms. Gone were the days of shame, as her friends bragged about their kids’ achievements and compared notes on raising them. No more would she hear the snide comments from her in-laws about Aigbe’s lack of an heir. After ten years of trying, the sound of a child’s play and laughter would finally fill their house, and the nursery be put to use. Doctors had warned them about the risk of going through with the pregnancy, what with Esosa’s fibroids, but after trying for so long, to give up then would have been a tragedy so they pressed on, and now would reap the reward.

 

Update: I made the shortlist for the competition, please go read and give my story a rating on here

Misadventures of A Village Girl: Anu the Patriot

Tags

, , ,

Just in case you’ve missed Anu’s earlier adventures, please start here and here. Her story continues today.

“Anu the musician”, “Anu the soupastar” and on and on with the self-flattery, as she came up with amazing adjectives to describe herself, each more lofty than the last.

My ears have been filled with Anu’s budding dreams and aspirations to fame for the last few evenings. First she’d start off as a musician, next she’d conquer the screen and in the end, become a world renowned singer, actress and model. Don’t ask me about the last; I have no idea what inspired it although I have to admit she does have the stature for it. That said, seeing her prance about, whipping from left to right like a horse tail, made the idea of Anu on a catwalk simply too hilarious for words.

Only too soon, it was time for another music class and Anu was keen to show her world, which we all know to be very small, her freshly polished vocal prowess. Rehearsals continued for the planned musical to celebrate the school’s anniversary. We were performing a slightly tweaked version of Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver! The Musical’. Truth be told, we were all very excited about it; I had a minor role as one of the pickpockets Oliver later falls in with, but I was also helping with the set design. Everyone was involved in one way or the other; from painting the sets, to printing and distributing flyers. Of course, the boys did all the heavy lifting, with us girls standing around ogling the biceps on display. The rehearsals were held in the school hall with everyone in a big group, coming forward in turns to take part on the relevant scene they featured in.

As we started, Anu stood beside the lead, Tiwa who was picked to play Oliver and proceeded to drown her out rather spectacularly in the much-loved first scene where Oliver asks for more food. I cast a quick look around and was only mildly comforted by the fact that I wasn’t the only one with my jaw on the floor. Yes, Anu was good but there was clearly no room for anyone else on her stage. The problem is, this was neither a competition nor an audition. Mrs. Jiboye called Anu aside discreetly and gave her the lines for “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” to practice as Remi/Fagin was ill with malaria. We continued in relative order with Anu managing to hold herself back till her turn and though she wasn’t a great success because she hadn’t mastered Remi’s lines yet, all in all, it wasn’t a bad session.

That evening, dad had guests over, having invited his boss to dinner. I’d overheard mum and dad talking about a new guy that had been hired. In spite of management’s seeming confidence in his skills, he was in fact doing serious damage to the business because he lacked the technical competence for his role. Dad wanted to broach the topic socially before formal complaints were made to HR. The house was in a tizzy as mum fussed endlessly over the cooker and the table arrangements, querying dad repeatedly about his boss, Mr Owen’s taste in food. It was way too late to change much as everything was in place and either about to go in, or already in the oven, or on the kitchen counter. She was making fried rice and smoked chicken, with some funky salad. She also baked a scrumptious chocolate cake for desert, which Anu was eyeing hungrily. All our best plates and cutlery were arranged to show off the flower designs on the edges, the colours matching the napkins and contrasting quite nicely with the table-cloth. The kids were banned from the kitchen to prevent any ‘accidents’. We had an early meal, staying back to welcome Mr Owen and his wife when they arrived and then went into our rooms. Mum looked fabulous with her freshly-done hair and nails, in a simple knee-length dress, and Dad looked like, well, Dad – smashing as always. I snuggled into bed with a novel whilst Anu sat in her bed, still dressed, styling her hair.

Suddenly, Anu got up and stepped out of the room. I called out to caution and remind her that we were to stay out of sight but she was gone in a flash. Clearly, she had forgotten we were meant to out of the way of the grown-ups tonight. Conversation downstairs stopped – ominous – next thing I hear is Anu singing one of the pieces from the musical. WHAT?? I opened the door slightly so I could eavesdrop but she went quiet after some moments. Not surprising. I didn’t suppose it would have taken her very long to notice the disapproving looks I’m sure mum was giving her. Undoubtedly, Anu was going to get into trouble.

“What on earth are you doing Anu?” asked dad.

“I am singing for your oga, as him is VIP”, replied Anu, murdering grammar in her fear. “If he hears my sing, he fit help me wax album. Abi his name is Mr Orin? (Orin – Yoruba word for song), so I want him to hear my own”, she explained.

“Anu, his name is not Mr Orin, it’s Owen”, said dad, placing emphasis on the ‘wen’ part of the name so that Anu could hear the difference.

Mr Owen for his part was in hysterics, his British sense of humour set off by Anu’s latest antic. His Brazilian wife Gabriela or Gabby as she prefers to be called was no doubt gathering fresh fodder for the repertoire of life stories she’s known for. From the tinkling laughter coming from her that I could hear all the way from where I was crouched, I suspected that this story is right up there with the best of them.

“Ah, Anu is it? I’m not in the music business but tell you what? If you find someone who is, you’ll definitely be snapped up in the blink of an eye, once he or she hears your amazing voice” chuckled Mr Owen. I could definitely imagine Anu’s Cheshire grin at his words, (I sighed) as he unwittingly stoked her ego and definitely washed out any  disappointment that may have flowed from her not having found her gateway to fame just yet.

“Owen I am so sorry about this” apologized mum. “Anu, off to bed this minute, we will talk about this in the morning”, she added in a very stern voice. Anu came back upstairs and for a long time after, we could still hear Mr Owen guffawing away. I think it suffices to say Anu received the scolding of her life at breakfast the next morning.

A few weeks later, London was hosting the Olympic Games. At home, we were all excited, including Anu who had been somewhat mellow since the dinner incident. Dad and Kunle were sport buffs – so I knew the TV was on lockdown for the duration of the Games. Even mum softened somewhat, allowing us stay up late to watch the opening ceremony. We all cheered Team Nigeria in any event they featured in, sadly not many, and their repeated losses did absolutely nothing to dampen the atmosphere.

After Team Nigeria’s devastating loss to the USA in their basketball fixture, the evidently still superstitious Anu decided their abysmal performance was a result of our lack of patriotism and refusal to sacrifice a chicken for their cause. She took to wearing only green and white clothes and accessories – her still beloved uniform being the only exception to the rule – till the Games ended. I suspect she was a bit frustrated and disappointed that we all refused to join her. The idea of dad going to work in a green or white suit cracks me up.

Every weekend, Anu and I went to the hair salon. As thrilling as the Games were, I was glad to be out of the house. There’s something about the smell of hot combs and hair products that just reeks of femininity. Anu got her hair done first; cornrow style with green and white beads put in at the tips. She then disappeared into the makeup section. I largely ignored her. I mean, how much trouble could she be? I couldn’t keep an eye on her anyway as the braiding of my hair required that I hold my head still.

I made my way to the cash-register when it was finished, to pay for the services. As I scanned the receipt, I noticed that the bill was higher than usual due to a strange entry. I turned to the cashier and explained that there must have been a mix-up as we only got our hair braided. “Ah, that’s for your sister” she politely explained – pointing in the direction of the waiting room where Anu was sitting. Thankfully, I had enough money on my person to settle the bill and was grateful to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to pay. Furious at Anu, I stormed into the waiting room to demand an explanation from her but before I could say a word, an excited Anu showed me her arms; she’d gotten an intricately patterned henna tattoo of the map of Nigeria on the inside of her left wrist.

In that moment, it seemed that the world spun and then went black. Mum will kill me, I thought. No, perhaps Anu first, then me. No, definitely me first, then Anu. I even imagined her pulling a combo – taking both of us down at the same time.  There was absolutely no way mum would believe I was unaware of Anu’s lapse in reasoning. Yes, I know that henna is temporary, but still, in one hour, Anu had managed to guarantee I would get a royal tongue-lashing. The henna was already dry and crusty, so I couldn’t even clean it off. Gloomily, we headed back home. It felt as if my shoes were filled with cement, my feet dragging slowly with every step. To my great surprise and relief, mum just laughed, gave Anu a brief lecture on asking first and that was the end of it. She must have had a really, really good day.

As the weeks rolled by, Anu gradually began to make friends in school, especially with the guys and girls in the musical. I suppose there’s something to be said for her outspoken nature and apparently infectious charm. Even more surprisingly, the henna map caught on and a few girls had similar ones tattooed. Finally the school authorities clamped down and spoke out against it. Big mistake! Of course, that made it all the rage, as the rebels and not a few undecideds had to get theirs too. Just like that, Anu had started a fashion trend in our school. U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E