Red Butterflies

“Obinna, don’t you like my new hairstyle?”

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I was seated at the balcony, enjoying the evening breeze and trying to respond to some work related mails when Ada came to set a makeshift dinner table beside me. My eyes caught hers as she dipped her head low to dish the Jollof rice and Chicken stew I requested for and she was smiling so wide, oblivious to the pieces of meat stuck between her teeth.

“You haven’t answered me Obim”, her soft pink lips curled up in a beautiful pout.

I smiled at her. Ada Ada, always in a hurry. You must answer once she calls, answer when she questions and she can question for Africa! Yes, her questions can be irritatingly much, but I’ll still pick her everyday over my ex, Jane, who asked little or no questions but always jumped into conclusions like one of those long-stick-legs masquerades at festivals. Jane would whine like a child with nasal congestion and go, “Obinna, didn’t you see my new hair? You couldn’t even compliment me!” Really, it was confusing to keep up with all the Peruvian and Indian weaves she had on all the time. Yeah, maybe styled differently, but they all looked the same to me.

“It is very beautiful hunnie. Well, I would have noticed it earlier if you hadn’t kept it covered under that hairnet you’re always wearing around the house. Give it to me, let me gift the fishermen on the island, you wouldn’t listen.” I told her with a soft tease. Really, the hairnet looks like a small fishing net and what not with the numerous holes in it.

She laughed that her loud giggly laugh and she slapped me on the chest.

“Don’t insult my hair net biko. This Lagos heat is terrible. Unless the air conditioning is up all day and night, expect to see that hair net. It’s No 1 on my keeping cool starter pack for the season.”

My smile morphed into a laugh. Starter pack indeed. I dug into my food while she sat beside me and stroked my head, her hand going down my neck occasionally, kneading, softly, soothing. If someone had told me this time last year that my heart would be full of so much love for Ada, I would have not have even dignified the statement with an answer.

“You need to shave Obim.” Her hand had moved to my face, caressing my sideburns.

“I will tonight, Mother hen. Now let me eat o.” I teased her again as I resumed eating while she stood up to get me a cold drink.

Adanne. The first thing you notice about Ada is her beauty. I remember that day at the City Mall where our clique gathered to celebrate my last promotion. Someone apparently invited Ada and the first thought on my very single and searching mind was, Wow! Who is this pretty girl?

But before my first thought could start to birth as butterflies, Ada bellowed, no, roared with laughter as she starred down her phone. I guess she must have had something very funny going on in her phone, but come on, who laughs like that in public? I just couldn’t believe that sound came from her. We were all taken aback. You see, Ada has this angelic beauty like a porcelain doll. She looks like the prim-proper, cutlery-eating, etiquette-minding kind of girl. So imagine my amazement to see her laughing like a hyena with her mouth wide open. I swear you could have seen down her throat if you bothered to.

And I hate loud people. So regardless of how beautiful or dainty she looked, I was immediately turned off. I always held the impression that loud people are merely attention seekers and I wasn’t ready for that life, even if it came wrapped in beauty.

However, as the night wore on, I discovered I couldn’t really blank Ada out. She was simply the life of the party, keeping me enamoured and I found myself toying with the idea of asking her to dance.

Well it’s just one dance. It’s not like I’m asking her to walk down the aisle with me.

While I kept on my mental debate, she beat me to the chase.

“Hi Obinna, I believe we haven’t been introduced.”

I suddenly saw her standing right in front of me.

“Yes…Yeah.” I said.

Am I stuttering?

“I’m Adanne.” She said with a warm smile and an outstretched hand.

“I know.”

I returned her smile as I took her small palm in mine and shook it gently while we started an easy conversation. It took her yawning for me to realize that it was almost midnight and the rest of the party had long gone home. We had been chatting for, what, 3 hours? I definitely had to see this girl again.

“So can I have your number please, you know, to keep in touch? And maybe arrange how we could finish this discussion over, maybe lunch, drinks, anything?”

“Are you asking me on a date?” She asked with a serious expression on her face and I started to worry I read her wrongly. I thought she was into me.

“Yeah, yes I am asking you on a date because I would love to get to know you better…but I understand if you don’t …”

“Yes Obinna. I would love that very much.” She cut me off before I started to ramble. What’s wrong with me, I thought, while she recited her phone number and I stored it away. I don’t do rambles. Never. Sade Adu’s Smooth Operator wasn’t my ring tone for nothing! So what is wrong with me and all the stuttering tonight?

It barely took a month for me to realize what was wrong with me. The stuttering ended but the butterflies came. And they didn’t come to joke. I still didn’t get it at that point though. This is just attraction right? Well, up until that evening when she couldn’t meet me up for our dinner date because she was working late and I offered to bring pizza and drinks to her office. And as she opened her office door to me and I took in her much disheveled appearance, teary eyes, paper strewn on the table and every other surface, I had this urge to comfort her, this strangest impulse to pull her in my arms and never let go, this desire to be the only one who makes her very happy. I held her in my arms while she rambled on and on about her horrid day and I believe, it was in that moment I realized that I was in love with this girl and I would cross the proverbial seven seas and mountains just to have Ada walk life’s journey with me.

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For The Grandmother who did not dance

From the moment I heard my phone ring, jarring me awake from the hands of sleep, the brightness of my new phone glowing in the darkness and my eyes squinting, blinking, gradually adjusting to the light, I knew that Grace had put to bed.

Call it intuition, call it whatever. I just knew.

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“Hello Obim.”

I said to the phone while I slowly stood up from the bed to reach the light switch by the door.

“Mummy, Mummy are you awake? Please call Pastor Ajala! Mummy are you there?” He was near hysterics, rambling, making me scared.

“Obinna calm down. What’s the matter?”

I asked as I sat back on the bed, gripping my phone tightly.

“How is Grace? Is the baby here?”

“Yes Mama. The baby is here.”

I was beside myself with joy immediately and so I wanted to rise and dance the dance of Grandmothers. However, I heard a silent “but” in Obinna’s voiced and my legs immediately stilled.

“So what is the matter? Why is your voice like this? How’s Grace?”

I immediately started to pray in my heart, my words tumbling over the other.

“Grace is not fine Mama. I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to her Mama. I would die Mama, I would die…!”

Mechi onu biko young man! What’s with all this I would die I would die chant?  Nobody is dying here o! Grace won’t die. You won’t die. My baby won’t die. So calm down and tell me what’s going on.”

I rose as I spoke, bent over to pick up a scarf that had fallen on the floor and then used my feet to seek out a pair of slippers from under the bed.

I never lost the grip of my phone against my ear.

“Obinna? Obim talk to me…you’re scaring an old woman.”

“Mama she won’t stop bleeding and she’s been unconscious for a while now”, he began to say amidst sobs. “The doctors are refusing to tell me anything more. They keep saying they have it under control but I can see the fear in one of the nurse’s eyes. Mama pray for us. Mama please. Call Pastor Ajala too, maybe he can get the prayer group to join in praying…” “Obim, Geria, Grace won’t die. She won’t because my God tells me that we shall not die, but live to proclaim his works! And I know my God doesn’t lie. Chi din du! Be strong…I’m coming right away.”

I ended the call and threw aside the scarf I had been struggling to tie. There was no use. A man who escapes being burnt alive doesn’t come out crying about the loss of his beards. My bare head would have to do today. Hurriedly, I picked up the dress I wore yesterday from the door where it hung while I mentally calculated who to call. Yes Pastor Ajala first. Let me call Pastor Ajala.

He picked on the first ring “Pastor…it’s me, Mrs Okolo. Good morning sir.”

“Oh Good morning Ma, I know it’s you. It’s so unusual of you to call this early…?”

“See Pastor, it’s Obinna’s wife, she just put to bed. Baby is fine, but the mother isn’t sir. She won’t stop bleeding and I’m afraid. Remember the dream I told you about last month? Madu egbu lam! Pastor please agree with us in prayers. Please call the prayer band people, I’ll also call my women group to see how many can meet us at the church.”

“Ok Ma, it’s well in Jesus name. She would be fine okay? You have to be strong for both of them now, God would take control, and it is well.” He said as I ended the call.

Should I go to the hospital or head to the church? The hospital, let me head to the hospital. Obi needs some moral support and I can still pray from there.

My phone starts to ring again. It’s Obinna.

“Obim I’m on my way. I just spoke with Pas Ajala and he said he would get some prayer band members to join him. See me at the hospital gate now.” I rambled into the phone all the while not hearing the eerie silence in Obi’s voice.

“Obi, are you there? Obinna?”

“Mama, it’s too late, Grace is gone.”

Immediately, my heart lurched, my hands shook, trembled, my new phone-a gift from Grace just because she wanted me to have a phone that could “whatsapp”-fell, scattering on the tiled floor like a pack of ice and my heart broke into a dozen pieces while I screamed, Nd iro m nwetara m!

Glossary for words written in Igbo Language-Eastern Nigeria

Mechi Onu                                           shut your mouth
Biko                                                      please
Madu egbulam                                   let no man harm me
Chi din du                                            God is alive
Nd iro m nwetara m                          my enemies have gotten me

The Reunion

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The first time I ever saw my mother was on a Saturday morning, the 6th day in the month of May, 1998.

It was my 11th birthday.

We were in Grandma’s garden, picking mangoes that had fallen with the morning dew; Grandma and I and Aunty Bose, when she came through the old wrought-iron gate that demarcated the garden from the rest of the house.

The first thing that stood out was her hair. It was styled in one of those permed curls of the 90s: few twists framing her face and a little pencil-like thing that seemed to hold up the rest of her hair stuck out at the top. I always had a deep love, sometimes jealousy, for people with long hair seeing as mine refused to grow more than a handful. Now it’s a wild mass though.

I still recall the clothes she wore. I would later learn that Mother was more than a little obsessed with the finer things of life. That day, her outfit was exquisite. Yes it was an outfit. I cannot simply call her impeccable apparel a dress, worse, a cloth.

She was dressed in a baby pink skirt suit that rode up her thighs as she walked towards us, and she had a gold brooch pinned over her chest to the left. And there were definitely high heels involved, because I remember thinking that they were in imminent danger of acquainting her with our garden floor.

When she came closer – with a rather graceful walk – I saw that her shoes were gold rather than the cream I thought from afar and encrusted with something quite shiny that looked like a mix of pearls and stones and it was in that moment I decided that she must have missed her way and was only here to ask for direction to wherever it is she was going to. Such a high class woman could not be here to visit Grandma. Well, I don’t mean Grandma is lowest of the low, but what would they talk about? The weather? Or the neighbour’s daughter’s wedding that held last weekend? C’mon, you know I’m right.

However, absolutely nothing prepared me for the shock of seeing this beautiful woman go down on her knees in greeting. I mean both knees!

She knelt on the rocky dirt ground and I looked at her as if she had sprouted horns, my mouth slightly agape. It was a struggle for me to kneel in greeting to Grandma and Grandpa every morning-on a tiled floor, talk less me going through that shebang for a stranger in a dirty garden floor filled with stones and what not.

Her voice was soft, very soft as she greeted Grandma.
“Good morning, Mummy.”

Now, it wasn’t strange for her to call my Grandma “Mummy”. Almost every everyone called Grandma “Mummy” or “Mama”. She was quite popular in the area, and quite loved too. Well, she was always baking cookies and frying chin-chin to share with the neighbors and also regularly babysat for them, so go figure. They would definitely love her.

But Grandma’s face was a picture of shock. I thought she was going to keel over. It was as though she saw a ghost and I kept wondering what’s with the look on the stranger’s face too. I wanted to say, “Hey Pretty stranger, It’s not your fault. don’t look so gloom.” Grandma just doesn’t handle surprises well at all. Even if it was a movie and there was an unexpected twist, she would go from shocked to angry and shout expletives at the TV. And considering I was the only one that noticed her arrival since I was eating mangoes instead of being bent over and picking them, Grandma’s reaction was expected.

“Lara? Omolaraeni? Is that you?” Grandma said.

Okay, pretty lady wasn’t a stranger after all judging from the vigorous nodding for her response. Maybe Grandma knew her as a child, that could explain the utter shock at seeing her all grown up. I get that sometimes though, whenever some people see me and they exclaim and ooh and ahh, “Aduke! Your grandchild is all grown o. I remember the last time I saw her; she was still crawling all over the place!”

Pretty lady Omolara responded still in her soft voice,

“Yes it’s me, mummy.”

She held her hands together in front of her, wringing them in a very familiar manner;a motion i do all the times when I’m nervous, while my overactive brain struggled to figure out what was unfolding.

And as I turned back to look at Grandma to see tears pouring from her eyes like a dam let loose, she went forward, tentatively, slowly, she and pretty lady Omolaraeni inching together till they met in a fierce embrace, sobbing so heavily while I remained confused, wondering what was causing the waterworks.

The Meeting

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Is it time yet?

I asked myself the twelfth time

So when I checked my phone and saw 06:02pm

I got out of my car

Into Mimi’s Restaurant

Picked a spot behind some potted Lilies

Brought out my phone to type

Three words, a comma and a silly emoticon

“Hey, I’m here 🙂

Then I placed my phone on the table

As giddy as never

My heart waiting in anticipation

Humming like a song

Seconds feeling like hours

Seconds feeling like days

Where are you already?

 

Then you arrived

Not as a child of my imagination

Oh! A million times more than clear pixels

As all the sunlight in the room swept towards you

And you put a stutter to time

Gracefully

Your gait

Mesmerizing

Putting me in a daze

And slow-mo

I rose in greeting

Gently holding on to your hands

a bit longer

While I gasped in silence

And my heart echoed

-behold the Yin to your Yang.

Photo Credit: Google

(c) Olutomiwa Odujoko, 2016.

 

Nightfall

 

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The news of father’s death came to us one cool Sunday evening.

We were at the back veranda facing the chicken house. Mama held down Chika while I tried to weave her coarse short hair in preparation for a new week of school. The kerosene lamp hanging on a make-shift line between two pillars kept swaying in the evening breeze. I could barely see enough to plait a neat line.

“Mama, she’s weaving it too tight!” Chika cried for the umpteenth time.

“That’s because your hair is so short! If you complain one more time, I would leave this hair! After all, Aunty Tina’s salon is just down the street.” I retorted angrily.

After the last time we made our hair at Aunty Tina Salon with Chika sporting pus-oozing sores on her head for a week and I, losing my hair edges-edges I desperately grew with my daily rituals of coconut oil-we vowed never to return there. And seeing as the other closest salon was quite far, we worked out an arrangement. Mama would weave my hair and then I would weave Chika’s. I must confess it has not been a wonderful “bonding” experience like Mama said it would be as Chika always whines dramatically and cries wolf during our weekly sessions.

Thoughts of the next day slowly replaced Chika’s childish quibbles. I suddenly remembered I had a math’s test I hadn’t studied for. Well I tried to all weekend, but I just didn’t make any sense of the figures, even though I did what Uncle Bright did the last time he tutored me.

“Concentrate Ada. If you concentrate, you would eventually understand.” he said midway into our session.

“How Uncle, How?”, I asked, my whole body singing with boredom, my mind thinking of things I would rather do than sit here learning about an Isosceles triangle. Things like completing the novel I borrowed from Grace last Friday.

“Ada! Are you listening to me at all?

Okay. Let’s see, what would be a good example…Aha! I bet you love shopping!”

“I wish”, I mumbled.

“Mama buys all my clothes, do you think I would otherwise be dressed like this?” I pointed at the chiffon top and long brown skirt I was wearing.

“Okay, I know. But if you had any money of your own, would you like to shop for dresses and shoes?”

“What do you think I do half the time during French lessons?” I retorted hurriedly before I remembered I wasn’t talking to someone of my age group.

“Oops, you weren’t supposed to know that” I added, ashamed.

Uncle Bright laughed and went on and on about a scenario of buying dresses. Honestly, it made perfect sense at that time but right now, I cannot for the life of me relate it to any mathematical solution I know.

I guess I should bring out my text book and have one last look through before bed tonight. Maybe if I stare at it long enough, the answers would materialize in my skull.

I continued in the monotony of weaving Chika’s hair and we heard the doorbell. Faintly. I had repeatedly told Mama that the battery for the bell was weak but she kept forgetting to purchase new batteries.

Who could be at the door though? We rarely had visitors, most especially, Sunday evenings. Well except for Father’s boys. Those ones come unannounced as if we shared the rent for the apartment, bearing messages from father. Father was probably too busy to come himself. Busy doing what exactly, I can’t even tell. I stopped asking him questions long ago when I realized I was just going to get a glare, or be asked a question in return like what is the cube root of 3188? It’s not like I wanted him to come anyway. His visits were always very loud with silence and blame-game sessions with mother on how well Chika can’t read her times tables, his voice booming threateningly, causing Chika to tremble like a banana leaf on a very windy day. All the bravado with which she argues with me or Mama fades away when Father is around.

Mama stood up to answer the doorbell while I continued weaving Chika’s hair. It could just be Mama Tope, our neighbour; she is always running out of matchsticks or dry pepper.

The lamp kept swaying while I weaved on, marveling at my expertise and praising myself in my head, until I heard Mama scream.

We scrambled to our feet immediately, combs dropped, my heart racing and palms immediately sweaty. I had never heard Mama scream that way. Not even when the ceiling fan caught her fingers last month while she hung some paper lanterns for Chika’s 5th birthday.

Not even when Father loudly struck her across the face one night he came to the house, drunk and stupid, demanding to eat catfish pepper soup and became livid when he was told it was 12am and no fish farm would be open for business.

“Chinwe, what happened?” Chika asked with a light tremor in her voice.

The fear that gripped me at hearing Mama scream immobilized my armory of sarcastic comebacks. But I was still able to manage an eye roll.

“But we were here together when we heard Mama scream. How should I know?”

I replied her with a voice that was meant to be stern but came out shaky. And gradually we edged towards the back door, walking as though on egg shells, our hands reaching for each other mindlessly, seeking support, assurance.

And as we walked into the house through the kitchen, straight on into the living room to see Mama sprawled on the floor, the scarf erstwhile on her head missing, her hands beating her chest like an errant child and her eyes crying a river to rival the Nile, I knew that something irrevocable had happened, and life may never be the same as we knew it.

photocredit @google.com

(c) arewadudutomiwa, 2016.

Of Superwomen and Pants

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Last night Maami pulled me close under the large baobab tree
that often gives me nightmares
casting shadows against my window
like the horrid creatures from that frightful story Adetoun loves to tell
and she started to talk
while holding my hands
staring into my eyes in the dim of the moonlight
maybe trying to imprint her words into my soul

Adebisi oko mi,
This body we see was not here ten moons ago
You are a woman now
A whole thirteen years!
And you must learn the ways of the women
To be humble, submissive,
cook and clean and carry the babies
clothes to mend
the garden to weed
the beans to pick
all in one sweep
Be preemptive without being cheeky
those your cannon balls of sarcasm, stowed away.
You must be soft and plaint like well-made lafun
yet firm as stones below at the river bed.
Be the anchor
The anchor holding the sail never falls apart.
To be one or overdo the other is a sin
After all, you are now a woman
You should know these things.

But Maami,
I point in anger at my brother snoring noisily by the veranda
The dog, Jaja, resting at his feet
See Adetide
A whole seventeen years!
He doesn’t even wash his clothes
neither can he make ogi without lumps
You never had this talk with him I suppose
Why Maami?

Yes Maami.
I heard you well
and I will be a woman.
But do our people know
that we women put on our pants
one leg a time?

Love found – Part 2

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It was sudden and clean. Her eyes were dry and her words cut to the chase. Though there had been a decline in the relationship for the past few months, the break up still came as a shock.
Claire was a stunning beauty. Among the first 5 in her class, she was the epitome of beauty and brains. She was drop-dead gorgeous. Her body was to die for and I wore the crown of being her boyfriend proudly.
Sitting opposite me at our favourite spot in school, her dark eyes swirling like a bottomless pool seemed to stare into the depth of my already fragile soul.
“We can’t continue this way Brian.”
She obviously wasn’t expecting a response from me. I stared at the trees, the grass, everything and nothing around except her.
“Brian, are you with me?”
I nodded at her absently to continue.
Only a few weeks back, I was chatting with my sister back in Nigeria on how I was certain that Claire was the one and my search had ended.
“Brian, I think we should take a break and check ourselves. We don’t connect like we used to.”
Break? Check ourselves? For what?!?
What about all the good times we’ve shared? No! I would fight to reclaim our love!
I produced my best lined argument ever. It didn’t work.
I spoke straight and directly from my heart. No progress.
Nothing worked.
She had made up her mind.

That was four years ago.

We graduated the year we had taken a “break” and after graduation we tried dating on and off. I used every trick in the book, just to win her heart back.
Still, nothing changed.

I pieced myself together and started up a construction company with the help of some of my lecturers back at the university.

That was four years ago and my heart is still mending.

plane landing

I landed Murtala Mohammed Airport at precisely 2:50pm. Today is Mary’s convocation and I had made a promise to be there. A promise I intend to keep even though I’m late already.

“Hey Taxi!!!”
“Where you dey go?”
“Unilag pls, sharp sharp!”
“Oga, I no dey go that side, go slow plenty for there because of the graduation wey dem dey do”
“abeg…I go double the normal rate”
“Ok ok…enter kia kia…gimme your bag make I put am for boot”

I had forgotten how bad traffic could be in Lagos. Whoosh! It was past four before we got to Yaba. From Yaba to Unilag, the trip just got worse as traffic was at a standstill.

Finally, after bouts of cursing rants and crazy driving techniques, I dropped at the gate of the school and walked as fast as my luggage allowed me to the University’s sport complex where Mary’s tent was set up.

“Surprise surprise!!!”

Mary was the first to turn. I’m still surprised at how she didn’t break the plates she was holding because her look of shock, surprise and joy was unbeatable!
Then almost immediately, she jumped on me screaming with excitement. As she kept on hugging me, I felt my back being pinched, badly.
I jumped.

“Ahn! What was that for?
“How come you didn’t tell me you were coming home?”

“He told us, we just weren’t sure he would actually make it. So we thought it wise not to tell you so your hopes won’t be raised”, Mummy said.

“oya come and gimme a hug, better than the one you gave to Mary o…abi you didn’t miss me?”

I smiled. Mummy. I crossed over to mum’s side and hugged her too. And Dad. I was so happy to see everyone.

And as I raised my head to look for where Mary had left my side for, I was dazed!

Yeah, she wasn’t an Agbani Darego…but I was attracted to this babe Mary was pulling towards me. It’s crazy yeah, but I felt like I knew everything about her even though it was the first time I ever set eyes on her. There was something about her that was different in a strange way that made my insides tingly and my hands all sweaty.
Wait! What’s wrong with me? It must be the excitement at seeing everyone…yes it is.
I took a deep breath and waited for Mary to introduce me to this babe assaulting my senses left right and centre!

“Brian, I want you to meet Uti…my best friend. Remember Uti that I told you about?”

Uti. Hmmm. Nice. I remember Mary telling me about one girl she met at school, now her best friend blabla. I guess I never paid much attention to all that Mary always said about her. Now I wish I had.

“Utitofon!”

They all screamed her name. I guess she too had gone someplace other than here…my indulging in some day time fantasy like I was.

She and Mary exchanged some codes through their looks and I could only watch them with interest, though I couldn’t decipher whatever information they just shared.

As I imagined, her voice wrapped its tiny fingers round my heart and tugged softly. She went on about how she has heard so much about me and how nice it was she was finally meeting me.

I studied her up close as she spoke to me. She had a dimple in her left upper chick bone and eyes that danced while she spoke excitedly. She had this simple elegance around her and she exuded love and warmth.

Maybe when I get home and have a cool shower, my nerves would calm down.

The party folded up few minutes later and we set out for home.
We 3 kids sat at the back and Mary sat in between. The girls chatted all the way home with Uti stealing glances at me, occasionally.

Then the realization of her dazed expression when she saw me hit me!
Yeah! She likes me too. I felt like removing my shirt and waving it the air, screaming it out loud!
Instead, I just sat quietly and smiled at them both as they spoke.

And it took us forever to get home…Naija!

Home sweet home!

Since everyone was so tired, we decided to call it a day. Hugs and kisses went round, while Uti and I strategically avoided each other.

I went up the stairs to my room and had that nice cool shower I had been craving for. After lounging a bit longer than usual in the shower, I finally laid my head to rest on my bed and the voices of Mary and Uti crept into my room. I could hear their sudden burst of laughter and their chatter far into the night.
I slept off with a smile on my face…thinking of Uti and the little dimple on her cute face.

I woke with a start around 3 am. When I think back to that night, I still can’t remember what woke me up from sleep. I decided to go downstairs and take a warm glass of milk. Maybe that would ease me back to sleep.
As I went softly down the stairs trying to make as little noise as possible, I started hearing voices…and it was from the living room.
I peeped in the room and discovered that the TV was on, yet the room was dark and empty. Who forgot to put off the TV now? As I moved swiftly to put off the TV, I discovered someone quietly staring at me.
It was Uti.

“Hey”

“Hey”

“You couldn’t sleep?”

“Yeah…I had a bad dream and I didn’t want to disturb Mary…so I opted to watch a film instead to relax my nerves.”

“Ok… Would you mind a cup of milk?”

“I don’t mind…thanks”

I hurriedly went into the kitchen and made two warm cups of milk for the both of us. As I cleaned up after myself, I wondered if I was doing the right thing by being alone with Uti at this time of the night…seeing as were both attracted to each other.

Emmmm. I think I…I mean we can handle this. After all we are adults.

Staring at the screen as I came in, I saw that she was watching an animated movie about birds…hmmm, cute.

“Here”
“Thanks.”
“Would you like to talk to me about it?”
“Nah…It’s no big deal”
“O.k. …If you say so”

“What’s the title of the movie?”
“Rio…it’s a about a girl and a cute blue bird who can’t fly…It’s almost over though”
“Hmm…Interesting, a bird who can’t fly.”

We watched in comfortable silence tilled the credits appeared on the screen.

She didn’t make a move to put off the TV and head for bed.
I didn’t make a move to take the empty mugs back to the kitchen.

“So how did you and Mary meet? I’m sorry I didn’t pay much attention to the entire gist she told me about you….”

“O.k. … We met at the…”

And that was how we get chatting nonstop till Dad and Mum turned on the lights around 7am when they were ready to leave for work.
Wow! We had been talking for 4 hours?
Wow! Wow! Wow!
I don’t like talking per say.., and I just spent the last 4 hours chatting idly with a stranger and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was so comfortable around her the way I had never been with anybody else…Except well, family.

Even Claire didn’t get me to talk this much…this deep…this long.

Ahhh…!!! I’m gone o.

After Mum and Dad left, I asked her if she and Mary had plans for today and she said to go quickly and run it past Mary upstairs.

I sat back on the sofa and stared unseeingly at the TV. I really like this girl. She’s got depth, style, charisma plus a little bit of sass! And I was really looking forward at spending the day with her.

Oh! I had forgotten Mary…mehn…this girl has gotten into my head!

I was really looking forward to spending the day with Uti and Mary.

We made a decision at around 12pm to go the palms…alongside some of my friends and theirs. Mary and Uti called 3 other girls and I called up some of my best pals and we all totalled 8. Just enough to squeeze into the family’s white Sharon.

Anyways, we had a smooth ride and I was able to take in the beautiful scenery of Lagos. So much had really changed in the past few years.

palm trees

We got a hut, some munchables and drinks and then we settled down. We all started gisting and I told them stories of South Africa and my budding business. I gisted them about how Nigerians live in S.A and how we were closely knitted over there and then the turns went round.

As evening came closer, a local band set up close to our hut and began to play some sweet music. Most of the others went closer to them leaving me, Uti and another couple in the hut.

We picked up where we stopped.

I had been so anxious all day to have her all to myself. Mary had caught us both stealing glances at each other and she gave us both a knowing smirk. I knew she was going to rant and rave and tease me senseless about me being hung up on her best friend later…but who cares?

I like this girl… a lot.
Since my break up with Claire, I really had no connection with all of the girls I had gone out with. Maybe just basic attraction, but no deep heart feeling connection.

We kept on talking about everything and nothing, soaking up information about the other like rain on dry ground after a bout of drought.

Maybe it was the poor lighting. Maybe it was the intensity of my growing feelings that made me lose focus. Or the fact that I was carried away by the way her voice made music to my ears…I didn’t seem to notice that she didn’t look so ok.
Yes. It was the poor lighting.

And all of a sudden, she started struggling to breathe.

In her sick state, she was trying to tell me something but I couldn’t decipher it. All reason left my body as fear paralysed me.

“Uti…!”

My voice came out as a mere whisper even though every bone in my body screamed out with fear and panic.
I can’t remember the point at which the other couple with us in the hut came over and tried to help. One of them ran for Mary and everybody outside came running.

“What’s wrong?” Mary asked as she ran for the hut.

Immediately she came in and took in the situation, she just asked for the car keys with surprising calm, her voice just laced with a little panic and fear.

“Yeah…I think we should take her to the hospital.”

“Don’t lift her…just leave her and stop crowding her. I’m not getting the keys to take her to the hospital…just gimee the damn keys!”

Though I still didn’t get it, I gave Mary the keys and she ran to the car park. Then I sent for someone to go get the one of the managers to call the resident physician, that’s if they had one. I stayed with Uti and watched on helplessly as she struggled to breathe. I held her hand and tried to soothe her. I pulled my shirt and began to fan her. No progress.
Mary came back as quick as possible back with her handbag and I wondered here this crazy attitude of hers was leading up to.

Then she brought it out.
An inhaler.

And it slowly dawned on me.

She’s asthmatic.

Immediately, Mary held out the inhaler for Uti and they both cradled the inhaler like the lifesaver it was. Slowly Uti began to get better. Being weak from the entire struggle and the pain, she couldn’t sit up, talk less stand.
I picked her up in my arms and headed to car. Party over.

Since Mary was reasonably calmer than me, she opted to drive while I sat in at the back with Uti. Then I began to flashback to us talking, she hyper ventilating and then collapsing. I remembered the fear and panic I felt. And the great sense of loss.

Now she had fallen into a light sleep, laying out on the back seat and resting on my laps with beads of sweat crowding her forehead.

As I wiped her forehead with the back of my palm, her eyes fluttered open and found mine. And she said my name. More like whispered my name.

And then I knew.

I was in love with Uti. In the moment she collapsed in my arms, I felt like the world had come crashing. It wasn’t the kind of pain I felt when I lost Claire…No…It doesn’t come close. I felt like life had cheated me and made me loose something I hadn’t even had time to discover. God. I’ve never felt so scared and cheated in my life.

Brian you are crazy!
How can you be in love with a perfect stranger you’ve known less than 2 days…? You don’t know anything about her! For instance, you didn’t know she was asthmatic! Who knows what other surprises she could spring up? You are attracted. Yes. But in love?

snow white

Yes! I am. Absolutely in love with her.

And I think it all started from the first minute I set my eyes on her.

Dedicated to fairy tales and happy endings! ***taking a bow***…***loud applause please***

letters

Hello funbi,
I trust you’re excellently fine. How has life been since we last spoke? Ok I guess.
Are you still with Debola…as just friends or more?
If you guys have defined your relationship and decided to take a wholistic look at what is going on in both parties hearts, kudos!
But if you’re still undecided as to where you stand in Debola’s heart and future, please, don’t play the fool, dearie.
Speak up now.
He’s your best friend so I’m sure you know how best and when to approach this subject. Ask him to define the relationship.
And if you’re too shy or nervous to go about this, please talk to someone you both respect and let him/her help you handle this with wisdom.
It is better for you to know where you stand now…and pick up the rest of your life from there.
And above all, PRAY. The voice of God can’t be substituted with the voice of man or anything else.
Trust me, all my intentions towards you are the best and I never want to see you hurt.
Promise me that whatever the outcome of your talk with Debola, you would remain strong?
I love you, sincerely.
All the best!

Hello mama morounkeji,
Words cannot still define how sorry I am for your loss.
I still can’t believe that after how you took proper care Keji, she still died.
Hmmm…it just goes on to remind of the scripture that says, EXCEPT THE LORD WATCHES OVER THE HOUSE, THEY THAT WATCH,WATCH IN VAIN.
No matter how much care and protection we give to ourselves, how much faith we have in doctors, nurses, injections and drugs…
God has the final say.
See how you took care of Keji and the Doctors did their best. Then she ended up slipping on the tiles and dying!
This goes on to show that our living and dying are in the hands of God.
I’m not saying that God intentionally let’s evil things happen to us, I’m just letting you know that he has the final say. So why fret about what you have no control over?

I heard that you gave birth to a baby boy last week. Congrats!
Please, give this child up to God and do not rely on your ways, like you did with Keji.
Give him up to God and everything would be alright.
I hope to hear from you soon.

Hello Christabel,
I know you’re still hurting and angry with God and your husband.
Its ok. To be angry.
But its not ok for you to keep dwelling and revelling in your anger.
Yes. Chris neglects you, doesn’t treat you the way you want to be treated, the church is insensitive towards your feelings…
I get it.
But should I remind you that on your wedding day, you signed a better for worse agreement?
There were better times.
Now are the worse moments.

Being a Preacher’s wife comes with great responsibility and maturity dearie.
I know you have these qualities in you, and you can handle this.
Just be strong…and stronger, drawing strenght from above.
Chris would come around after I do some serious talking to him.
I’m not excusing his behaviour neither I’m I saying its ok for him to treat you poorly, but I’m sure this is just a phase. Something must be going wrong on his inside for him to show forth this ugly virtues you have painted.

As for the church, my dear, you can’t please them all. Even the apostles in the scriptures couldn’t please the whole church!
Deal with them in patience and love.

And as for your children, take it up as your sole responsibility to teach these children in the way of the lord. Don’t rely on the fact that they hear the word being preached daily! This could bred over familiarity of the word of God in their hearts and they just take it for granted.
Help them to understand spiritual truths. Help them find God for themselves.
Ensure they build up solid relationships with christ.

And to do this effectively dear, you must lead them by example!

You would be fine dear. I’m very sure that you would pull through this.

P:S…go and tear up those divorce papers you collected from Barr. Caleb!

Lo̶̲̥̅̊
ve,
arewadudu.

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Love found

raindow rose

Our story began a long long time ago.
Ok…let me cut the “clicheness”. It wasn’t really a long time ago that it all started.
It all started before we actually met…and to think of it, most love stories start out that way. So that’s why I think I should start the story at the very beginning so you can have all the background gist and details. You want the full gist, don’t you?

Mary and I shared a flat off campus all through our university days… (In case your thoughts are already running, yes yes, Mary is a girl and no no, Mary is NOT my heartthrob!)
Anyways, we had all the campus fun together, shared our best and poor moments together…in short; she’s the best friend anyone could ever wish for. I’m an only child plus it’s just me and my dad, mum died when I was 12, so Mary’s parents became my foster parents in a sense. I spent almost every holiday in their house and I enjoyed every moment of it…except for that one time during an Easter break when Mary and I snuck out to attend a rave on the island, and we got caught!…anyways that’s story for another day.

As I was saying, Mary was (is) still the sister I never had and we love each other very much.
I know you’re waiting for the part where the love story actually begins and I must be boring you by now, but I just had to go into those details so you would see how I met Brian.
I remember the day I met Brian as clearly as today. It was time for Mary and I to graduate from the university and we decided to hold our convocation party together. It made more sense that way since it was the same crowd we would be entertaining. We had all logistics figured out with the help of Mary’s mum, both our father’s purses and a few friends. Little did I know that I wasn’t just preparing for my convocation, I was also preparing to meet the love of my life.

gradua

The convocation ceremony itself was done in a hurry and everyone proceeded to the after party with their friends and family. We partied for a while; mouths busy, bodies swaying, cameras clicking away and after a few hours; we began clear away the dishes as people started to leave the arena and join the long traffic to drive out of the school.
“SURPRISE SURPRISE!!!?”
I was still admiring the quality of the voice of whoever it was that shouted when I turned sideways and saw him.

choir singing

As I set eyes on him, I heard a choir of angels singing and a bright light shone from heaven onto his face and I was transported into another realm…OK, I was just joking….all that didn’t happen.
But oh my, there was an instant attraction!
OMG! He had the cutest lips I had ever seen on a guy and all I could do was stare at his lips in a daze.
In my daze, I barely heard Mary scream his name and jump on him. As I slowly regained consciousness of my surroundings, I heard Mary’s mum say, “we weren’t sure you would make it, that’s why we kept it from her so she won’t be too disappointed if you didn’t show up.”

Then almost immediately, Mary came towards me…no, ran towards me in excitement and pulled my hand.
“Uti, this is Brian!”
Ohh! So this is the famous Brian who went to South Africa and refused to come home. Brian. The first son of the Akintade’s and Mary’s only brother. He’s had his tertiary education in South Africa and when he finished, he decide to settle there and start up his own construction company plus he never comes home for holidays so I have never had the opportunity to meet him.
Wow. I think we should sue all the photographers that took all the snapshots of him in the family album. They didn’t do any justice to him at all. This Boy is fine!!!
And on and on I went in my thoughts, with the stupid smile still plastered on my face, such that I didn’t see him stretch his hand out in greeting or even hear everyone call my name.

“Utitofon!!!”
Mary tapped my back. She further put the back of her palm against my forehead.
“Are you ok? Your skin looks flushed and your eyes seem to lack focus. Are you fine?”
At times, Mary can be such a mother hen.
“No, No, I’m fine. I was just thinking of something. I’m ok.”

Then the reason for my demeanour seemed to dawn on her and she gave me a wink while trying to stifle a laugh.
“Ok. I was introducing Brian to you. The Brian.”
And she winked. Again.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. Nice to meet you…Brian. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about you.”
“The pleasure is all mine, sweetie…”

He. Called. Me. Sweetie.
Hey Uti…calm down…breathe…through your nose darling…all he said was sweetie. Whoosh! I can’t even think rationally and intelligently with this guy…Brian, around me! And see me thinking I’m now a “big girl” ready to take on the world! How can I take on the world when I can’t even contain a small attraction…ok, a humongous attraction to one man?

As I mentally beat myself up about my attraction to Brian, little did I know he felt the same way about me. He even had it worse!
(To be continued)

P: S
Truth be told, I’m at a crossroad on how to finish this story properly so I decided to break it off into parts. I’ve been so busy lately and I barely have time to channel my energy into writing. I’m sorry for not making this a valentine upload as I earlier promised. I promise I’ll make it up to you. And please, there are 2 new uploads; Love Found and Preacher’s Wife.
And sorry there are no pictures. I had to upload from my phone and the pictures got missing somehow. I’ll edit the stories as soon as I regain internet access on my pc. Comment as always and have a happy reading.
Love you.

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I’m still here!

Hey dearies.
I apologise for the long silence. I’m truly sorry. I’ve been busy with a whole lot of stuff but I promise you guys an upload for valentine…a supercute lovey dovey story dedicated especially to a special fan…Adegboyega Adeyemo…#he’s long overdue for the love story he’s been wanting# and as many love birds who get the opportunity to read uploads on my page.
I love you guys and I’ll keep trying my very best to not dissappoint you.
Happy Valentines day!!!
ENJOY!!!

PS: My POP is the same day as valentines!!! A big shoutout to my fellow batch A 2012 wonderful corps members
Ayoola Ajibare
Aroyehun Kemi
Oiza Ali
Akinola Olawunmi
Bunmilofe Aramide
Omolola Aluko
Wande Kayode Ajibola
Akinyode Oluwaseun
Pire Love Gabasa
Jude Anaegbu
Gbenga Rufai
Alofun Tayo
Oyetade Sayo
Sarah Abana
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Funbi’s Folly

There’s no point buttering it up, 2012 SUCKED!
Ookk…maybe not “sucked” (forgive me, I could be too blunt at times), but it wasn’t all that I hoped it would be!)
And now 2013, I still have my super cool job with KPMG plus a promotion due in march, would be 25 on the 6th of April, I have 2 nieces and a nephew that I soooo adore! My parents are…

Pause…

Backtrack… I would be 25 on the 6th of April… yeah that’s the problem!
While I’m stuck between 20 and 30, I’m just as stuck between wanting to be completely impulsive in my life choices (yeah don’t tell me…I know that’s immature) and wanting to settle down. On the one hand, I want a great career and a family life more than anything. And has GOD would have it, I happen to have fallen in love with this wonderful man who would be a great person to build a life with.

This past weekend, Debola took me to meet his whole family.

Sorry…bad manners. I didn’t formally introduce myself. My name is Adefunbi Adebiyi, the 3rd of 3 girls. Dark skinned, slim, not tall, actually the word is short, but I have been called beautiful. I’ve lived in Lagos all my life, childhood at Aguda- Surulere and then later Lekki phase 2 where I’ve lived since my teen years and I still live with my parents. I studied Sociology at the University of Lagos and that’s where I met Debola.

Debola and I were not romantic or even particular friends during our undergrad days. He was so caught up in his fellowship and academic activities while I also had other fish to fry *winks*…so there was particularly no basic relationship though I had developed a crush for him since he attended …Full stop!

How we became friends is a story for another day.

As I was saying earlier, Debola took me home to see his whole family last Saturday. Though I was well known by his parents and siblings, today I was meeting everybody. We drove out to Ebute Metta where his folks live to his 3 years old nephew’s birthday party. His elder sister died when giving birth to baby Enitan and since then, Debola’s Mum and Dad took charge of parenting Enitan. It was the most adorable thing I had ever seen, most of the father’s side of his family came out to celebrate with the 3 year old cutie. Even the Grands where present. Having never grown up with grandparents, it was heart-warming to be greeted by Debola’s folks and grannies.

Enitan’s party in full swing,,.yaaaaaay!

As the party wore on, it wasn’t long before Grandma Janet burst open a photo album, a compilation of images through the years including their entire family. It was a treat for both me and Debola; he discovered all kinds of pictures he hadn’t seen while I got to take in just how tight and supportive this family is. Reunions, funerals, birthdays, you name it! Every picture was a story, a revelation of a character in the family. I learned so much about them all just by perusing these photos!

Meanwhile before you get ahead of yourself, Debola and I were NOT romantically involved. WE ARE JUST FRIENDS. Just friends for 5 years now…5 years of my being hopelessly in love with him.

“Why don’t you have a heart to heart with Debola? After all he’s your best friend, you shouldn’t be scared of talking to him”…”Time is not on your side my dear, ask Debola what his intentions are so you can move on with your life!”…blablabla.
These are statements friends have made to me over the years concerning our relationship. But the thing is…I’m scared to know the truth. Is Debola just bidding his time with me till he pops the question or doesn’t even love me, you know, in that way? If he doesn’t love me in that way (you know what way), then why is he always around me? Hanging out, escorting me to engagements and vice versa and PLUS he has had Zero girlfriends for 4 years now…!

“He’s gay!” was Bisola’s response when I told her my dilemma. My childhood friend has been trying to fix me up with all sorts of guys; charming, good, nice, rich, notgoodlookingatall… And I frustrate every of her plans because all the time I don’t give them a chance and I compare these men to Debola…and they don’t come close to par.

Yeah. Debola is the problem…

***sniffing***

I thought last year was when Debola would realise he couldn’t do without me and that I was the one for him.
I thought last year was when he would look into my eyes, kiss me softly on the lips and whisper the words “I love you, FUNBI…please marry me” in a soft caress.
I thought last year was the year I would walk down the aisle towards Debola and he would look at me like I’m the reason the sun rose every morning.
Last year was when I thought I would be Mrs Adefunbi Adebola Cole.

“Aunty Funbi, pleaseee help me tie my shoe laces”, one of the children cooed, thus ending my reverie.
After the hugs and kisses goodbye, people began to take their leave and Debola opted to take me home. As I sat in the car, securing my seatbelt, he leaned into me and said, “Everyone loved you back there, so perfect…look at you, who wouldn’t?” and with that he pecked my forehead before adjusting back into his seat.

You see an example of what I’m saying. Everyone loved me…as what? A friend? Girlfriend? Prospective bride? #arrgghhh! #
He keeps talking like this, leaving my thoughts and emotions in a jumble!

We rode back home in comfortable silence.
After a hug, a quick peck on the cheeks and a promise to call me the minute he gets back home, I drag my tired bones up the stairs, straight into my bedroom. As I laid on my bed, I began to mull over the events of the day…

“From the highest of heights, to the depths of the seas…” Chris Tomlin rocks out softly as I check the screen to see who is calling…
I’m home babes….thanks for coming out to spend time with the Coles today…it really meant a lot to me…goodnight babes…love u…

#deep sigh#
Same old same old. Those words always cause my heart to leap but as always, I’m confused as to whether he loves me as a sister or something deeper…

I shun the voice of sleep calling me and I begin to arrange my things for tomorrow…I work with the teens in my church and we were currently working on a project together for the church anniversary coming up so I took my laptop to church frequently these past few weeks.

As I began to place my journal in my bag, together with my laptop, and then still contemplating what to wear to church tomorrow, I heard the doorbell ring and my phone beeping simultaneously…

Who could that be this late? I wondered. I grabbed my phone as I made to go down the stairs as fast as I could before the noise wake my parents up…and I see its Debola calling…

“Adebola, kilo shele?” I asked him in Yoruba. “I’m at the door, please hurry”. Confused…at the door…10 mins ago he said he’s back to Ebutemetta…or did he fly from Ebutemetta back here in less than 10mins he called me? I got to the door in nanosecond and I face a seriousnervousscared looking Debo.

“Kilo shele?” I ask again. We need to talk…he said, went into the living room and sat on my Father’s chair.

I followed behind and sat on the floor in front of him, clutching a throw pillow, looking earnestly at Debola. We’ve always connected on a deeper level so I was thinking of everything and anything that could make him so bothered…but I came up blank.

“I…I love you, Funbi.”

Yeah silly…I know that.

“I mean, I really really love u…like in an iwanttospendtherestofmylifewithyouway.”

Wait! Slow down…what’s Debola saying?

“I know you must think the timing of my confession weird but it’s just…lately, I’ve been thinking about us…and our future…a lot…all the time…I know you don’t love me in that way…you know…all you see in me is a brother and a best friend…so I’ve been so scared to let my intentions known lest it damages our friendship…and if all I would ever have is your friendship…it’s better than nothing…and I felt if I dint spill my guts soon, one of these days, my heart would suffer an attack from built up pressure…and…”

“Wait…you’ve been in love with me? Since when?”

“Since the 18th of June last year, on Dapo’s wedding day…the realisation hit me….”
“…and now that’s cleared, I think I should start heading home…”

“Wait…”

#like seriously; is “wait” the last word in my vocabulary? #

“Debola…you mean you’re in love me?”

“Yes. I love you.”

…My heart stutters…

“I…I love you too”

“You do?”

“Yes…since I first laid my eyes on you at the sister’s conference my fellowship held when we were in final year and you came to minister. But I thought all you ever saw in me was friendship.”

“Oh Funbi, I love you so very much and I couldn’t imagine a better person to spend the rest of my life with.”

Debola joins me on the floor and sits directly in front of me.

“I know it’s not the most romantic of proposals and all, but I’m so happy right now I can’t wait for the morrow…”
“Adefunbi Adebiyi, would you spend the rest of your life with me and make me the happiest man alive?”

He takes the throw pillow I fidget with gently out of my hands. Gazing into my eyes like he can see directly into my soul, he brushes away the side cut fringe that covers the rightpart of my face and takes my face in his hands. My staccato heartbeat increases causing my heart to want to take flight from its cage. Then he moves closer, his lips opening slightly, closer and closer and clo…

***just a lil bit closer***

“Adefunbi, wake up…its 6am already”.

I wake with a start. My mum brushes away my hair from my face and tries to remove dirt from the corners of my eyes.

OMG! Was that a dream? My fast staccato heartbeat reduces to a dull pace as disappointment washes over me.

“You were smiling as you slept, then you wake up and frown? Is something the matter dear?”

“It’s nothing mummy…it’s just a dream”… I said as I walk into the bathroom to prepare for the day.

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Squeezed papers

image

Are these your eyes?
were the first words I said as we sat by King Arthur’s Boulevard
We had gone to the dance
Neon colored paper lanterns
Dazzling fireworks
Mesmerizing magic tricks
All I could see were your twinkling eyes
Full of laughter
Holding new promises
Smell of rain after drought

Have your lips always been this beautiful?
Fuller
Rounder
Saying come
Adeola come
Taste me

Is this your smile
Wide like a rumor
Hands holding mine
Conjoined fingers web-locked
Duck feet
A basket made with palm fronds
A cord of twine
Three folds

Are these your eyes?
Dancing
Dancing to the off beat of my heart
Staccato
Stilletos on a railway
Looking into my soul
Searching
Wanting to find what they seek

***

I look out my window and see our Boulevard
Lined with melting snow
Fallen the night before
Maybe
Today is for sunny grounds
And dry skies
And golden sunsets

Today is not the day

Heavens open and more snow pours out
Promise of a yellow day dashed
Crackling papers dotted with tiny red hearts curled at the corner
Burning pain
Heart wrenched seized breathe
Pain, hidden
Hiding under layers of snow
Wondering if your eyes still danced
Does your guitar still strum?

Blue.
Blue eyes
Memories of ocean floors in Seychelles
Laughter like tinkering sea shells
Echoing in my head
Pulling taut my heart strings
Strings frozen by the snow
And in the corner we lay in wait
My heart and squeezed papers with tiny red hearts
Waiting for the ice to thaw.

before Boys became Men

images

The first thing you noticed about him was that he was always undecided. Be it the choice of a shirt to wear or what to have for dinner, Richard was always confused. You know, at first, I thought he had a low IQ or a learning disability, but after our first year ending with him maintaining one of the highest grades in the faculty, being mentally challenged was out of the equation. So I concluded he either had multiple personalities or was just deliberately annoying.

“I am going to keep an afro!”

He came back from lectures one evening and announced to the room.

“What do you think? Would it fit my face?”

He continued to no one in particular.

“Tonye and Joy said it would look good on me. Guys come on, what do you think?”

He kept on his tirade.

No one responded to his “soliloquy” as we have all learnt the hard way to either ignore him till he tires out or moves on to the room next door to get their opinion. But that also often fails, seeing as everyone on our block has mastered the art of ignoring him whenever he starts his questioning sprees, then he would move to his last resort and call his mother. Really, a mother’s love bears all.

We’ve often speculated as to why Richard was incapable of making simple personal decisions by himself. Boma said he was suffering from the only child syndrome. He had the undivided attention of his parents and so he didn’t see anything wrong with his behaviour since his parents did not encourage otherwise. Fred and I concurred. I wouldn’t go as far as to saying he was spoilt or bad mannered, however, his childishness was irritating. In my own opinion, he needs a therapist or a psychologist. The guy was 18 years old for Pete’s sake.

The other day, he and Boma went shopping at Yaba market. Yes, the same Yaba market you know. You know how exhausting and tiring shopping at that market can be, so its needless to say that you go with your armour full of “Leave me”, “Please don’t touch me”, “I’m not buying curtains”, “No, I’m not braiding my hair”.

You are going to need those lines a lot. (Don’t think because you’re a guy you won’t be asked to come braid your hair. Prepare to be surprised.)

And even with you armor full, I still believe there is an art to shopping at that market and if you don’t master it, even after saying a hundred leave me’s, your shopping purposes may be defeated.

So let’s start with Rule 1.

Make a clearly detailed list. Whether mental or pen to paper list. Just make it. With proper specifications. I know some of you would still waltz in without a list, snorting at my advice, well, I told you so.

Rule 2.

Place your right hand on your chest, eyes shut tight and repeat:

I, (insert your name) will not be swayed by those sweet talking dubious discounts offering Ibo boys who promise to get me deals of once in a lifetime and make me lose focus on what I came to buy!

Well, Rule 2 is not compulsory, but I advise you to heed it. Once, it crossed my mind that that market had something going on that was bordering on the spiritual. Just saying. You don’t think so? Okay I hear.

Boma said he wanted to go shopping for a few pieces of clothing. Then Richard piped up that he wanted to go get something from the market too. The red flag was nobody asked him what.

I’m sure you already know how that shopping expenditure ended. With Richard’s indecisive spirit and Yaba’s over persuasive traders, it is needless to say that he came back home with several ripped jeans that were 4 sizes smaller and a whole lot of stuff he didn’t even need!

Now, if his silly indecisive nature had brought pain on him alone, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid or lifted a finger from the assignment I was adding finishing touches to, but for Boma who he dragged all over the large market in the hot sun who is now exhausted on my bed with blisters lining his feet.