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Kuku’s Nest. Episode 02

Uncle Ex:

“Let me teach you to drive”

Dupe:

“With a Jeep? So I’ll now jam something and… Alakoba!”

Sir Beau:

“Girl come and learn to drive na”

Dupe:

“With a Benz? So I can use all my money on petrol? Why not fear God?”

Dupe:

*sitted at Daddy’s feet, facing him*

“Daddy shebi you know I’m old enough to drive now. When would you start teaching me?”

Daddy:

*jaw drops*

“You didn’t forget that discussion? Since 2004?!”

*Dupe frowns, looks like a child whose ice-cream suddenly vanished *

“Aah Modupe mi, ma binu.”

*reaches hands out, cuddles her*

“You should have known I’m too impatient to teach you to drive”

*Song about a broken heart resumes in background*

 

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Daddy Said…

Uncle Ex:

“Let me teach you to drive”

Dupe:

“With a Jeep? So I’ll now jam something and… Alakoba!”

*alakoba: One who gets another in trouble

Sir Beau:

“Girl come and learn to drive na”

Dupe:

“With a Benz? So I can use all my money on petrol? Why not fear God?”

Dupe:

*sitted at Daddy’s feet, facing him*

“Daddy you know I’m old enough to drive now. When would you start teaching me?”

Daddy:

*jaw drops*

“You didn’t forget that discussion? Since 2004?!”

*Dupe frowns, looks like a child whose ice-cream suddenly vanished *

“Aah Modupe mi, ma binu.”

*My Modupe, don’t be angry

*reaches hands out, cuddles her*

“You should have known I’m too impatient to teach you to drive”

*Song about a broken heart resumes in background*

 

How Her Heart Breaks

You often ponder how the female heart breaks? I chose to break it down.

1. Your classic macho self gets mushy. You say we’re the only akara in your frying pan, only cockroach in your cupboard, only sugar in your tea, only rash in your butt. We carry sunshine in our eyes so we light up your otherwise gloomy life. Matter of fact, we’re your oxygen and you can’t breathe without us! Aaaw Poor you. We don’t want you to die so we say yes. And maybe we’re all blushes, twiddling fingers and giggles but that’s not the point. This is the priming stage. We’re all blossoms here.

2. You change our world. Literally. Make our world before you seem like a lackluster painting. That song, we sing it together. That meal, we cook it together- make a mess of your shirt, the kitchen, and maybe even the darn meal. The phone? Poor thing! Battery barely stays up because we’re burning up the lines from calls to chats to more calls to more chats. You sew yourself into the fabric of our lives and we let you. Bloody bite our lips with stars twinkling in our eyes while you’re at it. Cute, right?

heartus.3. You decide to leave our life. Hunh? What?! Leave! Really?! Reallllyyyyy??? You wave us a dandy bye while saying “get back to that life of dull monotones, no rant buddy, perfect schedules, and just you”. Fack! Why you gotta do that? Surely you realize our life before you doesn’t seem so perfect anymore? That the radio won’t stop playing THAT song? That we still have to cook THAT meal? That we now look at our phone often, thinking your heart is throbbing through it, anticipating us? That our bed now seems too big because we loved sharing it with you?

4. We curse you out, delete your contacts and evidences of you, purdah your name. But the universe is awful. So someone walks like you in a crowd and we freeze in our tracks. Or something huge happens, we pick the phone to tell you, and remember we shouldn’t. Or our nostrils flares with a tease of your perfume and dread, anxiety, fear, hope, excitement, anger dance tango on our nervous system. All at the same time. Just before we realize it’s not even you.

Some of those days we curl up, listen to music, cry. Or we hide our number, call you, and just listen to your voice, or the sound of you breathing. And you’re always fine. Always perfect. This is where we go really nuts. Wanting you desperately, sliding off the slope of sanity with thoughts and memories of you, when you couldn’t care less. When we fight with ourselves over one who won’t even love for us. Right there is where our hearts feel like bloodied pieces of piercing pain.

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Souls and Shadows

I’m sitting here

In the middle of this debris

Of blood and jagged muscles

Pulsing the beat of the drunk man’s trudge

The demons race

Debating pain and hurt

Whispering dreams and hopes

Madness tethers on this unspeaking frenzy

 

Your eyes tell that story

Of empty bottles and drowned soul

Mine speak primitive tongues

Of broken groans and rising throes

Don’t say tomorrow

That pregnant dream reminiscent of nightmares

No. Don’t shed light

It casts shadows too

 

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Dear Widow…

Her voice was that quiet confidence that spoke volumes. It echoed the graceful direction of sound by grandma; directing you, telling a story, or lovingly scolding you. I smiled in my head, the kind that only appears as a slight lift of eyelashes in an otherwise unperturbed face. I was being interviewed for a job, she my potential employer. I wasn’t sure she would appreciate being told I was thinking of her in poetic terms. Women can be unpredictable like that. Years of trying to break through the glass ceiling have made some of them sensitive to the slightest nuance. And while I wasn’t sure I wanted the job, I knew I wanted to spend some time in her company. She exuded that unmistakable cool aura of strength and confidence. Call me what you please, but I think those are the most attractive things a person can possess. For some reason, she chose to like me. Perhaps for same reason or another, she chose to tell me a little about herself. I was the interviewee; but I daresay I learnt more about her than she did about me. We spoke, ignorant of time’s passage, unwilling to track it.

“I am a widow”

I felt my jaw drop. Unconsciously my right hand rose to perch my glasses closer to my eyes; it seemed I was seeing things wrong. Some minutes and discreet up-and-down gazes after, I noticed my tongue unwilling to move, felt my eyes grow bigger. My brain was interpreting what my eyes were seeing through the ‘widow’ filter, and getting “error404 Page Not Found” response.  She was exquisite: a dress that curved her body while leaving room for your imagination, a dark jacket with a bright red emblem just above the curve of her full bust, and blood red stilettos. For the love of God! Stilettos!!! I watched her gait when she walked to bridge the gap between us and could only think of a cat. Her last of three sons had just finished from college, and she looked just about 20 years older than me (and I look like I’m 16 years old). She was at the top of her career, and managing two homes; continents apart.

***

Today, on International Widows Day, I empathize with every woman who has ever had to bury her husband. Every woman who felt her world shift because the centre of her universe stopped breathing. Every woman who felt pain so deep she thought her heart would physically shatter. Every woman who hoped her heart would literally shatter so its pieces might fill the emptiness she felt inside. For every woman who lost her sense of identity and/or belonging in the world because her husband left it.

I also iterate the words of that amazing woman who gave me a glimpse into the world of widowhood:

It’s okay to be broken. But don’t stay broken too long. You don’t know why who might pick your pieces if you stay afloor too long.

When the world hits you down, when your world is a chaotic jumble of ill-meaning others, when pain is all your heart can feel and your spirit is a wilted flower, when you can’t breathe because memories of a happy lifetime ago suffocate you, when you’re talking but there’s no one to listen and all that’s left are sounds in your head, when you wake from dreams and the pillow is soaked with tears… remember those words. Accept your broken self and heart, then build it all back together. Piece by bleeding-tear piece.

P.S:

I’ll be tweeting about widowhood @DupeKuku between 4 and 5 p.m today; Nigerian time. Dear Reader, kindly direct your network that way; let’s make today memorable for every widow on cyber space.

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Love you. But…

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

You don’t hear them

The words

You don’t see them

The tears clogging my throat

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

I repeat the words

I need you to hear

The hurt is deep

A knife twisting in my heart

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

My eyes lock on yours

Pleading you see the tears

“I will hurt you”. Words. Yours

“You already have”. Words. Mine

I love you

Really love you. But

I’m done

I can’t do this. Anymore

These words

Screams in my head

Not granted passage

Past my unmoving lips

I. Love. You

Really. Love. You. But

I’m. Done

I. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore

You never hear them

The words

You never see them

The tears clogging my throat

 

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Hello!

Hello!

It stabs my heart, the swift prickle of a double beat. It steals my breath; my lips part, I inhale and exhale through the space between them for a bit, long breaths to steady my heart till my nose remembers to breathe.

It’s the smile that lifts your cheeks to egg-shaped bulbs, the strength of your arms when they hold me so close I can tell the perfume of your shower gel apart from that of your body spray, the textured tenor of your voice that sings a lilting laugh… just before it fades to teasing chuckles, the hazel brown of honey irises set in clear white cornea… shaped like a cat’s.

“Can we be together”

“I love you”

Blushing words, yours, before I needed that space that broke your heart. And mine.

“How do I fix it?”

It’s the earnest whisper of you, over the phone. The breath, slowly exhaled, stalling a tear, or many. The hands in your pocket; fisting. The piercing stare that took a picture of me as I stood calm, and didn’t see my bleeding heart. It’s the measured step of your legs; right first, then left… As you walked into oblivion.

It’s these little bits of you. Memories.

They stab my heart, the swift prickle of a double beat. They steal my breath; my lips part, I inhale and exhale through the space between them for a bit, long breaths to steady my heart till my nose remembers to breathe.

They’re ghosts that tip-toe in the recesses of my mind. They slip into dreamful nights, tease random unguarded moments during the day. They flash glimpses of a past life, cast shadows on events and places; we’ll call them déjà vu.

This is hello from the other side. The one that’s open… and broken.