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.


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.


That Night

Shit talking up all night,
Saying things we haven’t for a while
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears…

The Script sang ‘For the First Time’ all through that night, because my music player had it on repeat. I stayed up; relished being awake instead of dead to the world, weakened by medication I didn’t want to be taking. I listened to the wind whistle outside the shut windows, it sounded as always: strong, unhappy… the whimper of strength. I had just switched off the air conditioning because I wanted to listen to the sounds of night.


There’s something seductive about dark. Whether it’s  gracing a body, beautifying a painting, claiming earth,  entrapping a soul, or frustrating dreams. It’s the things you understand when you stay up all night and listen to the world whisper to you of its depths. The conversations held by your broken body or spirit, a drink, and the voices in your head for the singular court that’s you. The kind of smiles that are really cries for help, or of victory, or of the knowledge that you don’t really know.

That night…

My neighbour’s curtains were drawn, and the music was too low, so I was audience of thrusts and moans the performers didn’t know I was privy to. As I watched, a beep alerted me to Facebook and a friend’s ode to his heart, torn out by the unfeeling hands of death. The moans peaked, so I looked up from my laptop, and at the frenzy of the racing duo reaching for climax, palms clasped. A groan, sacred appreciation, prequel to arching bodies shooting off the dining table to be nailed against the wall; lips moving in whispered hymns. Another beep: my calendar, reminding me of medication to be taken in the next couple of hours, work deadlines approaching… the grim of approaching dawn.

Just then, they hit the spot. I smiled, closed my eyes, and sang along with The Script, adding my voice to other sounds of that night.

Oh, these times are hard

Yeah, they’re making us crazy

Don’t give up on me Baby


A Little Bit of Magic

Have you ever watched a city from its heights, at night?

Last night I sat on a cabana set atop a rock, and saw magic.

Magic was red and yellow lights, piercing the darkness, moving to unknown destinations. It was orange bulbs set at mathematical distances, lighting the roads for users. It was the shaded white house in the middle of bushes with a lit porch just behind me, like the scene from a fantasy film or a cartoon. Aah, Cartoons. Did you know of a long time ago, when media was black and white, and the fair lady always got the loyal knight? When programs started at 4p.m with the national anthem, and the television was a box of happily ever afters?

Last night something snapped, deep within, released acceptance of myself. It felt like peace; the confident breeze that caused the trees to dance and bow. I knew I couldn’t return to disgusted judging eyes, loaded salvos, hands that wouldn’t touch me, lips that slandered me. So last night I enjoyed the last bit of magic in my life; including the knowledge that I can take my own life by shutting my eyes and letting my feet jump off the cliff. The magic that I could smile while a rock split my skull into open dead shards of bloodied brains; because it was less painful than the discrimination I had lived with up until then.

When I coasted above earth a free soul, I saw a baby being brought forth out of its mother; innocent, precious, bloodied, priceless, beautiful. The best of simply awe-inspiring unadulterated magic. Then I realised how much more magical a smile through the discriminatory pain my life was, would have been.

#StandOut for #ZeroDiscrimination today; it’s a sparkle you can put in someone’s life. Your little bit of magic.


Found Peace

“What is the time by your watch please?”

Dark chocolate dipped in American Honey whisky.

The thought came unbidden; an observation, a ghost of something in my subconscious. I hadn’t yet processed the meaning of whatever he had said. My brain felt slow, drugged by the sex-me allure of the voice that had spoken from somewhere behind me. My body was waking to electric currents along lusty paths; causing my heart to beat faster, and my legs to cross at the ankles…



Her voice emerged breathless, a needy whisper, and she winced inwardly. Mortified heat popped goose pimples over her, and she bit her lip to prevent words falling out. She did not trust her voice to sound better. And chances were that she would ramble stupidly, instead of salvaging the situation or initiating a conversation with the stranger. Her shoulders slumped sadly as she figured he probably thought she was either ill or uninterested in discussions of any sort. Resigned, she lowered her forehead to the backrest of the seat in front of her; grateful for the dark bus, and the fact that she was not looking the sexy-voiced stranger in the face.

He is probably ugly or bad for me.

The thought made her feel a tad better, so she let it float in her subconscious; let it ease the melancholy of shattering fantasies. Many minutes later she heard him notify the conductor that he was getting off. When he walked past her as he alighted, his perfume filled the air, and stayed on after the bus’ door was shut.  She sighed, looked to the bustling street beyond the window, acknowledged the hollow ache in her chest, and forced down a ball of emotion lodged in her throat. She blinked to clear moist pools from her eyes, and announced:

“Oke-Afa wa!”


It was best that way. There’s no need wanting things I can’t keep.

It was over five minutes since I had alighted from the bus; five minutes of trying unsuccessfully to convince myself that I didn’t wish that conversation had gone differently. Five minutes spent on the bridge, watching the waters of the canal, wondering if what I was living was indeed ‘life’.

His voice had reached something deep inside me, something encased in ice for the past 14 years. I could have had him for a little while; even if not forever. But I had kept quiet and he had alighted; leaving the trail of Woods to haunt me. By the way, what kind of young Nigerian man knew enough about perfumes to be using one from the 1990s? And why would that kind of man, definitely from old money, be in a yellow and black painted bus, sardined with too many people, a driver high on God-knew-what, and an uncouth conductor? A lot was puzzling, but the perfume sat right in with the voice. Classy, strong, sensual, deep, textured, intoxicating… like the chorus of waters gushing through a channel. Would his voice break if he groaned? Or become huskier if arousal swamped his senses? Where would he taste of Woods, of man, and of desire? Would his hands grab me, or something, if he thought he was losing thought and control?

“I hoped you would come here”

For a heartbeat, I thought the voice another whip of my tortuous thoughts. Then my brain processed the meaning of the words, and I swung around, trembling…


I had stayed a while in the shadows, watching the arch of her back as she looked over the canal. Her lips were slightly parted, her head slightly raised, and I wondered what thoughts caressed her mind so. Then she deepened the arch of her back; thrusting her breasts and hips slightly out; and I couldn’t wait a minute longer to be by her side. To tell her, to see if she remembered, to know if it had been a dream or real, to determine what future I had died for.

She turned around so fast, I thought she would lose the balance her heeled pumps provided. Per reflex, I reached out to steady her waist, and the world faded behind a veil of honks, conversations, hoarse calls of “Jakande”, “Oshodi”, and lights. Only her, the fire coursing through my veins, and blood rushing to my head existed.


“Dem no know say na canal dey under bridge?”

“Children of nowadays, no where wey dem no go play love”

Comments from busy-body Lagosians, meaningless sounds to the deathly silent duo standing atop the bridge, eyes locked. They stayed quiet for many minutes; her mouth moving but uttering no words, his bobbing Adam’s apple telling that he too struggled internally with something. Then a tear rolled down her right eye, a liquid crystal of words which refused to be spoken, questions which refused to be asked, and he closed the distance between their bodies; held her to his thumping heart while the moon shone to reveal tears on his own cheeks.

After endless moments, she pulled away. Eyes locked, she put her hand on his cheek, picked a tear drop off with her thumb, and put it in her mouth. His jaw clenched, and the hands loosely around her waist held her tighter. She remembered him, it had all been real, but he needed to tell her before he could know what the future held.


“That was stupid”

“No, it was hopeful. I wanted now, today.”

She looked him in the eyes again, then slid her palm over his to interlock their fingers.

“What now?”

She saw the hint of fear in his eyes, even as he asked with an even voice. He had been the subject of all her dreams, her desires, so…

“Let’s go someplace far. We’ll live together till our times expire.”

He felt like a truckload of emotions, struggled to hold tears back, and nodded vigorously. By silent accord they walked to the Oke-Afa memorial arcade and read off the marbles:

Here lies the victims of the bomb explosions from the armory of the Ikeja Cantonment which occurred on Sunday, January 27 2002. More than a thousand innocent lives, including children scampering for safety, perished in the brackish waters of the Oke-Afa canal. May their souls rest in peace.

To passersby, they were two people at the Mass Burial arcade, perhaps coming to read it on the anniversary of the deaths of so many people, 14 years ago. In reality, she was a young woman who had run into the canal, seeking refuge from the bombs going off, intending to swim to safety, oblivious of the imprisoning murky depths of the water below. And the man who had jumped in after her, seeking to rescue the woman he loved from death he knew was imminent. Together, they were two souls whose unidentified bodies had long been buried at the arcade, finding each other after almost two decades of searching. Two souls finally finding peace; ready to live again.



In Remembrance

For the Nigerian Armed Forces


The petrifying smell

Of sweat and gun powder

Of earth suckling blood

Of muddied camouflages


The haunting memories

Of laughing eyes

Of hopeful camaraderie

Of slaughter that ended it

 We would never know

The fears you squelch

The demons you own

The mares in your nights


Today we honour

Your pride of bravery

Your code of honour

Your blood keeping us safe

IMG_20151112_063013In the struggles of daily living we forget to mention it. And sometimes we meet people who slur the sacrifices you all make. But we remember today, the Nigerian Armed Forces Remembrance Day, and we mention it. Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for giving your lives so that we, blissfully ignorant civilians, may fulfill our dreams sans fears.

Dear Member of the Nigerian Armed Forces, be you dead or alive, you are most honored and appreciated. #Salute.


The Soldier

He watches the night

Shapes between dusty louvres

Lights shadows cast. Sounds

Of words, cries, and groans

Oblivious to our sexed air


Hands in pocket, pants hanging low

A quiet raspyness, his voice speaks

Of name tags in streets of strange lands

By the hundreds

Of bodies with heads unknown


Taut cords of muscle clothe veined limbs

Ridged skin grow a farm across his back

Memoirs of armed jungles and deafening screams

His scars, holograms

Of deaths not died


He never sleeps, never snores

His eyes are empty dark discs

In red pools. They tell

Of gore, blood, and death

Nightmares behind shut lids


He would return from every battle

Exchange his money

For my body

A loaded trade of demons

Seeking dreams


We are broken beings

Sailing on passion’s wings

Ghosts  expelled with pointed thrusts

Hot tears piercing freezing hearts

Lone souls condemned to more


N.B: For us all, the wars we wage, the ghosts that haunt, and the escapes we choose. Most especially for soldiers fighting and dying so civilians can live and sleep safe. May your Spirits find peace.

…To each man, his demon


This Morning

She smiled at me last night; chubby cheeks, toothless mouth, and bright eyes. She gurgled too; that nice-to-meet-you-whoever-you-are thing that babies have about them. For that minute I forgot the ache on my shoulders; consequent of bearing my backpack through one hundred and fifty metres of barely tarred road. I also forgot the headache that had started burning up my forehead: traffic had been bad, and the driver had stuck to loud, unpleasant noise -music, he’d called it- all through the 4 hour drive. She was the baby whose naming ceremony I’d missed 4 months ago.

I was awakened by sobs this morning. Torn from the heart, piercing my restless dreams, forcing me to wakefulness before it was dawn.

I was told that some minutes before then, while the crowds of Lagos woke in lazy stretches, the Baby had made her way back to heaven. All of us sleeping sentries, she had slipped past us; little spirit slithering through the silent house.