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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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These Days

I’m the figure taking quick glances at a red Skone watch at regular intervals; whispering “the fuck?!”. They are angered exclamations offered to the universe; some sort of argument; I think.

If the universe would agree to negotiations and talks, I’d make my case like this:

There are tons of things I couldn’t do when  I was ill. They all have deadlines. Do you think you could maybe drag your tail a bit? You know; make time a little slower? I still can’t do so much; lest my doctor scrunches up his nose at me in disapproval and, heavens forbid, declare I can no longer have coffee. Or, worse, that I have to be back on some over-sized medication.

But the universe isn’t responding today. And I’m that scared figure, heads bowed into her laptop, mumbling inaudibilities, hands and fingers fluttering in a frenzy. Or the one with her hands raised to the ceiling; a helplessly frustrated expression on her face. The perfect vision of desperate beseeching.

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He Was

He was fantasy.

His eyes were a dark brown, almost black, circle set in contrast against a clear white pool. They shone bright with intelligence, danced with mischief, lowered lazily to strip me of flimsy clothes, and pierced sharply to read the depths of my heart.

His voice was caramel nuts and rum on a starstruck night; deep, dark, full, textured, layered, irresistible… breaking with delicious emotions. He was whispering something I could not hear because goosebumps on my skin had my mind foxed, as did the melting honey weakening my knees someplace south.

His gait was temptation. Strong, it hinted at determined ambition and, lazy, it incited yearnings for evening strolls with the wind kissing hair tousled. Both ways it was muscled, and told of paces to orgasmic heavens.

His lips twitched, a slight teasing movement that drew me forward. I was going to touch, taste, elicit a groan, and maybe fevered beseeching; but he was a wisp of imagined desires.

He was fantasy. The protagonist of the novel that had my heart thumping a racy beat.

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#ZeroDiscrimination

Discrimination (noun):

The practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people. Prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment

Yesterday was March 1, the United Nations declared day for the movement against discrimination. Development professionals, workers, lovers, and all humane beings were urged to #StandOut in support of #ZeroDiscrimination. Stories were told, experiences were shared, and West Africa Democracy Radio broadcast my audio recording of A Little Bit of Magic.

As you live, consciously strip yourself of all discriminatory attitudes and behaviour. Why would you want to be another instance of stigma and hurt  in someone else’s life? Wouldn’t you rather be the reason they smile? The Little Bit of Magic sent their way by the universe?

 

 

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Believe

I’m staring at my laptop knowing I have to write, but unsure what the first lines would say. After a couple of deletions I have settled for these because I know failing to do so might have me with a zero word count by the time power goes out. And power will go out; it always goes out these days. Matter of fact, power is never in. Power is the grumpy tout that breezes in some days, too strong and high on things no one knows, to destroy everything it touches. Other days it is the faulty car that crawls; an irritating potential that would shock you if you get in its path. And we are powerless without it.

Power deserted me for I-don’t-know-where;  but that’s not why I’ve been M.I.A. I’ve needed to be off grid awhile. You understand, or at least forgive me; right? Thanks.

Yesterday I saw a quote which encapsulates something I often think. And it says it just right. Whatever you’ve faced so far this week, I hope you hold these words dear, and that they give you the courage to not stop believing in you:

“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something.” -Marie Curie