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Luxury

via Daily Prompt: Luxury

It was the sixties. Women had to compete with other women -wives and concubines- for their husband’s attention, affection, giving hand, and thrusting penis. Same women also had to always be on their best behaviour around in-laws; and in-laws were always around. In addition, they had to be the epitome of commerce, selflessness, servitude, silence, long-suffering, and humility -Christs par excellence- to the community. Perhaps most of all, they had to raise sterling children: a female whose promising cherry ensnared a man from a reputable family, and a male whose fabled prowess, money, or good looks had all the girls competing to win his marriage proposal.

It was the sixties. A mother’s success rode almost exclusively on the back of her children’s perceived satisfaction of societal expectations and standards.  Then, there were some boys who often went out spotless but returned dirty and sometimes bloodied. They never got home before the sun went to sleep, usually were too tired to participate meaningfully in chores, got their siblings into trouble, caused the vexation of their fathers, and brought shame and ridicule upon their mothers. Mothers with such boys usually kept vigil with the cold space on their mat; examining their minds for the list of wrongs they had done, wondering which could have caused someone such offence as to curse them with such fate. Often they begged the son, and his ‘head’, to have mercy on them.

“You have made me the jest of everyone. Neighbours and peers mock me. Your father’s other wives are turning him against me. Quit your bad habit, save me from shame.”

They would cry, plead, call on the breasts he suckled in blackmail; their ultimate weapon to demand obedience.

It was the sixties. Footballers were rascals; everyone knew. They went out clean and returned dirty, sometimes bloodied. They cursed the wombs that bore them, dishonoured the breasts that suckled them, and were deaf to the voices that crooned them lullabies at infancy. They were also disreputable. Girls -intoxicated by victory or the exhibit of masculinity in primitive frames of guts and glory- sometimes offered their cherry to footballers who thought them a prize, and made trophies of them. Inevitably, footballers were envied, hated, and respected by fellow males who had neither human nor sculpted trophies. My father liked to play football. And he was good at it. His team would hardly ever play without him, his name was known in all the neighbouring towns, and the girls either hated or loved him. He was a “rascal”.

It was the sixties. Luxury, as my father tells, was returning home to elder sisters who had done his chores and hidden away some meal for him. It was playing football in the rain confidently; knowing his brother always had eyes on him, and was ready to put him on his back and race to the clinic if he had another crisis of pneumonia. It was never being afraid of the many males who ambushed him because he had elder brothers and cousins everyone knew better than to mess with. It was a father who always gave him a cone of ice-cream bought from big cities –away from the reprimanding eyes of his mother- and beamed eyes full of pride when his team won. It was a mother who swaddled him in her fanciest heaviest wrappers, while she watched the night and prayed for him to live through the cold.

It is twenty-sixteen. Luxury would be reading this to my father and laughing as he throws cute insults, swears words, and threatens me in a mix of disbelief, dismay, awe, and adoration.

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Humans of Abeokuta: Episode 1

Abeokuta literally means “under rock”; a referent to the refuge people found under its many rocks in 1825 while escaping slave hunters from Dahomey and Ibadan. That was 191 years ago, but the rocks remain in their majestic beauty; wowing visitors, and lending a picturesque quality to the scenery of the town in almost every direction. I suspect too, that some inhabitants of Abeokuta didn’t leave their refuge under the rocks those many years ago. Matter of fact, I suspect some of them -through perhaps an overdose of the many juju/jazz/ogun/magicks that were used at the time- were placed in some state that maintained their youth while putting them to sleep. It seems those people are only now waking; ignorant of the passage of time and ancient norms. Only that, you see, explains what I saw last week.

It was 10:34 a.m and two meetings after breakfast. I was running low on ‘human’, and in desperate need of some beany love-in-a-mug (that’s code for coffee, by the way). I trudged my way to the office kitchenette, and was washing teaspoon and mug when the shrubbery in the house opposite the street moved rather sensibly. It wasn’t the effortless bow or wave of wind-caused movement, but some haphazard shift that could only result from human or animal manipulation. My hands stopped mid-air, raising my mug for draining, and I tipped my glasses up my nose with my left hand; my concentration fully on the ‘moving bush’.

Tick.. tick.. tick

I could hear the hands on my wristwatch pace, feel the soft breeze kiss my cheeks, see…

“Hunh”?!

A naked arm rose from between the shrub, holding a blue bowl. The hand turned the bowl, and water poured down the middle of the shrubs. 

I could smell dust; lots of it. I realised then that I had unconsciously moved forward, perhaps in the bid to see clearer, and my nose was now pressed against the window. I stepped back, even as I sneezed, then moved as close as I could without breathing in dust.

“What the…?!”

A head with a mop of undone hair emerged, then shoulders, swinging breasts, curved waist, flared hips, a miniature bush of hair at the juncture of athletic thighs…

My jaw slackened, my mouth hung open, and I couldn’t find the will to lock it back. A woman was in the shrubbery behind a house, sponging her body! And this, right in the middle of town, not some outskirt. I don’t know how many minutes I stayed there; mouth agape. I was jolted back to reality when she bent, head forward, and rose again, swinging a wrapper around her wet body. An iron bucket rose in her hand from somewhere in the shrubbery; and she was gone, through a door, beyond my vision.

Lucy-Grace-591629 (2)

I sat on the nearest chair then, wondering what I had just seen. And if maybe she had seen me… If she would be coming for me in my dreams one night. Because, who showers in a mere back-of-house shrubbery in this age? And at almost 11a.m, when the world is up and about? And in the middle of a busy area where storey buildings abound?

Who knows these things???

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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.

 

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Olu’Drae

March 24, 2016

00:12hrs

*grinning like a loon*

Yaay! Baby’s birthday!! Baby’s birthday!!!

It’s that crazy little voice in my head doing the dance around; in the guise of reminding me again. Like I have any chance of forgetting; it’s been reminding me everyday for the past 24 days! I had woken on March 1 to a whisper:

baby’s day in 23 days.

I had smiled at the thought, and that must have been my mistake. Because the voice was there the next day, and every day after. Each day the number was a day less, my own mental count down. How then does it -the voice- imagine I could have forgotten? But now it has me infected with what I’ve named Baby’s Day Fever; symptoms of which include warm temperature, loony grins, and hyperactivity.

Baby Baby Baby

The little voice is chanting incantation, command to which my fingers are flying across my phone, calling Baby. It’s over ten minutes of singing the old happy birthday song and lots of teases, but I eventually get off the phone. Sometime during the call I started dancing to music playing in the background, so now there’s excited endorphins in my system. Something’s singing rather loudly, and it’s not me because it isn’t singing off key. I shut my vibrating vocal chords to locate the ‘musician’, then gasp. Darn supposed “little” voice in my head is going all Beatles on me! 

March 27, 2016

16:00hrs

*fuming in the rage born of dashed dreams*

What the… how the… but…

All the goodies in my provisions wardrobe are missing. They have erased, poofed, simply disappeared like they were never there. Not even crumbs,wraps, or disarrangement of my non-edibles to tell me I’m not insane. You know, to assure me that they were ever there in the first place. But, you see, it’s Baby’s doing. So I’m screaming his name, and chasing him round the house when I hear his footsteps thump fast somewhere outside my room. He must have been standing outside my room, waiting to see my reaction to my now-empty wardrobe. He’s so in for it! How can I come home after a hectic journey and -because he has gotten home before me- meet none of my goodies?

My goodies o! My personal goodies stored in the private wardrobe in my very own personal room!! What impudence!!!

Little voice is chanting as we chase Baby; enraged. The words fuel my legs to run faster, till the incredulity of it dawns on me when I notice he is laughing. We are two full grown siblings: he running from me, I chasing him, and our dog, tail wagging, woofing and weaving in and out beside us, and between our legs. One of us would soon fall. And we would become a ball of flying limbs, tussles, and rambunctious laughter; punctuated with whizzes and yelps. We always do.

P.S:

In case you were wondering how I know what happens 3 days away, well, I know because I know Baby. By the way, we both know you now have proof of what I always say. Baby drives me crazy. He always has. All indications suggest he always will.

N.B:

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you Olu’Draaaaeeee, happy birthday to you!

Dedication:

Heys You Baby! May you live fulfilled always and everyday, your eyes always twinkle, your smile always reach you eyes, and your heart always give, and receive. Happy Birthday Baby Brother! *xoxo*

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AVirtual African Diary of IWD 2016

For the 105th time, the world celebrated the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and girls on Tuesday, March 8th. Named International Women’s Day since 1911, the 2016 celebration was themed “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality”. Innumerable events were held across the world by countless bodies, but perhaps the most intriguing were online events with global audiences and participants. I participated in 3 online events where African youths highlighted/discussed gender equality and its implications, and the African female experience:

 

  1. Positives Connect, a social and informative platform for persons living with HIV, 

    Between Gender Inequality and HIVRecorded and Composed by: Dupe Kuku and Onwuka Chinedu Kester

    Posted by Positivesconnect on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

” target=”_blank”>explicated the role of gender inequality in festering the spread of HIV transmission.

  • West Africa Democracy Radio turned their microphones  over to women, and broadcast spoken word by women on themselves.
  • Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network provided a two-day