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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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Humans of Abeokuta: Episode 3

Abeokuta is an ancient town. It’s people live by ancient ways. This means they adhere to ways of life indoctrinated by their forebears; including food and drink. I used to think its status as a State capital, and location between Lagos and Oyo States would have influenced it someway. You know, introduced the love of junk food and luxury beverages. I was wrong. And the discovery of only 2 standard shawarma spots should told me so. But it didn’t.

Time was 8:45 a.m yesterday, and I was at a residential training. I had strolled to the breakfast table was heavy feet and eyes; the effect of catching sleep in brief glimpses of shut eyes and quiet mind. My words slurred when I greeted “good morning”; heavy, thick, and seductive, with some unintended bedroom huskiness. A hand paused midair. Oil gathered at the base of the scooping spoon.

“Plop. Plop”

The sound of oil dropping on stew in the warmer sounded like the tick of my wristwatch.

It is loud. Too loud. Louder than it should be.

The words seeped slowly through my subconscious; cautious, as if not to jar me. The tiptoe of the hungover. Light dimmed, my eyes squinted to focus on the face of the person holding the scooping spoon. It was my colleague. Mouth agape, adam’s apple bobbing like one repeatedly swallowing spittle or strugglng for words; he looked lost. Something nudged at my consciousness; a persistent knock seeking attention. There had been a subliminal message in the initial thought.

If the drop of oil sounded too loud, then the room was too quiet.

The room hadn’t been quiet when I walked in; brief seconds ago. Curious, I looked round the room. There were colleagues with forks halfway to their lips, and some with hands idly twirling spoons in mugs. They were all watching me. Puzzled, I lifted a brow; a low shift of my face to ask a question. That seemed to break the jinx. Laughter, hushed comments…

“Did someone keep you awake all night?”

A voice, filled with laughter and teasing. I shook my head, jesting acknowledgement of the thought that raised the question.

“Your voice is strange this morning. Like you’re still asleep. And coffee’s been exhausted.”

Coffee…exhausted.

That was all I heard. While my head questioned how coffee could finish, my feet led the way to my room. Once there, I fetched my wallet. It was not the kind of day to broach without coffee.

Fifteen minutes and eight shops -5 of which were still locked- later, I was still without coffee.

Who doesn’t stock coffee?

How does someone sell these chocolate beverages but not coffee?

Do people in this area live coffee-less?

Why are some shops locked?

Who knows if the locked shops have coffee in them? Can I check?

Is breaking-and-entering still a crime?

Unanswered questions racing through my mind; disbelieving my coffeelessness. How could neighbourhood shops be locked at almost 9 a.m? Why would anyone have a beverage shop and not stock coffee?

Desperation awoke my basic survival instinct. I recalled the back-up sachet coffee lying peacefully in my purse; untouched for almost 6 months. Feet lighter, I strode purposefully back to the hotel. Splinters of memory replayed in my mind. The attendants in the 3 shops which had been open. Two of them had gone blank, asking what coffee was. The third had raised eyebrows, examined me up and down like one who’d just discovered an alien, and asked:

T’anin mu Nescaafu?

Translated: “Who drinks coffee?”

 

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Body Diary: Insomniac Tales

Midnight

*Dupe looks at wristwatch. Thinks:* I should maybe sleep. But there’s power. And internet. And music. Sleep… *Ponders the attractions of sleep. Thinks:* There’s no reason to sleep

02:34 a.m

*laptop beeps, a message from a contact.*

Contact:         “When exactly do you sleep?”

Dupe:              “When the spirit requests”

*Thinks:* Dang! Time’s really gone. I should sleep.

04:09 a.m

*Phone beeps, messages from Sir Beau*

Sir Beau:              “I know you’re not awake.”

“You know you’re not awake. ”

“I’ve slept and woken. We both know you better not be awake”

Dupe:                    “Maybe I’ve slept too”

Sir Beau:              “You posted on fb 2 hours ago. And Twitter says you’ve been serial tweeting. So when exactly did your ‘sleep’ happen?”

Dupe:                    “*jaw drop smiley* I said ‘maybe’ na”

Sir Beau:              “Why the hell are you still up?”

Dupe:                    “Maybe I’m too cold to sleep. And maybe that’s your fault for leaving a girl sans cuddles in this cold weather”

Sir Beau:              “And that’s how someone can’t take you vacationing in winter. Cuddle Kong*”

“Seriously tho’, go to bed Girl. Now.”

Dupe:                    “Aye”

*switches off phone’s mobile data, and disconnects wingle from laptop. Mumbles to self*

“There are haters in this life. Stalking lover haters.

*Eyes start start to ache. Dupe yawns, glances at Kong*

Dupe:                    “We can sleep now. What say you? Ready for bed?”

*Lifts Kong for some scary dance he doesn’t seem to favour much. Switches off lights, shuts down laptop, cuddles Kong, and lays head on pillow*

*Ring Ring. Ring Ring. Ring Ring*

*Dupe picks phone. Screen says ‘6:00 a.m Get up Lazy’. *

Dupe:                    “Y’an joking.”

*Shuts off alarm. Puts head back to pillow, cuddles Kong closer. Then, from just outside the window:*

“Kukuruuku!”

*Opens eyes. Thinks:* But won’t this cock die? Who did I offend, enh? I just want to rest eyes small. Abi what’s all this?

“Kukuruuku! Kukuruuku!! Kukur…”

*Dupe gets out of bed; tears clogging her throat as she looks at the barely creased sheets. Goes to make coffee*

P.S:

Kong* is Dupe’s amiable teddy.

 

 

 

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#BodyDiary: Twerkscapade

21:18 hrs
Dupe and Dami are lounging in bed; gisting about the months that have passed. Dami talks about how somebody twerked somewhere and it was rave.
Dupe: *refelective* “But you know that thing is a disgrace. I don’t know how to twerk”
Dami: “Me sef. And it was the rave that year”
Dupe: “Someone should not even just go somewhere and the dance code is twerk”
Dami: “Aah! Akoba niyen ke! How do they even twerk sef?”
Dupe: “Bumbum goes one way; bounces. I think”
*Dami stands up, does some awkward body movement that’s better left unremembered*
Dupe: “Hian! Wait. I have data. Let’s just check YouTube for how to do the darn thing. Matter of fact, that’s what we’re learning this weekend”
*Dupe connects internet, types in “how to twerk” on YouTube, looks at Dami, and they choose a video*
Lady in video: “…so you put your hands on your waist….”
*Dupe starts laughing when she notes that herself and Dami did as instructed immediately, while sitting on the bed*
Dupe: *Let’s get up and do the thing well jhor”
Dami: “Make it full screen jhor”
*The two girls stand in front of the full-length mirror, grinning*
***
21:27 hrs
Dami: “Heeey! My laps are aching. Chai”
Dupe: *panting* “Beht who created ‘twerk’; enh?” *hisses* “We must sha get it this night”
Dami: “Our bumbum is not shaking”
Lady in video: “…you can take your hands off your waist and just…”
Dupe: “Henh?! Take… take…” *loses words* “Ayam nor do again. I cannor now come and go and die away”
#SomebodyShuuComeTeachUsTwerk #UnshakingButt #LazyGirls #AchingThighs
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Body Diary: Episode 1

1:02 a.m

Power is restored. Dupe wants to pee but sits on rug, and lifts laptop instead. Says to self:

“Let’s work before power goes out”

2:16 a.m

Dupe gets thirsty. Drinks a 50cl sachet of water. Thinks: I really should go pee

2:33 a.m

Stomach begins to hurt. But Dupe is writing now. Coaxes self:

“Lemme complete this paragraph. We’ll pee in a tad”

*idly reaches for another 50cl sachet of water*

3:08 a.m

Stomach feels distended. Dupe drops laptop; tries to move a leg and yelps. Butt has cramped. Lifting legs through pins and needles with hurting stomach, while maintaining bladder control, becomes a struggle. Asks:

“God why?”

#‎SmallButtLife‬ ‪#‎PeeTales #BodyDiary

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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.

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