Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Shadow

A loud and cheery good week to all. I’m feeling some sense of accomplishment at the moment. Elation because I have found another avenue to express in some way how I feel and also share with people around me my feelings and thoughts however absurd they may seem to be. This is probably the third month of my writing this post and each is just as challenging as the first one I started off with, if not more. Truly, the adage that goes, “One is only as good as one’s last job,” rings so true in this post I try write every week. I start off agonizing over what to write about, and when I settle upon it, struggle through the post, trying to put in words the beauty, humour or passion and experience that’s in my heart, handicapped by my limited vocabulary, and then wait with bated breath to see how my post is received. I once remarked to a friend that the written language is one of the most primitive means of expression there is and there is no better proof of this observation than what I go through writing this. I think the hardest thing for me to do is to maintain my resolve to write only things that are heartfelt and are real to me. To do otherwise would to me, be tantamount to writing a lie, and that I cannot afford. Thank you so much everyone who supports me and deigns to read what I write – you are my greatest accolade ever! Anyway, enough of this gibberish and on to the main thing I want to write about this week, my earliest memory.

I once had an argument with a friend of mine over who had the better memory. I, ably representing my brothers in bragging rights, put my opponent to the test challenging him to let us use our earliest memories as the yardstick for whose was the superior. He managed to conjure up memories dating back to the time he was five years old, I, ten months old! I know it seems laughable but it is true. I know it is because my mother told me I learnt to walk when I was ten months old and I had my experience when I knew I couldn’t walk! I remember the incident vividly because that was the first time I knew what the fear of being alone was.

I remember being alone in a room on a bed with a pleated quilt, as I know it be now. It was lit up by a light shining high above my head and I looked at the little birds flying all over the wall wondering where they all went to and why I couldn’t pluck them from the wall no matter how much I tried to grab at them . I crawled along the quilt with the birds meaning to find out where all of them were headed - they all seemed to fly in one direction. It was then I noticed the presence of another. It was a dark figure, almost the same size as me bur unlike anyone I’d seen before. It had no eyes or mouth I could see but seemed to have ears that I could recognize. Playfully I called out to it but it didn’t reply me. I reached out to it and it did too, touching my hand. I called out to it again but it still remained silent. Becoming bored of its muteness, I crawled off to continue with my investigation of my birds’ destination and it followed me. I stopped; it stopped too! Irritated with its tenacity I screamed at it to leave me alone if it wasn’t going to play properly and made for the opposite direction; it still followed me. Observing its dark figure more closely it slowly began to dawn on me that there might be more to this strange being than met the eye. It had no features that I could recognize save for its form that was very like mine and was eerily present where my mother was absent! In a panic I crawled to the edge of the bed and to my dismay, I could go no further as the bed was too high for me to clamber down to the floor. Bawling, I doubled back to the other end frantically trying to get away form this mysterious being but it adamantly followed my every move and I couldn’t get past the edges of the bed whichever way I went. It was a total frenzy of bawling and whirling this way and that in a total panic when I was suddenly scooped up by the strong arms of my mum. Almost instantly soothed, I nuzzled into the safe haven of my mummy’s soft neck and smell that I knew so well as that little monster, the little birds and the bed receded into nothingness.

Of course I never told my friend this. Me, tell him how a grown man like me ran from his shadow? Tufiakwa! God forbid! It’s funny how scary life or challenges in life can be when you’re alone. It’s also scary how daunting life can be without a mentor, guide and protector. We seek daily to indemnify our lives as well as our loved ones’ and our environment against the unknown that we perceive to be constantly prevailing against us. The inherent fear of abandonment we are born with first manifests itself when we, as infants, cling to our parents seeking our sense of security in their loving care. This craving stays with us throughout our lives prompting us to sate its appetite in all ramifications, good or bad. Perhaps this is why most of us seek partners for lifelong companionship and a deity to believe in and to be guided by. May we see our shadows for what they are and not what our fear of the unknown tries to exaggerate them to be. Have a great week ahead everyone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Aspiring Poet

Tis a good and merry week everybody.
The torrid rains’ fervency has abated somewhat,
The shy sun starts to peek from behind the curtains,
The plantlings have some respite.
Farmers breathe,
And a bumper year comes hither to us all.

My humble attempt at a poem, but then again a poem is what one makes it to be, n’est ce pas? Poems for me are one of the scariest things to write. I always feel like a pretender trying to call myself a poet anytime I try to embark on one. I feel as an English Literature graduate, I am supposed to know everything about poetry and yet I get stumped whenever I try to write the damned thing. I just sit there staring at the blank paper or screen not knowing where to start; my mind befuddled with a jumbled kaleidoscope of tools I should employ: rhyme, metre, hyperbole, metaphor, compressed yet pregnant words, in short anything that will make me look clever. If my mind still remains blank then I, like everyone before me has done, employ the use of nature. I stare at the skies, looking for some pattern in the clouds, or listen for bird calls or observe chickens as they scratch about for food and I’m occasionally rewarded with some spark of inspiration. The trouble is, by the time I look down on the paper to begin to write, the image vanishes and I have start all over again or throw my pen away in frustration. Even when I turn to the poems of the greats: Soyinka, Yeats, Milton et al, I only get the messages they try to convey through textbooks that analyze their works. Resigned, I brand myself a dolt who is but a pretender to the profession. It was not always like this.

I was admitted to the grand citadel of learning called the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with great expectations for myself. One whole year of ardent study under the stern tutelage of my uncle after a failed bid to exceed the cut off point required to gain entry into the department of my choice had armed me with a considerable grasp of the literary tools for expression. Not only was I ready to easily understand sister phrases to such famous quotes as “the child is the father of man” and “the pen is mightier than the sword”, but I was ready to invent priceless nuggets of my own. I attacked my first poetry course, “Introduction to Poetry 101” with great gusto, absorbing everything I could: imagery, metaphor and such like. I was in heaven. I especially enjoyed the delightful satire in Alexander Pope’s mock epic, The Rape of the Lock and Homer’s narrative Iliad. My grades never went below A-. All this was plain sailing until an incident happened that would change my passion for poetry.

It was the first semester of my second year and the professor handling our poetry class had come out with handouts on the course for sale to all who cared to buy them. The class representative, a friend of the lecturer, was given the responsibility selling the material. One morning, my friends and I were waiting for a lecture at our usual ‘bad boys’’ spot; the back benches when Basil, the class rep came to us with a stricken look on his face. Concerned, we asked him what the matter was to which he lamented that the entire batch handouts he had been given had been stolen. He didn’t know what to tell the professor and he was in such an agitated state that we did what we could to help. We asked everyone in the class if they had seen anything and all said no. I then suggested that those of us who could afford it, should pitch in some money and give him to lessen his culpability. We did what we could and Basil was very grateful to us for our efforts. The incident was forgotten until the next morning when Basil came to tell me the professor wanted to see me in his office. I went with him thinking I was going to be graded for a paper I’d handed in the week before. To my astonishment, the professor began to ask me what I knew about the missing handouts. In shock I turned to Basil and asked him to explain what the lecturer meant by the question and to tell him what lengths I had gone to help him out of his predicament. It was like hitting a brick wall. As far as they were concerned, I was the culprit no matter how much I argued. At the end of that semester I got an E in the poetry exams. I never went to the professor’s class again.

I’m now older and wise enough to know that I shouldn’t let anyone, for whatever reason, dissuade me from my passions in life. I still stare uncomprehendingly at many poems I see, and have long since given up trying to seem intellectual about it all. I do not understand Soyinka’s or Yeats’ or Milton’s works hoha (period). I can’t fear anybody! I have found I am more suited to writing narrative poems that tell stories so I can comfortably shoot from the heart instead of the head. I write about things I like, and write mischievously when the fancy takes me. I write whenever I want to, whatever I want to and however I want to. I am very content with being the irreverent poet who has little regard for metre, rhyme and lines in his works thank you very much!

As I sit propped at my top
Waiting for the words to pop
Nothing seems to drop
So I let my eyelids droop!

Have a wonderful week everyone

Friday, July 17, 2009

Apologies for non posting

Hello folks, many apologies for the non posting this week. Have been caught up in circumstances beyond my control. The next posting should be on schedule on tuesday next week. I will also be available for chat on my fanbook website on the same day. Details and time to be furnished tomorrow. In the meantime here's a short poem I wrote a while ago for your perusal.


My Sweet
My Sour
My Bitter
Lay me by your bosom that
I may abide in you and you I
For the rest of my days.
Night and day you entice and
Flush out my most conservative desires.
When I was ill you coaxed me
I rejected you.
When I was vexed you coaxed me
I rejected you .
Save only God, you are the most intimate
With my insides.
When we kiss, you tickle the feminine fancy
Of my tongue as you entwine yourselves
In serpentine romance.
When we kiss you excite the masculine aggression
Of my teeth, and jaws as you grind and chomp yourselves
In wild abandon.
My oesophagus like the temple of a woman
Enfolds and guides you down to my stomach
In warming slickness.
And aaahhh…
Oh that another dish of Eba and Edikangikong
Were by my side that we could commence our romance
All over again.
My darling!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


A charming week to everyone and welcome to a new month. Gosh, it’s already the second half of the year and I can’t but wonder what I’ve accomplished so far. I started out the year setting up a number of resolutions and goals I hoped to attain by the year’s end. Some I have met and most I am yet to meet. Naturally this assessment brings with it the attendant feelings of depression and some sense of foreboding. A gnawing worry about what’s coming round the corner tempts me to just let life take its course until the numerous things I want to achieve compel me to run through its blind gauntlet. Sometimes I wonder whether this is all what life is about; to set goals in order to achieve them. Is it to experience the exhilaration of accomplishment or the depression of failure to spur us to strive to reach for more? I ask because even when we achieve what we want, we soon become bored and soon begin to hunger for more, much like the graveyard. What then, I ask, is real achievement or real success? For me, there’s no other person that embodies the answers to those questions than my dear friend Nse. He is the goodliest, if I may be permitted to use that word, man I have known.

Nse reminds me of Jesus because of his very simplistic nature while at the same time one of the most intelligent people I know. He is friendly to all and judges no one. He lives life by the day and concentrates on every hour each day has to offer and yet saves for the rainy day. On a typical day at work, Nse ‘terrorizes’ everyone, he’s an architect, with his camera, looking for whom to catch off guard in the most undignified positions possible. If it’s not a colleague fast asleep at his or her desk, it’s a startled picture of another one about to shovel amala with fingers dripping with gbegiri soup into the mouth only for him to dart in with another picture of the embarrassed and or enraged victim trying to ward him off with soup soiled fingers. I know because I have been his victim on many occasions and have had the indignity of having some of those pictures posted on facebook. He preys mostly on the introverts; he brings unwanted attention to them by constantly introducing them to new people, ostentatiously extolling their virtues to all within earshot but makes sure it is in familiar territory to the victim. He teases people incessantly and the most annoying thing is that he is relentless in all his mischief. The best way I would describe this wonderful pest God sent to ‘torture’ us- his enclave of friends- would be to use the igbo idiom; nwere nwere n’iru, gwompiti n’azu, which I loosely translate as, ‘serene as a lake when observed but gambols about like a colt once one’s back is turned!’. Nse would, when we his friends try to unmask him in the presence of strangers, put on a cherub like face only to make the most hideous faces at us once the unsuspecting sap turns away. And yet in all this he still remains genuinely attentive to all his friends’ needs in times of trouble.

I had gone to visit Nse some weeks ago after a very long spell. We hadn’t seen each other for quite a while and I was feeling rather guilty that I hadn’t bothered calling him to ask how he was. It was one of those times when I wasn’t particularly feeling on top of the world and wasn’t feeling very productive either. I wanted a friend I could unburden myself to – he’s one person I never have to put up a veneer of well being for. He was home, at work on a project that was due for submission the next day but he put that aside and sat down with me to some green tea and honey. We chatted for a while and of course he teased me about my ‘numerous girlfriends’ disguised as my fans, asking me when I was going to pick one and settle down for a change – pot calling the kettle black! I laughed it off and soon got down to the nitty gritty. I talked at length about some scrapes God had recently saved me from and some insecurity I was having at the time. He listened patiently and when we’d talked about mine and he’d given his advice and thoughts, proceeded to tell me his.

A friend of his had died about a fortnight ago in a hospital of malaria. The young man, whom he hardly knew at the time, had just got a job with a local airline in Lagos some months earlier and just coming from another state, needed a place to stay until he could get his feet on the ground. Nse, benevolent as ever, opened his door to him. Things went well for a while until alas the economic meltdown forced the airline to downsize its workforce. Nse’s friend lost his job. He, I’ll use the fictitious name Bora, became extremely depressed and believed nobody cared about him. He was constantly encouraged by Nse who told him his own story of how he lost his own job a year earlier and had the choice of whether to live or die when things got so bad for him; he chose life because he wanted to enjoy what life had to offer and see it through. Bora soon fell ill with malaria and one day on Nse’s return from work with a friend saw him prone on the floor talking deliriously. They rushed him to the hospital and attached him to an oxygen tank. Nse was by his side when he died that night. The one thing Nse said that struck me was that his joy was that he was able to be there for someone who needed a friend and he was glad he didn’t let fear of the unknown prevent him from carrying out God’s given duty to man. He, like I said, just lives life to the full, taking every day as it comes, travels, visits, plays, works at what he loves best – architecture( which he is very good at) and laps up any news about Donna Summer of whom he is a die hard fan and constantly tries to foist upon our very unwilling selves. Interestingly, in all this he still displays maturity and thriftiness as he makes time and effort to invest and save significantly while retaining that childlike nature that helps him not to take life too seriously.

To this day I often ponder and ask myself if I could ever, ever be as selfless as Nse or be as giving as he is. Until then I fear I must label myself a hypocrite and as selfish especially when I presume to call myself a Christian who is supposed to be his brother’s keeper. I know I probably sound like a schoolboy who has been asked to write an essay about his best friend and the writing looks a bit disjointed but it is as a result of trying to cram so much information on this wonderful friend of mine into such little space. Fact of the matter is, Nse is one of my best friends, he my hero and his lifestyle plays a major part in my evaluation on my progress so far and what I hope to achieve in this second half of this year. He is an embodiment of most of what is important in life. Have a great week everyone.