Dear 6-month old me

Dear 6-month old me,

Ezinma Ukairo - Dear 6-month old me

You look rather chubby today; probably because I have been rubbing my eyes lately. Something is in my eye again. The right one itches all the time. I might get an infection if I don’t stop soon.

But I’m not writing to talk about my eye. I have some questions for you.

You don’t know it but it’s 2015. Yep! You turned 20 months ago. It’s an age I know you really looked forward to. You must have felt you’d be sure of everything by now – what you want and don’t want. But I am sorry, because things haven’t panned out the way you expected.

Okay that’s a lie. You are where 9-year old us wanted to be – third year law student who is taking French classes to fulfill what 14-year old us came up with. You made plans when you learnt what plans were. You had dreams as soon as you could. At each stage, my darling, you came one step closer to fulfilling what you want. So thank you! Thank you for being you.

I am sometimes confused. But most days are better than the rest. It usually helps when I make a list – oral or written – of things to do. I equally question life. Always. I wonder, ‘what is the end to all these?’ It is not all rosy, you see. But I remind myself and I want you to also remember that “you have a purpose and that is the end to all these”. Nope, I’m not telling you the purpose, you figure it out.

Losing weight is the rage now. It is crazy considering we have always been big. Almost everyone who can afford it is wearing a corset. I have tried dieting, I even checked out a gym the other day; I think I am just not motivated enough. I’ll just eat healthy and work out. It would be suicidal for me to regiment my meals now; we like food, the healthy kind of course. Lol, do you know the meaning of suicidal? Well, it means when someone feels like ending his or life. Why would someone want that? I know, right?! Life is so beautiful ish. Well my darling, people do. But do not be perturbed (don’t worry, I will explain all the big words at the end) because I’m not suicidal … yet. Trust me, it is fun being you.

So before I ask my questions, let me tell you a little bit about 20-year old you – us. Sweetheart, you are tall, beautiful, smart and intelligent. Girl, are you wonderful at speeches! You are gap-toothed though; you didn’t like it the first time you noticed. But your smile is beautiful. People ooh and aah every time you smile. Hehehe, okay, I’m exaggerating … a bit.

You still walk like a soldier; don’t even think of learning to walk ‘girly’, it’s sooooo sloooow. Errrr … I don’t know if it is alright to tell you about our love life, you are just 6 months old ba? Shaa, I shall tell you anyways, so that as you grow you can try to make some things right.

You have dated some, and no you haven’t been overtly free with your emotions but you could have been more careful. Just remember that you should not date until you are ready to say “I do” in charge of your emotions. Please, only get into a relationship with a man (please, man not boy) when you are sure of what you expect both from him and from yourself. When you are everything Beyonce described in her song “Grown Woman”, then you can date. Be a big girl, know what you want. Wait until you are a strong lady with clear-cut principles on life, politics and love. Note that love came last.

When you get to 20, you will have a best friend who will mean the world to you. Do not lose her! She is amazing. How would you know her? Well, she is a year and three months younger than you, and she looks like a cute rat. Which reminds me, try very hard to convince Dad to let you live off-campus; the rats in this hostel are simply devilish. Devilish I tell you!

Now my questions … actually, just one question: What’s the weather like today?

With love,
20-year old us.

P.S. The 20-year old you got this letter when she was six months. I am simply doing the same thing for you. Remember to continue the tradition.

So, big words and their meanings:
Perturbed = worried
Lol = Laugh out loud; it is a cool way to show you are laughing while texting.
Ooh and aah = sounds people use when they are amazed
Amazed = errr, when people are just thrilled about something
Thrilled = errr….???
Nne ehn, you know what? You will learn English Language in nursery school, so don’t worry.

By Ezinma Ukairo

Fresh new column … coming soon!

microphone

This is a public service announcement.

It is with great pleasure, and for your even greater reading pleasure, that ‘Words Are Work’ brings you a fresh new column from one of our extremely talented writers. You might remember her better as ‘Nikki’ – that female protagonist whose hunger met its physical and spiritual equal in the story, ‘The Day He Showed Up’; but her name is Winifred Adebayo.

Winie calls herself a ‘word addict’; for her, writing is a passion that unites all of her interests into one perfect little ball of warmth. For a long time, she did nothing about her love for writing, but since she started not so long ago, she has been unable to stop. She loves God very deeply, people too, and this love motivates her in everything she does.

WAW caught up with Winie on one of her rare ‘free’ moments and asked to know more about this new column. Her answer was straight, short and simple: The column is titled ‘Winie says …’, and it will bring you thought-provoking articles on life and relationships. Before we could ask about degrees and other professional certifications which qualified her to opine on such subject matters, Winie quickly added that she is no expert. “‘Winie says …'” she said, “just says it as it is”.

You can read her blog-posts on winiesworld.com; also follow her on twitter and Instagram @wini_ade.

In the meantime, ‘Winie says …’ is loading, so …

Watch this space!

Roses and Angels IV

…continued from last week

roses and angels

…it pulled over, a small golf with tinted glasses.

Its earring and sun glass – wearing driver with dyed hair wound down the glass, and flashed you a boyish smile which even then, you knew did not go past his brownish set of teeth. At other times you would have immediately grabbed the cloak of caution, and walked away, but not that day; you had lost all the will-power that once streamed in your veins. He persuaded you to get in, and tears in your eyes you let yourself be cajoled.

He embraced you in the car, gave you his grey leather jacket and let you cry on his shoulders. Then, you told him your story, amid sobs that seemed to endure forever.

‘Life’s a bitch’, he told you when you were done, ‘if you wanna beat her game, you gotta fuck her real hard!’

He had started the engine when you ask him his name, so perchance he killed you that night, you would at least have known the name of your killer.

‘I’m a young dude trying to work my name to the national dailies’, he answered in a prophetic tone. ‘I’m gonna hit big someday. I can smell it in my fucking breath. And when that time comes, we gonna hit big together’.

He took your small face, planted a kiss on your forehead, and drove you to a place you will later call home.

***

Eighteen months have passed since you left Johnny. You have had six menial jobs with paltry salaries, and you have moved four times. You have settled on the last job you got in a middle class restaurant where you work on shifts. In your quiet moments, when you lay on the sofa of your poorly furnished room, the past always replays, the tears always come, and a surge of energy always overcomes you. You feel this emotional outburst you cannot overcome. You try to suppress the thoughts rimming your mind, but you find yourself failing. Your nights are filled with dreams, those dreams whose plot you forget as soon as you open our eye lids to reality. Yet, the wetness on your eyes always evidence that it must have been a sad dream.

These continue night after night, until that eventful night. You woke up in the wee hours of night, after restless shuffles on your thin bed. An idea came to you, you picked up an idle pen and a brown paper and apprehensive though you were, you began to write. The night disappeared with the outburst of poetic emotions. You were deaf to the sound of your clock and the distant croaks of frogs. The muse was your new companion; he captured your heart, alerted your thoughts, and wired them through your hands to your pen which spat out endless words with unrestrained fury.

You are more aware of the ever presence of your muse. You have resumed writing poetry and music is always on your lips at your quiet times. Your thoughts flow like a spring, and in your writing, you find escape. You write about love and hate, resolution and hope, culture and religion. You write about your parents, especially Mama. You write about the night of your first sexual intercourse with Johnny.

It happened that night when he first embraced you and told you to fuck life. Uncle Ofodili opened your gateway, but Johnny on that night, ensured that it stayed open to hundreds of others on the path he carved for you. At first, you did not understand why anyone should keep more than one lover, or even offer sex for money. But Johnny had spoken persistently to you, and when you would not budge, he struck you, and ravished you repeatedly.

You were not so bothered of the force of his violent plunging into you, or his breath that reeked of alcohol and narcotics, or the ripples of pain you felt days afterwards. What bothered you more was the rape of your spirit, your will, your dignity, reducing you, that girl who once thought herself an angel, to a tiny filthy tool. This continued until after a month. You had given in to that new reality. Johnny was, you thought, and would always be your supreme benefactor and if you wanted a life, you had to please him. To please him, you embraced your new career and damned your broken conscience.

But all of that was months ago, a lifetime ago. Because you have left your past in the past, along with Johnny and all he brought. No longer are you Pearl or Tracy or Suzy, the whore, now you are that ‘yellow sisi’ who works the tables at Sunrise restaurant, and attends Sunday masses at the cathedral.

The homilies on Sundays are always taken by that Bishop with narrow eyes and a solemn demeanor. You enjoy its underlying philosophy and the pleasant simplicity of his language. It is not only the homily that uplifts your spirit. The hymns captivate your mind. It has been over four months since you started attending the cathedral, and since then, you have desired inwardly to join the choir whose members are always clad in blue and red coloured outfits that are reminiscent of your primary school graduation attire. So from your pew, you always sing along, hoping that one day, you will get a divine push that will inspire you to register with them.    

Last Sunday, you sat in the front row of the section just behind the choir, as usual. After the Holy Communion session, an elderly woman who had been seated quietly beside you nudged you gently and asked, ‘How can you sit here so comfortably?’

‘Pardon me?’

‘I have been watching you and I know what you are,’ she turned to face you. ‘Do you not know that you shouldn’t be here? That this is no place for you?’

You are stunned, confused. It cannot be…

to be continued next week…

By

Uche Anichebe

Roses and Angels III

roses and angels

…continued from here

Mama died on the second week of her mourning, and the villagers shouted hosanna. The gods had again shown their inestimable strength and had done justice to Papa.

Three weeks passed, and you joined Uncle Ofodili and his family to their house – a house which few weeks ago you shared with your parents alone. Your cousins took over your little fancy room, and you slept in the kitchen.  You hated the hardness of the floor, and the cold which could not be absorbed by the faded wrapper that had become your bed. But you were grateful for the privacy it afforded you. So, you spent the nights praying, dwelling on the life you had with your parents, and studying your old books with the hope that Uncle Ofodili will one day ask you to resume school again.

But even that was short-lived. Your privacy was cut short by Uncle Ofodili who sneaked in every night and persuaded you in his baritone voice to ‘open your legs’. You were not sure what he wanted with your open legs, but your instincts and that leer in his eyes told you that what he desired of you was bad, very bad.

A week passed, and Uncle Ofodili did not stop coming. He was even more forceful with every passing day. The last time, he struck you, and when Aunty offhandedly enquired the cause of your black-eye, you lied to her that you fell. You feared that the worse will happen if Aunty found out herself, so one morning, after Uncle left for work, and after you had bathed Chika and Ikem and made breakfast, and done the dishes and scrubbed the house and dropped the children off at school, you braced up, and confided in Aunty. 

At first, she was shocked. She struck you with the china ware in her hands, and further pummeled you with every item within her reach. You pleaded with her, you told her you were sorry, and you will not err again, but her beating and curses drowned your pleas. That night, she called you a cursed child, and sent you out of the house, wearing nothing but your open wounds and a broken spirit.

It was Madam Janet, your new neighbour who took you in for the night. You recounted your ordeals to her and she let you spend the night in her apartment. She cleaned your wounds and offered you her guest room. Though you could still feel the pains running through your body, though you were still shivering in fright, you saw a glimmer of hope in Madam Janet. Maybe she would take you in, you thought.

But the next day, she asked you to leave. She feared for her young marriage. You pleaded gently, tears flowing like a spring, she said no. So you left, dazed, weary and craving for death.

Years passed and something happened within you, strengthening you, and  drowning your past. Until today, you have not given a serious thought to your parent, home, poetry or music. But today, history has not only resurrected in your mind. Today, history has taken a bold step towards you, and Uncle Ofodili, who was only a figment of that history, had journeyed out of the past, and found his way to your bedside.

You are shaking. The lights are still off when Johnny walks in. He is seething with fury and with his eyes as red as palm oil. He has obviously drowned himself in Cocaine again. Chief must have told him, but you do not care.

“You,” he spits, “you’re such a pig”

You give him reasons, but he doesn’t hear. “He’s a dick,” Johnny retorts, “just as the rest. Uncle or not, since you had fucked him, you shudda got me my fucking balance”.

He is holding your neck with such force you think it might as well snap. You scream, desperately flailing your hands on his stoic face. Vexed, he lets go of you, but before that, strikes his heavy fists on your face. He has hit you many times before, but this time, your screams are louder and your thoughts are still hung on the past, refusing like your shadow, to let go of you.

That evening, you resolve to leave Johnny, and your wrecked existence.

You park your few decent cloths and tips you hid away in your old shoes, and you leave town. The taxi driver is running at dangerous speed like an angry cheetah. But you do not even notice, so you do not complain. Your thoughts wander again.

The very next morning, Madam Janet true to her decision, sent you packing. You were stranded, lonely, shivering and hopeless. You walked the streets until dusk came and you panicked, while hunger gnawed at the ligaments of your belly. Slowly, night drew its dark curtains over the firmaments, and full blown anxiety sank into your heart. You were a solitary figure, a poignant image under a rotting electric pole, watching the people walking back and forth to their waiting destinations. No one spoke to you. Their faces were straight, and their feet, eager with motion.

 Then it pulled over, a small gulf with tinted glasses.

to be continued next week

by Uche Anichebe

Roses and Angels II

roses and angels

For some seconds, you shut your eyes and then open them, but he is still there, that man you learnt to dread with all our life. A man you learnt to despise, the man who robbed you of those long ago childish care.

‘O god, oh my god, o god,’ you gasp.

All the while you’re wishing it was one of those dreams whose details you forget almost as soon as you awoke. Your mouth is dry, your lips are limp, you try to scream, but all you can feel is stiffness around your throat. A long limp sound escapes you and just then Chief moves a little, but does not rouse. The tears take form and travel down your face. The memories start to come, those memories you have sealed in the closet of history. You are shaking. You are sobbing. You are weakened by your past. You find your clothing, hastily put them on. Chief is still sprawled out like a small child on the expansive bed when you dash out of the room.

It all started when you were only twelve. That was ten years ago. Like a newly sprouted leaf in the raining season, the details are again fresh in your mind.

You were the apple of your parent’s eye, an only child. Your father called you Angel and nurtured your dream of becoming a world acclaimed singer. He always told you that you had a voice that could move mountains and encouraged you to join the church’s choir. Every Christmas, he watched you rehearse for Christmas carol, and eventually perform at the children Christmas carol. Every Christmas until that cursed Christmas.

The harmattan gale was fiercest that year, and the house seemed mirthless without Papa’s voice. He had left on a business trip but promised to return to watch you sing. He never returned. You never sang. Papa died in a plane crash, and the next week after his demise, Mama received a call from the village. She said it had to do with tradition. She assured you it was going to be alright and you both went to your country-home to perform Papa’s burial rite.

Things took a different shape when you got to the village. Your relatives seemed to have grown hostile over-night. They had occupied your country-home, and would not let you or Mama into the house. You were taken to your paternal granny’s house, which was on the next street. She did not smile up at you as she usually did, and when you asked her why, she gave you a stern look, and called you the daughter of a witch who had succeeded in killing her only son with voodoo. She swore that Mama must undergo some ‘omenala’, customary practices to proof her claim of innocence.

Your mother’s hair was shaved to the scalp so that you could hardly recognize her. A bevy of old women gathered around spiting and mocking and accusing her, while she cried in agony. The next day, you saw the same women leading her out of the garage that had become her room, and you thought it was all over. But it was not.

They made her kneel, repeat some words that you did not hear, and forced her to drink the content of a small wooden calabash. She was hesitant, but the women slapped her face and forced the content of the ugly calabash down her throat.  Granny later told you that it contained the bath water of your father’s corpse. You threw up and refused to eat all day long. You missed your home at the city and the near perfect life you had with your parents. You wished Mama’s travail would come to an abrupt end, so you can return home with Mama, and with considered effort, put your lives back together.  But the women had different thoughts. Mama, they said, must remain in the garage, stripped of all her raiment for a month. She must come out only once a day, when she heard the first cock crow at dawn, and whether she liked it or not, she must wail to the hearing of the entire neighbourhood.

Mama’s mother came to see Mama and in your innocent confusion, you asked her why life has taken a new turn. She told you that it is a path that all widows must thread. You pressed on, and enquired why Uncle Ofodili, Papa’s cousin and his family have taken over your country home. She cast you a sad look which lingered for some seconds, and said, ‘you should have been a boy you know’. 

Her voice seemed distant and accusatorial as she continued, ‘girls are such vain treasures. They come and go, but the man stays, and must be succeeded by another man. Ofodili is the new man!’                           

 Mama died on the second week of her mourning, and the villagers shouted hosanna.

…to be continued next week

By Uche Anichebe

Twenty Fifteen

A brother was telling me just this week about how in Nigeria, we are more about beats, and nada about the lyrics of our music. I agreed with him on a lot of his points, after all how many words of Terry G and even Davido lyrics can I comfortably write down. Yet, I’ll gbedu anytime to ‘Run Mad’ and Davido is fifth on my phone’s ‘Most played’ artistes.

Yet again it pays once in a while to hear something different. And refreshing.

‘Twenty Fifteen’ by Khafeel is one such piece.

You know how recently, the mornings are very unfriendly to go out in, but we have to for daily bread. So you just boarded the bus, the window to your left is blank – no glass, you can’t shut out the biting cold; the lady to your right is F.A.T and as if the Israelites didn’t suffer enough, she balances this humongous basket of cocoyams on her laps; the conductor is eating your ear out about the one thousand naira note you gave him, ‘kosi change oh‘; you stick your ear plugs in your ear and your one prayer is for a track like ‘Twenty Fifteen’.

Made by rather conserved but extremely talented and budding producer, Kinsu, ‘Twenty Fifteen’ by Khafeel is a poetic piece to set the new year on a path of excellence, pomp and ceremony.

Listen here…

http://goo.gl/Vc6J4z

You may find the transcript below. Best enjoy it.

AND SHARE!!!


Twenty Fifteen

May our barns be filled with yam
And the tubers be long and fat.
May our cellars never dry out
Serving newness with the passing of each new day.
May our fields be green
So they can graze, our sheep and cattle.
May we have meat in abundance
Enough to feed even the needy.
May we drink and never thirst
With merry hearts all the days of the year.

Twenty Fifteen.
We call you by your name
From years we’ve seen, we ask you change the game
From whence we’ve been, grant us a new fame
The fat and the lean, let the showers fall on same
All the babes we wean, let them grow and not be lame
Be void of sin, and the wild, we pray you tame
And when finally your light shall dim,
let men not forget that you came.

We bid you to spring forth new waters
From patched lands scorched terrains
Fresh and salty, as the need may arise.

Send the rain and end the pain
As we free our hearts and set our minds
To Conceive the unimaginable
Gather our acts to do the impossible
Tirelessly pronouncing the unpopular
And living life that is void of mediocrity.

Cloth us in apparels of shimmering stone
Emeralds and diamonds, refined to the finest tone
Make us dazzling babies as we savour the late night moan
Grant us the best of wheels, German prides bought not on loan
And tastefully built abodes situated in the world’s choicest zone.

Twenty Fifteen.
Answer by your name
Prosper don’t play safe
Let men their joys resound as we proclaim thee the year of the ornaments.
With trumpets sounding on C
The drums rolling with such ecstasy
The people dancing stamping joyous feet for all to see
A perfect complement to the soft wind blowing over land and sea
Even as tinsels sway and cling to the rhythm of the harmony that we oversee
Giving us a goodly heritage and a perfect legacy.

Twenty Fifteen.
No I’m not eighteen
But yeah I feel like a teen
For love don’t cost a thing.

We pray thee to spread abroad the love that we men need at a time like this
We ask that your arms embrace us, that your lips kiss us, and your warmth enclose us
Giving comfort to all that despair and hope to the ones who cry in silence.

We pray, that your mornings be filled with joy
Exceedingly great, even past the time of noon
And the eve and the morrow shall ever speak of tranquil peace
Economic order and societal bliss.

Twenty Fifteen.
Arise never to fall,
For on your wings we soar unto limitless heights and sights
Strapped and saddled fast and firm
We ride to the place of our victory
Diving into the world’s deepest depths
We uncover treasures locked beneath the floor of the ocean.

Pregnant you are
Midwives we shall be
Walking you safely through timely delivery of the blessings that you have stored up for our use.

Twenty Fifteen.
With arms stretched all out
And smiles that melt the heart of the broken.
We bid you a grand welcome.

Chisom

The Lectern: A Message to Unmarried Men

As promised, Emmanuel Akaeze writes from ‘The Lectern’ this month on bachelor matters.

Are you single, dating, undecided, or both?

Are you male? Female?

Yes? Then read!

The Lectern01

…that we might be read

A MESSAGE TO UNMARRIED MEN

meme04

Since most women are incapable of physical abuse, some have resorted to other forms, like economic, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Young man, if you’re in a relationship or about to ask a woman out who is always talking about money, I advise you to think twice. Unless your surname ends with Trump, Gates, Dangote or Helu, or your father’s mother’s cousin’s son-in-law’s driver’s half-sister owns the Central Bank, you’re in for a rough ride.

If her interests are always in what you bought for her, how much money you gave her this month….she will bring you grief. This woman is a leech and will milk you to the last drop, then wring you, just in case there are some stray kobos left in your pockets, then she will air-dry and dump you. Abeg, borrow my favorite letters for this kind of situation – R. U. N!

Some women will so verbally abuse you that you’ll wish your mother’s womb could open up and take you back into its safe cocoon of innocence. She’s rude, sometimes vulgar, calls you all sorts of names, denigrates you, always compares you with your friends and she calls it – wait for it – “keeping it real.” I agree with her oh…the real thing is she’ll keep on and never stop. And unless you can tame the shrew, pack your load and move on!

If she always harps on a particular issue forever, repeating those words till they burrow inside your brain like itch-mites and you can recite them by heart, it’s called nagging. And from a nagger, methinks you should flee! Else, one day, you’ll either wake up in police custody with a murder charge on your head or realize that you’re a recurrent member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Please oga, in the name of all that’s sane and logical, don’t be with a woman who is still hung up on her ex. If a woman is always going on and on about how her ex, John was mean to her, cheated on her, and didn’t treat her right, bros, unless you’re her shrink and helping her work out her emotional problems, I suggest you pack your luggage and board the next available flight. She is definitely a citizen of Yesterday, living in Baggage House, on Regret Street. You will wake up one day to find a Dear John letter pinned to your pillow.

If a woman keeps telling you that all men are dogs, and how she hates all men except you, her “darling boo”, just know that network is bad and your matter is hanging. One day, soon and very soon, you will slip up on a tiny issue. Then her verdict will be delivered and you will join the long list of men in her life who are hated canines.

If a lady compares your relationship to that of Nneka, Sandra or Sade, just know that you’re nothing but a housemate in the ‘All-time Best Couple’ reality show…the only thing is you don’t know it yet. For this kind of woman, nothing you ever do with and/or for her is good enough, because one of her friend’s boo will definitely be better. In my opinion, you’re better off Keeping Up with the Kardashians than with this woman (and we all really despise that show, don’t we?)

My brother, have you met the NEVER DIVA? Like her name suggests, there are things she’ll never do because she believes they are a man’s, servant’s or professional’s job. She NEVER calls you. She NEVER buys you any gifts. She is NEVER emotionally available. She NEVER takes you out, NEVER offers to pay for half the meal. She NEVER apologizes. She is NEVER wrong. She NEVER compliments you. She will NEVER give up anything for you or the family. She will NEVER compromise. Bros, I can NEVER say this enough – NEVER hook up with this kind of woman.

I know one sister whose favourite song is ‘Just as I am, without one plea…’, only problem is she’s not singing the original gospel version. Like Mount Zion which cannot be moved, her favourite mantra is “you met me like this and so shall I always be!” She’ll never love you enough to compromise or change to make you happy, don’t kid yourself. It doesn’t matter if you own a boutique, her skimpy clothes will stay. Don’t bother enrolling her in evening school, her broken grammar will do just fine. That you’re an accountant that can help with financial advice on saving and investing makes no difference, her money is hers to throw away as she wishes.

I only have one question for you, guy, whence goest thou? I am sure I have by no means exhausted the list; the above are only the commonest I could think of, feel free to add more. Don’t be like Macbeth whose wife pushed and pushed till he broke.

By: Emmanuel L. Akaeze

Emma

Emmanuel is an avid reader, a creative writer, historian and public speaker, a Process Engineer by profession, Business Analyst by occupation. Still single, he lives and works in Abuja. His life philosophy implores you to “Change the way you think, change your life”

If you have written something which you would like us to read from ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are yet unsure about a subject matter but want to be read still, send me an email too and we can work up something appropriate for you.

Chisom