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

The Lectern: Impossible is nothing

I do not know about you, reader, but this past month has been both a trial and a blessing for me. I gave up many times – numerous nights when it was just hisses and ta-hell-with-it’s. But none of those dark moments was ever for too long at a time. Every time it seemed impossible to pull through, someone/thing came through – family, friends and/or that aged belief in my own strength.

Imagine my delight then when Chizzy knocked on my door this early morning with ‘Impossible is nothing’ … as if she knew! Thanks to this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, I have found belief afresh. I hope you do too.

Have a sweet July 🙂

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING

Impossibl is nothing - The Lectern

I recently saw a picture of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote on the cover of Tell magazine. On the far end of his mahogany desk sat a plaque on which was written, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Many times I have heard that phrase repeatedly used by motivational speakers, and I often roll my eyes in response. Never did I take time out to find its application to me.

One day, I went to buy some shoes at an ‘OK’ store. If you don’t know what ‘OK’ shoes are, you are not Nigerian; it means okirika shoes, a code name for fairly-used imported shoes. Fellow Naija babes will agree that ‘OK’ shoes are more durable than the acclaimed ‘foreign’ ones, most of which are made in Aba anyways.

But I digress. I entered the shop and asked the shop attendant to pick out black ballerina shoes for me. Rather than do as I requested,  the man brought out a writing pad and began to scribble on it. I was too curious to even be vexed, what was he writing?

After he was done, he handed the pad to me and I saw that he had written on it: “what do you want to buy”. The guy was deaf and dumb!

What on earth is a deaf and dumb fellow looking for in the business of buying and selling?, I thought to myself. I know quite well what trading entails – a lot of talking and haggling and more talking. So saying that I was shocked is an understatement. I bet you are too.

I was amazed. At that point I remembered the phrase, ‘impossible is nothing’.

Here was this guy, probably already written off as a mute, as something headed for nothing. He was disabled, but he refused to be disadvantaged. He rejected the limitations placed on him by his physical condition and rather chose to see ability in his disability. Plus he handled the sales so well that I even forgot to haggle – and you know we love to haggle.

This experience made me pause for a minute and think. I thought about how at several points in my life I had abandoned projects and plans because I felt they were impossible feats. Oh nobody has ever done it, I would often lament; the last person that attempted failed woefully.

Many times I catch myself holding on to a past hurt, obviously stuck in a rut, but refusing to let go. And other times, I feel like my best days are long over and I can never live a happy and fulfilling life again … the list is endless.

However after my experience with that shoe salesman, I began to see hope. I see now that I am fired up to succeed like I have never been before. I see now that life can throw anything at me, but I, and I alone determine what to make of it. I see now that ‘impossible is nothing’.

Dear friend, if nobody has ever done it, be the first. Challenge the status quo and reach for new frontiers. Who said you cannot be the one to break that old record and set a new one? Nobody.

If you still think it’s impossible, maybe because you have tried so many times and failed every time, then you need to visit Thomas Edison. He will tell you that 999 feels like 1 million to someone who has lost all hope, and one more trial to a passionate soul. Nobody every moved forward by keeping their eyes fixed on the rear view mirror. The past is past and those who dwell on it pass away with it.

The shop attendant in my story wrote out his words in well-articulated English, his lettering was bold, neat and legible. Evidently, he took time to learn to read and write. Even in his disability, he stands tall and makes much more money than many who are perceived as ‘able-bodied’.

Is there an area of your life which isn’t quite playing out according to your plans? I suggest you stop planning for a minute; take the time to show gratitude to God for the areas that are working. Then you may think about ways to make the problem areas work. And when you are done thinking, stand and start doing – very important. Because it is often in the ‘doing’ that our strength fails us. And if in trying you fail, I urge that you try, try and try again. Do not bother who has written you off, never write yourself off.

Losing your eye is not the worst thing that can happen to you, losing your vision is.

Decide today that nothing shall be impossible for you. Whatever is conceivable is achievable. The greatest battles are fought in the mind, win them. And you shall soar like the eagle, because indeed, nothing is impossible if you believe.

By Chiezugolum Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye is a chemical engineer who is driven to challenge status quo and add value everywhere she goes. Her pleasures are photography, chess and cooking.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

The Day He Showed Up

Nikki2

Nikki ran a few paces after the bus, “Ole! Thief!” She looked for something to throw, and found nothing. “Thunder faya you dia. Oloshi!”

The bus conductor had just hopped on the bus and told the driver to drive away, with her ten Naira change. Mud spewed from the tires of the fleeing bus and Nikki reflexively raised a hand. She was just in time to save her face from the mud, but her dress wasn’t so lucky. The blue and black woolwork – one of the only two dresses presentable enough for her to wear on jobhunts – was now artlessly crisscrossed by slimy brown mud.

Nicki sucked her teeth. “Wicked people,” she exploded, “e no go beta for una. God punish you!” Ignoring the placating pleas of bystanders, she continued screaming even after the bus had long gone. In addition to the ruined dress, she mourned greatly the ten Naira change she just lost.

It was her last hope, that ten Naira; she was going to use it for digestive biscuit. Four small circles of sweetened wheat that would be her last meal before death or a miracle, whichever came first. She sighed repeatedly, shaking her head as she walked to her face-me-I-face-you room. It was a tiny space that held her belongings – a Ghana-must-go bag of clothes and oddities, a mat, and a lantern. It struck her as funny that even that tiny space would soon be lost; she hadn’t paid her rent in six months, and Baba Jide would soon surely throw her out. She recently scanned bridges and shop-areas more attentively, because one of them might be her sleeping-place sooner than later.

“Sister Nikki, welcome oh,” Mama Aina greeted. Nikki swallowed as she passed by the elderly woman’s table of wares – where she would have bought her digestive-biscuit last supper. For the past couple of weeks, she ate those four circles daily to help ward off hunger and get through another 24 hours. It was like Mama Aina greeted to remind her to buy the biscuits.

Nikki thought about ignoring her, but then words rushed out of her mouth without her consent. “Mama Aina, good evening. How market?”

“Fine oh, sister Nikki,” she pronounced her name like it should have been on a biscuit wrapper, Nikki biscuits. “No biscuit today?”

Nikki smiled, “Not today jare, I don chop belle full for office.” And she walked off, effectively shutting down further conversation. She knew her lie was obvious, but she didn’t care what Mama Aina thought. She felt bad enough as it was; not because she had lied about eating, but because her ten Naira would have helped Mama Aina feed her six children. The thought was crazy – like TEN Naira, seriously? But Nikki believed it. She really wished she had the money.

She walked on, negotiating the puddles and make-shift bridges with an ease born of familiarity. Her sandals weighed more and more with every step she took, lifting them became harder. All this poto-poto everywhere; no be say person get food for belle to do this kind hard work.

She continued along, doing her best to rid her feet of fast-caking mud and grumbling for all she was worth. To her right, a Christian fellowship was singing and dancing. A wry smile curved Nikki’s lower lip. Where did they even get the strength?! Everywhere she looked, the stink of poverty ruled supreme; here, people suffered for a living.

Nikki was one of those who believed in God, but a lot of times, she wasn’t sure. She hoped He existed, but it did not make sense that He let people suffer. It was better for her to assume He didn’t exist; then and only then did suffering make sense. But somehow, against her better reason, Nikki just believed.

She continued walking, her pace slower, praying for her room to get closer. The sting in her stomach intensified and she tried to suppress the thought of not having anything to eat anywhere. A thought crossed her mind, and the Ludacris of it made her smile. If to say you dey hear person like me nau, she directed at the skies, I for beg you fried rice and chicken with chilled Malt.

Immediately, she burst out laughing, a weak sound that echoed off the inner walls of her empty stomach. As quickly as it started, it died away. If only He was beside her listening, she mused and shook her head.

“Nikki, you don come?”

Nikki hissed. “I dey your front, you still dey ask if I don come. Kunle, abeg  I no get strength”. And she made to brush by him, but her ever-jovial next-door neighbor only laughed and moved to block her path.

“Nikki-lo-lo, Nikki-fire-for-fire,” he teased. “You know say only you ehn, na Anti-bomb squad!”

“Kunle,” Nikki was nearly in tears, feet hurting, head banging, tummy wailing, “what do you want, please?”

“Nikki, wait first jare make I knack you gist. For office today ehn, come see owambe. Babe, I chop scarra come carry take-away commot sef. But as I reach house na im my spirit just dey tell me ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’, ‘give Nikki’”. His rumbling laughter punctuated his theatrics, as he extended a bag to her. Nikki stood rooted to a spot, she was too dumbfounded to either be vexed or amused. Was this a joke?

She thought to lie at first, to just blurt out something along the lines of “oh thank you, I’m not hungry” or the Mama Aina line – “I don chop belle full for office.” But she couldn’t do it. She was hungry.

Her hands moved of their own accord. The warm feel of the nylon bag jerked her body back into consciousness – it was for real, FOOD. Tears sprang to her eyes and the ‘thank you’ she tried to say came out sounding like the final noise Kunle’s I-pass-my-neighbor generator made every night before all went quiet. The man himself, surprised at her reaction, immediately withdrew into his room. “Good night oh!” he yelled from behind his firmly shut door.

Nikki’s hands trembled as she fit the key into the door. Inside, she sat on the floor and opened the nylon bag. There was a plastic plate with yellow fried rice and a large golden-brown hunk of chicken. Something still weighed the bag down even after she had taken out the plate; Nikky dipped her hand and took it out – a pretty bottle of malt lay calmly sweating in her hands.

Nikky cried. He was beside me, listening.

By Winifred Adebayo

What If

pensive African woman

I was 18 when we broke up; 18 years, 11 months and 29 days old to be precise. He attacked my weight again, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time he did it, I can’t remember what we were talking about but arthritis came up and he said I should watch my weight or something like that. Basically, “you are getting fat”. That was the beginning of the end because come on, he knew how sensitive I was on the matter.

Well this time, I decided, would be the last. If all his love did was make me feel wretched, then it was pointless loving him. So I called it off. I knew he would come back, and come back he did. Suddenly, my weight was not an issue anymore.

Anyway this story is not about him. This story is about another ‘him’; the kind of ‘him’ that marks himself.  You know…right up there. He is like that scar you alone know of, the one you often find yourself fondly rubbing your hands over. The kind of scar that makes you smile. This story is about him.

I was 18 when I met him; 18 years, 11 months old to be precise. Funny how ‘met’ as a word is now very subjective, what with social media and its array of networks. I remember it like it was yesterday. I commented on something, he replied, I replied his reply, he replied mine…and we got talking. You know how you meet a guy and unconsciously compare him with your father, and oh the joy it brings when he checks every box. If you have your dad as a benchmark – Daddy’s girl club – you’d know exactly how I felt. Because this dude checked every box and moved on to circles.

We did not date, it was not practical considering the distance. But oh my, the chemistry, it sizzled hot and fierce on both sides. I had hit jackpot and boy, did I have plans! I would graduate at 22 and go on to Lagos Law School so we can officially be together. Then NYSC, settle in Lagos and live happily ever after with four kids; three boys and a girl in a big house with…well, we could work out the other details later.

Then I turned 20. They say when you get older you have more answers. If that is true, something must be wrong with my growth. My birthday that year came with a lot of ‘what ifs’ – “what if I only get into Law School in Abuja?”, “what if I am drafted for NYSC in Sokoto?”, “what if his genes are allergic to mine?”, and “wait oh…what if he does not feel the same way?” And in all of these ‘what ifs’, there were no answers.

I have always wanted to be mature, to really live in the 21st century as a 21st century woman. Gender Equality! If you like him, tell him, et cetera. Anyway, I told him how I felt. And in response, he officially asked me out. Not the answer I was expecting but an answer nonetheless. It felt nice at first. I finally could call him “baby”…aloud – oh yes, I used to say it in my head – and I could end the calls with” I love you”. But distance, the witch that she is, refused to let it be.

I couldn’t kiss him or hold his hands; we couldn’t touch each other or “touch” each other. No dates whatsoever – forget all that Skype. There were no eye to eye declarations of love or playful tickling that ends in bed with panting and sweating and no clothes on. Yes, we connected intellectually. Yes, relationships go beyond physical needs but…I don’t know, it just was not enough for me, for us. And so we broke up.

Looking back now, I think we just missed being friends that we did not work to actually be a couple. We became just friends again and yes it was awkward – going back from “hi baby” and “I love you” to “hey buddy” and “guy, pack well”. But we got over it. We were die-hard friends!

I told you the first one came back, right? Not my ‘jackpot’ now, I mean the first ‘him’ with the weight issue. Yes, he came back and became a good boy, always on his best behavior. He was safe and secure – no sizzles, no hot and fierce whirlwind of emotions. It was not the same as with my ‘jackpot’ but it was something good. I was not lonely, needy or desperate. So I settled.

Sometimes, I imagine what my life would have been with my ‘jackpot’. “What if I had waited and kept my mouth shut?”, “what if I had met him at another time, under different circumstances?”, “what if we had held on to each other just a little longer?” Even at 32, I still ‘what if’; like I said earlier, something is wrong with the way I grow.

Now I look across the table at my ‘best behavior’, and I look at the little one we conceived on one of those rainy nights when holiness flees and everything is possible. And I smile. Yes, I lost my ‘jackpot’ and I settled with my ‘best behavior’ but this right here…this little man in the high chair, gurgling cute nothings and trailing cereal all over his cherubic face, this is my pot of gold.

By Ezinma Ukairo.

Ezinma enjoys good music, food, books and movies. She is currently in her third year at the university where she is studying law so that she can promote the beauty of womanhood, and end child marriage and world hunger. Ezinma is afraid of ever having to just ‘settle’ in a relationship, but she keeps a closed mind to all the ‘unwanted stuff’ and continues to believe in love.

The Lectern: My Sketchbook

The mellow is upon us yet again in this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’. The ‘crazy architect’ we will be reading today is Hope; if you asked her, she would say that she only writes from a moist mind. After reading this, I was astounded by the moistness in mine.

As an aside, can we get some dudes with the ‘hammer-n-mortar’ write-ups please? Some fire-brand religious mojo, profanities, and hardcore life lessons abeg…any more mushiness here, and these writers will have me dripping eye-sweat all over :/ #Nuffsaid

Aaaaaaaaand so, for the month of May, of sketches, sketchbooks and…well, moisture (what?!), WAW brings you…Hope!

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


MY SKETCHBOOK

sketchbook

I gave it to you…my sketchbook. My most prized possession.

You said you’d sketch and draw for me

Flowers, trees and parks,

beautiful pictures of sunsets and sunrises, buildings too.

So I gave it to you, kept nothing back.

 
 

The first sketch was nothing but scribbles

Ugly ugly scribbles…like the markings of a demoniac.

And so I took it from you. I took my sketchbook back

Even though I didn’t want to.

 

Then you came back.

You were sorry, and you wanted to make it right

I forgave. Just like God taught me

I forgave. And I gave it to you again, my sketchbook.

 

But when I got it back, I saw worse markings

Very bad ones.

Each stroke tore at me like the claws of a fiery dragon

And sunk beneath my skin

Like a vampire’s fangs.

 

My heart broke again.

I took it from you. Again.

But you wouldn’t stop coming. You came back, each time

Looking more contrite. And I believed you, each time

So I gave. Again and again.

But I believed. Just like God taught me

I believed. And I gave it to you. Again and again.

 

Until

There was only one page left.

 

You came again. For pardon

For one last chance

I had only one page left. I could not risk that.

Then you promised. Like God taught you

You promised. To make it up to me.

For all the ripped pages, the discarded ones. For my broken heart

To make everything alright.

 

And I gave.

I was hungry, searching for something beautiful. Vulnerable…what can I say?

But I gave. My very last page.

Because I believed.

 

You were a leopard. On the backdrop of your pale sincerity

Your spots shone…dark and unrepentant.

You did not just scribble this time. You neglected

My sketchbook.

My heart.

 

I found it drenched in the rain, scorched by the sun.

The little boys in the street played with it

Drunks fought over it…prostitutes spat on it.

Then you came along. And with your very hands

You tore it up into tiny bits and pieces…

…and the wind carried it away.

 

Then you came back

One more clean sheet, you wanted…even if only a scrap.

But I had none to give. I gave all I had to you.

So you left…sad.

And I cried.

Again. I cried.

Because I was hurt and heartbroken.

Because I had no beautiful sketches

Because I had no sketchbook.

I cried.

 

By Hope Eboh

Hope Eboh_The Lectern

 

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies, also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, or you just wan show yourself, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

 

The Lectern: Black is Good

WAW confam home-boy, Vincent Nzemeke is back again. He’s on The Lectern for the March edition, and spitting controversy as usual, this time on the topic of the black man and racism.

It’s not polite, it’s not prim, nowhere near proper…but well, Veen wrote it anyway.

So enjoy – or not – let us read whatever you think of it in the comments section, and have a fantastic month ahead.

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


Black is Good

black

She’s a pauper – a poor little thing in a skimpy, worn-out and ragged dress. But because she was born on one of those days when the sun shined for just fifty miserable minutes, built a snow-man in winter and her skin pigmentation is brighter than yours, she thinks she is better.

In her head, she is up there and you are down there. Her life is the script you and your generations yet unborn should aspire to follow. She wants you to pronounce her name the right way by rolling your tongue even if it hurts. But she says it is illogical when you tell her the ‘K’ in Akpos is silent and should not be pronounced as ‘Hakkpos’. The society taught her to see herself as superior and you as inferior. So from now until the afterlife, you will always be black in her mind even if you die trying to be white.

You are black and will always be black. That’s why you are always alone on seats that should take four persons when you are on the train. When that boy with the curly hair and his friends board before you, they occupy the seats with their bags and legs sometimes. And when you ask them to take their bags so you can seat, they marvel at the audacity of a black man.

Because you are black and will always be, their stomach aches when you make meaningful contributions in class. They are red with envy and disdain when you tell the professor that the capital of Australia is Canberra and not Sydney. It is more annoying when you discuss the history of Europe with so much accuracy, especially how the allied forces made a mess of Hitler’s tactics.  They say Boko Haram is running your country, you tell them the myriads of problems in their own backyards.

So when you have to work in groups, they assign to you what they think is the easiest task. Just because you are black, they think you lack the intellectual wherewithal to do that which they can do. At the meeting,  they are stunned when you tell them 15 subtracted from 103 is 88 without using a calculator.

You know why that lady with flabby breasts at the store made you wait longer than you should when you paid with cash for all those items you bought?  It is because a black man should never have that much. She says it is a normal procedure but it is normal only because you are different.

That cocky dude still can’t believe you beat him in a scrabble game. You compound his woes when you play soccer and you also dazzle him and his brothers when you have the ball. They play like machines; you are sleek, cunning and always scoring beautiful goals. That must be some African magic at work.  That’s what they say in their minds.

You exceed their expectations in different ways.  How can you be black and not be a beggar at their mercy? How can you be black and not kowtow to their whims and caprices?  How can you be black and offer to pay for their meals when you eat out? How can you be black and not fit into the box their society has taught them to put you?  How can you be black and not be ashamed?

It hurts their ego to say you are better than them. So they will remind you at every opportunity that you are black and will always be. Don’t try to argue because it is an argument you will never win. Just keep performing and prove to them that white is not always good and that black is not always bad.

By Vincent Nzemeke

Veen

Vincent ‘Veen’ Nzemeke is a Nigerian currently studying in Germany

If you have written something which you would like read at ‘The Lectern’, send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are 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. It doesn’t have to be right, left, right or wrong…just your opinion.

Chisom

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

The Lectern: Freudian Theory of Psychosexual Development

This month’s feature on The Lectern is Dr Sigmund Freud’s theory of how all of your adult life can be traced to an unconscious sexual unraveling that happened in your wee years. I knew when I first heard it narrated – and I am more certain now – that this is a theory you want to learn of. So it was a great joy for me when Olamide finally sent that golden ping my way

A few of you might have heard just a little of, or maybe even know all about Freud and his theory of psychosexual development. Regardless though, you want to read it the way she has dropped it at ‘The Lectern’ today. What I find most interesting is that a lot of the scenarios described here are laden with acts we see – and overlook – everyday. A lot of us did these things as kids, many of us still do them, and even more of our children are doing them…and all of these add up to our adult identities? *shudder*

At worst, I hope this amuses you and at best, demystifies all of your life’s hidden crevices. My two-cents though, find some way to straddle the line…

I also hope this is the cue for a fantastic November for all of us.


 

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that we might be read

THE FREUDIAN THEORY OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT.

Do you suck on your thumb unconsciously? Or twist your hair or bite your nails? Are you known as the guy or lady who has the hots for ‘hot’ arguments? Have you ever wondered why you behave ‘strangely’ or have certain mannerisms which for the life of you, you could never explain?

Many times when faced with questions like these, we worry and wonder and ponder. But very shortly, you will be those no more. These behaviors – behavioral disorders – are not spiritual attacks like is oft diagnosed; many of them are explainable and – this is where it gets interesting – are firmly rooted in our sexuality, a mystery which is unraveled in the Theory of Psychosexual development posited by famous psychoanalyst, Dr. Sigmund Freud.

Before I go further, you should know this: every child is born with no knowledge of the outside world – tabula rasa. His behaviour or personality is based on experiences lived through from the early stage of life through several stages of development till age of awareness. It is this extensive stage of development that Freud divides into five:

  1. The oral stage which starts from birth to age one-year.
  2. The anal stage which starts from age one to three years
  3. The phallic stage which starts from age three to age five years
  4. The latency stage which starts from age five to about eleven years
  5. The genital stage which is the adolescent age upwards, usually from about eleven years upwards

 

ORAL

At this stage, the first sexual zone for the child is the mouth. This is the stage were the child derives maximum pleasure from using the mouth; when he is suckling at his mother’s breast, you will see that he has his legs up and bouncing in the air or twisting his hair due to the satisfaction, the sexual satisfaction being derived from the act. At this stage, occurrences like overfeeding or frustration of the child’s feeding will most likely lead the child to mature into an adult with affinity for some oral activities like smoking, kissing, gluttony, alcoholism, nail biting, thumb sucking, gum chewing, e.t.c. Frustration could also lead the child to develop an oral aggressive personality characterized by aggressive behaviours, arguments and exploitation.

A child could become fixated at this stage. Fixation simply put, means that a subject’s psychosexual development from one stage to another has been arrested. Usually for a child, this leads to either a surge or a lack of gratification manifesting as traits of gullibility, passiveness, etc in the child.

 

ANAL

The erogenous zone at this stage is the anus. The child at this stage enjoys the process of fecal elimination. He is taught management of his bowel movement by toilet training. Very significantly, he expresses his approval or disapproval over the amount of gratification allowed him at this stage by stooling excessively or too rarely for comfort.

Certain anal personality traits will arise as the child matures, hinging on the severity or lack thereof, of his toilet training. If he deserves pleasure in retention of feaces, he is said to possess anal retentive (holding-on) personality, the characteristics of which are obstinacy, defiance, stinginess, excessive orderliness and compulsive cleanliness. If the child on the other hand, enjoys expelling his waste, his is called a repulsive (letting go) personality. The characteristics of such a personality include disorderliness and destructiveness, also generosity, conceit, propitiation and ambition.

 

PHALLIC

The phallic stage starts about age 3 and ends at age 5 or 6. This is when the child develops pleasurable sensation from stimulating his or her genital organs. The child is said to have increased sexual intrest in parents of the opposite sex, as he or she is physically attracted to them. A conflict is hereby generated. The other parent – of the same sex as the child – is at the roots of this inner struggle, because the child fears punitive measures that can be taken against him or her.

This brand of conflict is referred to as Oedipus complex (after the greek mythology where a son, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother). The male child notes that females have no Phallus and consequently is afraid that his father may castrate him so that he loses the object that makes him resemble the father. To resolve this conflict, the child identifies with his father; the boy copies his father’s words, postures and mannerisms, he takes on his father’s values, goals and arrogates to himself the qualities he sees in his father. The male child starts developing conscience with this identification so that sometimes we hear little boys say “you know daddy, I am like you – we are men”.

Electra complex is the female counterpart of Oedipus complex. The girl in this case admires and loves her father and thus enters into competition with her mother over him. According to Freud, another reason for this conflict the child brews with her mother is that the little girl feels that her mother deprived her of a phallus. Eventually, the girl child undergoes a process of reluctant identification with the mother, which Freud says, is gradual and uncompleted.

 

LATENCY

The period between age 5 and 6, and ages 11 to 13 is regarded as latency period by Sigmung Freud. According to him, there is no significant psychosexual development at this stage. Consequently, the period (which is really not a stage) is regarded as latent.

 

GENITAL

The adolescent stage starts at puberty which marks the beginning of the last stage in Freud’s theory of psychosexual development. At the beginning of the genital stage, there is a reappearance of sexual energies; and those conflicts which were not resolved in earlier psychosexual stages tend to reappear. This is one of the reason why the adolescent stage is regarded by Freud as a stage of stress and strain.
The genital stage culminates in mature normal heterosexual relationship.

 

By

Olamide Alo

olamide alo

Olamide is a student of Psychology who loves children, teaching, singing and baking.

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

“I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter”

OMO, SEE GOBE!

On the matter of this broadcast joke – which is apparently stale to everyone but me – omo, see gobe oh! Kai! First check it out godu…


 

If you want to marry my daughter
FILL THE FORM IN YOUR OWN HAND WRITING
AND IN BLOCK LETTERS.
I ___________________ ____________________ __________________, hereby apply to marry your beautiful daughter, Sir.
I am _____ years old.

(Please answer the following questions honestly)

1. Do you go to church/mosque? Yes/No
2. Do you have a degree or diploma? Yes/No .
3. Are you still a virgin? Yes/No.
4. Are you working? Yes/No.
5. Do you have a car? Yes/No.

(If your answer to any of the above questions is NO , do not continue & quietly leave my house.
Don’t look back as you walk out. If all your answers were YES , then you may continue.)

1. In 50 words or more, describe the disadvantages of cheating in marriage.
2. With the aid of a diagram, explain how you can give respect to your father/mother in-law.
3. Suppose your wife says, “Honey, I need money for my hair at the saloon” , what would be your answer?___________________
4. Explain any TEN causes of divorce.

5. What does the term ‘good husband’ mean to you? ______________________________  _______

6. Do you have both your mum & dad? Yes/No . If No, explain why?
7. Were your parents legally married? Yes/No.
If YES, for how long? If the time of their marriage is less than your age, explain why
you were born out of wedlock.
8. Explain the meaning of ”COME HOME EARLY” as used by married women. (100
words)
9. Give any THREE reasons that can cause a man to sleep outside his house.
10. In case of divorce, who do you think is the owner of the kids between father and mother?

(Answer the following by Yes or No.)
1. Do you drink alcohol? Yes/No.
2. Do you smoke? Yes/No.
3. Are you short-tempered? Yes/No.

(LAST PART, BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT.)
1. When can you be free for interviews? ____________________
2. When can be the best time to interview your dad?____________________
3. When can I interview your mum? ____________________
4. When can I interview your church pastor/mosque imam?
5. Please stick your passport size photo below, which will be put in all the daily
newspapers for 1 week to cross-check if you have other girlfriends or on wanted list by
NSIS, CID, Police or other law enforcement agencies.

Sign here: ___________
Sign again: __________
Thank you for showing interest in my daughter. Your application will be processed
in 18 month’s time. You will be acknowledged only if you emerge successful. As you wait for
my response, please don’t call me, or visit me, or contact my daughter, you will be
disqualified automatically.

Leave your details in case I need to ask you
more questions.
Postal Address: ______________________________________________
Email: ______________________________________________________
Phone: _____________________________________________________
Facebook user-name : _________________________________________


 

LMAO. Kai! This is poverty speaking oh…poverty sprinkled with healthful dollops of stinginess, better known as aka-chichichii. Mschewww!

As for me and my family ehn, when faced with such a situation, two things are involved. It is either:

Option A: I lose all manner of interest in the lady in question…no, you don’t understand. I mean that she will go from…

Meagan Good

…in my eyes, to…

mock10

…and soon enough, she changes to…

mock09

and at this point, the damage is good as done because it is unavoidable that whenever I look at her, I will see…

mock14

In summary, I turn my back and never look back. If I stop, it will be to wonder again, whaddahell I had seen in the babe in the first place.

OR

Option B: I will do everything to marry the babe – all na hustle abi? I will endure it all in wait for the end when I can finally take her as wife. For the wedding ceremony, my relatives and I will attend dressed in our best ceremonial attires.

militant03

And after I have married her, I will present dearest popsy-in-law with my own stone tablets of commandments

tome

you can safely assume that he will be signing affidavits for the rest of his poor life.

I will take wifey dearest home in style…

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and we will spend the rest of our lives giving her old man beautiful grandchildren…

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Abi no be cunny man dey bury cunny man?

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter  

AN EARLY MORNING ROMANCE

…for Chibueze Devicky

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It was a bad day at work and you cross your threshold at home feeling the weight of the devil’s cloud over your head. You kick your shoes into a corner, grab a chilled bottle of water and plop down on the sofa. It’s late, too late for the kids or anyone to be awake so you’re startled by the noise to the right. But you lean back just as soon because it’s the wife. She stands there, reproach in her eyes and one recently discarded shoe in her hand – she hates to see them strewn all over the place. You hadn’t littered the shoes with the intention to irk her but seeing her so pissed gladdens the devil in you. You wait for her to yell – you count the seconds – so you can unleash it all on her. But she doesn’t.

Instead, she walks over to you and in an exasperatingly loving voice asks, “Tough day?”

Why couldn’t she just have yelled? you fume. She just had to deprive you of the satisfaction of a midnight shouting match! You sulk, ignoring her. You focus on the blank tv screen – hell, you should’ve turned it on – sipping your water every other second, still ignoring her.

She bends towards you resting one hand on your bent knee for support – sending shocking thrills up your thigh – and feels your forehead. She runs her fingers down the left side of your face and cups your jaw. You feel your muscles relax, your frustrations ebb; you can’t help it so you raise your eyes to her. Her eyes whisper comprehension of your inner turmoil and she moves her feathery touch to your neck…

The devil in you jerks those chains again; you in turn, jerk away from her touch.

“Baby…” she entreats, raising her hand again towards you. But you shove it away. Hot, you down the rest of the water and escape, taking the stairs three at a time muttering something incoherent about needing a bath.

You take long in the bath because you want her to go to bed – you just want to sulk and feel miserable. Alone. Wearing just your bathrobe, you tiptoe past your bedroom door and head for the stairs. Nothing suits misery better than chilled beer and nighttime television.

The aroma hits you first; it stops you mid-leap down the stairs. Your neck snaps around to the dining table and there’s a bowl on it that hadn’t been there earlier. Like a thief, you near the bowl, shooting glances everywhere and nowhere in particular. Closer…you reach out with one hand, the other unconsciously shields your face – what? It could be a food bomb!

You unscrew the lid on the thermos bowl…okpanaede! Glorious, hot and orange like raving fire, with green and red bits of heavenly vegetable and whatever else it was made of, the local delicacy stared up at you, tantalizing, like a naked lover cross at having been kept waiting.

Face to face with the phenomenal aroma, the impact is too strong for your mouth to even comprehend the process of watering, so it dries up. You notice the plate beside it, turned over, cutleries and a bowl of water. Forget those, you reach out with a finger…

The noise stops you. It’s from the kitchen – clinking and rattling of utensils. Didn’t she go to bed already?

You gingerly near the door; the wife is standing with her back to you and while you watch, she scoops the last of the okpanaede into a plastic bowl. She turns then, halts for the tiniest of seconds on sighting you by the doorway, and then walks on straight by you to dump the bowl in the fridge. Then she walks right back, this time nearly through you knocking you off-balance.

You can’t help the shame that washes over you – 35-year old idiot! For the first time this night, you see her. Her hair done up shows off the best of her neck, the graceful line of spine snaking into the top of her collar. You caress – with your eyes – the white blouse that hugs her back from behind, molding along the little folds of post-baby flesh here and there. The grey skirt looks like dinner; it clings onto her hips like skin and slides down along the thighs with the bliss of a child on a rubber-slide.

Her calves are rounded, smooth and long, helped by the wrap-around straps of her black sandals. They are also spotted with something brown, caked. It dawns on you that she is still in her work clothes; if those spots on her calf were what they looked to be, she hadn’t even had the time for a bath. It is well past midnight – early morning already, yet she had cooked you a real meal, and stayed up to watch you eat it.

35-year old idiot!

She brushes by you again, dropping another bowl into the fridge and you try to catch her eyes but she studiously keeps them diverted. Her scent fills your nostrils and unbidden, your loins quiver up. She barrages by you again, into the kitchen – ‘who is there?’ the dragon roars.

Now you are the only thing worse than a 35-year old idiot – an aroused 35-year old idiot.

She is doing the dishes. You sneak up on her from behind and quickly – to avoid a head-bump – encircle her waist with your arms. You draw your arms upwards so that they cage her arms which in turn, cage her breasts. Then you squeeze.  The vision that greets you from where you stand over her shoulder ignites fireworks in your head. You hear yourself sigh. Or was it her?

You nuzzle her neck, breathing in the musky cocktail of sweat, dust, spent lotion…and woman. You feather kisses on her neck, up her cheeks and nearer her mouth, when you feel the wetness.

You are alarmed to find that she is crying. You can see a mute tear roll down her cheek, only stopping to dip into a dimple before continuing downwards to meld into the dirt-streaked collar of her white lawyerly blouse. You feel the pain in all the different rooms of your heart.

“Honey, I’m sorry!” you whisper, “I had such a rotten day”

“Oh you did?” she spat – Oh boy! – “and mine was great? I finished late, spent two rotten hours in traffic and got home to discover that the rotten sitter hadn’t come today. Again! The children hadn’t done any homework, they were dirty – ”

“Shhhh,” you coo. Who are you kidding? She can’t be stopped now.

“ – it was a rotten task getting them organized, cleaned and in bed. Still I wanted to make you something special for your promotion. But no, you had to go and be a rotten jerk. Tonight of all rotten nights! Did you have to treat me like that?!”

Now you regret ever using the word ‘rotten’. Through the entire tirade, she doesn’t even try to look back at you. You are sure that but for the arms you had around her, she might have taken a pan to your head.

Spent, she stands taut and unyielding against you. “Why?” she sobs.

You say nothing, you know better. Slowly, you move your hands up to cup her breasts. And you squeeze. You feel the knots relax one at a time; the nipples tighten and shoot into your palms, pebbly and warm. You squeeze again.

“Why?” she moans.

Slowly still, you turn her around to face you. Holding her hands loosely, you bring them up to your face and kiss them. First in the palms, then you fold them into fists and kiss the knuckles, then the short unevenly coated nails and the wrists. You feel her pulse quicken and you look into her eyes, for the second time that evening. They are teary still and glazed over, hurt and staring into yours. Gently, you pull the hands up till they rest one on either of your shoulders. Then you hold her waist and pull her closer.

Her hairline is sturdy; a few errant curls have escaped the elastic band and you can see that  a few of them are greying at the roots. You kiss them. She shuts her eyes and the lids quiver like butterfly wings. You kiss them too. The last of the tears roll down and inch by inch, you kiss them off. You trail your lips along their wet path stopping only to kiss each dimple before continuing down her neck.

Her breath quickens, and her nostrils flare up ever so slightly. You kiss them. Then you trace the lines of her upper lip, left to right, first with wet kisses. Then with your tongue. She breathes even faster, her lips parting very slightly to help inhale oxygen. And you kiss them.

The kiss is slow, very slow. Almost lazy. You apologize, you thank her and you love her – all in that one kiss. Like a spring bed dressed in wool mattresses, she soaks it up, all of it.

You break it off, trailing your mouth down, past her jaw and down still. Your knees yield till you are down on them before her. Her eyes staring down into yours speak volumes of hurt, of love, and of lust.

One little button by little button, you undo her blouse. Next, the bra comes off. Three children haven’t done any damage; her breasts are as you remember from the very first time – fair, bouncy and staring proudly ahead through dark-chocolate brown nipples. They call to you but no, you kiss them feathery adieus…see you soon.

You spread kisses on her tummy, warm and rounded. You kiss the scar from when she had gone under the knife for your second baby, plant light kisses around her navel, blow into it and suck the skin around it between your teeth. It is a faint sound from outside the roaring in your head but you hear her moan.

I hear you, baby.

You undo the hook and slowly, slip off her skirt. And panties…

It rains down on you, a torrent of water. Your first thought is hot water and panicked, you jump up. And land very roughly on the concrete floor. You jump back up, sputtering with your eyes shut against the unceasing flow; your head connects with something metallic and blunt on the way up.

“Gerrup, my friend!…hanlele!”

Your finally have your eyes open to behold the combat colors of the soldier in front of you. Whip in hand, he walks out of your line of sight. What? How?!

You pick yourself up and take in the rest of your immediate environment, your confusion mounting by the second – bunk beds with boxers, singlets and other articles of clothing hanging off of them; the grimy louvers and dust-breeding nets, torn in more places than weren’t; boys in different stages of undress, running to and fro; the uneven concrete floor now sporting random pools of water, and the dull glint of the premature sun’s rays on them.

The soldier spots you still standing; he comes towards you, raises the beagle and blows it into your face: tutururu…tuntururu…tuntuntuntunturururu.

“You this animaaal, muff it now or ah wee muff you, walahi!”

You stand, staring into his red-rimmed eyes, seeking some explanation. He sweeps his eyes over you, from head to toe then he returns them to your face, an amused expression on his.

“Bloody otondo” He spits and moves on.

You stare down at your drenched boxers-clad self and see the reason for his amusement. But you are not amused; the visible bulge of your semi-erect phallus only reminds you, painfully, of the beautiful wife you just lost, and the dream along with her.

You drag your full bucket of water out from under the bed; your sponge floating around in it looks like a bloated frog, a blue bloated frog. You completely ignore the ruckus around you – let them do their worst – as you grab your soap pouch and towel off the bunk bars. You head for the bath stalls cursing the National Youth Service Corps and all the gods of khaki.

khaki

P.S: Like I wrote earlier, for Chibueze Devicky; for him and all other fresh otondos who will never get to see the life of NYSC camp. I am happy for you, bro…just wish I could be happier 😉

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter