THE LECTERN: MAY I HAVE SEX WITH YOU?

In this month’s edition of ‘The Lectern’, Tobe Osigwe writes about sex, sex education and where we have got it all wrong…as of yet. 

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That we might read…

Plato the classical Greek philosopher believed that dramatists should be banished from the society. His reason was that dramatists are imitators of reality; therefore they are liars, thus, removed from the reality which they try to imitate. I think of a truth that dramatists are imitators of reality but I doubt if they are removed from it. If there is any group of people in our contemporary society that are removed from reality I think its most clergies and fanatical Christians. These people are miles away from reality. Not because they don’t preach the truth but because they have mastered the skillful art of pretending away some truths.

However, if you think that our ever pontificating pastors are only those guilty of this habit of shying away from some truths, then you are sitting on a long thing. Topping the pretenders list are parents. Now, look at how our parents and pastors engage in this vocation of pretense. They will tell you things like, my dear fornication is a sin, don’t allow any man touch you, don’t have sex with any fellow that is not your spouse, keep yourself pure. While all these lines are true, the lie in it is, mere stating of it does not have power to stop one from abiding by it if the teller of the truth does not show how to uphold it. Rather, the teller of the truth has successfully aroused your desire and interest in testing the veracity of the truth.

I for one strongly believe that any problem you do not have a solution to you have no authority to shout from the tree top about the reality and existence of the problem. How can a parent tell the child or ward not to have sex while there is a sharp contrast if the child turns on the radio, TV, magazine, music, film? And, to crown it all, the parent is not curbing or monitoring the intake of such alternative agents of information. As if that is not enough, the child is shipped into a university, office, any other environment where the child is left in close proximity with the opposite sex and the hormones are all screaming and seething to be gratified thus placing the poor fellow in a hamlet situation of ‘to be or not to be’.

For those at loss with the point I am driving at, it’s simple: it’s not enough to say, don’t indulge in pre-marital sex; we have to go further by showing a practical and realistic way for one not to shine congo. In these days of intellectual enlightenment that people find it difficult to swallow axioms hook, line and sinker, one should not assert that something is bad and snooze off. Rather, there is a need to realistically explain why it’s bad and how to escape it for one’s warning to be effective and result-oriented. Failure to do this you have not solved any problem but you have succeeded in making noise and worse still, alienating yourself from such youth who will see you as an anti in the quest of having fun.

Sex is one issue parents don’t like to teach their children and when they do they simply gloss over with the hollow caveat ‘it’s bad’. Something so important and difficult to rise above its sweet temptation is funnily summarized in one straight jacket threat-loaded phrase: it’s bad. It’s bad and so what? Lie is bad and people still lie every day, so is stealing, cheating, fighting and other vices. Methinks it’s pertinent we admit that the reality of one not indulging in pre-marital sex in the way our society is presently structured is as difficult as a Fulani herdsman passing JAMB in one sitting. Let’s face and accept this reality then find out how to overcome it.

If the present foregoing is true, then it’s totally ridiculous for parents to expect their children to turn out good without showing or beefing them up with the required skill set and properly monitoring them. In the light of present societal realities parents need to take charge in overcoming of some moral codes. You can’t just sit down and expect people to remain chaste when there are overpowering modern day realities circumventing their power to remain clean.

Now let’s look at the following modern day realities; a full grown man of about 30 years is living in his own apartment, he pays his own bills and for reason best known to him he has been in an intimate relationship with a lady for two good years without hope of marriage and you tell them pre-marital sex is a sin.

Also, an unemployed youth who is sitting around at home is visited daily by a fellow unemployed youth and they gist away their unemployed time. I leave you to do the math of the end result of their unemployed gist. What of a lady who is in the university, her parents are no longer privy of her whereabouts, she feels she has fallen in love after some guy whispered some sweet nonsense into her ears and you think she will not…? *coughs*. Or a cute guy joins his church choir and at each rehearsal he sits closely with one beautiful church girl and they become brother and sister in the lord. And as we are all aware, hormones do not repent. Do you think they will not…? *coughs again*.

Let’s face it. So many things inevitably bring the opposite sex together these days. So many factors make people keep late night these days, so many styles of socially acceptable dressing, songs, films and activities, religious ones inclusive, make one think of sex every minute of the day nowadays. Also, it’s no longer a secret that parents no longer have a firm grip on their children or know their itinerary – no thanks to civilization. Trying to deny these facts is akin to denying that there is a mystery being who has a mind of its own in between your thighs. And, believing that people can behave modestly despite all these facts by mere warning that sex is bad is like keeping a yam with a goat and expecting the goat to be reasonable.

Trying to shy away from reality with some biblical truths minus sincere practical step is the staple product of most post-modernist day Nigerian parents or should I say Christians- I believe that’s why over -zealous church goers remain the easiest set of people to sleep with once the perfect opportunity shows up. Little wonder most randy pastors and some smart folks are having a field day sampling the Lord’s vineyard.

Parents should understand that helping their children to plan their future will help greatly in curbing pre-marital sex. If one knows that at the age of 24 or thereabout, he is sure to be financially and emotionally responsible, and therefore ready for marriage, I believe the issue of premarital sex will be history. After all, nobody enjoys doing bad, but one resorts to it when one runs out of alternative good deeds or when one is visionless, deluded and ignorant.

To this end, with my short experience, I think the only way one can shy away from pre-marital sex is to flee from it via avoiding intimate relationship, sexually suggestive films, songs, raunchy friends, profaned environment and less of social media. But the fact remains, the longer you run and flee, like every other race, the weaker you become. Yes, each time you add a year, your defenses against withstanding the enticing darts of sexual intimacy and gratification reduce unless you have tasted it and have grown weary of crossing the Rubicon. Or you have resorted to some other secret but perverse way of gratifying this legitimate desire. Or perhaps, the Creator has given you a special grace to withstand sexual urges. But such people are few and rare.

May GOD open our eyes of understanding.

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BY: Tobe Osigwe ()

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”

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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…

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…and soon enough, she changes to…

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

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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.

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

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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  

UNFORGIVEN – THE END

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The dial tone came on as Ethel anticipated and she waited to hear her voice. Sheila. A name that would have been perfect for her daughter.

“Hi Daddy!” Sheila’s voice was young and strong.

“Hi Sheila. This isn’t your…daddy. This is…”

“Please no. I beg you. Don’t do this, please,” Charles was begging, unashamed.

It was the first time Ethel was seeing Charles express so much emotion over someone that wasn’t him and it touched somewhere in her unexpectedly. Why?

“Hello? Hello? Who is this?”

“I…I think I better let you talk to your father,” Ethel glanced at him, “he has a confession to make.”

“What? Daddy?”

Ethel held the phone towards Charles. “Either you do it or I do. I think she’d be able to take it if it comes from you, though. Your choice, honey”

“Please…I’ll…do…it. Just please, let me go,” he was bleeding less now, although the sheet beneath him was bloody.

“Tell her everything.”

And he did. Every sordid detail. There were times Ethel could sense that he wanted to stop talking, or even add a white lie but one look at her determined face changed his mind. He wept as he spoke; a captive of his own immoral craving.

As she held the phone to his ears listening to him confess, she waited for the feeling of relief, of fulfillment. She waited for the pain that hung in her heart like a road block to subside.

It will come, Ethel. Be patient.

She knew when he was done talking because he let out a loud wail that pierced the air. Sheila had hung up the phone on him.

He didn’t say a word; he just lay there sobbing.

“You want to know how I felt when I found out that you’d taken away what I treasured?” she asked. “Exactly like this. Now you will know a little of the pain I felt. Both physical and emotional.” She raised the knife again ready to deform him some more.

“Ethel! No!”

Her name rang out from somewhere behind her; she paused, her hands poised in the air.

“Ethel, drop it. Put down the knife now” It was Amaka.

“Why?”

“Because you don’t heal by hurting someone else. It’s not going to work. You’ll only be opening a new wound.”

“Don’t spin me those clichés, Amaka. What do you know? You’ve not been through what I have,” she didn’t lower the knife, neither did she look back. “You should stay away from me.”

“Well, if you want him, you’ll have to go through me first,” with that Amaka rushed forward and wedged herself between Ethel and Charles.

“Get away from him, Amaka”

“You first”

“What are you?” Ethel asked, exasperated.

“Your conscience. A voice of reasoning. Listen to me Eth, if you do this, God will forgive you alright but you…you will never forgive yourself.”

“Let her kill me. I have nothing…else to lose,” Charles whimpered.

“Don’t listen to him, Eth. You don’t need this nightmare, you don’t need more problems.”

“But…how do I stop hurting? How do I go on living, knowing what I know? How?” Ethel couldn’t stop the tears that were flowing from her eyes.

“You can’t do it on your own, honey. God is here to help and so am I. Put down the knife, sweetie, please,”

Ethel lowered her hand.

“I can’t live with it. I just can’t,”

“Crazy bitch! Kill me! Kill me!” Charles screamed.

Ethel stood still for a split second and then suddenly she crumpled to the floor.

“Ethel? Eth?” Amaka dashed to her side, “Jesus Christ. She stabbed herself! Ma! She’s bleeding! We need to get her to a hospital now!”

Ethel’s mother materialized from where she’d been hiding and rushed to her daughter’s side.

“Eno! Eno ooh! Jesus ooh!”

“That won’t help, let’s get her to the car and you drive her to the hospital, okay?”

The blood was gushing out from the knife wound and Ethel’s head lolled from side to side as she fought with consciousness.

Both women heaved Ethel across the house to Amaka’s waiting car with Ethel’s mother muttering ‘blood of Jesus’ repeatedly.

“Take the car; I have to go attend to that man. Take her to the Specialist hospital close by. I’ll join you in a few minutes.”

Ethel’s mother was weeping as she took the keys from Amaka.

“Don’t worry, ma. I’ll be praying for her.”

With that Amaka returned to the house to set about freeing Charles.

*****************

 

The day Ethel was discharged from the hospital, her mother was there helping her along; little wonder since Ethel’s bones seemed to be threatening to burst out of her skin. She was weak and had lost a generous amount of weight.

Her survival was a testimony Amaka couldn’t stop sharing. She told how Ethel had been in the theatre for thirteen hours because the knife wound had been fatal and deeper than expected. It was obvious that she’d intended to kill herself.

Even after the surgery, the doctors had kept her heavily sedated because she was still fragile. It wasn’t until four days later that she opened her eyes and even then she kept slipping in and out of consciousness. The doctor who kept checking on her told Amaka that Ethel’s problem was more psychological than physical. She seemed to have lost the will to live and if that was the case, no amount of surgery could save her.

For the first time since it all began, Amaka cried for her friend. She knelt by the bed and broke down in tears. She sat beside her all day and talked to her even though it didn’t seem like she could hear and then she told Pastor Tim everything.

When she finally revitalized her will to live, her mother was on hand to hire a personal therapist for Ethel against her will.

“I almost killed him. What does that make me? A monster, yes. I am a terrible, terrible person. Why should I live?” Ethel often told the therapist.

“But you didn’t.”

“I wanted to. I would have, I know.”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted vengeance. I wanted to stop the pain.”

“How do you feel now?”

“Like a monster. I know everyone thinks I’m crazy. Am I?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you a question and you are asking me back. Isn’t it your job to tell me whether I am crazy or not?” she sighed. “Go away. I’m tired.”

And so the sessions continued. Sometimes Ethel was calm and reasonable, at other times she was irrational and lashed out unnecessarily. She also hated the fact that her mother moved in with her temporarily.

“Don’t you get it, Amaka! She’s still the same person she was years ago! She caused this!” she screamed one day.

“I think it’s time you stopped playing the blame game. Your mother has nothing to do with what is happening to you now. This is you, Eth. Until you accept that, you will never truly be free.”

“You’re being harsh. You’re taking her side.”

“No. I’m telling you the truth. I love you Eth but I can’t bear to see you like this. You can’t forgive your mother, how do you expect to forgive yourself?”

“I feel dirty. I feel like I can’t talk to God anymore…after everything I did.”

“Sweetie, that’s where you’re wrong, Jesus is here to intercede for us. Because of Jesus you can approach God’s throne without fear or guilt. He still loves you as much as He did when you first accepted Him.”

The words brought tears to her eyes and Ethel marveled how Amaka’s perceptive words usually did more for her than her sessions with the therapist.

It was four months after her suicide attempt that Amaka dropped the bombshell. She was doing better already; had regained her former weight and returned to her job and also the church, her sessions still continued but she was coping better with them and with her mother.

“I have something to tell you, Eth.” Amaka’s face looked grave which was strange, especially since she had just finished teaching her kids.

“Oh no. What is it now?”

“Pastor Tim just told me. You might want to sit down for this.”

“What is it? Spill it.”

“It’s Charles. He was involved in an accident last night. They said he was drunk and driving when he collided with a tree.”

“Oh my God! No! Is he okay?”

Amaka took a deep breath, “by the time they found him he was dead. He suffered a brain hemorrhage.”

“Oh…no…no…no.”

“I’m sorry dear,” Amaka opened her arms and embraced her.

Ethel felt the walls closing in on her. Why did this have to happen just when she was finding peace with herself and God? Charles was dead because of her!

The guilt came flooding in like before.

“When is the funeral?” she asked quietly.

“This weekend. What, you want to go?”

“I have to. I don’t know why but I have to. This is my entire fault. He’s dead because of me,” she sniffed.

“Stop it Eth. This has nothing to do with you. You’ve paid your dues, hon. Attend the funeral if you’re up for it but not because you feel guilty.”

Ethel leaned forward and hugged Amaka again, smiling through her tears.

“You’re the absolute best. Thank God I met you,” she said.

“Same here, hon. But I need to know…how are you doing? How do you feel?”

“I had a dream last night. I think I saw angels…then one of them smiled at me and said, ‘you’re forgiven’. I woke up feeling absolutely refreshed. I even had a real conversation with my mother. So I think, I’m not where I’m supposed to be yet but I’m not where I am months ago. I actually feel forgiven.”

“Good. Because you are.”

“You think life will ever return to normal for me, Amy?”

“Better than normal, Eth. You have a blank page in front of you…write in it.”

Ethel beamed at her friend. Those were the best words she’d heard in a long while.

 

THE END.

 

 by Mimi Adebayo

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The ride has been a pleasure for me, the writer; thanks to you, my faithful readers and to Chisom for featuring me. It’s been a pleasure writing this series knowing I’d have y’all here waiting to read. I couldn’t have asked for better.

                Now I know the Charles and Ethel saga might not have ended as you wanted or expected it to, but this is how my Muse led me; my Muse being God Almighty. Life has never been a bed of roses (clichés, I know), the question is how do you handle the thorns, the things that deter you? This is a story of thorns and road bumps in the journey of life; I hope that among other things you were able to learn something remarkable from it.

                I appreciate those who read and took the extra step to comment. Wow! Lovely people y’all are. As for the silent readers…hehehehe, there is God in everything we’re doing. I assure you this isn’t the last you’ve heard from me. I hope to always see you on here. And please endeavor to mark the end of the series by dropping a comment no matter how short or tacky.

Lots of love, everyone. Ciao!

– Mimi A.

               

 

A MOTHER’S HEART

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Narrator: KC’s phone rings just as he steps out of the shower. He is going to ignore it because he is late for work…no, make that VERY late for work; but his eye spies the caller ID and it is Mummy. He shoots a furtive glance at the wall clock and the positions of the hands on the timepiece elicit a sigh from him. He takes the call.

You will find out more about Mummy at the end of this story, but for now, let me share with you two things about her calls. One, you better pick them; everyone knew that if Mummy called and you didn’t pick, she would only keep calling back. And if your phone turned unreachable, she started calling everybody she knew who knew you and she would badger them until they badgered you into calling her back. The second thing to remember about Mummy KC’s calls is that they were never short: so the first thing you bought immediately you left home long-term was a Bluetooth headset.

Back to KC now; he adjusts his headset and while struggling into his boxers, takes the call.

Mummy: Helloww

KC: Maama! How far?

Mummy: (snickers) Nna m, I’m fine. Itetagokwa ura?

Narrator: Hehe…I know right? See, Mummy is one of those women who don’t like to be reminded just how fast the world changed in the time it took her to birth, raise and watch two children grow into adulthood. She once said that whenever KC calls her ‘Maama’, she feels like Mama Gee – Gee for General!

KC: Yes, mum, I’m up. Err…I’m preparing for work now so…

Mummy: Have you heard?

Narrator: I mean, who is he kidding? The toad doesn’t run in the daytime for nothing abi? Tsk tsk tsk

KC: (sigh) Heard what, mum?

Mummy: Ebola nu nu. They said you should put salt in hot water and baff with it before six o’clock. It is the only way to escape that disease now oh.

Narrator: KC freezes with one and half of his trouser sleeves on. He wonders if he just heard right.

Mummy: Kaycee? Hellllooowwww?

KC: Mummy, anom ebea. I heard you. Biko where did you hear that one from?

Mummy: Oh so you haven’t heard? Kai, devil is a liar! Oya, go and take your bath now now, with plenty of salt. It’s almost six o’clock oh…evil people. Who knows where they were hiding this news since and people have been dying like fowl, na-anwusi ka okuko! Tufiakwa!

Narrator: By now, KC isn’t listening anymore. He has his trousers all the way on and belted on tight. He has just done up the collar button of his shirt; now he pins on his cuff-links and reaches for his tie.

Mummy: Kenechukwu! Ahn ahn…what is wrong with this network people bikonu

KC: Onwero, mummy, nothing. The network is fine, I heard everything you said.

Mummy: Oh, thank God. Have you plugged in the mmiri oku? Get plenty of salt to add to it and…

KC: Asago m aru, mummy. I’ve already had my bath and I am late for work.

Mummy: Oh! You see their plan? Okwa ifuru ya? See why they did not spread this news kemgbe. Hm…don’t worry, nnaa, you will drink it. Just put cup into one salt of hot water and – chai, what am I even talking sef. (flustered) KC, nwere nnu tinye

KC: Mummy, I heard you the first time. I cannot do that. This is ridiculous nah, don’t you know salt is a serious dehydrating agent and can kill somebody when drunk carelessly? Haba!

Narrator: The man is getting angry now, more flustered than angry really. And Mummy can hear it in his voice – she birthed him after all. The wise woman knows she must change her tactics and quickly, she does.

Mummy: Oh ok, nna m. You are correct. I remember now, it is true. Ngwanu, just pour it on your body. You can boil small water – ntonto mmiri – with salt, run back into the baffroom and pour it on your body sharp sharp.

KC: And be smelling salt-salt when I get to work? Because I am now Ukwu nnu, okwa ya?

Mummy: (laughs)

KC: (hesitates for a split second…and laughs too)

Narrator: I laugh too jare. Heehehehe…okay, let me help you understand. ‘Ukwu nnu’ literally translates to ‘waist of salt’; it is a term used among Igbo folk, to address a lady who has a great future behind her. You know the ones bah? The ladies who are generally well endowed in matters of the waist and behind.

Anyway it happened that as Ada – Mummy’s other child – grew into maturity, she fit the ‘Ukwu nnu’ specifications more and more. Her brother first called her the name in a bid to spite her but she took it very well – too well, in fact – and soon, she was christened Ukwu nnu, in-house only of course.

That’s the joke. Oya back to Mummy, she is saying something…

Mummy: This boy, aru adiro gi. I’m serious joor. It is even Ukwu nnu that sent me the text message; I called her and she told me that she was baffing the children with hot water and salt already.

KC:  mock02

Narrator: Ada, a.k.a Ukwu nnu, is a doctor; not a doctor of Nursing or of Psychology or a native doctor oh – a MEDICAL doctor. She is practicing too, not as much as she would have loved to though because she and her husband have three children all below the age of 7, but practicing nevertheless.

So you know what KC is thinking: “Ada too?”

Mummy: Kaaayyyceee! Talk to me nau.

KC: Mummy, this is silly. How can Ada bath those children in salt water? Do you know how salt feels against the skin when left for long without washing it off? And how it smells?

Mummy: No no…mba nu, not like that. Immediately you baff with it, the salt will penetrate inside your body and kill all the Ebola. The small that remains on your body you can wash out with water and even rub pomade sef; onwekwanu onye ga-ama na iji nnu saa aru? Nobody will know.

KC: Mummy, just stop it please. These things you are saying don’t make any sense to me and even if they did, I am late for work. I can’t go back into the bathroom to have another bath!

Mummy: Ok, nna m, don’t shout oh? But you’re wearing long sleeve and trouser to work, okwa ya?

KC: No, ma. I’m wearing net singlet and iron pant – today is Cultural Day at the office.

Narrator: Oooooh boy…dude is not smiling!

Mummy: (lets out a half-hearted snicker) silly boy. Please can you just take a little hot water, mix it with salt and wash only your hands and head?

KC: Mummy…

Mummy: Please kwanu, nna m. For my sake, biko. I know you don’t believe it but do it ka obi ruo nu nne gi ana. Ehn, please let your mother’s head be at rest nau.

Narrator: If you have a mother, you know what comes next. She will tune her voice to that frequency mothers alone know which will make the inside of the left side of your chest feel liquid. Then she will start to talk in a voice that is choked – but really only SOUNDS choked – on tears. And she will soon remind you how she carried you in her womb for nine months and how your birth was especially the hardest among all her children because your head was so big.

KC: Kai…what kind of wahala is this now?

Mummy: Kenechukwu biko, do this for your mother. I will never beg you to do anything like this again, maka Chukwu – I swear.

Narrator: Story!

KC: (sighs) Fine I have heard. Oya cut the phone and I will do it when…

Mummy: No, don’t worry, I have credit…I want to hear when you’re doing it.

KC:lonely02

Narrator: Poor guy!

So he is fully dressed right now but for his jacket, and the time is just five minutes shy of 6am. If he will avoid the worst of the CMS-Marina traffic, he will need to leave his house latest 6:15. He also knows that these five minutes before 6am will be the most miserable of his day if he doesn’t heed Mummy; so he click-clacks into the kitchen, plugs in the kettle and perches on the kitchen counter waiting for the little water to boil. Through all of this, he tries not to dwell on the fact that his mother is on the other end listening to him bustle around – it feels weird because he thinks that this situation is the kind one only found oneself in with a lover.

The kettle whistles.

Mummy: Enhen, it has boiled.

KC: I know joor, shebi it is me that plugged it?

Mummy: Ok sorry. Ngwa put salt and wash your hands and your head.

Narrator: KC pours a little hot water in a bowl, dilutes it with even less cold water, pours in some salt and begins to wash his hand in it. Then he shuts his eyes tight, bends his head over the sink and starts to wash his head, taking care not to wet the headset stuck in his left ear. He has this odd feeling that he ought to be saying some incantations, to complete the ritual. And he feels thoroughly stupid.

KC: (voice muffled by lips pressed nearly shut against the torrent of warm salty water) You said what?

Narrator: What? She said something? Oh wait…she is praying! Lawd, we nearly missed that. While KC is doing the rituals, Mummy is doing the incantations.

Mummy: (speaking in tongues) Roboskatatatatat Yerimamamamamam Shokotoreskitidididi. Every monitoring spirit of virus and viruses, all the evil Ebola demons trying to steal Kenechukwu’s soul. My son is a son of the king – nwa Eze – and no weapon fashioned against him shall prosper. I send you out now, you stupid Ebola. Holy Ghost…fayaaa! Holy ghost…fayaaaa!!

Narrator: At this point, KC doesn’t know whether to feel loved, grateful or embarrassed. He has ad enough; he calmly removes the headset from his ear and pours the last of the saline mixture over his head, unsuccessfully trying to keep it off his collar. Might as well finish what he started.

He walks back into the bathroom, wipes the wetness off his head and hands with a towel and afterwards, dabs on some cream. He unrolls a strip of gum – he hasn’t had any breakfast – and pops it in his mouth before shrugging on his jacket. Then he grabs his keys and briefcase, and rushes out.

He has just driven past the estate gates when Mummy calls back.

KC: (sigh) Mummy?

Mummy: Nna m, don’t mind this network people. I have prayed for you, you are covered with the blood of Jizoos oh?

KC: (dryly) Amen

Mummy: (exhales) Enhen, they also said you should be eating aki-ilu. You know aki-ilu nau – bitter kola?

KC: (distracted) Unhuh

Mummy: It is bitter oh, but it has antibiotics and anti-fungus. You know I read Biology in Sandwich, I know. It is very powerful oh.

Narrator: KC can’t help the smile that creeps across his face, just before he shakes his head. This woman has indeed mastered the art of being impossible and adorable, both at once.

KC: I know, mum. It is very strong. In fact, I am chewing some now

Narrator: He blows up a tiny gum bubble, pops it and continues to chump with a smile. It is banana-flavored, his favorite.

Mummy: Oh, wonderful. Thank God. Kenechukwu, okwa ima that if you do fast and marry, I won’t be disturbing you like this again. Your wife will be taking good care of you and I will only be calling her as a consultant when…

KC: (bursts out in loud laughter)

Narrator: EL-OOOH-EEL!!!

Mummy: (chuckles)

KC: Mama the mama! Nne m, I have to go now biko. We will talk later, bye bye.

Mummy: Ok, nna m. Bye bye.

Narrator: KC is now sitting in traffic jamming its way up Eko bridge towards the Island. He sighs. She finally did it, he is thinking, got me to go to work late. His phone beeps and he flips open the message; it is a picture file from Kunle:

images

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

 

 

UNFORGIVEN VII

…continued from Unforgiven VI

unforgiven

She didn’t resist as his lips claimed hers. They were soft and warm. The kiss stripped her of her resolve, her confidence and the years melted away; once again she was twenty-two and putty in his hands. Oh Lord.

This is it. What she’d missed…

Stop it Eth! This is not you!

He’s married!

That particular thought seemed to bring her back to her senses and she pulled away violently and raised her hand to hit him. This time he caught her in time. He gripped her hands firmly.

“Don’t pretend this was all me, Thelia, he breathed down her neck. “You wanted it as much as I did.”

“You tricked me!” she yelled.

“Tell me you didn’t enjoy that. That you haven’t missed it, missed us.”

She couldn’t look at him; her face was awash with shame.

Arrogant bastard. Lord, no. I’ve disappointed you.

“Ethel…” he held on to her hand.

She didn’t reply instead she withdrew her hand and began fumbling in her purse for her house keys, willing away the tears that were threatening to pour.

“Ethel please, just one last time,” he pleaded, “I’ve missed you so much.”

“Listen to me, Charles. I might have said you…you were like a drug in my system but…even drug addicts get cured. And I am cured, so get the hell out of my life.” With that she found her keys and stumbled into her apartment with her last shred of dignity, banging the door firmly behind her.

No! No! No!

How had this happened? She sank to her knees, sobbing.

I’m so sorry Lord. I disappointed you.

“Ethel please let me in. Let’s talk,” he obviously wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Her body heaved in sobs. This couldn’t be happening. She’d promised herself that nothing would happen.

And then she’d let him kiss her!

You weren’t so immobile yourself, madam.

This dinner was a bad idea. She should’ve known that from the start. She wasn’t ready to face Charles again.

You haven’t changed one bit, Thelia. Beneath all the churchiness, you’re still the adventurous bad girl.

The voices were back; the accusing ones and the soothing ones.

“I’m leaving Thelia, but I’ll be back,” he’d obviously given up.

Why? Why won’t he let her be? He’d left her once. Why had he returned to make her life miserable?

************

For the first time in a long time, Ethel was distracted during service that evening. First, she hadn’t spoken to Amaka all day in school, not because she hadn’t wanted to but because she was too ashamed to. Her actions of the previous day still hung over her head, accusing her. And it seemed Amaka was pissed at her too because she said nothing to her beyond exchanging pleasantries.

Teaching the students had done little in lifting her dark mood. Until she got a call from her mother that afternoon. Since she’d turned sixteen, her conversations with her mother had reduced to monosyllables.

“Hello ma,”

“Eno, how are you?” whenever Mum used her name at all, it was her native name.

“Fine.” Nothing else, just fine. Anything else would be weird. Ethel pretended she wasn’t interested in her mum’s life because she was afraid what she’d find out.

“Eh…I’m in Abuja. I came in yesterday and I…I wanted to…er…tell you,” she stammered.

“Okay. Thanks for telling me,” Ethel hesitated. “And welcome to Abuja.”

“Thank you.”

There was awkward silence from both ends of the line. It was always like this, they had nothing to say to each other.

“Ma, I have to…”

“Come and see me please…I…”

Oh please don’t say you miss me.

“I’m…alone,” she completed.

What does that mean, Mum? You’re with no male guest?

“I’m busy Mum. Maybe one of these days when I’m free. Bye for now,” Ethel knew she sounded cold but what was she to do? Her relationship with her mother had been damaged a long time ago; her loathing for the woman she called mum had grown as she grew older. Could it be fixed now?

She hung up feeling as she always did after speaking to her mum. Choked. It seemed like her chest would burst with the bitterness she felt.

She blamed her for everything that had gone wrong in her life. Especially Charles. Maybe if her mum had taught her that love was something to embrace rather than run from, she wouldn’t have gotten involved with Charles.

Thus was her mood when she got to church later that evening. It seemed as though fate had ganged up on her to make her life miserable again.

She came to church intending to bury her pain and guilt and just as she was beginning to feel better, halfway during Pastor Tim’s sermon, she felt it. The charge. The feeling that someone was watching her closely. Too closely.

She turned and searched the seated crowd with her eyes. At first she didn’t see him. Until she did a second sweep with her eyes.

He was there, seated at the back between two men, grinning at her and looking incredibly ravishing. Her pulse quickened as she turned away.

It was Charles.

How on earth was she expected to concentrate on Pastor Tim’s sermon now knowing that Charles was somewhere behind her? And she was sure everyone would know from one look at her, that she’d kissed him the previous day! And what about Pastor Tim? What if the Holy Spirit tells him what she did? Yes, He was capable of that. After all, He’d told Peter what Ananias and Sapphira had done.

Oh Lord no.

And yet the memory of the kiss seemed to be burned in her head. It completely blocked out the on-going sermon and instead ignited her carnal thoughts.

Father forgive me, for I know not what…

“…shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” Pastor Tim’s voice reverberated.

A drug in my system. A drug in my system I can’t get rid of…

“…brethren, your body is the temple of God.”

Crazy, you’re going crazy Ethel. Stop thinking about that man, dammit!

But she couldn’t. Her head was abuzz with sensuous memories. Memories of the past she chose never to speak about.

“Sister Ethel,” the voice, an urgent whisper brought her back to the present.

She looked up, into the face of her assistant Welfare director- Mrs Ohaneze.

“Service is almost over, should I serve Pastor’s drinks?” she asked.

Service? Almost over? She blinked.

“Yes, yes, yes please do. Thank you,” her smile was polite but apprehensive. Service was almost over, she had to make a run for it as soon as the benediction was shared. The last thing she needed now was another confrontation with Charles.

Of course, she wasn’t to be that lucky because as soon as service ended and she began making her way to the exit, someone tugged at her arm.

“Siss…sterr Ethel, not so fast,” the mockery in his voice was evident.

Ethel froze. There was no escaping now. She turned, imagining that she’d already gone several shades of red with embarrassment.

“Leave me alone,” she said in an urgent whisper, “don’t tell me you came to church for a booty call.”

“Only your booty interests me Thelia,” he grinned, “what do you say we get out of here and finish what we started yesterday?”

Ethel’s hand flew to her mouth in surprise. She sneaked a quick look around, hoping that no one had heard their conversation. Lord, this was a nightmare! Charles was becoming a pain in the butt.

“You should go and see Pastor, your soul needs salvation. Honestly I wonder how you two are brothers,” she glared at him.

He tilted his head back and laughed, he was obviously enjoying her discomfort.

“Step-brothers, actually. Perhaps we should take this conversation elsewhere, Thelia.”

“Yes. Absolutely. Let’s take it back to the hotel where you and your wife are staying!!” she hissed at him.

He froze for a split second giving room for Ethel’s savior to show up. Amaka.

“Hey Eth, what’s up?” Amaka slid in smoothly beside Ethel, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Er…I…”

“Who’s this? A new brother in church? Hello brother, my name is Amaka,” she held out her hand with a smile.

Charles looked at Amaka, exasperated and had no choice but to stretch out his hands to accept hers.

“This is Charles. Charles Umoh,” Ethel said, her eyes lowered, wondering if Amaka would make the connection.

“Interesting,” apparently she had.

Ethel bit her lower lip in nervously. Her life as she knew it had just come crumbling and it was up to her to face the consequences.

“You know what? We need to talk Eth so I’ll just wait here while you say goodbye to Brother Charles here, okay?” there was an emphasis on the ‘brother’.

Ethel was visibly trembling as she nodded. Amaka wanted to talk to her! She wasn’t sure if she could face her. Especially not now.

She glanced at her friend and the stern look on her face told her she meant business this time. Quickly she turned to Charles and beckoned him to follow her.

Her nervousness caused her to be clumsy and her purse fell to the ground and spilled open, scattering its contents.

“Crap,” she murmured as she bent to pick it. Could this day get any worse?

“I’ll do it. You go on,” Amaka offered.

She needed Charles far away as fast as possible so she smiled gratefully at Amaka and walked Charles to the door.

“How did you know about my…wife?”

“The same way she knew about me. You’re a shameless liar. Don’t come looking for me again,” with that she left him staring agape after her.

When she returned to Amaka she immediately knew something was wrong. Perhaps she was still angry.

“Thank you Amy but I have to go home. I’ve got an early day tomorrow,” she spoke fast, hoping Amaka would ask no questions.

“We have to talk,” Amaka replied in a grave voice.

“Not tonight please,”

“Yes, tonight,” she waved an envelope in front of her, “about this.”

It was the envelope Charles’ wife had given her the previous day. She’d forgotten it in her purse!

She snatched it from Amaka’s hand and tucked it away. “You had no right to pry.”

There was no apology as Amaka asked, “have you ever had an abortion?”

“What??”

“I think we are going to have that talk after all. Now.”

 

To be continued next week…

By Mimi Adebayo

 

 

UNFORGIVEN IV

…continued from Unforgiven III

unforgiven

 

Ethel was looking for a job when she first arrived in Abuja, Amaka had quickly taken a shine to her and informed her about the opening in the school where she taught.

Ethel had been reluctant at first, to take the job and also Amaka’s offer of friendship but eventually she’d had no choice. She’d taken both; promising to keep Amaka out of the darkness of her life.

She’d failed however because Amaka showered her with a kind of love she’d never expected and slowly but surely she’d infused herself into Ethel’s life, tearing down her walls of defense little by little.

The first service she’d attended at Harvest of Hope church, Amaka had sat beside her throughout; throwing reassuring glances her way and squeezing her hand with affection. Ethel remembered thinking how impossible it was to not like this woman. She’d been present at Amaka’s wedding and even though it made her happy to see her friend happy, it didn’t shake her disbelief in the system of marriage. She’d made up her mind long ago that it wasn’t for her. That much she’d learned from Mum.

It wasn’t really Pastor Tim’s sermon or the altar call as much as Amaka’s blind love that had persuaded Ethel to surrender her life to Jesus. It was an unplanned event and the most difficult thing Ethel had ever had to do. All she knew was that she wanted the kind of life Amaka had; the sheer happiness and joy she exhibited at every possible opportunity, her blind trust in the God she served and then the peace, mostly the peace. It was like an aura around Amaka; something Ethel could feel and almost touch. Yes, it was that peace that led her to stand up in the congregation of hundred people and profess her new faith.

And it was the seeming loss of that peace that pushed her to open up to Amaka about her past.

“Are you going to talk to me or are you going to just stare into thin air?” Amaka’s voice penetrated into her thoughts.

Ethel sighed. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

“Eth, break time is going to be over by 12:30pm so I suggest you use the time wisely,” her tone was firm.

“I…I…don’t know where to start from Amy,” she said in a solemn voice.

“Start from what happened yesterday. You look pale.”

Ethel hated the fact that Amaka could easily read her.

“Nothing…nothing happened. I just…” she looked away, “maybe this was a bad idea.”

“Eth, look at me,” Amaka took her by the shoulders, “you can trust me. I’m not just your friend, I’m your sister too.”

Her words tore at Ethel’s heart. A sister! How she’d always longed for a sibling!

“Tell me why you are so kind to me Amaka. You don’t know me, you never have. I’m not who you think I am.”

“Shut up. I don’t care who you used to be but I know who you are now. You are a child of God. A royal priesthood. Whatever past you have is exactly that…your past. Besides honey, there’s nothing new under the sun. I bet it’s not as terrible as you think.”

Ethel blinked. Wait till you hear this one.

“I lost my virginity to a fifty year old man. I was just fourteen.”

Amaka didn’t flinch.

“C’mon say something. I know you wanna say something,” Ethel urged with a wry laugh.

“Is that all?”

Amaka obviously meant business because Ethel couldn’t see the look of disgust she had expected to see.

So she began to speak, delving into a lifetime of memories.

Mum had been a call girl, of sorts; one of the few in Lagos that was discreet and also had a child. She didn’t outright demand money for sex like prostitutes did but suffice it to say that most of the men – married and unmarried – in the elite parts of Lagos had dallied with her at one point or the other.

Ethel had never known her father and mum had never bothered to tell her the full story; but over the years Ethel had pieced together the fact that her dad had been married when he met her mum and at some point in their relationship they’d fallen in love and he’d promised to leave his wife and marry Mum. It was a promise that never came true, the details of which Ethel never knew.

She’d become aware of Mum’s ‘business engagements’ when she turned seven. Mum had rented the boys’ quarters’ only a couple meters away from the main house. She called it her ‘office’ and there she held ‘business engagements’ behind closed doors. Her office had been off limits to Ethel and she didn’t understand why; all she knew was that somehow even though all Mummy had was her private office right next to the house, she still managed to send her to one of the expensive schools in Lagos. Whatever it was Mummy did, it was big and profitable.

Once when she was eight; Ethel had said carelessly, “when I grow up Mummy, I want to be like you. I want to have an office like you and make money like you.”

Mum stiffened and without another word, left the room. Later Ethel thought she heard her crying in the bathroom.

It wasn’t until she was ten that she let her curiosity get the better of her. Mummy always locked her office when she wasn’t home, which made young Ethel interested in its content.

Her curiosity was satisfied one unexpected Friday. She’d been sent home from school because Mummy had forgotten to pay her fees. When she arrived home, she heard sounds from the boys’ quarters’ and she went to investigate. The door was half open, her mother and the man were so consumed in themselves that they didn’t notice young Ethel staring at them, mouth agape, eyes twinkling in fascination.

Thus began her downward spiral into the kind of life her Mother lived. She found every way possible to watch Mum and her ‘clients’. She was fascinated by her Mum’s occupation; it seemed like power. After all, it made Mum rich. All one had to do was get down on your back, spread your legs and the men were hooked. They came back for more.

At thirteen, Mum caught Ethel with porn in her bathroom; she was trying her hand at masturbation for the first time.

“Ah. You don old now, I see,” Mum had remarked in her usual dry tone.

Ethel stared at Mum, defiant, refusing to feel guilty.

“How long you don dey watch am?” Mum asked, sometimes she spoke in pidgin whenever the mood suited her but her English was impeccable. She often told Ethel she’d taught herself.

“Since I was old enough to hear,” Ethel retorted.

Mum flinched, taken aback by her daughter’s sharp tone then she began ransacking the room. She seized every porn movie she found in Ethel’s room and left.

Later that day, Ethel thought she heard her crying. Again.

When she turned fourteen, her body began developing nicely and boys began to really notice her; it excited her tremendously. One day, she began flirting with Chief Bala, one of her mum’s clients. To her, it seemed cool and adult-ish and she wanted to test how far her sensuality would take her. It did take her farther than she expected, it took away her virginity.

Ethel refused to call it rape because she realized that in a twisted way, she’d wanted it; she had even enjoyed it.

“Why would you say that?” Amaka broke in as she told the story, “You were the victim. You were just fourteen for Chrissakes!”

“But I knew more about sex than anyone my age. I was ready. My mind was mature.”

The school bell rang at that moment signifying the end of the break period.

“Oh Lord. Not now! Ethel, promise me you won’t close up. You’ll tell me everything after school,” Amaka asked.

Ethel hesitated and glanced at her phone, distracted. Then she nodded slowly, hoping to get Amaka off her back. She succeeded.

She sighed and read the text message again:

*Where are you? I want to see you*

It was signed. *C.U*

 

to be continued next week…

 

By Mimi Adebayo

 

UNTIL I DIE

If I am old, it is because I was young.

If my muscles ache, it is because they were firm

If my eyes blur and strain, it is because they seen plenty

old04

My skin is wrinkled

And annotated with lines and spots and rings

But only because I have walked beneath sunny skies

And bathed in the chilly salty sea

My fingers are gnarled and knobby

Because I held on real tight

Every time, even when it did not matter

My steps falter and my bones creak up the stairs

The same stairs now worn weary from years of my steps

old03

I have grown and lost, filled to the brim

And burst

I have sulked, talked, worked and been shocked

I have laughed and cried, cursed and smiled

I have made my bed with flour and flowers

The flour baked me a pastry, crunchy and sublime

The flowers

Roses, pretty and prickly with thorns that tore

At my skin as I made sweet love under the handsomest stars

 

I have lived

It matters not how long I have walked the earth

It doesn’t

It oughtn’t

It won’t

But

It matters how long a second lasts that I have lived

It does

It ought

It will

 

old05

It is folly to measure time by the weight of it

Because as the sands fritter down, vacuum in their wake

Eons and centuries skitter through, and to their heels take

The beauty of the moment

Is the true measure of time

The beauty of now

The pleasure of the present second

Pleasure that stretches its tick to last a whole day

 

Let me live, truly live for just that second

One second that will deny me fear of the future

One second that will not worry for the long gone past

Let me live for just that second

Let me live as best as I can

As long as I will

 

Let me live until I die

old02

 

THIS IS THE 50TH POST ON ‘WORDS ARE WORK’ AND MY GRATITUDE TO YOU, MY BEAUTIFUL, TOLERANT AND RELENTLESS READERS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE MEASURED. ONCE UPON A TIME, I WOULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED…I MEAN, WHO WOULDA THOUGHT?!!

I CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE THIS 50TH POST WITH A TRIBUTE TO ALL MEMBERS OF OUR SOCIETY AGED 50+

with all the moons and skies you have lived through, my prayer for you is that the labors of your youth may not be in vain. Amen.

 

Mention me on twitter @ojukwu_martin