Well he works in Port harcourt and is really busy so he sent me over. Yes, I am married. With three daughters.
‘Yoruba. Married. Three girls…err. I would convince Alhaja, i will. I don’t know how she would take the husband issue but i will see what i can do…’
I am married sir. I promise that i am…
‘See you tomorrow madam.’
I walked out of his office, with a relief from the normal questions that trailed house hunting. I had viewed beautiful houses by mouth that were monstrous on sight. I had seen barrack-like houses, with prices betraying their dilapidating form, houses unfit to raise three girls until i met Mr. Sobunmi.
The house, a two-storey building with four flats sat on a well-floored two-plot land. It was a haven with an outhouse for relaxing. Mr Sobunmi in his round-rimmed glasses told me in a matter of fact tone that the landlady was amiable and accommodating and made sure trash was collected by the house’s trash collector and an end-of-the-year celebration for phatic communion was organised on the street. She only wanted married tenants.
I would find out later that the out-house was a no go area; that Mr. Sobunmi had collected money for dumping trash, trash which would sit for two months until the landlady threatened eviction and i would have to pay an aboki; that the 50,000 Naira collected for the street end-of-the-year party was a label for a gathering that never existed.
When it hits one in the face, when it comes, with a force that cannot be contained; it is the truth.
It’s like she knew what she was in for. The banging of the door left the wooden victim creaking silently on its hinges. Her mother had looked at her menacingly in the face and pronounced those words that left her shaking, her nerves trembling furiously; they were trembling still. Their impact was so intense and like an echo in the …valley, they resounded in her aural membrane, the words, those words ‘You cease to be my daughter!’
The previous day, when it all started had been fine, when she had gotten home and decided to tell Mama, was just fine for an evening meal, for a night out with Danladi, for the smile that caressed her lips, for the lonesome feeling she shared towards an unfeeling yet seemingly emotional man. He shared in her smile, his, a grimace that masked the feelings of revenge he harboured.
You can never achieve anything without tending to get in on the inside; a childhood of endless detective cartoons had enhanced that desire to avenge his father. The muse was dead, yes, but didn’t the good book say that the child would partake in the sins of the father and that vengeance will be wrought by generations after? Well, he admitted, the latter was only a fabrication to conform to this burning need his heart so feverishly hunted. He tried not to seem like Hamlet yet he knew the drive was alike. Rather than an elixir of poison in the ear, his father had been tea-poisoned.
One might wonder how Funmi had gotten entangled with a man whose face was a true reflection of his heart. His eyes seemed to search endlessly into the depths of one’s heart. At first, she had feared those huge bulging eyes until three moons after when they became a part of her: having watched them on nights of passion, ecstasy and on angry days when they nearly popped out from their sockets. His frame was the same as any man’s. It was intimidating, his arms large enough to snap a neck into two.
Why hadn’t he done so he sometimes asked himself. Why hadn’t he wrenched hers off its root and perhaps hung it to a stake, making it a premier of a collection of ornament, of the heads of a family doomed to his vengeance.
‘Do you know who his father was?’
mama waited for no answer
’… he was a pain in the neck. He had to go, had to die; for some people have to die for you to move on.’
Funmi stood still as her mother relayed Danladi’s history. Did he know? Did he not? or if he knew, was this all a pretense in order to avenge his dead father on her? Was what they ‘shared’ false? The thought of it alone would make her go insane. These questions ravaged her mind, made her begin to doubt and distant to her mother’s outbursts.
Mama continued waiting for no answer from her mute listener, ‘his father sucked at your father’s marrow. He was a pest, a pain in the ass as you would say. But then he died, he died. Yes he did and you know what? We were happy just that I didn’t know whoever it was who killed him. Otherwise, I would have thanked such a person all my life. You know why and how your father died?’ she continued in the same rage, ‘he did not die as a result of cardiac arrest as Doctor Bamiji told us, NO. His heart gave way to so much excitement at the news of the death of Mustapha. He saw this world last when he got to know that a man who had tormented his life so much, that had made him smell the other side of life was dead. You know what it’s like to be that happy at the death of someone?’ she asked then sneered
‘it’s like when Abacha died. Nigerians were happy. You know it don’t you? You must have read it in one of your books; but you didn’t learn how to be sensitive. You never learnt from history and so you bumped into this temporary façade called love.’
All these she said to a sobbing little body. A little body that harboured a bright mind but a large heart that Mama had always known would be her undoing. She was just like her father, too soft, too open and trusting people without caution. Life was hard, she, Mama was hard. To rule the world, you had to be. There were no two ways about it.
Mama’s philosophy had helped her train six children; what with the money she had fought for after her husband’s death? Relatives who had been ashamed to cross their front steps suddenly became men who ordered her out of the house her money had built its foundation. Five sessions in court and she had won the case. The race was not to the swiftest but to the diehard man ready to bite fingers that held down his legs on the ladder of success. If possible, chop them off. Mama did not mind.
And so, it was no wonder that her daughter’s connection with the son of a man who had made life unbearable for her father and who miraculously, had been poisoned by a Good Samaritan who was possibly one of the various victims, dazed her. Thus, she said without thinking twice,
‘I have trained you all and I expect good returns. I toiled and expect good success! But if you decide to stick to this enterprise and refuse to heed to your mother’s warnings as your children will do to you, you cease to be my daughter!’ with that she left and slammed the door that still creaked from the impact.
Today, i have found what has made me boyfriendless over the years. It itches me as walk, spreads through my body like wild fire in harmatan. It has made me become more cautious, careful and prude.
Prude is the word. I cannot look into the eyes of a man and feel at ease anymore. The heaving of my chest at the smell of masculinity lets something in me spark that i try feverishly to restrain. If i become one of those who faces stare in cold walls of dark castles; then, maybe my fight would not be in vain.
At 12, I remember running an errand for ma. She held out a note and thrust under my armpit, the already-finished customer’s cloth. I rushed off, as children were wont to do then and got to the house, few metres down the street. The young man who opened the gate, was to my eyes, an uncle as we were asked to call every older man, not old enough to be one’s father. Thus, when i saw him, i said,’Uncle, i am looking for Mrs. Eniade.’ He looked at me in a queer manner, one that gave me shivers and even as i pen this down, still does.
I was walked into the big parlour, gave the cloth to the gigantic woman slowly munching on some green apples and then, i turned my back to leave. I was almost at the gate when i hear a call from behind. Turning, it was the biggest mistake of my life as i hit my newly-grown breast-chest on the wall to which the gate was attached. ‘Kaii!’ I almost spat out. I checked myself quickly as the queer-faced young man moved towards me and i became composed. I was a lady, he was the man.
He came towards me, smiled winked and said,’ why don’t i walk you to your house?’
At a point we began to realise that life was not it seemed. Those who stretched their hands to help were doing it for ulterior reasons. I could share in the laughter of so many people, smile at jokes that would make me massage my aching cheeks and hug a long-seen friend when i didn’t actually mean it.
We became bored of relationships that were only in place because of one thing or the other; of future gains, networking and connections. We were stranded; unable to understand true friendship as life had become,’ Move with people who positively affect your life.’
That could be boring.
Sometimes, we just want to observe. We want to say ‘hi’ to that secondary school mate and leave without exchanging contact. We want to travel round the world without taking pictures and just immerse ourselves in the beautiful landscape without having to show the world proof that we were actually there.
We want to get married, have a baby and build houses without the world knowing.
This is because sometimes, we are not just interested in this world or how today affects tomorrow.
Sometimes, we just want to live our lives.
I want to take a picture without caring how it looks or whether it is instagram-worthy.
Wish me well as i cross the seven seas. Wish me well as i tread the path some ancestors have trod. It is not for personal aims or glorification that we go on this voluntary yet compulsory sojourn. No.
It is to serve our father land. I move onwards, towards Yikpata. This Yikpata was unlike many. It’s sparse landscape filed with dry trees scared in themselves, should they fall. I looked on with fear as the bus stopped. We were at our stop, the beginning of para-military training.
When i remember how i had queued in the drizzle, of how,i had carried my luggage on my head in obedience to the shouts of the soldiers…of how in camp, i woke up at 3:00am every morning and learnt to live a robot life, then i would respect all ex-corps members and appreciate their service to our father land.
Whoever said it was easy should think again.
A mini mind is one that is confined to a particular surrounding. it does not intend to rise from that status of equilibrium but is content with either being ‘okay’ in life or just the one-eyed king in the land of the blind…be not a mini-mind. striving to be more is what a human should do, think, eat and live.
We know people make up new year resolutions at the end of each year, hoping to have accomplished most if not all by the end of the next year. Ironically, while some struggle to achieve the first three out of about 20 to-dos, the others remember not a word from wherever the list is.
i am one of them, well, at least i got more than half of my resolutions in 2014 achieved. But, the sad thing is, number one on my priority list was to finish the book i started writing in 2013. Well, i am stuck. So, i turn to myself, my inner self and ask what happened in 2014? Why did i get stuck while everyone was moving on?
The answer is not far-fetched. i guess i refused to understand the way i work, and how my life functions when i make resolutions for myself. i remember not writing a resolution to start a book. i realise that i am more of a spontaneous person.
some of us are this way. that moment when we decide to make resolutions is when we deter from accomplishing them. so, if you are one of the live-as-it-comes people, then do so. I hope to continue with my book soon. And, by the way, i made no new year resolutions because it’s all gonna come as it was meant to.
Peace…Another story on the way. Just had to do this.