In matters of great importance, one has to try as much as possible to make minimal mistakes. I was sitting down one day trying to mind my own business, something that was getting harder each day to do, when I got a bright idea. You know how it is with bright ideas; they come and cause an explosion in the head and before you know, you need to urinate all of a sudden because it seeps through you and the only way to not explode from the excitement is to use the toilet. Well, that happened too.
I had this idea that it would be a nice thing to learn how to balance things on my head, you know. To learn how to walk beautifully and tall with so much balance like those African people in the magazines. I had one in front of me that day. She looked absolutely gorgeous like she had feathers on her head instead of a big calabash with water. So effortless and I wanted to try it. I was fourteen and looked like I could live a long life if I lived peacefully. But looking back, I imagine I couldn’t be bothered by such ideas. All I wanted was to balance something heavy on my head. Nothing else really mattered.
First things first. I had to look for something heavy to place on my head. My parents were at work and I was on a two week break from school, so I had all the quiet I needed to search properly. I practiced with my books by stacking them high up, then with empty basins, I made progress and continued to the flower pot filled with soil. I made a lot of progress in hours and was pleased with myself. I wish I had remained in that state, but ambition can be a nag and so I wasn’t content, so much so that when my mother had visitors from her women’s singing group come over one Saturday for a get together, I thought it a good idea to practice some more. My object? The huge food flask my mother had placed the jollof rice for six women in. Yea, for some reason it was a good choice. I placed it on my head with some effort, smiled to myself and there my happiness ended. The boom that followed when that flask fell was enough to crush my lungs, and make me an amputee. I wanted to turn into dust from the horror. The lid had come off and the rice covered the tiles floor like maggots. I kept hearing “ the dead come to life” by Jonathan Thulin. I felt dead but I was still breathing and it didn’t feel like the sort of resurrection anyone would want.
My mother rushed in and things got pretty blurry. I cannot recollect much except that I was surprised my ears had not extended to Yoda’s length when I checked it out in the mirror. It was so red and hot from so much pulling that day. My disheveled mother had to make do with snacks and everyone had to manage to be happy somehow. I’ve not stopped balancing things on my head though, but I know how to pick my objects better.
Suppressing the pain she had gotten from the sharp pointed table in her bid to escape, she walked till she was out of their sight. She felt sore all over, her hair line felt as if it had risen many degrees above her face and she was shaking terribly inside. She felt she would break into different fragments at any moment. Everything was spinning and it was with great effort that she brought herself to focus on getting into a taxi home.
“Oooh Sade, Sade , come to me nearer
Clever , clever, come to me forever…”
That song played in her head as she collapsed on her bed in the apartment she shared with Alice her friend.
“ Look at your long chin” , her father’s wife had said to her with disgust while growing up. “ donkey! That is why you cannot close your mouth as you chew” , she would add as she snorted like a pig. She limped too, just like her mother and her father’s wife liked to remind her of it.
“ Your one eyed mother killed herself. She hung herself because she knew she was useless” , the woman would say proudly to her, as if she could not imagine a more appropriate way to die. It was almost as if she would have been very glad to help put a rope round another person’s neck. “What kind of person talked like that?”, she would ask herself, but she found no answers and her father was away most times and when he was home, he was too tired to be anything but indifferent.
But was it really a crime to not have curves? Was everyone meant to be a source of temptation to the appetites of men? She let the hot tears run down into her blouse , seeping into her bruises. Her body was aching worse with each passing hour. Then the smell of a rat hit her strongly. She walked up, caught herself in the mirror and stopped in her tracks. Her skin was cracking, her lips had gone very black. True, they had always been black as if she smoked, but she didn’t. Part of the things she had inherited from her father, together with her protruding forehead. She had nice cheekbones it could be said, but there were bags underneath her eyes from so many sleepless nights. She hit the cupboard upon which the mirror was standing and it broke.
“Ugly ! Ugly!” , she screamed as she fell to the ground in anguish. Her head was throbbing so much. With the tears blinding her, she reached for the packet of rat poison that had been kept in an old shoebox to be used for the rats, emptied their contents in the glass . Her hands shaking, she spilled some as she drank gulping the hideous contents.
“Mary, ah Mary are you home? So early. What happened…” , the door opened to reveal a shocked Alice.
She screamed and rushed to her side. “ What have you done?!!” . She rushed out to call some neighbors, but her scream had already attracted the attention of the soldier who had come home for a short break. Two other young mothers who were nursing had been attracted by the scream.
“ What a waste” , said the soldier shaking his head as the two women wept uncontrollably with Alice eyes very wide with shock bending over her friend.
“A beautiful girl” , he continued as her eyes began to shut.
“ Am I really beautif…” , she imagined herself trying to ask but it was becoming very dark . Her eyes shut.
There comes a time in a person’s life when he or she stops in his or her tracks and decides that peace of mind it is, and peace of mind it will be from henceforth. Those moments should be rare however, because what is life without a little drama?
There are people who say that gossip is bad. Stay away from such people. They are judgmental and will go to hell. “ Thou shall not judge” is the verse to remind them of. When they tell you that you are quoting that out of context, laugh a long laugh and throw you head backwards to make sure they see that no log of wood fell out of your eyes, making them the conclusive culprit in the game of hypocrisy.
After making sure you have disgusted them thoroughly, proceed to a random friend and spill the beans or let the cat out of the bag in the way of gossip. By now, you should have many bags of such cats. The more vicious the better. Tell your random friend about another friend and tell her to keep it a secret hoping she won’t , because why else did you spend hours in her house spreading things if you wanted her to keep it a secret? The more it spreads, the better. That way, when everyone is talking about so and so’ s miscarriage, break up , divorce, brokenness, you can rejoice in your room and shout hallelujah because you have been faithful, oh so faithful, good and faithful servant of the gossip empire. Now you can rest in peace, until of course you get knocks on your door and phone calls of angry people calling you names.
About apologizing to people? I don’t recommend it. Life is all about reactions, garbage in and garbage out— that type of thing. First of all, people are not worth it. Moreover, one always feels uncomfortable doing it. The lump in the throat as the word ‘ sorry’ tries to come out, the redness of face from the embarrassment . My goodness! It is always easier to just pretend it never happened. So when next you say the wrong thing, just do a “ yo bro, uptight much?” and give them a quick shove and whistle “ buddy” . Your conscience doesn’t need that stress.
I don’t understand why people should not brag about their achievements. More importantly , I don’t see why they should not rub it in people’s faces. A little coloring here and there on a human face should help. Tell them how they cannot reach your level even if they tried. You see your new car, wardrobe? You see theirs? Mehn , how can they even compare? That look they give you as they shake their heads and wonder why the world is filled with such people as you? That is what should give you joy. In fact, walk eerily as you walk out of buildings as you hiss at beggars . Such bliss! Such peace!
In case life gives you lemons, throw it back at life. Don’t make lemonades. I mean, what if lemonades are not your thing? Make lemonades? Really? Has anyone considered how much life is a bully for suggesting that? First of all, we’ve been duped. How? We don’t know what life is?! Is life male or female? Neuter? Queer maybe? So mysterious, always promising to teach lessons, and surprising people, and so far, no one has stopped in their tracks to question it. But of course, if “ life” gives you bribes, take it. Demand it even . So many vacations to take, places to visit because YOLO. And how can you afford such beautiful scenery on just your salary? Fail students, have vague conversations with contractors about “ kola” as you give them smiles of a pervert, knowing they would understand that you are here to scratch their backs if they would yours first. Continue doing this and become a part in the degradation of the country you live in. Peace.
Aunty Veronica was a woman who never hastened to draw a conclusion. What she did instead was ‘ give her opinion’ and to ‘ say in general’. Her favorite place to do this was in front of the Tv screen . She was always ready to contribute her own voice to the act of patriotism , so much that she would blurt out words and sentences like ‘ People in the North are beggars! Look at this dirty people.’ . She was not restricted by the North however. The East , West, and everything in between was within reach of her tongue. So she was caught many times ‘ generally saying that those in the East liked to cheat, 419-ners, the whole bunch of them. Who did they think they were? Was this country their father’s house?’ No good thing could come from the East in fact. When her daughter brought a man from the West, Aunty Veronica had looked at him carefully, trying to see why a miserable man like him should imagine that her daughter, a girl raised in the South should want to marry him. She once again ‘ gave her opinion about the womanizers that they were’ , and sent her daughter to her room. It was obviously four p.m. and she could not be distracted.
One day however, Aunty Veronica was sick. She needed money for the operation. She really could not afford to die from the tumor in her neck. A Samaritan came to offer help. Many Samaritans in fact came. From the North, South, East and West and everywhere in between. Aunty Veronica did not refuse their help. How could she? ‘ Generally speaking, we were One Nigeria…I am not lying. That is what she said.
Having a bigger platform and being more popular does not make one the best in the business of whatever it is that one is ‘ businessing’ in. Take longreads for example. Very few people have the patience to read through an excruciatingly long piece of writing. My use of excruciatingly does not have as it’s intention the decrease in worth of information that can be found in longer pieces. Obviously, it’s a matter of perspective. Something can be excruciating to read depending on whether or not you are enjoying yourself in the process of reaching the final full stop.
Back to the point I am trying to make. Many loners exist, undiscovered because they simply have no desire to be found. They are recluses, but brilliant ones nonetheless. I know that the world has not heard half of it’s best singers, seen the best drawings or read the best literature yet. I feel I can compare this situation to the one the Bible gives of a poor, wise man who no one listens to because poverty is not something serious people who have something to say live in. It is the rich that ears are drawn to. Same with art. To make it , you have to be popular. If you’re not, your best work could be hidden for years.
Where does this leave us ? We are the judges of what we see fit to be consumed. The world is ruled by the herd mentality. Naturally, we are drawn to people who have a large following. The fact that people are judges on talent shows does not necessarily make them better than those who come to compete on those shows. Time and chance happens, you see. Same with other things that could be tagged ‘art’. So I think that as consumers as art, we should try to be objective and not brush off the unknowns in the business . There is a lot of treasure hidden and it is your duty to find it if you own a mind of your own.
The reason why Rihanna’ s song ‘ work’ is popular despite it’s lack of meaning is because it is catchy. If you want to use art purposefully and not just art for arts sake, you’d sometimes have to use the click- bait technique. You should be as clear as possible and if possible brief , to pass a message across. (By the way, I am not hating on Rihanna. I think she has the most unique voice I’ve ever heard, and if she decides to sing songs with more meaning, she could always rely on me as her number one fan).
In conclusion, I believe all I am saying with this post is that we should be objective consumers of art. Because it is popular does not make it the best.
Love keeps its promises
It keeps its words
This is me
On April fool’s day
On your birthday
On a new day
A new month
Telling you that I wonder
You sometimes wonder
You sometimes come here
This is my poem
I don’t like poems
This might be a bad poem
If you check sometimes
If you care
I’m a mess sometimes
Still nursing my trust issues
But it’s your birthday
So happy birthday
If you ever read this
It still hurts
Justina was a firm believer in the laws of society. There were many of them, like the one that said if you were below thirty and unmarried, you were good for any man who came your way. Once you clocked thirty, your preferences for a spouse should have dramatically reduced. By this time, it was believed that after your baptism in church, the next place to get baptized was at the river of desperation. Anything wearing a trouser— that is , anything that was not a clothes hanger in one’s wardrobe— was to be grabbed and even dragged for marriage. Wasting one’s time in such crucial issues necessary for the betterment of one’s self esteem as a woman was out of the question because marriage was what made a woman truly a human being. So, when Justina clocked 23, she bit her nails and held her head in her hands and asked the One in the heavens when her man would come to take her to paradise; the paradise only a marriage borne out of pressure could bring.
Justina’s mates were getting married. Look at Tina for example. She had ‘ carried marriage on her head’ for so long that these days when she wore sun glasses and complained of a massive migraine, people just assumed it was just her head relieving itself from the burdens staying single had brought on her. No one asked her about the black eye she was trying to cover or why she had a bump on her head. Why would they? She was a happily, married woman living with a man who had lots of muscles and kept her from working, yet refused to give her money for upkeep.
With a lack of ambition and with eyes for only a man who had a big car and money to give her to make her hair, Justina happily said yes to Mike and hissed at the ‘ old’ women— those women in their late twenties and thirties that she was leaving behind who refused to settle for anything but a good man who would respect them. It was a wonderful wedding until marriage actually began. With nothing to bring to the table but her needs for money from her husband; because you see she said he would send her to school and open multiple businesses for her, Justina became a liability and a punching bag in no time and realized that one did not need to be so desperate for marriage. One just had to live and fulfil her purpose. In fact, she realized that an unmarried woman surprisingly was a complete human being.