‘Goodbye and good riddance’ . That’s what she said two years ago. I felt like I had watched this scene before, only this time it was not happening in a film but in my house. Good riddance, with a snap of the finger. Good riddance and bye bad air, because you suffocate me, husband. As I look back, I realize that I wasn’t always something that needed to be gotten rid of. I hadn’t always been a bad man or a man given to introspection much. I think this feels like the good thing about goodbye. You get to become a good man after the bad side has been gotten rid of. Funny how you get to do this only when someone shows you the door.
But the years before we fell out had their own kind of magic. Like necking and laughing over bad breath. Like a warm massage of her feet and a ‘ mmm..baby that feels so good’ as she pulled me closer. Then those things in our conversations began to creep up. So quietly, I’d ask her ” Who was that man you smiled at the mall?” , and she’d drop her hands and sigh and ask in a low voice ” what man ? “
” You know? The one standing close to the bags.” I said those words, as ridiculous as they sounded. ” the sales man?” , she’d say and then repeat because it didn’t deserve the status of a question ” The salesman Raheem. I was smiling at the salesman” , she’d say as she bit her lip with a puzzled expression on her face.
I was with her all day long , so naturally I would know for sure that it was the salesman , but my hands would go hard on her toes and I’d press them till she screamed. ” you’re hurting me! What’s gotten into you?”
” Sorry, I just…I dunno..” and I would walk out with the towel to take a shower leaving her to wonder. But it happened again, and again. I was relentless and then it became violent.
” You’re cheating on me, you slut !” , I’d scream in a moment of rage. Then I hit her the first time. She’d waved too vigorously and given a friendly wink to a co- worker that day when I had come to pick her up from work. ” You’re not leaving this house again, you hear me? ” , I said as I gagged her. She stayed. The bruises healed.
We talked about it naturally of course. We found a way to explain it all. I must have done it because my father did it. I promised it would never happen again. She loved me and she knew that I was a sweet, dear man, just a little bit jealous. A little bit. Who wouldn’t be with such a beautiful and smart woman who was earning more than he did , with a respectable family to back it up. Such a charming man. No, his wife must be in heaven.
If being unconscious was anything close to heaven, then she was in heaven more than a couple of times. But she came back. Each time less believing of the reasons we had given ourselves.
” You’re very insecure! What have I done to make you feel jealous?!! A real man does not beat his wife because other men find her attractive! I married you because…” , and her voice will trail off swallowed by a convulsive shaking of her body as she sobbed. She married me because it was me and not them who had won her heart. Would I be reasonable enough to understand that? She stayed
I can’t really explain it. I still don’t. But you can only feel remorse for so long and after making your pregnant wife miscarry, it only gets worse.
“Are you sure Bola of what you are saying? ” , her mother asked the day I had come to beg her to come back home. We had kept up appearances for too long and out private issues never got to reach her parents who lived in another city.
” Mother , he is a lunatic. He tried to stick a rod in my mouth” . It was hard to believe with my tears streaming down my face. The charming husband. I could imagine her mother going pale with shock underneath her chocolate toned skin.
Would I prefer jail to signing divorce papers quietly? They were trying to avoid a scandal for their well known family. Keeping up appearances more than dealing with a dangerously jealous man on the loose. I got off easily. We got divorced .
Yesterday, I was given this picture by a friend who thought it might be interesting and I put it up on facebook. The response was great! I seemed to have played the devil’s advocate well. In response, I got this as a reply from a facebook friend:
Let me begin with this verse:
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED WITH EVIL, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: AND SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH.
15 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 16 EVERY GOOD GIFT AND EVERY PERFECT GIFT IS FROM ABOVE, and cometh down from the FATHER OF LIGHTS, with whom is NO VARIABLENESS, NEITHER SHADOW OF TURNING.
– James 1:12-16
Verse 13 firmly establishes that God never uses evil as a tool for chastisement, for he is not evil. Verse 14 states that sin is the progenitor of death, and I believe we can agree that every sin is evil. For the avoidance of doubt, James reinstates the goodness of God, urging brethren not to err and that there is no deceitfulness with God in verses 15 and 16.
God does not repay evil for evil. The actions of men is the cause of whatever evil they encounter in their lives. It’s a basic principle all encompassing (Galatians 6:7).
I think sometimes we override the figurative elements of scriptures. I mean Christ is quoted as saying: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Mathew 5:28). The Old Testament narrative is heavily hinged on that inference. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth…” deductively, the universal creator of all things that be is God—that includes good and evil. But we know that God has never really been in charge the world from creation. He created the World, and immediately sublet that authority to man (Genesis 1:26-28). Man in turn lost that authority to the devil after the fall. How do we know this? From Christ temptation in the wilderness (Mathew 4:8-10), Satan offered the whole earth to Jesus, because he had it in his authority to do so. Now some may argue Satan was lying and that the Kingdoms of the world were not his to give. But if that were so, that means it was never really a temptation, and Christ indeed was not tempted at the offer, making him a fraud. But Apostle Paul makes it clear that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). But thank God believers are not of this world anymore (Col 1:13).
Gravity in the Newtonian physics illustration, dictates that the lager mass will always have the greatest pull than the lighter mass. By implication, without sustainable violation of gravity, if a man jumps from a ten-storey building, without cushion, he’s most likely to die. Now God put the law of gravity into operation, and one can chose to say God killed that man. But in truth, God never did any killing, the man simply violated a fundamental principle of physics invalidly, and reaped the consequences; in a manner of speaking, that man created his own death (evil). He didn’t call on God to save him, and therefore died. Therefore we can say God allowed it (permissively) to happen.
We need to understand God’s “creation” of evil in a permissive sense and the freewill of man to violate good principles and pervert them for the bad. Take for instance the case of Job, what befell him was evil. Evil from where, from God? No, evil from the devil. God gave Satan the PERMISSION to strike (Job 1:12, the entire book of Job is a brilliant poetry that I believe answers a lot of questions about good and evil.) Satan did the DOING of evil, and God did the allowing. God was not going to have David’s wives raped, MEN were to do the raping.
You may say that that does not exonerate God. This quote is attributed to Einstein (don’t know if he ever said is though): “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” It’s just like cold is not a physical quantity. Cold is simply the absence of quantifiable heat. Similar to the famous book of Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” When we step out of light God has given us, we step into the darkness. But in truth God did not bring the evil upon us, evil is a creation of the violation of good. Evil is not quantifiable, it is the absence of good.
Finally: “I AM GOD, AND THERE IS NONE ELSE” (Isaiah 45:23). I think it is very silly and heretical to compare our moral stands for fairness and judgement with that of God. If we think we are wise enough to know what evil or justice is, we ought to be wise enough to recognize who created that wisdom by which we use to validate justice and fairness—God! There is absolutely no reasons why God’s actions should conform to the logic of men HE CREATED! So what if it doesn’t make sense to us? Are we God? Do we know all things as he does? Its human pride to want to “judge” God. I urge you to read Romans 9:6-21. If God says he is good, but in his actions he SEEMS to us evil, it doesn’t make him evil or unjust, he is STILL good. Maybe it doesn’t seat well with human reasoning, but who says it has to.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe…. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men…. God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
– 1 Corinthians 1:20 – 28
No matter how we see it:
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever:
THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ALTOGETHER.
– Psalm 19:9
I was dreading this moment but I was nominated by my friend and sister with a beautiful mind. My very own Titi! 🙂 who runs the geelayo empire. I thought it was fun after reading her answers! Check out her blog https://geelayo.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/the-liebster-award/
What’s the one thing that you love about yourself?
Myself! The one thing I love about myself is myself 🙂 . Recently or maybe not so recently( maybe it has always been this way, but I like to say recently anyways) , I like the fact that I am balanced. I can easily see two sides of a situation and I am open to hearing out different sides of an argument even when my view will remain unaffected. I gave myself a pat on the back yesterday when I was feeling down and a little bit like an underachiever, that at least I have got this going for me. I am an awesome, balanced and tolerant person! Yayyy!!!
2. What was your first blog post?
My first blog post was Iron the creases of my desires. https://thisoathoflove.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/iron-the-creases-of-my-desires/?preview=true I feel it is still very relevant and a daily struggle to have our desires in line with scripture. I wrote it when I felt isolated and needed an outlet for my thoughts. Starting a blog should be one of my proudest investments in this writing business. I am glad for all the loneliness that pushed me to it.
3. What would you say to potential blog starters?
Start! Just simply start blogging. You never know where this will take you to , so spread your wings and fly and watch yourself grow with each blog post. Surround yourself with fellow bloggers and actively contribute. There’s no fun in being a dormant and isolated owner of a blog.
4. List 3-5 of your most favourite songs.
This list changes everyday but I am currently listening to Astrid S- 2AM, Jessie Ware- Wildest moment and Astrid S again- hurts so good.
5. When you have a writer’s block, what do you do to work it out?
I get annoyed and look for something to rant about on facebook lol. I read a book mostly and watch funny things. Sometimes watch a documentary to get me sober about life. Listen to rap. The lyrics in rap or music in general have a way of stirring up my mind .
6. What is your favourite dish?
Atama!! Soup of the AkwaIbom people in Nigeria .Das what am talking ‘ bout mehn! 🙂
7. What do you love about writing?
The escapism. I escape when I write. I create like God. I learn, teach myself, teach others and grow as a person when I write. Also, I’ve made cool friends because I write. How’s that for returns of investment? Nice, I know.
8. What movies would you not mind watching again?
None 🙂 . I don’t watch movies like that. I could rewatch comedy however. Father Ted, the Irish one has been suffering from rewatches these days.
9. What animal would you keep as a pet?
Cats!!!! Everyone knows I am the cat lady. Cats are the ultimate pets. The cream of the crop. Halleluyah?
10. What do you think of robots?
I think that robots are great. That’s the future. I have a nickname. Elizabeth. ‘ Tay’. You know? The bot? Yep, so I am 100 percent in this robot business.
I will be breaking the Leibster’ s rule by leaving the nominations open. Anyone who wants to answer can answer the questions I have been asked or choose questions of their choice and tag me to it. 🙂
I can almost swear that I have written so many posts in my head on what it is to be a Gemini. I just never got around to typing , first of all because of the conflicting thoughts in my mind on how right it is to draw attention to horoscopes . How right was God in using three wise men to bring gifts to His son ? Who is John Gault? Why is life so confusing and things so ironic ? I don’t know , but I recently celebrated my 22nd birthday and June babies are Geminis’ and even though I do not check daily to see what is going to happen to me , mostly because I don’t believe it is wise to see the future and secondly because I am mostly at home these days until I get a job , I don’t see how any predictions will be of use till then .
So far, the two most glaring characteristics of geminians are our aversion to boredom and our two in one combination . We are hot and cold, flighty and down to earth . What are we ? Fly away Peter..come back Paul ? Geminians are said to be the most interesting sign there is and if we had a mental illness , it would be bi-polar . We are said to be writerly inclined , communicators and very versatile people . We fit with any group of persons, very brilliant , witty and we have major mood swings where people just sit and say ” we kennot comprehen egen ” epp ?
Okay, all that is definitely true about me . I want to focus on boredom and I forgot to mention , Gemini women are said to be flirts . Massive flirts . We are said to be the ones who give men the biggest heart breaks, we keep many people hanging because we want to know who is worth pursuing or in a feminine way , who is worth letting to pursue , are extremely loyal when in love but can forget a man after a break up and move on like nothing happened . I think this means we are like the female version of a womanizer in a way . Again , all these is true for me in a way or maybe I should biting my words and say it is so true that I am afraid and decided to write it as a blog post because I want to figure out why .
Someone once said that I am the type of person to say goodbye at the airport and not turn around and I laughed at how much of a cold person that picture depicted me as and said yep, you got that right . lol . So true . I am like that . There was a time I decided to say I was suffering from anhedonia , you know, the loss of ability to feel anything . There have been times in my life when I have felt nothing. like absolutely nothing, no joy, no pain , no sadness . dead. I have shocked people because I can be lively and fun and sweet and innocent and say serious things that people don’t take seriously like “do not ask me a thousand times in a day how I am and what I have eaten because it pushes me away ” (like there is a switch in my head that makes me rage when i get asked this so please don’t press the thing)and people thought it was silly and why exactly would I be serious about such , and in reality I was serious about it . dead serious . I lost interest in talking and when I lose interest , I cannot bring it back . Anhedonia. Mental fog .
I enjoy my company a lot. I like being around interesting people but I know when my batteries are running down and I need to recharge . I detach myself and can do this for days without guilt . I am rarely bored alone . As an only child I have had enough time in 22 years to perfect the art of keeping myself company enough that I rarely need people around so when I am with people , it is fast paced or I say my byes and leave because I would rather sleep or read a book . A Gemini woman is said to test the intellect of any male she is with . I feel it is like someone holding a stick to see if the snake is really dead or can strike neatlyand a mask as she does it just in case it stinks and is really dead . i do this a lot . I need a man to keep up with me intellectually and I guess I should keep up with him if he is smart . I have outgrown people in a short time and I have no regrets for ceasing communication much with these people . I pray and wish them well but time is precious and time is mine in a way . Given to God but mine and I will not be made to feel guilty about how and with whom I decide to spend it with . We should be allowed to grow, move forward or backwards as we please with no guilt string attached .
I like it when people take an interest in what I do not just the food I eat or how the heck my night was . It was good!!! It will forever be good and if it wasn’t I promise I will tell you , so let it slide ! and let’s talk about something interesting . Okay , so the opposite is when people begin to take me for granted. Like once caught , always caught . she will be here forever , so let me yawn and lose interest in her work , her thoughts , her activities . I used to have a best friend aka boyfriend whom I would bug for days to do this, read this , check this out and I lost interest after a while in making someone do things that there had no interest in doing . People grow apart when this happens . I have learnt that the real things come naturally and stopped caring much when people get slack . Work should be shared equally and especially in a relationship with one who doesn’t mind being on her own , you might wanna put in a little more effort.
I am not a flirt , at least I think I am not . I like male company . It is the only company I have basically lol so I guess I have no choice in the matter , I like talking to boys , men , anything in trousers that is male . Am I explicit enough ? 🙂 I feel more secure maybe because I am used to this type of company , I don’t worry about being brash or too open because I think there is a certain allowance made by males for females . First , females are different humans so the thought might be ” we don’t fully understand this girl ” and it might be because she is a female ( lol , the sneaky way of living life ). But it is what it is. I like male company and I know I canbe flighty and forgetful of friends for long periods. It is something I am working on .
Father’s day came and went. Mother’s day came and went . these two days are hard days for me . One, I have no mother to celebrate because she is dead and as much as society says I should do with the remaining females in the family or older females anywhere, it is not the same . No one will take her place . father’s day is painful for me because it has lost its meaning for me . Don’t want to go into details but I love my dad even though I would rather not call him . I have too many emotions still tied up with the word father and as my dad is aging , my heart aches to have to watch this process . It is an avoidance not based on hate but on this lack of strength in me to watch all these . Happy father’s day to my dad .
So, my birthday came and left . All my plans to not give a thought about it were brought to nought because I have wonderful friends who decided to celebrate me days earlier and make me see it as an important day . God bless them . This means that I will be remembering my 22nd birthday well even though I did not celebrate it with cakes or anything . I did not reflect seriously either. If you reflect daily , I guess one day does not make too much of a difference . One thing I have decided however is to be focused on friendships more than on connections . Depth more than quantity . Also, to be myself more and more and not it into molds and stereotypes . Like you know , adopt the put sand in their garri mode 🙂 ? Of course I mean no harm .
Maybe this is the part where I get to steal a handkerchief and wipe off the sweat I feel should be sliding indiscriminately off my face at the moment, because erhh* , what eggzackly did i mean by reading this ( God of small things . I know I will keep referencing this book for a while(referencing doesn’t sound correct , neither does a bracket in a bracket look too good ) but erm , this is how we are going to roll for a while .
Back to the beginning . Why am I writing this? Well, because I was given a book to read . A book written by Asa Akira; an American pornographic actress and adult film director. I definitely do not advice moving further in the google search . You can read Wikipedia for more but hey! don’t go to videos (I did not send biko!) . The title of the book is “Insatiable Porn-a love story . Why did I read this ? Truth be told, before I was given , I had been planning to write about sex for two weeks , My feelings about sex , my desires to have sex (
em yes, you can goan die on this one if you like) and here was a book that said female unstrained sex! Okay, you get it now . I grabbed it and hoped to God I did not make the wrong decision , because truthfully pornography turns people on brethren. Reading erotic work has the potential to turn you on . Did this happen to me ? There is a saying that you cannot stop a bird from perching , but you can stop it from forming a nest ( I did not google to confirm this because I don’t realy want to and I feel it is right anyway 🙂 ) and I thought about it , if an Asa Akira ever approached me , only this time not to tell me with glee about her joy as a sex worker, but more to confess her burden for being one , then I hope to be able to listen to her no matter how graphic and advice her . That happens to be my reason , whether or not it was a wise one, the deed is done and the book has been read and we cannot unread it . What I want to focus now on is my response to this book and that should include a response to Asa or an indirect one to a sex worker or anyone with unbridled passion .
I’ll start first with what I liked about this book and Asa. She is an unapologetic porn maker. She loves porn and she would fight to do this for the rest of her life if she could . She isn’t afraid of society’s judgements, definitely not her parents , totally given up to her physical desires with no regret . As a Christian , I should see this as a failure , but I have chosen to see the unapologetic’ness’ as a neutral thing and the love for a cause too as a goodness on it’s own right , but If I pool them together with pornography , yes, then Asa to me is on a terribly wrong path . The problem here is Asa loves to have sex and the thoughts of people responding( to put it in a mild way ) on their Tv screens, lying to their spouse or girlfriends as they watch her gives her a huge high in her work. She lives for these moments and the attention .
What would make a grown woman who wasn’t in anyway having finacial hardships from a stable home willingly choose to do porn? I have stuck with demon possession and innate human pervasion is not too far too from the answer.We all have desires in us to do wrong , some are drawn more intensely to other vices like the bottle (indiscriminate consumption here) and yes others can be drawn to sex and become addicted to it . Sex is pleasurable and as Screwtape from C. S Lewis book ” Screwtape’s letters” stated, satan and the demons cannot create a virtue, they only use what God has made to make people fall. Sex was made by God, the over indulgence or under indulgence in legitimate situations can lead to trouble , in other words to be made a vice and a stumbling block in a person’s life .
This book is filled with pages and pages of people going on at each other . There are no intellectual conversations, no jokes are off limits in this world or friends whose common interest is in different kinds of penetration they practice on each other . Sex fetishes with brutal, violent sex is the norm, and warped sexual identities seem normal in this world . To put it mildly in Frank Kelly’s voice from “Father Ted” , everyone is “fecking ” and they are happy about it .
Somewhere in this book , Asa describes the kind of man she likes. She is never attracted to men who are anything but super-masculine. Things like body hair , mismatching clothes, and messy table manners are on the pro-side of the list and she finds girls who look like men . In her sexual relations with a man she pretended to herself was not gay , she enjoyed degrading him and calling him a “faggot” . They enjoyed it and as she says ” Of course, what we were feeling was not love . It was our insecurities playing out in the most f*cked up , counter productive way “. Here, there is no concern about anything but the moment, a dangerous moment in time. No future thoughts, no concerns about the “stayability ” and long term”ness” of having a man who behaves like an immature child(not that immaturity is bad on it’s own , but on a grown man ?) as well as the self -hate .
Human beings are made to worship and to be loved. When we cannot find something appropriate , we will settle for less and worship this thing that we have made . Asa loved it when someone who was seen to be important, a sugar dad kind of figure , would come for her many times even when the rest had been ditched after the first time . I’d say , just like everyone, the need to feel special is what drives her primal instinct. yes, she has confessed to this , but the direstion her impulses have been driven at are wrong . Do I think Asa is human ? yes, she is and should be respected because we all have these desires . It is the misdirection that separates .
Another thing Asa did was or maybe is(I don’t know what she is currently doing) is take drugs. She says she is not addicted but she at some point in her life has felt a need for the “high”. Her need to conceal her job from a hairdresser led her to lie about non existent jobs and a non existent relationship status . I am not saying pornography leads to lying or taking drugs even though Asa says she would find it hard trusting a porn actress much (so go figure), but it seems to me that one vice definitely leads to the other .
I had sympathy for her when she told the story of her sexual molestation by a boy at the airport . After some small talk , he got up to board , but before that he touched her breast and gave it a squeeze . Asa ended up crying and feeling shaken . Maybe, you’d say she deserves it , afterall she does this for a living , but no , none of that is right . How she choses to give out her body should still be within the limits of her control and so yes, boys should be taught how to respect women , all women’s bodies until they have been given consent.
Loneliness. We all feel it at some point . Asa too. I think a major part of her life has got to be loneliness . That is the only way I can explain the last scene of violent sex with her husband. Asa has substituted sexual acts that make her feel good for love . Love is not something that makes you see shooting stars on the beach , it is not cum on your face . It is definitely not a man who makes you lick his toes to his erhh… and drags you all the way to give you a slap . Asa may have experienced love , maybe loves and is being loved by her husband as she claims, but I think she has settled for far less than her sexual desires have got to offer. Not even the awards she has amassed in four years is worth her job and this is not just my opinion.
The bible says :
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.
Asa’s job falls under sexual immorality . If there was no God, fine , but there is one and somehow what we do with our bodies is His great concern and He would rather we treated it as a temple for His spirit and for union with our spouse alone .
Final words. Every girl gets horny too but no , Asa’s way is not the way we “let go ” and become free. such freedom is bondage and we should have enough self – control to wait until we can explore rightly .
I hear your voice call out to me in the new house. Do they organize singing classes in the grave? Sometimes it’s sweet and you sound like a ghost. You are after all meant to sound like a ghost, are you not? You wake me up in my sleep sometimes, hoarse, coarse, howling like a woman in labor with asthma. Maybe that is why I have asthma now. I wonder what you think about that, because you never speak words when your voice comes into the house. Just sounds. But I’ve shut the windows now. I will try to sleep again.
The new house is different to the old one. Like a new secret in an old wineskin. No, I think that was wine. Father is no longer a believer now, so we don’t worry about wineskins or secrets. Everyone knows you were beat to death with an axe. A rotten axe. It should have been a new one? I don’t still understand why they make a fuss about the axe. A lone woman on a lone road. It was your fault for being alone on the road that night , they say. It is always your fault these days because if you were at home that night, how would the old man have struck you. You had missing eyes when they found you.
Sometimes I go for a walk . Sometimes , I go too far close to the river. I hear your voice there sometimes. The sun reflecting on the water like yellow stars all connected in a special dance. Do you want me to dive in? I cannot swim but your voice is too sweet. In those moments, I think you try your hardest to speak, but I wonder if you mean ‘ come’ or ‘go’. In any case mama, someone usually comes quickly to take me away. They look so worried all of them anytime they see me by the river. I think they are worried because I can hear your voice by the river.
‘ She was trying to drown again’ .
Last time, big aunty said that. I wonder what she means mama. Who is she referring to. That is what she told father the last time she dragged me from your voice and the yellow stars. Father looked sad when he heard. He asked how I got out.
It gets too hot in this new house all alone mama. I am fourteen and I like the curtains. Sometimes , I drag them all over the room and pretend I am a bride. Maybe you’ll sing at my wedding mama, but you have to tell them to teach you how to speak words. Sounds will not do, mama. What did you say? I think so. Yes, the window is open. Just a little jump. But it’s three storeys up. Okay, a moment, mama. Just one leg out and….
June was in a different category of differentness. Like in the way she said she wondered how it would be to grab the soil and throw it in someone’s face. She said she liked the way dirt felt under her palms, when it got under her nails, how it would feel on my face. She wanted to throw dirt on my face. She said bushes with hidden fruits were the types for lovers, because why else would tiny fruits be hidden in such places if lovers were never in the picture. There, they could talk and pick quietly and look into each other’s eyes and maybe spit. June said she would spit into the soil if I ever sat with her. Then she would mold the soil and place it on my cheeks and I would hold her wrists and put my fingers in the spaces between hers and she would laugh a shrill laugh and we’d imagine there were dark vultures circling above us because she had a dark imagination. Then she would sigh and I would look at her steadily and then blow gently into her face and call her ‘ black mami water’ .
‘I like how weak and frail you look’ , she could say sometimes. ‘ It is good for some to be weak so the world remains balanced’ . Then she would put her arms around my neck and pretend to strangle me.
‘ Roses are red, violets are blue, well what the heck is that?’ , she would ask flinging an object far away from the fruit trees. It usually was a stick or small pebble.
‘ Is what?’ , even though I knew the answer.
She would then laugh and raise her fingers to do the peace sign and spit.
‘ AS, AS victims. I hate you’ , and then she would throw dirt on my face. ‘Why aren’t you my brother?’
‘ Because it would have been better?’, I would ask.
She would hiss then.
‘ You would have been family forever, but now….’’ And she would proceed to rub the soil all over my face.
‘ We’ll be friends forever’.
This time she spat on me. I held her as she cried.
Finally finished reading it!
Screwtape continues to write to Wormwood saying that he does not believe the cock and bull story that God has been circulating. God in his opinion must have a secret agenda for us apart from love. It feels impossible that His motive towards us is love.
Next comes the interesting thing about ownership. Screwtape raises a point on the ‘ my ‘ syndrome. Here , we find that satan likes to makes us feel entitled about everything. The time we are given by God as a gift is not to be so jealously guarded since we have surrendered our lives and possessions to Him. We should not be offended so much when people intrude and take up our time . It is a chance to be a good host, a listening ear to people and generally be of service to them.
Christians are made to be overly concerned with their ‘ brilliant ‘ ideas about a historical Jesus. Screwtape exposes how he and other agents make Christians so engrossed in the biography of the Historical Jesus, yet forget that none of that can save. Only the one true historical act of the Resurrection and the one theological doctrine of redemption is all we need.
Our new convert falls in love! Enters new society too.
Also, screwtape brings to focus the sin of spiritual pride ( found in the girl the new convert had fallen in love with). It is very easy to make christianity into something very mysterious . It is possible that we would find christians who are better educated, richer, more refined than other groups of people and we begin to make vain distinctions, separating ourselves from them and us as if the separation is one of christians versus non believers when infact it is between our vanity and our Christianity.
”Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it”, while really i t is finding its place in him”. Another secret we are let in on in screwtape’ s letters is the fact that humans find it hard to persevere. So, dying in the war was not really something screwtape was keen on for the new convert, because he would be lost to him as he was blameless. But, time as an ally, he could be forced into the dullness of years of prosperity or pain and be tempted hoping he falls.
The struggle continues for the new convert’s soul, with the use of cowardice and fatigue as things to exploit , but the new convert overcomes both and slips through wormwood’s fingers…
He gets to suffer for it ofcourse , but we are not told how.
Before reading screwtapes letter, we are asked to be wary as it might not be true even from the authors point of view. The letters are not written in a chronological order.
Your man has been accustomed, even since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.
It is a series of correspondences between screwtape and wormwood. Screwtape is Wormwood’s uncle.As usual, C.S Lewis is able to dig into issues that we all kind of cover up. The anti-climax situation. Screwtape is a spirit who bets on the disappointment of a fresh , adult convert to be brought back into the fold of Satan. It’s a war of good and evil voices .
Screwtape gives various instructions to wormwood on how to distract the new convert. They include making him concentrate on his’ inner man’ for hours , and deceiving him into thinking that this is the highest form of spiritual indulgement. Here, the spirit , Screwtape displays his knowledge of the human blindspot. We rarely see things about ourselves(faults) , and we do not care to ask, but if we would want to have an honest opinion of what our character and behaviour is, we can easily ask those who live in the same household with us. Also, he devises means of preventing the new convert from getting to his mother( in the matter of conversion). Things like distracting the new convert from the reality of his mother, by making him focused in his prayers on her sins and the issue of her soul than on her rheumatism. Another thing that points to our flaws as Christian soul winners. We are often so unlovingly concerned about numbers and getting many unbelievers so we can get crowns or some rewards we have imagined, that we go about the process with little feeling. People become things to be conquered and not loved for being persons.
It is shown the designs Screwtape has on the prayer life of the new convert. The enemy knows the lack of power in merely getting into a ‘ devotional mood’ and doing vague, abstract things like ‘ composing our spirit to love’ ( Screwtape quotes Coleridge) as opposed to actual praying and moving the lips with international, sincere utterances. Another way Screwtape advices Wormwood in his distraction of the new convert’s prayer is my persuading him to induce feelings during prayer. Like if he prays for courage, or forgiveness or love, to instead of focusing on the saying to things to the Father, to rather emotionally manufacture feelings of courage , love and forgiveness. This brings to mind worship sessions that are emotionally packed and confused with real worship which to me is obedience to God and a lifestyle of doing so and not just tears running down the cheeks or euphoric shoutings as well as making him pray to an image of God he has created( a jab on catholism and any other variation of christianity that is overly concerned with having material objects to hold or touch and focus our attention on as we pray).
Then comes the threat of the European wars. Wormwood is ecstatic about having stirred up fear in the heart of the new convert but he is reproved by his uncle. The demons it appears get drunk on the despair of men and screwtape advices him not to let go of his prey at this crucial moment or face the possibility of a long draught when his prey is lost. War as is seen can be to the advantage of the evil spirits but it may also be a huge loss to them because during war, many people turn to God as ‘ contented worldliness’ , one of the greatest weapons of the enemy is destroyed. Everyone is faced with the glaring mortality in war.
The enemy, Screwtape rejoices in the fact that the new convert might be enlisted into the army even though he is uncertain about this( his age and profession makes this enlistment possible) and so the new convert is left at his wits end worried about various possible fates and outcomes. The fear of what will happen to him is what Screwtape banks upon to make the new convert distracted from living in the moment and relying on God’s grace and letting His will be done . Here, the wise thing to do is to believe in the words of Jesus that sufficient is the trouble for today, so let not our hearts be worried . Tomorrow’s troubles can take care of themselves.( If only we lived this way).
”One can therefore formulate the general rule; in all activities of mind which favour our cause, encourage the patient to be un-selfconscious and to concentrate on the object, but in all activities favourable to the Enemy bend his mind back on itself. Let an insult or a woman’s body so fix his attention outward that he does not reflect “I am now entering into the state called Anger—or the state called Lust”. Contrariwise let the reflection “My feelings are now growing more devout, or more charitable” so fix his attention inward that he no longer looks beyond himself to see our Enemy or his own neighbours. ”
To the question of if wormwood should keep his identity hidden comes the reply that :
We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet. I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an exten t that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits”
To the question of if the man should be made a pacifist or a patriot , screwtape replies that all extremes are welcome except extreme devotion to God. In the end it is decided that he should be made a pacifist and that this should transcend even his religion. That his christianity should be reduced to becoming merely a good argument for sharing pamphlets and war propaganda.
At some point wormwood rejoices because he believes the new convert’s religious phase is dying, but Screwtape quickly sets him on track again and describes this as a process of undulation- humans have moments at the peak and trough moments( periods of dryness in their walk with God) and so wormwood should not rejoice yet because it is in such moments that God takes even greater pleasure in the prayers of His converts as He teaches them to stand on their two feet. Soon however, Screwtape tries to be a scavenger in the situation. He explains that the trough phases in a convert’s life are times when sex or lust or any other pleasure( which he agrees no evil spirit can produce. Their job is only to push humans to their misuse) can be maximized to bring about a downfall. It is easier for one to become a drunkard when he is feeling dull than in the company of friends. Basically, a peak moment comes with healthy pleasure but also a healthy resistance to it’s temptations. Not so a trough phase.
“All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. This is elementary. “
”Finally, if all else fails, you can persuade him, in defiance of conscience, to continue the new acquaintance on the ground that he is, in some unspecified way, doing these people “good” by the mere fact of drinking their cocktails and laughing at their jokes, and that to cease to do so would be “priggish”, “intolerant”, and (of course) “Puritanical”.
I just said a mental wow!!! When i read these words.This was concerning the new friends the new convert had made . So, here I saw how truly C.S depicted the two worlds and double living christians can be found living. We mix with people and laugh at their coarse jokes , at the same time feeling superior to them and amused at their lack of religion and how balanced we are at the same time to be able to kneel with the uneducated grocer who does not understand anything of our coarser world. Just wow!!
”You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. ”
The quote above illustrates very well how Christians become bored with the christian life if they are not careful.
”The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the “best” people, the “right” food, the “important” books. I have known a human defende d from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions. ”
Satan does not want us to enjoy something because of it’self. That is intimidating to him. We need to somehow boast about it even when we care nothing about it.
”You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him value an opinion for some quality other than truth, thus introducing an element of dishonesty and makebelieve into the heart of what otherwise threatens to become a virtue. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible.”
About church going and organized religion, screwtape says that if a man cannot be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to make him a connoisseur of churches, where he ends up criticizing organization in a place that God meant for there to be unity and his place as a pupil instead of a critique.
art by me
I am blessed with a memory that forgets easily. My choice of the verb ‘blessed’ is a conscious one. Forgetting is a sinful and shameful thing in the academic culture where I was bred. To forget, is to be regarded as unintelligent and, really, useless. But I do not agree, because society, generally, has a vicious track-record of bastardising what is rare.
Uncommon behaviour, what society usually refers to as madness – strange – has its root in forgetting. My mother, for a large part of her lifetime, was visited by bouts of madness. As a boy, I was ashamed of her condition, because society said she was unwell and needed to be cured. The stigma clung to my skin like cold air when, on my way to school, I walked the streets and people pointed and said ‘that is the son of the crazy woman.’ Now that I think of it, I realise it was something I should have been proud of. Because madness is simply an overdose of genius.
Some weeks back, my friend, Elizabeth, sent me an e-book of Nikolai Gogol’s short story, Diary of a Madman. It took me a long time to complete. I am a snail-pace reader, but it was a short-story and I could have exhausted it within two hours. But it took me several weeks, partly because I found the story disturbing. It is about the diary entries of a man, Arksenty Ivanovich Poprishchin, as he slowly
descended ascended into royal madness. I don’t remember (of course) most of the story’s details, but it made me think deeply about the nature of insanity and how society has been set up to ‘imagine’ it, wrongly I believe, as a curse.
I felt ashamed about my mother’s madness, but my epic forgetfulness is a legacy I bequeathed from her. The nature of my memory is not unlike most people’s, but whatever extra forgetful genes I inherited has been the foundation of my life’s creativity. I have heard from so many that I possess a queer and powerful imagination. If that is true, credit goes to the madwoman whom I loved but who loved me first.
In Gogol’s story, Poprishchin is maltreated for his insanity. “O mother, save your unhappy son! . . . see how they torture him!”, Poprischin cries at the end of the story. It is a metaphor for how my society treats mad people. Some of them are on the streets, wearing tattered clothes and looking disheveled. If, like my mother, they are lucky to have a strong family, they are taken to churches and shrines and hospitals, for deliverance. They are chained with indignity and drugged for being alive. It is true, of course that society might mean well. But, because we are so keen on restoring ‘sanity’, it also shows how little we understand genius – the genius that many of us earnestly seek in the halls of prayer and within the pages of books.
Written by Solomon Elusoji.
Journalist. Readseller. Dreamer.