Monthly Archives: August, 2016

Ridiculousness

When it’s all too much

It’s all very ridiculous, isn’t it?

What is?

 I can’t say what this blog post is about but I am not fine. I have not eaten since morning and I am not hungry. Anyone who is a friend to my stomach knows that this never happens. I must have something to show for it, like a loud noise from the department of ‘you are starving us, human monster’, or a headache, dizziness or stomach ache. I have none of that except my depressing thoughts.

 So I snapped at my grandmother today after waking up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to lock myself inside and just sleep the day away.My charger is broken, my printer is blinking those lights it blinked before my exams to show that the black ink is no longer recognized and I am beating myself up for not printing regularly for maintenance. But I did, I did print out some two weeks ago. My camera is missing it’s charger and the card. I know they are with my cousin somewhere but my cousin is sick and it feels insensitive to go asking for things like that when I didn’t ask for like a month plus now. That’s three now. Okay, my heart has been beating incredibly fast for like two days now, I am worried. I have noticed blood in the other department and I am afraid.The Nigerian post office gave a ridiculous excuse that the master card my dad was trying to send has been lost and they ‘ do not have internet to trace it’ . Just lol. This means no check up soon because I have to wait extra for a new means to be set up and school is about to resume.

To top all that is Nabeel Qureshi’s cancer diagnosis. Brethren, I am depressed. That’s all. 

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You are a good, good Father

Blue

  Yesterday, I was tagged to a post that talked about persecution for those who have resolved and have been called by God.It was a reminder. It always is a reminder because we know all these things but we forget too easily. And I have been thinking of writing about the meaning of love. I haven’t written because I don’t want to use all those overused words and illustrations with corresponding bible verses. Today however, the meaning of love to me is having the holy spirit never desert you. 

Part of the reason for my uneasiness should be the lack of full communion with God. I once read a book about a girl called  Laura who itched and itched until her uncle kissed her. She itched because she wanted to be held and loved. It’s the same with us. I think God in his magnificent humor sends the uneasiness to call the wandering heart back. I learn and relearn this lesson so many times, I think I’m going to die without graduating from it. My uneasiness was because I wanted more. I wanted…I. The me, me , me, see me, look at me, I exist factor.

The surprising thing about Christianity is that it is only when you give up yourself that you find individuality. In vagueness, increasing cloudiness of your person and lack of recognition from the world do you find the sharp outline of a name tag, of being known  by God. God knows me in my obscurity. God knows me and then I have peace.

Recently, I saw a post by someone saying we should not chase relevance. Like I said, as a Christian, I know this thing, but it was a reminder, it felt new.Relevance comes from God and Trip Lee once rapped that he might not win any awards again or sell records but God knows him, his reward is in heaven.

I do a little bit too much, I guess. I forget that eternity is not this one even though life drags a bit too long, further than I think. It’s good to remember that the body is the one that dies and not the spirit.

I like worship songs. I like sunlight. I like listening to worship songs with sunlight streaming through my windows.

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Chris Tomlin

Despair

    I can remember when I was calmly sitting down to write Lessons from July and now August is almost gone and I feel like the spoilt child who was her wise grandmother. Don’t even try to decipher. August is a gone too soon kind of month. I am fidgety, school is about to resume and I am doing all I can to take that off my mind because the thought of leaving the safety of my house to meet people makes me so nervous and uncomfortable,I want to hide. I have social anxiety except when I don’t. 

Let me tell you a story. Before I do though, I was just wondering why God made marijuana if we were not meant to smoke it. I was also wondering about girls who drink marijuana tea from when they were little. What’s up with creating stuff to complicate lives? It’s easy to see that me and God have not been best of friends lately. I have these moments when we are in that chase and find you soon mode, but back to my story.

You know what? Forget the story. I have been running away from someone, avoiding the person for days now and I feel terrible, like a bad friend, indebted and that is one of the things on my mind. I know I take the things I worry to the extreme, like the way I worry about the rag in my room that’s supposed to be wet right now to make my room humid in a way even though I doubt this helps at all.All little things, not something like muscle dystrophy, can you imagine? Please don’t say that. 

I don’t know if you’ve met someone new and the thought of getting to know each other makes you physically sick. They are not horrible people and are not smelly either, but just the thought of that step by step process of uncovering layers of unfamiliarity makes you afraid. Like you wonder if you have the strength to go through this? Is this old age or what?

I think I need a change. I have no worries but I feel uneasy.I have clothes to wash and I don’t love people so much. I’ve complained about this before.

I read this link yesterday. A friend sent it to me here. The depth of this thing is awesome. Like this place here:

This is a friend who’s terrified of having an earnest interaction, and as such, your friendship with him is always in some kind of skit—you always have to be on when you’re interacting.

Sometimes the skit is that you both burst out laughing at everything constantly. He can only exist with you in “This is so fucking hilarious it’s too much!” mode, so you have to be in some kind of joke-telling or sarcastic mode yourself at all times or he’ll become socially horrified.

Another version of this is the “always and only ironic” friend, who you really bum out if you ever break that social shell and say something earnest. This type of person hates earnest people because someone being earnest dares him to come out from under his ironic safety blanket…

I know I talk about friendships a lot. I am just trying to figure out what all these messy human interactions we have with each other mean.

Random info: I sometimes don’t write because I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to put the final full stop. It feels like a loss.

About those things on my mind…

And welcome to the dusty layers in my head, where the cobwebs are and the streets are made of tiny miniatures of me going amok.Amok is another word I totally hate and believe is redundant, but,  I have chosen to use it today because I think I want to have a reason to not have an explanation for this.

This is interesting…I can hear you speak. Oh hello there! Lol. Seriously though, this is not how this was meant to go. I have serious thoughts on my mind. I am in that period of the month where I go philosophical and shit. I definitely did not mean to say the s’ line, but I just wanted to make the point about us having little goblins in our heads that transmute( probably wrong word usuage here but anyways) words into out minds, but self-control helps us to not say that. Boring stuff. I’ve talked about this before. Hey! This is just a warm up and I am liking this so far. Again, this is not the way it was meant to go.

I have a little bit too much happening in my mind that I feel like crying. What are these? Yep, it’s like having a sneeze. My eyes water up when I say the word cry. Irrational. That time of the month. Ring any bells? No? Then you need to watch more buzzfeed videos. Totally going the wrong way again. Sigh..

Wait. Female buzzfeed is what I meant. Get it? No? Okay.

What have I been up to? About from sitting too much and getting depressed about the reduction of the asset sitted upon, I have been reading a lot of links. It’s something I have recently gotten obsessed about; looking at old painted portraits.I think that one comes from a tedx talk I like, where the woman said that not knowing the artists helps with imagining their stories. I have adopted that, even though it might look a little vain. Like a who is this new art connoisseur? Yawn , yawn, what the heck do you know about art, deep fake person? Nothing maybe. Sorry, alter ego talks. But yea, nothing maybe, but I have the urge these days to fill my life with things I consider beautiful, things I truly admire.

Oh hello there! I feel a bit sad, a bit happy, a bit all over the place, I need a hug and I don’t. I don’t know what is going on with me. So,I recently spent the last two days or so binging on key and peele. Many episodes, uncensored, censored, I watched them all. I think they are funny. I recommend? Mm..hi. you must think me mad at this point, but no..there’s some more.

A former classmate from secondary school got married recently. Has kids. Two. Is this too private to share? No? Uhm, okay, thanks. I am a bit shocked because the older I get, the younger I think I am. Uh uhm no, like I mean I don’t know all there is to know about uhm things, so, uhm hey! Why would I get married. Scary . But everyone to her own, but that gave me a jolt nonetheless. I was lying on my bed and thinking about how I most probably would end up marrying a man in his thirties. The interesting ones seem to be in their late twenties. I mean men and hello! They are not ready 😦 🙂 . And I am not ready. When we are all ready, we would be older . Older couples, which means I still have time to study physics. Quantum. Boring line, I know.

Hi there! I had a dream last night, where I dreamt I was doing my masters. It was creative writing but awake, I am not sure. I am not sure of anything and I do want to cry at this point. Did I tell you I have been saying stupid a lot lately? No? Okay, I have . I have been remembering so many silly mistakes I’ve made in the last two years and I just want to hide my face somewhere. I want my mum :(.
Um..that’s not all. I realize my facebook timelime looks white people oriented. I just recently realized it. And then it looks black( what do you mean?!), which makes it look mixed. I don’t know if you spend time on such stupid things but I do and hey! If you’ve read Amanda Palmer’s book ‘ the art of asking’ , you’ll feel unashamed like I am right now. Back to my timeline appearing white. I don’t know, and this is not me being pretentious but I have read two fashionista articles in the last week. I liked them. I think I’ll be reading things I don’t normally read. 

Plus, I am changing. I feel it. I don’t feel like being much of a pundit these days. Hello Susan Sontag.I liked you. I don’t feel like being much these days in fact. You know, I don’t feel like being right and proper. I think I feel rebellious and I want to disappoint people for no reason except to show that I am not tidy. Who else thinks this way? Hello..

I think what I am saying if it doesn’t sound selfish is I want to be accomodated for being imperfect. There, I said it. I mean it more seriously than you might think. I am not sure this is a mutual benefit thing, like I don’t mean I promise to accomodate other people’s imperfections. I probably will, but it’s just I am not saying it. What I am saying is, I want to be imperfect for the remainder of the year or whenever. That’s it. I said it.
Hi.bye

The man

​It was twenty five years of the same routine. After the boys clocked seven, he would use the excuse of taking them to the shop to help with his work, to learn and become like him. He made coffins for a living. Three boys so far. He was lucky, he always had boys first, so he did not have to try again with the women to get a girl, even though he had girls too. 
The man who saw his future and the future of other people, had told him that to live and repay his debts to the brotherhood for making him wealthy, he would have to live like this, like a nomad. If he wanted to live long and not suddenly fall down and die with vomit stuck in his throat, he had to keep having them. He had to keep giving them away after having them.
His hair was turning grey, his hands getting weaker by the day. At first, he had thought it was a small price to pay, but he had underestimated his attachment to them. They were his children after all, and he had loved them, but the man who saw the future had said that the sicknesses would multiply with the years, so that if he failed this time with bringing the sacrifice, he would have a painful tumor which would eat him up; a slow death. He felt this price could be paid after all.

It was time to go. He looked his wife in the face as she sat down to grind the melon seeds. He had found her after a month in the new city, far away for his second wife to find him. He knew how to pick the women. He made sure they were docile, meek, gentle enough to give up the search for their husband who had woken up one morning and gone with their first son to never return. This one too would have to learn how to forget him, to take care of the other four children he had given her in five years. He closed his eyes to not think of how she would manage. 

‘ Let’s go’ , he said to the little boy by his side. The face looked up to him and the resemblance was visible. He had the same dove eyes, too beautiful for a man. He was a bright child. In a few hours,  he would turn into the life giving blood for his father.

‘Have you taken the bag for the instruments you want to buy at the market?’, asked his wife. He had. He had taken more, but she would find out a bit later. In her absence to the market the previous week, he had taken almost all the money from the hole in the ground and clothes to his carpenter’s shop. His plan was to get there, pick everything up and not turn his back. He had to search for a new place fast.

They walked and the boy was getting tired, but did not complain. They entered the house of the man who could see the future. There was no need for greetings. Just a nod and he told the boy to wait, that he was going out to urinate. He carried the bags with his things and the boy did not ask why he needed all that. He was slowly beginning to lose his mental alertness in the presence of the man who could see the future. Soon, he would not remember life anymore.

She stared for a long time at the man who was carving the wood. This was a small village. She had remarried and her husband’s people were from this village. His mother had died and they needed a coffin. She swallowed and held her breath. Polyandry was a taboo and she would never commit it with her two eyes open but here he was; her husband. She did not know she had been his second victim. A woman passed by her and brushed her. Her weak legs made her stumble. She thought she would fall any moment.
‘Aunty wetin you do dey look like that?’ asked a young man from the stall with garri. She went and sat on a stool and held her head. She was too numb to speak yet. She then pointed towards the shop of the coffin maker.

‘That man…who..that man, how long has he been living here?’
‘Ah..’ , said the young man. ‘ That is Raheem. He came here about two years ago and he had been doing well. Many villagers come here to buy good coffins’

She looked and saw a young woman enter the shop with two little girls. Another boy ran in after them. He looked just like Mustapha, her child who never returned with Ibrahim her first husband whom she’d given up on ever finding alive only to find him living a new life here. So, his name was Raheem now.

‘ Aunty!’ , she heard the young boy shout as she slipped off the chair.

Вона зникла 1

 

The man with the black velvety cap sat with his knee crossed over with one hand resting over it and a newspaper held in the other hand. He looked relaxed, as if he knew he would be waiting for a long time, so best to sit down already in anticipation. He wore a loose shirt; what looked like a combination of yellow and lemon green. It had little animal prints on it and a black trouser. Nice shoes too that glistened and probably smelt as new as they looked. There was no one else in the waiting room with fiery red sofas that looked like soft stains when contrasted with the extremely white walls, white artificial flowers on the side stools, the glassy table in the center and the white curtains that were a work of art on their own. Someone had had the idea to use tulle to design something that looked like a bride and managed to attach it to the windows. It had the appearance of two guardian angels standing guard to watch.

The tall, sleek looking receptionist with her hair colored pink and the other black, something that would have been appealing if he had been born in a time where plastic dolls over populating the earth was common, walked towards him and with a smile made a little gesture with her hands and told him that he could get in. She was finally ready to see him. When she, Annabel had been told that a man with no prior appointment wanted to speak to her, she’d almost screamed at the girl. For weeks she had the feeling of being watched, studied minutely as she walked in the park, as she went to the club, as she drove back home where she lived alone in an all-white apartment. She wore all white even though it was not her aim to be so conspicuous. She was very cool headed, it was what had allowed her to make it this far in her life, but fear had started creeping in bit by bit. The center was ceasing to hold. 

She was about to hit the table when the receptionist dropped a card on the table saying it was from the man who wanted to see her, the one sitting with the newspaper sprawled on his knees. She’d gone up after opening the card to the secret part of the wall, where a book shelf had been constructed in the waiting room and looked at him to study his features. He did not strike her as a harmful man , the relaxed look on his face unsettled her but did not make her feel like running. Run to where? Why run anyway just because he had a picture of her from the past? She could pay him off or… No, there was no need to think of the extreme. She stood there for five extra minutes watching him flip the pages of the newspaper. He looked up suddenly to where she was peeping through the secret place in the wall and then returned back to staring at the paper. She went back to her office, twirled on her chair for twenty minutes as she watched the trees outside her window, thinking, remembering. She pressed the buzzer and asked for the man to be let in.

 ‘Please have a sit’, she said pointing to the white chair in front of her. He looked briefly around taking in all the whiteness. She must want so bad to recreate a heaven was what he thought. He stared straight at her. She smiled and waited.

“You have a picture of me Mr. Johnson’’, her voice sounded like it held an ‘Aren’t you just special?’

‘Mary’, he began. She jolted a bit in her seat. Last time anyone called her that was sixteen years ago. She was 32. There was silence as he watched her reaction.

‘What do you want? She asked placing her slender well-manicured hands on the table. They were red. As Annabel, she had red nails and wore white most of the time. As Mary, she had been different, so different that anytime she thought about it, she would laugh till she was almost red. It was unbelievable the changes that could occur in one’s lifetime.

‘You have been missing for sixteen years’, he said. Her hands reached for the cigarette case by her left, she drew out a stick and lighted it without asking his permission. It was her office.

‘You will be charged with murder if the police find you’, he continued as she took a puff.

She had thought of that. So far she did not know how much he knew or if he could be bought.

‘Not if I pay you off’

‘I am not here to be bought. In fact, I have no interest in reporting you to the police. My interests here are purely personal’. She looked at him sharply with a frown on her face.

‘You see Ms. Annabel, I am a private investigator and my work leads me to many places. I stick to what I am paid for and curiosity leaves me to explore other interesting things. Call it a dangerous hobby of mine. I could be killed’, he said.

She took another puff and asked ‘how did you find me?’

‘There is a woman who  has been blackmailing men for a living. She charms them, finds her way into their homes and takes souvenirs. You know the kind, pictures, videos, just the kind to destroy a man’s political career. Your late father was a victim. Her finest. She took over his property and business and had your Uncle who was meant to be your guardian wrapped around her finger. That left you with almost nothing except a small business which had been your late mum’s. She could not touch that one. It had been willed to you.’’

‘No, she couldn’t’, she said silently.

‘A beauty this Lady was. Still young, she continued as you know with her methods, not yet satisfied. They never are until she met her end. She was found dead in a small hotel. She had become a cougar and was strangled. I was asked by the sister of this woman to find the killer. I did. I found the picture in his cabin. You knew him.’

“I am sure you have figured out the connection already. He was my boyfriend after I ran away from home to start a fashion business. He had connections. He knew which models to pick, helped me run the business, became controlling and I ditched him’.

‘How did you manage it? How did a famous fashion designer slip from the public’s eye after her stores had gotten burnt, leaving no trace?’ She dropped the cigarette in the ash tray and looked at him wondering why she had spoken so much already and if it would not be easier to send him away now.’

‘I don’t have to tell you anything’.

‘You don’t’ and he made to get up. He had prepared to leave if she ever resisted. So far she was doing well. Her curiosity had made her reveal far more than he had expected.  And then she burst out laughing. Picked up another cigarette from her case and said ‘sit down, Mr. Johnson’. He sat down readily. Her eyes were a bit moist.

  

 To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Blindness by José Saramago

How would you feel if you woke up and your world was turned into dark, literal shit and you could not see it?  This is what happens in Blindness by Jose. I have not called a book a complete favorite this year, but after reading Jose, I felt ‘this must be it’. I was shaken by this book. I closed it more than a couple of times to stare blankly and to think. I felt sad, was  a bit depressed and could not sleep. I still imagine scenes from this book and watching a video of a young father on YouTube changing his daughter’s diapers and puking did not help me. It made it even worse, that the day before I found this book on goodreads, I had also watched a Russian toilet themed restaurant video , where people sit on toilets and eat from cisterns. Yea, I ended up dreaming of toilets that night and they were not empty 😦 . All I can say is the universe conspired to make me read this book.

Blindness is a dystopian novel that reminds you of George Orwell’s animal farm and 1984.  Reading it felt like a game, it required mental presence because of the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue. I am not a good writer or reader of books with a lot of dialogue, which explains why I hardly read drama these days. I cannot concentrate, and Jose just gave me a reason to not have to force things into literature that you just are not interested in. Topic for another day, however. I believe I am trying to avoid talking about this book because it feels painful.

Wickedness and consuming evil are deeply portrayed in this book. There is no place for the mask of human evil to hide from, no stereotypes to settle for and say aha! The strong only oppress, people different from us harm us. This happens too. The soldiers who are not blind harm the blind people in this nameless city who have been housed in a mental asylum and ‘quarantined’, but the greatest harm came from within, from those who in a sense ‘ate with us’ and now have come to betray us. Blind people with weapons take hostage of those without,ration already rationed meals,and rape women as payment for daily sustenace.

I’m sorry but I cannot get this out of my mind— the picture of blind men soaked in fecal matter, urine, blood,skiny and bony asking women to suck them, forcing their way into a woman who is vomiting, forcing their way into another till she dies. This happens in India, has been happening, but it’s the first time I felt physically weak, like I am now as I type this.

There’s something to be said about the little things in life which are big things, like our ability to see, and not just us, but other people. It is important that we help others see. It is common sense and division of labor. Everyone should see a part of the world that we are blind to as the only one who can see the four corners of the earth is not us. The burden of sight was felt as it weighed heavily on the doctor’s wife; the only one in the book who was not struck with the white blindness. She saw the horrors the others could not see. I believe it softened her considerably, that she could empathize with the doctor; her husband, as he slept with the girl with the glasses. It also hardened her enough to kill one of the rapists; an act she never considered herself capable of. 

Love is blind. Maybe it is, but it remained so after the girl with the glasses regained her sight. She fell in love with the old man with the patch around his eyes, but remained in love after they recovered their sight.The girl with the patch was what would be seen as a good representative of the new feminism that says sexuality must be expressed in whatever form the woman desires. Her body is hers and if she wants to live like a slut, giving her body to men as she desires, it is empowerment. Terrible idea. This article I found articulates this better.click here

In dark places of human life, shame must cease to exist. We become closer and recognize our need for each other to survive. Just like a pregnant woman who cares nothing about how loud her screams are, if she pooped on anyone or not, her mind is focused on getting that baby out at all costs, Jose shows that when our hands are tied and when horrors are forced upon us, our humanity can be exchanged for something less. What I have learnt from this, is not to be too sure of myself. Under pressure, we can become diamonds, if the pressure is controlled. If exceeded , we might become somthing evil, grotesque, something like the picture of Dorian gray. 
I loved this book.

Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

“ Beautiful writing” sums up what I would say about this book, but there is always more to be told in the background. I cannot get out of my head the recurrent voice of a goodread’s reader who said that this is a case of a good writer who spends time writing about less worthy subjects. There is a picture of Gabriel giving the middle finger on the great internet, so I believe that settles the problem of public opinion.

The first few pages of this book were difficult to get into, until I read about the parrot. A mischievous parrot and a man who considers the occupation of teaching the parrot  the Latin accompaniment to the Mass ,selected passages from the Gospel according to St. Mathew ,as well as getting it to have an idea of the working notion of the four arithmetic functions , is sure to get my attention. I am a fan of such madness and so from then on, the book was bound to be read.

The parrot of course is not the subject of this book, even though it set things in motion by deliberately getting itself in all kinds of trouble like getting out of his cage and in full sight of an old Dr.Urbino, who could not resist the temptation to bring it back by climbing a tree like a young man and falling to his death. This is a complex book with the theme of love, obsession and very little cholera in it, or rather none.

Love is an obsession for Florentino Aziza and sex too. A lot of fornication. The number is 662 women. Florentino is a man  who had had his mental faculties sprayed with the perfume of rumination enough to sustain him for half a century as he obsesses over the unrequited love of his youth. Fermina Daza while shopping for her imagined future life as his wife , after exchanging feverish love letters and enduring separation from this love, becomes disillusioned as she finally meets the bald man, leaving her to wonder at how she had ever entertained the idea of love. All she utters as she moves on is ‘ poor man’.

Florentino is indeed a poor man as he cannot write official documents to save his life. Poetry oozes out of the pores of his skull onto his fingers. He is dreamy and fantastically useless to anything outside the boundary of supposed love.

Reading this book, I realized that love is fed and people can fall in love with different people. As much as I would like to paint Florentino in bad light because of how filled he was with the pervert’s desires as he violated the innocence of a young ward in his charge instead of fulfilling the role of a guardian, and of the two deaths of married women he had seduced with the resultant enragement of their husbands to murder, I still think he had a little bit of goodness in him, in the way he treated the black woman Leona Cassiana, the one he had mistaken for a prostitute, but respected the boundaries she set. And I think he loved many of those women he slept with and maintained contact with. I believe it, indeed , I do, brethren.

Fermina Daza is a bland woman in my opinion to have evoked such obsessive behavior in Daza, but obsession is not rational. She is strong willed, haughty, cold, and these are really the reasons both Urbino, whom she later marries and Daza get attracted to her.  Urbino seems like a saint in this book, maybe because he dies early enough and maybe because he committed adultery just one time compared to Florentino, or maybe it is because he made me laugh by the explanation of the uselessness of his male body part to his naïve bride. I’d never imagined it possible for a doctor to be so scientific on the day of sexual penetration. But humor is humor mainly because of the ridiculousness of it divergence from the normal. To say simply ‘ I loved it’.

In the end, things do end stupidly or rather without us really knowing, but I don’t mind. Inconclusive endings do not bother me, especially since I learnt that a couple could fight over the lack of soap in the bathroom, and no not for one day, two days, or the perfect three days, but for months…how many? Find out
🙂

You look so lost

You look so lost that the neighbors have called me to check on you. They say you sit on a small chair and sometimes scratch your hair like this and then like that, and you have found the shoes your daughters wore when they were babies. You walk in the sand and stamp your feet to create the impression of the soles of your feet, and then you place the little shoes of the girls you bore on them because you want to count in inches just how much life changed them because it troubles you when you see the wide chasm separating you from them. Oh, mama Juliet, Mama Linda, aren’t you an old witch now? How many children have you turned into toothpicks already, you toothless hag?

How can you be an old witch , you ask? Toothless hag is a title you can agree to and that should prove your point about not being able to eat up your grandchildren. You have no teeth to grind their bones. We don’t agree with you, we know you have your ways. Look at you, flies around your eyes and ears, no one has come to check on you in years. Years later, they will say you died on a stool and the stench of your corpse assaulted nostrils for miles because you had died in the liquids of your body sliding down your laps and for eight days, no one had noticed.

Mark

Mark was skinny and looked like a bird fluttering on the border of extinction and yet at the same time alive. Alive in the way his nostrils twitched and in the sound of his early morning sneeze. Alive in the way he made the choking noise as he brushed his tongue outside on the verandah and in how he spat in a loud way. He had immortalized himself in our minds as he walked everyday to feed the birds in the poultry house before going to check the oil and water levels in the taxi car he drove every weekday from 7a.m to 6p.m.

‘Amen! Amen! Amen!’ , was the way we replied in our church because an Amen could be stopped by a wicked Angel and Angel Michael would not have the weapons to fight him off and take our prayers to God. The second amen was to fortify him and the third was just ‘ in case’. Better to have something extra than to leave things to chance and spend time wondering. Three Amens was like a sure Cupid’ s shot into the fuming cistern where God could smell our prayers and be pleased with us.

Mark drove us to church on Sundays as well. Saturdays were his day off and after driving and attending service with us, he could have the day off. He was my elder cousin of twenty five, older by eight years.

He had stories to tell after work of the mad drivers on the road, of the busy woman who had thought she could outsmart him by not paying his money’s worth after hiring him for an hour thirty minutes, hawkers who had fake Chinese products to ease his back pain gotten from sitting too long in the heat at the car park as he waited for someone to come and hire him. Other times, as we were playing Ludo or Whots with my younger brother who was fifteen, he would tell us stories he had heard over the radio. That was really his only source of amusement on a long day. I had tried to teach him to read in the first four months he stayed with us, those days before my father bought the second hand car that was to serve as a taxi, but he was very forgetful and it was fruitless. We ended up playing more Ludo and Whots. While playing, he would look up suddenly and tell a story he had heard over the radio.

‘But women wicked o. How pessin go wicked sotey e carry hot water pour for body of young girl wey no sabi anything. Young girl wey dey cook, dey wash for am, dey take care of small pikin wey she get?’.

My brother and I would look up at him. I read such stories frequently in the weekend newspapers. Those papers smelt differently. It was as if the blood, screams and stink of death could be perceived and felt from the bold headings on it. I usually had a cup of ice cream to eat as I read them, bought by my father on the way to the stalls where the Hausa men sold goat meat. Goat meat was a treat for the weekends. I wondered how I could enjoy reading such gory filled news and look at the images with food, but I did.

‘ As in, I no sabi how pessin go just wake up, pour hot water for pessin body and im heart no go shake’ , he continued with his eyes staring at the protectors on his window. The window net was black with dirt and needed to be washed together with the louvres. The smell of the dirt which had merged with that of the rain which had fallen earlier made it even more pungent but we did not mind.

I wanted to tell him that there were more horrid stories and so I began ‘ What about the one about a woman who used a candle to burn the…’  and I stopped. I wanted to say pubic hair of the maid working for her but it did not feel appropriate and my brother liked to make a joke about everything. I could imagine him going ‘ public hair hahaha’ as if it was the most hilarious thing he’d heard and his fat cheeks shaking with laughter. We were spoilt but he was even more so.

‘burn wetin’, asked Mark.
‘Nothing o’. At that point, my mother called from the kitchen and I was free from completing the story.

‘Linda, come and help me pound crayfish’. I answered that I was coming. My mother did not approve of our playing or conversing with Mark even though she did not state it explicitly yet, but I could feel it in the way she had errands during those times and in the way she had begun to complain about the poultry feeds being overused or underused. She had not approved of bringing Mark from the village to live with us, but my father had insisted that one needed family members and you never could tell when that would be and that it did not matter anymore since Mark’s father; his brother, who had called his choice to marry my mother; a woman from another tribe, a terrible mistake was no longer alive. They had stayed away from each other for years, only reconciling few days before his death.

After a year in our house, my mother had started calling him names, like the time he came back by 11pm. A couple had hired him for two hours but had been unsure of directions of the place they were going to, so the journey had taken three hours and more. The road had been bad but he was encouraged to keep going just a little bit further until he had to keep on going because it felt like a huge waste of time to go back then. It was only when he had met a large crack in the road where it looked like the road had collapsed and a  huge body of water still further ahead that he had refused to go any further. The couple said they understood and would trek the remainder of the journey. The had paid him, but it was not enough to cover the stress of having to change the tire twice, having to drive with an exhaust pipe that was threatening to fall out and emitting terrible gas. It was a miserable way to end a week.

Tired, dirty and hungry, he’d gone to the kitchen, picked the last two pieces of chicken kept in the fridge and a bottle of malt in the fridge, not enough to quench his hunger and thirst and had eaten.

The next day found my father furious with the state the car was in with Mark trying to explain but to no avail. The calculated expenses made it difficult for my father not to call him foolish. Later in the day, my mother was found muttering something about the ‘ stupid- idiot’ who had taken the last pieces of chicken without asking if there was need for it the next day.

We kept on living but I began to keep my distance because he had grown sullen and withdrawn and I felt I was an object to remind him of my parents who were getting more irritated daily with him. He still drove us to church on Sundays and even on the Sunday when a new prophet came and called us out, prophesying that someone close to us in the family was hatching evil plans against us but that they would not succeed, and we should be careful about who we called friends and family.

‘ Amen! Amen! Amen!’ the church cried to seal it. My mother came home singing songs which I felt were subliminal messages for Mark to hear.

A month after that, Mark woke up as usual on a Thursday and never came back. His head was found four days later, close to his body in a bush. Grains of garri were found on the passenger seat in the back together with a man’s cap.