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Truth Teller

almost always

I read somewhere that to copy something is a great form of flattery… My own version of Betty’s “The truth Teller”. Please read and let me know your thoughts.

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“…So what is your problem with Enitan?” Mrs Odumosu asked Kolade her twenty-nine year old son as they finished their dinner. He had talked about Enitan for more than a year now and each conversation had him grinning wide and laughing and his eyes lit up in ways she had not seen before Enitan; each conversation had her more convinced that Kolade loved Enitan, that he adored the young woman. Today however, they ate quietly and their conversation some how had no story about Enitan and his feelings for her. She had wondered why he had not said anything about his plans for her and if he wanted to take their budding relationship to the next level and her desire to see her son happy and settled with more children that would call her grand-ma made her impatient besides she could sense that something wasn’t quite right.
She liked Enitan although she thought the twenty-three year old lady talked a lot and was always excited the few times she came around. She brought so much energy and light into their somewhat quiet life. She was like a lantern. She liked that Enitan didn’t seek to pretentiously impress her like the other two girls Kolade had brought home during his university days did. She didn’t lie about knowing how to make amala nor did she pretend to love changing Amanda, Tanwa’s six months old baby’s diapers the last time she visited but she made a mental note to teach her how to turn amala, it was Kolade’s favourite. She liked how happy she made her son. She knew he loved her more than he was willing to admit and she wished her husband were still alive to explain to her why Kolade had refused to get married. He was the one who usually had all the answers, he was the one Kolade was more comfortable with…The one Kolade listened to more…
“She’s tells all the truth mum” Kolade answered. At first, Kolade loved the honesty, he still did although he didn’t admire it as much as he did when he met her. He loved how he could trust what she said. He loved how she wasn’t like the usual girls he dated who said ‘yes’ when they actually meant ‘no.’ Enitan wasn’t afraid to share her true feelings for him even when she was unsure he felt the same way. She felt the honest need to share all of her truth weather you needed it or not. He loved that about her but it was almost equally what he feared most about her.
“Ah” how is that a problem my child? isn’t that a noble trait in this your generation where everything is sugar-coated and everything is an illusion of what they really are? are you not favored to find a girl whose words you can actually trust? Mrs Odumosu responded. She had feared that Enitan had the same genotype as her “AS”son or that she had removed her womb due to abortion when she was younger, she didn’t expect Kolade to accuse to young girl of “telling all the truth”
“Hmmmmn” Kolade sighed deeply as he wished he wasn’t as pessimistic as he was about Enitan’s type of truthfulness but he couldn’t help the nagging thoughts. What if he is unable to satisfy her like she wants to be satisfied after they got married?
What if things are not as rosy as they are now years later? He was confident of his love and commitment to her but what would she do when she meets someone better than him? what will happen in those times when they both consider letting go? would she do him the honor of lying just a little bit, of concealing some of the truth at least?
“I wish it was easy as you’ve put it mum, what will happen when the passion dies and the love grows cold, what happens if she has doubts? What happens if I can’t make her as happy as she makes me? As happy as she should be? Would she stop telling all the truth there is about our relationship then? With Eni, I would be the custodian of plenty truths. Wouldn’t such knowledge eventually kill me?  I said I trusted her truthfulness mum, it is her love that I’m not sure will last forever..”
“..But at what point do you know where you draw the line? How can we determine the boundaries in which our lies can be cherished. Wouldn’t the very people we seek to protect accuse us later when the truth grows into the light and refuses to be held back in the dark room of ignorance? Sweet lies and honey colored shades are not the foundations upon which lasting relationships should be built. Bitter truths give freedom and nourish our relationships more that we have sought to understand all-though they have the capacity to hurt initially..” Mrs Odumosu continued explaining as she remembered how Just five years ago, she almost lost her daughter Tanwa when she  found out that she was adopted. She was disappointed that she had not been honest about the circumstances surrounding her birth and it had created a huge vacuum in their relationship as it had in her academics at the time. Mrs Odumosu wasn’t even sure which part hurt Tanwa more; the part where she wasn’t initially told or the part about being adopted and she still regrets loosing her daughters trust. Her daughter who opened the door for her other three children to come, the daughter she was most proud of. Her husband had suggested that they keep it from the other children until Tanwa was ready to tell them.. Kolade still didn’t know that the blood connection he often said he felt with his best sister wasn’t entirely real.
“I guess we all deserve to be lied to mum, even if it is a little…”
“hmmmmn…” Mrs Odumosu sighed as she hugged her only son deeply and decided to stop pressurizing him to marry Enitan the truth-teller now. She would wait until he was ready to handle the truth, until he was ready for the consequences and joy’s of love and commitment and she prayed it would happen soon.
‘I guess I agree with you today son. May The Truth set us free and may His strength find expression in our weakness..’ Mrs Odumosu finished as she got up and took the plates to the kitchen.

Beautiful Surprise

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She is my beautiful surprise. She took my cheeks and my feet. I didn’t even know I gave her my height too. She is quiet and strong, unique like her name and driven. I am not sure what drives her yet. Could it be because she has always wanted to meet me or because she missed me? If I had loved her before she loved me would she love me differently? or does blood offer such a powerful connection that it seeks you out and finds you even before you know it. Does blood offer a strong sense of magnet, does it stand in the middle of quagmires and still finds the ability to pull and attract like genes?

The waters that separated us and the bridge that connects us offer lessons on different platforms. The bridge is held together by secrets that separated but now bind. We share life now, let the scars only be beautiful reminders not maps with which we can visit the old wounds. On a second thought I consider the possibility of traveling from my island to yours. You have changed the emotional climate Of my world it is only fair that I understand what yours is made of.

I’ve looked. I see bitterness and a valley of broken dreams. Caves of repressed passion and will power but I’ve seen beauty from the ashes, the burnt down zeal and the slightly dropping shoulders. I feel guilty. Forget me and you would have turned out greater but I am not the type to regret actions and choices, I believe the higher power utilizes them and carefully orchestrates them for my ultimate good. So I re-focus. I see the colorful future and the ability of a surprise to change, nurture and bring freedom from stereotypes and single stories. I see my beautiful surprise as the missing link to the achievement of new paradigms and cultures.

Sometimes I want to be angry at you. Why would you hide something so precious. Why did you choose amongst other options to delay this happiness. Did you really not want to be with me? I wouldnt have happily taken our diamond away; the most precious of all that would later remind you of me. As much as i wanted you, the decision would have been yours to make but at least I would have been a part of the new life we share. The new life that has tormented you into willful submission. Maybe I should be happy but did your beautiful eyes have such monstrous view of me? Why would you sacrifice her proper development for trivial issues.

My heart has stopped beating as fast as it used to, as fast as I want it to. Decades have taught my frail heart to become cold and inactive so I’m thankful for the fresh possibilities and warmth my beautiful suprise constantly offers me. I like to be the victim, the giver not  the timid father with absent years I may never be able to fully catch up with. Other fruits of my loins may not understand. I’m preserving this beauty for myself for as long as I can, then for them. This beautiful surprise will have its consequences that she adorns herself with but i am too old and too wise to care about tantrums and sibling rivalry that i know blood can dissolve.

Why dont we take it on from here. She found me, let her find you too but the finder needs to be loved. Blood streams that flow fresh with passionate red and waves of friendship transcends other relationhsips that man can form from the comfort of his mind and experiences. It surpasses the waters that seek to divide and wash. Blood is a connection that water cannot adequately form. It is God that chooses those boundaries and ties and helps us gravitate towards them. How he put me at the centre and in charge of such a beautiful soul and says she belongs to me as a result of my misbehaviour doesnt even feel like punishment. I am grateful for this kind of consequence. I am grateful that i can still be her father in my life time. I long to give her all that I am capable of and take adequate care of her. I want to be able to merge the experiences i couldn’t give her and the characters she has formed and compress time and memories with us in it for her.

Soon she would be for another. She’d decide if she wants him to be like me. i would hope she would flatter me by that but I would expect her to choose more; to negotiate a better future for herself. Later she’d bring boys that have my face and girls that call me pa and i would wonder when I became so old and soft and surprisingly I would love to be old and soft. I would love the custodian of my beautiful surprise for doing a good job thus far. I wont let such a custodian love on a strong level. I would make love easy for her. I would send her parcels of happiness, I would warn her to never hide secrets from me. Secrets I am a part of. I would shamelessly demand for the total honesty I wasn’t able to bring to the table.

I seek peace, I’m reaching out to freedom. Freedom to love and be free. Freedom to handle gifts i couldnt handle effectively. Freedom to know I messed up and courage to exploit the available right options. Help me do right by all who carry bits of me. I would need wisdom and strength to die happy and empty. Wait for me my beautiful surprise. I am trying to slowly and breathlessly catch up with you as you lead me to the heights of blood that I havent successfully climbed yet.

What remains…

May God help me!

May God help me! (Photo credit: radiant guy)

These days I exist in realms apart from the present. For instance, I am here now, but I am absorbed with thoughts of yesterday and pre-occupied with my analysis of it. I try to understand what I thought I had lost and what I feel I should have or could have done, what I shouldn’t have done and somehow I also wonder if I have missed the point of today.. But how does one get to ‘today’ without “yesterday”? So many thoughts swim inside my head, I feel like I can literally see them. I try to catch some of the thoughts as they roam, try to still them but they escape my grip…i chase them for a while then I realize what a futile effort it is.

My Sun has set at dawn.

I am sorry Temi. I should have been your covering like I promised. How could I drive you to your death? I miss you. I miss you both. I wonder who I should grieve for first.  I miss laughing with you. I miss writing with you. I should have read you those poems I wrote to you while I watched you sleep. Every single day I should have told you how wonderful you were, how blessed I was to have you both. How much I love you, how much I adored you both.

Until now, I didn’t understand how heartfelt but pointless some of the things we say to grieving people are. No one has asked me to write yet. Only the pen understands that I need to write. What does “tradition says no one who was burnt to death deserves a proper burial” mean? Why do my civilized family members keep telling me about our barbaric tradition? This time, tradition will have to wait. It is not like burying a wife and child is something any sane person looks forward to.

“May God save our land” I hear uncle Bidemi saying and Mama Ifeanyi answers “Amen!”

Bad news has a way of traveling fast to unite us. I listen to their conversation from the kitchen and conclude that In Nigeria, we have a penchant for linking everything to corruption. Not like everything here and corruption are totally unrelated but I wonder what would become of us when we cannot afford to blame the government we feed fat for all our woes; when we become the government the struggling people blame, when we see ourselves through our own eyes. Sometimes, blindness gives you a new sense of sight.

I want to tell Yewande, my sister-in-law, to stop cooking, it is all she has done since our demise,I want to ask her to help me tell all the visitors that I cannot consume all the food that they keep bringing. But I watch her instead. People react to pain in different ways. On a slightly different level, I can relate to the pain she feels. This pain; we all share. Does she think we’re celebrating Morenike’s marriage? This is the seventh Nigerian dish she has prepared today. Maybe I should remind her that we are mourning and my appetite has traveled to a very far place.

She was only nine Lord…Morenike was just nine years old.

My heart feels like it is going to burst from the realization. Not just because she was my first and only seed but because I loved her, because I love her still, because I miss her.  I smile. It is the best I can do to stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks because the time to cry is not now. I watch as family and well -wishers watch me closely in between sobs. I know I have to be strong for all of us, for me.

I feel like hot oil is being poured on my bare back. My heart is breaking into tiny pieces and all I can do is watch them scatter before me. If only I can find the right words to express the pain I feel, I will scribble and scribble until warmth slowly envelopes me. Until I see my healing reach out and touch me from far away. Until I know the universe is not in one accord with some other dark force to punish me, until, until…Come .Back .Home. Please.

Sleep well my queen, sleep well my princess. If eternity is anything like we hoped for, like we prayed for, like I still pray for, I will see you soon.

Tomorrow, while I write, I will think about today and lingering moments like this when words won’t do. I may even be grateful for “tomorrow” and her father, “time” Maybe then I will find strength to be thankful for their gross inability to erase the scars that the wounds they heal leave behind.

This X-mas

Happy new year though it’s day 6 of 366.  a short story. i wrote this story in memory of the once who lost their lives in the December,25, 2011 bomb-blast at a catholic church in Mandala, Niger state, Nigeria.  for a competition. i hope i get picked though..if you stumble upon this, please say something.

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December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Papa……

It felt weird saying merry Christmas over the phone….. It felt foolish even. In my whole twenty-one years of existence I had never been away from my family during the holidays… It was my first time in the city of excellence. After the mandatory three weeks in camp, I was posted to Nigerian Shippers’ Council in Apapa to serve. I shared a room with my friend in her aunt’s apartment in lekki phase 1. Commuting was hard. Traffic was the enemy.

“We miss you Tanwa… I still do not understand why you prefer to stay in Lagos for Christmas.” “Miss you too Daddy” I replied…. I meant it I knew I was my dad’s favorite and milked it for all it was worth. We spoke for a few more minutes then my sister’s voice came on.

“..But sis you really should have come to Abuja o, Mofe and Damijo came back from Yankee and they threw this awesome party everybody was there….. Are you even having fun in Lagos?” My sister…. She spoke too much and too fast for her own good. She was the social butterfly. She knew where everything was happening and who was making it happen. She was the reason I was some what popular. “Yes I am now… trust me.” I said with all the excitement I could fake. I smiled as I glanced at my pink sony vio. And the complete four seasons of gossip girl and my recent Daniel steel collection and shook my head.

“Ehen, I heard about the lekki toll gate issue. Did you guys protest for real? ”her voice trailed off.

“This is nepotism, injustice. Infact it is corruption” said my brother in his husky voice. I imagined him as he grabbed the phone from my sister. I’d remove the subsidy on our family relationship. Just watch.” I laughed my big headed brother. The future human right’s activist. He still hadn’t let the subsidy matter go. Shssh….. Papa’s credit is wasting you big head…. you want him to take off the subsidy in our conversation?” He laughed. “but sister Tanwa why would a government that has not put the proper things in place have the guts to tell us of their plans to remove the subsidy on imported PMS? did you watch the town hall meeting?” My brother, he loved to engage in witty discourse especially about different governments and bad leadership.

“How ridiculous can the shoeless ones get? Didn’t they see what became of Ghadaffi?” I am really not interested in your political rants this morning, it’s Christmas day, can’t I have a normal conversation with my sixteen year old brother that doesn’t involve political gibberish?” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I Laughed. I read enough of your political and soccer musings on your blog…..

“Hello sister Tanwa… how are you doing?” My kid brother. The aspiring writer. I loved him like he was my son.. Sometimes it was hard to believe he was just eight years old. His depth was endless. I am fine my dear… “How is your love life?” he continued… Kolade!!! I answered surprised that he’d inquire about my non-existent love life Aunty Tanwa, I’m trying to fuse romance in my new adventure story that would be published in the school magazine.. so tell me, do you get butterflies when you think of him? Does your leg to turn to jelly when he holds you? Mirasha’s leg does.. she’s half human being and half teddy bear… she’s a teddy bear in the day time and a beautiful lady in the night… and Sholm is a toy soldier during the day and a handsome prince in the night. The wicked mufassa cast a spell on them and…

Mufassa in lion king? I asked laughing… “Oh sister Tanwa, you’re my best critic that is why I love and miss you more than all these people……” I love you too Mr. K …

OmoTanwa… My mother…she alone called my full name. she expected grand children from me as soon as I got my degree. “Why didn’t you come home for Christmas ehn omo yi…? You know your sister Tolu is never at home to join me in cooking and your father now holds the village meeting in our house… you should have come home my child… I knew your father shouldn’t have given you that maturity talk before you left for camp. He shouldn’t. You used to come home at the slightest provocation. Or have you met a man? Are we expecting wine soon?”

I chuckled. I had met Jesus though, I wanted to tell her. She would be thrilled. She said something about going for mass at Mandala, near Suleja. Father Bosco has specially invited the family. And they had to set out early enough to catch up. “Merry Christmas, I love and I miss you all..” The call ended. I checked my call duration 1:37:12 minutes, daddy would be freaking out… all the credit we spent talking. I missed them… maybe I shouldn’t have stayed back in Lagos… maybe I should have gone to spend the holidays in Abuja.. I checked the time… it was eight o’ clock… service would start by 9 am… I quickly had my bath… put on my new black sequined gown, parked my hair into a ponytail put on my black pumps and took my mother’s black purse, my bible and looked at the mirror… kolade would call it a sad attire… there was no time to think of something else. Service was beautiful caleb even offered me a ride home…

I said to check my twitter account. @newschoolnerd tweeted… “Another bomb blast. On Christmas day? Boko haram need to fear God” @thatcutechic tweeted… “Bomb blast in Catholic Church at Mandala… 50 persons killed instantly…. Seven injured” As if to confirm my worst nightmare, I received a text message from my uncle..

“I fear there has been a bomb blast Tanny..”

I screamed. I fainted…

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