PRIVATE MUSINGS

 

Tolerance was like a rubber band, stretched too often in Janine’s life. Every time she watched people use it against her and now her fingers stung of betrayal and abandonment. She had been lying on her back for three days, mostly talking to herself or to God, mostly thinking about him. She was not sure if love was supposed to feel this way, a horrible tightening in her chest followed by futile efforts to keep the dam from collapsing. All her life her mother raised her to believe that men were snatchers and all they did was take things from you, valuable things. But as she grew older, the advice got complicated. Men did not always take, women gave. Women gave with trust and sometimes men squeezed that trust like crumpled paper and threw it in the trash can. The problem, she thought, for women is society’s glaring eyes. Whether she chose to accept it or not, women have to take on the daily blows of religion and culture. It all came down to ‘the thing to do and the thing not to do.’ Don’t be headstrong, don’t emasculate him, don’t show desire, don’t don’t don’t. Continue reading “PRIVATE MUSINGS”

The Lullaby

 

I used to watch him, knees pressed into the red rug, trying to diligently catch the words that fell off his mouth. His face was like that of a cat, fierce and wicked with an underlying innocence. Sometimes he was sane, drawing us fine sketches, buying late night suya, spooking us with village tales and soothing us with folk songs. Other times he was like a poltergeist, swallowing his words leaving a path of vicious destruction. The night he struck, It was raining and we sat in the living room passing our fingers through candle flames breathing in the acrid smell of burnt hair. The windows were rattling, the gate swung open and there were three sharp knocks on the door. My mother adjusted her wrapper, sweat glistening on her chest against the light. She sighed deeply; the man was not dead, thank God? Continue reading “The Lullaby”

WHITE HOUSE

All I heard were whistles when he broke down my door. Whistles when I cried for forgiveness.  Whistles when he struck the first blow. Whistles when i lost Morisola.

The only bright memory I have of our marriage is the old wardrobe mama gave me, with a yellow “happy marrige” wallpaper neatly placed. She prayed for many children and “All the happiness in the world.” Our wedding was like attending one of Gatsby’s many parties, colourful and filled with shiny things. Bola never fails to mention how ‘privileged’ I am and she goes ahead to ask that dead question, ‘where did all the good men go?’ and I answer, mentally of course, ‘not stuck with me, that’s for sure.’
On the really bad days, I think back to my old boyfriends, the ones I felt were too poor, too skinny, too short, too this too that, and I wonder what it would have been to marry one of them. Every year I get an invite to number one or two’s union and all I see are the numbers dropping. Sometimes I secretly pray that the woman is no good, so we the exes can share sorrows and bond, then they can remain in my box of ‘controlled items’. Other times I criticise their photos, use words like ‘cheap’ and ‘overexposed’ or mock their outfits. “He’s mine and she’s mine? What a load of rubbish. I have always known this Henry was a cheapo. Mr economic, I’m glad it isn’t me. Poor girl, such an embarrassment!”  Then laugh hysterically and brace myself for the fountain of bitterness stinging my eyes. I’d take their simplicity over my complicated rubble.
On the bright side, You should see our house, or more specifically, ‘fancy chateau’ on Stewart’s Crescent, it’s white, not Mr Akin’s white house which is drenched in red dust. Dele (the beast) gets the painter Mr Naira to give the walls a ‘touch up’ twice every year. The gates are jet black and spiky at the top and the fences are so high, I don’t get to see any cars zoom by. I’m not allowed to go out or visit people and if I need anything, Enoma(the maid) is the go to girl. On Sundays, we walk briskly into church, noses held high, no formalities and we breeze out like we’re being chased by demons. People must hate us, but that is no matter, they are in the dark.
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Pale white walls, fan dragging its limbs lazily, lights flickering incessantly, the beast’s face hovering over me. My eyes pop open instantly and the first thing I do is clutch my belly, searching desperately for the thing I know is gone. She was just eight weeks old, a mere slope, a tiny heartbeat. I can feel the space she once occupied, all airy and empty. He is just staring. We lost her and he is just staring.
“Stop staring, stop staring! You’ve killed it, it’s gone!” I sob until my eyes threaten to fall out too. “Calm down Lola, The Lord knows best” the beast says.
“The Lord! Do not call the Lord unless you seek mercy for your sins” I spit back.
“If you hadn’t left the house against my wishes, you would not be in this position Lola.”
He gets up slowly and takes my hand in his. I feel no warmth in them. Nothing.

# OLD FASHIONED

When you started your journey together, hopelessly consumed by love and affection, did it ever occur to you that a few miles down the road you would both go your separate ways, sharing mutual resentment and hazy friendships(possibly by association)? I should hope not, because it is quite alarming, how easily people hop in and out of marriage. The truth is that all of what we see today balls down to one thing, ‘our depraved mentality’. It is and will never be enough to feel a burning sensation in your heart or have butterflies in your stomach. Life, real life is beyond all that mumbo jumbo and the sooner we begin to realize that, the better. We need to stop pretending, calling it the 21st century as an excuse for the downward spiral in stability of relationships. What we see on screens are fantasical acts, mere illusions that will lead you astray. Before you can even think of getting attached to a person, you need to assess yourself as an individual and your reasons for it. LUST,This is what the world calls love,You do not need a Christian Grey in your life and you most certainly do not need to be an Anastasia Steele. If that is what you desire, when its broken, you’ll end up feeling more empty than ever before. Our focus should not be on pleasures , it should be on building a proper friendship with another human being. Instead of looking for obscene activities to do, how about you just talk, share your thoughts and uplift yourselves. Young people should never be in a hurry to start anything of the sort, there is every possibility that you’ll make the wrong decisions. I said in a previous blog post, that ‘maybe its time to go back’ , there’s absolutely nothing wrong in acting like a gentle man and behaving like a Lady, we are not vampires with insatiable appetites, we are noble people and we can discipline ourselves. Focus on building decent connections with people, don’t force an attraction, let it come naturally. We need to stop saying that its a free world, we can express ourselves , because that kind of freedom only brings heartache, loneliness, confusion, addictions, strife and anarchy.  This is what it does to you, it puts you in a prison cell and leaves the door open, tells you can leave at any time but that is its deception, you end up feeling comfortable and fail to notice the door being shut  eventually. It is for this reason that we see some marriages break and they say things like ‘irreconcilable differences’ Why? Because of a shaky foundation. I worry, worry for my generation because if we do not come to know that that is not how it should be, we will make the same mistakes and end up being worse off.

Chastity should not be tagged ‘old school’, ask your parents or grandparents how it was back in the day. A young man or a girl does not just wake up in the morning and decide that she is in some relationship simply for fun, imitation,or to test the waters. It was solely for the purpose of companionship. You are not supposed to throw your heart out to just anybody. You will have to develop patience. Do not allow yourself to be plagued by thoughts like,’if I don’t start now how will I find somebody’ ‘I don’t want to be a lonely old cat lady’, All in good time, my dear, focus on your youth, make good friends, forget that talk about the ‘friend zone’  and you’ll be fine.

Finally, to the adults, If you want your marriage to last, marry your best friend, have the right reasons and understand what you are getting into, that means, if you claim to have love, God’s pure undiluted love, not the one that feels like common sense leaving your body, you will be able to tolerate, teach, take correction, learn and not be distracted by your flaws, nagging and angry bickering.

This is what it means to be old fashioned and if you don’t like it, Okay.