Last night, my neighbour may have slept with her pillows to her ears as I listened to and sang along with Michael W. Smith, “Your grace, your grace shines on me. Shines on me, shines on me, I’m everything with you. Shines on me, shines on me. It’s your grace”.
I did a vigil last night and this song was all I sang. It was and is still on replay.
It’s a clear Saturday and rather than dress up and go out, I just want to remain naked on my bed. Mama had to scold me for ignoring her calls and answering baby brother’s calls. Why blame me? I love my siblings and I feel responsible for them. I have watched them grow from new borns to toddlers and now to near-teenagers and I miss that I am not there to guide them in their decision making. I have read the letters they always sneak into my bag in the rare occasions that I visit home.
“I love you, big sis. I will never forget you”.
“Big sis, please come home next time. Daddy is very boring”.
“You are the best sister in the world”.
Tell me why I should forget people who think of me, pray for me, pray with me, scold me and tell the world about me? This is family. Family is everything!
I stare at my phone and wonder why this man keeps calling. This is weird. Few days ago, his call would have been promptly answered. We would talk for some time about life and work and he would seek my advise regarding some decisions he wants to make. Then he would express appreciation and be thankful for my wonderful soul. Now, these calls are a waste of time, they are like unwanted visitors trying to share my space with me when my space belongs to me and no one else.
I do not want any more attention and have unconsciously filtered my friends – no time for past lovers, friends who have shallow discussions, people who type in shorthand etc.
I would deactivate my Facebook if I had not sent out the link to companies where I applied for internship. Who knows when they decide to investigate?
One thing that has always come easy to me is dreaming. I set a goal and fiercely reach for it. Birthdays aren’t at all holidays. If I needed a holiday, I’d give myself one. Working hard happens everyday so today, I begin to make new plans. The old plans do not seem to be working out and if anything, today reminds me that I do not have the luxury of making time look like a stopclock.
It is a good thing dad taught me early on the importance of having backup plans. I think of the good man that I am proud of, who raised me and I look forward to the day I’ll bring home a man and have dad sit with and talk to him.
Now that I think of it, I realize he has never really succeeded in making me talk about some boyfriend. He did try the other day I went home when he called me out and stammered some words, shifting uncomfortably on his chair. I had to save him the stress. “Daddy, I’m not dating anyone. If I am, I’ll tell mummy and she’ll tell you”. Fathers! One day he’ll read this, I know.
It’s the start of my 25th year today and what makes it different from other days is the unsolicited attention I am getting. I have had to block all incoming calls on two of my phones while I placed the third phone on silent. I think the difference between today and yesterday is that I’m starting a new year but I still miss my family – siblings who always have my back, a mother who is more an older sister to have girl talk with and laugh over boys especially her boyfriend who happens to be my dad, a father who would forget all my sins and still welcome me with his breast and run around the house threatening ‘won’t you come and suck breast?’ because I used to love breast as a baby. I know he will call me later this evening and as usual tell me to go catch the goat that just ran past me because that’s my birthday present. Family is everything and I guess this is what I am grateful for today and always – Family.
Happy 25 to the girl with the never-fading smile.
When all hope is lost and friends leave your side, those who are your true family will always be there for you through it all – Aidee Erhime
A boy will dream again tonight, of his many cars and houses. He will dream of wealth, women and employees. A boy will dream again tonight and wish he would live longer in the land of his dreams. He will count his years waiting impatiently for the day he’ll eventually wriggle free from the clingy protection of his parents. This boy will wake and say to his friends, ‘I dreamed of more houses and wealth’ and they will hold their noses with one hand, snorting and laughing. They will call him ‘The dreamer’ and he will snap his fingers at them, ‘You will see’.
The young boy will grow and be happy. His father too will be. ‘You are now a man’, his father will say and the boy, with nothing but his bag of dreams and hope, will open his arms and say to the world, ‘I am now a man!’
Now shelter and a car, he will be gifted. ‘A roof over your head and a vehicle for your comfort’, his parents will say. ‘Never forget that you are a man’.
With this zeal, he will work. Harder each day, he will work and everyday he will smile because life is not as complicated as they made it seem and even though he is now a man, his mother’s breasts still give him life but soon he will crave firmer breasts unlike his mother’s and faced with a bevy of choices requiring only his money, he’ll explore his youth and test them all.
One day, a stone will hit him; the first stone of many. Firmer breasts will leave him for the next hive and he will shed shameful tears, wondering whether to return to his mother’s breasts.
But I am a man! He’ll say, I’ll dream again.
A man will dream again tonight, of a gentle hand and a loving smile. He will dream of budding breasts and wake up craving to be in the arms of this one. He will stare at faces and chests, he’ll give all to find the smile and touch those hands. If I find these, I’ll be whole again. This man will say to his friends, ‘I dreamed of a creature with smile like a crescent moon’ and they will hold their bellies and laugh at him. They will call him ‘the dreamer’ and he will smile at them, ‘you will see.’
Shelter and car soon disappear, tiny stones become hail, his confidence melts but men do not cry. Smiles and breasts he has seen, none exactly like he had dreamed for when he thought he could shed a tear, their gentle hands had hardened. Do you not know that men do not cry?
Soon hope smiles, one hand holds him close.
‘Cry, baby, cry. Men are first humans’.
He sleeps and dreams like a boy again and when he tells his dream to the one with the gentle hands, that one smiles.
A fresh burst of confidence, a man will understand now that the hailstorm will be tackled by two but he soon will crave firmer breasts and with his money, he’ll find them and forget the one with the gentle hands.
I dreamed one night
Lives would be spared
If friends could solve puzzles
People lost their lives
My friends and I
We were spared
Others too lived
We put heads together
We solved puzzles
We thought deep
We lived long.
My students love me just as I love them. They come to call me when they are free and I am glad I make them enjoy Chemistry as a subject. Some days back, after teaching for two hours at a stretch, they wanted more. I couldn’t spend another 40minutes teaching them so I decided to use their free time to gist with them.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the essence of life.
We live to die and we die to live? How many lives do we get?
Aunty died of cancer three years ago. The doctors did not know what was eating her up. I knew, her children also knew, but everyone was scared to say the word. It was forbidden to say it as that would mean we were faithless. The small boil on her head soon multiplied and gave rise to big lumps on every part of her body. Her health deteriorated every time I saw her, until she breathed her last. She was very friendly, she left too early. To aunty, I shall dedicate a book. Her death brought back memories of Alaba.
I’m walking home from work, very tired and eager to hug my pillow. I know I will be too lazy to eat but I dream of food anyway. My bag is weighing me down. It’s the only bag I have and it is 5 years old. Daddy bought it for mummy who gave it to me. This bag was beautiful the first day I took it to class, the red leather lined around black gave it a very nice look and it got a whole lot of compliments. But as it is with everyone and everything, we all get old and soon become a shadow of our youth. My dear bag has withstood the test of time and its old age is showing, it has gotten nail injuries but it still serves its purpose.
Chris was driving me home one Saturday evening when we saw a party. I told him that it was definitely a funeral celebration. My weird reason was that the canopies looked like tents but that was just a lucky guess. He asked whether they were celebrating life or death and to this, I replied, ‘Life of course!” He said people tend to spend so much on funerals than they would birthdays and other celebrations, ‘especially the Yorubas’, he said. I argued that the Yorubas spend on weddings and naming ceremonies but that in Edo state, planning a funeral involves heavy spending. All over Benin City, particularly along Uselu road, casket makers are in business. Every other weekend, there is always a burial celebration and it is usually very grand with children, grandchildren, and cousins to nieces of the deceased wearing uniforms, dancing and sometimes, fighting. Relatives compete for food and special canopies are assigned to special people. Sometimes major roads are blocked depending on who died.
What do you do when your infant has blocked nostrils? Do you use the mucus extractor or do you just use the traditional mouth-to-nose method? Personally, while taking care of my last two siblings, I used the mouth-to-nose method. When the child has blocked nostrils, place your mouth on one and suck out the boogey, spit it out and do the same for the other nostril. Be careful to not ‘oversuck’ else you may suck out the child’s brain and turn it to an imbecile! What? That’s what my grandma told me. I was initially irritated when my mother did it the first time but when it was my turn to care for my brother, it was not hard for me as the affection I felt for him pushed me to do it. Till now, I cannot understand how to use the mucus extractor.