The Periwinkle List

​9.58am.

Victoria Garden City, Lagos.

It was an unusual time on a Monday morning to still maintain the affinity between my back and the multi-coloured bedsheet that I had been too lazy to wash over the weekend; I should be in my slave plantation of a workplace, dazed by the grueling traffic from a few hours before, responding to threatening office mails in servile fashion and flashing plastic smiles to customers with an unnecessarily huge sense of entitlement…..but today was different. The ones who worshipped on Fridays rather than Sundays had their version of December 25th going on, so the federal government pleased all 9-5ers as it rarely did, by announcing a two-day public holiday. Left to me, I would have loved that a search be conducted for another missing moon thereby causing an extension of my days away from the plantation, but no horses were going to have beggars riding them. I scrolled down my phonebook (in vain) for the phone numbers of friends who would have me partake in a binge on those juicy ram parts, and finding none, I opted for another outlet to search for company: my social media timeline. Continue reading

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Veinticinco (Or “Showing Up”)

31st July, 1990.
Warri, Bendel State.

“Isn’t the food here yet? ”

“Nna’m,  calm down, it’s almost ready. ”

Nna’m. That was how she addressed her husband. No sugary nouns, no shallow sweet-nothings, no expressions whose paper-thin weight you could even feel from the voice pitch. She loved him (dutifully at the very least), he protected her, she knew what she had to do around the house, he knew when to reach for his wallet, and that was it: the vintage West African couple, none of that Hollywood reality show faux gloss.

Continue reading

What These Men Want

It had only been two weeks, but Mr. Isiukwu
Bigwillie, 27, who had only returned to the
country from the annual hustle in Malaysia to
celebrate the Christmas holidays, was getting
bored. He couldn’t believe that in fourteen days,
all he had unzipped his trousers for was to use
the restroom of his suite at Oriental Hotel.
Afterall, he had the wheels, gold neck chains and
multiple rings on his fingers (never mind that he
had auctioned one of his kidneys at Kuala
Lumpur), so why would he spend his vacation
with just his hands for company?

After a few calls
to friends who were familiar with the terrain, he
drove in the direction of The Palms. A lot of
traffic lay between him and Wadbash at Ajah, he
reasoned, and besides he was no cheapskates.

Tekena was all he desired; straight legs,
prominent hips, not-too-flat stomach, breasts
struggling for air in her knee-length dress, with
that ebony complexion to match. He didn’t
subscribe to light-skinned ladies, only hanging
out with them back in Malaysia because over
there, choice was a luxury he couldn’t afford.
After a brief negotiation, she agreed to
accompany him to his suite for thirty thousand
naira. It was quick and Mr. Bigwillie dozed off in
a matter of minutes, but he had got what he
wanted, and even if he did not notice Tekena slip
one of his gold chains into her handbag, he slept
with a smile on his face….

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Until he woke up the next day, solely clad in a
pair of brown underwear, four policemen
surrounding his bed. Tekena was long gone, and
he was only allowed to wear a pair of shorts and
a yellow singlet as he was whisked into the navy
blue police van , his one round pack on display.
Officers on duty quoted Bible verses as they
pushed him around the counter, and by 10am that
day, he had been arraigned….before the state’s
Ecclesiastical court.

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at The Palms, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit the sin of Lust by approaching one
Tekena (now at large), and thereby committed an
offence contrary to the Holy Bible, and punishable
by this court.”

“ That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
commit fornication with one Tekena (now at
large), and thereby committed an offence contrary
to the Holy Bible, and punishable by this court.”

“That you, Isiukwu Bigwillie, on or about the 7th
day of December 2016, at Oriental Hotel, Lagos,
within the ecclesiastical district of this court, did
have intercourse with the use of contraceptive, as
recovered from your hotel room as an exhibit, and
thereby committed an offence contrary to the
principle of natural prescribed by the Bible and
Canon law, and punishable by this court.”

Perplexity would have been a mild word to
describe the look on Bigwillie’s face as he heard
the charge read out to him by the court clerk. He
had no idea that an ecclesiastical court existed in
the first place, and now he was aware of what
constituted offences therein, he wasn’t so sure
how to react. He couldn’t believe that pleasure
had become criminalized, and when he was asked
for his plea, he laughed loud and long before
screaming “guilty as charged!”

The penalty was two weeks of supervised Bible
study and spiritual counselling as well as two
weeks of cleaning cathedral pews, and was to
begin the following Sunday. Bigwillie shook his
head repeatedly as he left the courtroom, and
when he finally got hold of his phone and other
personal effects, his first reaction was to log on
to Facebook and update thus:

“This is why I hate coming to Nigeria. So now, to
dey straff don turn crime? What are our
legislators being paid for sef? Naija and stupid
laws! Tsk tsk…”

Later that night, the men in black visited him
again, this time at the room he booked at Protea
Hotel. Apparently, his Facebook update had been
perceived as malicious, his phone had been
tracked, and he was to be taken away for
questioning, in line with the provisions of the new
Social Media Act, which had been domesticated
by all the states.

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After 24 hours of slaps and mosquito bites, he
was transferred to Alagbon, where he was to
remain “until investigations were concluded”. He
realized that he would be sharing the same cell
with the likes of Chris Nwandu (Head of the
Nigerian Bloggers’Union), Walter Ude, Nathaniel Jonas and Elsie
Godwin, who had been called in for “inciting
statements” on their respective blog posts. Linda
Ikeji had only just been released on bail few hours
earlier.

***********
Meanwhile, at a large mansion in one of the more
secluded parts of the capital territory, Senator
Needo Melanin was laughing with another beer-
bellied senator over glasses of champagne. The
other senator was faithful to his usual dress code
of blue jackets and over-sized black trousers.
Their giggles struggled to negotiate upwards from
the fat in their necks, and they knew what they
were celebrating. The case involving foreign accounts filed against Senator Melanin had died a natural death, the media house that did the investigative journalism had gone under, and the respective bills they
sponsored had grown into fully operative laws.

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Tar Blues

The bus windows are covered with curtains, but you violently pull them back. Nothing and nobody should stand in the way of a view of nature, and no one deserves to be obstructed from seeing the world outside, no, not even for the luxury of air conditioners. Then again, you need the view to clear your head; there had been a mix-up at the park over ticket prices and cash deposits, and the lady over the pay counter had thought it wise to resort to rudeness in the circumstances, forcing you to utter expletives in uncharacteristic fashion. It’s your first time at this transport company, and you know in your heart that they won’t get another chance at making a first impression. The fact that you have to settle for the back seat with your long limbs does not exactly assuage your feelings either.
Continue reading

Power Nap

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(Author’s Note: The set of paragraphs you are about to read is a narration of true events that took place in the early hours of June 30th, 2015.)

9.00pm.

Lagos, Nigeria.

“Hey, good evening, what’s the name?”

I’d seen her, light-complexioned and long umbrella in hand, come out of a house at the other side of the street. There was something
about her cheeks, something that made you want to stroke them for 25 hours. It was cold, she was
covered in a dark blue sweater, and for a moment
I wished she was all wrapped up beneath my
blanket. I decided to find out who she was, but
she uttered no response, and as a matter of fact she switched lanes. As it turned out, we were
going the same direction, so i caught up with her
and repeated the question.

“What’s the name?”

“Excellence”, she replied.

A younger me would have resorted to chuckling as my first reaction, but I smiled, and then we got
talking about how I had not seen her before, and how PHCN had improved its services since the
new administration took over. There is something about the weather that has it always come up as
a subject of conversation, and in a matter of
minutes we were talking about the rainy season.

“This rain sha. Everywhere gets flooded, and
moving around becomes ‘difficant’.”

Difficant?! I wondered if that was a new word in the dictionary. Well there was always a chance
that I had heard wrongly, so i lured her into
repeating the statement.

“I didnt get you”, I said.

“I said that movement becomes difficant”, she repeated.

A red flag flew at full mast in my mind’s eye. I
told myself that I would definitely not have sustained interactions with the lady after that
evening, but our feet were still pointing in the same direction, so we kept walking.

It was pretty windy when I stepped out, but at least it was dry. Excellence’s decision to step out
with an umbrella proved to be one borne out of
foresight, as it soon began to drizzle. She could have continued walking, afterall, she was sufficiently
protected, but she chose to run with me beneath
the zinc roof of a kiosk which had closed for the
day, in a bid to find shelter. Then without
warning, she drew herself closer and leaned
forward to take up my lips into hers. For some
reason I couldnt explain, i shifted backwards,
declining a taste of her lip gloss.

The winds intensified, and for the first time I looked in the direction of her legs. I noticed she
had been wearing a short gown beneath that
sweater all along. The breeze did a good job of raising the gown to reveal her smooth thighs, and
I began to feel that I had pulled away too soon.
My hormones had been triggered, and I literally reached for the lower end of her gown. This time
it was her turn to shift backwards, but she added
a little something extra: she let out a cackling
laugh.

It wasnt just any kind of laughter. It was the kind
you hear in those marine kingdom scenes from
Nollywood movies. The goosebumps on my skin
took perfect shape. Her hair was responding appropriately to the wind, and she wouldnt stop
laughing as she stared at me…..

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“A girl I’d never seen
Lay next to me with golden skin
I sprung up to my feet
She asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
‘I dont think this is me,
Is this just a dream
Or really happening?’ ”

***********
4.15am.

I was back in my apartment, jolted back to
reality, but Excellence’s laughter had seeped in
from my dreams and into my world. I then tried
to open my eyes and get up, but found myself
unable to. I knew what was happening. It was
another of those nights.

Yes, someone (or something) had come to ‘press’
me in my sleep yet again, and as was often the
case, I couldnt see who or what it was. I knew
the drill: get pinned, lose my ability to move any
part of my body for a number of minutes, then
struggle in my sub-conscious. This time the
malevolent force had chosen to fix my head and
neck in a chokehold. It was an annoying situation,
but I had a new day to begin, and ‘he’ wouldnt
negotiate, so the fight began.

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I forcefully tried to open my eyes, but they felt like
they were stuck with glue. My spirit then kicked
and dug an elbow into my assailant’s sides. He
wouldnt budge, so my spirit kicked again, all the
while barely able to churn out cries of “Jesus,
Jesus”. We rolled along the wall, and even found
ourselves mid-air, before my spirit sunk its teeth
into my attacker’s form. I struggled to break free,
kicking again, before the force finally let go.

“I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to know that my heart’s still beating
Still beating, I’m pleading”

The fight had lasted for two ‘Dreamland’ hours,
which would transIate to about twenty ‘Earth
minutes’. I was able to open my eyes at last,
finding that I had fallen off the bed. I knew that
this was by no means the last visit from whatever
had attacked me, but I also knew that the
weapons of warfare were not carnal in nature.
The issues of superstition and excessive belief in
the metaphysical were topics for a future
discussion, but I loved to think that a lot of
battles go on in the spiritual realm, and that my
spirit had lived to fight another night.

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The Literal Rule

“I want your body sleeping in my bed….”

Those lyrics from one of Wizkid’s hit tracks resounded in my ears as I stared at the lady seated opposite me at this restaurant table. I could not have been blamed for playing the song in my head. It was Good Friday, it was dark, it was cold, I was bored, and I intended to mark the Passion of the Saviour in my own way. In the end, all that would matter was the word “passion”, never mind how it was applied.

Interestingly enough, it was our first official rendezvous. I had found her three weeks earlier on one of the social networking sites, Badoo to be precise. There is this thing about Badoo and linking up people in the same location, and on further scrutiny I discovered that we resided in this same city. Her profile picture had been quite the sight, and when I tried to chat her up, she responded nicely. We began to learn more about each other (at least what we chose to reveal), exchanging photos now and then, and after an exchange of numbers plus a few raunchy chats, we had finally agreed to meet.

It’s said that pictures don’t lie, but whoever said that probably did not have Photoshop, Filters or other enhancements in mind. I was disappointed as I dialled her number and saw her pick her phone at the entrance of the restaurant. Where were those assets that got me drooling whenever I zoomed her profile picture? Where was that defence? The attack? Heck, she looked a shade darker than the photos she usually sent to me. I felt “catfished”, but then a remedy existed. She looked nothing like her pictures, so I would drink until she did. After all, everyone looked beautiful by 2am.

She glanced at the menu and beckoned on the waiter, making her orders at random, without recourse to the bill. The size of my wallet was of no concern to her. I had heard stories of how ladies deliberately set out to embarrass men on dates, and for a moment I felt that was the case here, but I kept my cool. She held nothing back in her quest to bore a hole in my pocket, and I almost wanted to say, “We’re splitting the bill”, but that would have ruined plans for the night, so I kept my lips sealed.

I tried my best to strike up a conversation, but her lack of interest was remarkable. I threw in all kinds of topics, from Fashion to Music to Politics to the few Nollywood movies I could manage watching, but her disinterested eyes and absent-minded nods succeeded in deflating me. I shrugged inwardly. It was not like I arranged this rendezvous for the conversation anyway.

“So, what’s it going to be?”

I looked up. Apparently, she was done with the meal which she would never have bought with her own money, and she wanted to know the next money-sapping adventure. If she could see my mind, the huge frown there would have scared her.

“What would you like, Dearie?” I asked, putting up the fakest smile I could come up with.

“Erm, it’s Friday. Why don’t we hit up the club, you know, turn up?”

I wanted to tell her that it was “club” and not “crub”, but I did not want to put her down on account of her accent, so I just smiled and said, “Club it is then”.

We walked out of the restaurant after I had taken care of the N20,000 bill, and I took her by the hand to the direction of “my” car, a 2009 Model Toyota Camry. My friend Tola was away from the country, and he had handed me the keys.

“Ahn, where is the other one na? The Jeep?”

She was referring to the Honda Pilot which I had sat in, taken a photo and sent to her. I could feel the disappointment in her voice, and I was glad that she felt shortchanged too. I had anticipated the question, and I quickly lied that I had needed to effect some internal repairs. She responded with a resignatory “ok o”, and I could not tell whether or not she bought the lie (not like I cared), but she fixed herself unto the passenger seat of the Camry, and we got going.

My wallet had been rocked a bit, but I was still able to afford entry into a decent club not too far away. We got in, and I ordered a bottle of Magic Moment. The idea was to get intoxicated, burn out the alcohol with some dancing, and get intoxicated some more. I watched her as she drank, studying her level of composure. She was definitely not new to that level of alcohol. The DJ was in good form that night, and when that track from Wizkid came on air, I held her close as we danced and whispered in symmetry with the lyrics, “I want your body sleeping in my bed”, to which she giggled in response.

We left the club at 12:45am. We were by no means sober, but at least we were reasonably aware of our surroundings. We got into the car, and I soon switched on the ignition, but not before trying out the taste of her lips for a few minutes. She responded appropriately, letting my fingers glide along each end of her chest.

“Where are we going?” She asked, as she heard the sound of the car come to life.

“Where do you think? My house of course”, I replied.

“Are there no hotels around?”

“Baby, I don’t want to treat you like a hoe. I won’t just fix you up in some cheap motel, I’m not that kind of guy. I think I like you, and I want to make you feel comfortable. You could spend the entire weekend if you want, I’ve got makeshifts outfits you could change into. Let’s go to mine.”

She was taken in by those lines. My apartment was a forty-minute journey from the club. Her tongue loosened, and she began to regale me with tales of stingy rich men, and how girls easily got pregnant in her neighbourhood. Of course she didn’t disclose the abortions she had carried out, but I could infer from the tone of the conversation that she was no angel.

PHCN proved to be kind to us as we arrived at my place. We kissed again at the door of the apartment as I fumbled with the keys, and as I got in, I put everything in place. We had a bath together, and I turned up the volume of my home theatre. The CD was a mix of various songs which I had burned from a laptop, so there was the switch from blues to rock to metal to Afro-pop.

I pulled out a pair of handcuffs and chained her to the bed. She seemed so excited. We would play out Fifty Shades of Grey, it seemed. BDSM in Nigeria? She would relive the experience for a lifetime. I took out a belt and began to work on her with it, our bodies unclad.

“Punish me, punish me”, she yelled.

“It’s punish, not ‘polish’ “, I said in my mind, but I just smiled and went about the business of the night.

I stopped whipping her after a while. I went to the cupboard at a corner of the bedroom, observing the lust in her eyes. I pulled out a plier and slowly walked up to her. Her facial expression changed.

“What’s the plier for?” She inquired in an apprehensive tone.

She found out soon enough. I didn’t have to respond verbally. I crawled to the fingers of her left hand, fixed one in between the edges of the plier, and despite her struggles, successfully yanked one off. The pain was excruciating, and her screams turned me on. She kicked and kicked, but i balanced my full body mass on her legs, slapping her into submission as i took off a finger from her right hand, my ears digesting the corresponding screams.

“You monster! I hate you!” She cried.

“Not for long, sweetheart. We won’t be long”, I replied.

I was sure that to her, I sounded like the Devil himself, but I could not be bothered. Two fingers gone, a lot more flesh to go. I pummelled her with my fists, and when she was weak enough, I went to the cupboard, brought out a dagger and went to her again. I threw up the dagger, caught it in mid-air, and with the descending velocity, sank it into her left breast.

She screamed again, and this time I got a hard-on. The beautiful thing was that the music from my home theatre drowned her voice, so nobody could guess what was going on. Moreover, I had caused the bulb to be dim, in line with the night’s task. I dragged the dagger sideways, and with it came a huge mound of flesh. I let the blood gush out steadily, scooping a bit of it with my tongue. I then proceeded to where I perceived her heart would be, sending the dagger through. The screams stopped. I had set her free.

I grinned widely as i transferred the two chopped fingers and the breast to my refrigerator. I was almost feeling guilty, but then I was merely teaching her a lesson, one she had not learnt from Facebook and the Cynthia Osokogu experience. Social networks were made up of all kinds of people, some not particularly fitting into the description of normal, and one had to exercise discretion when dealing with strangers. It was pretty unwise for her to have just decided to hop into bed with a man she had only just come in contact with via Badoo, but then, there were many out there just like her.

It was equally sad that she did not take out time to read, or at least be observant. If she was the type that frequently hunted for knowledge, she would have noticed that the pictures on my wall were that of Albert Fish, Charles Manson, Vlad the Impaler and Jack the Ripper, all cold-blooded murderers in their day. She would have also noticed “The Gospel according to Phillip” and Frederick Nietszche’s “Antichrist” on my bedside table. Philip’s gospel included a passage that suggested romantic ties between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, definitely not part of the 66  (or 73) books of the Bible as we knew it. Nietszche was a well-known 19th century German philosopher, who did not exactly subscribe to Christianity. I would ordinarily fit the perfect description of a weirdo, but here she was, in bed with me, not caring to know more about me first.

Yes, her body was on my bed. I had told her that I wanted my body sleeping on my bed, and that was judt what had played out. I would never know Wizkid’s true intent, but I loved to think that whenever the word “body” was used in describing a human, it referred to a corpse. I had merely applied the Literal Rule, which states that words should be given their ordinary and literal meaning.

I slept off soon afterwards, and woke up next to the dead lady by 7am the next day. She looked more attractive in her state of permanent sleep. I kissed her cold lips, and nibbled at her right breast which was still intact. Yes, i was somewhat sexually attracted to corpses, but which human had the right to judge? I walked to her handbag and took out her University I.D card. I saw her full name: NKECHI GOLDEN OCHENDU, student of Anatomy at the Lagos State University. We had just been through a lecture in her line of discipline, only this time she turned out being the cadaver. Then again, she referred to herself as Nikki in our chats. “Oh well, people had a way of Anglicizing their names nowadays”, I said to myself.

I put her body, her shoes, my blood-stained sheets and her handbag into a body bag. I then lifted the body bag out of the house and hurled it into the boot of my car. I loved my neighbourhood; nobody asked too many questions, everyone minded their business. I started the car and drove towards the direction of the Lagos lagoon. I planned to dump the body bag there. It was fitting. She was Igbo afterall.

(P.S: Happy birthday to Oluchi Ofili and Patricia Oma Edet. They are  good friends of mine, and ardent followers of this blog. They love stories, and this one is for them, as they mark their birthday.)

Origins

“How dare you! How dare you usurp me and decide to take up a role reserved for me? What gave you the right???”

“I was only helping you, big brother. It needed to be done, and you were in no position to.”

“Not in a position to?! Who said so? What gave you the right to assume, to conclude in that manner? You lack respect, boy!”

“Egbon mi, you couldn’t possibly have been able to. You were unconscious….no, you were drunk, wasted, stoned!”

“What did you just say?”

“You heard me, senior. You were dr…..”

The elder one, now furious, did not let his sibling complete the statement. He swung at his erring brother’s law with his left fist, and when he missed by few inches, he sent in his right fist, delivering the uppercut to perfection. He swung again with his left fist, catching his brother by the right cheek, then he tilted backwards to create ample space to raise his foot, applying his heel to his brother’s face with considerable force. A fall was the inevitable outcome.

He walked towards his younger brother, now on the ground, grinning as he stood over him. He was determined to beat some sense into him, and raised his foot to begin a stomping session, but was caught with a sweep kick from the man on the ground. The elder landed on his backside with a loud thud, and as he tried to get back up, a round-house kick from his younger brother greeted his face.  He was flattened out.

“Egbon, you made me do this”, the younger one said repeatedly, as he looked to see whether the fallen man had totally lost consciousness.

Satisfied that he had repelled his elder brother’s onslaught, he turned his back to him, breathing heavily as he tried to draw back some strength. He had apparently over-estimated the effect of that kick. His elder brother was soon up on his feet and began to crouch stealthily towards him. For some reason, he felt the need to turn again, and as he did so, the elder one rammed into his ribs with his left shoulder, sending him to the ground once again. The hailstorm of punches began. The elder one sent in his right fist, then his left fist, then his right fist again, and applied his left elbow at intervals. He had his younger brother where he wanted him; he would learn never to slight him in any form ever again, knowingly or unknowingly.

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The blows did not last forever. All of a sudden, one of his punches was blocked, and in a matter of seconds, he received a stinging head-butt to the nose. His younger brother had turned the tide, but he didn’t stop there. He gripped him by the neck, and fixed him into a chokehold, bearing down on his windpipe.

“Hey, let go of me now”, the elder one commanded, in a strained voice that showed his struggle to breathe.

“Let you go, so you’ll hit me again, right?

“I said, let me go!”

“And if I don’t?”

The younger one got a response soon enough, but not in words. He maintained his grip, but less than a minute later, he found himself high up in the air. The manner in which he was flung away was reminiscent of the scene of a car explosion. His elder brother had summoned an unusual, external strength.

“I told you not to mess with me, rude idiot”, the elder one roared.

There was a new look in his eyes, and it was not a pleasant one. He stretched his right hand to the direction of the Sun, conversing in strange languages with no one in particular. His younger brother shuddered. He knew what he was capable of. Trouble was looming.

********************************************************

Long chain. Snail’s shell containing a handful of dirt. Live, five-toed chicken spluttering about. Palm nut. These items lay around Obatala, eldest son to Olodumare (god of the sky and universe) as he slept on the floor, nearly unclad. He could not be blamed for his slumber though. The day’s events had led to exhaustion.

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It had been a wild party. The gods and spirits that prowled the universe had eaten and danced until their various forms caved in. Obatala himself had been treated to such a good time that he had got a lap dance from one of the female “orishas” (deities), until his loincloth got moist. Drinks had flowed freely, and at some point, the music had spurred the gods to dance with one hand over their eyes and the other hand stretched out. Yes, from time immemorial, the gods had perfected the art of dancing Shoki.

Obatala had not known who hosted the party, and as a matter of fact, he had gate-crashed. At the time, the world was only made of the sky and water, so his father Olodumare had given him a gold chain long enough to stretch down to the (proposed) Earth, along with the palm nut, chicken and dirt. Instructions had been given to create the Earth, but for reasons best known to Obatala, he decided to stop over at the party. They welcomed him anyway by virtue of his position as Olodumare’s first son, let him have a good time, and gave him a lot to drink, maybe too much. He had lasted through the palm-wine, but then, he got to have a gulp of something that tasted like the modern-day Orijin, and he soon began to stagger and speak incoherently, ultimately  passing out. The last thing he could remember was seeing a male orisha flirt with a female orisha, and then hearing the female orisha say something like “Story for the gods”.

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The party had ended days earlier, but the after-effect of the Orijin taste-alike was still evident on Obatala. He was yet to get up, he was nearly unclad, and the other spirits had since retired to their homes. They had opted to leave Obatala the way he was, his member nearly sticking out of his loincloth. After all, he was the first son of Olodumare; he could sleep how, when and for as long as he wanted. It was in this state that Oduduwa found him.

Oduduwa, younger brother to Obatala, had developed a hunch back in the heavens that something was wrong. His father Olodumare was busy with other inter-planetary affairs, and he could not have gone down himself to inquire the reason for Obatala’s delay in returning. Had the chicken died? Had the dirt been too little? Was the chain not long enough?

Oduduwa was quite the eavesdropper, and he had listened closely as his father issued instructions before Obatala set out on his journey. Days had passed and, well aware of his brother’s tendency to misbehave, Oduduwa had sneaked out of the heavens and gone out in search of his brother. Besides, it was a golden opportunity for him to claim glory for creating Earth.

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He had found him, asleep with his mouth open, farting in his slumber, his member in need of covering. Yea, that member which some of the female “orishas” gossiped about, saying that it was “big for nothing” and could not last the night shift……but it was not in Oduduwa’s place to confirm the rumours. He had work to do. He quietly picked the items meant for Obatala’s mission, tip-toed out of sight and hearing, and proceeded to complete the task.

Oduduwa let down the chain. It was as long as Olodumare had anticipated. He then climbed downwards, upturning the snail shell. The dirt settled on the waters. It had looked small in the shell, but it turned out to be just enough to do the job. He then set the five-toed chicken to the waters, so it could spread the dirt. The chicken was a bit haphazard with demarcations, but it did a fairly good job. Oduduwa then lowered himself down the dirt and tried to mould mountains with some of the dirt. He kept fumbling with the shapes, but he was sure that Olodumare would be proud of his effort. He then proceeded to plant the palm nut. He looked around, saw that it was good, if not perfect, and shrugged. As far as he was concerned, his father’s instructions had eventually been carried out. He also knew that Obatala would be livid whenever the alcohol cleared, but he could not be bothered.

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Obatala was determined to teach his brother a lesson. His monologue had yielded dividends, and he had successfully drawn out some fire from the Sun. He contorted the fire into a large ball and threw it at his brother, Oduduwa. The fire went for its target with full velocity, catching Oduduwa.

“Seriously Egbon, fire balls? You are going supernatural? Fight fair!”

“Go on, teach me how to mete out discipline on my little brother”, Obatala retorted.

Obatala kept conjuring missiles from the Sun, and Oduduwa had to keep evading, doing series of acrobatic flicks in quick succession. The punches did not totally stop flowing too. Oduduwa held out until dusk when the Sun went to bed. Night came upon them in due time, and Oduduwa lifted one of the stars in the sky and hurled at Obatala. He had not expected it. The weight of the star sent Obatala tumbling down the night clouds, and the brightness temporarily blinded him.

“ENOUGH!”

The verbal exchanges between the brothers had been thunderous, but what they had just heard immediately caused an earthquake. For a moment, it seemed that the earth which Oduduwa had just created was going to be destroyed. Olodumare’s voice had shaken the universe. The brothers knew better than to continue fighting. They knew what happened when their father disciplined Eshu, the trickster god.

“How long will you keep at this? And over such a petty issue??”

“But Baba, we have only fought for a day…..”

“SHUT UP, OBATALA! One day! One day, you say! You know how long that is, on the earth you refused to create. That is a thousand years! Yes, you have spent a thousand earth years fighting.”

“Baba, you can see that Dudu here disrespected…..”

“Shut up, I say! Oduduwa was simply helping you finish the simple task you could not complete. I have looked at it……it’s a good world he made. I am happy that drink knocked you off….who knows the rubbish you could have created in that state of intoxication? Well done, Dudu.”

“Thank you Baba”, Oduduwa said, prostrating.

“That does not mean you are entirely blameless. Eavesdropping is wrong, and you should not have sneaked out. Your punishment will come…….but your action was for the greater good, and so I am placing you in charge of what you helped to create. You will govern the earth. As for you Obatala, you have failed, but that does not mean you won’t work. You will be subservient to Oduduwa, and you will be in charge of creating humans on earth. I want you to make things in our own image and likeness, and put on that earth. If you like, drink again while at it…..but first, you will cook for all the ‘orishas’, tonight!”

Obatala scowled as he set out to the kitchen. He had been disgraced. Oduduwa stuck his tongue out and made eyes derisively at his elder brother.

(Author’s Note: There are many other versions of the Yoruba story of creation. Some accounts portray Oduduwa as Obatala’s servant who proceeded to make the world after Obatala’s blindness, others portray Oduduwa as a female deity. Others completely put Oduduwa out of the equation and claim that Obatala did the job, though going on to create deformed humans. There are also those who use the name Orisanla instead of Obatala. The writer finds this version both intriguing and narrate-able, and some schools of thought even hold this as a more credible account than the Biblical creation story. Well, that is what myths are all about, feel free to come up with yours!

P.S: Apologies are made for any glaring inaccuracies. All blame should be placed on Google, as well as the writer’s secondary school Social Studies teacher.)

Red-Earth Yuletide

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“What was the point washing this car in the first place”?

He is right. Well, Fathers usually are. The season and the dust that accompanies it makes the task of washing automobiles a total waste of time, and the rural dwellings, dust battles for supremacy with the air you breathe. What are you doing in a rural area anyway? Well your family has (against your wish, of course) decided that this year’s Yuletide will be happening in your hometown. It’s your first visit in five years, never mind the fact that the distance between your village and your city of residence is just about 45 minutes. As the years pass, the exotic feel and the excitement of spending Christmas in the old country have waned. Maybe you would be a lot more enthusiastic if the distance was over six hours, like West and East. As a matter of fact, you no longer get it anymore, as to why people risk their lives each year traversing regions for an event that would barely last a week. But Father has spoken, and you have no choice. Continue reading

Facing Fact

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The sun is being really mean as I return from yet another day in court. Not quite one month since my debut appearance, not quite three months since I officially earned the right to be referred to as “lawyer”. The pots are expectedly empty (I have no plans of cooking this year), and I can’t really say whether my mattress is big enough for two, tomorrow being Valentine’s Day will be a better day to worry about that. I desire to have that siesta I like to think I deserve, but before I drift away, one unusual thought comes into my head ( as usual.) What if none of this is real? What if all that my life has been thus far is just part of a long dream, a dream I am having at age ten? (Some are of the view that six hours spent asleep could add up to a decade in the world of dreams.) Continue reading

Chilly Thoughts

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Like an incontinent old man finally emptying his bladder after a long stretch of holding it in, the rains held nothing back that night. Only a short burst of speed in shutting the windows prevented his mattress from getting completely soaked: dry season was well and truly over in this part of the country. The accompanying winds gave him no room to pause from shivering in spite of his wrapper, and he went deep into his box, frantically searching for his D & G sweater given to him by his father five years earlier. The battle with the elements would have been made easier, had he not discovered after his futile eight-minute search, that his sweater wasn’t in that box, and in fact no longer in his possession.

Yes, he had actually parted with the prized sweater a little over six months before that rainy night. Over the years he had exercised his high-grade chivalry with it, keeping the ladies warm on cold evenings and ultimately winning the hearts of some, but by the previous August he had unzipped it off his body for good. It now lay in the wardrobe of the one called Tracy, who hadn’t needed to say so much to take it from him as a parting gift. His shivers intensified in direct proportion with the downpour, and in those chilly moments, he dwelt his thoughts on her.

He was used to bringing ladies into his thoughts and kicking them out as frequently as Chelsea’s managerial changes, but with Tracy there was something different. She was a wild one, but there was something discreetly warm about her craziness which had him sweep a permanent room for her in his mental space. He never admitted it, but he was scared that she would forget him, hence the giving away of the sweater, whose absence he hoped his father would never notice.

Their first meeting wasn’t in the most conventional of places. It had been in a public TV room, somewhere in Eastern Nigeria where he was in the heat of a one-year professional academic sojourn. His favourite club was playing a football match that fateful night, and she, a fan of the same club, had been there. Tracy had noticed that he had been tweeting for the entire duration of the match, which moved her to comment on his multi-tasking ability. There was something about her dreadlocks and skimpy black dress that night, and he told himself that couldn’t be their last encounter, leading to an exchange of contact details.

For him, Tracy’s reputation preceded her. Before his first stare into her bright eyes, he had heard all sorts of things about her, and most of them unflattering too. From excessive sex cravings to drug use, he was armed with information that should have made him bear a pre-conceived notion about Tracy, but he knew better than to judge by hearsay. He was the curious type, always loving to find out the truth for himself, and he was drawn by what should have kept him away, not bothered about whether people thought he also sought a gulp of the juice.

Sure enough, Tracy was never far off from crazy. Her weird combination of hair colours, her evening gowns known for their trademark length (or lack thereof), and her generosity with swear words lent weight to what he had previously heard. But he loved the fact that she lived her life not bothered about people’s opinion of her. Beyond her eyes, gap tooth and legs, he admired her very good sense of hearing (ear infections sometimes have a bright side), and he lived for her short laughs whenever they talked.

He couldn’t help but feel sorry for people who assessed others from what they heard or merely observed from the surface. There were mood swings, yea there were times when Tracy could really go nuts, but at least she was honest and unpretentious about who she really was, a quality hard to come by these days. Beneath the devil-may-care attitude was a really intelligent lady who knew a lot more than hair and shopping. Besides their love for Manchester United, they also shared a love for movies and alternative music, and she could also relate to his artistic side, regularly going through his works and ultimately becoming a fan of his. For him, she was one person around him he could totally be himself, say anything without trying to be prudish about it, and one with whom he totally felt at home with. Whenever he found time to pray, he thanked his Maker for getting a chance to know her better.

He wished people could take her more seriously and see her beyond whatever persona may be displayed on the outside. They had revealed much to each other, and he knew that Love hadn’t always ranked high on her scale of preference. He wished she could take out time to love. He wanted her to have less mood swings. It wasn’t so much about being her man as it was about wanting her happiness, wanting the best for her. Not that he would have minded whispering to her ears and stroking her hair on such a night when Nature was being so cruel, but she was no less than ten hours apart, and as he froze, he imagined her curled up in bed, his D & G tightly zipped around her torso.

He dialled her number and predictably, there was no answer. There was something still too ungodly about 2.20am in terms of being awake. Not like he had much to say anyway. He just wanted to hear her voice, to find out about the weather where she was, to know that she was warm. Well it was a good thing that she was too deep in slumber to pick his call, he told himself. At least she was sleeping peacefully, not being kept awake by worries or sad thoughts. As his nose began to feel the effects of the cold, he could feel it within him that Tracy was alright, and he managed to smile amidst the sneezing, as Tracy’s health was all that mattered to him at the moment.