THE FINE ART OF SEEKING SOCIAL MEDIA VALIDATION: An un-phuck-worthy experience

“It’s a highly deceptive world, one that constantly asks you to comment but doesn’t really care what you have to say. The illusion of participation can sometimes lead to participation. But more often than not, it only leads to more illusion, dressed in the guise of reality” – David Levithan (Two Boys Kissing)

“How different would people act if they couldn’t show off on social media? Would they still do it?” – Donna Lynn Hope

 

Six days ago, I was sitting at a bus-stop. This latest harmattan breeze (sent by the Almighty to save us from the heat and mosquitoes) was already having a toll on me. Upon all the Vaseline and ‘Stella pomade’ that I applied on my skin, my ankles and elbows were as ashy as the faces of the night walkers in The Game of Thrones. But that wasn’t what was bothering me though. Honestly, my ashy elbows and ankles were the least of my worries. The quandary was that I used the money meant for the youth association in my church to play betting on Lotto and I lost everything. I mean: EVERY SINGLE DIME. Kai, e don be for me!

Now the members of my youth association have been looking for me around town so as to give me the beating of my life. I even heard one of them, who sold slippers at the market, had purchased acid to pour on my wor wor face. My goodness! So I decided I had to take a stringent step to save my life. I cannot come and go and die for nothing jare.

So there I was at a bus-stop, waiting for the next bus to escape to my village where I will stay for some time until the anger of the members of the youth association would have reduced significantly.

As I was sitting at the bus-stop with a hoodie over my head and concealing part of my face so as not to give away my identity easily, I decided to open some social media platforms to get some tea that have been spilled already. I mean, what will life be without all the drama on social media? And the news making the rounds was that a certain Nollywood actress cum singer had called it quits in her marriage. Poko Lee’s marriage had already hit the rocks even before she had the opportunity to celebrate the first year anniversary. Wow, Tragic!

In all honesty, I felt really sorry for her. In as much as I am a strong proponent of ending a marriage in which the partners aren’t happy, I still have goose pimples whenever I hear/read stories of another marriage that didn’t work. I remembered vividly when she was all over social media, dishing marriage advice to all that cared to listen, about how to find the right man and keep him.

And this now brings me to the point that was stuck within my cranium as I read the news at the bus-stop: the need for humans to seek validation on social media at all costs.

Ever since the advent of social media, man being a social animal has embraced the tool as a social apparatus to interact with other people. We get to make friends with people that we hitherto never knew existed. But while doing so, we tend to go overboard. Apart from constantly trying so hard to outdo our peers, or always trying to put up a ‘virtual self’ that is obviously different from whom we truly are, we go the extra distance in trying to get validation for things as flimsy as making the right decisions for ourselves. Folks post stuff on social media platforms that are different from what truly goes on in their lives daily. We interprete the number of likes on pictures we share as a form of validation. We translate the comments we get on our social media posts as confirmation or a nod of approval. Most times, we find ourselves having sleepless nights because of a vicious comment we receive on social media.

Let me state for the umpteenth time: seeking social media validation from others is not a phuckworthy thing. It simply doesn’t make any sense.

One time, my good friend Zinny and I were chilling at a lounge. She dey always get better gist for Omo Igboro like me, aswear. And on this day, she was telling me about a female friend that got married and she no gree make person hear word again. A post or two pointing towards how happy she was since finding the special one always graced her social media platforms on a daily. She even turned to a counselor overnight and started advising other ladies on how to successfully ‘trap and seize bae’, and how to be the perfect wife and mother in the matrimonial home.

Ironically, hers didn’t last too long. She ended it after a couple of months and confided in her close friends of how sad she had been all the while. She lived a falsely happy life just to seek validation from people. The endless comments and likes and calls she got from people made her happy, and she could trade her silent sorrows just to keep them flowing endlessly.

In life, we don’t have to prove shit to no one except ourselves. That is why I marvel at folks that spill their daily tea and put all their problems on social media. Frankly, no one gives a shit. When you do such, you think you are trying to garner pity from people by telling them your pitiable life stories. Maybe it is a form of closure for you while trying to attain the inner peace that you crave. Psst! Niggaism! Shit doesn’t work that way. Rather, you are creating a platform and a viable template for the social media vultures to launch vicious cyber attacks at you, when the shit hits the fan.

I guess people seek validation due to a need to be accepted; a form of reception into the hallowed chambers of happiness and bliss. But we’ve got to understand that we are all created differently, and as such, what makes one person happy might differ from what makes the other person happy. By all means, seek your personal happiness, as long as you don’t cause any harm to anyone else. And when you do so, it is enough. Case closed! There is no need to ponder on whether your neighbor likes your newly found happiness. There are no reasons to ask questions why that your special ‘bestie’ didn’t like the new Facebook or Instagram post you put up. It doesn’t mean he or she isn’t happy for you. Or that he or she doesn’t wish you well. It might be simply that they JUST DIDN’T feel like identifying with the post by commenting on it or liking it.

Seeking validation from others (just to feel better about ourselves) is not a phuckworthy thing. There is so much we have to focus our minds on rather than pondering endlessly on whom our happiness should gladden their hearts.

Pursue happiness as you so wish because it is an essential component of survival. But while at it, always remember Drake’s words in the song Tuscan Leather: Accept yourself! You don’t have to prove shit to no one except yourself. And everything good will come.

Capisce!

 

Fading score: You could be happy by Snow Patrol

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found. It is what it is!

THE SADNESS WILL NEVER END: Of suicides and depression

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of hopelessness or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling” – David Foster Wallace

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it, one gets through many a dark night” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

It was a cold Sunday morning. I woke up, feeling some type of way (sic). The day was my ‘rest day’ in the quest towards staying fit and getting a ripped body. So basically, there were no weightlifting and cardio sessions on that day. Mos def!

I rolled over towards the east side of the bed, my dick erect with the usual morning erection as I stretched my right hand to get my phone. Kai, konji na bastard, aswear. I unlocked the phone screen, scrolled to my playlist, and clicked on a song title. A fraction of a second later, Home by Passenger was oozing softly from the tiny hole that served as the phone’s speaker. I picked up the half empty bottle of booze on the ground, and took a long sip from it. Wollop! Wollop!! Wollop!!!

Arrgh, may God bless ethanol, I exclaimed.

For two days straight, I have been dejected. AND. I. KNEW. WHY. It wasn’t the state of the nation that fueled my gloom. Nope! And it wasn’t the fact that my money was stuck in MMM. Nope, wasn’t that either! It was the news of my friend’s death that haunted me; a death so surreal yet heart-wrenching. An only son gunned down by the faceless Grim Reaper. He had taken his life on that day.

He was diagnosed with cancer not too long ago. The snitch that brought the distressing news to me never mentioned the type of cancer he had. I guess my friend couldn’t go through the excruciating episode at all, so he chose the easy road by taking his life instead of the cancer cells doing so.

The day I heard the news, I sat on the edge of my bed and wondered what I could have done to save him. I noticed he had been moody for the past few weeks. Whenever we asked him what the problem was, he would make some funny excuses about MMM freezing his money. Or talk about losing a bet or two to Baba Ijebu and Nairabet. And whenever he made such funny remarks, we all laughed at the joke. But I always knew there was more to his misery than the stories he told.

Just yesterday, at the shop where they sold bush meat, ele and Okwadike’s fresh palmwine, the people gossiped about what happened. Some people were already proclaiming that he would spend eternity in hell. “A child of God doesn’t kill himself”, the chubby woman that sold akara balls muttered.

Fam and folks alike, we cannot say shit about a man’s situation if we haven’t walked a distance in his own shoes. It is pertinent to note that people react to sad events and bad news differently. There isn’t any universal code on how to react to bad news. No one made any rules pertaining to this. It is just what it is. Therefore, who are we to pass judgment on them for how they choose to deal with their pain (no matter how foolhardy their decisions might be)? Who made us lords and shieldmaidens to enforce rules on how a sad person should react to depressing and gloomy events?

Some years ago, during my paediatric posting as a house officer, I was in the oncology unit. There, I had firsthand experience of what it was like to be around patients with cancer. And No, Nah, Nahin…I am not talking about adults with cancer. I am talking about little innocent kids that didn’t hurt anyone. I questioned God. I questioned Religion. Heck, I blamed myself for not having any mystical powers to save those little kids. In my dreams, their cries and wailing haunted me, as I pictured their fragile bodies on fire. That was hell on earth for them.

So when I heard about my homeboy that took his life, I understood why. He couldn’t go through the long and excruciating pains that opioids and morphine couldn’t curb. Rather, he chose the fast and easy road.

Many suicidal folks don’t talk about the sadness for fear of being judged by insensitive folks. Most times, our reactions to such tales are to school the poor folks on how the world is ugly and filled with sad people, so their case isn’t different. Or in a more pitiable fashion, we ask them to seek the face of God (as if say God been dey hide him face before).

So in other to save themselves of any other remarks that won’t help their cause, they resort to fighting their demons themselves, by any means necessary.

When a suicidal person talks about his or her pains and trying to snuff the life away from him or herself, it isn’t to seek validation or garner pity. No, Nah, Nahin. Who validation don epp? Most times, they do so with the hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel of despair; a glimmer of hope where there was hitherto, none. They have sought the help of specialists. Friends and ‘caring’ family members have told them to seek the help of anointed MOG. They have fasted and prayed but the sadness never ends.

So they talk about it; this time, with the faintest hope that there is succor where they never thought it would be; a last attempt at taking a leap of faith. Unfortunately, faith isn’t certain. So they realize that there is no coming out of their grief. And then: BOOM, BANG, BOOM…they take the life they had. The fading embers of the hope they had are finally extinguished.

Let me state for the umpteenth time: it is foolhardy to judge suicidal folks on our own terms. “Oh, he must be a coward for taking his life”, “Is she the only person suffering in this world”, “Let him go to Syria and see people that are suffering”, and bla bla bla…

I have to be honest right here. Between ‘012 and ‘014, I battled with depression; an ailment I couldn’t pinpoint what the cause was. I read books. I sought help online. Yet I couldn’t find any solution. I chose not to speak about my suicidal thoughts because I realized that people didn’t just understand the fight inside my head; the demons running helter skelter at the speed of sound within my cranium.

Ultimately, someone told me I was sad because I had stopped going to church. So I made up my mind to end my spiritual truancy. The next week, I put on my starched agbada and walked into the church. The minute I stepped foot into the hallowed chamber, I realized that it wasn’t the solution to my problem.

Then I started wondering the best way to die. I thought of putting a ‘Draco’ to my head and pulling the trigger. But that would be too painful. Then I thought about overdosing on pills like Heath Ledger. It would be more peaceful, I thought. But the coward in me wouldn’t let me.

So one early morning, I just decided not to give a phuck anymore. I made a list of un-phuck-worthy stuff and decided to rid myself of them. And then I felt better. I was free.

I. WAS. LUCKY. The one that got away.

Most suicidal folks aren’t lucky. Not everyone knows how to deal with their demons. Now imagine such a person reading a tweet by a pastor that mental ailments are from the devil, after (s)he had spent endless hours praying to God. Or a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, who is meant to prescribe continuous therapy for his patient, telling her instead to seek the help of some powerful man of God. Or a depressed person logging onto a social media platform and reading posts where folks make fun of people with mental ailments.

That, my dear readers, would be the final nail on the coffin of the little hope that they had. And we have to do better, as members of a progressive society with humanist values.

I eventually looked at my phone after I heard a sneaky sound. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol had already started playing. It was 35 minutes since I was lost in my weird thoughts. I had to get ready for the day. So I poured the last drops from the bottle of booze I had in my right hand, and said a quick prayer for the lost ones.

The sadness, really, will never end.

 

Fading score: Suicide Season by Bring Me The Horizon

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

FINDING BEAUTY IN NEGATIVE SPACES: Of Patriarchy and Misogyny!

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“In the face of patriarchy, it is a brave act indeed for both men and women to embrace, rather than shame or attempt to eradicate, the feminine” – Alanis Morissette

“Women are the victims of this patriarchal culture, but they are also its carriers. Let us keep in mind that every oppressive man was raised in the confines of his mother’s home” – Shirin Ebadi

 

The air was still. The silence between us was tranquil. I stared piercingly into his eyes as he returned the stare; a gaze that spoke a thousand words, albeit silently. Wrinkles adorned his face and clung tightly to the loose skin around his cheeks. There was a tribal mark that extended from the edge of his lips on the right to the tragus. Whoever gave this man this horrible mark should be crucified upside down, I thought to myself. I’ve never seen him before. I wondered why Aunty Nwuyediya sat beside him. I knew he wasn’t her husband.

A couple of minutes later, Ichie Ezeugo walked into the living room. We all stood up and gave humble obeisance to him as he raised his mpi efi into the air and then motioned for us to sit down. After we were seated and kola had been served, he then proceeded to welcome our guests and spoke at length of how it shall be well with our visitors. He infused proverbs into his words; new proverbs I’ve never heard before. I promptly brought out my jotter and wrote some down. I planned to use them when next I had an argument with my girlfriend or her mum.

After Ichie Ezeugo’s speech, he sat down comfortably into his chair and took a bite from the kola nut he was holding. The man with a tribal mark then stood up. He smelled of cheap aboki perfume. He thanked us for welcoming them into our clan and attending the impromptu meeting after such a quick notice. He spoke of how it shall be well with us. He told tales of Ele – the antelope, and Mbe – the tortoise. He garnished his words with fresher proverbs and once again, I jotted down frantically. I hoped to use this set of new proverbs when next I had an argument with my pastor or his wife.

As I was scribbling the letters on my jotter, I overheard the man with a tribal mark say something rather outlandish. He said they were returning Nwuyediya to us. We are no longer interested in marrying her, he said. I looked up to be sure it was a scene from one of those movies showing on AfricanMagic. But it wasn’t. The man was still vomiting claptrap from his lips as Aunty Nwuyediya sat with her arms folded and cried silently; her head bowed down so as not to betray the tears that trickled down her cheeks.

He cited some spurious claims and twisted reasons for wanting to annul the marriage in a traditional way. He claimed she no longer cooked for her husband. She no longer respected him and was becoming more ambitious than he was. Recently, she was offered a promotion at her office which she accepted. And as such, she no longer comes home on time and doesn’t have time to cook for the husband and perform other duties required of a wife. He said this new development threatened the basic foundation of marriage in which the man was the head of a family. He also had some scriptural verses to back up his claims. And all the while, Nwuyediya’s husband sat silently, nodding in agreement.

At that point, I had enough. The rush of blood to my big head increased rapidly. I felt like lunging at the man like a raging bull attacking a matador. I raised my hand to speak but I was beckoned to hold my peace by the elders of our clan.

A member of my clan asked Nwuyediya whether all those accusations were true. She didn’t even wait to answer the questions. She hurriedly knelt down before her husband and the man with a tribal mark and wept bitterly. She said she was ready to change and do their bidding. I am sorry, I don’t want to lose my marriage, she wailed. She begged them to take her back.

As she was engaged in this rather embarrassing act, I surveyed the room silently with my eyes. Our patriarchal kinsmen nodded in agreement. One said she just behaved like a daughter of the soil. I saw the smile of cheap victory play across the lips of the man with a tribal mark. He basked in his new conquest and subjugation of a wounded and confused woman.

TRAGIC! Tufiakwa!

As the times change and moons pass, patriarchy has taken on new forms and varied appearances. Men continually mask their insecurities under the guise of ‘laid down traditions’ that folks should abide by. Who made these misogynistic laws? Was the foundation of our existence built on patriarchal templates? Should we, as reasonable people, persist in a culture that continually threatens a certain gender while stroking the ego of the other? May Amadioha and Orunmila not allow this to be so.

In a hypocritical, patriarchal and patrilineal society as ours, it is so easy for a man to appeal to the conscience of folks by crying out about how his wife has sacrificed her ‘wifey’ duties on the altar of her career and professional growth. Obviously, most Nigerians will take sides with a man that cries like a baby about not been fed by a woman who rather stays focused on her job and accompanying requirements. And as he groans and wails, a new cloak is put on this lamentation – Depression. Oh, my wife pushed me into depression because she neglected her ‘wifey’ responsibilities toward me, he wails.

In all honesty, I commiserate with depressed folks. Believe me, I do. Personally, I struggled with depression at a certain stage in my life. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I was worried about the stigmatization that would follow. So I plunged into further depression and made weed and alcohol my best friends. This eventually pushed me to the edge. I almost took my life but I was scared shitless to do so. So I definitely respect depressed folks that speak up. But going on social media to rant has never proven to be a potent therapy for depression. One should rather seek good medical care instead of staying up all night and pouring heart, soul and gibberish on social media.

A lot of male folks argue in support of patriarchy. Their arguments are veiled and shielded by a poor understanding of our culture as Africans. The mistake we keep making as Africans is that we have failed to differentiate between pre-colonial Africa and post-colonial African societies. For the record, I will use Ndi Igbo as a case study. In many parts of Ala Igbo, before the white man – Onye Ocha – came, Nwanyi Igbo was an industrious woman that contributed to the welfare of the family by cooking, holding the family together, and attending to the needs of the husband, the kids and other members of the clan. Nwanyi Igbo also owed lands that she tilled. Women formed strong unions such as Umuada where they were encouraged to sell their farm produce and save for the rainy day. A lot of them started thrift savings or Isusu. Men that manhandled their wives were made to account for their crimes by these strong and independent feminine unions. Their opinions were respected in the society whenever they were called upon to air their views.

Then all of a sudden, the ‘all-knowing’ white guy came along with his religion and infused St. Paul’s teachings into our society, about total submission to the husband by the wife and took away the little power Nwanyi Igbo had. Amadioha was angry but he cried silently. The fabric of our society was shattered. Chauvinistic men gloried in the white man’s teachings. Nwanyi Igbo was transformed overnight from an industrious and hardworking woman to a wussy that had to sacrifice her career and ingenuity for staying at home and not becoming ‘over-ambitious’, so as to be in line with the new teachings and way of life.

The times are changing. Our cultures are evolving as the days go by. If your wife doesn’t cook for you on a daily, by all means enter the kitchen and cook. We’ve had enough of these inglorious antics; men masking their insecurities by slut-shaming women and calling them callous hoes. If your wife earns more than you do, hustle hard and earn more money. But never let your insecurity take over your reasoning and ultimately lead her to murder her career just to fan the embers of your ego. And spare us these slut-shaming antics online because it is so easy for a man to garner pity once he cries out that his wife doesn’t cook for him. Or wash his boxers. Or sucks his pecker. Or that she now sucks the peckers of other men.

So every time a woman is due for a promotion or a raise, should she first tell the folks at the company to hold on so she could get the husband’s approval before they proceed? Or should she compare her new raise and her husband’s current salary and if her new salary is more than what the husband earns, should she proceed to turn down the offer of a promotion just to abide by society’s definition of a happy marriage? May Amadioha and Orunmila not allow this to be so.

TeeBee ma nigga blamed his wife, his mother in-law, his dead daddy and all the unseen spirits pursing him. Very well, I feel sorry for him. But in all this, he failed to ask a simple yet pertinent question: What have I got to do with all this drama? What role did I play in allowing this drama drag to this level and blow out of proportion? We African men could do with a little bit of soul-search in total honesty and humility in such trying times, instead of absolving ourselves of all the blames and apportioning them to others, especially the females.

Every relationship has its peculiar problems. If you got a problem, then by all means settle it with your partner in the precincts of your abode. Putting one’s business on social media is not only un-phuckworthy; it only signifies a deep desperation to accrue pity from people – people that don’t even give a hoot or raccoon’s ass about how you guys solve your problem(s). These folks simply wanna chill and enjoy the drama in the confines of their homes while sipping La Casera and chopping Kilishi.

And if your marriage isn’t working any more even after both of you have tried so hard to weather the storm, by all means end the union silently. Save our breed the whole social media diatribe and internet gangsterism. We don’t need them. In all honesty, the tirade doesn’t do you or your partner (or even us, the watching species) any good.

There is need for every couple to strike a balance between family responsibilities and the pursuit of a fulfilling career. One person should not suffer for the other to thrive. The woman shouldn’t be FORCED to stay at home and take care of the family while the man goes out to hustle. And it shouldn’t be the other way either. The decision should be based on mutual understanding between the partners and not based on unseen patriarchal laws written by ‘God-knows-who’.

Eventually, we finished the meeting. Nwunyediya was encouraged to go back to her husband and do his bidding. According to one elder, ‘Nwoke di uko’ – husbands are scarce. I was furious and wanted to lunge at the fucktard of an elder. But Amadioha told me not to do so. ‘Keep calm and hold your peace, my son’, Amadioha said to me silently. I had to hearken to his voice.

Nwunyediya stood up and hugged her husband, who was beaming with joy like a warrior coming home from battle with his spoils of war.

Presently, Nwunyediya no longer works. She is now a full time housewife. She chose her marriage over her career.

The sadness will never end.

 

#Say NO to Patriarchy. Say NO to Misogyny. Say NO to Political Correctness. And ultimately, Say NO to Social Media/Internet Gangsterism.

 

Now Playing: Colonial Mentality by Fela Kuti

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: An Ode to Kush and Pills and The Lost Ones

“Fall…so shall we fall into the nihil? The nothingness that we feel in the arms of the pale; In the shadow of the grim companion who walks with us” – John Haughm of Agalloch

“Oh farewell you streets of sorrow…Oh farewell you streets of pain; I’ll not return to feel more sorrow, nor to see more young men slain; through the last six years I’ve lived through terror; And in the darkened streets the pain; Oh how I long to find some solace; In my mind I curse the strain” – The Pogues (Streets of Sorrow)

 

I find myself in this familiar territory, staring at the broken twines that once held the yams in the barn together. The insects are silent in their stead, no longer flapping their tiny wings as they soar in the air like angry waves threatening endlessly at the seashore. Days have turned into nights, but my night is still and has refused to crescendo into a beguiling dawn.

They say it is always a struggle before the soul of a good one departs the body. In the final days of anguish, the soul refuses to depart even when the Grim Reaper comes calling. But in your case, you breathed your last too soon.

There was no time for farewells, no opportunities to say our goodbyes. These broken twines I am staring at are the only reminder of how quickly the bond between us shattered. Sing for me, I am definitely dying of thirst; a longing to turn back the hands of time and share one last moment with you. But time is obstinate, so stubborn that it won’t budge and grant me this one last wish. Pigheaded, I call time.

Death is only a chapter in life, craved or not. A horizon, to die is, but it only lasts for so long. I obviously want to let go of the past, but the hardest part of letting go is saying goodbye. I wish I could rip out the pages on which the memories of us are engraved, so there’d be nothing left of us. The lyrics to Oasis’ Wonderwall hit the walls of my mind as I reminisce on the days gone by.

The days trickle so slowly like the sand enclosed in an ancient hourglass, time only prolonging the hurt and betrayal I feel for losing you. With each recall of the glorious time we spent together comes a sharp agonizing pain that pierces through my lonely soul, threatening to choke whatever is left of me.

On your grave, I drop the flowers I am holding. It is a mixture of hibiscus and ixora. I quickly fall on my knees and shed streams of winding tears. Heaven hear me, I wail. And then, I cry some more. My tears slowly upsurge into a riveting climax with a steady beat over the aortic valve, seemingly mimicking the palpitations of a scared and lonely heart. If only my sorrows could build flight of stairs, if only my tears could construct an eternal highway, I will find my way to the divine abode where you are, and bring you back in one piece.

I curse that ignoble folk that caused our separation; the doctor with the grey hair that caused the dearth of our romance. At the laboratory, they claimed they had seen some growths in the middle lobe of my right lung. Cavitations with hilar opacities, he termed it. I sat on the edge of the examination couch as he spoke to me. I guess he lied – that ignoble imp of a doctor. I had to end my romance with you, he proclaimed. It was on a Thursday morning that I received the bad news.

Sorry for being a coward, my dear. But I had to hearken to the words of the doctor with the grey hair, and took what was left of you and buried inside the makeshift grave at the backyard. I knew it was so disrespectful of me not to give you a befitting burial, but the announcement came too soon. Still, I wasn’t, yet I spied a wailing cherub.

There was no time for farewells, no opportunities to say our goodbyes. I pushed you away when you came calling. I let go of your hand when you held mine firmly and I allowed you to fall to your death. You stared death into the eyes and death welcomed you with a sardonic smile. A coward, I was, for believing the doctor with the grey hair. Instead of taking a leap of faith with you and plunging into the unknown future, I got rid of you so quickly. Shame on me!

So as I sit on this lonely veranda where you once kept me company, overlooking the frail shrubs that have become bedraggled, I reminisce on the days gone by. Shriveled and lonely, these shrubs remind me of what I’ve become since you left. There are multiple lesions on the other lobes, the doctor with the grey hair told me last week. The hemoptysis and dyspnea have worsened. I have already become the ghost of me. Soon, I will be gone with the wind.

As the times roll by, I gradually struggle to deal with the demons that threaten to overwhelm my soul and ultimately incapacitate me, allowing the silent lambs within me to rear their heads. I add a dark ambience to this sinister message bottled up in my chest, and hope to end this difficult situation on a positive note.

Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the good times we shared together. The first time I kissed you and took a long drag of your lips on mine, and the puffs I let out as you gently caressed my soul. Thank you for the sorrows you made me forget so quickly every time I rolled you in my hands before the long kiss goodnight.

Thank you for giving me all of you during these twelve long years. I called you Onyinye, because you were definitely God’s gift to this forlorn world, bringing me peace whenever I needed you.

I will always love you,

My Good Friend and Lover,

Mary Jane, Nee Miss Blunt!

 

In Memory Of The Lost Ones!

Now Playing: Suicide Season by Bring Me The Horizon

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!

THE ECHOES OF SILENCE: An Ode to the victims of a lynch mob

It was a cold harmattan morning; on the last day of the year. I stood still in front of the Obi, watching the little kids set the firewood on the ground. In the distance not too far away, the sound of bangers and firecrackers were heard – a worthy salutation to the spirits that owned the ground beneath our feet – signaling the end of an Old Year and the birth of a New One. Beside my right foot, there was a lonely soldier ant running almost aimlessly in meandering pathways and I quickly thought about the Ode to the Bees.

The women and the young maidens were inside the hut cooking meals, the aroma of which smelled like honey mixed with lavender oaks, and once again, I thought about the Ode to the Bees.

I looked at the firewood on the ground, and promptly encouraged the kids to set them beside the dead animal. The goat had a wry smile on its lips; the last smile before Dee Chukwuma slit its throat from one end to the other – an ignoble murder of a harmless animal. Surprisingly, the goat’s tongue wasn’t stuck out of the mouth just like the other goats I’ve witnessed being slaughtered during this ‘ceremonial execution of goats’ that usually took place once in a year. Perhaps, it knew its fate and decided against struggling. Now can we all have a moment of silence and pay our last respects. All Hail The Wise Peaceful Non-Struggling Goat!

In front of the Ama – the entrance to the clan’s Obi, some masquerades stood idly, waiting patiently for the next lady to molest. Inglorious Fools! Lazy spirits, I muttered. It was obvious the masquerades have lost all sense of dignity as spirits; molesting individuals, taking pictures with the undead, and posing for selfies with the uninitiated folks.

In the evening, the traditional Ichu Afo ceremony to usher in a New Year while saying goodbye to the old one would commence. Before then, the adult male members of the clan would gather at the Obi, to settle scores and disputes once and for all. According to legend, it wasn’t right to go into the New Year with bad blood amongst the members of the clan.

A lamb – ebini – had already been tied to a stalk beside the Ngwo tree very close to the place Azunna was buried. Dee Amaduba had brought the lamb to settle the land dispute he had with Dee Oku, Obidiya’s husband. The lamb was silent save for the lips that pressed firmly on the green leaves as it munched on them. This would be its last meal.

All the while, the words on the letter scribbled across the paper I saw in the library raced across my mind like a drove of wasps seeking for the next victim to sting, and once again, I thought about the Ode to the Bees. On the paper, the grotesque detail of how the lynching took place was made known to me. I had requested for a typewritten copy of the details of the events from Adaora. Typewritten letters won’t appease the angry spirit of the innocent young man, she had argued endlessly. She insisted on sending a handwritten copy instead.

Ezike was a young industrious man who hailed from the next village after ours. I met him on the day the earth stood still. On that day, the town crier carried the news that the earth would become still for a few minutes. Darkness will take over the land, he lamented amidst the clanking sounds of his gong as he struck the stick against it. Mother said it was the end of the world. She encouraged us to confess our sins and be ready for the rapture. I confessed mine while sobbing silently. And then afterwards, I waited patiently for any sign of a white horse descending from the heavens with our Lord. We all waited inside the local church situated beside the great Ukpaka tree.

And then it happened. Just like the echoes of silence gradually trickle inside a haunted abode, darkness took over our land. The children wailed. Mothers held their offsprings tightly, taking care to carry them along as our Saviour and his angels descended. Fathers held tightly to their snuff boxes, worthy keepsake to show the angels when they reach heaven.

And after a few minutes, the darkness gave way to light. And as I turned piercingly seeking for my loved ones that were left behind with me, I saw this calm young boy seated on the floor, scribbling words on an imaginary piece of paper, his mien that of one that had not a single worry in the whole world. I thought he was a cherub that had forgotten his way back to heaven and was left behind. And then I approached him. And I spoke softly to him, carefully picking my words. I asked him why he was so calm in the midst of the whole ruckus. And he told me he didn’t have to be worried. The white man that worked at the clinic had already informed them of the darkness that would plague the village. Eclipse of the sun, he called it. And that was the day I met Ezike. The day the earth stood still.

Over the years, I realized he came from a poor background and his parents couldn’t send him to the University to seek further education after leaving secondary school. Eventually, he left village for the township to start apprenticeship at a Barber’s. And it was about the same time I went to the University to study Medicine in a bid to become Dibia Oyibo.

Fast forward to a few years after I graduated, at Nnenna’s Iku Aka ceremony, I met Ezike once again. On this day, the earth didn’t stand still. He was the same calm young man I knew, a few wrinkles on his face betraying his real age. Those wrinkles were the vestige of how the difficult township life had dealt decisively with him. I told him life was tough for everyone and it was only the tough that had the last laugh in any situation. He thanked me for the kind words. And at the end of the ceremony, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Then two weeks ago, I got word that Ezike had been murdered; dying slowly in the pool of his own blood, the crimson liquid wrapping its arms over his shoulders as he lay silently on the ground. He was unlucky; being caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had gone to collect some clippers he took for repairs. Some say it was a case of mistaken identity. Others swore by their mothers’ souls that he was the one that raped the little girl. Shouts and accusations rent the air. Screams of blood tore into the atmosphere. The blood thirsty monsters in human flesh were swift to provide tires and petrol. They were quick to lynch him after the young girl screamed and shouted that he was the one that raped her. I pictured him smiling calmly, as the tires were put over his neck, his mien not betraying the fears that lurked underneath.

After the incident, five people were arrested and are due for prosecution in four days. The lawyers were preparing their cases. I requested for the letter from Adaora to enable me keep up with the events.

They say there are three sides to every story; the account of one person, the account of the other person and then ultimately, the truth. But in Ezike’s case, he is no longer alive to complete the trinity of accounts. We cannot stress enough the importance of not jumping into conclusions without overtly being sure of the details of events. Folks should be presumed innocent until proven guilty (no matter how hard it is to do so). On October 4th, it would be four years since the four young men were lynched at Aluu – victims of a hasty conclusion and quick judgment. It could have been you. It could have been me. It could have been any of us.

Eventually, we finished the deliberations and conflict resolution in the Obi. It was already dark when we finished and I smelled of stench. The women brought in food and wine for us to feast on. Monica was the one that served me. She bent over to pick up the bottle of small stout I requested from the crate. And then I saw it; the edge of her panty. In my mind’s eye, I pictured Tekno singing ‘Monica labalaba, my sweety baby your love dey kill me’ as I made love to her.

I hope I won’t get lynched in my dreams before I wake up.

 

Now Playing: Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding

Word to Mutha: This work is STRICTLY the opinion of the writer. No Love Lost; No Love Found…It is what it is!