Afrosays to me

…random excerpts from my communions with the AfroMuse

Deflect September 30, 2011

Filed under: Scenic — afrosays @ 10:00 pm
Tags: ,


Dear villagers, thatDarkBetty and I especially appreciate your support for The Decades II project. It was a huge success and you made it so. Thanks for telling friends and family about the tales we tell around the fire that burns in the town hall.


Remember @edgothboy? He shared the thriller Project S.E.E.K. The Hit with us just before The Decades Project II began. We promised more art from him and we deliver on our promises.


Here’s Deflect. It’s a bit long but be patient, you should love it.

...elle pernicious...

Thwack! A glob of spit hits recently constructed sidewalk. Saheed careers out of its path and mentally makes a sign to ward off evil. This is the third time he’s almost committed an act that will bring bad luck. That in itself is evidence of bad luck but Saheed isn’t thinking too clearly about superstitions, tonight his thoughts are focused on his impending career change or as he’d prefer to call it, ‘diversification’. That’s the problem with being a pimp. Too much time on your hands between clients. The boredom would have killed a more industrious man. He can practically smell the naira notes that will grease his palms, the way he’ll vaguely dismiss questions about his frequent disappearances and how he’s getting ‘all this money’. Yes, life is about to get very glamorous and mysterious for him. Tis a good day to become an informant.
Ten minutes later, Saheed arrives at the pre-arranged spot; he’s early, he wants to make a good impression. It’s a pyschiatric hospital. He makes his way to the counter, signs in for a two hour visitation as Chibuzo Anago. The nurse looks him over, with his tribal marks and his sing-song voice; he looks nothing like a Chibuzo. The dashiki isn’t helping either. But she presses the buzzer to let him in anyway. It is stupid but not uncommon for these husbands to squirrel away their crazy wives here under false names, Nigeria isn’t very tolerant of lunatics in one’s family tree. Saheed trembles as he makes his way to ward C, flinching at every sudden sound. He doesn’t like hospitals, especially ones with crazy people. He can’t see the point of packing them together like sardines and fighting the spirits that possess them with drugs when any babalawo worth his salt can flog the demon out of them for a fraction of the price they pay here. Even in his fear, his mind begins to make estimates for a referral service for exorcism, he’ll take a commission to find babalawos for desperate relatives and wouldn’t even have to lift a finger to do any ‘real’ work. Besides getting a protection charm every now and then would be child’s play, if he did business with babalawos.
Room 6 is the only occupied room in ward C. There is a circular pasted on the notice board at the mouth of the corridor. Saheed recognizes most of the words on it but he doesn’t bother with what it means. The words ‘HEALTH HAZARD’ and ‘EVACUATION’ are all that interests him. He pulls his dashiki over his nose and uses a cloth covered hand to open the door. He is immediately assailed by the smell of disinfectant and underneath that, urine. There is a young woman in a power suit lying on the bed, hands behind her head, a pair of expensive looking aviator sunglasses over her eyes. There is something unserious about her, as though she just came from a party or some other informal gathering. Saheed feels the urge to whistle, with skin that light and natural hair that long, she’d make an excellent prostitute.
“Shut the door behind you.” she says. There’s something dangerous in her voice that makes him swallow the off-hand comment he was about to make. Maybe a brothel madam not a prostitute, he amends in his head. He straightens his dashiki and takes the visitor’s seat. They stay like this for nearly twenty minutes, the rhythmic tapping of her foot against the steel bedframe punctuating the silence. Abruptly she she swings off the bed, startling Saheed and goes to lock the door. She plops onto the bed and crosses her legs in a very unprofessional manner. From underneath the pillow she extracts a manila folder. In it are a 9mm pistol, a voice recorder and a sheaf of official looking papers.
“Oya, we’ve wasted enough time. Let’s get this done and dusted.”
Saheed meaningly turns his gaze to the door. She is quick on the uptake.
“Expecting anyone else?”
Saheed replies in broken, yoruba affected english. “Yes. The men who I am supposed to selling my ‘information’ to.”
The woman shrugs. “No men. Just me.”
Saheed gives an her incredulous stare. “I will only talking to your oga. I cannot doing business with small small girls.”
The woman points to the door. “Then you can ‘leaving’.”
Saheed stands up to leave then his eyes zero in on a small rectangle of paper he’d missed earlier. It’s a signed cheque, addressed to him. The other than his name and the signature, the cheque is blank. Even he has watched enough American films to know what a blank cheque is. He slowly slides back into his chair and steeples his fingers, trying for a disaffected look and failing miserably.
He cocks his head in its direction. “Is that cheque my own?”
“Maybe.” She replies cautiously.
Saheed’s practically salivating at this point. “Why do you not write the money inside it?”
“Because how much you get, depends on how much your story ‘inspires’ (she makes air quotes around the inspires) me.”
Saheeds rubs his hands in anticipation. It is more than he’d hoped for.
She pushes the cheque under the pillow and whips out a ball point pen. He frowns and reluctantly stretches out his hand for it. She raises an eyebrow.
“That’s why there’s a tape recorder. I’m just taking notes.”
Saheed sighs in relief. He’s always hated writing, it is almost impossible to feign ignorance in text. he loves signatures though because most times, they meant money was coming in.
“Where do I start?”
She gestures for him to wait and switches on the recorder.
“Tell me about yourself.”
“Saheed Saworoide. 31 years. My mama is from Ibadan, my papa is from Ondo. I come to Lagos with my mama’s sister. I use to manage girls for Alhaja. Before I use to sell igbo at Oniru beach. Before that I use to pickpocket at Obalende. Before…”
“So you’re a career criminal?” she concludes. he nods.
“Level of formal education?”
“Secondary. I didn’t like it.”
“please state the nature of your association to the secret service?”
“I want to be selling information to the SSS.”
“What kind of information?”
In that moment Saheed wishes he’d brought along one of the more educated girls in his harem. With every question, he’s found it harder to formulate a response that doesn’t expose his literacy.
“I know many secret things about Mallam Bash. Many things that he will kill me if I tell.”
The agent makes clucking sound. “Yet here you are.”
“People didn’t last when they are working for Bash,” he gives a crooked smile. “I am taking Insurance.”
“Please explain the circumstances that occured to make you privy to this potentially volatile information?”
“Ehn?!”
She pauses the recorder. “I know you understand what I just said. Just stop this idiotic act and answer the fucking question.”
She resumes recording and repeats the question. He’s sighs almost imperceptibly, coming here might not have been a good idea after all. He drops the illiterate ruse and gives a surprisingly intelligent response.
“I was recruited by Alhaja about three years ago. No, she never gave a first name and yes, I know better than to ask. She liked how efficient I was with my marijuana business and thought my concepts would work better with girls. I negotiate the deals, keep the girls supplied with weed, booze and condoms and in return I get a 40% commission and I get to break in the virgins.”
He pauses, waiting for a response. The bit about virgins isn’t true, he said it to get a rise out of her. All she does is fish out a cigarette pack from her jacket pocket. She offers him one and lights it herself.
“Go on.” she urges.
“I’ve always known Alhaja reported to someone else but as far as it didn’t affect me personally, I didnt bother myself with the details. Two months ago, I got summoned. They sent a car with tinted windows, blindfolded me and put a gun to my head. We drove around for at least an hour, then went to Badagry.”
She interrupts him. “How are you sure it was Badagry?”
“The driver stopped to refuel. the attendant spoke the Badagry dialect of Yoruba.”
“Earplugs.” She muttered to herself. Saheed pretends not to hear.
“I met Mallam Bash for the first time that day. Apparently Alhaja had just been ‘transferred’. She was getting too independent. Mallam Bash knew I did all the real work in Alhaja’s outfit and we are making three times as much as she did before I joined so he offered to let me take over. I accepted.”
The agent looks up from what she’s writing. “Can you give me an accurate description of Bashar Ibn Jaleel’s appearance?.”
Saheed lies smoothly. “I said I met him not that I saw him, they didn’t remove my blindfold the entire time I was there.”
“So you aren’t completely sure it was Bashar Ibn Jaleel you saw?”
Saheed shakes his head. “I swear on my mother’s grave it was him.” His mother is probably bickering with her neighbors right now but she doesn’t need to know that. “I’ve talked to him many times. It was his voice.”
She is still skeptical. “Say I believe you. I still don’t see how that helps me. This may have been a bad business call.”
Saheed rubs his hand together, this is the part he’s been waiting for. “What if I say I know the identities of Mallam Bash’s daughters.”
The pen the agent is writing with snaps in half. She sets aside the broken pen and the clip board and sit forward on the bed till she barely centimetres from Saheed. She shoves the recorder directly under him.
“Tell me everything you know about them.” She hisses.
“About a month ago I started getting these special requests from Bash, to help him get these exotic girls access to special clients. My contacts from my weed selling days still come in handy. Plus you won’t imagine how many high class hotels need girls and sometimes boys from us, discreetly of course.
“I wouldn’t have suspected but every client I hook them up with either mysteriously disappears or is found dead. Eventually somebody is going to connect them to me, and the police is going to come for me so I might as well win while I’m ahead.”
“How many of such girls has Bash sent to you?”
“Four.”
“Do you have any other evidence about these girls other than your story?”
“I’m not stupid, I have a picture but I won’t tell you where it is till I get the cheque.”
“How much do you want for the picture?”
“I want #50,000 for my story, #100,000 for the picture.”
“Is it nearby?”
He pauses. “No.”
She cackles. “You’re getting #80,000 after I see the picture and nothing for your story. You’re a very bad story teller and you tried to trick me.”
Saheed feels stupid. He should have gotten this stupid girl with the prostitute body to sign the cheque before he opened his mouth to say anything. Now she’s trying to steal from him. Well he still had the picture, it was getting clammy where he hid it. Good thing he had wrapped it in cellophane first.
“Sign the cheque or I am leaving with my picture. You can’t scam me anymore.”
“As you wish.”
She reaches under the pillow and draws out the handgun. Before Saheed can utter a word she pulls him to her and empties the clip in his chest, his wet blood spattering all over her expensive suit. She wipes her gun on his Dashiki as he gurgles to death and drapes his body over the chair. A quick pat down reveals an envelope sellotaped to his thigh. she tears his trousers open to get to it. The picture inside is a vivid photograph of a group of smiling girls. Four heads are circled, Nafis, Zuweira, Amma and Leema. She extracts a phone from her blood soaked jacket and speed dials a number. It is picked up on first ring.
“Babu, the job is done. Your daughters need to be brought to order. I won’t clean their messes again. I’m the eldest, not a nanny.”
“Noted. Any thing else?” comes a bemused reply.
“You’re buying me a new suit.”
She disconnects the call and shimmies out of the blood stained clothes. She uses the bed sheet to clean the residual specks of blood on her face and hair and slips on a pair of scrubs hidden underneath the bed. She throws the tape recorder, gun and phone into a satchel and gingerly steps over Saheed’s body which has now slumped to the floor.
—————————————————
At the lobby, two men walk in. They are dressed as doctors but Hakida sees right through the disguise. They are too stiff, too alert to pull off the perpetual air of fatigue doctors exude. She could teach them a thing or two about blending in. She checks her watch, they are twenty minutes late for the meeting they set up. An unpleasant surprise awaits them at the rendez-vous point. She watches as they make their requests and are buzzed past the metal doors. Once the doors shuts behind them, she walks up to the receptionist.
“Oh shit! I just missed them didn’t I?”
“Who?” The nurse asks.
“Two doctors, tall? In black suits and white overcoats?”
The nurse’s confusion contorts into a grimace. “Those ones are yours? Hmmph! They are so rude.”
Hakida raises her hands in mock surrender. “Na so I see am oh. Anyway they’ll kill me because I got here late. I don’t have the strength to face their wahala this evening. Can I drop this here for them, please?”
The nurse shrugs and Hakida hands over the envelope Saheed’s picture came in. The tape recorder is in it. Most of the conversation has been erased, except for the most important part, Saheed’s assassination. Babu likes to leave souvenirs. She makes her way to a car with missing number plates and a waiting driver. She slides into the seat and the car drives off just as the klaxons begins to ring, signalling hospital lockdown.

Edwin’s shares his art usually at Phantom Pages where @weirdo_oo’s dark alphabet clouds are all the weather.
 

Decades II – The Final Decade (71-80) September 26, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:01 am
Tags: ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Final Decade (71-80) by ‘Pemi Aguda @UberBetty
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER @UberBetty
“Iya ni wura iye biye…”
I think the band’s lead singer is dressed too shabbily. What business does a man have wearing such fitted clothes? I grunt and shift my head a few degrees to the left. I can see everyone from this ridiculous throne made of cane that they have put me on. The linen they have thrown over it does nothing to prevent this abrasive lace from scraping against my skin. I long for my well-worn Ankara wrapper that rests easily on my flattened bosom. But I couldn’t wear that here. I am after all, not mad.
But do they know this? They don’t. They believe me loony. I do nothing to dispel this notion. I am quiet. Because they do not understand my words, I am quiet. The soup does not move around in the elder’s belly.
“Maamaa is eighty! Eight to the zero! Eight to the zero!”
What is this child singing? They also think my hearing is poor; but it is better this way. It was my ‘poor hearing’ that helped me overhear Busola and Funlola plotting to sell my house from under my withered bottom. I got Razak’s son to scrawl ‘This House Is Not for Sale’ on the wall in black paint. They had scolded him when they saw it but Razak is fiercely loyal. Unlike them, my own brood.
“I want to give this toast to the best grandma in the world…”
I squint to see Nike, omo Olakunle, speaking. I grunt again. Lies. Her large body is filled with lies. For she hates me. It is the gift of sight I have that caused this. Five years ago, on my 75th birthday, she had come with her fiancé. It was my first time seeing him because the family only gathers on my doorstep when there is a birth, death or anniversary.
“Don’t marry him. For his eyes are shifty.” I had whispered to her. “If you don’t pay attention to the pot, the contents will spill and quench the fire.” She reacted strongly, stomping out of the house with the boy in tow. Two years later, they’d split, and she was fatter yet. He had another wife in Ibadan. She called me a witch.
I have given up on them. They look at me strangely when I burst into laughter at will. They do not know it is their foolishness that amuses me. The great-grandson, just seven years on earth, is already rude like his mother; walking around with those wires dangling from his ears.
“I hate grandma’s house! It smells!” I’ve heard him say. How would he know that it is the herbs I have mixed and prayed over so he doesn’t fall ill that fouls the air?
I often wonder if the twins I gave up before I was a woman would have turned out this way. What could a 16 year old give not one but two babies? I do not regret that choice. The woman vowed she would take them to good homes. I burn two sacrifices every year for them.
Perhaps, if Fola was here, they’d be more respectful. Afolabi, my soulmate, olowoorimi, my husband. He has been gone twenty two years now. Stolen from me, wrenched from my arms by the ruthless diabetes. But he left me well off, with a fat account and memories of a good marriage.
“Mama, come and cut your cake!” My first son, Olamide bellows. He is a man of the spirits; I hear he spends all his ill-earned money on green bottles and little girls that rub his distended belly. He surely did not take after his father; the gods forbid it!
I stand and walk slowly to the tall cake with the big 80 standing atop. Razak rushes forward to help me, I grin at him. I see my daughters laughing with their society friends, Olakunle is on the phone, and Olamide is ogling one of the scrawny waitresses. The grandchildren are nowhere to be found.
My 80th. This is all for show. They don’t really care either way.
“Let’s spell eighty!” He booms again and some people stand.
“E!”
They’ve forgotten the hours of labour and breastfeeding.
“I!”
They’ve forgotten the work I did to feed them before their father came into money; why my hands are scarred. They can’t know, afterall, a child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which his mother puts into his palm.
“G!”
They’ve forgotten my prayers, my vigils by their sick beds; my sacrifices to the gods.
“H!”
They’ve forgotten my intercessions, when they wronged their father; the plots to win back his affection. My mother used to say- “We should talk while we are still alive.”
“T!”
They’ve forgotten my long journeys to their homes, to welcome their own children to the earth; to teach them how to teach their young ones. Or can the young teach traditions to the old?
“Y!”
They’ve forgotten. Or maybe they never noticed.
It is why I’ve decided that when I die tomorrow night – yes, I’ve seen it! – it is Razak, my husband’s loyal driver turned housekeeper, that will have all that money I never spent.
“Eighty!”
The knife goes down. They have turned to look at me now. The idiots.
“Hurray!”
ENTER @tangodeucealpha

The vantage point, of crystal clarity,
damning wisdom, foresight earned
I hear what they hear not
See what they cannot imagine
The truth emerges
Jutting across the landscapes
Of memory itself.

HOW MUCH BLAME SHOULD A WOMAN TAKE WHEN HER CHILDREN DON’T TURN OUT RIGHT DESPITE THEIR GOOD UPBRINGING? HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU WRINKLED YOUR NOSE WHEN YOU HEARD ‘GRANDMA IS COMING’? WHEN LAST DID YOU RANDOMLY SHOW YOUR GRANDMOTHER LOVE, IF SHE STILL LIVES?

JUST SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS, WE’RE OUT OF PENNIES.__.

FIND THE ART OF @UberBetty here and there on AfroSays and every Tuesday on The Naked Convos and the art of @tangodeucealpha here
THANK YOU FOR READING THE DECADES PROJECT II!
CREDITS:
– The AfroSays team (thatDarkBetty, thatAfroSays)
– All the decade writers: @CeceNoStockings, @UcheAnne, @JadenTM, @Zaffiro, @weird_oo, @MsDania, @BoukkieO, @_Aeda
– All the poets :@koromonay, @tecknicoleurGrl, @_Ayaba, @maria_kesh, @nwaokpoechi, @UcheAnne, @d3ola, MsDuro
– The banner designs (thatAfroSays)
– All the insightful commentators, we appreciate your input on helping us improve our art.
– the twitter RT team (We love all of you!)
– Dami Itabiyi 🙂
THE END!
SIGH.
GREEN NATION (A follow up to The Making Of Window Maker) by @HL_Blue coming soon…
 

Decades II – The Seventh Decade (61-70) – part II September 25, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 1:00 pm
Tags: ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Seventh Decade (61-70) part II by @Aeda_
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER twist
Given away. Separated at birth. Unaware of the other. The twins.
ENTER @Aeda_
The night was young. The aroma of our freshly eaten onugbu soup still hung heavy in the air, and the darkness around was being punctuated with overfed crickets and fireflies. Anansewa sat between my legs, watching the ants around scurry away with our left over bits of pounded yam. I applied more baby oil to her fine hair, rubbing the thick mass. She had her mother’s hair, this one. The thought brought a small smile to my face.
“Sewa, hold the lamp up. I need to see what I’m doing.”
She did as she was bid. The shadows shifted as the light moved, and the child giggled mischievously. “Aunty Mamao, see… my shadow is longer than yours. I’m bigger than you.”
I smiled. Aunty Mamao’. Her mother and uncles always called me Mamao, a corrupted version of the generic ‘Mama’. The child thought ‘Mamao’ was my name, hence she spiced hers with a dash of respect. Aunty Mamao, every day, every time. It tickled everyone who heard it, and the child hung her head in shame each time they corrected her. I didn’t. Let her give me the respect that her mother wouldn’t…
“Mamao?”
“Yes, Sewa?”
“Do you think my shadow would be longer than my mother’s own when she comes?” The child’s look was questioning and troubled. I took my time before answering. “I think your mother’s shadow would be bearing all the gifts she has for you on its head. I don’t see how it can be shorter than you then.”
The answer seemed to agree with her. She smiled and ran her fingers over her braids again, assuring herself that it was smooth and beautiful. She wanted to look her best for her mother tomorrow. It had been so long since she saw her. Ewa hadn’t been back to see her daughter since the day she dropped her with me, and that was four years ago. The child was six now.
I remember like it was yesterday. It wasn’t because she left her baby for me, no. This was not the first time a woman abandoned her baby in my arms. I myself was unceremoniously dropped on my mother’s lap. No. It was the things she said to me. The words my daughter spoke that day, seared the memories into my brain. She had jammed the door open with her travelling box, and wagged her fingers up and down my face in that imperious way that was only too Ewa, rattling her gold bangles so much I thought my ears were going to break. “It’s all your fault o, mamao! It is all your fault! Have you tied my destiny down with the dibia that tied yours? Are we all not to have men in our lives, ehn, mamao? Are we not?? Who is my father, Mamao? Where is he?” With that, she jerked the box off the door with such force, that it slammed in my face. I opened it just in time to see her jam the trunk down and drive off, her orange jeep leaving a swirl of dust in her wake. I was left standing alone with the little child.
That evening, I sat with the baby outside the house. I could not sleep, the smell of my daughter’s expensive perfume still lingered. The words that my daughter spoke hung heavy in the air. The child I had fed. The child I had nurtured. The child I had given up my whole life for. That child and this child that had slammed the door in my face did not seem like the same person. I rocked my grand daughter back and forth to stop her from crying, but I was not too far from tears myself. Who could blame her? I was filled afresh with guilt and accusation, feelings that had been my companion for years. The question that was all too familiar came ringing back in my ears.
Who was her father?
I was young then. My father had made a poor harvest that year, and we needed money to pay off our debts. I was sent over to the church house to work with Father Okoli, a new priest who had just moved in from another diocese. He needed a house help to help him with chores and to cook, and in turn he paid my wages to my father. I wasn’t averse to the arrangement. I liked Father Okoli, and I got to sleep in a bed all by myself. Moreso, when he caught me looking at long paper with unintelligible symbols on it, he promised to teach me how to read. I wasn’t afraid of work and was pleased that I could be of help to my family. I did all I could do to satisfy the new priest…even when he started asking for other ‘services.’
There was nothing I could do. There was no one to talk to. Even when I eventually got pregnant, I couldn’t say the truth. No one would believe me. I stuck with my story of being with child for the holy spirit until my father threw me out of his house eventually, screaming that a child that was not of his blood would not smear his name, and that…. “the fruit does not fall far from the tree.” It wasn’t until then that I found out that my father wasn’t my father, and my mother had picked me up from a young sixteen year old woman who did not know what to do with the twins she just birthed. I didn’t know which haunted me more; the fact that I had a twin sister I would never know, or the fear that ‘fatherlessness’ ran in my blood. My mother wept as I was flogged out of the compound, but she didn’t do anything about it. She couldn’t. Worse still, nobody would house me. I was the talk of the town every where I went. My friends were few and far between, and even the ones that snuck food away from their mother’s kitchens for me whispered in my ears daily the wonders a bent iron hanger could do. No. I bore through it. I picked up my burden and walked on ahead in my path of self-exilation. By afternoon I had reached the next village, and that is where I have lived ever since. When the time came, I delivered my child just like the holy mother Mary, only my horses were cows and my barn was another man’s farm.
I gained a little of my self-respect here. I made a living from picking left over harvest from freshly gleaned farms and selling them. I also learnt how to braid different hairstyles, and soon lived off that too. When I had made enough money, I entered the cooking business. I was a very good cook at Father Okoli’s. Early in the morning I would fry dodo and make beans, warm my bread over hot coal and keep cool water in my obodo-oyibo cooler.
One day, a woman came to my stall. She was richly dressed and carried a baby in her arms. She seemed in a great hurry. “Mama, please help me hold this child, I’m coming!” She ran off before I could say or do anything. I gathered the child, and kept it on a bench next to me. Strangely, it did not cry. Sewa stared at it and played with it, and the baby just looked blankly at her.
By afternoon, the woman wasn’t back and I fed the child with a little eba. When the sun started to go down and there was no sign of the woman, I packed up my shed and carried the child to the elders. They shook their heads and chewed their lips, and I could see that they could do nothing to help me. I thanked them and took the baby home. When Sewa and Ayanfe (the baby) grew up, I sent them off to school. They did not need to suffer their mother’s fate too.
Ayanfe came out now, bringing me back to the present. She was carrying Sewa’s favourite wrapper. “Mosquitoes are starting to bite, Mamao.” She wrapped the nearly sleeping child up, and sat down in front of me, holding up the lamp. I smiled despite myself. Ayanfe. Who knew that she would be such a blessing to me? I looked at her and wondered, was it the same me that raised this child and Ewa up? How can these two people, different as night and day, sit and call me mother? While Ewa grew up and went off to the city, abandoning her own mother, Ayanfe stayed back. She was not less pretty, or less smart. She sat with me at my stall, which has grown into a small restaurant now, cooking and serving the young demanding customers who came everyday. She had a fiancée who respected her mother, who did not buy her expensive gifts nor give her the leave to spit words back into her mother’s face. And most of all, she gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Lying down on a mat I set outside, she asked me. “Have you read the letter Mama Ejinma’s son sent to her? She brought it this morning for you to interprete. I told her to come back tomorrow.” Ayanfe did not keep the secrets of the white man’s magic to herself alone. Out of all the women my age in the whole village, I was the only one who could read and write.
I shook my head no. I would read it later, after my daughter has come and gone. A mosquito buzzed next to my ear and Ayanfe quickly darted out and killed it. “I hear that Ewa is coming tomorrow with her third fiancee” she said. I nodded slowly. “I hope it all goes well this time.” She looked at me and looked ahead, at the path leading to our little house, and muttered darkly. “They say that the child who does not let her mother rest, would not rest also.” A cricket chirped loudly at her words. I bent down and concentrated on the braiding, hoping that she did not see the tear drop that rolled off my face and landed on the thick, fine mass of hair.
ENTER @MsDuro

My hair tinted with regrets
I scream a thousand unheard words
Amidst my blessings, I remain fallow
I am broken, yet healed
A heart burdened, covered by a smile
Hoping my voice is heard from my solitary silence

SO THANKS FOR READING. DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THIS WOMAN? DO YOU THINK SHE’S A SATISFIED WOMAN? ARE THERE ANY REGRETS IN YOUR LIFE YOU FEAR ARE ‘INHERITED’?

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

FIND THE ART OF @Aeda_ here
N.B. The project still goes on tomorrow. Watch out for The Final Decade by @UberBetty.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.
 

Decades II – The Seventh Decade (61-70)

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:00 am
Tags: ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Seventh Decade (61-70) by @BoukkieO
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER @BoukkieO
I sit on my bed, facing the mirror, looking intently at the carefully made-up woman staring back at me. Amanda’s make-up artist did a wonderful job. I look beautiful, everything looks alright; my wrinkles are almost completely concealed, my eyes are alert as always, my skin is radiant, and my hands are steady. Nothing gives away the wave of sadness that threatens to swallow me. The dress is lovely, purple has always suited me. Amanda gently places my special pearls around my neck, and when the clasp is done, she helps me up and gives me a once-over. “Your hair is fabulous, your make-up is flawless, and that dress! The dress brings out your curves”. I look at my visible love handles and laugh; that is probably the only real laugh I’ll have today. I turn and place my hand on Amanda’s cheek, and she holds it in place. She looks into my eyes, and says:
“I love you, Mom and I’m proud of you. You deserve today and every good thing that comes your way”
“Thank you, I love you too, darling” I say, holding back the tears at the back of my throat.
She smiles and says: “It’s time, are you ready?” I turn to take a final look in the mirror, take a deep, steadying breath and say: “I was born for this”.
Amanda walks me into the hall, from a back door, I take my seat on a beautiful, golden chair at the head of the room and take a look around; my! So many people! Didn’t Amanda say that just a few people had been invited? I smile at them all anyway, as my eyes slowly move around the room in silent appreciation. I catch my son-in-law staring at me with an approving smile; He whispered in my ears earlier how radiant I look; he doesn’t know, he can’t tell. But how can he? My eyes find my daughter, Amanda Davids-Cole, my precious Mandy. She’s one of a kind, that girl. Something moves in my heart every time I set eyes on her; she doesn’t know either. My eyes move past Mandy and continue their round of acknowledgment and thanks, and they finally come to rest on him… Tomiwa understands, he knows. As the event begins, I fix a smile on my face, and let my mind wander, I let it think of the things that were, the things that should have been, and the things that are…
My name is Eniye Davids, I am an only child and I am adopted. I was raised by mostly my adoptive father; my adoptive mother died when I was very little. I have always loved to write; it has been my only obsession for as long as I can remember. I dreamt night and day of writing novels and owning my own magazine, and everything I did was geared towards that goal. I met Tunji Davids when I was 27 years old, at a black and white ball organized by the magazine I was working with at the time. He was 6 ft of pure chocolatey goodness. We didn’t fall in love immediately, at least that’s what I had him believe; we were friends first, and three years later, we got married. We loved each other very much and he was the only person who understood my obsession. Even when I didn’t want to have kids for a while because it would interfere with my career plans, it was alright with T.J and his mom. When we finally had Mandy, she was a bundle of joy, with eyes exactly like her father’s. And like me, Mandy has no siblings, but she grew to be a fine woman, even if I say so myself.
My sixty-second birthday was a double celebration; after working for other people for so many years, I was finally launching my own lifestyle magazine: Belle. The launch was a huge success, in fact, so much more than I expected. I first met Tomiwa Coker at the after party. He greeted me warmly although I had no clue who he was. I remember him from the party; the memory stands out because of the slight limp in his walk. He was very young, maybe just a few years older than my Mandy, and he was good looking. He introduced himself as a great fan of my work and we started talking about my pieces. Suddenly, he said: “Mrs Davids, I would love to work with you.” I was taken aback by his “straight to the point” manner but really, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Nothing less should be expected of one with a mind as brilliant as his. I told him to see me later in the week in my office. He did show up, and he walked out that day being so much more than the Senoir Editor of Belle; from then on, we formed a bond so strong that he was like the son I never had.
Three years later, Belle was on the fly, family was great, life was generally good, until I started having severe abdominal pain. I went to the hospital, some tests were run and I was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer, with a life expectancy of six months. Of course my world was rocked; no one likes to hear the date of their own demise. There were so many things I still had to do, I couldn’t die, I wasn’t ready to die. I shared the news with only T.J. And Tomiwa. I couldn’t bring myself to tell Mandy; not just yet. T.J didn’t take the news well though; He changed remarkably, he didn’t eat much, didn’t talk much either, and it was as though he couldn’t stand to look at me for too long. I did my best to re-assure him that somehow, we would be alright, but he wasn’t assured. One afternoon, I was talking to T.J about some things that I wanted done if I died. If, yes. My tenacity has seen me through a lot. And even if I was going to die, I didn’t want to die hopeless; I wanted to die believing.
“Babe,” T.J still called me that after all these years
“There’s something I need to tell you.” “Ok, I’m listening”
“First, I want to apologize for not telling you until now, there really is no excuse for what happened, or how I handled it, but I have to tell you, so that if, if you..”
He couldn’t get himself to say “die”. I was getting apprehensive now, but I sat still
“I have a son. And his name is Tomiwa Coker, yes, the same one. He wasn’t aware until today; I spoke to him earlier”, he rushed on. He finally stopped talking, and it felt like the wind just got knocked out of me. So I got up, stood for some seconds to make sure I was steady, and I walked into my room. That was the last time we would speak, for two years. Tomiwa sent in a letter at work, asking for some time off work, he took time off, and resigned soon after. At first, I didn’t get it, it just didn’t seem real. The more I thought about it, the more furious I became. I just couldn’t fathom how it happened; did he have the child before we got married or after? How could he lie to me for so long?
Five weeks after the big reveal, our Doctor called to tell me that I didn’t have cancer, only pancreatitis – a non-life- threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Apparently there had been a mix-up with the tests. I was thankful that I wasn’t going to die, but I didn’t tell T.J. I felt betrayed and wounded beyond words.
At sixty seven, my magazine was the top in the country and a great favorite outside, business was going good, but my family was in shambles. I didn’t give T.J the chance to tell me more than he did; I didn’t want to hear it. One evening, I got a call from Tomiwa; he wanted us to meet someplace. He brought a woman with him. Even before we were introduced, I knew she was his mother and just out of courtesy, I decided to listen to what she had to say. It was a bachelor eve gone wrong, and T.J hadn’t known about Tomiwa until two weeks before my cancer scare. I didn’t have anything to say to the woman, I just thanked her and left. I decided I would let T.J tell me his side of the story, when I got home, but it was Tunji’s turn not to speak to me. I found him on the floor in the room, dead.
Today, I turn 70, and my publishing house has just been commissioned. I would give anything to turn back time, to speak to him again. I wish I forgave him sooner, I wish I had listened. He always believed in me and it would have meant the world if he was here with me now. I blame myself for holding on to anger for so long. All that happened doesn’t seem so important now. The program comes to an end, and I smile gratefully as Mandy and Tomiwa come to link their arms with mine and walk me away from the applauding crowd; they can’t tell. At least I got my dream, and I have people to share it with; that much I’m thankful for. As I step out of the room, I let the tears fall.
ENTER @d3ola

I wear a mask
To cover the pain
I wear a smile
To hide my tears
I speak the words
But its just too late

SO THANKS FOR READING. LET’S TALK ABOUT FORGIVENESS AND THE EASE OF IT.

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

FIND THE ART OF @BoukkieO here and the art of @d3ola here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following two days. Watch out for something different by @Aeda_ later today.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.
 

Decades II – The Sixth Decade (51-60) September 24, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:00 am
Tags: , ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Sixth Decade (51-60) by @Ms_Dania
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER @Ms_Dania
Take five.
I smile. I put down the novel and close my eyes for a few minutes, trying to obey the coach in the novel who’d just told his junior league team to take five. As I expected, the thoughts came. They were so frequent and powerful these days; wrapping round my heart with their gnarled fingers, threatening to squeeze the life out.
Regret?
I’m not sure.
I have a husband who loves me. My first daughter just got married, my only son is about to complete his Masters degree abroad and my baby girl (I smile as I remember the way she cringes when I call her that in public) will soon start her penultimate level in university. She’ll make a fine lawyer one day, that one.
As managing director of Mainstream Bank, it can be said that I’ve done very well for myself.
What is there to regret?
I’d always wanted to be a writer; and write I could. I remember telling my Mama whenever I finished reading a new novel that she’d brought home that I was going to grow up and write stories for the whole world to read. I excelled in essays and even won a few competitions here and there. Pre-NYSC, I did a bit of editing work and wrote for a couple of magazines. My parents were happy; they liked that my hobby made me small money on the side.
Post-NYSC, I got a bank job because everyone knows that you gotta get a real job after NYSC. Right? So I did. But I had a plan. I would work for a while then get married. If my husband wasn’t earning enough to support the family alone, I’d wait till he was and then I’d quit and venture out into my writing career properly. It was a foolproof plan.
I met Tunji right after NYSC at a friend’s birthday gig. He was…nice. He looked nice, spoke nice, smelled nice; he was the quintessential nice guy. He was a mid level employee at a small private company at that time with hopes and dreams and potential. And he loved me to bits. I was very comfortable around him and we became fast friends. From the beginning, I knew he wanted more and so when he kissed me after the movies that first day, I didn’t stop him. I didn’t kiss him back either. Somehow he didn’t give me butterflies. We kinda started dating sometime after that. We broke it off -or rather I broke it off- a couple of times but somehow we always got back together. I did love him in a way, and we were so used to each other. But he still didn’t give me butterflies. It didn’t come as a surprise to me or everyone around when he asked me to marry him three years later. We had indirectly talked about it. We had met each other’s families. I told him I needed time. He said to take all the time I needed. Nice, sweet Tunji. I didn’t have butterflies. I thought about all the other guys that wanted to marry me. Most of them had more money. One of them was heir to a fortune. I thought about my sweet, loving, considerate Tunji.
Chioma said butterflies only happened in the movies. Bimpe said no grown woman needed butterflies. My mama said what was important was that we loved each other. Biology said that, at 28, my time was running out. Why give up the man in one hand for a winged creature you haven’t even sighted yet, no matter how colourful it may seem?
Our wedding was…nice. I kept my bank job, waiting for his potential to turn into kinetic. The children started coming. I continued waiting. Diapers, cribs and preschool. Still I waited. Thirteen years into our marriage he lost his middle level job. Like a good wife, I told him not to worry that I’d cover for him while we waited for him to get another. Maybe it was God’s way of moving him to something better. Maybe I would finally quit this job that was draining the life out of me slowly. Perhaps I’d still get to write that novel. So I covered. Boarding house, tantrums and Masters Degrees. I kept covering. Covering and waiting, covering and waiting. Day after day, when he’d come home crestfallen after another day on the streets trying to get a job, I’d be there smiling with open arms, hot food and open legs. Even though I hated my job with every vein in my body, I did more than endure it; I excelled at it. I was determined to be the perfect wife and mother.
As we grew older, he stopped seeking employment and came up with all sorts of business schemes and proposals. I continued in my role as the good wife; smiling, cooking, sexing and funding the harebrained schemes.
Its 32 years after and I’m still smiling. Not as brightly though. My dreams of being a famous novelist were just that: dreams. The novel I was just reading is the first I’ve read in decades. The only reason I’m at home and have time to read it is because I had to take a compulsory leave after I collapsed at work last Tuesday. “Fatigue”, the doctor said. Unhappiness, my heart corrected. I hate my life. I love my children. My husband. I love him. And then I hate him. I hate him for being the reason my heart flutters a little each time Chinedu Ubaka comes to my office. You see, Chinedu is an extremely successful business man and one of the bank’s most important clients. He is very well spoken, well read and well travelled. He is also divorced. And he likes me. He’s put it out there but he doesn’t push it; he wants me to “take my time”. I feel him watching me whenever he comes in for a meeting. I wonder if he notices that I’m freshly made up every time. I can’t help it, I like him too. Or I like the idea of him, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the idea of his success that I like. Maybe if Tunji was successful I wouldn’t feel this way. At least if he was successful, I wouldn’t be working at the bank and I wouldn’t have met Chinedu. But I’ll never know because I can never cheat on Tunji. I think.
So I hate him. Because I love him. I hate him because I love him. Every time he looks at me with failure in his eyes I physically fight the urge the grab him by the collar and shake the lights out of him, screaming, “Get up off your sorry ass and turn your potential into kinetic, dammit! This was not the life you promised me!”
They say the ‘fairy tale’ happens only in the movies. So I settled for real life. Shouldn’t real life pay off? I did the right thing and married my ‘Nice guy’. I did not follow the other guys with their money. I could have been wife to the bloody heir to a fortune. I did not hold out for the man that would give me butterflies; I settled for common sense. I followed the rules. I should be happy.
Shouldn’t I be happy?
Doorbell rings.
I open my eyes and look at the time. My five minutes is up. It is him. Standing up, I pick my novel off the floor, smoothen out my dress and walk towards the door.
And then with my hand on the knob, I put my smile in place.
Margaret Osuji is the name I go by. The good wife is who I am. Smile is what I do.
ENTER @UcheAnne

MARGARET’S MÉLANGE

Pour three gallons of Expectation in the pan of Potential.

Throw in your Bird In Hand, plucked and fine and ready.

Then add two Gold Bands. Leave to boil on your Hopes for years.

Next, ten pints of Disappointment and Regret, stirred in slowly.

Don’t forget all the resentment; add Bitterness to taste.

Simmer for another couple of years; then take out the fire.

Leave dish to cool on your resignation. Serve with a smile.

SO THANKS FOR READING. TODAY, IT’S A WEEKEND. SEEK YOUR MOTHER OUT IF SHE’S NOT AFAR OFF AND LOOK IN HER EYES. IS SHE HAPPY?
AND THEN ASK YOURSELF, IS HAPPINESS TO BE DISCOVERED ON THE SAFE, COMMON PATH?

THE AUTHOR ASKS

HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO LET GO OF YOUR BUTTERFLY? OR ARE YOU STILL HOLDING OUT FOR IT? HOW MANY SMILING PEOPLE ARE REALLY HAPPY

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

FIND THE ART OF @Ms_Dania here and the art of @UcheAnne here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following three days. Tomorrow we have The Seventh Decade by @BoukkieO plus a special surprise by @Aeda_ soon after.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.
 

Decades II – The Fifth Decade (41-50) September 23, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Fourth Decade (41-50) by @weirdo_oo
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER @weird_oo
With a divorce from a childless marriage notched under my belt, I was ready to take on the world.
Where to start?
A year past the big ‘Four-Oh’ and I didn’t look a day over thirty-five; a big accomplishment for me considering the fact that I hadn’t accomplished anything worth mentioning in my life. As my ex-husband would ‘fondly’ say during our arguments, “Even ordinary children, umuazi! You cannot have! Useless woman!” Who could fault him? I knew my worth; nothing.
I had accepted barrenness as my portion and was ready to move on with my life. Was it too late? Although I was given a proper divorce settlement, I couldn’t get over the snide comments other well-to-do women at church threw my way during our C.W.O meetings.
“…MY company is ready to refurbish that part of the Parish…”
“…I’d have the girls at MY media organisation deal with the publicity…”My! My! My!

All I did was throw around my husband’s money, nothing I had made with my own hands. Things were going to change! I was going to make a name for myself! Well, that was the idea. I started by globe-trotting. What better way to garner ideas?
My forty-second birthday caught me in New Delhi, taking a short business and managerial course. “India is the place to be!” My best friend Nkiru gushed when I told her my plans. She was wrong. I hated India. The food was terrible! Sticking to a vegetarian diet was probably what kept me alive. Hia! The men weren’t even desirable. I could not stomach the thought of their hairy bodies, rubbing against mine. Their breath? Mba! My apartment was beside a mosque. What was I thinking? Five a.m. every morning, I was woken up by the loud noise of the speakers, calling faithful to prayer. The people were so hard to understand, with their annoying head shakes . The school was the worst! Everyone already had a business running and I had to endure the pitying stares when I told some of my course mates I was unemployed. I was left out of most conversation. What did I know? I couldn’t take it anymore. I left India, half way through my course, kissing my thousands of rupees goodbye. I was ashamed to return home with my tail between my legs, but that was my next destination. Who needed classes to teach them how to run a business anyway? Biko! Experience is the best teacher.
After much argument with Nkiru about my ‘attitude’, she introduced me to a friend of hers, Chief Ogbogu. “He’s into importing and exporting. He would be able to help you immensely”. Well, Chief wasn’t also into that. She forgot to mention he was a chronic womaniser! That old goat! I complained to her and she wasn’t fazed. I became suspicious. Had she also been ‘helped’ by Chief? “Its either you take this opportunity, Rose, or you let it go!” Ehn? Me? No way! This was one opportunity I wasn’t going to take!
Again, Chief proved he had yet another layer to him; vengeful little man. I started up my store, without his help, at Aspanda, Lagos. Two weeks after the successful opening of Rosie Shoes, rumours began to circulate. I was oblivious until my ex-husband called me.
“Yes?”
“Listen, woman! I don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, please use your maiden name and stop dragging mine into the mud!”
“Hia! Bia Fide! O gini kwa? What is this now, eh!”
“Mechie onu osiiso! I’ve heard how you sleep with all the young boys in Aspanda. Ashawo! Ihere mekwa gi! Ntiibachaku! Ohuru mmuo…”
I cut the call, tears brimming in my eyes at the insults. Mmuwa bu Rose? Sleeping with men? Those sweaty things at Aspanda? I sat in my office and cried my heart out. As I was about to ask myself who would have formulated such nonsense, the answer came to me. Chief Ogbogu. Furiously, I picked up my phone and dialled his number, screaming insults at him immediately he picked up.
“I chere na inwa anya? Aga m emegi ihe na Aspanda,” he said menacingly.
You think you’re smart? I’ll deal with you in this Aspanda.
Things went downhill after this, and months later I closed down, disheartened. I ended my friendship with Nkiru. She wasn’t a good person at all! All alone, I cried myself to sleep every night to my forty-third birthday. “Why me?” I asked the mirror that birthday morning, dying the grey strands of hair showing themselves in my beautiful head of hair. The stress had given me wrinkles and I stood there, in my underwear, unsuccessfully pulling my frown lines to smoothness. Facelift. The only answer.
My vanity took me to the US, and there I met Mark. He was as sexy as sexy could be! A self-made young man, introduced to me by my friends at a friend’s party in New York.
“I like older women,” he had said naughtily into my ear as we danced, the beginning of our whirlwind romance. After a week, I moved in with him.
“How would you like to work with me?” He asked sweetly one morning as he prepared to leave for a business trip. I could not believe it! I agreed, ofcourse, and the next day I was in his office, receiving training. *Big sigh.* I should have known something bad would happen. I should have prepared myself.
Mark lost his life in a plane crash just a week before his thirty-fifth birthday. I was heartbroken. I lost the only man who cared for me. I lost my job, thanks to his partners who had never taken a liking to me.
My time in the US was up and it was back to ‘Naija’. My forty-fourth year passed in a blur of trials and failures, and at forty-five I was running out of ideas. My bank statement scared me. I was running dry. Grovelling at the feet of my ex-husband, I was able to get a steady paying job. I was too grateful to complain about the nasty way the sexy manager/new wife treated me. Besides a few crow’s feet at the sides of my eyes I was still supple. Nothing make up and the occasional facelift couldn’t handle. I had even found another younger sexy thing to amuse myself with. ‘What could possibly go wrong now?’ I thought to myself one night, smiling.
The Cosmos answered
What started with swellings under my armpits escalated to fevers, hot flushes, swollen and sore breasts.
“Menopause,” a friend of mine at the office said, dismissing my worry.
Menopause at forty-five? I wasn’t sure if I was too thrilled about it. I knew ladies over fifty who hadn’t had theirs after all!
“Go check it out,” my toy-boy said after a particularly lackadaisical love making session. I wonder now if he had really been worried about me or just put off by the fact that I hadn’t been fantastic in bed that night. I took his advice anyway and got a medical once-over.
I had breast cancer. My left breast had to be removed to avoid it spreading. Somehow, I wish I hadn’t gone to the clinic. I wish I had remained in the dark. But then, wouldn’t I have died? Dying with two breasts beats living with one… didn’t it? Then it hit me. Five years after vowing to accomplish something, I was still living off my husband.
Treatments started. I had to quit my job, and soon enough my account went red. Predictably, my toy-boy was on the high road, waving me goodbye without even a glance at my ravaged frame. With my parents dead, my younger brother was my only family and my saving grace. We managed; somehow we just managed.
Luckily, my cancer went on remission. A cancer survivor at forty-seven! Ekene dirikwa Chukwu! I co-founded a breast cancer foundation with my friend Tayo who had been just as lucky as I was to survive. We were ‘Team No to Cancer’. This was what I was born to do; reaching out to women and explaining the need for regular health check-ups. Two years later and our foundation was going strong. There were talks of government aids to help us expand to West Africa.
Contrary to what I preached, I missed three monthly check ups. Getting so caught up with running the foundation, I kept putting them off, even though I knew better.
A trusty friend came calling.
‘Hello there! How are you?’
I slumped during a presentation in Abuja and was rushed to the hospital. Cancer fatigue. According to the doctor, I might not survive the battle.
‘Hello there! How are you? Remember me? Yeah! I took your left breast! What a coincidence! We meet again! Can I get you a drink? Maybe talk about old times, no?’
I’m in the best hospital in India (yes, bloody India!), in a private ward, on my sick bed. So alone. My brother just left to tend to business. Again, he was funding my treatment. Tayo would be dropping in next week. You see, it’s my 50th birthday next week. I’m wondering if I’ll even live long enough to see it.
————————————————————–
Miss Rosemary Ndubuisi brought out her rosary from within the folds of her hospital gown. She had always worn it merely as an accessory, though she did go for Mass every Sunday.
“Where’s God when you need Him? After everything I went through; childlessness, sickness, failure. Where was He? Chineke mmuo,” she whispered, jerking the beads off her neck and watching them rattle on the linoleum floor.
ENTER @nwaokpoechi

This life I’m living

I’ve lost it searching for its meaning

hoping, praying, believing

The end is nigh, it has to be

Surely there’s no more to it

Because everything I have, I’ve already given

SO THANKS FOR READING. TODAY, LET’S TALK ABOUT A WOMAN’S BUSINESS, A LIFE WITHOUT CHILDREN AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF A FAILED MARRIAGE (YES! MARRIAGE AGAIN).A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

FIND THE ART OF @weird_oo here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following three days. Tomorrow we have The Sixth Decade by @Ms_Dania.
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.
 

Decades II – The Fourth Decade (31-40) September 22, 2011

Filed under: Decades — Betty @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , ,


The Decades project II.

Thanks for waiting. In case you missed the preview, find it here so you know what to expect. If you’re not sure what Decades is about, kindly check the preview out.

Decades II – very much like the original Decade project – explores the wholesomeness of womanhood as lived in ten-year intervals; Girls; Ladies; Women; Mothers; grand and great-grand mothers all. They live the same life we live, experience the same joys and pains unique to their decades and maybe we can learn a thing or two from them. Find the subtle connections that link their lives together and get lost in stories told. Decades II.

Please do subscribe to the blog to follow the project. (Column to the right for PC browsers or in the comment section). Also, we hope that you’d be kind enough to leave a comment. Your feedback is important to us.


The Fourth Decade (31-40) by Feyisayo Hassan (@Zaffiro)
Enjoy

...ongoing...

ENTER @Zaffiro
Her fortieth birthday was racing towards her like a NAScar with failed brakes; it would meet her rich, dejected and unmarried.
She could picture her cake: Olajumoke Peters is Forty! If the caterer had a sense of humour, she would scribble: ‘wrinkled and single’, under Forty. She laughed out loud the way one would at a cruel joke; she laughed so hard her eyes watered before the tears came rolling down. She wept for her loneliness.
She had aged well like fine wine. There were laugh lines around her eyes now but they only made her lovelier to behold. Her ebony skin still glowed from constant care and expensive creams; nature had been partial with her body, giving her the perfect figure.
Life for her had always been easy.
As the only child of a wealthy chief, she had grown up pampered and spoilt. She remembered being exempted from general punishments in high school because her father was their most generous donator. University had been a breeze, she held memories of partying wildly with her clique of hot nonchalant friends and paying her way through every semester. With the arrogance of one who was aware of her beauty, she had flaunted it, enjoying privileges from every guy that expressed interest. She discarded boyfriends as easily as she met them only slowing down in her mid-twenties. A ghastly accident returning from a soiree one night which landed her in a hospital bed and left her left leg in an ugly cast for 6months had caused her to reflect on her life. She pressured her father for a job and lost contact with most of her friends, save Ann, her best-friend since childhood.
Life, however, had become largely unkind to her. The dreams she had of wet diapers and tiny feet remained just that, dreams. Three men in ten years, passing through her and leaving her like they had found her…worse even. They were thieves, giving her hope and robbing her of her affections, attention and body.
She had never been short of suitors, where had she gone wrong?
At thirty-three, she had a marriage proposal secure, a 16-carat diamond ring on her engagement finger.
‘Toye’, she sighed.
They had met at Tracy’s wedding when she was thirty. She had been fresh from a shattered relationship, getting old by society’s standards and available. She remembered all too clearly his gait, the way he had approached her table like he owned the party. He had asked her to dance and when she’d politely declined sat down to chat with her the rest of the evening, leaving only once to grab her a drink when she’d expressed interest in the cocktails the waiters whizzed past.
They had exchanged numbers as they parted that night.
Toye had been an attentive lover, a thoughtful man, the –quintessential- ‘husband material’ it had seemed but for his skills as woman panel-beater. Adonis that he was, she still wondered how such contrasting attributes managed to coexist in his edible bod. The first time he had hit her she hurt more from the shock than the pain of the slap. It became more regular but she had stuck on. Heck! She was in her thirties and desperate to settle down. Barely a month after her thirty-third birthday when he proposed, he had beat her so much, she landed in a hospital. That was the last, painful straw that had almost literally broken her back. She ended the relationship and deleted him from her life. She had no desire to spend the rest of her days nursing injuries. The painful break-up with Toye couldn’t have come at a worse time: a week before Ann’s wedding where she would play bridesmaid. On the morning of Ann’s wedding, she wept. Could she bear this? With a plastic smile set in place, she stifled the tears that threatened to fall, determined not to ruin her friend’s day with her problems; it had to be the longest day of her life.
Thirty-four met her single and not quite searching. Her job was enough for her. Was marriage worth it? If it was for procreation, she could easily get pregnant. If it was for sex and companionship, married men lined up at her door ready to start illicit affairs with her.
This new attitude worried her parents, so much that it resulted in a blind date with dad’s client’s son.
‘Give it a try’, her mother urged. ‘You never know till you try’.
And try she did, meeting Nicholas in a crowded bar. She arrived first and selected a table not too far from the exit.
‘Blue shirt you say? Okay, I see you’, she said and dropped the phone as he approached the table.
Fine.
Man.
The two words her cerebellum registered with the new face that night; her pulse quickened.
Sparks flew. He became ‘her Nicolas’. She wanted to carry his babies, children that would have their father’s honey brown eyes and perfectly sculpted pink lips.
Her Nicolas turned out not to be hers after all when she found out he was cheating with his secretary through a friend that worked in the same organization. She ended things instantly ignoring, her mother’s protests.
They are men, it is their way of life, give it another try, she pleaded.
A try got me into this, no thanks.
Her pleading turned into anger.
Do you think you are the hot cake you used to be in your twenties? You are in your mid thirties. Settle down, time’s not ticking backwards for you.
I haven’t forgotten mother. You remind me every day.
She picked up her car-keys and drove out of the house in rage. Moving out wasn’t an option because of the Yoruba tradition that a woman had to be married out of her father’s house; her father, being the strict traditionalist that he was, would hear nothing of her living single and alone. Who came up with those things anyway? Insensitive bastards!
That was her biggest fight yet with her mother. Father had watched the proceedings with a sad resigned look on his face. He even went as far as setting up a reconciliatory meeting between her and Nicolas but it had ended on a sour note.
Nicolas and his ‘beloved’ secretary got married six months after. She wondered if she should have stuck it out; maybe they would be happily married now. After all Ann was on her second child.
Her zest for life was fading. Each day did not leave her without a reminder that she was unmarried. Was she cursed? Where had she missed it? She never thought she would be this, the old maid at her parent’s home waiting for a husband, the one her mother’s sister remembered in her prayer sessions at MFM. She couldn’t stand it any longer, this way her married friends looked on her with poorly disguised pity and quickly changed the topic from husbands and children when they caught themselves, to spare her some embarrassment. The dark circles from constant crying under her eyes became a permanent fixture.
At thirty-seven she stopped attending weddings. Was she ever going to be the one in the horrid white dress dancing towards her groom in delight. Hers was going to be unconventionally short, she had decided long ago. Nothing clichéd. The thought that she might never get to wear one chilled her insides.
When would it be her crowd sitting in the church pews in their brightly coloured geles and aso-ebis that fought for attention?
Her hopes were ebbing but Segun returned them. He turned out to be the ONE. He was a widower with one child. They had been introduced by a concerned Ann. The connection was instant; blame desperation if you like. They completed each other’s sentences and one never seemed to get enough of the other. They were together for eighteen blissful months before he proposed. Ah, finally! Their families met in a small introduction ceremony. She went about with a glint in her eye and a spring in her step. The wedding date was set, invitation cards were sent out, and her joy knew no bounds. She made plans for the cake, the hall, the events centre, the train, the church, so much to do with so little time. Her parents and Ann volunteered to help. Her dress and shoes were coming in from Paris, custom made by her best designer all paid for by her fiance. Her fiance. Fiance. Fiance. She repeated the word over and over again; it was music to her thirty-nine year old years.
Congratulations poured in. She would be Mrs Segun Kuforiji in a fortnight, before the dreadful words hit her on a cool Sunday evening.
‘Babe?’ Segun called and tenderly held her hands.
‘Yes, my love’, she answered with a smile.
Forgive me.
She looked at him, confused.
I can’t do this…
‘Do what?!’ she cut in, springing to her feet.
…get married to you, he blurted, tripping on his own words.
She saw red.
It wasn’t her, it was him.
Nigeria held too many painful memories of his late wife …
‘We can move abroad together and start a new life’, she suggested.
…and the upcoming wedding made him feel like he was trying to replace her.
There were gaping holes in his life it was unfair to ask her to fill.
His demons had caught up with him.
He was sorry.
‘Ah ahn, Segun! What is this?’ She whispered.
‘Why don’t you just pick up a knife and kill me now. Twist it through my heart and kill me!!! You evil bastard!!’ she screamed in rage.
And he moved abroad with his lone kid.
She could not- would not -be comforted. Sleep eluded her, pain spent each waking morning mocking her. She locked herself in her room for days refusing food and company. How did he expect her to stand the shame, How did he expect her to face people? She cursed him, the coward, running abroad and shattering her heart. She ate tears for breakfast, lunch and supper. Her parents were at a loss, they had tried everything.
In backward order, Segun, Nicolas, Toye; these men had destroyed her. She could never love again. Ever. At this point, she embraced her fate. She would never know the joy of having another’s last name.
Miss Olajumoke Demilade-Peters, she would remain. A lone soldier.
ENTER @maria_kesh
Let’s toast.
To my tears, to my hurt. Again.
Lets toast, to my pain..
My salty tears. My salty warm tears are what we would drink
Lets toast to me.
To only me.
SO THANKS FOR READING. STORY AND POEM. TICK-TOCK… TICK-TOCK… GOES THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK? WHAT SAY YOU? DOES A WOMAN NEED MARRIAGE TO BE A COMPLETE PERSON? AND MEN, TOLERATE THEIR AMOROUS MISDEMEANORS OR LEAVE THEM?

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS?

FIND THE ART OF @Zaffiro here
N.B. The project still goes on for the following four days. Tomorrow we have The Fifth Decade by @weird_oo.
Also, Our dear AFROSAYS worked on a story in The Writer’s Roundabout, a project by our very own @d3ola, one of the Decades team members. The Writer’s Roundabout is a place for the insanely creative, silly ridiculous. Naughty! I tell you! Find it here. It’s a series of silly stories written by different writers/bloggers so be sure to start from the very top and give some feedback. AfroSays wrote the last story, Jason vs Derulo
You can subscribe to the blog (at the right column or in the comments section) to follow the project.
 

 
%d bloggers like this: