Uncle Jero

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source: obindigo.com

Lemme tell you the tales of my uncle. Jero.

Ngosi!!! He’ll call my name with his eyes wide open like it was going to fall off very soon. My siiiir!!! lingers on till I was in his presence.

If uncle Jero said sit…i sat
Walk..i walked
Cook..same
Clean…he didn’t even have to utter a word.

I was my uncle Jero’s puppet
My mum didn’t help matters with
Her good bye phrase each day..”you had better respect jero”? and the fact that she was barely home.

My dad worked in another state and came home occasionally.

No siblings because of my mum’s medical condition.

Uncle Jero was basically family.

Oh!!! did I mention that uncle Jero was the help -or in our Nigerian parlance -house boy.

Uncle Jero always told tales of how his dad fought in the civil war and how he grew up hunting.

“I kill for a living”, he’d say. Telling that to a 9 year old kid, you’d wonder why I was his puppet.

Once “madam” was out of the house uncle Jero was the house king. He made me do all his chores and when I tried to cry..he reminded me of his special skills -killing for a living.

One fateful night there was a robbery incident at our house. I was very terrified but not as much as uncle Jero. He wept uncontrollably and even wet his body. I wondered why he was be scared when, after all he killed for a living.

I hadn’t given much thoughts to it when I said, “Uncle Jero, do something…you kill for a living don’t you?!!!. Everyone starred at me and well…the rest is history.

Sadly, whatever happened to uncle Jero that night still remains a mystery.

All I know is, he quit after that incident.

That was the end of my uncle Jero.

 

Aródan

Every time a car pulled up in front of the house, I knew I was going to be sent to either  Mama Dada’s house, Tola’s mum or aunty kemi- to get Arodan. I often wondered why my mother only remembered she needed one when her male visitors came over.

I knew what she did for a living but I am not one to judge- (a man has got to do whatever is necessary for survival).

She once told me she sold “laptops”- I relayed same to my friends and anyone that asked- I just kept the brands to myself.

I didn’t know my father and we never really discuss him much. Rumours had it, he is the wealthy politician that lived down our street.

Mr T  became my mum’s regular. He’s was a nice man, he bought me a lot of stuff and my mum was very happy with him (what more could I ask for). The other day Mr T stopped by, he and my mum had a heated argument, I saw him leave angrily on my way back from searching for arodan. My mum wept bitterly that night- the first time I had ever seen her cry.
The following week Mr T came by, I was glad. God had finally answered my prayers. My mum wasn’t as excited as I had imagined. I got prepared to go arodan searching but never got the instruction. I was called into the house. For the first time, she officially introduced me to Mr T (I had never been introduced to any of her male friends).

There was this look in his eyes that day, one I didn’t quite understand. I was instructed  to wait in the room- I obeyed like a good girl.  I felt stomach tighten- I just didn’t feel right that day- something was off.

I heard my mum plead with him to reconsider. He replied saying she had to make a choice- me or him. The shouts turned to tiny whispers, my mum came in with a teary smile to give me a prep talk.

“I love you and I’ll do anything to protect and provide for you. Now it’s your turn to help me out. Please do whatever he asks of you”, she said as she planted a kiss on my cheeks.  I nodded knowingly.

She left me alone in the room for what seemed like forever. As he came in…I saw my mum hesitate to let go of his clothes. He smiled at me and beckoned that I should come closer, which I did obediently. He told me how beautiful I was- even more beautiful than my mother- and promised to marry her and give us a better life if  I co-operated.

He began to unzip my dress. When it finally dawned on me what was about to happen, I started  begging him to reconsider and slowly the tears followed. “You’ll love it..I’ll be gentle I promise” he said as he pulled me closer. I began to wriggle my way out as my begs and tears grew louder.

My behaviour irked him and he shut me up with a slap. I freed myself from his grip and ran towards the door which was already locked (I didn’t notice the key had been removed). He ran towards me with fury. He was no longer patient with me-he had metamorphosed from a dove to a beast within few seconds. I knew I was defeated, but I wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The more I resisted, the wilder he became. I was soon overpowered.

I shut my eyes waiting for the inevitable to happen. I tried to distract my thoughts with few happy childhood memories. The “soaps” I watched said it took only 10 seconds. I counted 20 seconds- (the extra 10 seconds were to allow him get his weight off my body) -in my head before opening my eyes when I didn’t feel any movement.  Mr T was laying over me with his eyes shut… no movement at all.

I laid still with his weight on me for what seemed like 30 minutes till my mum came in and pulled him off. She had tears in her eyes.

Unknown to me…she had poisoned his drink before he came unto me. She stood behind the door praying earnestly that the poison kicked in fast enough before he could carry out the act (she wasn’t going to let history repeat itself).

Getting off the hook was quiet easy. Mr T was hypertensive and the cardaic arrest story we sold was bought. It also helped that the doctor was an old “customer” of my mum.

“Till we meet at the bossom of the Lord on the last day”, that was the preachers closing statement as we all stood by Mr T’s grave. My mum and I knew that was a luxury, one Mr T couldn’t afford.

*arodan- fruitless journey

Beautiful Gate

Today I sat at the gate called beautiful,
welcoming me were stares pitiful
I quietly observed the traffic of men and women
First in their tens and subsequently hundreds
Children chatting happily as they walked to school
The older ones walking freely
The younger ones in the company of their parents or guardians.
School- a dream I know may never come true.

Hamattan is nature’s reminder of my lack of shelter or warmth.
It does differentiate between my kind and the rest of the world
If anything, it has taken particular liking to me
Evidence is seen from my wrinkled skin
To my naturally pancaked face
And the flu that won’t just go away.

I stare at the crowd with a deep sense of hope
As I longed for a naira or two
Seconds passed, minutes followed
Four hours  down the line
The worms in my stomach begin a rhyme
Not sure which bites harder
the worms or the recession
Eating deeper into the economy by the day
Luck finally smiles on me
I’m not sure which shone brighter
My smile or the silver coin

The sun set is my cue to call it a day
I thank God for today
It was better than yesterday
Tomorrow is another date
At the beautiful gate
I can only pray
Peter and Andrew come my way

I know

“I know how you feel”..
that has to be the most
annoying sentence in the
English language.

Don’t tell me you know how poverty feels until your father goes house to house begging for your fees or
when you watch your family
being kicked out because the rent is overdue or
when you have to live in perpetual fear
of what tomorrow holds
because your today hangs on a thread.

“I know how you feel”,
let’s trade places for a day
then maybe I’ll believe you.
Take my mat,
give me your mattress
Take my sickness,
give me your good health
Take my broken heart,
give me your love.

“I know how you feel”
Have you walked in my shoes?,
Eaten my food?, (if any is available)
Fought my fight?,
Cried my tears?,
Feared my fears?

“I know how you feel”
Save the lines
For the next victim
You can’t know what you’ve never felt
If you don’t know my pain
you can never feel  the same

WAR

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We are casualties of the war”   J.P Clarke, The Casualties

It was my first day of the two weeks leadership training program, I wasn’t sure how I felt about leaving home for the first time. I had a lot on my mind… couldn’t be bothered with the fuzz. I walked past some cars at the parking lot. I saw families -crying and hugging, others laughing.  Some parents were giving the usual talks about ‘remembering the child of whom you are’. I didn’t even realise I hadn’t bade my mother goodbye. Typical of her, she had left before I made it back to the car.

We were gathered at the conference hall with our luggage and had to wait for registration to commence. The instructors came and soon the registration began.

Part of the registration requirement was to join a group (this was the hardest part of the registration for me), after a thorough survey of the groups available I settled for the Literary Republic. I had lost my muse for literature and hoped this will help revive it.

After what seemed like forever, registration finally came to an end. I couldn’t wait to get back to solitude.  I walked to a corner of the room -unnoticed as usual. I stumbled on a collection of poems and opened to no page in particular.  The poem “The Casualties” by J.P Clarke struck me.

As expected everyone was paired in groups- some of twos and others threes- chatting and connecting ( with few exceptions like me). Their faces bore different expressions- hope, expectations, smiles, relief, worry, fear, anxiety, curiosity, – a greater number; a puzzled look.

The induction ceremony soon began. I wasn’t sure I made it past the introduction-of-names stage before I brought out a pen and paper. I started writing. I guessed I was getting my groove back.

War! War! War! we are all casualties of  its unseen force.
 A mental picture of the concept brings with it images of- guns, bombs, grenades, dead bodies, uniforms, red cross, etc.
Surprisingly, that’s only about 1/10 of it.
The typical war scenario fails to capture the other side, fought with more powerful tools money cannot buy …’

I saw Abdul already ‘setting P’ with a babe (the girls beside me were dying of envy). I couldn’t have been happier; I had not seen him smile that much in forever. I was his neighbour and perhaps the only one who knew his mother was losing her battle with cancer.

We were past the introduction stage and were being assigned to a mentor.

…It has “shot” out the war within.
It fails to capture the physical and emotional battle resulting in  and from  joblessness, being diagnosed with an incurable diseases, failing a course after two or more attempts, being the skinny kid everyone called anorexic, pillows soaked the night before, loud wailing of battered mothers, screams resulting from rape, suicidal thoughts, loneliness, regrets, rejection, being the “psycho” molested as a child, “had I known’s” and the feeling of loving something death can touch…’

I received a message from my mother about how sorry she was that she couldn’t wait to say goodbye. And that she loved me. I scoffed at the ‘idea of love and being sorry’.

The same words she had fed me with over the years. It began when she got a divorce from my dad, because he lost his job and could no longer afford the lifestyle she was used to. She was quick to apologise for missing by graduations and forgetting my birthdays.

She definitely wasn’t loving up each time she took sides with her husband (my..step father) even when she knew the truth.

We had gotten to the last stage of the induction.

‘…We’ve fought the war of the past; we’re fight fighting the war of the present. We can only hope never to fight the war of the future”.

The bell rang; it was time to dispatch for lunch.

Heartbreaks

TBH I’ve never viewed heart break from a perspective other than the usual -boy breaks girl’s heart- and vice versa. Interestingly, I was conversing with a group of people when someone suddenly said xxx just ‘broke my heart’. We were all sympathetic and tried consoling her (that’s what people do right?). she hissed and narrated what had happened.

Apparently, she wanted to place an order for food but was informed by the restaurant that they were out of food; we all burst into laughter. She wore a straight face and didn’t find it funny. She explained that her heart was really broken because- she had looked forward to the meal all day.

This incident gave me a whole new perspective on heart breaks (and all). I felt very shallow in my thinking for equating heart breaks to only relationships. I began to think of instances when I had actually had my heart broken.

Should I start from the day my best friend betrayed my trust; or the day the atm didn’t dispense and could barely feed throughout the weekend; or the day I was disappointed by my tailor. What about the time I worked so hard for a test and still didn’t get the desired grade, damn! I was heart broken; or that time I prayed earnestly to God to heal a loved one but he still died, (such heart break).

We’ve all suffered heart breaks. Yes maybe in different forms and degrees. But heart break is heart break (the koko is a heart was broken…lol).

Feel free to share your heartbreak experiences in your comments bellow

Age Factor

My friends will testify to the fact that I am (was) a firm believer of how whomever I dated MUST be at least 8 years older than me…I preached same to whoever cared to listen.

In fact it was so bad that no matter how handsome the bobo was, immediately I knew the age and he didn’t fall in the bracket I erased the possibility of a relationship.

I think I grew up too fast for my age, guys my age were too young for me- I always felt we were intellectually Incompatible.

The ones a little older were not just it. Bottom line if he wasn’t 8-10 years older “kole work“. The older guys just got me. They were more mature (or seemed so), more experienced,  caring (obviously because they saw me as their younger sister abi na kid sister),  not to  forget they’re big spenders.  Most are ready made anyways. I guess the traits are only natural, they’ve been in the business for a while.

Experience they say is the best teacher. Experience woke me up from my fantasy and brought to limelight reality. I was only interested in the picture I had envisaged neglecting to avert my mind to the negatives.

So at some point in the university I was finally in a relationship (or so i thought at that time) with this guy ( abeg is it disrespectful to refer to him as a guy abi shey it’s guy-man I’ll say, all join…lol). I didn’t enjoy all the ‘benefits’ that came with dating an older guy but the mere fact he was older was enough for me. I started noticing however, that some where down the line I began to lose my identity.

I am a born talkative and my mouth is very sharp but when it came to talking to him I was very ‘humble’, I selected my words carefully for fear that I was going to mis yarn and couldn’t imagine the repercussion.

Not that he ever hit me nor was he ever violent to me, it was something deeper I really couldn’t explain. There was just this constraint I felt anytime it came to him. Every decision I made was influenced by what he would think of me or what he would say.

I was being careful not to be tagged as “childish” by him. I felt I had to always prove to him that the age difference didn’t matter. When I was hurting because of the nonchalant behaviour displayed by him I tried conveying my feelings as subtle as possible so I won’t appear rude. At the end of the day nothing was being be conveyed.

The most painful part was when I got introduced to a few of his friends and their babes- whom obviously where all either married or working or had reached a mile stone in their careers- I consciously had it at the back of my mind that I was the youngest and couldn’t form an opinion when they were speaking. I always tried to avoid questions like “where are you working?” or “what do you do for a living?”

To be honest I missed out on the part in a relationship where the two parties got to be childish, throw caution to the wind, I missed out on just being me without being mindful of what anybody would say. The day I made up my mind to end things I was sure I had made the best decision ever.

But I left with the question, did the age really make a difference?

*kole work- it can’t work