Bird Song


Sometimes love fails us. Most times, we fail at love.

 

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(1)

The chairs are scattered about and the table is askew. The fridge is open and half empty, I wish you were here. The sofa beckons in its sober crimson couture way, and I go to it. And when I shut my eyes I see you. I do not know why you can have this effect on me, after all I was the one that called the shot. I was fed up with your theatrics and your insistence on your “privacy.” I couldn’t ignore the many calls that came and went that you dismissed as being from no one. I was mad, very mad the day I saw Sofia in your apartment, though I admit you were both dressed and well apart, but a girl and a boy alone, was well, a girl and a boy alone. I have courted your memory for 4 days now and frankly I hope this phase will pass. I have pushed you away knowing I will likely hurt me more than I you. I know you have tried calling and that you are the one that knocked for hours this morning and I am afraid that you may never come back. That I may have finally pushed you away. I know we have dated for 2 years and that I never once said I love you but I never really saw the point. Love was giving and receiving and I felt that since we both felt it that a slight uncaught whispering of it might in the end jinx it. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe if I felt it enough like you did I would have said it, over and over again. I would have flung it like a bird song over the hills of Ibadan and allowed its echo resonate over every inch of your being till you were deeply aware that I did. Maybe all the things I said were what drove you to keep doing things that you knew I couldn’t stand. Again, maybe I was wrong. I could have apologized instead but I decided that I would let you mess with my heart no longer, that I will not sniff at my pillow at night wishing you would stop doing the things that you know too well were hurting me. Maybe you were just being you. I have made peace with your presence and now your absence hovers on my chest, heavy like the quintessential burden the Christian faith mandates us all to bear. Tunde, in the deepest corners of the soul where all the darkest desires are hidden, your name will always resonate; but for now, I have willed myself to let you go and this I will do.

UCHE OSITA JAMES

(2)

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I see you in everything; in the fluorescence light – its coy illumination, in the soft pillow – its cozy embrace. I feel your presence, a familiar tingle that lingers like a ghost hovering around, haunting, teasing, killing me.

My days have gone blurry Irene. It’s like I am stuck in a hypnotic haze listening to the whistle of  memories that sound like dreamy birdsongs. I find myself phasing through conversations, through activities, through life. I understand why you left, but I just can’t understand how you could. We were never perfect Irene, we never were meant to be. But I always thought, maybe wrongly, that we were too beautiful to cease.

And I loved you Irene, maybe even too much. But you never really believed that I loved you; you always doubted my words, even before we became lovers. You sometimes pretended that you did not, but I saw through your act Irene. There is only so much distrust you can hide from a man. The truth is, you always thought me a player, a disaster waiting to happen. Remember? You told me this that first day I stopped you on the road and complemented your eyes. I could even say that you feared this supposed fact so much that you created it yourself and we suffered from it. But maybe I wouldn’t be fair if I blamed you for everything. We, our end too, were always both our responsibilities.

Thinking about it now, that was always going to be our undoing, wasn’t it? You could never trust me, and I could never be trustworthy – even when I was doing nothing wrong. I can understand that though, that between my past, effortless flirting and horde of female friends, I did not exactly give you the easiest job. But this was always who I was and you of all people should have known me enough to know how harmless these features of mine are. I always thought that if I was doing nothing wrong, nothing wrong would happened with us. I guess I was wrong; the worse infidelity it seems, is the one that brews in the mind, the mere apprehension of it – and I feed your mind to gluttony. It funny in a way you know, you always feared that I was going to break your heart – when all I ever wanted was to have it – and so you broke us both, before I could break you.

You were mad, very mad the day you saw Sofia and I in my apartment, and though you would admit we were both dressed and well apart, but a girl and a boy alone, was well, a girl and a boy alone. I remember frantically explaining to you that we were just friends and that nothing was going on. I remember feeling like I was reliving a frustrating memory and maybe I was, because this scene was one replete in our narrative. You would always have reasons to question me, and some-how, stupidly, I always had something to answer for.

And I loved you Irene, I still do, maybe even too much. Irene, in the deepest corners of my soul where all the truest emotions are hidden, your name will forever be etched. But for now, I have willed myself to let you go, if only to save you from me, and the dangers I never really posed.

VINCENT CHIMOBI OKONKWO

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FATAL FANTASY

       (A SIMULACRA)

It is not enough to work hard and do right these days; at least not in Nigeria, at least not for a poor Nigerian. Tunde knows this, It was one of the first lessons he had to learn as a poor Nigerian.

 

Imagine a young man who had just around the noblest dream of them all; not a dream of maybe conquering the world, not a dream of perhaps making a ripple in the waters of time,or of at least amounting to something worthy of some note. There was no ambition for gold, gloss or glamour; Tunde’s dream was modest, a little cliche, but one would forgive it’s lack of aesthetics for its innocence. He’s was a dream of figuring out a way to make a little money and ultimately helping his mother see through her suffering.

 

Imagine a fatherless first son of a struggling mother of 5,  the only hope of a widowed trader. That shouldn’t be too hard to manage; such an imagery is one all to common in the  Nigerian narrative. Even the fact that he had such aspirations towards a better future comes right from the pages of the book. In all, there was nothing spectacular about Tunde or his dreams, maybe except for the fact that he eventually lost it in that refreshingly dramatic manner, coming slammed face-first by the  Nigerian reality that never spares the ready victim. Wait, even that is cliche.

 

How he lost it? He wakes up one morning to realise he had been living a lie he created, that the only thing realistic about dreaming in Nigeria is waking up from the foolishness. This is Tunde, or was Tunde……and he woke up. He has been woke for a while now, heavy eyed, weak from stress, jarred to the bones but very much still awake.

 

You may have heard that hackneyed Nigerian narrative about how a very intelligent but wealthless kid goes through school, makes great grades and comes around to face the Nigerian reality eventually, hoping to make some money and probably change his station but ends up unable to get as little as a job to make ends meet because in Nigeria, everything comes at a price that the poor can ill afford to pay. Well, that’s not Tunde’s story. His story is slightly different; he was young, poor, but he was not so intelligent at school; certainly not book smart. So, he didn’t make the best grades – he somehow graduated with a 2:2 in Banking and Finance, UI – but that’s as far as he differs from the usual script.  He was unable to get as little as a job after the Golgotha that is tetiary education in Nigeria. So while he came very close to being a manifestation of the tasteless Nigerian rhetoric, by whatever bad luck he missed out on even that.

 

Four years after graduation, and he couldn’t get a job. By job I mean, like we always do, a source of livelihood that actually complemented the ‘quantity’ of education he had to endure to gain the qualifications he has. He had some measly stints here and there, nothing worth the dream. By January last year, the fifth year since he’s been out of school, he began to flirt with a depression that could only described as fatal. His mom has been sick, his siblings were struggling, to put it euphemistically, with school fees and feeding – basic things. He was on his part struggling with managing his meagre finances across his responsibilities – and eventually with mental health. By the end of the year, he could barely see through those bleak mornings that left him feeling wretched, hollow, hopeless. And there – that was where Tunde lost even his modest dream.

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That was until his story changed a little early this year. He finally got a Job working at Access Bank in Berger. The pay wasn’t excellent, but he was determined to make something of it – at least now he has some steady source of income. The first months were tasteless, a bit incoherent, but as the days went, he slowly regained his being.

 

His new job came with new realisations; he realised foremost that whatever he was taught in school had remarkably little to do with the realities of his field. With whatever enthusiasm he had left, he opted to remedy his lacks and he started by revamping his knowledge and qualifications. He registered for free millenia courses on platforms like Coursera and Udemy. The more he learnt, the more he could make of the various inconsistent and largely outdated things they were forced to ingest in school. It wasn’t easy, between working all day and reading in preparation for certificate exams afterwards,he was mostly spent. But what he was pursuing was precise, so he took it. Next, he boosted his LinkedIn profile with every little detail he could muster. If he was going to be relevant in today’s world, maybe he needed to employ today’s tactics- maybe it takes more than just a degree to cut across into the greener half of the divide. Afterwards, he started applying for Jobs in Private Equity Firms and Investment Corporations. Most did not give him the time of day, but he kept on either ways neither compelled by faith nor hope – He just did.

 

Imagine a young man who had just around the noblest dream of them all; certainly not a dream of maybe conquering the world. Tunde’s dream was modest, a little cliche, but one would forgive it’s lack of aesthetics for its innocence. He’s was a dream of figuring out a way to make a little money and ultimately helping his mother see through her suffering.  Now Imagine how he comes slammed face first by the Nigerian reality that never spares the ready victim. He wakes up one morning to realise he had been living a lie he created, that the only thing realistic about dreaming in Nigeria is waking up from the foolishness. This was Tunde. But today, his story could be a bit different. You know how they always say to think outside the box? That’s what he did, Nigeria was his box. About two weeks ago, he received an email that he had been selected to be one of the trainees in the summer programme at the New York office of the Bank of America. If it sounds too good to be true, remember this is a Nigerian story and deux ex machina is such a thoroughly ‘Nigerian’ device.

 

Today, for the first time since he got  that email, he finally allowed himself to admit the reality of his own good fortune. Maybe there is a silver lining to every cloud.  He was on his way back home from UI, where he attended a programme organised by his Bank and between the tattered traffic and his banging headache, he wondered that maybe life wasn’t so bad afterall. He was on the verge of regaining the audacity to dream. Now that things were looking up, he thought, he could finally aspire and if he failed, well, he was used to the lows anyway.

 

In Ten years, Tunde would have been Senior Analyst at KPMG or he could have co-created a millenia Finance Consultancy Outfit. He could have seen to his meagre dreams at least.

 

It wouldn’t be though, because on his was back from Ibadan today, he caught fire on Otedola Road. Nigeria has a way of burning our dreams afterall. If that comes off cliche, it’s because it is.

 

______________________

 

May God rest the souls of those dead of the Otedola Road fire incident.

STRANGE MEETING


Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are….

Coldplay was whispering sensous serenade into my ears through my dangling earphone, I was nodding half consiously like an agama lizard that had just skipped from some three storeyed building; that kind of satisfied nod. Each musical note, each sweet croon trickled into my brain like droplets of cold water, creating a soothing rivulet within my mind. I kept nodding.


“I just love Coldplay…” I muttered almost inaudibly, simultaneously releasing an effortless sigh of satisfaction as the song rippled to an end. As it did, I twitched a bit on my chair, resting myself better. I was reclined on the soft furniture with my eyes closed- they were still closed – and merely needed to rest my back better as it was beginning to ache. I tapped the play button on my pod and resigned myself to another lovely trip with Coldplay,  O’ from the Rush of Blood to the Head’ Album was already on its second string, when I thought I  heard something; a statement perhaps.

 

At first I couldn’t pick the words, but someone had said something along the lines of “me too”. It wasn’t directed at me though. I smiled unnecessarily and slid into a daze as the first wave of beautiful symphony took my ears.

 

Wait…..it had been directed at me! A reply to my mutter perhaps. I jerked from my daze, opening my eyes as I realized how embarrasing the scenario I would be facing could be. That was when I noticed her for the first time.

 

She had been sitting by my side on the chair. She must have helped herself to the furniture while I had been lodt between a “A Rush of Blood to the Head’ and ‘Ghost Stories.’


“Hi…” she said…flashing the most magnificent set of teeth I ever saw. Well probably not the most magnificent. But close. They were darn white. Why was I looking at her teeth?


“Hey…” I replied. Trying my best to sound suave. Truth is, I was so ruffled by the prospect of her unexpected appearance and was at that moment totally without an iota of composure. I took in her appearance diligently; oh, I have a habit of checking people out – it comes with being a sucker for details. So, she had these pair of eyes one could describe as glittery. They reflected the light in these illustrious opic beams, shimmering like jade does in the dark of night. She had a face one would describe as cute oval for want of a better descriptive. No, not oblong, certainly cute oval.  She was petite, in this exciting way. I can’t even explain what I mean by that. Her hair was rounded up to one side and her mouth seemed to be in a constant pout, with lips like Kim Kardashian had a baby with Elvis Presley. She was not bad….Not half bad. Who am I kidding? She was gorgeous, and appealing too, if I would not be so pretentious. She noticed that I was checking her out, but instead of being awkward, she smiled. She actually smiled -took it as a complement if I could guess – the second time that evening I was having to look at her teeth without knowing why.


“Pardon my manners…I was deeply engaged” I offered, trying to be as polite as possible. I was for some unknown reason readily willing to be of my best behavior.


“Oh…..I saw as much. No offence taken” She said still smiling. I took that as a cue. She seemed bored anyways.


“You like Coldplay?” I asked. More of an assertion than a question.


“Who doesn’t? They are just epic. I just love their thing. From their instrumentals down to the wordings of their song and certainly, their unique style and how they somehow manage to blend so many cultures into their sound. Its pure beauty in my opinion. They are my favorite band” 

And she talked quiet well too.


“Wow….you are really into them I see” I offered in an overemphasized note, smirking mischeviously as I did.

“I guess we already have one thing in common” I added.


“Unfortunately so” she offered rolling her piercing eyes in what was certainly mock disappointment. This was going to be fun.

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“You were listening to ‘The Scientist’ I suppose?” she asked.


“Yeah I was. How did you know that” I asked, feigning surprise.


“You were humming and I know the song by heart. How hard could it have been?”


“I see…..” I started, bent on keeping the conversation. “So you know a lot about Coldplay I bet. You probably know all their songs by heart?”

She laughed. “Not at all. ‘The Scientist is kind of very common. But I know a lot about them.  Like I said, they are my favorite band. I’ve heard a good number of their songs too, maybe 6 albums in my pod? I don’t keep track though”

“Now we’re getting cocky eh?” I said, winking jokingly. She seemed to be very easily taken to humor.


“Not at all.” She replied, giggling almost childishly, “ I am just stating a matter of fact. Besides,” She continued, “modesty is an unnecessary virtue at times it would seem”

She spoke with such an off-handed austerity, one that would have been a bit intimidating if it was not obvious she was acting it up.


“Like I said cocky…”


“As you wish” she offered softly. Almost a whisper. Flashing her smile again. She was looking squarely at me now, She held my eyes and wandered a bit on my face, her eyes boring holes into my pores through those laser lids of hers. I grew stiff as quick as Thor’s lighting.  What was she staring at?


“Uhmm…….you have stuff on your eyelashes” she said finally, when she noticed I was a bit uncomfortable.


“Oh. I’ll just take it off then…” I said, fidgeting with my eyelashes on cue. Swiftly and without invitation, she moved her slender finger over to my eyes and plucked the debris off, all in one smooth movement.


“So, back to Coldplay…” l began, realizing I already had an angle I was willing to dabble with her on. Besides, I needed to dispel the  building tension… “ Do you know that Chris Martins wasn’t always the Leader of the band?”


“You dont say. I don’t think I ever heard anything of the sort” she quipped. Genuinely interested in the suggestion. She looked intruiged. Good for me.


“Ah…indeed there used to be a sixth guy amongst them. Some nice chap like that. He left the group in the late 90s” Her eyes were intent again. Glistering…..like wet apple. “ Truth is, I even know the ol’ chap personally” I concluded. Realization suddenly dawned on her as her lips curled into a smile.


“Really?” she asked, playing along. She seemed amused by my sorry attempt at a joke. “ and who was this sixth man if indeed he exists?”


“Sure they exist. Infact, They are sitting right by you…”


She laughed now, I was rewarded. And the best laugh I ever heard. Perhaps. Not really. These things are tricky. How does one rate laughter anyways. She turned to her right and away from me, in search of the mythical man that was supposed to be sitted by her.


“Certainly, you don’t mean him?” she asked now. Turning to face me. She was pointing to the old woman at the far end of the chair, who had been struggling with a fiercely disagreeable young boy.


“Not at all. I was referring to myself. You see, I used to play tambourine for the group, plus I was lead vocalist sometime in … 1992?”
She laughed again. This time with more mirth. I realized I liked her already.


“Wow….now that’s cool. So, like rumored, you left the band eh?” she engaged…playing the fool.


“Yeah. Unfortunately. I had a bigger calling”


“Let me guess….IT?”


“Permit me to call you a genius” I said. I laughed now. I had earned it. I handed her my card. She must have noticed the rather copious designs on my shirt. ‘IT Department’ was carelessly etched on it.


“You are Michael Adebayo?” she asked. Her question was rhetorical at best.


“And you are?” I motioned quickly, offering my hand in mock courtesy. She took it in her soft tiny own.


“Michelle” she said at the same time tucking my card into her purse. “My friends call me Mitch. It is an unusual name I know” she specified in the preemptive.


“On the contrary, I think it’s a great name and I am ‘Michael’”


‘I already know that…?”


“I know…I was pointing out the similarity of our names. Wow….we already have too much in common”


“Don’t flatter yourself dear.” She was smiling even more warmly now.


“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to leave you out. We can both flatter me if you want.” I said. Tucking my head into a pose. She giggled yet again.


Then she stood up all of a sudden. She was staring at her watch. God…this here, this is the reason why I hate watches. Man I hate watches!


“Time’s up I guess?” I asked, trying too hard not to sound disappointed. I almost ended up sounding arsey.


“Yeah” she said, not hiding her disappointment. “That last call was for my flight. So…..I guess it’s time to ‘fly’” she said, trying to offer a joke.


I laughed for the sake of courtesy. I had no stomach for mirth at this point.


“You are headed to PH I suppose”


“Yeah….it’s my first time travelling there by air too. I have an urgent errand to run. I work in a bank by the way.”


“Cool. Good luck then” I mumbled standing up for no reason. I really didn’t know what to be saying. I just mumbled. “My flight leaves in an hour. I’m headed to Lagos. Got some stuff to run”


“Well…good luck to you too then.” She spoke after a while. Slowly, she picked her bag and headed it a direction. I just stood there dazed. She walked very tentatively, eloquent steps….

“So….if you ever return from your errand….and you feel like listening to some good ol’ tambourine…” I started. But then I stopped. No she stopped me….with a quick smile that said it all. I just relaxed and looked on. She continued walking, but then stopped after some several steps. She turned to look at me. She wanted to say something. But she pursed her lips – more like bit it – and turned away.


And I knew it. I knew I would see her again. It wasn’t going to be the end of us. She had my number. She would call. She would call. We would chat up and meet in some fancy restaurant when we got back to Abuja. We had a connection, she had no ring on right?

But she never did call. And we never met in the waiting booth of an airport by the sweets of providence again. Her plane crashed that day. We heard the news some days later. No one survived.
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STRIKES AND LIGHTS

“Hi, I am Eustace”

There he was, broad chested, broad smile. Lara was never much for blind dates; she was thoroughly conservative, in the type of way one could refer to as excessive, and prefered not to be taken by surprise in her social interactions. Besides, she was terribly picky – probably why she was still single at 30.
She liked to take an assessment, a rigorous scrutiny of people, men even more so, before choosing to relate with them – especially, with the men, if such interaction is in view of romantic relationship. In any case her standards were darn high, in the snobby type of way. But her friend Dana had insisted, said he was a great guy, that he was cool and that she would have dated him herself, without thinking, if she wasn’t already married. (Not like that was any reassurance seeing the guy she was married to). No, Lara did not trust Dana’s taste in men, nor did she fancy her kind of men at all, but Dana had insisted that this guy was a Lara Type , whatever the hell that meant, and so she obliged – not so much compelled by Dana’s assurance or insistence as by her own fears. Every girl her age was married or getting married – she did not exactly consider herself the type to be pressured by such statistics but cutting the bullshit, her biological clock was ticking and ticking fast. She was not about to grow old single, stuck in an illusion that she was somehow above stereotype. So she obliged, Blind date it was – shame on her self-aggrandizing standards!

And there he was, broad chested, broad smile, the excessively colourful outlay of the fancy open air restaurant fading into a blurred watercolor background behind the elaborateness of his frame.

“ Lara” She said, curt as she was meant to be. She took his hand as he offered it; his shake was firm and yet somehow delicate. He offered a sit and she took it, noting his chivalry but wondering if it was all part of his act. They almost always had one.

OK, Frankly, he wasn’t bad – maybe more than just not bad; maybe Dana didn’t have such terrible taste afterall. He was thoroughly manly, oozed that undiluted maleness, the type that would have intimidated other girls, had fuzzy brows and a sexy crooked grin and hard cut chiseled face that simmered into the mind – molded like granite. He wasn’t dark, caramel skinned more like, clean skin, clear eyes, receding hairline that made his face pop and a thick face of beard that made her reconsider her reservations about bearded guys. He was OK, maybe not exactly outlandishly handsome – but he was attractive , the kind of guy you would want to sleep with from the very first moment. (If you swung that way or that fast of course).

The evening wound down fast, between two cups of wine, a three course meal and occasional laughter, she noted that he was a good conversationalist, has remarkable talents in poetry, doesn’t exactly consider himself outrighly sexy, has the natural wits of a phycologist, likes rap, could make good soup, learnt Karate to impress ladies but later found out they were more interested in money, sings occasionally, could do nothing in a swimming pool though, has a comfortable life as a bachelor, once left a job because he didn’t “feel it” , has a respectful and yet somehow imposing personality………and could speak french. Oui!

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She could almost concede that she liked him. That intro from J. Cole’s Motiv8 popped in her head when she first thought it, shocking her as it did, but she banished it quickly.

I think I like him, He’s Pretty Cool…..

She wasn’t admitting, not yet. It had to be because she was listening to the Album on repeat these days; seeing that Michy, her co-worker, forced her to download it and it turned out pretty awesome. To think she would end up enjoying Rap after her long spell of rap-shaming.

And so, the evening was going great until he dropped the bomb shell.

“What do you mean ‘you smoke’?” She was visibly irritated, to think she had such high hopes for him. Oh, the nonsense.

“What does anyone mean when they say they smoke sweetheart?” He replied, making light of the situation. She’d made a comment about how she didn’t like smokers, and for the life of her had not expected that he was one of ‘them.’

“Seriously? Wow! There just had to be a hamartis” At least he was honest enough to say it, she noted. Now she could leave and forget him the moment she took a bath.

“You are funny. So lemme guess, you’ve been scaling me all evening? You just had to be one of those girls” He replied, the smile vanishing from his face for the first time that evening, replaced by a cold look that complemented a sheering eyes. He was actually handsome, she finally saw it now that he was angry.

“What do you mean?”

“You had to be one of those girls, the ones that irritate me”

“You are the one irritated now? Really?”

“Yes, I am. You’ve sat here for the past 3 hours and all you were interested in was measuring me up like a lump of meat in a Bazaar. That’s just disgusting, you don’t relate with people like that. Thats strike two”

“ Don’t you dare make this about me” Was he really going to turn this on her? Just how outrageous was he intending to be, she wondered.

“Strike Three”

“Huh”

“Disney Princess Syndrome. Oh, it’s never your fault. It’s always the other person’s fault for daring to have a fault for you to highlight with glee at the very first noting – well Princess, there goes strike three”

“I can’t believe this! You are seriously doing this?” She was lost for words! The guts on this guy.

“What’s harder to believe? That you have a fault yourself? Or that you are not the only one that has a measuring tape? So, yeah, lets measure each other up”

“You do realise this was never about me right? I just told you I don’t like smokers and I am after all entitled to my preferences:” She said, sounding as snobby as she could afford.

“You still don’t get it do you? It’s not so much about what you dislike as it is about how you dislike it. You are a personality snob; whatever is not you, disgusts you. Strike Four”

“Oh freaking Christ Dude!!” She was mad now.

“ You are judgemental and intolerant – in that order, Five.”

“ How dare you! You don’t know anything about me”

“Neither do you, and that kind of ignorance to the truths of your own person is the root of all self-righteous indignation. Tell you what, strike six”

“I am not doing this with you”

“You are obliviously arrogant which is terrific because obliviousness shouldn’t blend with arrogance”

“You are crazy!!”

“No, I am not. But I am pretty sure you are mad right now. Temperamental. Not because you are angry, but because you’ve been angry since the very moment I took you up on your averment and you finally opted to be just as courteous as you naturally are– which isn’t much. So here we are, it down to insults. Might as well add that you are pretentious – which is a shame because you’ve got yourself believing in your own false accourtments. You know what, add self deluded to that list. That’s how many strikes?”

“OK. Thanks for the meal. Have a good night” She said, standing to take her bag.

“ I am sorry” He finally said, as she called the waiter to pay for her food. It was her way of making a finally statement – something to hurt his ego as she wasn’t in the mood or with the skills apparently – much as she wouldn’t admit- to exchange words with him. She should have just left.

“ I am too. I am sorry we wasted both our evenings.”

“ Can I say something before you leave?”

“ Another strike? Aren’t you tired?” She joked, wondering where the humour came from as she was still seething. They both laughed, she was genuinely surprised by herself, how was she still joking with this dude?!

“ Truth is, I smoke. But, I am working to stop. As you would have noticed, I have been licking what looks like sweet – menthol. It was a habit I picked in school, one that I shouldn’t have, not for anyone else’s sake – I was never much for pleasing others anyways – but for mine. I don’t exactly know how to stereotypically deride a habit of itself, so I might not consider that I smoke a bad thing, which is troublesome. Someone once said I have a weird moral compass ; I tend not to consider anything as necessarily bad or good – well except for really terrible shit. It’s probably the downside of being free spirited and naturally liberal at the same time. ” He said, eyes beckoning as he did.

“So, there you have it. I am not Prince Charming, I have faults, I admit I do. I don’t expect that they are to be tolerated simply at my request, but I always have felt that people should respect each other faults even more than their virtues– as they are truer to our persons. I do hope you find Prince Charming though…..and for what it’s worth, it was nice hanging out with you. ” He concluded, his eyes beaming with that genuineness that she had earlier found quite endearing.

“ Uhmmm….I am sorry I judged you so fast. I shouldn’t have been so ….bourgeois”  She apologized, her anger vapourizing too easily. 

“ I am pretty sure the word you are looking for is snob, but I wouldn’t strike you on that.”

“Oh, shut up!” As they laughed, he eased out of his chair and helped her out of hers, casually left a tip on the table since she had paid for the food in her outburst and saw her to her car. Then he winked her, not the disgusting perverted way, the way that said “No hard feelings sweetheart” as he would have if he had spoken the words, the way that eased her tension about the evening, the way that typified his most charming attribute : that ease of person and then he walked away. It was only when he left that she realised what strike one was; she had been late and he had mentioned in a most courteous manner how he did not like waiting in open places.

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She called him when she got back home. It took 1 hour of pacing and disconcertion before she finally chose to just go on with it. Fuck It! It was strangely refreshing to throw caution to the wind, to be less uptight for once.

“It’’s Lara”

“Hey! How are you?”

“I am ok. Are you free this Saturday?”

“Nah. My schedule is tight”

“Sunday?”

“ I’ll probably be busy ”

“ Oh okay then.” She felt crushed. To think she would end up in this position. What was she even thinking?! She was more than this.

“ Anything?”

“No, not really. Good Night”

“ Alright, Good night”

When he called back 40 minutes later – because somehow she knew the time he called back – she convinced herself that she was not going to pick his call – for all of three seconds.

“Hey”

“This one you’ve called me this midnight, it’s better be serious” She joked, shocking herself again. Who is you woman?! She sounded like a blushing teenager!

“ I’ll pick you up on Friday after your symposium. I heard you like Afropolitan Vibes”

“Wow. Dana will never shut up”

“Isn’t that why she’s so adorable? It’s’ a date sweetheart”

With that he ended the call, leaving her with words at the tip of her lips. The cheeky bastard!!

A Headfull of Dreams

True Love doesn’t exist; for love is always true

Ashmita Acharya – The Beginning; The Tears of My Heart

Kere Langston-Charles was never one for pipe dreams. Being a realist as he claimed to be, he didn’t have the capacity for fantasies. To him, it was a luxury he couldn’t afford – so he measured life only by rational standards – and he lived life by the simple rules of fact. To Kere, one such birth-child of fantasia as he was not allowed to believe in was love. Kere never believed ‘love’ exists, the literature of love was to him one laden with hyperboles and beautiful yet false fascinations – worse of all love ‘at first sight’ as they called it. To him, love as ideally painted was no more than ‘the extra-version of sugar tongued romanticists’ and only believable by persons who either read too much Mary Balough at some point in life or who do not have the will to refuse fairy tales. So, all that existed in his opinion (and he was very opinionated), were variant degrees of affection; love as they have pumped it to become, he was convinced, had lost its place amongst realistic concepts and now marauded the terrains of phantasm. One couldn’t blame him; his premise was fair, his opinion logical, birthed of the truth he knew. As so it was– he sang his view like sweetened symphony whenever he could. For what ever it was worth, nothing prepared him for the emotional cacophony he experienced when he first met Mmesioma. Kere did not believe in love.

mmesioma

21st August 2015.

He just returned to Warri after his trip to Uganda for a business convention where he had represented his company; a startling as it was then. Merely minutes back home and he realized that as usually he was out of stock and out of food. After spending an eternity contemplating between going to slobber it up at an eatery or getting foodstuff to cook, he resolve against his usually lazy preferences and chose instead to purchase food stuff and groceries; he would make do with the groceries and provisions until his girlfriend Samantha could come over to cook for him. (They were both lazy options).

His choice would take him to Shoprite in Warri; the one mall he could always trust to do him good; a handsome plaza, forming part of the component outlets in a comfortable edifice, mounted squarely in the breezy bustle of the Warri overhead bridge traffic. That was where he first met with Mmesioma. Come to think of it actually, he merely first saw her there. They didn’t get around to talking that day. Their encounter had been mostly just him, his drool and her oblivious charm. She had been marshaling a chart half full with groceries tied up in bundles towards the parking lot when he first saw her. He had just stepped out of his car -a red Toyota Camry striped awkwardly on the left side of its almost gaping bonnet where it had kissed against the junk box of one ornery bus driver he had mis-fortunately come across somewhere round Jakpa road – and was locking the door with his key when he saw her, first from his mirror before he turned almost spontaneously.

Kere was never one for clichés. He was not much for romance either. But all ‘first sighting’ romantic clichés happened with him that day, all twenty two chapters of it. It was textbook really; from the butterfly running in his stomach (Preface), down to fluttering eyes (Introductory entries), down to cloth in throat (at Chapter 16) and all the way down to the very last pages. At some point he must have passed paralysis (Chapter 18) and numbness (at Chapter 20). She just waltzed passed, ears plugged, eyes fixed and with a carefully plastered smile that made her face radiate like the scales of an electric fish. That smile would cost him a lot as he would soon realize.

Kere was a “matter of factly kinda man.When she was out of sight – though not out of mind – he blew off the encounter. He rationalized his episode; it was a glitch, a flash in the pan sontin, it was just sexual attraction- did you see that ass? Maybe he had imagined her beauty ; nobody is that attractive jor! Oh please! In fact, it was just chemistry. Its funny how one can explain anything off if one tried hard enough. It was just chemistry; he certainly enjoyed the quietude that came after the chemicals had finished with their tempestuous conversation in his stomach.He didn’t go after her even though he wanted to, partly because he had frozen for a bit too long and partly because she disappeared into a car as quickly as she had appeared into his sights. Kere did not believe in love.

November 14th, 2016.

Kere was never one to be shook by such ordinary incidents of earthly existence such as meeting a new human person. In fact, it was quiet the contrary in his experience. It didn’t matter their stature or person, he was a man of calm. As a matter of fact, he was great with his lips; charming as Prince Charming himself – the genuine article if you asked him. Easily imposing on his day, all hovering 6.3 frame and hard facial features, dark skin, hazel eyes, thick beard and raspy laugh, he was not one to fret over much in life. He was your archetypal smooth man; laid back in suit or kicking in tight jeans, he could dominate any scene he found himself in, or at least manage well above ordinary. In fact, he was so good in his own skin and matched the bill so much that his boss always insisted that he represented their company in events that required putting across a good impression or that needed the specious air of sophistication he effortlessly strode around with almost literally dangling from his pocket. In all his charm, nothing prepared him for the close-to-panic-attack feeling he experienced when his friend Kehinde, introduced him to his classmate from his University of Benin days, who happened to be working in the legal department of the newly erected Lagos Branch of Kere’s firm and where he had been recently transferred to. It was one such social events his boss forced him to attend. He had wanted to spend the night chilling with this chick he recently started hooking up with – they were set for a night of chilling a Netflixs – but his boss, Dimeji “Big Fish” Babatunde had other plans. He would find himself in a Black Tux, donning a pleated white shirt and black silk pants on brogues in a fund raiser at Wings Towers Victoria Island that evening because his Boss liked his act more than he should.

Kere was standing by a counter, affixed on a wall by the far corner of the event hall, on which drinks where kept for self service. He had one hand laxly levied on the glossy wooden ledge and the other hanging loosely from his waist, a glass of champagne in the hand on the counter when Kehinde had tapped him. He turned with his signature smile as he heard Kehinde’s soothing Baritone bellow behind him, poised to engage him in one of their usual long booming conversations accentuated with occasional high pitched laughter and loud shakes they called “claps.” As he turned, he noticed the gorgeous lass by Kehinde’s side. He froze in his throat, all 6.3 length of him tensing as an incongruous feeling, slightly familiar in its intrusion took a genuine hold of him. Kehinde who did not notice the change, clapped him just as expected and ranted for some seconds in gibberish that Kere would never remember before he moved to introduce the lady by his side. As Kehinde roved, Kere reminisced. The smile was the same, she was now sporting a new hairdo, a handsome weave that plastered itself lazily on her shoulders. She was the same shapely nymph that had refused to be banished from his imaginations for months; the one he had convinced himself was a victim of his minds exaggeration; she was not a victim, he was. She just stood there, arrogantly oblivious while Kere grappled with every human discomfort possible; from a running stomach to a warming up in his pants. Kehinde mentioned her name, muddled it ; she corrected him, letting it roll sensuously off her tongue as she ushered him into new reveries with the sound of her voice. Kere on his part was managing as best as he could, he shook her hand awkwardly, made a miserable joke about her hair that she humored with a giggle, tried to pick up his champagne from the counter, lost his touch of practiced suave, spilled wine on his white shirt staining the plaited embroidery and the chiffon pocket square and muttered a guttural ‘sorry’ before he managed to whisper his handkerchief from his pocket and ‘excused’ himself to the bathroom; all to the embarrassing background of Kehinde’s roaring laughter. The idiot! Kere fussed He was certainly pleased to have seen me ruffled; what a pathetic friend! After pending a lady’s time in the bathroom, where Kere had to almost beat whatever spirit it was out of himself, all the while trying to calm his jittery hands and throbbing legs, he went back into the hall. Kehinde was gone and so was the girl. He exorcised a sigh of relief and crashed wearily into a chair. The rest of the evening was a blur; he just sat looking around for the Lady in the blue dress, scared that she would appear; hoping that she would appear. By the next morning, he had made up his mind. He had Kehindes number, if Kehinde was who he was, he could get him in touch with her in a jiffy. It was like Imagine Dragons sang in “Roots”, Trouble finds me. Kere did not believe in love.

Kere was not one for hide and seek; he was the predator-kind amorous expert, he went in and out as he wished. No plays, no long talk. Many a girl would give their most expensive purse to have him ask them out; he knew this; he used this. Most girls would spare him the time of day at his slightest behest, many would ask him out if they could. He was dangerous like that; he was a fine man, the genuine article. Nothing prepared him for the hard to get play that Mmesioma forced him to participate in. It was Tom and Jerry at its best; she was both Metro Goldwyn-Mayer and Jerry, all the wits and all the storyline. He was Tom, extraordinarily at the mercy of Jerry; caught in an everlasting chase that didn’t seem to ending in his favour, dodging and enduring obstacles and traps and suffering harm at her bidding. It was frustrating, but he had become an addict; he was as Tom as Tommy Hilfiger. Mmesioma was a Lawyer, a good one at that. As Kehinde had said, she worked in the Legal department of his firm, or as he came to better understand, She worked with the Law Firm that handled their Legal matters more or less. She was beauty accentuated with a godly shape and some supra-natural smile, brains of the top notch design, and a master of the arts of evasion. The perfect BBM; Kere was in for the long shot, he was b***s deep. At first she merely feigned coyness, smiled at his jokes and patted his nose when he was trying too hard. But he knew her game; unfortunately, it wasn’t to his advantage that he did. He kept coming, and coming and coming (Lots of tissues in between), but she kept deflecting him like his mother’s old mirror deflects light. When she finally admitted the existence of his romantic interest, she started with the usually career woman drill; she had life to figure, career to realize, dreams to pursue, Boyfriend was a waste of time and a distraction, blah blah blah. Kere was determine just as Kanu was in that ancient Peak advertisement where Papilo was determined “to never give upu”. Slowly, but steadily he would wear her down like the cheetah wears out his prey with good chase before his pounce. He realized somewhere along the line that this prey was not one easily worn out though. When he eventually did wear her out, he was worn out already himself – out of breathe and out of his mind. He first kissed her on New Years Eve of 2018, after almost whole year. It was a long tireless kiss, deep throat and all. It was everything, The rush that came with it, the urgency of her tongue, the sigh that ushered him farther down her throat and further up her hips. With the way she kissed him, he could have sworn she had been affected by him for as long as he had been by her. She smiled after the kiss, and patted his nose the way she had grown to do, as her eyes whispered a question befitting of her, chic and carelessly presumptuous. How long have you been waiting for this? Her eyes said. Kere smiled in response. For the first time in his life, he felt like a tamed lion, it felt good to be tame. The irony of it was that he did not believe in pipe dreams , but was suffering a head-full of it.

Kere did not believe in love.

August 19th, 2021.

Kere was never one for illusory planning or idle imagination. He had no idea what he wanted his marriage to be like. He did not have any ideas about the perfect suit, the right tie, the best ambience, the preferred food options or anything for that matter. Matter of fact, he hardly contemplated marriage in his good bachelor days that was soon to be over. So, he let her take care of all of it; she was happy to. Springing about like a kid who just recently acquired her dream toy, she was all the excitement anybody could afford in regards marriage. She cooed and cackled, fussed and bossed, while Kere hung with his friend in his last days. On the day of the wedding, he he forgot his ring and had Kehinde drive back to bring it from the house. It was a bad omen, but Kere couldn’t care less. His parents were dead, so his Uncles and his sister were the family waiting for him in church. His Uncles were twins, 20 years younger than his dad, merely 8 years his elders. They looked more like his elder brothers, than Uncles. He got into church and went to meet them in the dressing room, allowed them, his sister especially, wax about his dress and his good looks. Kehinde joined them shortly, in time to endure the forced responsibility speech they ceremonially had to give him pending his marriage.

At the altar, looking in his bride’s eyes, he felt at home, he felt he could manage through marriage. It made some sense finally. That was until he looked in the crowd and saw her, and he went through the whole cliché again, all 22 chapters. She just sat there, a flower in her hair, yellow print dress, that smile on her face and his heart in her palm. He noticed first that she was trying to cause the smile, next that she looked better than she ever did. When did she return? He was panicking. It all came back in a blood rush; her job abroad, her farewells, his long spell of sadness, their breakup over Skpye, his cracked laptop screen, the end of their union. That was two years ago. And there she was, all BBM and sitting with the crowd at his marriage. As the priest stepped up forward to start his interrogation, Kere shock his head, walked down the altar and out of the church without looking back. He got into his car and went straight to a bar and drank himself to stupor. He had never been more freaked out his whole life, he had never been more frustrated with his existence; and yet never more glad to have looked stupid in an event, his event. Anita would be devastated, he already was. Kere did not believe in love.

Nothing prepared Kere for the excitement that came with meeting Mmesioma again after almost three years. Her accent slightly changed, her words now trickled like clear water pouring lazily down a brook. But much remained the same- her gestures, her humor, her wits, the light in her eyes that told stories of stars and tiny galaxies in her mind, it was just as was. She had agreed to meet with him when he called her the next two days after the fiasco at St. John’s. When she walked into the Bar, he noticed that as usual, everybody’s eyes turned in her favour. He noticed that he was still as hocked on her as her ever, like an addict on Xanny; he felt his heart thump so fast he was convinced it would explode. He ushered her onto a seat and order for wine; pouring her a cup and doing himself same. As they talked and laughed and rummaged over old memories, she still fiddled with her finger from time to time with the same unconscious precision, she still patted his nose with her lean-long index finger when he made jokes, softly caressing his bridge with a finesse that was her’s alone. Nothing prepared Kere for the bloody torrent that hit his soul when she told him she was now Mrs McMartin. Kere did not believe in love.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Life is a journey, and we are journeymen coursing through. I know this to be true. Over the course of my journey I have found myself entertaining a desire to depict the more refreshing details of the fascinations of life as I have encountered it into pages – corny as this sounds.

With this medium, I can achieve one extra, I hope to engage this dream of mine and to the added bonus of an audience. I have medled with the idea, massaged and ruminated over it, and now I have birthed it, for better or worse.

This blog will be an opportunity to manifest the variant pictures that rummage my mind. For this reason, I will be writing about just about anything that my mind fancies – I may be writing about everything or nothing. Whatever the case, it will be worth it.

Maybe, Just maybe, eventually you will get to see the world from heart.