Four Questions

Who taught you to wear white flags so close to your skin?

To make each morning a lost battle

 

Who told you there was a single map to salvation?

Traced his fingertips on a straight road “Go here”

 

Where did you learn to read minds?

To smell rejection before it occurs?

 

If they don’t understand you

Is that enough reason to stop speaking?

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Dear Diary

Dear Diary

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you for a while now; I placed you at the bottom of my locker so my nosy side-mate wouldn’t read you. You know her, Ada, the fair girl with dreadlocks who thinks every boy is in love with her. The silence is worth the wait however because a lot has happened in the last two weeks.

Remember I told you that you do not mess with the pupils in SS2 Gold; not the girls with their sharp glossy lips and tight skirts or the boys with hanging trousers and starched shirts. Their seniors do not tell them off for wearing their shirts too tight or skirts too short. It isn’t just a matter of their seniors anymore; there is a rumor going around that the math teacher, Mr. Wale, was assaulted by Otonye’s bodyguard. No one is saying anything about it, but I swear I saw Mr. Wale curtsy when he passed Otonye.

Otonye does get in trouble a lot; (I don’t know why) he’s really very nice. Last week Wednesday, during night prep, Loretta made me kneel by her seat for “being rude”, her many friends kept butting in, even some foolish ones that I’ve barely ever said a word to

“This Lola girl again, she’s so rude”

“The other day she walked out on me”

And all that stupid talk, I knelt for over an hour, after which I was on the verge of tears. Loretta didn’t even glance at me, she left me there to rot until Otonye came in; he grabbed her pen smiled with the left side of his mouth (that was the most pleasant 30 seconds of my day).

“Loretta don’t you think she’s been here long enough”

The foolish Loretta smiled stupidly and said “You can go because of Otonye”

Otonye helped me up and made me promise to respect my seniors, his hands felt very warm. I think this is what love feels like.

It’s already lights out, I promise you details later.

Good night xx

Souvenirs

Home could be a strange place with familiar faces and distant memories. For a while I’ll need you to forget all that talk about having your heart at home, and imagine that you are capable of venturing far away and also forgetting bits of yourself in different places- like phone chargers, toothbrushes, and underwear- each becoming a sort of hocrux. Finally without planning or realizing, our hearts are spread across continents, across families, across friends and we return home with empty ribcages that would exhaust themselves from relearning how to love.

Amaka moved back home a week after graduation, she had spent  10 years without permanence (6 years in boarding school and 4 in university), she had spent Christmases at home- where the heart is -with her lovely family, never fighting or stepping on each other. There was always enough calculated love to last 30 days, trying to pick up from last year’s fond memories.

Moving back was different as she brought home souvenirs of expectations and experiences which couldn’t fit with that of the lovely family. Too much was expected from both sides- respect, responsibility, maturity, -same word with different meanings.  Amaka noticed the nag in her father’s voice, the injustice of being expected to cook all the meals and do the dishes. Amaka’s father discovered his daughter would never make a good wife; he should have kept his daughter close to home.

All stories have a moment of inception; these are the moments that would someday explain why Amaka ended up in the stranger’s parlor in Amsterdam.

Night

Pier shifted uneasily attempting to fix his gaze on the fading wall. Once in a while when his eyes settled, he would sigh then tap his cigarette ash on his lap.
I had greeted him 10 minutes ago when he walked in and took a seat, he didn’t reply, instead he settled down and lit a cigarette. I tried again
“I know this cant be easy for you, but you have to…”
“You know nothing” he spat then tapped his cigarette again. In the poorly lit room his eyes glittered and for a second, I probably imagined the tears gathering at his eyelids.
“Can’t be easy” he scoffed “we’re not discussing weeks without food and shelter or ill health. This is realizing hell is a happier place, to wake up and realize you carry a darkness the devil envies.”
Tears had rolled down Pier’s cheeks, I searched for the right words, for anything at all to say. All the resentment and judgement I clutched while heading for the interview disappeared, it was hard not to pity the mess of a man called monster.
Pier had attempted suicide several times in his prison cell and just had recently been placed in solitary confinement. A man who had been active in the genocide, killed hundreds of men, a rapist, a killer and thief, all before turning 18.
Fifteen years after the genocide and they were yet to be tried for their crimes. He would die in prison eventually, wrists slashed with a razor blade, soon, on a rainy day this month but for now there were thousands of prisoners to be judged first.
Between sobs Pier let out a loud groan and muttered something indiscernible

“the vilest deeds do not seem absurd in an endless midnight. I was a boy, I did what I was taught, what was done, kill, rape, steal”.
“When the night is over you wake up and look at all the darkness, all the ugliness in your own reflection. It exposes so much, so much pain, so much guilt, so…
He trailed off then moved his gaze from the wall staring at me like I had just materialized out of thin air.
“You come to hear my story ehh” he shouted
“if you are a truly a good man you would let me kill one more time, would let justice prevail, for hundreds of men and screaming women trapped in my nightmares. We all need a release”
Pier was smiling mechanically when we ended the interview.

I knew why.

I did not look back for my fallen razor blade.

Scalpels

The blood leaving my body didn’t leave silently, I could hear it clearly, every drop, every clot, every cell, taking the life left in me. Standing at the edge of the room the blood stained sheets resembled the first spill at a murder scene, perhaps when the victims trusting eyes met the killer’s sharp steel. Arms wrapped around my body I felt cold as steel, a betrayer of my own insides.

Tonight like most nights this week, I dreamt of angels wielding scalpels and a piercing pain between my legs. I’m always in my dark bedroom, legs spread, slightly conscious, I have the decision to say “No” at the top of my lips but they can’t find expression, tonight I tried screaming but woke up waving my hands at an empty room. The bleeding had come back, I bled for only a day, the doctor assured me I was healthy and explained what I needed to understand to go on living normally; I didn’t take a life, I simply made a choice. He spoke of how 4 weeks was not a baby but cells and tissues. I wish the large hole on my inside listened.

Some days I swear I can feel it, my empty womb missing an occupant. I finally realized that there can be no healing, only torment covered by torment of guilt. My ex-boyfriend saying we were drunk then a long sigh

“We would do the right thing”

Oceania

My third day at the dreadful university is hard to forget. It was the morning we were woken up by a deep blaring voice on the public address system, the speaker had no sense or respect for time kept chanting salvation songs in a voice that was clearly not meant for singing. I rolled to my side on the thin mattress and almost fell off, -all night my cold feet stuck out the edge of the short bed- clicked my phone screen, 4am, quite frankly I was fed up with these people. Day three and I was ready to board the next flight home, I would even smile through the “We knew he wouldn’t last’s” from my siblings.
The place wasn’t worth an effort I realized on day two, this epiphany came after a morning in hell with a redundant registration process. That obviously wasn’t hell enough as around 3pm we were driven like farm animals into the university chapel to be oriented. The chairs most have been a little comfy, I took one look at the bald man with the microphone and fell asleep.
“No mobile phones” the man screamed into the microphone. I woke up and in a “what the fuck?” moment reached my pockets to feel my phone. There was a list of other ridiculous rules and some funny acronym for them I didn’t bother learning.
“pray often”
“compulsory church services”
“you do not have the option to leave the school premises”
“No intimate relationships”
At the fourth rule I assumed I was at some Kevin Hart show and laughed out loud, (the speaker was obviously trolling). He wasn’t. Long story short, I got into trouble and was prayed for by some pastor who obviously needed his own prayers, he was the one working for big brother and all.
Back to my third day, it was my first class and dressed in a TM Lewin shirt for this occasion, I walked to the Science college with my roommates. Already in small cliques and chattering excitedly, the lecture hall was dizzying with boys and girls dressed impressively. The names of their previous secondary schools were floating in the air and everyone seemed to be speaking their way into who they would become. That was when I first noticed her, only a seat in front of me, she had dark skin, too dark to compare to coffee or chocolate and smelled like earth, familiar soil on a rainy day, the girls on her both sides were engaged in a conversation but she just sat there in the middle awkward with lost eyes. I didn’t even know I was staring till she smiled at me, a glint appeared in lost brown eyes.
That very moment I decided to give my Oceania a chance.

Sticks and Stones

The room at the end of the corridor packed dust as months went by, the walls had turned grey from their once creamy brightness, even the air had grown thick and stuffy. Unlit and shut, the room grew darker to haunt the hearts of the house’s residents. “Haunted” became contagious as a haunted room quickly spread into a haunted house, picking off its residents carefully. Barely a month after the ghost moved in, Dele walked into the boys hostel with a rifle from God knows where and 16 boys were shot in the head and groin. None survived, Dele -now ghost’s brother and soon to be ghost- would join the boys in April. It didn’t take the last sibling two weeks after her brothers arrest to up and leave, with a change of name and hair colour she’s rumored to frequent beds and bars in Wuse.

The last resident Eniola did not see any sense in fighting the inevitable, now childless and jobless she was certain her fate would be insanity.

Eniola walked lightly down the hallow quiet corridor every morning, her feet always failed her, four times this morning. Her pastor suggested she sell the haunted house even though there was no point anymore. He wouldn’t admit that he didn’t know how to help her. Not now, not when her last daughter stood crying at the front door with two large boxes. Expelled for having her nude videos on her laptop.

Eniola thought only in exclamations for weeks, Nude-Video-Daughter! Nude-Prostitute-Daughter-Showing-Her-Body-To-Men!

“You need to bring her everyday for a reawakening of the Holy Spirit” the pastor advised
“She has several evil spirits in her. They include the spirit of lust, promiscuity and whorism. It is a Delilah witch spirit and as Christians we are in a witch killing business” he explained.

Eniola, a disgraced mother, a mother non-the-less didn’t have a choice, a mother must do the best for her daughter, she did as was instructed. Paid for extensive bible lessons and seized her phone, Delilah wouldn’t be able to contact those hungry men.

The night she dreamt of handing her ghost-Delilah possessed-daughter eight large pills, her feet ran right into the haunted room, stopping at the s
spot her daughter was found. Eniola could still recall every detail, her daughter’s eyes closed as if in prayer, cold hands wrapped around her cold eighteen year old body, how haunting silence floated from her lifeless body and settled around the room. She was found two days after her death because her mother wouldn’t indulge Delilah by listening to an explanation.

Tragedy follows in quick secession. Death was followed by shootings from elder brother Dele, probably already insane, he claimed to have avenged his sister, shot 16 men who were not in the video yet he claimed they wee the ones who handed his sister every pill. Eniola would later understand the dead boys were unlucky commenters whose comments were sticks and stones her daughter’s depression swallowed.

Boy 1: Slut, but she can get it
Boy 4: No more bride price (inserts link)

Eniola sat in the haunted room holding her daughter who appeared from thin air. She wouldn’t let her go this time, they would be together forever.

Morning Rue

Her shivering body shrunk and wrinkled in the warm water. Salts and fragrances mixed with the disappearing mist as they clashed against bizarre thoughts; the bathroom was stuffy and incredibly filled with inanimate guests. Present were inexpressible anger, stale vomit and anguish all contributing to the unpleasant stench of resignation. Witnesses to a tired life, she contemplated many options, viable and ridiculous, the end of her life, time travel to the past, magic to turn his hands to tree stumps.

Her body was plastered and stained in places she couldn’t see; all she could feel was the pain in her groin and throbbing headache.

 

The first hour was muffled silence and senseless crying, recalling dark walls and blurred faces, settling on his face and more senseless tears.

 

The second hour was more silent tears, contemplation and reason and the stupid party, the empty bottles littered on the floor. Dancing on tables, inhaled a blunt from a stranger. Waking up alone, how badly she needed someone to hold her, her mothers disapproving face “good women served alcohol not drank it”. Fragments of a blemished memory.

 

Third hour was imagining his hands everywhere, the build-up of hate and irritation, thinking of were exactly he put them, then lining him up behind past lovers. Did he hold her close? Did he kiss her passionately? Maybe it meant something.

 

Googling each possibility, every outcome.

 

“How to recall a blackout”

“Where lost memories go”

“Possibilities of pregnancy after drunken night”

 

Never quite the right answers. What she really wanted to learn was who could listen with without judgment and how to wipe invisible scars.