GOODBYE!

GOODBYE!
The sympathy of our late togetherness,
Inevitable as the way it takes,
Like the night becons the day,
While the moon stalks away,
Birds singing and youths making hay!

Nobody van ever tell for sure,
The mystery of tomorrow by nature,
Perfectly imperfect I am in vision,
And in all ways I have no comprehension,
The present situation of life I mean.

Like the breeze from the sea,
Engrave me with the symbol and I see,
Should I have not to you done this?
But like dreams come true to miss,
An irreplaceable love from this miss.

When I consider how the journey begins,
Ere, my expressions of love just like jokes,
But with this bondage to continue?
And with this word for me to separate,
Indeed! Free I’m by saying goodbye.

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MY NAME IS ADAM

MY NAME IS ADAM
In this cuff your hands and no offence,
Think innocence; and no real defence,
This corner at dawn came men in black,
All sense of right they came and sack,
Yet you are nothing but innocent!

My name is Adam and I did it all,
Misdemeanor, No! Felony, I did it all,
This corner I sat smiling I am safe,
Conspicuous! Your innocence to me but in the cave,
Blackout! They suffer my tricks and can’t be safe.

Sorry! My friend; you got to learn this plan,
Do I care? No! Not for my clan,
Good, better, bad, worse! We want to be one,
I was, no! wasn’t good yet you were blind,
Now I’m bad, my friend! We are kind.

Don’t cry! It can’t be over,
I am Adam! I can’t cover,
Those seasons, mountains! Valleys! Sun and Rain!
We can play, fight, enjoy and you suffer pain,
Remember! Can’t be ever good b’cos my name is Adam!

SENDING FAILED

SENDING FAILED
As the ‘semi’ teacher that I am, one lesson I’ve learnt from pupils is that they are, as young and innocent as you may consider them to be, the best, just and truthful judges to say everything about you. At times, they seem to know you more than you know yourself.
Mike is one of the most brilliant pupils in my class. He seems to be far from ordinary, he actually is. He grabs and understands everything he is taught and he asks questions to increase his knowledge base.
I once taught them “Communicable Diseases” taking Malaria as a case study and mosquito as its vector. After the lesson, Mike stood up and asked “excuse me sir, you said mosquitoes carry malaria from one person to another”. I answered in the affirmative and motioned for him to continue. “Okay Sir, what if a mosquito bites a witch and it bites another person, will it transfer the witchcraft?”,  he concluded his question. The whole class burst into laughter.
“Witchcraft is not contained in the blood so mosquitoes cannot transfer it”, I answered him after making the other pupils calm down. He sighed, relief apparent on his face and sat down. He must have been suspecting someone, someone living with him!
It was the same boy who wrote about me during their last English Language examination. The way he presented and innocently said the truth he knew about me, one would like to see his so called teacher. Parts of my favourite lines in his composition include
“Mr. Solomon is the name we call my teacher. He’s a much disciplined teacher. He is handsome especially when he smiles. He dresses so smartly and can do anything to make sure one understands his lessons. He speaks English language so fluently but makes grammatical mistakes at times, though he immediately corrects himself at such times. He loves children and once confessed to have wished he were a kid once again. He is very time conscious. He doesn’t overdo things. He doesn’t work too much and doesn’t play too much as well. So he does the two; work and play. Much as I like to be like him, I dislike his overbearing anger”.
The boy has a way of judging you without attracting any negative reaction. He hit the nail on the head in that composition.
After reading his composition, I was totally confused. How do I award his mark? He seemed to have given me a difficult puzzle to solve. I wish I was like him when I was his age. I can still remember how poor my writing was when I was his age.
When I was just transferred to a private Nursery School, my first day was a nightmare. “The man is coming to our house tomorrow. It will be my brother’s birthday. The man will be supplying musical instruments”, the teacher dictated to me. I wrote to the best of my ability as “De man es komin to awa haos tomoro. It we be my brodas betday. De man we be suplain musika enstruments”. After the marking, I got 2 out of 20. It was the prize for my pencil lead.
Back to my story, Mike performed another wonder during this term’s examination. The question read “write a letter to your father living in another country telling him about the latest developments at home”. This is where Mike opened the can of worms. Read his five paragraph letter below.
3, Alegongo Street,
Bashorun,
Ibadan.
3rd December, 2012.
Dear father,
How are you and the cold in America? I hope you’re coping with all the differences between Nigeria and that place. I am very happy to write this letter to you and the purpose is to tell you the latest developments at home which I believe you’ll find very interesting to read.
I like to start by expressing my disappointment in the fact that you never introduced Uncle Jack to me. Anyway, he has come to our place several times since you left. He claimed to be a Pastor because he comes with Bible every time he visits us at home. He teaches me the word of God and he has also taught me so many things you were never able to let me know. Although he asked me not to tell you, I am telling you in case you’ll like to teach me more. He’s very good at teaching the word of God and that’s why he holds the adult session with mum upstairs while I study two chapters of a book in the Bible until he returns to ask me questions. He really prays so hard during each adult session with mum upstairs. I knew this when he gave it as the reason for the sweat and his wet clothes after each session.
Also Dad, Uncle Jack is a very caring uncle. He never made me feel like you were not around. He has really been acting to me like a father and like a husband to mum. Mum told me it’s the traditional responsibility of my Uncle to take care of his brother’s wife and children. Mum does not feel any loneliness anymore. That’s why I wonder each time she tells you on phone that she misses you. When I questioned her on this, she told me it was to make sure that your miss her too. I hope you do. But then, she doesn’t. I had liked to tell you this on phone but mum won’t allow me, she only tells me to say hi and hear your voice.
Moreover dad, Uncle has bought a game for me. I am to play it each day I do not have Bible studies. One day, the game stopped working while adult session was going on upstairs. I had no choice but to go upstairs for assistance. As I knocked on the door, they were already praying because I heard mum screaming. Demons must be getting out of her. She told me from inside that I wasn’t supposed to come in during prayers because of evil spirit. It was on that day I became angry with you again for not having cast out the devils before you travelled out but I later remembered you’re not a Pastor like Uncle Jack  and also that it might be in our tradition that things like that should be done by brothers as Uncle once told me that our tradition allows him to do some things in your place, a reason why I wonder if it still okay for a Pastor to believe in tradition. So I rushed downstairs to avoid any spiritual attack.
Finally Dad, I’ve also discovered a lie you told me that no one can act in place of father.  I must confess, Uncle Jack is more than a father, to me and mum. I therefore plead that you buy him gifts on your next trip home to show that you’re grateful. As I have not been able to talk to you on phone, I hope my teacher will deliver this letter to you. I should have sent Uncle’s phone number to you but he didn’t give it to me when I asked. He said I can always send mum to him. I am not really missing you so I should only say I love you. Bye.
Your son,
Mike.
Ki la gbe, ki le ju? (translated as what did we carry, what did we throw?) As Mike had hoped that I deliver his letter, one thing that came to my mind was the regular report you receive for sending text on phone without sufficient air time, that is “Sending failed”.
Now that I have seen the letter, parents are to be given their children’s papers after the exams. What do you think I should do?

FAITHFUL AND FAITHLESS

FAITHFUL AND FAITHLESS

Many a time I have wondered what or how exactly I can describe the word “Faith”. I always end up not understanding the mystery of the word. On most of the cases, I got distracted when I almost got the meaning, but then, I always had my dictionary to consult.

“Faith” according to a dictionary means a strong religious belief. When one has faith in something, he’s ever ready to defend such thing, to whatever length, at times, to the point of death.

Heb 11:1 NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. (Amplified Bible)

The above verse best explains what “Faith” means. It gives assurance about the reality of things we hope for and it gives us the evidence of things we have not seen.

Much as it is good to be faithful, many people have, because of religious extremism, taken faith to a level of stupidity, so to say. Think of people who do not apply their common sense to the faith they practice and so they confuse people of the actual meaning of faith. From the normal state they are, they rapidly move to an abnormal state where being faithful becomes being faithless.

In whatever one believes in – juju, natural things or the Supreme God, one should try as much as possible to avoid being a victim of extremism. I have seen and heard about situations when people became architects of their own misfortune because of what they tagged faith which in its actual sense was far from faith. Below are some of the examples.

My aunt once told me about a supposedly born again Christian lady who was to answer a question that read “comment on the life of Jesus Christ” in her WASSCE Christian Religious Knowledge. She totally respects the Lord Jesus Christ and gave a very good answer showing how much she values him.

“Who am I to comment on the life of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour? I am a filthy sinner and I have not the least privilege to comment on the life of my savior. I’ll rather comment on the life of John the Baptist, his fore runner”.

She was however unfortunate that her paper wasn’t marked by a sentimental Christian like her who could have awarded enough marks. She failed. Just like that!

What about another lady who spent seven years in the University because of her stubborn, unwise faith? She had her final year exams in an important course scheduled to be held on Sundays. She refused to sit for the exam because they were on “a Sunday of all days”. That cost her seven years because for such consecutive years, the same exam fell on Sundays. What a pity!

I heard about two young men who worked as night guards who also exhibited their brand of foolishness which they termed as faith. They were well rewarded for their stupid faith. They went to consult someone for charms and protection against gun attacks from gentlemen on the street.

After consuming different form of bitter concoctions, receiving lots of incisions on various parts of the body and drinking of spiritual wines, the last step was to test the authenticity of the invisible (bullet proof) prepared for them. One of the two, so full of faith, flexed his muscles and told the other to shoot at him.

Without hesitation, the shot was fired as the brave but foolish partner. Mr. Faith-full got the full impact of the bullet on him and that triggered a well modulated sorrowful cry of “Oroooo!!!. That was his last song. The other guy was lucky.

There was another Muslim guy whose faith knew no bound. He was clearing weeds around the house when a cobra appeared. He had the machete. He didn’t use it. He went in for his rosary, came out and started his songs; Audhu bilahi mina shaytan rajil…

It must’ve been a language the snake understood which probably meant “come on guy, here is a meal at your door step…..” The snake went ahead and gave him the sharpest bite it had. He was lucky to survive, but then, he had a (sweet) lesson to learn.

There is the popular story of another young man who wanted to be Nigeria’s modern day Daniel. Proclaiming that he would go into the lion’s den and come back unhurt, he headed to the University of Ibadan zoo forgetting that “thou shall not tempt the Lord your God”. The lion had him for lunch.

When we exercise faith, we also should have it in mind not to test God or change him to a magician. He works miracle in the right way. Wisdom must walk and work hand in hand with faith.

The Bible said it point blank “wisdom is principal, get wisdom… ”. Need I say more?

Foolish people will always graduate from being faithful to being foolish. No matter how poor one can be, common sense is the cheapest you can have. Use it with faith.

I, CHIBUZOR AND CHRISTMAS

I, CHIBUZOR AND CHRISTMAS

On the 14th of December 2012, I was on my way to work when I met Chibuzor, a good looking and vibrant young man. The way he dressed coupled with what he held in his hands, a bunch of banana fruits on his left hand, a sack bag carried on his head and another banana fruit half naked on his right hand, it was apparent he was coming from a village. How such village was close to Ibadan, I can’t say.

Like a lost sheep, Chibuzor looked right, then left, then right again for oncoming vehicles and finally, he looked up for airplanes, or so I thought. He might have heard that you should do that to avoid accident with vehicles and aircrafts. He wanted to cross the road. I chose to ignore him.

My choice to ignore him was not borne out of pride, I was on my way to the office and if I had to be in trouble, it shouldn’t be with my boss. I was to be paid my salary in person, the company and the bank had some transaction problems. I had to rush or get there late.

Arriving late at office would attract the sixth out of seven queries which would be succeeded by a SACK letter. My boss is not to blame anyway; sleeping is my hobby and no thanks to everyday traffic congestions, I am the record late comer in my place of work. I stood waiting for a cab when Chibuzor said to me “Oga, Abeg I need ya help”.

I again chose to ignore him but he moved closer to me. He brought out, from the sack bag he carried, another banana fruit, cut off the apex, peeled off the “back or bark” and began eating it. Within me, I guessed, he must have read or heard about the nutritional value of banana; the fructose, sucrose and glucose. He continued, “I dey go the place inside this paper”. He brought out a piece of paper containing his destination address.

To avoid time wastage, I chose to ignore the fact that he didn’t greet me before asking for help. I took the paper from him and read the address. Fortunately for him, I knew where he was going but helping him could put me in trouble again

Interestingly, he was to visit Mr. Nwakpa, the stubborn tenant using the second flat in my father’s property. It was the third house on the street right behind me and him. I pointed to the place and described which flat he was to go. “Oh, you’re going to my place” I said. “Eh, Chineke, thank you. I dey very lucky. Thank you sir” He replied.

Before I was able to get a cab, Chibuzor didn’t go to the place. He went on to narrate how a guy asked him to ask for Island Street in Iwo Road. I told him it was a lie. He then confessed that I was the angel of his life that day. Did I dress like Gabriel? I would’ve told him he was the devil of my life that day if he made me miss the oncoming cab.

I got to the office at exactly 7:59am. A minute more and I would be late. I escaped the sixth query. My boss put on something, more of a smirk than a smile with the former well concealed under the latter. It was like he got copies of queries for me in his drawers. He couldn’t reduce the number of copies he had on my account that day and I wasn’t going to allow any of such reductions until my next promotion.

“Mr Solomon” he called me in a voice that indicated mockery. “you have been very lucky, I have said that if you come any later than 8:00am, I won’t pay you”. In my mind I thought in many ways how a man can be happy with being so sadistic. So complacent! He wouldn’t pay me? With Christmas close at the door? I chose to be indifferent. At least, he wouldn’t be offended.

Mr Nwakpa, as I said is the most stubborn tenant in the neighbourhood. The reason he has not been evicted is that he paid five years rent and was just in his second year. He has every good qualities of a bad man. He is also blessed with a wife who is his driving force. The only problem they have is related to the Law of Magnetism; like poles do not attract, but they do.

Mr. Nwakpa is the one you can call a no-nonsense man. I mean he doesn’t give or take a damn. He greets nobody. He has no friend and no enemy. Anytime he makes trouble, his anthem is always “No family for Lagos”. I always remind him this is not Lagos, it is Ibadan.

Before I got home, Chibuzor had narrated how I became his angel to Mr Nwakpa, who was surprised that I helped someone get to him, or so I thought. He did not know how he was going to say thank you. Or how does one appreciate someone who is your problem and helps you out? It’s a Yoruba adage.

Ten days after I helped Chibuzor, Mr. Nwakpa greeted me for the first time; in a voice that indicated compulsion. “Thank you for helping my nephew Mr. Solomon”, he said. I had my first chance to talk to him on good terms. I would use that opportunity. They say it only comes but once.

“Mr Nwakpa” I called in a deep, solemn voice. “What benefit is there in living together than being of help when it matters most? We are a family, we should tolerate one another.” I concluded.

After seconds of silence, he talked. If the expression on his face was any indication, he was convicted. “It’s not that I hate everybody, I only don’t like being cheated and insulted, I’m sorry for every wrong thing I might have done” He said. We embraced each other and that kindled our communal living.

The second day was Christmas. Before I could go out and greet anybody, Mr Nwakpa was the first I saw. He came in with a greeting card and a heavy meal of rice and meat, complemented with salad. I saw Mr. Nwakpa beam with smile as he said “Merry Christmas.  I almost could not believe my ears. It was then I remembered once more that no man is completely bad. This man’s habit is the one you can Yorubalistically describe as that of someone who doesn’t want to be grounded with Monkey. “Ma fi Obo lomi”.

After that I saw Chibuzor come in with his version of gift well wrapped in Christmas wrappers. When I opened it, the content included; a pod of kolanuts, bitter Kola, Alligator pepper, a bunch of banana, a piece of bush meat. What shall we expect from him? After all “Oun a ni laagbe laruge” we value what we have.

Chibuzor’s gift was the best I received this Christmas. Mr Nwakpa’s rice was my first food. It was a fascinating experience. If Mr. Nwakpa could give me so much, what will you do? I therefore decree that “As many that didn’t give me Christmas gifts are given the second chance to rethink” he who has ears…

THE FUTURE WE HAD

THE FUTURE WE HAD

A story of a boy with a crude beginning and a refined future! (Job8:7)

“When we were what we were not supposed to be, we were what we didn’t know.”

Anytime I remember my earlier days, I feel a heavy dose of nostalgia. The environment in which I grew up and the circumstances around me were a thing to put down. Right now that I write this, the whole thing plays in my head like a movie, I actually feel I am seated in front of the big screen in the cinema. How to start is equally as puzzling as how to stop. But then, I’ll try my best.

Image

I opened my eyes into a family of love, even without a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born with a (zinc) spoon in my mouth; that very light spoon that Yoruba calls “Anumadaro” (not felt if lost). If you’re born with a zinc spoon, I think you’re luckier than when born with a silver spoon. When your zinc spoon gets lost, you don’t have to cry.

All the friends I had as a kid had their ambitions in life. We constantly discussed what we liked to be in the not too far future. Whenever we discussed those things, we would laugh and laugh. Some were so funny that you wonder if they meant what they said.

For example, there was a Kayode whose father, as at then had three or so known wives and many farmlands with which he catered for his family. Kayode said then, that in future, he was going to cultivate a vast area of land for farming and marry many wives who would help in the activities on the farm.

This, he said, on our way to the village’s neatest stream, a distance of over 800 metres from the village and breathtaking hills on which when you climb, you don’t look back. That’s why it was called Odo Maweyin (Maweyin River, Maweyin is here translated as “don’t look back”). If you look back, you slip and fall, tumbling down the hill with your water container rolling after you. Only God knows the number of plastic buckets I broke while cracking jokes on the hill. If I was able to summon the tears, my eyes would have been swollen from ‘crying bitterly’ before getting home, mother only hugged me close and encouraged me.

I was surprised one evening when my mum called me an engineer at home. When she saw the expression on my face, she knew I wanted to know how she got to know of that dream. She told me that a man who had been answering the call of nature in the nearby bush heard my friends and I discuss, and what Kayode said. Mum and I believed I would be an engineer because of my activities then.  I used to open and re-couple, as well as try to repair all toys, fm radios, gas lighters, torches etc.

I developed my interest in this when I became the hope of my friends in retaining the values of their toys. It always took weeks of ‘hard work’ before you could save up to buy the very ‘valuable’ and ‘precious’ toys. We had to sell brooms, baskets or fetch water for people making palm oil. Whenever those things get spoilt, I would get the tiniest knife as the screw driver and do my best, and if I failed, I wouldn’t be blamed.

Mathematics however put paid to my Engineering ambition. I could not just find a way round it. That was the end of the road as far as Engineering was concerned. The dream would not see the light of day as I ran from the Sciences when it was time to go to Senior Secondary School.

Back to my story, I never heard of those guys since I left the village a decade and so years ago but I believe some would have fulfilled their dreams. If Kayode didn’t cultivate the farmland, I know he can’t escape the idea of many wives. You can never be as corrupt as he is. He once had the idea of putting a ring inside a dead lizard’s mouth for seven days after which any lady touched with such ring would follow you to anywhere you would have one or two things to do together. We were just approaching the age of ten back then. I believe his father should be blamed, a hunter and a farmer, he knew everything about charms.

I can also remember one Kehinde, he was a twin whose Taiwo had gone to buy clothes for him as we were told. Kehinde’s mum was a bit on the borderline of sanity and insanity who knew how to care for herself. She would pick up firewood and sell to people who buy cheap things. Why I feared Kehinde was the fact that he knew about Imole, a deity of the Ikale ethnic group of Ondo state. That deity wastes no time in dealing with anyone caught doing evil.

They said it killed one man who used rituals to draw money from people by shaking their hands early in the morning. Such dead bodies were never buried. They were thrown into the spirit world, a forest after a big dirty river in which we fished then. That river was wicked; you could fish a whole day and not catch anything. We believed the dead bodies came overnight to catch the fishes.

It was in this river we were fishing for almost six hours without catching anything. Those small fish that looked like tilapia which never grew more than a thumb, would come to eat the bait you put in the hook and you would need to be extra ordinarily sharp to catch them. Even when you catch them, they are of no use.

After the six hours of fishing, Oye (the most stubborn of us who could deal with anybody’s chicken and kill until I advised and threatened him with hell fire before he stopped), caught one small cat fish, I think that fish had stunted growth because as small as it was, it fins were so strong and sharp as those of an old fish.

As Oye flung the stick attached to the fishing line with extra force, it went over his head and it landed on Sunday’s back and the fish’s back fin hooked Sunday’s back. We, until that time had forgotten that Sunday was with us, he could be very lazy.

He screamed “Oyeeeeeee!” and began to run around, not that it was difficult to remove the fish from his back but he didn’t wait for it to be removed. “ye mi o, ba mi oooo” he cried in Ikale language. He was forced to lie for the fish to be removed. When the thing was removed, blood gushed out and he let out another yell of “ye mi ooo”, which translates as “my mother!!!”.

Kehinde, the child of the semi-lunatic took his cutlass and started the hitting its blunt side on the wound saying in Yoruba “Ero peshe…Ero peshe” meaning “calm…let there be calm” when Sunday finally stood up, he landed Kehinde a heavy slap for citing incantations on his wound. That led to a fight and the lazy Sunday had his share of crazy Kehinde’s beating. Before the fight ended, the fished had disappeared, I think, to its source. We went home! On that day, Kehinde was christened “Ero peshe”

This happened many years ago and it now looks like yesterday.

All the people I have talked about here, the vicissitudes of life has scattered us all. A Yoruba saying that translates as “twenty kids can never play for twenty years” is in full effect in our different lives as we have gone on to different things in different locations. I wonder if anyone has fulfilled the future he had then, I cannot say though as I am still trying to fulfill my own dreams.

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To be continued

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