I am happily sad in a stupefying boredom masked in an unexplainable excitement as I lie doggo, watching yesterday craw lingeringly into today. Ocean of worries is filled to drown, but the mind is kept afloat. The second ticks, the minute limps, dragging the hour along at a snail’s pace. Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. Let every man be reminded that the first breath is the beginning of death- the brevity of human life. Hither and thither; life’s dots, at sixes and sevens. We must either endure this life’s brutality or discontinue our existence; we are in between the devil and the deep sea. Life is forever turning an infinitely vacant, dispiriting blank side towards man on which nothing appears, any more than it does on a blank canvas. I will die with a century of years. But if truly art is long and life is short, then I will live another century. These things I have written would give life to my name, when the soul would have departed to meet its ancestors.
I am enjoying this life. I love to wallow in an epicurean life, yet every pleasure comes with its lugubriousness. The bees that have honey in their mouths have stings in their tails. Oh! How sweet! How sweet are the forbidden fruits and my future bride must not read about the sweetness of my sexcapade. She may never return. Two things my repentant heart still craves for; women and wine. This throat of mine begs to get drenched in the black liquor- odeku. Blessed is the gathering of noble men seated round the table of wines, where we chortled over the serious issues of life. And what shall I do to this pendulous thing below me that rises when I walk around the magnetic field of fine fine girls? If my righteousness is still like filthy rags in the eyes of the Supreme Being, what then shall my sinfulness be like? Fact is stranger than fiction. My way of life is idiosyncratic, indecisively oscillating between godliness and worldliness. Heaven and hell fights over this restless soul. Nevertheless, it shall come to pass and after all these things, I shall hear the heavenly sound saying, son your sins are forgiven, go and sin more. Amen.
My neo-cortex has refused to hibernate. The gentle night wind blowing through my window and the embers of memories are fanned and I can see my mother. I can hear her too. She must have missed me. Oh Iyemishi my dearest mother, my love for you has never diminished. For you my mother, you who never cut the umbilical cord that tie our minds together. For you my mother, you who took me in, for nine months of pregnancy. For you my mother, you who groaned in pain, lamented with angered veins when the delivery day seemed to be chancy. For you my mother, you, whose swollen nipples I sucked the gelatinous freshest milk. For you my mother, you who squeezed my little body in the warmth of your back- with oja aran during winter. For you my mother, you who nestled my head in your bosom, patting my buttocks and crooning a lullaby for the restless baby to sleep. For you my mother, you who gave me genitive at no cost. For you my mother, you who watched a mischievous boy, grow from infancy to tertiary.
I can hear your voice dear mother. I hear it through this thing I named kari-ka-talk, a mysterious device the White witches have blessed my generation with. And the way I wrote my first song for you on that wooden slate, I am here writing you another- on another slate called iPad. And soon mother, I shall return home with my ukulele and I will join in the orchestra of fellow kinsmen as we sing this ode to a first class mother.
My mother has two roles in her life,
One is the mother, the other the wife.
One brings to life a child to love,
A perfect being sent from above.
The other to love her man through life,
To which she sometimes pays the price.
She loves her man but won’t give in,
To protect her child through thick and thin.
The wife will lie, the mother protects,
The marriage struggles, on the child reflects.
The child grows up and drifts are made,
The role of mother will gently fade,
The wife’s role strengthens as three makes two,
And now the mothers role is new.
She now has three roles in her life,
The mother, the grandmother and still the wife.
The older she gets the more roles she lives,
These roles make her happy because she gives.
As she is nearing the end of her days,
She looks back on all her fondness with praise.
She would never trade all the hard work at all,
She watches them grow, and waits for her call.
The pains of motherhood,
The gains of motherhood.
Whew! Twelve o’clock. Today met my gaze without flinching. Again, today came with a tinnitus.
Yesterday, the tintinnabulation was the jingling of my father’s bell. A call to morning devotion. Oh! I have missed the family prayer where we grew with a belief in the primacy of the family. I have missed my father, the good father. I missed the way he held his lorgnette when he read to us from the Ajayi Crowther version of the bible. I have missed Ecclesiastes 12 verse 1- the scripture good father chewed and spat at us every morning.
Where is my father’s library? The old wooden shelf at a serene corner of our big parlour- it housed the best books one can ever read. Father, you are the first litterateur I knew before your library showed me the works of D.O Fagunwa, Chinua Achebe and Charles Dickens. The first things I read were written by you. And by the time I began to read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, I relished the way words were artistically sewn in a traditional stylistic tinged with poetry- on every pages, and I appreciated the beauty of prose when it transformed into drama and Okonkwo the allegorical character came on NTA- on our TV. Kai, I have missed Okonkwo. Oliver Twist, too, later came on our TV. Since I had read the story of that mischievous boy, I would brag to other children in the neighbourhood that I could tell what would happen in the next episode. It earned me respect and little boys and girls came to me every evening to bathe me with praises while I filled their stomachs with bigger lies. Kidology. I told them Oliver came to our house to tell his story to me.
Oh! I have missed you, you our black and white TV that sat pompously on an aged Kenwood stereo flanked by two woofers that was boxed in the wooden speakers, amplifying the evergreen songs of Ebenezer Obey, Victor Uwaifo, IK Dairo and Dauda Epo-Akara. Father, your favourite writer D.O Fagunwa wrote Yoruba folklores and you, father, never stopped harassing us with these proverbially written stories. You would hardly make a statement without saying ‘according to D.O Fagunwa.’ Father, our upbringing was shaped by your dogmatism. But as soon as the mind grew, we challenged your beliefs that it’s on the same shelf of yours that we’ve read not to believe in all that we’ve read. And then, we are silenced by your response. ‘The frog in the well knows nothing of the ocean.’ We would retreat in an obsequious smile. Whatever, arguing with you, dear good father was intellectually delightful. I have missed those good old days that we sat round your feet- massaging your aching toes while you tell the tales of your childhood. The story of Ogunlakin your father, my grandfather, and the warlord whose ancestral spirit runs through my veins. The great Ogunlakin whose favourite meal was roasted elephant garnished with boiled python meat. He was brought alive in the stories you told us. I shall come home to see you again. Your balding head must have grown white hairs now and I know you now sit at the balcony of our senescent bungalow- in your wobbly leg chair dancing front and back on a spot, where your daily job is to read the dailies while you wait for the token the government you served for three decades has promised you.
Oh! I have missed my father’s library. I have missed you, you the old coverless dirty dictionary that armed me grammatically. You dictionary, you who showed me many words that nourished the vocabulary I used in writing secret letters to my first love.
Oh! I have missed you, you the little girl next door- Ariyike my first love. Reminiscing on how we rode round the gazebo on an imaginary horse, my tiny flat back. I innocently watched the two flies perching on your chest grow into big curved breasts. I have missed you Ariyike and our childhood song, the one we sang with the other children- at sunset.
Who is in the garden
A little fine girl
Can I come and see her?
No no no no!
Now, Ariyike you are no more a little fine girl, you have grown into a Rubenesque woman. Sad. You are no more in the garden, and no no no- I cannot see you. The hide and seek is no more a game, for you, my first love is now hiding under an umbrella called marriage- with a man ten years older than you. I missed you Ariyike, even if kissing you again would be in Eldorado; you now live in my palace of desire. And if you, Ariyike would ever think of your first love, then I will send the nightingale to fly in the breezy wind that blows the oboe while it warbles this ballad for you, my old love- in her dream. The lines I wrote for you:
Ariyike, my childhood bride
Ariyike o, my childhood pride
Oh, how I missed the days we play side by side
Come climb on my back and let’s go for a ride
I remember how I blag my way into your arms
Enclosed in you and my restless body is made calm
Fumbled for words with a detached mind- that savoured your lip balm
Oh, how love-birds now go separate ways like the lines on your palm
Ariyike, my childhood bride
Ariyike o, my childhood pride
Oh, how I missed the days we play side by side
Come climb on my back and let’s go for a ride.
If absence sharpens love and presence strengthens it, then, it is only when our eyes are not four that this fleshy temptation would die with my imagination. But I should bid you farewell Ariyike, fanned fires and forced love never do well. Perhaps you never loved me. .
Farewell Ariyike, for I have found a new love.
Yes, my new love I found on a cloudy evening. She waddled out from the river that flows from the South and tootled towards my tent where I was, holidaying at the riverbank. The sea goddess must have blessed me with this enchantress. My new love has come from the ancestral river-town that birthed the first black damsel that was crowned queen at the world beauty pageant. I should say these things of my new love. Oh my new love, you who come to me every night in a whistling tornado with a toothy smile that dissolved my fright. You my new love, you whose feet are encrusted with diamond as you wriggle in your fish-like body worn in sexy tulle. My new love, you who smiles genially to spark up a golden light that gilded my heart. I cannot wait to lick the nectar-flavoured saliva that greased your lustrous lips. Soon, my new love, I shall come to the riverside and beg your owners to release you to me. For in you I’ve found a love that is so right. It shines all around with the brightest of light. You shall be my pride when I make you my bride.
Whew! Today, the ringing is from the old alarm clock sitting on my dusty reading table. The clock was a gift to help me kill procrastination. Procrastination has become kokumo. It won’t die until I take it to Mountain of Fire. But why is this old thing making noise? Shut up! I never slept. I have been trying to think; about my life, about my mother, about my father, about my home. I have been trying to think about my old love, and now something strums my heartstrings and I am trying to think about my new love. My widely opened eyes journeyed with the gibbous moon into today. In fact, at the third hour of the day- I opened my window gingerly and peeped outside to behold my other Osoronga Mothers that were just returning from their coven. I dropped my curtain when I noticed one of the black birds perching on my roof.
Lo! Ajangbadi the writing demon and my oldest muse is here. The ghostly creature must have flown on the wings of the witches.
My tiny but useful brain, tinned in big for nothing head is littered with words. ‘Write write, oh write,’ I can hear the muse, scuffling inside my duvet. I will write.
Even if the head is aching, I will write. Even if the body is ageing, I will write. Even if the soul is dying, I will write. I will write about my life. I will write about my mother and father. I will write about my home. I will write about my old and new loves. I will write. I am writing.