My writing and reading (reading and writing) have ‘suffered’. Everything I have posted here in this young and prestigious literary website for naija youngsters (and oldsters) are select “refreshing archives” got from my storage of literary works. When I first saw NS advertised on FB, I thought to myself: Why not? Try it! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. At first, the ‘pull’ became so powerful that out of anger, I deleted everything I posted here initially, save one. I didn’t regret that action. I’m in control now. Amen. My mood really swung, like a song. Initially, I was here for the points, then later, I didn’t care. I still don’t care. By the way, my commentaries came straight from my head, on impulse, which at one time got me into ‘trouble’.
When I saw MY NIGERIAN BOOK or something like that here in NS, my first reaction was: Which Nigerian book, biko? I started thinking of just any book I’ve read. I said to myself: Is it FALSE MATCH by Henry Bean, a book in diary form, very American and very blunt and vague in describing sex between two ill-fitted characters? Is it THE CHANCELLOR MANUSCRIPT by Robert Ludlum? Is it MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT by that trusted feminist, late Sidney Sheldon? And etcetera and etcetera? Currently, I read Sunday-Sunday national dailies that have current literary content both political, social and economical. Understand my current ‘suffering,’ hm? Coming down to Africa, apart from the literary dons of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, late Christopher Okigbo, J. P. Clark, late Ola Rotimi, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, late Okot p’Bitek, late Athol Fugard, late Dennis Brutus, etc, let me pick these “three musketeers” [and a fourth, like a “dying D’Artagnan”] and give them sub-titles (one I read very recently though, the fourth one minus sub-title):-
[One] – A simple city story
People of the City by late Cyprian Ekwensi is a book I could relate to. To me, it was like a precursor to modern-day city life in Nigeria, for I am a city woman. Funny that I could compare one or two scenes in this book to a jazz musical track I’ve listened to (PIECE OF THE CITY by Peter White) and to a particular film I’ve watched (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), and thankfully, this even stimulated me into writing and certified my own kind of bohemian lifestyle.
[Two] – A poet denies the poems
Can an author deny the existence of his/her own book? Well, somehow, that was what this one did, so I was told when Unoma Azuah gave me her own copy of Chika Unigwe’s Tear drops to read, her very first collection of poems. Three things made me like this book: (1) the reason why Chika denied ever writing it. (2) the front cover of the book and its paper quality. (3) the youngness and powerful potential each poem carried.
[Three] – A touch of the village
Wedlock of the Gods by late Zulu Sofola was the only epic play I performed in during my days at the university. I took the role of Uloko’s mother, Ogoli, and I had the important task of embracing the ‘dead’ bodies of the two star-crossed lovers, Uloko and Ogwoma, close to my bosom at the tail-end of the play. It wasn’t easy to move at least part of the audience to tears, but then again, someone told me she cried. This was the first play I met that taught me adaptation and gave me a glimpse of village life.
[Four] – I just knew I looked ridiculous in the makeup I was wearing in order to play the role of the landlady demanding for her ten-year rent from a chronically insolvent tenant in the comedy The Transistor Radio by late Ken Saro Wiwa, the shortest play I’ve ever had to perform in at my school’s half-moon-shaped auditorium where a half-moon-shaped stage or platform is situated, apart from Altine’s Wrath & No More The Wasted Breed, two other short plays written by Femi Osofisan that I’ve also acted in. After the performance, the director felt that I had needed extra training (more input) on my role. (He said I needed to be more ‘lady’ in my landlady role.) I can’t forget that one near-gruelling midnight rehearsal I underwent for that Ken Saro Wiwa play as soon as lectures were over and I stepped out of one of the rickety big school-buses that took me to the temporary site of my school where theatre rehearsals took place. That was the play that made me realise how beneficial those sacrifices I made for the theatre was for me in the future while still being an undergraduate student of English.
I am also a foreign-film buff, at least some of the foreign films of the 80s and 90s and some of the 2000s, a good mixture of contemporary American and British (occidental) films and Indian, Chinese and Japanese (oriental) films with English subtitles. These films allow for deeper analysis and they make me think a lot because there are archives of them. The opposite is the case for Nigerian home movies, because there are zero-archives and this kind of films get churned out almost everyday, with so many part-ones, part-twos, part-threes, etc. I just can’t keep up, the flavour in these movies is not there to sustain my interest and some of them are downright imitations (blatant copycats) of occidental movies. The only thing I’m proud of (a bit) is the fact that it ranks second (or third?) next to Hollywood (and Bollywood) movies due to the way those ill-edited home videos hit the market. I have a huge craving for Spanish and Portuguese romantic soap operas also with English subtitles well wrapped and packaged in DVDs, sold in all nooks and corners of this naija nation (I hear that the making and sale of these kind of movies are the next source of income for the Latin American sub-continent). And, of course, there are the contemporary occidental ‘soap operas’ that are also packaged in DVDs and sold in all nooks and corners of this naija nation, only that they sell hotter. I make a selection of this kind of films because they can be highly ‘negatively’ addictive, which means they can make one forget work, take-home assignments, food, sleep and friends (in this case, these films can be shared with friends of kindred spirits), and besides, I have no financial backing to thoroughly satisfy this addiction of mine for this kind of films (i.e. I don’t buy them at all), and that’s the major way I can control the addiction, for it makes me watch them ‘in snatches’ (i.e. I borrow and return them when I have the chance to do so): I start with the first one I’ve watched – Desperate Housewives, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, 4400, Alias so far. And very few times, I’ve quoted musical tracks (jazz and old-skool hip-hop) and their owners in quite a few of my commentaries here in NS.
Well, I’d like to call myself that lizard that fell from that high iroko tree and praised itself when no one did, hence the following coherent (and otherwise) ramblings: [This is the ramblings section numbered 1 to 7. Please, you are more than free to re-arrange the numberings to bring about coherence, if you can, when you place your comments. Thank you.]
(1) HUMPH! I CHUCKLE. Here’s to those particular sizzling romantic NS gals and guys: You wanted meaningless sex… and that’s lacking SOME COURTESIES. Are you sure your love for one another is CEASELESS? I’m just SIMPLY CARING because WHEN THE BLUE MOON COMES, you gals and guys might fall into a FATAL TRANCE way before you realise the DIFFERENCES. So, my candid advice is to stay ALONE, hm? Unless there are SECRET LOVERS amongst you … much like THE PASTOR AND HIS VICTIM.
(2) Let me ask: Which one of you NS gals here is A WIFE OF A PRIEST, hm, or a COURTESAN OF NIGERIA? And which one of you NS guys is a MAN WITH AMULET? You know that A DOGG IS A DOG. I even believe that one of you is also a MASTER PLAYER. You know, where I come from, some might consider me as A GIRL OF THE WATER, but I’m not, at all. Well, let me declare, and conveniently say, that if we here in NS know our onions so well, we all belong to THE CITY OF LITERATURE, right? We must conquer the FEAR OF WRITING AND PUBLISHING and stop the war BETWEEN WRITERS AND PEN PUSHERS. This is a gathering of A ‘nation’… with Three books of proverbs on the side.
(3) I was in QUICKSAND, sunk deep INTO THE EARTH when I looked up and saw Two birds… up in the sky, and I wished with all my strength to have Wings… Down here, it was difficult to emit Foul air… I felt I was a MUTANT. In my mind’s eye, I saw BUBBLES IN THE AIR and smelt the aroma of Silence… I asked God to Bury me in dry leaves… after I saw THE LIGHT, BRIGHTENED AND DIMMED. Anyway, that was MY CONCEPT OF DEATH.
(4) You should Meet the Stephens… No home, MERELY A HOUSE. On the walls are some STRANGE PICTURES. They sat me down and engaged me in RELENTLESS TALKS WITH NO RESOLVE. God, it felt like INTERROGATION!
(5) I had these TROUBLED THOUGHTS about This ‘man’… I was ‘Un’-able… to extricate myself from them. I felt like taking THE NYSC ROAD. It felt like A RAPE OF PEACE when We were at it…, or more like I felt The love of the masquerader. But then, It’s all about ‘her’…, you know. That was why we parted.
(6) When she took the position of being THE WATCHER, having THE EMPTY LOOK over everything around her, she caught sight of THE CALABASH ON A LAKE of THE UNIFYING RIVER. Accused of being lazy at her job, she had THE CONFRONTATION with her boss and got fired.
(7) Hear my whispered words, my beckoning: Come stroll a calabash with me… This is THE LAST DANCE for me, gals and guys. This website has given me room to SPEAK IDLE. I ask: AREN’T YOU HAPPY FOR ME? 😉
I end this by rephrasing (or paraphrasing) that famous Achebe proverb: Men (women) are shooting without a miss. Therefore I fly without a perch.
I – am – DONE, and I write without end. Hm. So, read without end, hm?