Tuesday, November 30, 2010


In the sitting room, there is a seven seater settee. In between two three seaters, there is a twenty centimetre gap. It leads out to the kitchen, the restroom, and other parts of the house. I do not like him to go there because there are many dangers out there. Okonkwo, the rat, may be passing by, a knife may be lying on the kitchen floor, and the bathroom floor may be slippery. So anytime he tries to pass, I snatch him up and drag him away. 

And there's that scream again. Yes, that one! But I ignore it. I feel the scream would be much louder if Okonkwo chews his feet or if he slips and falls in the bathroom. So, ChooChoo, your screams don't work no more :) As soon as I take my eyes away, he's back there, trying to pass. Then the Eureka moment comes! I can block that space with something, I say.  Yes, a big piece of something. Maybe, a throw pillow... Yes, I'm a genius. ChooChoo will never be able to pass. I do just that and he looks at the whole contraption with dismay, but I with glee. All's well with this part of the world. 

I'm back to reading my novel, and then minutes after I hear some scraping in the kitchen. "Yikes! Okonkwo again! Wait! Where's ChooChoo?" 
"Mfon, where's ChooChoo? I ask. What's that noise in the kitchen? "
Mfon comes back with ChooChoo in hand. "It was ChooChoo making that noise in the kitchen, scraping a breadknife on the ground", she replies.

Me? Outwitted by a crawlie? I look to see what became of the contraption. Nothing became of it. It was still there. So, how? I look back at ChooChoo and he wears the 'grin'. Yeah, you know the grin. It's a 'I'm a boss' grin. I look away and search furtively for the route of escape and I see it. 

The pillow is not quite the way it was before; it seemed squashed, and it is then obvious that my juvenile muse has showed me again why he is the boss. He squeezed past, flattening himself against the side hollow of the couch!

And this my friends is the lesson- DEFY ALL ODDS. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

He Broke Through My Womb's Door

A scream pierced the air.
5.00pm, 22th Feb, 2010, Grady Memorial, GA.
12 hours after, I saw him.
"Couldn't you knock?", I asked.
No answer.
He just screamed.
I should have known.
That's why 9 months after,  he screams when you take your phone away from him.
And no, the scream is not that of a 9 month old!

N.B Please don't be mad at me for making you scared;  it's not my intention but this entire experience was not funny, but you'll be aii! :)

My Ynaija post! How NOT to be Spirit filled

To be spirit filled is to have the Holy Spirit of God as your constant companion and not a person you whisper to at the door of your church on Sunday morning “Hi, I need you to get through this service, Come on!”

You may not assume that you are filled with the Spirit, because your face contorts in awe at the dexterity of the worship leader and that your knees fall to the ground of their own volition. You would check to see that the worship resonates because it is the worship of someone you know- someone to whom you are known.

You will not assume that those goose pimples indicate the conviction you feel when you hear the powerful word of God flowing from the mouth of your articulate, suave and charismatic pastor. You may simply need to check the AC! You would judge your conviction if present at all, by your obedience to the Spirit’s prompting.

You will not, because you have been inhabited by the Spirit go off on tangents that are idiosyncratic to you. You will be careful to check that all your expressions of that Spirit are in line with the word of God for God gave you that Spirit and wouldn’t have you do anything he doesn’t do.

You will not assume that being filled with the Spirit takes away your individuality, for He gave some to be apostles, some pastors, and the rest of them. You will take heed to pursue your unique destiny in God and tactically resist attempts to make you conform to a clonish gospel.
You will not be filled just for filling sake! You will be careful to see that you bear the fruits of that Spirit; a few simple things like love, joy, peace, goodness, faith, meekness, gentleness, meekness, temperance.

You will not, because you have a superior Spirit look condescendingly on the next man, for the one from whom the Spirit came loved all; sinners and righteous alike and was particularly fond of associating with the former.

You will not, because you house the Spirit of God imagine that you have a license to neglect the care of the house of your body. You will pay just the right amount of attention to it because you received it from God and the Spirit can only be of benefit as long as the house still stands.

You will not assume that because you are filled with the Spirit, you only have to be that –filled with the Spirit, you will take time to be filled with other things; knowledge, wisdom and a mindset of excellence befitting of that Spirit.

And finally, you will not treat the priviledge of receiving that Spirit as another acquisition to your list of accomplishments but as a definition of the fabric of your life as one having strength, the ability to stay constant after numerous challenges, and beauty in the face of differing circumstances.

Monday, November 22, 2010


The ceiling fan was making a whirr whirr sound, swaying from side to side in a last desperate attempt to do the work for which it was made; to circulate air. The Power Holding Company had just emasculated it. Mrs Effiong groaned. Her three month old who was sleeping soundly, would soon cry out when he became hot and sweaty. If she had known that PHC was this unreliable in these parts , she would have prevented her husband from paying for this flat in Ijesha. She lay sprawled on the couch, her well worn jeans skirt riding up her thighs, the copy of the church bulletin fanned out before her. She didn’t need this now, not like it was ever needed, but not now. Especially not now. She was expecting the agent to bring a new housegirl for her.

Mrs Effiong was petite and rotund; her stomach still reeling from the expansive effects of pregnancy. Her face was long like a sheep’s; but she gave no impression of foolishness, rather of hawk like alertness; she had the quick movements of a bird. The most remarkable thing about her was her voice, high, metallic, and without inflexion; falling on the ear with a hard monotony; irritating to the nerves like a constant crackling of biscuit wraps in a solemn burial service.

She liked to have housegirls; not that she couldn’t do her work herself, but she needed to have the company of someone, preferably someone she could control, since her husband would be at work; having escaped temporarily from her bilious tongue. The heat was already getting unbearable, and their Tiger generator had only recently packed up. After the four housegirls that had been through her hands in the last two months, her instincts were now honed to pick up even latent traits of stupidity; and heat would only serve to deaden those instincts. She had refused her husband’s offer to be present at the interview, because she didn’t need him empathizing with a girl just because she sat there, palms folded in laps, a doe eyed look in her eyes.

Mr Effiong was a Sunday School teacher at the Presbyterian Church in Yaba, and had been since 2007, and after two years of teaching youngsters, his constant refrain was “Honey, small small, no kill small pikin!” He was quiet, almost brooding and one who after three years of marriage to Mrs Effiong had learned that it was more conducive to peace to leave her with the last word or action. Mrs Effiong didn’t think any of those girls were ‘small pikin’ and she showed them by pummelling them promptly, and although she was thirty three, five years younger than her husband, she didn’t feel he was as world- wise as she thought she was.

“Madam!” someone called. It was Mr Akpan, the agent, hovering at the burglary proof just outside the sitting room, a young lady at his side. Never one to miss the opportunity of cutting someone down to their size or even below it, she said,unlocking the padlock, “Mister Akpan, I have a door. Knock ! No dey shout person name” , eyes roving all over the girl.

Mrs Effiong had resolved not to accept any girl who looked anything like all the others, and so when she saw this one; with her tapering jeans and white plaid shirt, a pink beret on her head, she smiled to herself. She thought she might be someone who fit . Someone who didn’t look stupid. Of course her judgement was biased; her mind had told her: as long as the girl doesn’t look like anyone your husband would call small pikin, you are fine. The baby’s wail pierced the air from the bedroom, and she hurried to pick it up while showing them to the couch.

“What is your name?” she asked as she returned, her eyes surreptitiously scanning the lady’s sillhouette and this time noticing pink toenails peeking out from pink gladiator sandals. This must have been to match the pink beret, Mrs Effiong thought.

“Monica, Monique for short”, she replied all the time twirling her shoulder length braids. Bits of pink could be seen highlighted in the thick mass of charcoal black braids. She was very conscious of fashion, thought Mrs Effiong. Just then a loud disco tune rent the air. “I go call you later, I dey interview”, Monica said into a phone pulled out from her jeans pocket. Mrs Effiong couldn’t help but notice that it was a well used blackberry.

After a series of questions such as how old she was which was twenty-four and her level of education which she replied, “School Cert” and an expert inquisition into her background, which was directed to Mr Akpan, who all the while had been quiet, a faint look of amusement on his face; keenly observing the exchange between ‘Madam’ and applicant; a verdict was reached. You fit start tomorrow? asked Mrs Effiong, her baby nodding off to sleep again in her arms.

Monica arrived the next morning at 7.00am just when Mr Effiong was preparing to leave for the construction site where he was head foreman. He clutched yesterday’s Punch newspaper in his left hand and a little basket in his right. The basket contained a meal of boiled plantains and fresh fish stew, which Mrs Effiong had woken up at 5.00am to prepare; fleeing not once , but twice to breastfeed her baby, who wailed just when he could no longer feel the warmth of his mother against his skin. At each point, she swore under her breath, cursing the last girl who had just left and simultaneously willing Monica to hurry up.

So it was with great anticipation that Monica was expected. Mr Effiong stopped in his tracks when he saw her at the door. What he saw, can best be described as the sight of a plate of jollof rice and chicken to his hungry labourers. Monica was dressed in a red knee length pencil skirt and black blouuse, breasts straining for prominence under a black blouse, with a black beret substituting for the pink beret of the day before. “Did she have them in all the colours?”, Mrs Effiong thought as she came out of her room, when she heard the door open.

“Honey, this is the girl, she said to her husband, who mumbled “this one no be small pikin”, and hurried out to his grey 1996 Datsun to begin the one hour crawl to the site at Apapa.

“Good morning, Ma", said Monica lugging her fifty pound travelling bag over to the center of the sitting room. Mrs Effiong eyed the bag from the corner of her eye. “You have load oh”, she said intending the question as a rhetorical one to which Monica mumbled something inaudible. Just then the baby cried out and Mrs Effiong hurried away, with Monica following closely at her heels.

His diaper was wet, and when Monica, showing great prowess in the process of diaper change, lifting up the baby’s buttocks with care and massaging Vaseline on it with the practised air of someone who had done this before. Not once , but a lot of times, Mrs Effiong was excited , but she kept it to herself. She had made a good choice afterall, and the days of woe as she insisted on calling these times would be behind her for good. “No small pikin and their stupidity” was her private mantra.

The days and the weeks passed with no casualties between Mrs Effiong and her housegirl, the house looking like one with no ‘small pikin’ housegirl, clean, orderly and above all without the familiar wailings and quick dashes to the backyard of a young girl accompanied by Mrs Effiong, hot on her heels, wrapper around her breasts, brandishing a gari stick. It was peaceful, because afterall there was no small pikin. The last girl couldn’t even hold the baby, for her hands shook and her face blanched and bore a resemblance to that of the baby. Of course the baby cried much more when it was carried by Ekaete, for that was her name; seeing that it was being held by one of its kind, howbeit a bigger version.

One day Mrs Effiong returned home after a trip to the market to discover that the money she had set aside for the baby’s christening dress was short. Of one thousand naira. She had a hard time reconciling her accounts, and she later, after exhaustive but unproductive brain wracking concluded that she must have used the money somehow, maybe in buying some things. It didn’t matter that there were no things!

Monica was up at night typing on her phone. Mrs Effiong found out because in the middle of the night when she got up to use the bathroom, and she had to pass by Monica’s room, she heard the familiar sound she usually heard from the phone of her neighbour upstairs. She restrained the urge to barge into the room, in a characteristic Mrs Effiong style and demand that Monica go to bed. That why was she wasting her light and a host of other questions. Dealing with an apparently non- stupid housegirl did that: dulled your instincts and Mrs Effiong’s instincts were almost becoming non- existent.
Sometimes when they were preparing for church on Sunday mornings, Mrs Effiong will not find her pink lipstick or the gold one her sister bought her from Dubai or the costume jewellery she bought at Balogun the month before. But Mr Effiong was always in a hurry to get to his Sunday School kids, and since they spent at least one hour preparing the baby for church, there simply wasn’t enough time to look for anything. And besides, she had at least ten other lipsticks, each about five years old, two pinks, three reds, three golds, and two silver ones. And lots of chunky, heavy jewellery, the kind available in Balogun for a cheap price. And of course when she came back from church, something always took her attention, and she soon forgot.

Monica remained dutiful, careful not to draw her Madam’s ire. At about 12 noon daily when she finished her chores and the baby was sound asleep, she had time to take her bath and dress up in one of her many clothes. On this day she was wearing a yellow T- shirt on which was printed the words “Big girl, big problem”, with brown leggings under it, when she heard the key turn in the lock. Was Madam back so soon from the shop? She usually returned at 4.00 pm and it was just 12.30pm. Monica was upset. She wanted some time to herself to chat on her phone sprawled on the couch, feet up, and no shouts of “Monica, come quick quick!”

But it was only Mr Effiong, which was strange because at least she had been here two months and he had never come home during the day.

“Gua’fternoon, Sir”, she said.

“ ’Afternoon”, he replied.

“Madam never come back? he asked.

Monica thought it strange that he would ask such a question.

Didn’t he know that she didn’t come back at this time? Hadn’t he called her that he was coming home and to know if she was going to be there too?“No, Sir” , she replied.

“How my pikin?” he asked as he settled on the long couch.
“E dey sleep”, she replied staring at the couch that she should have been on, sprawled, feet up, chatting away. And now this. She wasn’t sure what to say or do. She didn’t exactly deal directly with the husband. It was the wife who acted as intermediary ,saying “Monica go make semo”, while she, the wife carried the semo to him when it was done.
“Just forget about me oh, continue what you’re doing. Sit down if you want. Me, I’m just resting”, he said.

Mr Effiong didn’t forget the initial shock he felt when he saw who his wife had chosen as an alternative to small pikin. He wondered if it was a good idea for such a nubile young lady to be set aloose in his house, but of course he kept such thoughts to himself, bringing them up only in the time of private contemplation just as now. It was the kind of thing he taught his Sunday School kids. FLEE ALL APPEARANCES OF EVIL. Although he wasn’t sure yet just what to call Monica. It was preposterous to call her evil, because she was afterall very good around the house and with his child. But still.

All this pondering though, didn’t help him refuse the urge to spend his breaktime at home today. He had one hour everyday and he never came home, but today he said, “let me go home and rest”. Why he said that, he didn’t know. He wasn’t discerning enough to know just how much influence Monica’s presence in the house had on that apparently mindless decision. And why hadn’t he called his wife?

That rest of his time at home was uneventful. Monica chose to sit at the dining table, scurrying ever now and then to the bedroom to pat the baby.

Mr Effiong made that journey at least three times a week over the next two months: the journey to come home and rest. He told his wife after the second visit, but she thought nothing of it, saying “Ah , honey, you need rest, that work is too stressful”, and occasionally when Monica wasn’t busy and the baby wasn’t wailing, they would gist, Mr Effiong and Monica, tentatively at first, but soon with a burgeoning familiarity.

She would ask if he wanted some fresh fish peppersoup to cool off, or if the semo was the way he liked it. He would ask about her family and if she had boyfriend, to which she would reply, “Oga I be small pikin oh”, laughter crinkling her eyes which seemed to be saying the complete opposite. Monica liked the way he lounged on the couch after eating, his feet up against the head rest, his hairy calf exposed from under his trouser. She revelled in the attention he gave her these days, taking time to dress after her bath at 12.00pm, wondering and hoping he would come home at break time, because of course she couldn’t ask him in the morning and she didn’t want to be taken unawares.

Days and weeks passed. More things got missing. Mrs Effiong asked Monica if she knew about their whereabouts, not once , not twice, but she always responded with an indignant shaking of the head. Mrs Effiong would have slapped her for such impudence if Monica was someone else, but she held herself, for she reasoned ; “when last was my house this peaceful? and my husband even looks happier these days”. She attributed the ruddiness of Mr Effiong’s cheeks to those rests he was taking at home. Mrs Effiong even went in to Monica’s room one evening when she sent her to buy plantain and searched her travel bag for any of her missing things, but she found nothing.

One day, after Monica had been with them six months, Mrs Effiong was stopped on the road as she was walking to the bus stop by her neighbour; the one who shared the ground floor with them. Mrs Effiong and this lady were not exactly friends, in fact they were silent enemies, the kind who passed each other without greeting when they thought the other couldn’t see them, only to burst out in a flurry of insincere platitudes when their eyes met involuntarily.

“Aunty, I wanted to come to your house yesterday, but I say make I see you outside.”, the lady said.
“Wetin?” asked Mrs Effiong, attempting to disguise her haughty look with a cold smile.

“I just wan say, and she lowered her voice and looked over her shoulder to check if anyone was listening; at least anyone of importance, because of course everyone was listening; it was a bus stop! I dey see your husband every day for house for afternoon, I no know wetin dey happen”, the lady said in grave tones.
Mrs Effiong just smiled. A smile of cool condescension. “Nothing dey happen, e dey come rest”, she replied in the indulgent tone a mother would use in responding to her child who asked, “Mummy, who made God?”

The lady didn’t seem satisfied and was on the verge of saying more when Mrs Effiong’s bus came along. On the way to the shop that day, Mrs Effiong’s mind went briefly to what her neighbour had said. She was irked that, that little woman would have the nerve to walk up to her and tell her something like that. The only nagging thought was that the woman said “everyday”; she didn’t know that it was everyday, but maybe the woman had been exaggerating as people are inclined to do when “helping” others see what grave danger they were courting.

A week after this incident, Mrs Effiong returned home to find that her husband home too. He hadn’t called her to say anything and she was upset when she saw his Datsun in the compound. The sight she saw on entering the house was in Mrs Effiong’s opinion just the kind of thing devil used to tempt her in the old days of ‘small pikin’. The sitting room was scattered and Monica was lying on the floor, laughing hard at Mr Effiong who was lounging on the court singing a Sunday School chorus in an affected American accent.

Monica scrambled off the floor with the alacrity of a cat uprighting itself after a fall, tugging at her mini skirt, her eyes darting around the mess in the sitting room in dismay. In that moment of intense provocation, what passed through Mrs Effiong’s mind was that she hadn’t seen that mini skirt before. Mr Effiong wore the look of a child who had been caught with red oil on his hands, after his mother noticed the indentation in the surface layer of the new pot of Egusi soup. It didn’t matter that all he did was play with the palm oil bottle.

Mrs Effiong dragged Monica by the ear and slapped her right cheek first , and then her left. To this Mr Effiong paled, a look of consternation on his face, ”Honey,small small, no kill small pikin”, he said from a safe distance. Mrs Effiong shot him the ‘look’. That day it took a lot of explaining and pacifying for peace to be restored, so much so that he couldn’t return to the site. He had to call to say there was a family emergency. Indeed, there was for Mrs Effiong huffed and puffed, hemmed and hawed, pacing up and down the house, occasionally resuming her tirade of words aimed at Monica who scurried back and forth like a rat, cleaning up places that were already clean.

When her Sunday- only wristwatch got missing the next Sunday, Mrs Effiong’s alarm bells went off and this time they refused to be quietened . She ramsacked the whole house, this was of course after releasing her husband to go off to church alone saying” I must get to the root of this!”.Her husband slunk away in irritation casting a pitying glance at Monica, who would be the verbal punching bag for the day.

The watch was found in between the folds of the long couch by Monica who at this point was tired of the endless upturning of beds, shaking of clothes, and the accompanying rapid fire commentary from the caustic tongue of Mrs Effiong. When Monica presented the watch to her with an excited “I don see am”, Mrs Effiong thought she saw in Monica’s eyes a glint of foreknowledge.
Over the next few weeks as Mrs Effiong would return home in the evening to see Monica dressed up in clothes more suited to attending parties, the whole house reeking of lavender Fantasy body spray, her gait sure and practised like a graceful feline animal, Mrs Effiong became disturbed.
Mr Effiong, seemed more at ease, his face lighting up at the entrance of Monica into the room; it no longer mattered to him that his semo was served by Mrs Effiong; encouraging her to rest for wasn’t Monica up to the task? Mrs Effiong imagined that Monica was looking at her husband strangely, and spent too much time bending over the stool when she served him the semo.

Mrs Effiong spent hours in the evening sometimes on the couch with her chin in the hollow of her palm, the folds of her forehead drawn together in ridge- like furrows. She imagined a lot of other things, and soon became very paranoid. The whole house took on a different look in her eyes; it was still clean and tidy, but she almost felt like an outsider looking in, observing the unspoken communication between these two. It wasn’t suprising that she picked up her phone one Saturday morning; when her husband was out, and called Mr Akpan, the agent, and said, in a meek, weary voice “Come and take this girl away, I want small pikin!”

Thursday, November 18, 2010


And God said, “It is not good for man to be alone”

This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. It is quoted only in reference to , perhaps marriage.
But could there have been a deeper and more far reaching idea in the mind of God when he said that, that for the first time something was 'not good'? Could he have meant that it is simply not good for Adam to dwell in that garden alone without someone of his kind, someone to serve as a sounding board for his dreams, and it need'nt be always a wife? 
This is why I say this. I think you need me to feel good.

Did you ever read a facebook status or note or look at a picture and didn’t first read my comment before writing yours?

Do you see how sad you are when you  organise parties and I do not show up , and when in fact too many people show up, you  complain about it only in a mildly irritated tone, and for someone that is supposed to be piqued, you tell so many people about it?

Does it happen that it won’t ever mean a thing to you if GEJ came to visit you in the dead of the night, when I was asleep,  and left stealthily by the backdoor without no one seeing him,  and you didn't even have an  opportunity  to take a picture on your blackberry and upload it,  so it’s up in my  face on my facebook wall?

Have you ever taken extra care to dress up and look good,  sometimes going as far as buying a new bag or earrings  just before you went for an event where you were sure to see me?

Does it  matter to you that your mother or father or husband come  to visit you at school dressed in their best clothes because you know I’ll be watching, when in fact it would matter much less, if they dressed in rags when you were with them at home?

Does it matter to you to throw a big birthday party for your one year old, with all the trappings of your peculiar economic circumstance;  party packs, bouncy castles, souvenoirs including buckets and flasks when  your one year old will sleep half way through the event, of course,  just because I’m coming?

Does it matter  to you , that I see you  making those steps,  looking like you’re succeeding,  looking like you never fail.

So in the case of the facebook commenting, you look at mine first before writing yours, because you want to write yours in the context of mine. You instantly assess the level of my intelligence, and you write yours to match it,  or if within your power, top it!

In the case of your parties, you need me to be there to celebrate you, to see how well you’re doing,  or in some cases how much you have ,  or maybe how well you’re able to allocate your lean resources to produce an illusion of wealth and worthiness (thereby becoming a member of the party with the slogan ('It’s not about how much you have!')

In the case of GEJ’s visit, you need me to see you with him, and/or see the picture,  because if I wasn’t there and you told me, I might not believe you, and even if I was there, I may later deny, so that’s where the picture comes in.

You take extra care to dress up, because you want me to think of you as beautiful, as lovely , and more fundamentally, simply as being capable of dressing up!

You are willing to place your mother or father on the altar of your personal ego,  sacrificing them to feed your  desire for my silent validation. You want them to look their best and be smart and be cool. It doesn’t matter that you think less of these things when  I’m not there.

And as for your one year old’s birthday party, you will need me to be able to say you threw a hot party! The child doesn’t know and doesn’t care and just wants to sleep or smear the ten thousand naira Winnie the pooh cake all over his face.  No! You say, "Aunty is here!"

So you see, you need me.

But don’t need me too much.

Feel free  to be yourself because I am myself.  Those times when you think I’m looking, I’m simply looking – at myself,  thinking you’re looking.

Feel free to be yourself,  and fail when you have to,  because I fail too.  I’m failing right now in not letting you know just how much I need you, even as you need me.

Feel free to be yourself because I am afterall not your God, but a fellow product off the assembly line. I may have come off first, or you first, but we still are products off the line.  I may have been made to write,  you to sing, but our shared sense of worth is in our Maker. The worth of a Sony freezer or stereo is just that. It's Sony!

You need me to feel good because I can challenge you to do better,  to speak better,  to live better.  And that is in fact what I want.

You need me to feel good only when I confer on you the empathy that comes from a shared heritage, a common struggle, a mutual destiny.

You need me to feel good.  I need you to feel good. Let's meet ourselves halfway!

Monday, November 8, 2010


You have just closed your eyes in sleep -- a different kind of sleep, and then you hear someone calling your name and you find yourself slowly slipping to the other side. But you are still hearing your loved ones, raising their voices to a feverish pitch. They are saying something that sounds like an unbroken string of mono syllabic words ; you recognize it as the tongues of angels, the tongues of spirits. This mysterious language is broken up by fierce, passionate singing and deafening clapping: “He has promised he will never fail”; the song goes....but you are going and they still continue praying and singing , singing and praying, voices hoarse, tears streaming down.
But then you go. It is final. You have gone.

The next day people begin writing on your wall on facebook. Hopefully your privacy status enables them leave a line or two. Some look for old pictures of you and put up on their own facebook wall and they say stuff about you. Just stuff.

Then hurriedly , your family amidst their mind numbing grief go about gathering your photos to send to the printer. For your funeral program. You didn’t have the time to pick out your photos, of course, so they pick out the nicest – in their own opinion. Someone thinks that the one where you wore your youth corper khaki looks nice, so they put it there.

People gather around and talk about you. They remember all sorts of things.

Someone remembers your kiss. She says you plundered her mouth. Someone says they owed you five thousand naira and you forgot to ask for it, up until you died. They say it with a relieved sigh. Yet another says that all you cooked in school was beans.That you put dried fish in it, that they can still taste it in their mouth although school was four years ago.They say the most inane things. At least they say something. What if nothing was said?

But some others try to remember more profound things. Some say you had a fine mind, that you were intelligent , that you were ingenuous. It’s all kind of abstract , if you think of it, but you see they have to write on facebook. So they marshall their thoughts, and try to shrink their perceptions into words. It proves very difficult and so they simply stop trying .

“What are they really thinking?”, you ask. Are they writing what they are thinking, or thinking what they are writing? Nobody is answering you—of course. All they can do is write on facebook or in a condolence register.

You give up wondering. You simply cannot know their mind. At least not from where you are. Especially not from where you are. So you try another angle. You say to yourself, “ I know what I did, who I was and so I’ll tell it to myself.”
If you had been a one year old for example, you might say, “ I never forgot to smile when my mother left for work in the mornings. I’m sure that helped in brightening her day. And yes, I did remember to cry in moderation when she returned.Because after such a hard day ,I didn’t want her nerves frazzled.”
If you were a thirteen year old SS1 student, you would think “Well , I tried to help my friends understand lessons better, I didn’t go putting my hands up no girls skirt , I did try to give some of my milk to that poor guy whose parents couldn’t afford anything , and I think I was a good son to my parents.” I think.
If you were a twenty eight year old guy, you think “Well, I was good to the ladies,treated them with respect and dignity, especially my fiancee, I was honest at work, didn’t try to take any money that wasn’t actually mine.I worked hard to help my mum and dad raise my siblings, and I never forgot to call home even when I was far. I tried to love God. It was hard but I tried.

A part of you smirks, but you insist, I tried.

Then you say, “I touched the lives of my friends, I shared everything I had with them , I was loving and cheerful and gracious and forgiving.

If you were a twenty eight year old lady, you say “Ah I refused to degrade my body , or let anyone lay a claim on it because of money, and I didn’t judge my friends.I stayed away from those mind defilers -- porn, vile music and trashy literature.

If you were a forty-five year old woman, you would think “I sent my children to the best schools, was faithful to my husband, was dedicated at church, and yes , was good to my staff. 

Or if you were a seventy year old man, which you weren't but if you were, you might say , "I was honourable, left an inheritance for my children's children, gave generously to the poor.

All this is supposed to make you feel better, but ironically, it doesn’t.

Then you exhaust yourself. Enough of the self adulation!
It’s simply not working. You try another angle. You say," Maybe I’ll just forget about trying to convince myself of my legacy or lack thereof.I’ll leave it to him to tell, but by God I hope I made him glad", all the while fighting a creeping feeling of anxiety.

“Him” is the one you are meeting very shortly, by the way .

”He will be with you in a minute. Please have a seat”, they say. The seat
is pure, brilliant gold.
He comes out shortly from his inner chambers and he looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before and says, and yes he is grinning like he is happy to see you,
“Well done thou good and faithful servant!"
You want to pass out in relief, but then you remember that you’ve already passed -- on!

A light-hearted fantasy for people who are grieving over the reality of the passing of a loved one, that is , a really loved one! I hope this bings some of the much needed upliftment.

Monday, November 1, 2010


There are so many ways to be a rat in my house and I know  you know them already, since you have settled down quite nicely.In your greed,just like Lot,when Abraham lovingly offered him the land on the left or the right,you have chosen the juicier(land flowing with milk and honey part)....but in your case Cerelac and Danish Cookies parts of the land.

But just like Abraham,I am loving,and I have decided to tell you a few things on how not to be a rat in my house.Because I have given up struggling within myself as to whether you belong here or not.I’ve tried severally...remember those days when we waged war....seven days and seven nights...I kept vigil....I shudder to think...
I’ve decided to call a truce....you stay on your own and I’ll stay on my own...agreed...I think I hear you say ..."Thank God". Indeed he is your God,because he made all things...and he said "It is good."*smh*
So,listen carefully so that we may live in peace henceforth...
As a rat in my house,
  • You may not come out in plain view when I am watching Naija Sings in the evening with my family—I’m inclined to compare the voices of the contestants with your sounds and, I don't like to be mean that way...and definitely do not come out when I’m writing or typing—it distorts my imagination and I end up writing things like I’m writing now.
  • You may not eat of the (tree of knowledge of good and evil)...things like ChooChoo’s Cerelac,my Agege bread, the Danish Cookies meant for visitors and of course Old Yam(you may eat New Yam).
  • You will not (ever)stop and say hello, when you see Choo Choo crawling on the floor.He is minding his business,please mind yours! He may be tempted to pick you up by your tail and fling you up over his head (Your innards may splatter in all directions and I cannot clean up such a mess).ChooChoo is not your contemporary; he may look just a little bigger than you,but he is not in your league.Please understand.And of course,if he is the first one to say hello,do not answer.
  • You will not chew ChooChoo’s feet,no matter how tempted you are.I chew his feet occasionally ,and yeah he simpers in delight,but please don't try to copy me; you may not know where to draw the line.There are so many things for you to chew all over the house.Have you noticed the old pile of newspapers under the kitchen cupboard?Yes,that one....I put it out for you.It's not very nutritious? Well,pity that!
  • You may not hold clan meetings in my room when I’m asleep.That point where you go”Orato Kwenu” and your comrades reply “Yaa”, grates on my nerves so bad,I just want to........., and by the way ChooChoo sits up in his cot and looks around in pleasant bewilderment ,like he is wondering where you've been.I cannot rouse myself from my sweet slumber to pat him back to sleep...There is work at 8.00am.
  • You may not pass through the door when I'm passing.Please show some respect.I am afterall your benefactor.(Do I hear you smirk?)*smh*
  • You will not come out in full view of visitors.They may not understand.Screwing up their noses in feigned disgust,as if they do not harbour your relatives in their houses,they want me to believe they do not even know what you’re called. Spare me the embarrassment of trying to explain your presence,will you? And as long as the visitors are still here,tell your kids to stop their squibbling!
  • You may not hold kitchen parties when I’m out,incase I come back with a visitor.
  • Do not ever (ever) try and die in a hidden place.
I,as you know,will never try and kill you on purpose,but once in a while I have these overzealous househelps who claim to know just the trick to annihilate your race permanently,and in your hurt and feeling of betrayal,you send one of your lowly servants to die at the back of the cupboard behind the freezer.

I see through that particular line of action, the aim being to let us search and search for the source of such putrid smell,while all the while wearing gas masks-- even ChooChoo.
I know you feel betrayed,but it is not my fault,how do I tell the maid not to bother,that we have a pact,an agreement,you and me,without risking an awkward sidelong glance(This Madam don dey crase!)
By the way,I admire your calculated intelligence; you send a dispensable servant to die,while you the dons,the king-pins, the bigs boys, roll over in ectasy,(the ectasy of the act guaranteed to produce offspring in lieu of your dispensable servant.)
My name is Berry.Yours?
"Ah,I see..."

If you don’t do these things,Okonkwo,we’ll be just fine and I’ll reject the next maid who seems to have that (I know just the thing to do to rats) gleam in her eyes!

Love always,
Berry FeistyPen.

Tut!Tut!...and since we'll be bumping into each other now and again,it'll make sense if we were on first name basis.