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Archive for November, 2015

Keep Calm and Shit With Sense

This Should Have Come Earlier.

I Apologise. Some small details kept me from sharing since.

Make we no long talk again:

 

SZt5JWRI.jpg large

 

 

Bedouin, a Lagos-based Creative Media Firm is on a mission to put an end to open defecation in Nigeria through its “Shit With Sense” campaign.

 

 

Open defecation puts people at risk of contracting quite a number of diseases, which often lead to deaths. For instance, in 2013, over 340,000 children under 5 years died from diarrhoea resulting from lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

 

 

The aim is to improve the toilet and sanitary conditions of the average Nigerian.

 

 

You can join in this campaign by spreading the word as much as you can, as far as you can and as fast as you can, for a worthy cause. But there’s also something in it for you as well. You can stand a chance to win some gift items by taking the following steps:

 

 

  1. Follow @bedouinnation and @shitwithsense on twitter or @swslagos on Instagram.
  2. Write a funny short story in your notes on your phone that you think will help pass the message #ShitWithSense. Or create a funny short video with the message.
  3. Take a screenshot and tweet the photo at both handles with the hashtag #ShitWithSense or upload the video on Instagram with the hashtag #ShitWithSense and tag us as well.
  4. Get your friends to retweet you on twitter or like your video on instagram
  5. The funniest story and video with the highest retweets/reposts and likes gets a prize.

 

 

From Thursday, 19th November, World Toilet Day to Thursday, 3rdDecember, this contest will be on. You’ve got two weeks to gather your votes and the winners will be announced on Friday the 4thof December. So hurry! Start writing, start recording and start sharing. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #ShitWithSense and be sure to keep tweeting at us! Good luck!

 

Are you still here?! Get to tweeting!


For Want Of A Child XII

 

Masthead 12

 

The slap had a twosome effect.

 

It muted all sounds around and within Frank; and then it cleared his head of the alcohol haze. Everything was quiet; the kind of quiet that made him feel as though he was in a vacuum – like everything had stopped.

 

The girl – the woman who’d slapped him clapped a hand to her mouth. Above her hand her eyes seemed to darken, and then the tears slowly spilled over and ran down her cheeks, following her hand and down her wrist.

 

For some reason, Frank found the sight mesmerizing.

 

And then she whirled, mumbling something he couldn’t hear over her hand and ran towards the exit. He turned and looked at Priye who was staring as though his uncle had just walked in.

 

“I’ll be right back,” Frank said to his friend and hurried after the girl.

 

The predawn air hit his face almost as roughly as the slap, further clearing out lingering alcohol cobwebs. He nodded to the bouncer and stood by the entrance, looking left and right – past the few people still scrambling to get into the club; hoping for a sight of the girl.

 

He spotted her a distance off, standing beside a car. From where he was he couldn’t be sure, but it looked like she was shaking.

 

His feet dragged as he walked towards her but he was determined to apologize. Apologize and find out who she was.

 

He still didn’t recognize her.

 

“Hey.”

 

She jumped; looking curiously like a suddenly-electrified rat. Wiping her face quickly with the backs of her hands she started to speak, “I’m sorry – I wasn’t doing anything. I just – “

 

Her voice faded when she turned around and saw she was talking to Frank.

 

Standing straighter and ignoring the tears making a mess of her mascara, she looked in his eyes as much as she could and said, “Yes?”

 

Frank rubbed his head. “I’m sorry – so sorry for what I did back there. It was wrong; I don’t what came over me. I’m really sorry.”

 

Her arms were against her chest; her chin quivered slightly as she stared at him, trying to take measure of his sincerity with her eyes. Finally she softened. “You should be,” she fought to keep her voice steady. “I thought you were a gentleman.”

 

“Alcohol will do that to you,” Frank mumbled, looking away from her. “Look, I really am sorry, but I don’t remember you. Yet you know me, you know my name.” His eyes searched hers. “Where did we meet?”

 

She smiled and Frank was caught up in her eyes – caught up; feeling as though there were hands wrapped around his throat in a not-so-nice manner. “We met at the general hospital Ikeja some weeks ago. My name is – “

 

“Sofia – with an ‘f’.” He scratched his beard – where a beard usually was. “Wow.” He raised his hands and dropped them. “No excuses. It’s just been a rough couple of weeks. How are you doing and how is your brother?”

 

It was dark in the lot, but he could see her teeth flash as she grinned. “He’s fine. He’s out of the hospital and he seems to have his head on straighter now. And your…“ she let the question hang.

 

“Ah – it was a friend and she’s fine now.” He actually didn’t know for a fact how Efe was doing but Fola had mentioned seeing her driving around so he figured –

 

“ – you drink? And smoke? That’s really not too healthy a combination is it?”

 

He frowned. “It’s complicated.” Pulling his phone out he handed same to Sofia. “Give me your number.“ Noting the frown that wrapped her baby-smooth face with lines, he added “Please.”

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“Guy, make we dey go house.”

 

Priye looked around as though unsure as to where Frank’s voice was coming from. Finally, he managed to fix his eyes on the bleary outline of his friend. “Where you come go na?”

 

Frank grabbed his arm roughly. “It’s time to go and I’m driving.”

 

Priye did not resist as he was pulled up, but as soon as Frank let go his arm he crumpled. “Ol boi, me I no fit go house alone o.”

 

“You won’t be going alone. I’m with you.” Frank grabbed his arm again but Priye snatched it out of his grip.

 

“You dey mad ni? You no hear say na fourteen years?” He stood up and straightened his clothes. “I no dey understand wetin dey happen dis days again sef. Frank sef don turn gay…”

 

He fell into step beside Frank, mumbling as they made their way out of the club.

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“Hey there,” Frank said to a surprised Sofia as she came out of classes, freeing her hair of the rubber band that held it in a ponytail. She welcomed him with a smile, and as she waved over her shoulder to a couple of colleagues, Frank smiled too, thinking again; as he had each of the three times he’d seen her since she slapped him two weeks before how beautiful she was.

 

“What are you doing here?” She asked, then “Oh, I know what you’re doing here! What I want to ask is, why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

 

“Would be much of a surprise if I did that would it?” He enveloped her in a hug before turning to lead the way to his car. “Actually I was in the neighborhood and thought to see you.”

 

Sofia was quiet as he opened the door on her side of the car, and as he got in on his side she spoke.

 

“I just thought you’d come see me because you want to, not because you were in the neighborhood.”

 

Frank literally bit his tongue – trapped the tip of the appendage between his upper and lower molars and pressed down. “You can’t say that. I came because I wanted to see you, and I also just happened to be in the neighborhood.” He paused. “There’s something I came to look at – you know I’ve been house-hunting, right?”

 

Sofia nodded.

 

“So I got James to help. James is like my assistant at the shop. He’s in charge when I’m not around – “

 

Sofia chuckled. “You’ve mentioned him several times.”

 

Frank nodded. “So he found this apartment around here, so I thought we’d look at it together.” He was engrossed with handing a security person his gate pass and therefore missed the frightened look that passed over Sofia’s face.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Sure – sure. I’m just a bit tired. It’s been a long day.”

 

Frank wanted to slap himself. “I’m sorry; we should get something to eat first. What would you like; local or – “

 

“Local sounds good. I want amala.”

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

The clinking of metal on ceramic; of several mouths and throats working simultaneously was all the music Frank could expect. He and Sofia were seated in a canteen; waiting for their order of rice and amala respectively. Sofia, chin in hand was staring at the wall on their right, looking at that moment like the thinking man statue.

 

Frank was staring intently as though that would help him see what was going through her mind.

 

She turned suddenly and met his gaze; held it for a few seconds before turning away, covering her eyes and trying to hide her smile. Frank leaned forward, almost upending the table with his elbows. As he righted the table, their food arrived.

 

He never got to ask what he wanted to.

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“Why medicine?”

 

Sofia belched softly from her reclining position. “Sorry,” she mumbled behind her hand and then she sat up. “I don’t know. Mummy says I loved playing doctor even from childhood. I’ve always had a fascination for medicine and related fields. I also love the idea of saving lives and helping people.”

 

“How has it been, the learning?”

 

She shook her head. “Franklin, it hasn’t been fun. Too many times I go home drained and the realization that I have to do it all over again the following day makes me not want to wake up.”

 

Her fingers drew an intricate pattern on the lilac-colored table cloth, her thoughts taking away the ‘baby’ of her unlined face, adorning it with age that wasn’t hers. She looked up and flashed a hesitant smile at the man facing her.

 

“I like kids – I adore children and it fills me with horror to think anyone would want to hurt them. I want to be able to help, make things – make life easier for them. So I decided on medicine as the best way. I could have been a police – “

 

Laughter from across the table interrupted her. “What’s funny, sir?” she asked with a straight face.

 

“I just tried to picture you in a police uniform.” He shook his head and laughed again. “It keeps looking all wrong.”

 

Sofia’s smile was stronger. “That’s easy for you, to imagine me in a police uniform or any other thing for that matter. Is it because you’re a tailor or that’s why you became a tailor?”

 

Frank didn’t understand her question. Not at first – but suddenly it became clear and he grinned. “It’s a bit of both. I could draw from childhood and it’s gotten better since I became a tailor. It’s pretty much a simple matter of taking someone out of – “ he paused and cleared his throat. “Anyway, you get the gist.”

 

His pretty companion nodded. “And you love what you do, right? Does it get awkward when you have pretty women come in for fittings?”

 

Frank glanced at the wall clock and stood up. “Will you look at the time? I need to check out the house, and then I’ll take you home if you want.”

 

Sofia got up slowly, same frightened look passing over her face again. She walked behind Frank as he led the way outside to the car; waited for the bleep indicating the doors had been unlocked. Quickly she got in and shut the door.

 

“Is your mum back yet?”

 

Frank’s question startled Sofia out of her reverie. “Ehn?” She blurted, sitting straighter in her seat as she turned towards him. And then – “Oh, mummy, she’s back now. For almost a week. She and papa have been going out a lot lately. I think they missed each other even though she was only gone for a month!”

 

He laughed. “Why would you say that?”

 

“Well, they still go to the cinema and the beach – and when they come home they’re always holding hands and smiling at each other as if there’s gold in the other person’s mouth!”

 

Frank was laughing so hard he missed putting the key in the ignition properly. He got it on the second try and started the car. “Let’s just go check out this place and I’ll take you home. Hope you don’t mind.”

 

She shook her head.

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“You sure you don’t want to come in?”

 

“I – I’m a bit tired. I’ll just wait here, please?”

 

Frank nodded. “Okay. I’m coming.”

 

He turned away from the car window – and suddenly turned back again. “Here, hold onto these.” The car keys dangled from his hand.

 

“What am I to do with that? I can’t – “ She covered her face. “I can’t drive.”

 

“Just take them,” he insisted. She grabbed the keys from him and waved him away. “Go jare.”

 

He chuckled as the watching agent smiled indulgently. “Can we go in now sir?”

 

“Sure,” Frank responded. “Lead the way.” His glance lingered on Sofia, reluctant to let go. He was still staring as he disappeared into the gate of the house.

 

It was a simple apartment; two bedrooms with a cozy living room, sizable bathroom and kitchen with tiles all over. Fresh paint smell hung in the air, but the apartment was well cared for. Frank could hear the agent’s sales pitch but he wasn’t listening, not consciously.

 

He’d left that part of him outside. With Sofia.

 

The kitchen was surprisingly roomy and airy; two large windows provided ventilation. He opened the tap and enjoyed the cool water as it rushed over his hand – and a vivid image of him kissing Sofia beside the sink popped into his head.

 

Shaking his head, he stepped away from the tap.

 

“I’ll take it,” he said, interrupting the startled agent. Frank pointed at the still-running tap as he hurried out of the kitchen and out of the house. Quick steps brought him to the gate and he opened it hastily, looking for his car even before he stepped through.

 

It was where he left it; and the girl was inside as he’d left her.

 

Hurrying to her side of the car, he dropped on his haunches, looked into her half-frightened but smiling face and said;

 

“Will you go out with me?”

 


For Want Of A Child XI

Masthead 11

 

“What happens now, Frank?”

 

The subject of Fola’s question shook ash from the cigarette he was holding, made to take a puff – and then abruptly changed his mind. His hand thumped on the table a bit harder than he planned and he winced.

 

Pain could be heard in his voice; pain and some impatience when he asked, “Happens concerning what?”

 

The question was rhetoric; considering he’d just told them about Efe and the abortion and everything in between, but left out Igo’s affair. He didn’t feel that concerned them.

 

Priye, sounding subdued a lot more than was usual for him said; “Folly baba abeg leave the guy small you hear? You no understand wetin dey happen ni?”

 

“I understand; I understand it has already happened. Igo knows. What else is there but to move on?”

 

Frank grabbed the whisky glass not too far away from him and emptied it once. The liquid hit him low in the belly and his head swam. Everything went out of focus for a short minute; his sight seemed to be stuck in a whorl –

 

The world straightened itself out suddenly, enough for him to know Priye was talking.

 

“Ehn…wetin you talk?” he asked.

 

“I talk say wetin me I go like know na whether Igo know na im dey pain my guy, or na say e give woman bele she go commot am.”

 

As one, Fola and Priye shifted in their seats, unconsciously forming a triangle with Frank at the apex of it. He could see the question on both their faces; a question he had been shying away from asking himself too closely because he was afraid of the answer.

 

And now…

 

“I swear I don’t know. I think it’s a bit of both. I hate to hurt Igo; I hate to do something so mean. I’d like to say it wasn’t my fault, but I’m not a child. I knew what to expect.”

 

He dragged air deeply into his lungs. Then he repeated the process, this time with the cigarette in his mouth. “I also don’t like that the first actual pregnancy with my sperm in it ended up being aborted; but what was Efe supposed to do? I mean; think about the story of David and Bathsheba. See what David had to do to her husband at the end of the day because of complications.” He looked directly at Fola. “See why I say God hates everybody?”

 

“Come first bro. I’m no saint and I’m not trying to preach here, but God has absolutely nothing to do with this. NOTHING.”

 

Frank shook his head. “But look at how events conspired to lead me to Efe’s house that night.” He paused. “Maybe He has nothing to do with anything; maybe He just happens to be an easy target. At least she’s out of the hospital.”

 

“All dis una talk just dey spoil my belle. Abeg make we commot.”

 

Fola nodded and got to his feet. “Not a bad idea, there’s this real cool spot I know on the island. Fish and booze and all that.”

 

As one, both friends looked at the head of the triangle. “Frank?” Priye said softly.

 

“Of course I’m coming. You think I’ll stay home?” He struggled to his feet. “Let me put a shirt on.”

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“Ol’ boy; this joint dey bang!”

 

It was lively for a Sunday evening. The setting was just a bunch of canopies arranged neatly in a space – but it was right next to the ocean which lent it refreshing ambience. Soft mood music played, to which a couple of couples moved to in the space between the canopies.

 

It was relaxing.

 

Priye extended his right fist across Frank’s chest towards Fola. “Chop knuckle jo!” he said.

 

“How did you find this place?” Frank asked.

 

“Well – “ Fola cleared his throat several times. “There’s this girl…this girl I do some things with,” he avoided Frank’s steady gaze; looking instead at Priye. “She brought me here one night and I just fell in love with the fish. It’s the best I’ve had so far.”

 

Priye, walking as though it was a place he’d been before led them to a table set beside a small fence overlooking the ocean. There were four chairs around the table until Fola lifted one and moved it away.

 

As though synching their movements, they sat down together.

 

Fola waved at a girl; pretty with long hair and dimples. She hurried over, smiling and greeting them politely. “Yes? What will you have?”

 

Priye spoke. “Give us Big Stout.”

 

“All of you?” she asked.

 

Frank shook his head. “Heineken for me.”

 

As she turned to go Fola held her hand gently. “Please call Amaka for me.”

 

“Who be Amaka?” Priye asked as the girl nodded and walked away.

 

“That’s the girl who makes the fish.”

 

Frank looked over the water; appreciating the breeze in spite of himself. The joint was across the water from Ozumba Mbadiwe; he could see the Civic Centre and Lagoon Front from his seat. He liked how the buildings’ lights reflected on the water, sparkling and glittering. He heard Fola’s phone ring; heard his friend say something in a low tone.

 

“Hope that wasn’t madam o,” he said, turning towards the table.

 

“At all,” Fola responded. “She knows I’m not coming home tonight; I gave her the gist but summarized it. It was her idea to come spend time with you sef.”

 

“So who called?”

 

Fola winked. “You’ll see soon.”

 

The pretty girl came up just then, bearing a tray with three bottles and just as many glasses.

 

 

They were halfway through their drinks when Fola looked up. “Amaka!” he said sourly. “Where were you since, didn’t they tell you I asked for you?”

 

The light-skinned short girl walking towards their table smiled. “Oga Folly, you supposed understand. My madam is around and she doesn’t like when I leave the kitchen.” She came up beside him and curtsied briefly. “No vex.”

 

“Vex?!” Priye chirped in. “Why e go vex for fine girl like you?”

 

Amaka looked at Priye and drew back. “Area!” she saluted.

 

“Area!” Priye responded with a huge grin and nodded at Fola. “This girl know how far.”

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

Frank, lost in thought, picked at the fish with fingers that didn’t exactly feel like his. Somewhere in the distance he heard the phone from earlier ring again; Fola’s. He could tell his friend had gotten up, but everything seemed to be happening close enough for him to notice but too far away for him to care.

 

He didn’t like what he was drinking; not that anything was wrong with it. He was just in the mood for something harder.

 

“Priye,” he started to say. “Is there – “

 

Whatever else he intended to say never got said, because right then Fola appeared on the edge of his vision. Frank wondered if he’d drunk more than usual, because when Fola left the house he was wearing white traditional wear; a buba and sokoto. But the Fola he was looking at had somehow spilled red all over himself.

 

He blinked and looked again; properly this time.

 

Fola was still wearing white; the red Frank was seeing came from the girl walking beside him and smiling in his face. Two other girls walked up behind them, two exquisite-looking members of the opposite sex. One of them thick and curvy; the other one slim, short black gown exposing light brown thighs that gleamed.

 

Frank swallowed a small hill that was growing in his throat.

 

“Ol’ boy, na the orobo me I like o. You know I like big tins,” Priye whispered roughly in Frank’s ear and elbowed him at the same time. Frank nearly fell off his seat – saving himself only by grabbing the table in time.

 

“Are you okay?” Fola asked as Frank righted himself, suddenly standing next to him as though he’d just materialized. Frank gently but firmly shook off the condescending-seeming hand on his shoulder and nodded.

 

“Sure. Who are your friends?”

 

The girl in red stepped forward. “Me, I’m Bukola. This is Nndidi,” she added, pointing to the slim one. “And that is Halima,” waving at the curvy one. Priye was already holding one of her hands as he spoke.

 

“Baby, I be Priye and na only me you need know. Here,” from his sitting position he pulled a chair from the next table and set it beside him without liberating Halima’s hand. “Sit down. Let’s talk.”

 

Somewhat duly, Frank pulled a chair from the same table and invited the shy-looking Ndidi to sit down. “Hi. I’m Frank,” he said, proffering his right hand as she sat down. She took it, squeezed it softly with hers and dropped it.

 

“Hi, Frank. Pleased to meet you.”

 

She spoke in a sing-song pattern and a definitely-affected accent. He was about to ask what that was about when Fola’s voice came from somewhere around Bukola’s chest area.

 

“He’s a correct guy o, Ndi. Take care of him you hear?”

 

Frank’s gaze wandered to Priye, a question on his face.

 

He was answered with a wink.

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

That was the pattern – at least for Priye and Frank – for the next few days.

 

Frank still went to work every day; same as before, but he slept through most of it and jumped out as soon as the skies began to darken. He drove home, met up with Priye and repeated the night before; jumped into whatever car they felt like driving and hit whatever night spot they hadn’t hit yet. And as always, there was always some girl to come home with.

 

After one of such nights – or mornings; as the case may be, he lay on the bed in his room and blew cigarette smoke towards the ceiling.

 

He wasn’t doing much else, just smoking and thinking.

 

I suppose I should be happy that at least, I can actually impregnate a woman. Even though the doctors all said I was fine – we were fine, nothing beats proof.

 

I cannot get over Igo’s infidelity, no matter how I try to turn it about in my mind. He took a long drag of the cigarette and exhaled, watching the smoke cloud up the ceiling. How could I have not seen the signs?

 

Something made the bed vibrate, something close to his position. He turned over and spotted his phone gleaming. Reaching for it, he pulled it close and looked at the screen; Idowu.

 

Shaking his head, he put the phone away and took another pull of the cigarette.

 

It stopped vibrating – and then it started again, humming away. And as before, its plaintive wails for attention were ignored.

 

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

 

“Guy,” Priye sighed from his corner of the couch in the VIP section of Road Runners. “You go fit do one more for the road?”

 

Frank nodded, trying to focus bleary eyes on his friend. “Sure, why not?” He waved a cigarette-bearing hand. “I nor go fit drive sha o,” he concluded.

 

Priye, eager eyes seeking out the girl who had attended them mumbled. “Dat wan sef dey na. You no see me? No shaking!”

 

“Fola would drive if he was here o.” Frank exhaled cigarette smoke. “Why didn’t he come sef?”

 

“Dem dey do sixtieth birthday for im oga, so serious parry dey. Why you dey ask – no be you say we no go fit show?” Spotting the girl, Priye waved her over.

 

Frank wasn’t listening but he heard Priye order for one more bottle of Jack Daniels. He was about to ask his friend why they didn’t stick with the Johnnie Walker they’d had two of before – he’d actually opened his mouth when suddenly;

 

“Frank!”

 

There was a girl standing before him; a small-framed girl wearing a dress that seemed too long and too short at once. He had to tear himself away from her high breasts to look at her face; she had said his name.

 

Her eyes were familiar. He’d seen her before; but his brain was sluggish. He just couldn’t think of where.

 

“How are you doing and how is your friend? Hope he’s out of the hospital.”

 

Friend? What friend?

 

Frank took in her figure again. “Fine, fine,” he said, pronouncing the words one by one so as not to slur them. “What are you doing here?”

 

Her hand waved in circles as she spoke. “Oh, pretty much what everyone else is doing I guess.” She stepped aside to let the serving girl put down the tray she was bearing and continued to eyeball Frank.

 

Priye hurriedly grabbed the bottle; snatched it open and poured a healthy dose into his glass. And as he reached for the ice bucket, he glanced over at Frank who was staring;

 

“Tell your friend make she siddon drink with us na,” he said.

 

Frank looked at the girl. “Well, how about it? Want to sit in my lap and see what comes up?”

 

For a moment, indecision struggled on her face. And then, calm understanding cleared her features. “I don’t think so. Thank you, and enjoy your evening.” There was a pause – “I’m sorry I misjudged you.”

 

She turned to go.

 

Afterwards – much later, she would ask Frank what made him do what he did next. And with an apologetic look on his face, he would say he has no idea. And as absurd as it would sound to her, he wouldn’t be lying about it.

 

But all that came later.

 

She turned to go; and Frank slapped her butt.

 

He was conscious of her gasp; he was conscious of Priye’s chuckle, he was conscious of two liquid eyes that looked familiar – eyes that suddenly looked like they had the fires of hell burning in their depths.

 

And then a hand connected with his cheek and sparks exploded in front of his eyes – but it wasn’t till he heard the sharp crack that he realized what happened.

 

She’d slapped him.

 

The second woman to do so in a week.

 

When it rains…


Fool’s Gold

 

 

She said, barely moving her lips of red;

“Come away with me, my darling,”

Come away.

Just for now, right this minute,

Come; till time loses all meaning,

Don’t think, don’t plan, don’t wish,

Just come.”

And he fought; a valiant battle – he lost,

Eyes dimmed by death once shined with lust,

“Maybe I should just go,” he thought

Maybe with her he could find the peace he sought

And they needed each other; just not how they thought,

He wanted to die; she wanted to live

Trapped in a marriage with a behemoth;

Of all the ways out she sought, none worked;

Till murder seemed the only option

He; a soldier, death was his business,

The only thing he knew was violence

He thought her his sunbeam in a valley of death;

How right he was!

Bu wrong; she was but his sunbeam of death

They left; hand in hand

Singing songs of love, so grand

Alas; that was the last time I saw them,

Which is why; right now I’m writing a requiem.

 

 

 

image by jack ducurleo. courtesy Google

                                                              image by jack ducurleo. courtesy Google

“What are we all – but fools in love?”

 


Michelle

 

 

So; this guy says it’s your birthday.

 

You know who I’m talking about.

 

He tells me it’s your birthday; and tells me to write some words to you in his stead. He says he wants me to write in my own words so that you keep seeing him as you wish him to be, and not as he really is; a self pitying drunk.

 

Well. Take that up with him whenever you see him again.

 

I; however have a job to do and I took his money.

 

Hence:

 

It’s your birthday. In that; you’re a year older today. I wanted to ask how old you’d be the last time I saw you; I can guess, but I’d rather not know. I have this image of you; looking pretty much like you do now – except all your hair would have turned white – babying a couple of your grand children.

 

It’s an image that gives me hope so I don’t mess with it.

 

I know a lot of times you feel like – or rather; people like me make you feel like you don’t know anything about life; therefore you should just watch and learn. I know people make fun of your naiveté, but honey; that’s what draws me to you.

 

You’re the white rose on the side of a used and worn path; I’m the filthy miner that goes by on his way to work in the morning and back home in the evening. I cannot touch; I dare not touch, my hands are too rough to hold such perfection; too soiled to touch such innocence. So I sit and stare for a long time, enjoying the morning sun; the evening breeze while allowing myself remember a time when I was just as pure; when I wasn’t this jaded husk of a man.

 

The world is crazy these days, but there’s still room for people like you; people who believe in love, honesty, faithfulness and devotion. People who believe in other people, who still believe in marriage as an institution and pray for better days.

 

I know sometimes you feel alone in your beliefs. I realize there’s a lot of pressure from around you – some accidentally, some not. Some from people who actually care; some from some who don’t. I think; however that if you don’t allow yourself forget who you are and what you believe in, you’ll find it.

 

I want to speak to you about love; but the heart wants what it wants. I will say this much; however, that romance that shines in your eyes every time you speak about God’s perfect love is not an illusion and its yours for the taking. As long as you want it, it’s yours.

 

It won’t be easy, as you well know but it is possible. It is real and I know you believe it.

 

You are not alone.

 

Fly; dear. Don’t let that annoying inner voice that shouts ARE YOU CRAZY?! every time you want to do something different stop you. In fact, he’s your biggest problem. If you can keep him quiet, everyone else will follow suit. Let yourself go; dear. Trust in your heart but don’t lose your head.

 

That’s the one thing that’ll always point you home.

 

I will read this to you someday; long after the blushing and shy smiles have disappeared. And then I’ll hug you goodbye; sing you some lame ballad about how you’re too good for me, and disappear into the horizon – true romantic style.

 

Until then, I remain your servant,

 

Me.

 

I mean ‘him’.

Thank you – and please don’t ask me any questions. I promise you I don’t have any answers.

Happy New Year.

 

PS; We didn’t forget; we know its tomorrow.

 

Still…

 


Movie Review: Lagos Nights Taxi Somethings…

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Eko gbole o gbole.

 

That’s Yoruba for “Lagos accepts the thief and the lazy”. Literally.

 

And that is the theme for what is arguably the funniest Nigerian movie to hit the cinemas in 2015; Taxi Driver (Oko Ashewo).

 

Adigun comes to Lagos for the first time –

 

Wait.

 

I must mention the high-speed car chase opening first.

 

That’s right. The first few seconds into the film, a high-speed car chase is in progress. I couldn’t believe it myself until I recognized the streets in which the car chase was happening.

 

Freedom Park.

 

That’s right. The high-speed car chase was filmed on Broad Street and Hospital Road.

 

I was blown away.

 

Now, as I was saying…

 

Taxi Driver Poster Black (1)

 

Adigun (Femi Jacobs) comes to Lagos for the first time at the behest of one of his late father’s business partners. Apparently, the man left him a taxi, a room and six-months rent debt. His father’s business partner, Baba Tee (played with plenty gravitas by Odunlade Adekola) offers to guide him through the hustle and bustle of making a living in Lagos because of a promise he made to Adigun’s father.

 

Sooner than later, Adigun is introduced to one of the characters that would liven up his Lagos experience; Delia (Ijeoma Grace Agu) a prostitute with the demeanor of a bush cat. She singlehandedly shows him how wild and crazy Lagos can be – but she has a human side as we see later.

 

As wild and crazy as Lagos can be; it also has many dark and dangerous corners populated by all sorts of characters. At some point Adigun is told to wait at some junction to pick some people. But two armed robbers jump in, waving guns and mouthing off. At first he assumes they are the ones he’s sent to pick. As he drives on however, things become clearer and they let themselves out.

 

And then…

 

Adigun keeps having dreams of his father – creating the impression early enough in the movie that there’s more to the man’s death than he was told. Sure enough; trouble comes from most unexpected quarters; and help comes from the same place. Officer Titus of Ndani TV fame makes an appearance in an unrelated role and he shines. Saka’s role is forgettable at best, as his attempts at humor fall flat in places.

 

The movie is hilarious; several one-liners and banters make for an entertaining watch. The camera work is spectacular; a lot better than we’re used to seeing from our local directors. Aerial shots of the Lekki Bridge and Marina help reinforce why Lagos is the centre of everything; and really from that view the city is breathtakingly beautiful.

 

As long there’s electricity to help one appreciate it.

 

The plot is a murky meal; unclear in several areas. Some scenes are unnecessarily long; pointless dialogue in a couple places slow the movie down. The attempt to create the cliche ‘prostitute with a heart of gold’, an abrupt switch from gutter-mouth prostitute to serially abused orphan by Delia failed to give the movie the emotional core it needed; but the end scenes more than make up for that.

 

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Still; the car chase single-handedly raises the bar for Nigerian movies as the camera work there is stellar. It’s a Yoruba-speaking movie for the most part; so for my non-Yoruba people you’ll have to follow the subtitles closely. It’s quite well done, none of the usual head-banging translating we’re used to from such – except that a couple of lines are accidentally left out.

 

Still, Taxi Driver is quite the ride, worth every moment. It’s the kind of movie the guys should see with someone special who isn’t quite ‘special’ yet; light enough to make her laugh; warm enough to make her want to cuddle.

 

Like I know anything about such things.

 

 

 

Taxi Driver is showing at Ozone Cinema Yaba at the following times:

Fri-Thur: 1:05pm, 1:30pm, 7:45pm


For Want Of A Child X

 

Masthead 10

 

“An abortion?” Frank was incredulous.

 

He was standing outside a hospital emergency ward, looking at Igo. She was angry – trembling even; in her agitation. Inside the ward was Efe; asleep under mild sedation.

 

She was the subject of their argument.

 

“What does a woman her age want with an abortion? Why would she want to do that?”

 

Igo looked at him. “I was hoping you would be able to tell me.”

 

Frank allowed a surprised expression cross his face. “Me? Why would I know anything about – “

 

“Oh – don’t play games with me!”

 

They were attracting stares – and not exactly the pleasant type. Frank gently took Igo’s arm – but she snatched it out of his grasp.

 

“Calm down. This is a hospital – and we’re this close to causing a scene.”

 

This time when he took her arm she didn’t resist. He led the way down the corridor and towards the stairs – which were usually abandoned as long as the elevator was working.

 

It was.

 

As soon they went round the corner and out of sight of the occupied passageway Igo snatched her arm from Frank and turned on him, looking like she wanted to take a bite out of his behind.

 

“She managed to call me before – before collapsing.” Igo’s hands were clenched – she was breathing rapidly. It was a struggle for her not to yell – to scream; but she managed to keep her voice down. “She kept calling your name over and over.” She leaned into Frank. “Want to tell me why?”

 

“Calm down first. Why did she collapse – ?”

 

“She’d had an abortion, Frank! She used some pills – but for some reason they didn’t work like they were supposed to.” Igo stepped close enough to Frank that he could smell her – smell her. “Why would she be calling for you and not her husband, Frank?”

 

He heard her – but didn’t exactly hear her.

 

Efe had an abortion.

 

“Why would she have an abortion? I mean – was she pregnant?”

 

The look Igo gave him was insult enough – but not enough for her. “No, she overate.” She pulled her hair and glared at him. “I so want to hit you right now! Tell me – why would my dying friend be calling the name of my ex husband?”

 

But Frank was hearing her through a layer of water. Efe was pregnant. I made a woman pregnant. I can – actually impregnate a woman.

 

But she went and aborted it!

 

He didn’t know whether to be glad or sorry.

 

What Igo said finally sunk in. He looked at her – and seeing her distress, felt guilty. “Well, he started, unable to meet her eyes. “Maybe she called me because – I think I might be the one responsible for her pregnancy.”

 

“So you’re not denying it? You – you – “ Sobs threatened to choke her and she stopped talking, trying to swallow whatever was caught in her throat. “Frank – how could you?”

 

“Look – “ he began, stopped. And then started again. “Look – it was a mistake – I didn’t mean for any of it to – “

 

There was a flash – and then a crack that seemed to come down a long tunnel; there were spots in his sight – but it wasn’t till he tried to speak and his cheek hurt did he realize what happened.

 

Igo had slapped him.

 

“How could you Frank? How could you?” She put fingers to her mouth, distress evident in the tears as they spilled down her face silently. “Do you know who is lying in that bed, Frank?! My best friend! My – “ she realized she was yelling and stopped. Chest heaving, she took a few shaky breaths.

 

“Were you trying to hurt me, Frank? Was it your way of saving your ego – to rub it in my face that you could get another woman pregnant?” She folded her arms and came close enough to touch him. “Tell me. I want to know.”

 

Frank expected to get angry – he wanted to shout in her face that she had no right to judge him. But when he tried to access that feeling, all he could find was an empty, yawning chasm. No matter how he felt, he genuinely did not want to hurt her.

 

“This had nothing to do with you, Igo. You might not believe this – but my world no longer revolves around you. I wasn’t trying to hurt you or get back at you for anything. It just happened. And at least – “ he bit his tongue.

 

Igo wasn’t going to be put off that easily. “At least – at least what?”

 

“Look, Igo – “

 

“You better say whatever it is you want to say now o. Just say it.”

 

“Okay. I was going to say ‘at least it didn’t happen while we were together’.”

 

Igo looked genuinely surprised. “You waited till – “ Pause. “What does that mean? What is that supposed to mean, Frank? Are you suggesting – “

 

“You have no right to judge me, Igo. Answer me this – who is Dapo?”

 

She only looked more surprised. “Dapo….? Who is…” And then, surprise turned to realization – and with realization came fear. “Oh my God…”

 

Afterwards, Frank would say that he had felt as though someone had taken his heart and tore it in two – right down the middle. But right there in that moment, all he felt was sadness.

 

A deep sadness unlike anything he’d felt since the divorce.

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

Frank blew smoke into the post-rain night air, disturbing insects flying about the security light above his head – and thought.

 

I didn’t even know it was raining till I got here. I swear I like the way I feel – at least physically. Cold outside, hot inside.

 

How about emotionally?

 

He had no answer.

 

The area of the hospital he was in didn’t have too much activity – they had moved Efe out of the emergency section and into the wards – which suggested she was stable. So he decided to take a walk to a less-busy area.

 

He wanted to smoke and think in peace. Besides, he needed to get away from Igo.

 

Efe had gotten pregnant and her husband wasn’t around – hadn’t been around for a while. So, it was his. He had gotten her pregnant. What else was she to do but remove it?

 

She should have told me; he argued with himself.

 

Told me – so that what? She’ll carry the baby till inception – and hand it over to me?

 

Yeah. I see how that would have turned out.

 

And now, Igo is madder at me. But I don’t blame her.

 

He drifted back to their conversation a few minutes before…

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

“So – who is Dapo?”

 

Igo looked like someone let out all the air in her – in fact; she looked like a deflated balloon. Now, she was hugging herself and her voice had become almost inaudible. She tried once to look Frank in the eye – but she couldn’t hold his gaze.

 

“She told you about that?”

 

He nodded somberly.

 

She sighed, leaning against the wall and closing her eyes. “It was only a matter of time.” Inhaling softly, she continued. “Dapo is someone I worked with – he was a younger colleague – “

 

“Ah,” Frank interrupted bitterly. “A younger colleague.”

 

“His age had nothing to do with it! It happened at a time when I was feeling low. We hardly saw each other – me and you – we practically lived together like strangers. He just happened to be available – “

 

“So you slept with him.”

 

Igo nodded. “It was only – “ Frank cut her short with a brief wave.

 

“Please,” he said, “spare me the details.” He sighed. “And here I was feeling as though I had done you wrong by letting you go – but at least I never stepped out on you. Not once. Not while we were husband and wife.”

 

He started to walk away – and then he came back. “I’m really sorry for what happened with Efe – it just happened. Call me when she’s awake, okay? I’ll be outside.”

 

The sound of her sobs followed him. And for a while, it was the only sound in the world.

 

*********************************************************************************************

 

“Can you please not smoke?”

 

Frank was pulled back into the present by the request. He looked to his right, into the darkness where the voice had come from – and saw a smallish figure huddled on the bench he’d refused to sit on. He leaned forward, trying to pierce the darkness with his eyes – when a rattling cough startled him.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled as he dropped the cigarette and stomped on it, sending sparks flying all over the place. He looked up – and reared back, startled because the figure was now standing beside him.

 

It was a girl…well; a woman.

 

She was staring at him unabashedly, and of all the things he could think of; the one thing that came to his mind was how beautiful her eyes were. They were clear and limpid; the kind of eyes that always seemed to hold unshed tears. He wasn’t even interested in what the rest of her looked like – he was content just looking at her eyes –

 

“Rough day?”

 

Frank came out of dreamland. “Ehn?”

 

His eyes followed her hand as she pointed at his feet – at the several smoked cigarette butts that surrounded them.

 

“Oh,” he nodded. “You can say that.”

 

“Who do you have here?” She looked horrified for a moment. “Please don’t tell me it’s a child.”

 

“Heh,” Frank snorted. “I wish.”

 

“What?”

 

He shook his head. “No…it’s not a kid. I don’t have one of those.” He paused. “It’s a friend – it’s just complicated.”

 

“Oh.” She sounded relieved and he wondered why. “Well, I am here for my crazy brother.” Her voice was a weird mix of anger, fear and frustration. She shoved her hands in her pockets – and Frank noticed, for the first time she was wearing jeans and a man’s shirt.

 

“What happened to your brother?”

 

Her small shoulders lifted beneath the shirt. “He’s – “ she paused and looked at him. “He’s a drug addict. He uses heroin and codeine – among other things. Smokes like the exhaust of a danfo too.” Her eyes danced away, faltered – as though unsure of their next step – and then made their way back to his face. “Why did I tell you that?”

 

“I don’t know. You’re lonely; perhaps?”

 

She hugged herself – and then offered him her right hand. “Sofia – with an ‘f’.”

 

Frank started, wiped his right hand on his thigh and took her cold hand in his. “Frank. Pleased to meet you.”

 

He squeezed her hand softly and let it go.

 

The silence became uncomfortable. Several times, Frank caught her looking like she wanted to say something – but then she thought better of it and kept quiet.

 

This is crazy, Frank thought. I only just met her.

 

“You still haven’t told me what happened to your brother,” he said finally.

 

“Oh. Okay.” She ruffled her hair. “He had a seizure – passed out in the bathroom. He almost drowned too – I mean he would have if I hadn’t spotted him in time.” She shuddered. “What is wrong with him?” she said angrily.

 

“I wish I could – “

 

His phone started clamoring for attention, screaming as though all the demons Christ sent into the pig that drowned went into it.

 

Perfect timing. That’s Igo, I’m sure.

 

Sure enough, it was his ex-wife calling. Her voice was dead when he picked the call. “She’s awake – and she’s asking for you.”

 

He disconnected the call and turned to Sofia. “Your friend is better?” she asked.

 

At his nod, a smile broke out on her face – and Frank couldn’t but notice how she came alive, fatigue and depression dropping off her like a discarded bra.

 

“I am pleased to hear that.” She shifted her feet – and turned away. “Well, good-bye and my regards to him – or her.”

 

He nodded, feet dragging as he walked away.