Can I show you life; As I see it?
The world thru my eyes; In a minute?
Can I love you once more? I mean it…
I really mean it.
‘You had me at hello,”
I hated that line.
Cos it made romance look as easy as
Making this rhyme
Life is hard, love is harder
I’m marking time
Paying more attention to the tick tock
Than I pay my feline
First time I saw her she was
standing in line
You won’t believe how many things
came to mind
Every move I made from then on
Was to make her mine
But I was full of shit
Like I had dysentery
Running my mouth – but I did that decently
Leaned over her shoulder
Said ‘hello, that’s a good buy.’
If only she knew I said hello
Just to say goodbye.
The bitter taste of defeat;
Sourness of an orange too sweet,
Kisses of life from poisoned lips,
Sigh. It’s not always like this.
Yet; that’s all I know now
It’ll change; the word will show how,
Trade my cross for a fly gown
And smile; I’ll always be at peace.
I won’t know peace till I’ve said my piece,
You want peace of mind? Here’s a piece of mine!
Hey love; hey heart.
It’s been a while
I know; it has been a while
These days I have so little to do with your smiles
Plenty noise outside; can we stay inside?
Don’t be afraid; nothing’s changed
It’s just been a while.
Could you sit over there; let me fix you a drink
I like the way your eyes soften every time you blink
Here’s your drink; do you like how I rub your feet?
Just relax, stay a while; what do you think?
I want to ask questions
Questions to clear my impressions
Clarification to guide my reflections
Reflections to learn from;
Learn from and give you, perfection
I’ve been distracted lately; that’s no lie
Been busy too – so much on my mind
But you’re the best distraction, occupying much space
Between my eyes, my chest – yeah all that you take
“Why do I matter so much?” you ask,
Why do you matter so much? Jamb kweshun!
We never had much time from the start
But how long does it take to light a spark?
To recognize beauty? You’re the muse to my art!
My first sight of you; smiling from ear to ear
The smell of the air around you; sunlight in your hair
Look; will you come over here or should I come down there?
Oh! I so love having you near
I love you. Period.
What; you didn’t know?
I believe in actions; words are too lazy a show
But I am speaking now; so listen close
To the first in a series; your weekly dose
I love you here, I love you there
I love you far, I love you near
I love you drunk, love you sober
Love you under, still love you over
Love you in Zaria, love you in Kaduna
Love you in Jos, Sokoto and Abuja,
Love you in Lagos; the centre of everything
I love you my joy, my heart, my peace
I love you from Benin – all the way to Warri,
I love you in Anambra, Port-Harcourt, Calabar
Down to Cross Rivers, I’ll cross rivers all across rivers
Love you so close the warmth will make you shiver
I love you in Kenya, in South Africa
Love you in Ghana, Dubai, Madagascar
Love you in the UK, the South of France,
Yeah, from the top of the Eiffel Tower I’ll declare my stance
Love you from Chicago all the way to Houston,
Love you always like the early days of Bobby and Whitney Houston
Love you obviously like the rhymes in this poem
Love you quietly; subtly like the truth in my fiction
I love you on a shuttle to the moon and back,
Love you on the bus or a camel’s back
Love you on the BRT or an okada
Love drinking garri or eating dodo and rice; ofada
I love you. Period.
And somehow; I forgot to tell you that
Maybe ‘cos you’re not here and that’s a fact
Your voice in my ear; the sound of your heart
Your tongue when we kiss; how can I forget that?
But I love you.
In Togo or Timbuktu.
And the din from the world outside can be deafening,
Facebook, Twitter, millions and millions of data
BBM, 2go, Whatsapp and all that chatter
It’s too easy to forget what truly matters
Well then. Here we are.
So I switch everything off and think of you
The day becomes sunny and the night so blue
Write you a kiss to take everything from good to better
An outline of my heart within words of a love letter
I love you. Point blank period.
Through missing girls, bomb blasts and Nigeria’s uncertainty
This I’m certain of.
I just need to know if you’re feeling me.
Are you feeling me, love?
Excerpt from “Me. A Story Of Love In Rhyme”.
Read Episode I here
Read Episode II here
Read Episode III here
As they made their way down the stairs out of Dapo’s office, Yemisi walked through the decisions she’d made over the past twenty-four hours mentally. She hoped Dapo would willingly play along – but she couldn’t be sure.
His silence bothered her.
“So what’s this about, Yemisi?” Dapo said suddenly.
She sighed. She could see the signs.
“What’s what about?” she asked innocently while thinking how to tell him what she intended to. Dapo abruptly turned around and started walking in the opposite direction.
“Hey!” she yelled as she started after him. “Hey…what the hell are you doing?”
He stopped and turned. “Am I supposed to just follow you? Do I have any idea where to?” Dapo gasped and covered his mouth. “What if you’re kidnapping me for money rituals?” he whispered.
Tension left Yemisi’s body in a rush of exhaled air. “You gorilla! Do you really think I would…I could hurt you?”
Dapo’s head looked like a sprung Jack-In-The-Box as he turned this way and that, examining Yemisi critically. After almost a minute of that, he slowly straightened. “Twenty-four hours ago I would have said ‘no’ without restraint. But within those twenty-four hours you’ve gone from ‘friend’ to ‘cousin’ to ‘scammer’ – I don’t know you anymore!”
“Go jo,” Yemisi sulked, her pull on his arm contradicting her words. Dapo laughed and followed. “Where’s your car?” he asked as she headed towards the open gate.
“I decided not to drive today jare. I knew I was coming here so…” she shrugged.
As they got to the road in front of Dapo’s office, Kazeem appeared in the distance.
Yemisi felt Dapo’s body tighten and she wondered what the issue was. Her eyes followed his and she saw a portly-looking guy who looked like the light-skinned version of Wande Coal roll in their direction. She began to feel uncomfortable, silently insulting Dapo for not telling her what was wrong with her appearance.
It had to be something major, the way the guy was staring.
“Dapo! How na?” Kazeem hailed.
“I dey,” Dapo answered – and stopped as he realized he was talking to air. Kazeem was standing next to Yemisi and he was drooling.
“Hi, my name is Kaz. And you are?” he said as he snatched Yemisi’s only available hand up in a handshake.
She coughed to cover up Dapo’s groan as the Cockney-American-core Ajegunle Yoruba accent hit his ears. Glaring at him covertly, she smiled winningly at Kazeem. “I’m Yemisi, Dapo’s cousin,” she replied, slowly but firmly pulling her hand out of his grasp.
“Guy madam dey call you,” Dapo told Kazeem churlishly and literally pulled Yemisi away. She turned and waved to the guy who was standing staring after them before eying Dapo coyly. “Why are you jealous?” Yemisi asked, pouting.
Dapo was surprised. “No o, I just don’t like him. He’s the official heckler.”
“Aw, I think he’s cool,” Yemisi cooed.
Dapo’s answer was not to her. “Taxi!” he yelled suddenly.
“So where to, hotshot?”
She took Dapo’s hand. “There’s this amala joint I know on the mainland – it’s near Ozone. White House. Been there?”
“If I call you ‘guy’ now you go begin vex. What sort of girl knows all the ‘Mama Puts’ in Lagos?!”
“The kind of girl who can manage you,” Yemisi smiled in his direction. “Take us to Ozone, please,” she told the taxi driver.
“Your money na two thousand o,” the man said grumpily.
Dapo had no patience for old cabmen. They had the tendency to nag. “Babe abeg let’s go down,” he said.
Yemisi placed a restraining hand on his arm. “Baba, we’ll give you one thousand five.”
“Okay. Let’s go,” the man said.
Dapo looked outside the window as the imposing Victoria Island landscape rushed by. She stole looks at him at regular intervals – wondering what he was thinking but reluctant to interrupt.
“So you came all the way from Ikeja to V.I to take me to eat Amala at Sabo.” He shook his head slowly, a small smile on his face. “Couldn’t you have asked me to meet you there, you kolosome somebody?!”
“Would you have come if I had asked you?”
The stern look on his face made her feel like she was reporting to her boss. “If you had a serious reason – serious enough for me to stab work – yes,” he replied.
“I’ll keep it in mind for next time,” Yemisi replied, rubbing his arm gently. She hoped he wouldn’t ask her what it was about again – at least not till they were at their destination.
There was no traffic at that time of the day so within a few minutes they were walking into the White House after a small argument on who should pay the cabman and why. Yemisi’s sulking look gave her away as the loser.
“I would get into a cab with a woman and she would pay?!” Dapo argued. “Heaven forbid.”
“Obviously you’ve suddenly started thinking a woman’s place is in the kitchen abi? Maybe you want to return to your office!” she retorted angrily.
“Calm down, babe. You know I don’t think that,” he said. “I just think a man should be able to handle his business. And taking care of whichever woman he’s with at whatever junction in time is his business. That’s what I think anyways,” Dapo finished.
“Two things. One; it’s a wonder you aren’t broke yet, with the number of girls you hang around. Two –” she broke off, avoiding his playful swing at her head. “Two; this was my idea, so it’s only right that I take care of it.”
They had placed their orders and Dapo was carrying the steaming plates of Amala and Gbegiri to a table closest to the wall before he said anything.
“That’s okay then – just let the cab thing go; abeg. I’m hungry.”
Yemisi smiled and for a while, the only sounds were the chewing, swallowing and belching that came with the appreciation of good food. It was almost twenty minutes before Dapo rinsed his hands and moaned.
“Thank you for bringing me here, Yemisi. You know how far. In fact, chop knuckle.”
She bumped her knuckles against Dapo’s proffered hand. “I just thought some variation would do you good,” she said. “I don’t want to keep worrying whether you’re eating or not.”
Dapo made no comment as he unscrewed the cap of his Etana water bottle and raised it to his lips. “To you then,” he said and drank.
They were walking towards Ozone when Dapo asked, “What’s on your mind?”
She didn’t pretend misunderstanding him. “Well, it’s like this –“
Dapo’s right hand suddenly barred her from crossing the road. Yemisi froze as an Okada screamed past, and then Dapo lowered his arm and took her left hand in his right one. Her thoughts were jumbled as they crossed, but she found the warmth from his hand reassuring.
“I can’t help but worry about you,” she began. “No, let me finish. I know you said I shouldn’t and I really shouldn’t, because you’re no child and should be able to take care of yourself. But sometimes, the strongest people are the weakest.”
“Everyone needs to be someone’s baby,” Dapo interjected and nodded for her to continue.
Sudden change in temperature alerted her to the fact that they were in Ozone already, so she waited while Dapo pushed the elevator button. They hopped into the first one that came down and as they were ferried up, he asked again, “What’s on your mind?”
“I know you don’t like being fussed over, which is why you would downplay the effect the Mope episode had on you. Look, I was there, remember? You came to me the first time you saw Mope, and you said to me, ‘Guy, I just met my wife.’ And though I was tempted to ignore you, I saw something in your eyes that I had never seen before that night, something I never saw again. I know how you felt about her.”
And I kept hoping that somehow, the two of you would find each other again, and that light would come back into your eyes. And then you called me to say you had seen her but that she was getting married….” Her sigh was heavy. “You died a little that night,” she said.
“Cried, actually.” Dapo’s smile was more like a grimace, and he looked like he’d rather just forget the whole thing – but Yemisi pressed on, her voice becoming firmer as she got into the spirit of what she was saying.
“I can believe that. You also got drunk, didn’t you?”
The elevator stopped and they hopped out on the second floor. Dapo led the way, quietly weaving through lounging couples not letting go of her hand. He did not stop till they got to the escalator and ascended towards the cinema floor.
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
At Yemisi’s cocked head and raised eyebrow he reiterated, “What’s on your mind?”
“Slow down coach,” she grinned, ruffling her hair. “You’ll know when I get there.”
Dapo was moving before the escalator stopped, and pulled her gently but firmly. Rounding the bend they made for the first table which happened to be empty. Yemisi smiled and sat on the stool Dapo pulled back for her and waited till he was seated.
“I don’t want to be outside looking in anymore, Dapo. I don’t want to be awake nights wondering what’s happening with you – if you’ve eaten or if you’re fine and so on. I want to be right there with you, rain shine and all that jazz.”
She smiled a little at the warmth from Dapo’s left hand as she held it in both of hers. Looking in his eyes, she said;
“Will you go out with me?”
Do I love You?!
Give me a moment – allow me kill myself,
Maybe then you’ll see there was never anyone else
Give me a moment; just because you think you can write
Don’t assume you understand the power of my words
Give me time. Let me think of what I need to say
I feel powerless at times; I hate to feel this way
But you’re the one, so I smile and grit my teeth
I hurt you, I’m selfish – but I’m the one you need
Give me a minute. Allow me kill myself,
Maybe then you’ll see you’re…you were all I had left.
Read Episode I here.
Read Episode II here.
The only reason Dapo wasn’t hung-over that morning was because he ran out of Vodka before he could get drunk.
He cut a pathetic picture as he sat in his room at three-nineteen in the morning, sucking on an empty Vodka bottle. He stuck his tongue out in a vain attempt to catch a drop. After a moment, he threw the bottle away and cocked his head, listening for the shattering sound.
Silence greeted his efforts.
Great. Can’t even break a freaking bottle.
He lay on his side and tried to sleep.
The detachment continued at work.
Despite the loud argument concerning the passing of the gay law, he sat in front of his system – looking but seeing nothing. Even when the topic turned to Man U’s steady declining performance in the Premiership, all his colleagues got from him was a bored shrug.
They left him alone after that.
And he had made some half-hearted attempts to start conversations on Facebook; asking Muyiwa what the latest update about Mope’s wedding was. But after a bit of one-syllable answers the poor boy had given up.
So Dapo sat and stared.
There was work to be done he knew, and he hated the idea of showing up to work drunk – but it seemed that the only way he could get anything done was on automatic.
Just doing. Not thinking.
Yemisi’s face drifted past in his thoughts and he reached out, grabbing and holding onto it. They hadn’t talked since the previous week – only an occasional text message for which he was grateful. As much as he liked her she smothered him sometimes – but she balanced that with knowing when to back off.
A remark from Kazeem effectively jerked him out of his reverie and dumped him back into the office.
“I don’t know what the wahala is with all the banks sef,” Kazeem began, sounding mellow. “As their costumers dey plenty na im dia craze dey multiply. Imagine say I go GT Bank yesterday –“
“Guy…abeg no yab GT o, you hear me?” That was Chidi, a new staff member who hardly spoke. “No just go there o.”
Dapo was amused. “And why should he not yab GT?” he asked.
“Because na the queue e wan complain about and truth which bank no dey get queue these days?”
“But that’s not the only reason, is it Chidi?” Dapo insisted. “You’re not defending GT because…”
“Look ehn, I met my girlfriend on one of those queues,” Chidi said, hands waving at the listeners. “It was sometime last September and it was a really long queue. I was frustrated because I had to send someone money that day and the ATM wasn’t working. I bumped into her, apologized – but then she asked me why I was the one frowning. Before I knew what hit me it was over,” he smiled self-consciously. “Are you happy now?”
The last bit was directed at the grinning Dapo.
“Well, I’m sure Kazeem won’t be complaining about the queue anymore…” he stopped as he looked for but couldn’t find the object of his comment. “Where’s Kazeem?”
“Gone off to GT no doubt,” Biodun, another girl in the office remarked wryly. Chidi chuckled.
The bbzt bzzt sound of his phone vibrating alerted him that he had a message. He pulled it from his pocket and unlocked it, watching as the lit-up screen displayed a name; Yemisi.
I’m almost at your office. Whatever you see or hear, just play along with me.
His fingers flew over the screen of the Samsung Galaxy II as he typed a response. Whatever silly stunt you’re thinking of pulling, don’t try it. I’m not…
“Hey Dapo, madam wants you,” Grace said from the doorway of the office she shared with the boss.
He sighed. “I’ll be right there,” he answered, grimacing as he pushed the green button sending the unfinished message.
“You called?” he said as he opened the door and stepped into the office. He advanced a few steps and froze, surprise halting his feet. Yemisi was seated across the table from his boss, tears streaming down her oval face. She sniffed and waved at him frailly. “Hi cousin,” she said in a watery voice.
“So why did you not tell me you just lost your auntie?” His boss asked, anger coming off her in spite of her modulated voice. “That’s why you’ve been resuming late and making unusual mistakes all week abi? Why did you not just ask for time away?”
Dapo stood there, surprise giving way to humor. Yes, he had lost an aunt recently but no one had liked the grouchy old thing and she hadn’t had any children so they had just buried her in a very private ceremony. He wondered why Yemisi was doing what she was – but he wasn’t interested.
“Look, I’m fine. I just need to chill a bit is all,” he said, the displeasure on his face evident.
“Well, she’s not and you’re the only relative around for her. So here’s what’s going to happen. Get out of here now – and don’t return till Monday morning. That should give you enough time to be fine.”
Yemisi knelt down beside the woman’s desk. “I cannot thank you enough ma…”
“It’s okay. I’m so sorry for your loss. Take care, you hear?” She waved as Yemisi hustled Dapo out of the office. “Dapo, rest o!”
He didn’t answer, instead scowled at Grace who obviously had been eavesdropping. “I’m really sorry my darling. I’ll come over and cook –“
Yemisi shoved herself between them. “I can do all the cooking he needs, thank you.” She said waspishly, startling the other woman into taking an involuntary step back. Dapo swallowed the laughter bubbling in his throat.
“Just let me get my stuff, I’ll be with you in a moment,” he said. Yemisi nodded and sat on the golden brown chaise lounge, playing with her hair. Dapo shook his head and entered his office.
“Madam says you should print out your next week’s client schedule for me so I can handle it,” Grace said as she came up behind him. She ended her movement in a body hug to his back. “Sorry baby,” she crooned.
“Thank you, Grace.” Dapo said as he leaned in front of his computer. His Facebook bar was blinking and so he clicked on it. It was a message from a real-life cousin of his, unlike the one waiting in the lobby. Quickly he scanned the message; it was something about said cousin returning home shortly and waiting to hang out with his baby cousin – baby cousin being Dapo.
Yeah yeah. How much older than me is he anyways?
He was going to type a response and then thought better of it. He logged out of Facebook and quickly sent the client schedule to the printer. Walking over to the machine, he pulled out the paper and handed it to Grace who asked; “Will you be okay?”
The slight tremor in her voice compelled Dapo to run his eyes over her face – her eyes in particular. They looked wettish-red; tears hovering somewhere in their depths. It was a slap in the face for him; realizing the depth of Grace’s feelings.
But she’s married with kids!
“Are you okay?” he asked, gently putting a hand on her shoulder.
She sniffed and smiled. “You know I worry about you – and now that I finally know what the problem is I’m just so sad – at the same time relieved.” She smiled in his face. “Go jo, and take care. Have a great weekend.”
He threw his jacket over his shoulder and smiled at her as he exited the office, self-consciously sucking in his belly. This guy is growing in leaps and bounds, he admitted sadly.
Yemisi was looking out of the lobby window when he joined her again. “What took you?” she asked, looking like an over-protective sister. He grabbed her elbow gently, noting how good she looked in a grey-blue blouse and black jeans. She was wearing Converse sneakers.
“I wonder why you insist on hiding your legs – in jeans no less.”
Yemisi was stung. “Because they’re thin!” she cried.
Dapo shook his head. “Sha let’s go, ‘cousin’.”
As they made their way down the stairs out of Dapo’s office, Yemisi walked through the decisions she’d made over the past twenty-four hours in her mind. She hoped Dapo would willingly play along – but she couldn’t be sure. His silence bothered her.
“So what’s this about, Yemisi?” Dapo said suddenly.