These days I find myself cooking more often than is usual. I don’t know; maybe eyaf reach time for someone to make an honest man of me.
Today sha, feeling adventurous, I decide to make Catfish Peppersoup. I go to the market, buy stuff and get to work. Roughly two hours later, house smelling like curry leaves, I open the pot to look at my handiwork.
Sure, there’s ‘catfish’, there’s ‘pepper’ and ‘soup’, but the way I just separated them in writing is how they are separate in the pot. I sigh – and then, start to laugh.
I laugh because I remember something that happened years ago. I used to love moi moi a lot, so one day my mother decided to teach me how to make it. She started me from the beginning of the process; she gave me my own beans to grind – even though the whole house was having moi moi that morning. I brought it back home, mixed it, added all the other supplements and portioned it into leaves – myself.
And then, I set it on the fire.
About thirty minutes or so later, she opened her larger pot so I opened mine. Where hers was a happily boiling pot filled with moi mois resplendent in heat, mine was a boiling pot of ‘a mess of beans and water’. I hadn’t wrapped the leaves tightly enough so they’d opened mid-cooking.
I sat there feeling miserable. I must have thought that was my breakfast floating around in hot water – or maybe I was sad because I missed a chance to impress my mother. Whatever the case, I sha sat in the kitchen, pot before me, feeling sorry for myself.
My mom noticed and came to sit with me. I cannot remember her exact words, but it was something to the effect of; “You tried, right? Right now, you know more about moi moi than you knew last night. The next attempt will definitely be better than this one.”
I remember asking; “What if it isn’t? What if I make a mistake again?”
She said, “Wa je egba ni yen!” meaning “You’ll be flogged, then!”
But she smiled at me and kissed my forehead.
And I think about that now and realize; while my mother’s reference in that moment may have been moi moi, she was actually talking about life. And how sometimes, things don’t work out the way we intend them to, how sometimes we blame ourselves for our failures and shortcomings – and forget to tell ourselves; ‘At least you tried’.
At least I tried. And though it didn’t turn out like I expected it to, I’m better for the effort. I’ve learned one more way to not kiss a girl, to not write a book. To not create an ad, to not write music lyrics. To not treat a spouse/partner, to not talk to a friend.
And more importantly, how not to make Catfish Peppersoup.
So I’m in my workspace now, chewing catfish, munching pepper and drinking soup. And with a pure water sachet at hand, I drink a toast to Mrs. Josephine Iyabode Odukoya, the only woman in nine realms who could have raised me.
Mama Mia. Mi Amore Forever. La ‘mour ne pas nu frontier.
It has been somehow living without you. I know I say it ALL the time; and I probably sound like a broken record by now…but that does not change anything. It does not make it easier.
I can’t lie, every time someone says something about their mother my heart breaks a little.
You were my best friend for a while – and I don’t think I milked the relationship for what it was worth.
But at least we made up before you left. I’m thankful for that. Else, guilt would have killed me.
I can’t stand to listen to Tupac’s Dear Mama anymore. I just start tearing up.
I was standing in front of a bus line this evening, wondering as I always do, whether to go home or just sit and think. And then this boy came running, bumped into me hard.
I caught him in time before he careened into the street, and his mother came running up. She grabbed him from me, and screamed ‘Lekan! Why did you do that? Do you want to kill me?”
Mother and son started crying.
But you know what got to me, mum? The boy, amidst his tears said, “I’m sorry mommy. Stop crying. I didn’t mean to hurt you – I’m sorry mommy.”
Mother says, “You know I love you.”
Boy answers, “I know mommy. You love me more than anything else.”
And grown man that I am, I just started crying.
I quietly walked away – and I am walking home as I write this.
You would probably tear your hair in frustration concerning those long walks of mine. Yes, I haven’t stopped.
But I have stopped most of everything else.
Yeah. I miss you, mama. Miss you so much.
But I’m not bitter anymore. You see, God is filling the hole you left; slowly, patiently and with attention. With love and care.
And with time, I’ll go back to enjoying music and smile instead of crying. I’ll be able to watch other people play with their mothers and not feel jealous.
Tell God I finally got it, mum.
It took a while, but I got it. And I’m grateful.
Love always from your baby.
Click here to read The Seven-Year Orgasm I
Their colleagues were completely blown over by the Tiwa who came back from Abuja. But the bigger surprise was Segun whose life became a mantra consisting two words.
It was all their colleagues could do not to allow their mouths drop open in the banking hall as they averted the sparks flying between the two. They did try to keep it on the low; banking policies being what they are – but they couldn’t help themselves sometimes.
When Segun took Tiwa to his parents his daddy hugged her tightly and said; with tears in his eyes, Welcome home my daughter.
Segun’s mum, however was less welcoming.
As soon as things calmed down a bit she took her son to her room, sat him down and bared her breasts.
Segun; she asked the confused man, are you sure you suckled these breasts?
Yes ma, Segun answered. What are you doing?
Then don’t marry that woman. I beg of you – don’t marry her.
Segun became even more confused. What do you mean ma?
His mother went silent.
In a daze, Segun walked past his father who was entertaining Tiwa with bawdy jokes and out of the house. Probably to see his friends in the neighborhood, his father told Tiwa when she asked where her boyfriend was going. He grew up in this neighborhood after all.
Segun’s mum came out of her room and joined the discussion, smile on her face looking as though she was auditioning for a Close-Up commercial. The conversation went on, and Segun was forgotten.
A loud scream brought the Adeyemis and their visitor to their feet. The man scrambled outside rapidly, followed closely by his wife and then Tiwa.
Adeyemi senior almost collided with the security guard who was wailing and trying to talk and waving his arms all at once. Impatiently the older man shoved him aside and ran through the open gate and into the street outside.
It was the red.
There was so much blood the honorable Engineer Deacon Femi Adeyemi thought he was standing, looking over a Sea of Red. And then, slowly, as though listening to music through earphones whose wires had cut internally, all the sound faded into the background as his sight zeroed in on the body lying in the centre of the Sea.
It was Segun.
A thin, keening sound cut through the air with the shrillness of a virgin fire alarm. The honorable Deacon didn’t hear the scream; standing calmly as he was, Blackberry Z10 firm in his hand like it was a General’s staff of office. His wife and ‘almost’ daughter-in-law were kneeling beside Segun, the former’s dry lace boubou becoming red within instants of his head touching her thighs. The gates of their house were thrown open and the deacon’s Benz came screeching out, driver at the wheel. Gently but swiftly Segun was placed in the backseat, head cradled by his father and the car zoomed off, leaving his mother and Tiwa covered in dust.
The older woman looked at the younger one, fear, hatred and condemnation in her eyes.
And then, without a word, she turned on her heel, entered the door of the second vehicle the gateman held open for her. The car sped off.
The left corner of Tiwa’s mouth twitched. It would seem, to any close observer, that all sorts of light went off in her eyes. But the ‘close observer’ would shake his head, and look again and see nothing but an incredibly attractive girl with tears streaking down her face, worry for her lover lining her features.
It wasn’t a movie after all. Eyes don’t ‘gleam’. Not in real life anyways.
So the observer would watch as she got into her own vehicle and sped after the departing vehicles.
A hundred and twenty-one days later, Tiwa became Mrs. Adeyemi Junior officially.
It was quite the affair – the entire wedding deserved its own edition of ThisDay Style. The geles and the caps were such that people could get free Wi-Fi on their devices. The geles particularly were spectacular – multicolored plumes nodding this way and that, bowing majestically like a flock of giraffes heading to graze. All sorts of glitter and bling blinded people who were unfortunate to have left their shades at home; glimmer from jewelry riding on sausage-roll thick fingers and elephantiasis necks – jewelry almost lost in valleys of death; also referred to as ‘the cleavage’.
There was nothing lawfully edible that wasn’t available…there was too much to eat and drink.
In short, it was an event.
The best part was when the bride and groom came out to dance. Segun, a small scar marring the perfect symmetry of his face, beamed proudly as he handed his wife down from their seats on the ‘high table’. Then the band kicked in high gear and the gentle opening strings of D’Banj’s ‘Fall In Love’ tugged the strings of many a shriveled heart; nudging a lot of feelings and emotions to life.
The couple started to move.
It was hard; watching that evening, to think that union was borne of anything but love. Pure and innocent.
They were like water flowing from a bottle into a cup; taking to each other’s movements as naturally as a child takes to breastfeeding.
At some point, Nature itself held its breath to watch, setting sun casting a soft ambience over the couple. Some other couples looked at each other, memories long buried underneath piles and piles of paperwork, bottles of alcohol and human bodies resurfacing. Several women clutched at perfumed bosoms, mascara running from tear-streaks and whispered prayers. Others looked at the bride and wondered if she deserved to be so lucky. Others still…
After a lifetime of ten minutes approximately, Tiwa collapsed in her husband’s arms, splendid chest heaving, trembling lips surrounding to his in unbridled passion. The guests, who passions had been stirred, stood up and roared in applause.
And at that moment, two hearts broke.
Two hearts as far apart as the ages of the people they belonged to.
The oldest heart belonged to the groom’s mother, sitting on her esteemed seat, softly touching her eyes with her white handkerchief cleaning what people wrong assumed were tears of joy.
The other heart belonged to someone who had known Segun for almost as long as he’d known himself, someone who cared for him almost more than was humanly right. Someone who had carried a torch for him in her heart for over twelve years.
No. She’s Not Mine
We’re just siblings of a kind
But I’m blessed I met her
Before I left the earth
Not everyday you meet people with unspoilt hearts
We’ve all been through so much; carrying souls black as hearth
Through it all, she maintains a crooked smile,
Braveheart; now that’s a roofless sky
So I pray
More genuine reasons to smile go her way
God grace shows her His way
His will and kindness over her life; hold sway.
Happy Birthday, Nneka.
The last time I heard my mum’s voice was over the phone. The last words she said were ‘pray for me’.
I didn’t. Not really.
The one thing that keeps haunting me – tormenting me; so to speak, is the thought that I said I was going to take her to see a movie at the cinemas. I said I would make time out of my busy schedule – and I would take her to see a movie of her choice.
I never did. There wasn’t ‘time’.
Maybe taking her there would have helped her stay around longer. Maybe not. Maybe it would have made NO difference whatsoever to her living or lack of it, but I would have had at least one more memory to cherish – one more smile to think about and be happy when I think about her not being here. I wish, with all of me, with all of my heart that she stayed a bit more so I could enjoy having a mother for a while longer.
No such luck. She left without warning.
It’s been a while – a year actually, and it feels like I never had a mother. It feels like it’s been forever.
To be honest, I have had to do a lot of growing in the past year – learn stuff I’ve always taken for granted just because I someone who covered my behind for the most of it. And as I go through the lessons and motions, I learn more about myself and the bigger picture called life, I’ve had a better understanding of where I fit in and what I owe. And I realize – while I might have lost my best friend – while death might have taken something from me, God replaced it with life.
I’m at peace with it. I’m grateful for the opportunity, to be born of the woman who birthed me. I learnt so much from her, and even now I’m still learning. I see a lot of things clearer now, I understand that life is too short to bear grudges, I understand to make memories with people I care about because ‘bleak’ as this sounds I WON’T always have them with me.
They say ‘life is hard’. I ask, ‘how did you know? With what standard did you measure it? Who told you’?
Let the people you love know you love them. Don’t say ‘I don’t have time’. Make the time. We all have 24 hours, yet The Wright Brothers built a plane.
Spend time with special people, smile while you can. No matter how that relationship plays out, make sure you have more to smile about than to cry about.
And most of all, thank God for those special people. You won’t always have them with you. Not physically anyways.
Rest In Peace, Momma. I am making you proud.
Daddy Had An Abortion
Such a story of dejection; one well known
A tale of woe
A web of destruction, tangled and old
An open secret; we hope no one knows
Mummy got pregnant; the whole neighborhood cooed;
Mummy had a baby, man! How cool,
Couldn’t wait for baby to grow, begin school
Till baby grew and didn’t know who was who
See the problem was daddy wasn’t really ready
Married mum and got her pregnant – what a tragedy
Liked the idea of ‘husband’, uncomfortable with ‘daddy’
So he skipped town, leaving behind a family
What do you think happened to baby?
Grew up without guidance, quickly became a screw up
Misbehaving, gambling messing the neighborhood up
Came home drunk one night; started a fight
But the mai guard’s arrow didn’t miss it’s flight
Sisi got pregnant – this was a tragedy
Cos Sisi and the coming father weren’t married
He wanted to pay for the abortion; she turned down the offer
He wasn’t ready to be daddy; so he did the job for her,
Beat the baby out of her
Daddy had an abortion – oh how ridiculous
Listen while I spin a tale of loss
Sure they were married; sure he wanted a baby
But he couldn’t ignore when the streets came calling
At least he could have put the phone on silent,
Waited a bit to play the role of proud parent
But he hurried out – couldn’t wait to play
Left his daughter amongst wolves at bay
She grew up beautiful without, all ugly inside;
Learnt of love from men who couldn’t see past her thighs
Should have had a father to open her eyes
But daddy’s abortion was effective; she was dead.
Daddy had an abortion; this is the last
Listen while I spill the tale of lives long past
Daddy wasn’t there – didn’t really like kids
Only time he was – it was through his belt and fists
Made his kids hate each other; made them compete,
Mother tried so hard to make them complete
Daddy had a twin in one of his kids
The one most like him, the one he liked the least
Took another wife to spite his wife
Mummy ignored that, took it in stride
Imagine that, as a man with pride! Frustrating, right?
Guess what daddy did? He robbed mummy of her life
Daddy’s twin was angry and hurt silently waiting
Promised to avenge mummy; such hating
Mummy prayed from the grave; God gave ear
He said ‘what I give I take; do not fear’
You need to be better than your father; listen here
If you really loved your mother you would learn to care.”
So thus ends the story; dry your tears
I hope it’s not for nothing; hope you learnt something
Hope you understand the truth; no lies
Daddies have abortions too; but God can give life.