I have this recurring dream.
I am traveling down a slippery slope – driving; actually. I am driving down this slope and I suddenly realize; I am the one behind the wheel but I am not the one driving.
The car suddenly makes a sharp left turn – and I am thrown out.
But instead of hitting tarmac, I fall into this huge pit beside the road. I fall, screaming – and then wake up in my bed, sweat soaked, gasping for breath.
Writing is a lonely endeavor. It’s almost like a child trying to take her first steps – she keeps trying and keeps falling. At times, the parents – or at least someone – is there; other times not so much. Rarely do parents ever get to watch the miracle of that.
What they; the parents call ‘first steps’ is actually ‘first steps in their presence’. They have absolutely no idea what or how long it took the kid to arrive where she is.
Writing is lonely endeavor. Most often than not, you have no one cheering you on – at least; not during the creating process. You keep doing, you keep going – and what you share with the world; most of the time is a finished product. Only writers like you can even begin to appreciate the rigor that goes into it – but even they don’t exactly know; simply because writing is as individual – as personal – as a thumbprint.
At least ideally.
It’s almost like sex – more specifically; sex with intent to procreate. A million sperms are released; but only one makes its way to the egg. And then, the man keeps hoping and hopping from one foot to the next; not exactly knowing how it works (or maybe he is a brilliant surgeon) but hoping something; someone would make his efforts count – and something of himself would be left in this world.
Writing is a very intimate endeavor. Like sex.
To me, I mean.
I don’t take it lightly; writing – I mean. I still don’t believe I’m any good at it, so I stay in school, paying attention to all the available teachers – the bloggers whose works are praised as crap, the ones whose works are criticized as ‘perfect’, the books that didn’t sell a single copy, the not-so-best bestsellers and the actual ‘bestsellers’, the dreamers who just want to ‘dream’ on in their space; yes, even the ‘attention seekers’, the attention whores – yes; all these people are my teachers and I pay rapt attention to them while I scratch my internal head and wonder why I’m not as good as them – why my writing isn’t any good.
Maybe I’m not meant to be; I console myself with.
Writing is lonely.
There’s always that frightening reality that no one actually understands what jargon I just spent hours scribbling. That understanding that humans are fickle – today we scream ‘messiah’ tomorrow we’re yelling ‘crucify him!’ That awareness that sometimes – all I do is to put the words together in an interesting way – that what I wrote really does not make an iota of sense.
Well. I’m paranoid.
Understand; this is not some attempt at humility or anything close. I hardly ever like anything I write simply because my stories rarely come out the way I see them. It’s frustrating – but I’ve learnt to accept it –the exact same way I’ve learnt to be grateful. I’m really privileged to make a living; a comfortable living off something I enjoy doing – even though I really suck at it.
Something that gives me great happiness. For that alone; I will always be thankful to God.
Writing is sharing. A piece; a story – a thought is simply saying; in a manner of speaking – here; I thought about this and I wanted to share with you, in the hopes that it connects and resonates with you in some unspeakable manner. I hope this helps you makes some sense of your world, I hope it helps you escape some drudgery and boredom, I hope it broadens your mental horizons – and I really hope; at the very least, it makes you smile.
It is to invite a random stranger to step in your shoes for a moment; a minute, a second, an hour – a day – or even for longer; see the world through your tortured/lonely/tormented/inspired/fired/tired/suicidal/haunted/happy/distracted/excited/traumatized/crazy/insane/colorful eyes.
To love a writer is to know pain. To let a writer love you is to live forever.
Em. That’s a shameless plug ashually.
And you read something – and you laugh; pound on your table at work in excitement, or you’re angry at the stupidity of another human being (a character, actually) – or you tear up – happy or sad tears depending – or you’re struck speechless and people around you are wondering what the matter is –
But you would have; for a moment, seen what it is like to live another life.
Such is the power of the writer.
And; in the will-live-forever words of Uncle Ben –
With great power comes great responsibility.
I have this recurring dream.
I am travelling down a slippery slope – driving; actually. I am driving down this slope and I suddenly realize; I am the one behind the wheel but I am not the one driving.
The car suddenly makes a sharp left turn – and I am thrown out.
But – instead of falling into some bottomless abyss, screaming all the way, I find myself going upwards.
I am flying.
At first; it’s a really strange and odd feeling. But, as is the way of humans, I get used to it. I look around, marvel at the beauty of night – of millions of lights; if NEPA allows it – and I smile.
And I wake up in my bed. Laughing. Beating the pillow and screaming into it.
Another demon exorcised. Another mountain climbed.
And – as it will be till I die…
Another story to write.*
*This piece was originally published in my second short story collection Love Drops. If you haven’t read it, click here to download – it’s FREE.
I love how you love me; love mi
Here’s a best gift for you love; me
Forget thinking this is not how love be
Give it a chance; tell love; ‘be’.
And then we’ll see.
The smell of it clings to your nostrils despite the fresh night air flowing over you in cool draughts as you step into the street.
You cannot bring yourself to think in terms of its name.
Again, you reflexively brush at your shoulders, your chest – a vain attempt to get the stink of it off you. Again you try to ignore the arm weighing down across your shoulders, effectively draping them in guilt; the same feeling that tucked your chin in your chest, and had your eyes darting furtively across the street on your way out of the brothel eight streets away, that not-so-long-ago first time.
That familiar feeling.
You try to ignore it – as you’ve been ignoring the moustache-brushed lips whispering all sorts of nonsense in your ears all night. As you’ve been ignoring the persistent sting in your nether region. It isn’t a loud sting – but it is insistent and itchy. Still, it isn’t anything close to what the television and the movies and the magazines and websites and people said it would be like.
Not even close. But it hurts.
Mostly because it’s new.
“So – same time, next week?”
Your skin retracts like over-extended rubber band; crawling into itself as you vibrate all over, twice in rapid succession. The shawarma and Jack Daniels you had been plied with threatens to spill over – and you bend over quickly, one hand on your stomach, the other at your mouth – an attempt to hold dinner in.
When you straighten you’re alone. Never again, you tell yourself.
As you get your feet beneath you – and begin to head on home, a comfortable weight in your left trouser pocket makes itself known to you. A smile manifests on your too-thin lips and your left hand slips into your left pocket and caresses the edge of tightly-packed fresh 1000 naira notes.
It is worth it; you think.
You hobble on home, moving slowly but steadily, two words recurring steadily in your mind –
Over and over, till they are joined by two new words –
I know you’ve been hurt;
I know you’ve done your share too; ehen? So what?
You know what?
Ikoko ni mi ti nba gbo ohun e; soro!
Tell me how you feel; tell me what you want,
Tell what your fears are; tell me what sucks
No; I’m not talking sex – I can wait, no rush
Afi ti o oba fe duro den GONGO ASO!
I know I snore; can we call that music?
I’m not what you’re used to; learn me.
I’m in school too; you 101 is the topic
It’s hard; no doubt – but I mean to pass
Ma a we; ma a yan kankan dandan!
Make space for me; in your life
Make space for me.
I know it’s hard; after all no be hard drive,
Sugbon; mo ni isuru walai!
I’m impatient – but I can learn that
I want you happy; for that I bend back
Farther back; than I ever thought I could
Omo – ma sunkun mo; ile ti mo!
I mean I know.
Fears. What if it happens again?
What if it doesn’t? What if it works?
Ololufe, ma je a ja.
Mi o fe mo ibi to tin nbo;
Ibo lon lo?
She mo le mu e lowo
She mo le mu e dani?
Je ka ma lo sose…
Banks flow overflow with memories
No. A Baptism
Pleasant metaphors. Words. Euphemisms.
Shaking. Slaking of thirst in prison
Wondering. Wandering. One dying.
I’m working in my kitchen at the moment. Working.
I’m bent over the sink, cleaning something. To my right is the cooker on which boils some spaghetti – a meal I’m making for the prostitute I brought home last night.
I know what you’re thinking. What man in his right mind brings a prostitute home in the first place – and then makes a meal for said prostitute?
A man like me I guess. Aren’t prostitutes human?
But who cares; right? It’s the whole idea – your harebrained concept of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. That is what it boils down to; no?
It’s okay. I understand completely. Do allow me illustrate something to you.
If you grew up in a house where it is the norm to take pieces of meat from the pot whenever you felt like it, you would think it was the same everywhere else. Therefore, if you went to a friend’s house and did the same thing, and you were called names and insulted – wouldn’t you think they were crazy?
So therefore – see above the fluidity of the concept of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
I mean, take Lagos State for example. Okadas are banned; okadas are illegal according to the state government; but here and there you see the police and military men riding on bikes. In other words, ‘okadas are only illegal if you are a civilian’.
Which brings to mind another concept – “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.
Yeah. My country in a nutshell.
So – I’m in my kitchen, I’m hard at work. To my right is the cooker on which spaghetti boils – a meal I’m making for the ashewo I brought home last night. I chose her because she was easily the prettiest of the whole lot – and she was not wearing that much makeup. Her lips were full and they glimmered redly in the Opebi roundabout streetlights.
I don’t like the color red much – especially when it’s brash and hardly subtle. But on her, it looked interesting enough to make me make an exception. And so I brought her home.
I pause in my work and snatch the bowl of Golden Morn beside me. I shove a few spoonfuls into my mouth and munch on it greedily, and then I quickly check the boiling pasta. It is ready.
Indeedy. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
I mean, if Tuface died tomorrow the whole world would know, right? But if you died this moment – who apart from your immediately family would give a hoot? Who; asides from that hopeful would take note; would take a minute to morn you?
Every human being must fight to live; must fight for the right to be alive. If you are just there and things just happened to you and you never make anything happen – you don’t deserve to be alive.
I mean, Tuface touches lives; either positively or negatively. Whose life have you touched lately?
Heh. I’m almost done with my work. In a few minutes I will serve my pretty prostitute breakfast and then ask her the same questions I have been posing to you guys all morning. I’m not worried that she won’t answer. I have a couple of ways with which I intend to convince her.
One is the breakfast I’m preparing. The other is the thing I have been working on all morning.
I have been sharpening my largest kitchen knife.