Thirty-Two, Jobless, Single and Yes Frustrated

 

saw

Things are just so crazy. I mean really crazy. I am old I have suddenly realized, very old. These days I wake up to find my hands pressing on my crotch, I still don’t know why that happens but it must be that my body is trying to tell me something. Probably saying ‘‘Tope it’s time you stop sleeping alone.’’

 

I am old. MKO and June 12 suddenly reminded me of that. I mean I was old enough to know all the songs that were sung in 1993, old enough to know whether June 12 1993 was a cloudy or rainy day.

 

Twenty years ago I was old enough to know people voted for Abiola en masse. I was old enough to join others in singing “I am tired of this country na so so palaver…..” Even though back then I didn’t know what it was about the country that I was tired of. I didn’t know there were places where electricity never goes off, I did not know that it was possible for anyone to eat food with meat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t know that some people cook with cooking gas. I didn’t know there were places where water flows in pipes. So I wasn’t really tired because I didn’t know what to be tired of.

 

 

Twenty years ago and now, not much has changed except now I know what to be tired of; I know my life and that of the average Nigerian could have been better and should be better. Really, not much has changed about Nigeria and I. Granted, I am a graduate and even managed to do NYSC before crossing 30 years but hey I’m still jobless and unmarried. Twenty years ago my mother was like me aging and jobless but at least she had a man. Those were the days when everyone I knew was so poor that we knew the usefulness of sawdust more than we knew what planks were used for.

 

Sawdust. It has a particularly fresh smell. You almost want to bury your nose in it but you just know that was too dangerous a venture and so you resist the temptation.

 

How can one forget those days? We would pick sacks in the afternoon my cousins and I and head for the saw mill.  One side of its fence was directly in front of Grandma’s Kiosk. (Shop will be too grand a word) and in the afternoons the workers will climb the fence and ask for one milk tin of Gaari and one ball of Kuli Kuli Oloribi. The type of groundnut cake that was shaped as a fist and hard as a rock. It was sold for 50 kobo and you had to get a stone to break it into fragments. They would ask for this and grandma would pour the Gaari inside a white nylon and then open the wooden box with a show glass where she displayed the Kuli Oloribi and drop one of them inside the nylon. She would then take it to the men on the fence.

 

Those afternoons with empty sacks held firmly, we would walk to the front gate of the mill and walk towards the machine that cuts the planks. We were fearless despite the hideous look of the blades and the way it cut through huge Iroko trees laid horizontally on a bar. It would be cut through them in a short motion that reminded one of peeling the skin off a Banana leaving planks and saw dust flying around.

 sawing

Looking back now it seems almost like a sweet memory, it seems like something we enjoyed. Waiting for the machine to finish its movement and dropping flat on the floor, we would gather the saw dust armed with a stainless plate that was no longer in use. We would use this to scrape the dust into the sack. We would ignore the shouts of “ e kuro, machine nbo” ‘‘leave the machine is coming’’ and scrape until the machine was almost close, this was when we would then run back in a wild dash giggling happily.  We would go home usually after an hour or after an older cousin climbs the saw mill fence from the other side and yell our names.

 

Preparing a saw dust cooker was another competition we reveled in. The cooker was made by blacksmiths from whatever scrap of iron they could get. It was shaped like a bucket with a small square shaped hole at the lower end. It was usually made in various sizes. Ours was shorter, the height of a small paint bucket but wider. Bode the son of my Mom’s younger sister was adjudged to be the best in preparing this stove but we all took turns in trying anyway. Usually we would prepare it and the dust would cave in and Bode will have to repair it but still we won’t give up trying.

 

Grandma would always insist that the process was simple but till today I still don’t think so. You would have to look for the centre of the stove and place a beer bottle there, then you begin to fill the stove with sawdust avoiding the beer bottle, you would do this until it was full and the sides of the beer bottle were completely filled with saw dust, you then began to use your knuckles to push the saw dust down and as you do this add more saw dust, when you are certain the saw dust is firm enough you then carefully remove the beer bottle leaving a neat hole in the middle. This was where I always had issues, the saw dust would cave in once I remove the beer bottle, I never could do it perfectly.

 

Those days we knew Kerosene stoves existed but there was rarely any kerosene to pour inside. On the rare occasions that there was, we would have to place a small bowl inside the stove and pour the kerosene inside this before putting the burner in the small bowl. There just was never enough Kerosene to fill the container designed for the stove. Those were the days that the few fathers that had cars would park them for days in filling stations.

 

And then 1993 came and what they called HOPE 1993 came with it. Mom said there was going to be Jobs, Kerosene, Petrol and money. All that sounded so good even though I felt sad at the thought of not having to go to the saw mill. Then June 12 1993 came and Hope died a painful death. The whole country mourned. Grandma closed the doors of the house and didn’t open her Kiosk for several days after.

 

‘‘The streets are in mourning, it’s dangerous out there’’ she said. But soon we forget and life as we knew it went on. Today it’s twenty years and yet not much has changed. We no longer use saw dust to cook, we now use Gas or put correctly my brother’s wife uses gas (you know I am not married now) but I still know several houses and university hostels where people still have a small container inside their Kerosene stoves.

 

But right now it’s not even Nigeria’s problem that worries me so much, it is the thought of being unmarried at thirty two that makes me walk around with a cloud on my face. I couldn’t help wonder why, should I blame that on Nigeria or myself? I think I would rather blame Nigeria.

 

 At least if we hadn’t gone on those numerous strikes I would probably have finished University in my twenties. Perhaps if the public primary and secondary schools were good enough I would have passed WAEC and JAMB at a sitting and not having numerous re-sits because of my poor educational foundation. (To borrow my aunt’s words- the saucy one with the “I better pass you attitude” just because she managed to win one of the numerous American visa lottery programs) Perhaps I would have finished University at 21 like my friend – the one that is the daughter of one of the politicians that ruined this country (May God punish them everywhere they go). Perhaps I would have gotten a man to marry me and not have to live on my brother and his wife’s charity. (Gosh! Thinking of that really hurts).

 

They say I am moody and don’t relate as I used to. Imagine! Of course they are not thirty two years, jobless and single. Why won’t they say I am moody when I have been a buffoon to be laughing and playing like I wasn’t getting closer to my menopause each passing day? 

 

I mean what does it take to get a job these days or a man for that matter. I will definitely take a man over a job right now and yes I’m that desperate.

He doesn’t have to be tall, dark, fair or handsome. Let him sha be a man. That’s all I ask. But everything and everyone seem to conspire against girls like me. The men out there are close to forty but looking for girls less than twenty Seven years old with a six digit salary and long glittering human hair firmly glued to their stupid scalps. The few companies recruiting too insist that you have to be less than 26 years old to be eligible to apply.

What the heck! Do I have to commit suicide and leave a note before someone realizes there is a big problem here and none of it is really my fault?

 

 photo credit: google images

My Wife is Another Woman by Kolade Gboyega @newnaija

 

                               This was written as a sequel to Some Men Make you Want to Hurt Them, see here

mother

We got married ten years ago and the union had been blessed with three boys before the birth of our baby girl some six months ago. Ever since the birth of the baby girl my wife has turned into another person.

We are intimate strangers. Forever together always miles apart in our thoughts and priority! It was not like this from the beginning! What happened to us…?

We had the three boys in quick succession. Every other eighteen months there was an addition to the family via my ever loving and beautiful wife.  Um, after the third boy, we had to do a little re adjustment that would keep the babies at bay at least for the next four years or so.

After much nagging from my wife and serious complaints that she also needed someone of her gender I heeded the call to try another one though I promised her that it would be my last attempt. As God would have it, her desire was granted, we were blessed with our bouncing Morenikeji.

The blessing is what is turning my once adorable wife into another person. The boys as we are now referred to have to fend for ourselves. Dinner is out of it, we make do with restaurant meals because the “gals” are busy or too tired to see to us. In fact, the house help we agreed not to be part of our household now does nearly everything.

Six months after the birth of her daughter we are yet to be together in the way of a man and wife.

“I’m tired”, “tomorrow” “later” are some of the few excuses I’m given. To make matter worse, her BBM carries Morenikeji’s picture, twitter handle name bears “keji’s mum’, her bio reads a loving mother of a beautiful and adorable queen KJ. Even her details on the facebook read on column for work “full-time mum and proud mother of KJ”.

How long can I cope with this KJ stuff? She is my daughter and I’m not jealous but the transformation of my once loving wife is bringing stale air to our family environment.

 

 

Silent Chapters- (One Thought-Two Genres-Two Writers-1 Title)

witness

SILENT CHAPTERS ( The Poem) Osowe Oluwagbenga (@gbengaosowe)

 

Mum says it’s a clinic, but all I see is a room full of books;

Big and small, written and illustrated by women like my

Mother, men like my father? Maybe!

Maybe I’d write a book one day.

Hard-covered, gilt-edged, with words masterfully crafted to

Recount the ordeals that have brought me to this place filled with books,

Part written by men like my father who are nothing but crooks with good looks

 

I am sitting on the couch in the clinic watching my mother and a man. 

My mind is locked up in a place far away,

Feeding fat on memories; not of days or hours but years

Of fun and love, years before the war.

Wars; not between nations or tribes but my mother and father,

Parents whom I once adored

 

I remember the day it all began,

Dad’s staggering steps, his speech- a blur

Mum’s stunned look as she beheld her husband;

Inebriated, wasted, the foul smell from his mouth – putrid and

Pervading the atmosphere with every belch

The morning after, I heard loud, angry voices,

Then sobs, in a low moan- gasp- moan-gasp sequence

 

I remember the grotesque look on my father’s face

As he threw punches that would make fine pugilists jealous,

I can almost touch my mother’s scarf -covered head;

Wrapped tight to hide external bruises whilst internal ones-festered,

Breeding on discontent and fostering hate.

Yet mum stayed silent and nothing changed.

She is a book filled with stories untold that she thinks concern only her.

 But the sights I saw,

Seemingly locked up forever, are holding session in my head.

 

Mummy calls this man a doctor,

And he keeps on mentioning my name with words like “traumatized”, “psychoanalyze”, and “shock”. 

This man’s many questions sends mummy’s glances my way as she answers.

Do they think I am sick?

I wish they could read the stories indelibly written on my mind with

The ink of memories, illustrated with graphic images of dad’s punches

And mum’s swollen faces.

 If only they could read the Silent Chapters

Etched on my mind and know that her trauma was always mine.

 

 

SILENT CHAPTERS (The Story) – Toyin Fabunmi

 

 

The woman and her son walked into the cool ambience of the clinic at exactly 1.55pm which was a few minutes before their appointment. She wrapped a shawl around her shoulders to shield herself from the cold air. She greeted the receptionist and handed her the appointment card she had been given on her first visit.

‘‘You can go in madam, Dr Kole is expecting you.’’

‘‘Thank you.’’

‘‘Hello madam,’’ the doctor said standing up from his desk as they entered the office.

‘‘Hello Doctor’’, she replied shaking his hand. I love this place she decided taking in the ornate Mahogany desk, the sturdy shelf filled with enormous books, the three huge vases of flowers and the two lavender couches placed on the right side of the room. ‘‘Cool’’ she thought.

‘‘Say hello to the doctor’’ she told her son who had busied himself with biting on his nails.

‘‘Good afternoon sir’’

‘‘Good afternoon young man.’’ The doctor said stretching out his hand for a shake.

Mayowa glanced at his mum and took the handshake reluctantly.

‘‘What’s your name young man?’’

‘‘My name is Mayowa.’’

‘‘How old are you?’’

‘‘Nine’’

‘‘Okay let’s talk; your mum would excuse us for now. Mrs Adesan, please seat over there.’’ he said pointing towards the couches.

The mother left and the psychiatrist went on to ask other questions just to put the young man at ease. He asked about his hobbies and was amazed at his knowledge of football and especially about his professed club.

‘‘Do you like girls?’’ He asked suddenly

‘‘No!’’ The boy exclaimed

‘‘They are very rude, irresponsible and uncultured.’’

The doctor was taken aback wondering who would have used such words in the child’s presence. He couldn’t imagine how a nine year old would use the words ‘’uncultured’’ ‘’rude’’ and ‘‘irresponsible’’ in the same sentence. He was also alarmed at the amount of hatred the child had for females.

‘‘I don’t like them, he continued. Dad doesn’t either and that’s why he slaps mum all the time.’’

‘‘He slaps your mum?’’

‘‘Yes, he does but he said it’s only because she is irresponsible.’’

‘‘Do you think your mum is irresponsible?’’

‘‘I don’t know, but dad says all women are.’’

‘‘I don’t talk to girls in school and if they talk to me I slap them so they don’t talk to me again.’’

‘‘Alright, Mayowa I understand how you feel and why you feel that way.’’

‘‘We would have these talks every Wednesday evening, your mum will bring you and we would discuss for about an hour. ‘‘I hope to be able to share my thoughts about women with you but for today we are done.’’

‘‘You can sit over there while I have a quick discussion with your Mom’’; he said pointing to where the mother sat.

‘‘Thank you sir.’’

‘‘Bye dear’’.  The doctor replied

‘‘Mrs Adesan’’, he called

The woman stood up and took the chair her son vacated.

 

****

‘‘Madam for me to help your boy, your husband will have to come in for counseling.’’

‘‘I don’t know how possible that will be sir.’’

‘‘Listen madam, the boy is seriously traumatized; your husband’s actions have formed a very dangerous impression in his mind. I tried to psychoanalyze him a bit and what he said was really disturbing. Therapy won’t help him if he goes back to the house and he is still exposed to your husband’s influence. He needs help too so your boy can be alright.’’

‘‘Okay, doctor’’ she said fighting back tears. ‘‘How about I divorce him and make sure my son doesn’t come in contact with him.’’

‘‘I don’t want you to do that ma’am. I believe in mending things. Find a way to talk him into coming.’’

‘‘Alright doctor, I will do that.’’

‘‘Have a nice day sir’’; she said signaling to her son that it was time to leave.

The doctor watched them as they left amazed at how much hate the boy already harboured at such an early age.

‘‘Some men are bastards’’, he muttered under his breath.

***Stop Domestic Violence against Women, It traumatizes the children****

 

 photo credit:google images

Wailing Smiles By Damilola Hassan (@popsispice)

 blackwoman

I feel miserable! What would I do? What can I do? I have only been away for three months or less and everything has gone upside down.

My brother is unusually quiet, mom is dying silently and Dad is now somebody else.

It used to be a happy family. My parents were the very best you could ask for, their love towards each other was amazing, although we thought dad loved her more. He would buy her gifts on anniversaries, birthdays and even on no celebration days, he still showered her with beautiful and lovable gifts. We would be envious, I particularly. So he made sure everyone got something every time, no matter how little it might be. I remember one time he got her a gold bracelet; it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Mom liked it; her smile was blazing and could erase a sorrowful death. She thanked him and that was all. Dad was glad she liked it and particularly grateful for that smile. He had said at a family gathering one time that her smile ‘turned him on’. I was not satisfied with that smile so I queried her, “is that all? Thank you is all he would get? Mommy,  for a gold bracelet? Haba!”.

 “Don’t mind her”, dad replied.

 She apparently felt guilty and gave him a French kiss. Dad was surprised, so was I. He was amazed, “in your daughter’s presence?” which was more of a statement than a question. We all laughed, I prayed for their love at that moment and asked God for this kind of man; albeit, at this moment, I think God should disregard that prayer.   

At first, it was just a mild argument, I thought, until I heard the noise from the kitchen. Arguments at first then the wrath of ceramics, I sprang to the kitchen and there they were. The belt determined to decorate my mom’s beautiful skin, wanting so desperately to be remembered. I stood still, waited till I was able to understand the situation before I screamed “it’s enough!”, He stopped almost immediately, then left the kitchen. Mom was in a pool of her tears and some bruises here and there. I moved closer to her, our eyes locked and she forced a smile, I helped her up. She grabbed her phone which had witnessed the beating, I was staring helplessly.

“Don’t worry”, she said, “its ok, just help me check what I’m cooking, let me change”, she continued and smiled. Except for the bruises, I swear you would have no idea what had transpired moments ago.

My brother stormed in, “what ha…..”, he looked at mom and his gaze was filled with sorrow. Mom left the room.

I witnessed some more battles. My mom’s smile became infuriating and confusing. I spoke with her.

“Mummy, a lot of things are wrong in here”, I began.

“How do you mean?” was her reply, and as usual, it came with a smile.

With a stern look and raised voice I continued, “He beats you up every now and then like like… Like He’s beating up a goat, and you ask me what do I mean? Is it until He kills you?”

 I managed to finish my tears gushing freely.

Silence!

She dropped the half grated okra, carefully placing the bowl on the Formica. She grabbed my shoulders and penetrated my eyes, forcing a weak smile this time, “it’s going to be alright” she assured …and I am not a goat”.

I wanted so much to believe it. She hugged me tightly, I held her tighter, crying.

“Even that boy has changed”, I continued, “He hardly talks anymore mum, and that is scary”. I lamented. “Your brother is just experiencing puberty, that’s all”.

“Mommy that’s not true”.

“It’s a phase in our lives, we will scale through”, she assured.

 “There’s what we call patience and faith”, she continued, “They are not just people’s names but very strong virtues”. She loosened her grip and walked to her room.

I wanted to hold her more, wanted more of her bossom, I followed her. I stopped at her door, she was sobbing silently in the room. I grabbed the knob and froze; in her sobs she was also praying, I fell to the ground. “Dear God”, I began, silently, “please….” then I lost strength to continue so, I cried silently.

To every woman ‘putting it together’… 

 

 

Damilola Hassan

On twitter as, @popsispice

 

 

photo credit: google images

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