Scripted potpourri

A blend of topnotch writing prowess, significant issues and scintillating stories!

Shadow, shadow

shadow2When your neighbours and church members begin to call you by your sister’s name instead of yours, you do not realise that you are receding slowly into the muted world of shadows. You know very well that ‘receding’ is a more apt word than ‘advancing’ because you are now here in this world of shadows and you know that something similar to “missing the bus” has happened to you. Yes, missing the bus—it’s the only way you can describe how you feel in this cruel world of shadows; a world that does not care who you are because it does not even know who you are. Here, you are not a human being with an identity and a personality. You are just a disembodied entity, defined by silhouette and void of substance, wafting airlessly, noiselessly and purposelessly. Of course, you did not intend to end up here, but somehow, you know you have a hand in your getting here. Your mind recalls now to that time when someone said, “Hi! You are Somto’s roommate, right?” You should not have said yes. You should have said your name because you are more than Somto’s roommate. You are you. Rather, you chose to be Somto’s shadow; you chose to be an extension of her personality; you chose to be remembered as Somto’s roommate, not as you. Well, sadly, you got served.

Now, as you rummage through your memory, you begin to remember those many times when people referred to you and your group of friends as “Victoria and co” or “Demilade and co” but they never made the mistake of saying your name “and co” even though it was three of you that were friends. You were never that important. You could only be viewed and understood through the personalities of Victoria and Demilade, but never through yours because you always passed across as someone without a personality, as someone with nothing to offer or to be remembered by, even though that was not the case. When you did not try to prove everyone wrong by showing them that you are an excellent  sprinter and a talented still-life sketcher and a mind-blowing juggler (apart from being intelligent enough to be among the top three in your class all through school days),  you really became Victoria’s and Demilade’s shadows. This is a painful realisation for you now.

In the midst of all this reminiscing, it is now etched in your consciousness those three lecturers who never really knew your name while you were in school even though you always had A’s in their courses. Whenever they saw you, they will say with much gusto and sincere concern, tinged with that unmistakable filial regard, “How are you, Kemi? I hope your CGPA is still steady. You must make a first class o!” Of course you were not, and never will be Kemi—the other egghead in your class who got as much A’s as you—but you smiled and assured them that your CGPA was steady and that you will finish with a first. In this again, you chose to not be you. You chose to be Kemi’s shadow.

There was that other time too, you remember, when you got that gown that your first boyfriend thought was nice. You did not really like that it showed too much skin, but you let him buy it for you anyway. On the day you wore it, nobody said you looked good; not even him. What he said was, “Wow! You look so different!” and Demilade said, “In this dress, you remind me of Antonia!” You knew Demilade was not complementing you because none of you thought of Antonia as good-looking—Antonia with her old-woman face that she tried to conceal under layers of clownish make-up; Antonia with her sorely bleached complexion that she liked to show by wearing dresses that showed too much skin; just like that gown did. You should have hated being your boyfriend’s shadow enough to break up with him, but it wasn’t until eight months later that you broke up with him, not because you called the shots, but because he decided he was tired of being with you. And what about when you went for that camp meeting with your volunteer group and there was a discussion on respected world leaders. You did not want to say you really liked Niccolo Machiavelli and Adolf Hitler because everyone else was mentioning Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. You let it slip past you that everyone was saying why they respected those leaders and you could, in the same vein, also defend your liking for those leaders. So instead, you said Mother Teresa and everyone nodded. But when Alfred said he thought Adolf Hitler fit the bill and went ahead to say why, he got a resounding ovation. So nobody knew that that ovation could have been yours.

Now you know that the doors of this world of shadows are always waiting for ‘those’ who are ever quick to acquiesce than to believe in their beliefs; for ‘those’ who prefer to be nice than to be true; for ‘those’ who would rather swallow it all than to chew it first; for ‘those’ who would rather be others than be themselves. Knowing that you are among these ‘those’, you now have only one question gnawing at your consciousness: For how long will you remain in this world?

At this point, you’ll be foolish to not know the answer.

This is the answer: It is for as long as you continue to stay mute; and for as long as you continue to betray yourself; and for as long as you continue to not get irritated, inconvenienced and frightened by the sights and sounds of the world of shadows, where the eerie “shadow, shadow” song is chanted day and night… until you are ready to catch–and ride–the bus of your life, and only your life.

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Confessions of a Readaholic

readaholic 2It may not be Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Puzo’s Godfather, Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Series or Crichton’s Jurassic Park  but I’ve come to a point in my life where from experience, I can determine that even though a book has not received rave reviews or is not authored by a popular person, it can still qualify for a great book. I am a readaholic and I’ll like to think of this space as my own version of AA- Alcoholics Anonymous. You see, I woke up one bright sunny day and decided frankly and unpleasantly that I am a very weird specie. It was a difficult decision to reach, that is why I have constantly questioned the validity of that abasing thought. So here I am: confessing. I am about to hang up my dirty linen at the risk of scathing public glare. But I have to do this; I have to confront myself. I mean, is it not weird that on a very languid day when others are out visiting or shopping or seeing a movie, I find it very comfortable reading through my secondary school Physical and Health Education textbook? Or poring over an old cook book that contains only foreign recipes? Or again, relishing the science articles in Jehovah’s Witness’ pamphlets even though I am not one of them? Beats you, right? Well, beats me more!

So let’s get into the 411 of me: I am intoxicated by the sights and sounds of a bookstore — yes, those air-conditioned havens sprawling with tomes and paperbacks. A bookstore to me has that surreal tang of newness and sage-hood mixed delicately with a bit of paradise, and if you ask me, the only thing that comes that close, is a library; with its time-tested volumes and sedate ambience. Ah, but you see, bookstores are not the only places I can find books that make me tick. Indeed, those roadside stands, whether at Iyana Ipaja or Ojuelegba are brimming with books, from magazines to political commentaries to “For Dummies”. At these Lagos road sides, I can also whip up a John Grisham or Danielle Steel for ridiculously low prices and I can exchange an old novel, sorry, vintage novel (*wink) for another vintage novel. You see, I don’t only know these resourceful book stands, I also know the Igbo boys that man them (Goddy and Chuks and Obinna to mention a few) and they know me back because they are quick to hail, “Customer!” the moment I as much as walk by. These guys, they have mastered the art of coaxing me into buying at least five books before leaving their makeshift stands and I give in so easily because I am a readaholic (Please don’t tell my dad that that’s where all my pocket money went, back in secondary school!). I have to admit here on Linda’s blog that when I’m with a book, I feel like I’m in love. It’s reminiscent of the Rebecca Bloomwood craze, if you know what I mean.

Actually, I have a habit of finding good in every book – like a girl teenager does her crush (nothing he does is ever bad; all his actions only make him more attractive!). When Non-Readaholic says, “That book is too technical. I slept off after the first page” or “I didn’t get the idea of the article. Seemed like Greek to me” I’m there thinking, “You have to be joking. I totally enjoyed and understood every page of the book. The author is soooo good!” Needless to say, another habit is talking to myself in public — I’m either mumbling to sample how a character’s name sounds in my mouth — or conversing with a book I’m reading in a public place where you can hear me say, “No way!’ or “Oh my God!” as I flip through those arresting pages.

As a readaholic, I’ve done some real terrible stuff: I’ve sneaked a book away without the owner’s knowledge only to have it fall into mud! (Please, don’t ask me how I confronted the owner afterwards). I’ve lied that I already returned a book just because I wanted to read it again for the third time! I’ve pretended to finish a 600-page novel in 24 hours just because I wanted to preserve my reputation of being a fast reader! I have lied that I have read books I have not read (well, they all expect me, being a readaholic to have read them!) Countless times, I have stolen chips or fried meat or chinchi — anything to munch on while I’m reading! I have been so carried away by thoughts of a novel that I almost got hit by a car only to thoroughly cuss out the driver for being negligent! I have lent out books I did not own to other readaholics just so that I can later on bask in the thrill of a book discussion with them. And when I lend books to non-readaholics, my hope is to lure them into my cerebral community of weirdos where we egoistically regard ourselves as the repositories of knowledge, as interpreters of all that is scripted, as lovers of novelists, poets, playwrights and academic researchers and finally, as the non-readaholic’s last resort when they are on the hot seat at Who Wants to be A Millionaire! But guess what? We’re none of that. We’re just book-afflicted souls.

bookwormLet me now borrow from Pidgin English and say, “this matter for ground, e tey wey e start o”. Deep inside however, I know that I am not alone. There are many of you out there who totally connect with my weirdness. Go ahead and share some of your idiosyncrasies. For others who are thinking, who is this readaholic nut-head?, please spill it out or, share any encounters you’ve experienced with a readaholic that annoyed the heck out of you. Perhaps I’ll be challenged to get my act together and become a better readaholic or I would just throw caution to the wind and accept “weird” as a good word– you know, as a message from the Maasai to simply be me. *wink*. Just one piece of advice though: a good book is always a good thing. It takes you to realms you thought utopian and stands you out like integrity in a corrupt Nigeria.

I’ll like to thank Linda for giving me this opportunity to release. It has done me good like therapy.

NB: Readaholic is a fictitious guest blogger.

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Life: Through these Quatrains

life2

‘Tis wake and laugh and eat

That entire buzz we do with pump and beat

Ponder yet the void of them without meat

That we may know to love and give

Hear, hear! All we who live without some pause

Merit and mirth lie in life that is lived for cause

Pause. Learn. Think. Pray. Act for it soon rumbles tough and worse

True cause comes when we breathe and love and give

Perform we now what we reckon cannot be done

Life is here, but without warn is soon gone

‘Tis is for this cause we sure were born

To really fulfill and love and give

Never must we ourselves for once deceive

This is the moment we all should live

To make sure we breathe and love and give

For yonder comes for this life to seize

This poem is in part, a tribute to a brother, Hafeez Olanrewaju, whom the world lost last week Saturday. This is the first work of poetry I’ve ever tried my hands on. My hope is that we glean and retain its message. May his soul rest in peace. He sure lives on in our hearts.

Thanks for taking out time to read.

Later.

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