Fragments

img_2474
Traces

April 2016
The earlier promise of rains seems to be dwindling. The big rains that fell the past month now feel like a cue for a reign of heat, rather than a promise of more. On the hot afternoons I start books to lose interest before even starting. The nights, dry the are, manage to leave me and my bed soaked, in sweat, before each morning. I spend most of the early days of my supposedly short break repeating this cycle, seamlessly counting down days till I see my friends again, till the cycle can break into something else, or somethings; things less monotonous. This wait, though, would be short lived, the cycle would be broken, everything would change.

May 2016
The beauty of life is that it’s unscripted but at times it feels like I’ve read my story before. That, or that my idea of the type of life that I’m leading is seriously faulted. And it may as well be both of them because the happenings of this month feel so familiar yet utterly surprising. For most parts of this month, I’m in a world of my own making. A world I stumbled upon rather than actually make. And in this World, happiness reigns supreme. The fact that this whole new World thing is happening so suddenly doesn’t even bother me. It feels like investing in a Ponzi scheme that doubles your investment everyday, it doesn’t seem sustainable, I know. But does it matter?
I am happy.

August 2016
I have completely lost touch with what I used to regard as reality. Lost in the sense that I’m now completely unaware of the changing seasons and time. They say rain falls everyday now and that the sun almost never comes out so I should stop putting on sun shades. But they don’t know that I’m now living in that world that Prince alluded to in Purple rain.

“A world of never ending happiness, you can always see the sun, day and night”

October 2016
Darkness man. I can barely see anything.

November 2016
I say a prayer. {Emile Sandé’s “Sweet architect}
Oh sweet architect
my bones are heavy and my soul’s a mess
Can’t find my address
Build me up, build me up
Oh sweet architect
I’ve been lonely since the day you left
So come find my address
Build me up, build me up
Say we’ve got deep love, but it’s a deeper ocean
Dear God help us keep floating
Some choke, and some panic
See some got a boat, but most haven’t
Oh dear heaven, you know we’re tryin’ make it
But dear heaven, you know it’s complicated
Got deep love, but it’s a, a deeper ocean
We got deep love
Yeah we’re still here and we’re still breathing
Knee deep with the deep needing
We stay brave though we’ve been damaged
See most got a heart, but some savaged
Oh dear heaven, I hope you’re up to something
Cause dear heaven, this just can’t be for nothing
We’re still here and we’re, we’re still breathing.

December 2016
The crackling sounds of dry leaves losing themselves under my feet reminds me of some poem I once read about dry leaves. I had learnt in the poem that dry leaves on the ground were there to serve a purpose: a pertinent reminder that what was once on the tree, blushing to the sun’s advances, had somehow found itself on the ground, a mere member of the wind’s assembly. Despair lives on memories. So now I think of it one last time: of how things were really good; of how it felt so real; of how it turned out to be false.
I ache for some silence, an escape from the sound of these dry leaves. I stop walking. Then the tears begin to roll down my cheeks, first: for the me that has lived through all of these past months, and then for the emotionally resilient me that has survived it all.

Advertisements

I Of The Storm

image
Photo Credit: Weidosaur 

The first time I used my writing as an application for any sort of competition was last year. I applied for a creative writers work-shop. But before sending in the application, or before having the thought of applying I had written a short story. On finishing the story I had shown it to people whose opinions on art I respected. And their reviews had been largely good.

So that when the opportunity came to use it to become better, I couldn’t pass up the chance. Even the knowledge that I was terrible at writing, and my blooming relationship with rejection couldn’t stop me. I have to at least apply to get rejected. So I applied, with the short story my friends were so hyped about.

Rejection came in an interesting way, styled in encouragements and seeming indulgence. “We acknowledge the spirits with which this was written… It lacked form.. the language was poor as was the narrative… But the potential is there .. We liked the shape of it.. need to trust your inner voice more.. could morph into something special…” And the remaining nonsense I can’t quite remember now. But I do remember reading the email with my eyes welled up in tears. I know it’s you, mate.

I applied again this year, and there was a marked improvement from the entry I sent last year. Or at least that was how I saw it. It only made sense, after a whole year of preparation.

“Your entry was read, you didn’t make the cut”

I smiled.

Because I knew I would be rejected and it happened like that, succinct yet profound, made me chuckle a bit inside.

And there’s another joke in there, how the whole writing-applying-being rejected is a sound metaphor of how things generally have panned out in my life thus far. The joke of how I haven’t found where to fit into or what I am exactly good at.

Am I not good enough? Does this- not being good enough- explain failed attempts to make friends, or unrequited love from people in whose heart I had thought I would find solace?

So for now, I’m the man smiling, posing for the invisible photographers around me. I am that man who has seen that the world is not interested in his relationship with rejection. I’m that man who has given up on trying to fit in the world that has no place for him. And by smiling every time, from reading emails such as that to trying to mount a bike on the streets of Akure, I have come to terms with the feeling that perhaps, this state: smiling, is the only way the society can accept me.

“And they call me under
And I’m shaking like a leaf
And they call me under
And I wither underneath
In this storm”**

But behind that mask, I know that I am of the storm that comes at intervals, giving me enough time to recover from the havoc it wrecked the last time before it comes again, each time more powerful then ever, rendering everything into rubble.

This knowledge, I think, is the first step to self liberation, if there ever was a need for one.

 

** “I of the storm” by of Monsters and Men.

Text by a friend.

Racing With The Sun (Refix)

“Racing With The Sun” is not my favorite piece of writing, in fact I can remember not being satisfied after I finished writing it. Although it conveyed how I felt at that time, I seemed to want something more. But I was just like fuck it, I’ll post it like that. But a considerable amount of other readers liked  it. Samuel even went to the lengths of re-writing it with some “Hollywood vibe”. And the result, as you will come to see, is amazing 😀😀😀

The story is about an hopeless romantic, love-deprived  young man, who stumped on a gorgeous lady. He was so tripped off by her, that he found himself wanting to disappear, just so she doesn’t notice him blushing to death. Back home, after sharing the story with his guys, they asked the questions. One asked, “hey, she got boobs?” another asked, “she got ass?” “is she pretty?” “did you get her cell phone number?” He replied, while lost in his head, reminiscing the sight, “I don’t know, I didn’t remember to check. I couldn’t even look her in the face”.

Some couple months later,circumstances demanded that they talk to each other. Finally meeting in person, at least from her side, she was meeting him the first time. Even while they talked, he was absolutely mesmerised by her. He avoided looking her in the eyes, but managed to steal glances every now and then. They exchanged numbers and left, each on their merry way.
When she texted him for the first time, his happiness knew no bounds. They literally, remorselessly broke their boundaries. He was glad that at least, he won’t have to contend with her hypnotic beautiful eyes anymore, and that for him, levelled the playing field. He could paint himself less of an awkward person that he was the other day. And even then, though the attraction had been there from day 1, he became more and more attracted to her as they chatted day by day. He was falling head over heels in love with her.

Right from the first day they met, he had always wanted to meet the person behind her eyes, her damn, uncomprehending beautiful eyes. In his thoughts, he asked himself, “would she have interest in arts?” “is she the loquacious type that would talk all day?” “or just Netflix and chill? “. He knew what he wanted in a girl, but for some reasons, he was ready to make exceptions for this one. This one could be anything and it wouldn’t matter, at all.

But she wasn’t anything. In fact, she was a proper, decent girl. She watches ‘keeping up with the kardashians’ and she could bake cakes. She didn’t tick all the boxes, but he knew, she didn’t have to. After all, relationships are all about compromise. Being able to tolerate someone else’s flaws. He could tolerate hers. He will.

As time passed, they became close. Two cute couple. At, least that was what people saw them as. The guy with the funny beard and the babe with the glittering eyes. But they were just ‘friends’. Just friends. That was what she wanted. She wasn’t ready for a relationship. Although discouraged and a bit saddened by this, he had no choice other than to ‘okay-it’. He told himself, “over time, she’d ignore that ‘just friends’ nonsense and fall in love with me”. “We’d live on our own level of crazy”, he said. And he believed it to be soon.

But then, one day, when he couldn’t hold it any longer, he decided to make his intentions known. He called her over to come chat with him, that he had some things he wanted to tell her. He had mastered his lines well as a child masters his A B C. He couldn’t afford to blow it, no. “This has got to be it….”, he told himself. She came and being unexpectant of what lies before her, received the bomb……
“See babe, honestly, I’ve always wanted to keep this away from you. I’ve always wanted my feelings to be just my problem, not yours. But I can’t hold it any more….. Look, i’m not infatuated, i’m matured enough to know what I feel and why I feel so. Yes!, I was moved by what I saw the first day we met, but having known you for over a year now, those first feelings have been rendered insignificant. For me now, it’s more than what you look like. It’s about who you are. This is not a conviction based on my five senses, it’s a conviction coming from deep down in my heart. And with all I have seen, and my faith in God, I believe you are the one. So, dear, will you please be my best friend, lover and soul mate, with the view of being my wife and mother of my kids later? Yeah, I love you. Do you love me?

She was speechless. Her facial expression was somewhere between sympathy ad annoyance. She left, without saying a word. He was shivering all over the place. After a year of being ‘just friends’, friends that knew everything about each other, from menstrual periods to future children names, they couldn’t just be ‘friends’ forever, no. He glided frictionlessly into erratic train of thoughts. **life will always go on without her, I would go back to writing more. There are dozens of movies I am yet to see. Anything, just to occupy my mind, so I don’t lose it.** He had a life before he met her.

She started ignoring him. Not replying any of his texts and rejecting his calls. Her always available number is now always busy. When he broke the news to his friends, they jeered amongst themselves. “We told ya!.” “Nobody is in the love or feelings business anymore”. “That shit is for the fucking movies”. “Niggas get laid and bitches get paid” “you said we was jealous, who’s heart-broken now?”
Calmly groping his cup of coffee later in the evening, he slided yet again into his atmosphere of thoughts. While staring hopelessly at the girl’s picture on his phone screen, he recalled an old memory of when he was young, travelling with his dad in his car. He’d look out the window and secretly and ignorantly believe his dad and himself were racing with the sun. The sun? Of course, he realised later, when he was older, that it was a lie. The sun never leaves where it is. The thought made him realise he was making his childhood mistake again. He had been in an imaginary ‘love-race’ with a girl that was never in the ‘love-stand’ to begin with. All a figment of his imagination, how wrong he was, again.

Racing With The Sun

image.jpeg
One of Ayobola Kere-ekun’s works

Even now that things have calmed down, I still wonder why it all happened. I still wonder why I found her so attractive, that evening in class. I still remember how her eyes seemed so wet, yet so bright, like stars in a moonless night. And how her brows, although artificially fitted, sat intricately on those beauties. How I had tried – in vain – to vanish, just so she does not notice me, and my noticeable blushes. I remember how I was rendered weightless by her sight. And how I had gotten home to tell my roommate that I had just seen the babe with the most beautiful eyes ever, and how he had asked “Shey she get boobs? And Ass?”. “I no know, I no remember to check”.

Two months passed before we met in person. For those two months I had to wait for fate to make us meet, for I couldn’t summon enough courage to approach her. And when we finally met, i avoided looking at her eyes directly, i could only manage to steal a glance at her face. Even then, I was surprised by how composed I was while we talked. There was this warmth about her, such calming effect. We exchanged numbers that day.

So that when she sent that first message on Whatsapp, some three months after, my happiness remorselessly broke its boundaries. At Least, the fact that I won’t have to contend with her eyes leveled the playing field a bit.

The fact that I liked someone solely because she was a bearer of a beautiful eyes was crazy enough, but disputable. After all, one has to be attracted by something, I just haven’t gone through the popular way, the boobs and ass way. But then I knew real craze when I started developing feelings barely a week after her first message.

And then I realized that the feelings had always been there, on hibernation. Because ever since that first day, I had always wanted to meet the person behind those eyes. Would she have interest in the arts? Was she the type that talked all day? Or just Netflix and chill?

I knew what I wanted in my girl, but for some reasons, I was ready to make exceptions, she could have been anything, and it wouldn’t have mattered.

But she was not anything, she was a proper decent girl. She watches Keeping Up With The Kardashians and she could bake cakes. She didn’t tick all the boxes, but I knew she didn’t have to. A relationship, after all, is being with someone whose flaws you can tolerate. And I could tolerate hers.

And as time passed, we became close. The guy with the funny beard and the babe with glittering eyes. That’s how we looked outside. Always inspiring annoyance. “Those guys are too proud, they think they are the only couple on campus”. But we were just friends. Just friends. That’s what she wanted. “You should not come and be developing useless feelings upandan, cos feelings is the only thing you people know how develop. And I ain’t ready for such now.” And that was fine by me. I felt that over time, she’d ignore that nonsense and fall in love with me, we’d live on my own level of crazy. It should be soon.

I will never forget this day. How I had called her a for a chat, how I had mastered my lines well before she came.
And it felt right that day. After a year of being just friends. Just friends that knew everything about each other, from menstrual cycles to future children names. We couldn’t be just friends forever.

“See babe, honestly I’ve always wanted to keep this away from you, I’ve always wanted my feelings to be just my problem, not yours. But I can’t hold it no more. I’m not infatuated, I’m matured enough to know what I feel and why I feel so. Yes, I was moved by what I saw the first day we met, but knowing you for the past months have rendered that insignificant. For me now, it’s more than how you look, it’s about who you are. This is not emotions that’s based on my five senses but it’s a conviction that is based on my faith in God. So dear, please be my bestfriend, lover and soulmate with the view of being my wife and mother of my kids later. So yeah, I love you. Do you love me?”

She left that day without talking. Her facial expression was somewhere between sympathy and annoyance. I was shivering all over the place. Life will always continue without her, I’ll go back to writing more, there are movies I haven’t seen. I had a life before we met.

She ignored me the next day in class. Her numbers are always busy now. And when I told my roommate about it , “Omo, she don block your number be that. Shebi she warn you, me self warn you, no go dey catch yeye feelings for babe wey just see you as friend. You say I dey jealous ni. Now, who dey suffer?”

Now, I remember when I was small, traveling with my dad in his car. Looking out through the window, I used to believe that we were racing with the sun. Then, this thought gave me a sense of importance. The sun? abandoning his duties to humanity? to race with me and my dad? You couldn’t beat that. Of course I later realized this was a lie, the sun never leaves where it is.

So now, I treat the sun with the dose of indifference it deserves.

 

Credits

This piece was inspired by Gillian Baci’s beautiful song “Fools Gold”

Many thanks to Daniel for them lines.

A Breath Of Life

image
Opon-Ayo by Weidosaur

This photograph of Opon-Ayo was taken this year. The photographer, I believe, while taking this photo was trying to find a connection between the world of yesterday and that of today. But then there’s no connection, instead we’re taken on a trip, a trip into the world we were not part of, a world that is long gone. This world now only exists on the fringes of memory.

The curtain has fallen, and it fell so gradually, so noiselessly that we were not invited to notice it.

Think of it this way: what sense would a ten-year old Yoruba boy read into a photograph of Opon-Ayo?

Perhaps a wooden pack, made for cookies, and the cookies would seem hard, harder than the one he eats now.
But that’s where the beauty lies: as with photos like this, for the time that we are staring at it; trying to find meaning to it, trying recall the last time we saw it in real life; we are unwilling participants of a rare event; a trip back in space-time.

But then there’s a problem. Why does this form of our youruba life seem so long gone? After all, some fifteen-twenty years ago, The Ayo was still an integral part our leisure activities. Why is twenty years enough for this life to transit into something so distant, so forlorn.

Is it because there’s no proper documentation of our culture? Is this why a 10-year old wouldn’t have any clues of what this photograph is all about? Is this why he would think of it as something as mundane as pack of cookies?

For our parts, the artists of this generation, we owe it on ourselves to forgo our fixation with the promise of the future, and give life to the past.

But until then, we will feed on the scraps of life that photos like this give us, and hope that they are sustained. Sustained long enough for us and our culture to survive.

 

P.S. The photograph is a property of Weidosaur. Check em out on IG and Twitter( @weidosaur_ )

 

In The Event Of My Death

To Bimbo,

For not dying.

image
Duality by Ayobola Kekere-Ekun

That night, in my dark room eyes wide opened, I was lying on my bed. Outside, the moon was in its mood, nonchalantly smiling on the face of the earth. I could hear distant trees swaying to the music of the nightly breeze. The darkness; the silence. The stage was perfectly set for me to burst into tears, as I usually do after every breakup or after another round of failure. But this night, my eyes were clear. Not because I had grown up, after all they say grown ups don’t cry. Save for the occasional blink, my eyes were still, clearly peering into the darkness. It’s about something deeper, something darker, something, that seemed to have no use for my tears.

***       ***
I felt adrift, forlorn. In the few minutes that he was there on the floor, seemingly dead, I felt it all. I couldn’t get around the unfathomable reality that he wasn’t alive anymore. I felt his spirit, walking awkwardly towards the gates of heaven. You’ve seen it all. Here’s your golden crown. This is your rest. But the thing is he hadn’t seen anything. Here’s a young boy with dreams; dreams of opening his own farm as soon as he’s done with his degree program; dreams of becoming a supermodel, putting his fine looks into commercial use. Here’s my friend, together with these dreams, lying on the floor, struggling for his dear life.

I was panicking, all over the place. Keshi! Keshi! Keshi! Answer me now. Na me, Tobi. There was no response. Epp me!!!. I let out a shrill cry that was first; a cry for help, then a cry for his life. You can’t just leave me and die like that.

In few minutes we were downstairs. In my hands, and those of the three other guys that had come to help, was the now heavy body of Keshi. We were heading for the health center. I was still panting. I was still trying to revive someone who had no contact with my reality by just hollering his name; I was still telling someone who won’t hear “na me, Tobi, Tobi your guy”, as if it mattered.

*** ****

In my room, the clock was still ticking, betraying the silence that swallowed the room at intervals. Until that night, I’d never thought of my own death. I’d never thought what would happen in the event of my death. Until that night, those thoughts seemed none existent. But that night, when these thoughts came, they looked to have been there all this while, like incubating eggs waiting for the cue, waiting for that time to come.

So what happens now, if like Keshi, I had slumped, but unlike Keshi, I didn’t come back to tell tales of how beautiful and blissful it was after the fall.

Would my death wreck someone like Keshi’s would have done to me?

What then happens to love? If at all I have people that genuinely love me. What happens to them. What happens to that love. Will it just die. Or die as a seed to allow the growth of another emotion: hope. Hope and faith that I would always return.

What then happens to me, the dead one.
I fought these thoughts haunting songs as they crooned their magic words to me. And in that final moment between dreams and lucidity, they kissed me and whispered, we understand darling, go see for yourself, and with their permission I slipped off to sleep.

 

Wallflower

image

I just had an interesting dream. In the dream, I met this girl who isn’t exactly my dream girl type of fine girl; she’s not the Megan Good that I’m looking for. We met in the night, at a makeshift charging point, a point that only existed because there was blackout everywhere on campus but this Buttery or Cafè or Iya Basira.

As I approached the point to see if I could find a space to plug my big IPhone charger, unaware of the human murmurs that welcomed me, I saw her. And at that instant, I felt it. She’s the chosen one. The wind was still, as it was before I saw her, yet I still felt it. Like she got the signal too, or I was probably shining too like she was there in the dark, she looked towards me. That was it for me, all fucks were lost. I’m not passing up this chance, it will not come again. I quickly motioned towards her, with a clear head and mind like my friends tell me to do when trying things like approaching a stranger. Don’t cram your words, They will come. By the time I got to her front, there were no words to say. Stupid friends.

When the silence was beginning to become embarrassing, she asked for what I was looking for. I mumbled some words she won’t hear, and then said that I’m quite nervous at the moment and that I’d like to see her some other time. There was great difficulty in reading her facial expression for any response. At this point I was preparing to leave. This is why I don’t do these things. I won’t approach any stranger(girl) again. There’s kuku no point. I won’t even be able to charge my phone now because I can’t bear this humiliation. I was so lost in my self that she had to ask why I was nervous twice before I could hear.

With the faintest hint of a smile, I explained to her why it’s normal to be nervous when you’re trying to meet a stranger. And that I just wanted to be a friend. This time I could read her facial expression and it says something like What the fuck is this one saying.

I woke up wondering why my room mates had to shout when they legitly brought light in real life.