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We must at all times, remember that the tie which binds more is not of blood, religion, tribe, empathy nor sympathy but a pain that means our pain; one that pains us all.

-Alpha E. Y.

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The wonders that awe the mortal mind

Is like the pathway in a glittering mirror

It shows yesterday, a mirage for tomorrow

When beauty is a coloured reflection on water

                              The heart, truly does not matter

Alpha E. Y.

THE FALL

“I need to work on myself Oziemi,” Taffy pierced his heart with a sugar-coated arrow. “I am not sure I want this anymore; see Oziemi, you are such a nice person every woman would want to go to the end of the world with, but,.. but,” she stammered. On the other end of the phone, Oziemi grew impatient on the next words she would say. The next three seconds of silence that ensued were long. His heart pounded heavily, it was at the finish line of a disappointing race. He raised his head to the wall up ahead. Markings of red x symbols blurred on a wide paper. It was like a calendar battered by a barren woman expecting a baby. He gazed steadily to identify where to mark out her name. On the paper was the list of women he never found the joy of a happily ever after with. While he was eager to mark out some, there were others he left unmarked for weeks. When he finally found the courage to let go, he crossed it with the heart of a man who hoped to find in the ashes, what he had lost in the fire.   

Oziemi walked grudgingly to the wall. With the phone glued to his ear, his right hand threatened mutiny. And then came the brief beep from the phone. It became apparent that he had slipped back to where he started. The only supporting poles on this slippery path would be the courage to hold on. He gave it all up, until a certain day when his phone’s vibration sent it falling from the table.  

      The fall: it came at the ninth time his Uncle had called in the same day. Oziemi wore a boldness of disrespect when the phone rang ceaselessly. Being a rooted African, such an attitude is just a face off, you don’t really wear it from deep within. His arrogance died down to a solemn sigh. His feelings, entangled, pushed his attention to the quivering phone. He felt great respect and sympathy for his uncle. On the other hand, his heart swelled to firmness for whatever choice they’ve made for him back at home. “She is a wife material,” the voice at the other end rushed without courtesy for pleasantries. “Oziemi, she is gentle and very respectful,” the voice added. Seeing the futility in any refutation, he rushed out a trembling acceptance on the account of his uncle’s testimony.  

Oziemi was closing in on his mid-thirties. A dark fellow, strongly built on every tendon; he was the yearning of every woman. At that age, he had his life cladded with what you would call a fulfilled man. He paid his tithes and had a good rapport with the catchiest. He earned his money legitimately and cooked his meals. As a half-baked seminarian, his grandeur and knowledge always left his feet some inches above the ground. “I have it all Dielo,” he would brag to his friend, who cared to listen about his contentment in life.  

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Quite disturbing for his people back home was that, at that age, Ozieme was not in the league for any matrimony. He had sworn not to soil his life into the mire called marriage; so much stickiness to deal with, he always thought. Chastity was not the thing; of course he lost that courage when he absconded from the seminary. From his youthful exuberance, Oziemi only developed a kind of admiration for ladies that would last around the beauty. He never felt any more passion. For most of them, nothing ever proved otherwise to him. The falsity in the beauty is to say the least. They all had a disposition for ambivalence. One minute they want castles in the air and the next, they want it built on the sinking waters. They never lasted long to build anything. This was a cowardice that irritated him the most. 

The courage he gathered to accept his uncle’s recommendation was concretely choked by his will to understand every situation. Not in meekness but a practical application of his knowledge and experience of life. He will certainly be an understanding father and husband. After all, understanding widens the tiniest passage into the hallway of happy marriages. So he thought.  

Three thoughtful days passed and the water round his feet was swelling. He was like Jack, trapped to some metal bar in a sinking Titanic. The biggest challenge as one would have thought could have been choosing from an array of western oriented ladies in New York. But here, he is stricken by the mystery of being with a woman from his village. 

He opened his eyes halfway to the mild light that was becoming obvious of a new day. He glared continually at the ceiling with the thought on his mind. It pulled its heavy weight on him, so that, he could not find the strength to get off the bed. Until his uncle called, Oziemi had no blueprint with which to map out the successes of any marriage beguiled to his heart. The challenge now dares at him in the face. “I will do it” he muttered. “No! I won’t, if she is replicated by western thoughts. “Yes I will tell uncle to his face that I cannot cope with falsity all through my life. God, she better be a real woman,” he hoped. 

Oziemi arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport at 7:00am- just early enough to meet the city in her sleep. As the plane descended in its bowing majesty, he could see the perfectly-designed city of Abuja, painted still, like it appeared on its initial sketch pad. The roads, each perfectly lined to their junctions did not show any sign of life on them. Just flashes of red, yellow and green lights to show the traffic lights still worked. The nation’s capital still slumbered. However, the airport, as you would imagine, was in full expectations of her passengers arriving. As he observed, he also thought about the hectiness of the journey he will undertake from Abuja to Kogi State and further to Okene, where his ancestral abode laid flat its vastness on the west of the Niger River. 

The rites were all performed rather smoothly than Oziemi had expected. The blind fold fell off by the light of a new day. His biting expectations, somehow yawned to an accommodating sense of the whole awkwardness. As he hoped for the best, he still recalled flashes of his uncle’s call, a conversation that would redesign his life. Whether it works for better or worse, he has on his palm, the narrative of his follies with vanity. He has seen it all, the end of beauty; it is arbitrary.

   Alpha E. Y. 

FOR A TOKEN OF SHAME

What manner of peace senseless wars bring?
When the unity in hovering vultures man’s discord springs
While each enemy gets slain to the ground
Upon our woeful heads, vultures wear their crowns

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

When we become weary of burying
We begin to rare vultures for turkeys
They shall rid the earth of sticky carcasses
And as well rid our stomachs of gluttony

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

For a token of shame
We traded our wretched names
With gittery dancing tongues
We licked it off the wall of fame

But the lion that feeds on its cubs
Shall wrestle the jungle alone

 

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

CONFESSION

My hand trembles in writing
It isn’t the weariness of my age
I am only getting used to elegies
While you walked away
I saw the mighty sun wash away
I hear pale death visits poor men
Equally it sleeps at the king’s door
It is no rhetorics of the pen
Even my days in a hurry fade to dusk
My sunken eyes see life’s empty rust
Tell me in brave rhythm of words
The absence of heavy-laden grief
Even if there be jostling and congestion
Find a place for my weary soul to fill
This home is no longer fit for me

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

PAUPER’S HONOUR

Every single leaf we smoke for opium
To wade across the river of shame
Yet, we lurch through every mire
Seven times; a mirage for Jordan River
Even our conscience is hypnotized
By the alluring thirst of the forbidden fruit
Alas! There shall come the Master’s call
What leaf, shall hide Adam’s fall?
But to squabble for shredded petals
That withers in the scorching sun
Not a bloom, will glow at dusk
It is a land where crickets creak:
“Screak, screech” all that they see
Where will be our haven
For the stars have eyes that twinkle
Nature’s beauty was not made to wrinkle
Upon the epitaph of Madiba’s tomb
We worshipped with the tip of our tongues
With deep reverence to the Pauper’s honour
That it will be our only fortress!
When one day, the golden robes
Forsake our wretched skins.

Alpha E. Y. 2018©

DIALOGUE at the GRAVE

Terungwa, his little brother cries out to him from behind. The helplessness from his younger brother’s voice pushes his face to the distant skies, as though some answers awaited him. Mocked by the vastness of the empty space above, Sesugh bows his dolorous shame to the dampness of his shirt. The shirt will soak every agony from his heart, for as long as his eyes can pour. “I’ll wipe my tears with my left hand and hold you tight with my right,” he said with a broken voice. He stammers more words, not quite clear this time, just in symphony with his brother’s wailing. “don..t wo, wo… rry”, he forces out the words but Terungwa cuts him short, “Baba yeee, Mama yeee” he wails, wagging his mouth wide to divert the cascades of tears from his cheeks, lining down his little jaw.

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Sesugh holds his brother tight as they force their way through the mammoth of crowd that gathered round the grave. He needs to make it to the frontline, in order to identify the remains of his parents to his younger brother. He owes his little brother the allegiance of reconnecting him with their parents, though lifeless. It could be a family reunion of some sort. He cannot tell if they will hear him or not, but his sweat, mixed with tears will ascend to heaven. When it drops on the earth, a seed will surely germinate. For such are the significance of children.
The news of the attack had flared like wild fire in the village. With no such civilization as a morgue anywhere within miles from the village, the burial had to be done to rid the village of unpleasant odour and gory memories of the deceased. It is easy to observe that it isn’t just solidarity for the bereaved that has pulled out this much crowd, but everyone who is affected has at his disposal, the last pass to see their beloved. Such is the mission of little Terungwa and his elder brother, Sesugh.
He manages to jostle through the crowd but could not progress in his quest. The pile of corpses appeared too numerous for his teary eyes to seek through. The dark and thick blood clothed over each dismembered body part created more blurriness to his sight. As if to understand his predicament, little Terungwa forces out curiosity from Sesugh’s back, pushing high his neck to see which he can identify for himself. He gazes confusedly at the lifeless bodies but found no traces of his parents. They are all scrambled to be formed into any human identity; the only depiction of such reality for Terungwa and Sesugh would have been at the abattoir where animals are butchered without regards.

Alpha E. Y. 2018 ©

WHEREFORE WITH HEAVY HEARTS?

 

Wherefore with heavy hearts
We March onwards to man’s woeful end
We become a burden for Earth to carry
Every step swallows us into its volcanic bowels
But how can the spider be too heavy for her web?

Wherefore with heavy hearts
We bury the last of our slain brothers
The earth becomes a woven net
Every step slips us into its pores
The birds can no longer perch

Wherefore with a heavy heart
I wave from my unbroken tomb
I shall remember the hours of departure
I to die and you to live
Which is better? God, only knows
Alpha E. Y.  2018©