The Loss of Integrity, the Peril of my People

            The notion of integrity tells of an unquantifiable honour that guards the decisions, choices, thoughts and actions of an individual. It further extends to mean a virtue that is not easily broken by lust, avarice, fear and material trivialities that form shackles chaining men of feeble hearts.
Given such strict and uncompromising criteria to be attained before one could be crowned a character of integrity, explains clearly, the wonders why we hardly find such figures in a world of material quality such as ours. A world where the quest for power breeds avarice puffed up with vanity and hence, the need to satisfy personal interest leaves integrity lying still, down the tombs of the man Jesus, Mandella, Prophet Mohammed, Ghandhi, Kenyatta, Saro Wiwa, Luther King Jr. and very few others who knew, lived and taught the perfect ideals of integrity.
Consequent upon the above is cogently delineated in our regular but slippery steps upon the path to a sustainable development, and a consolidated democracy as a people. Lack of integrity in the hearts of those who wheel the seats of power in Nigeria has not only brought about economic, social and political retrogression but has mocked consistently, the nationalism of our founding fathers. It need not be emphasized that what we have at hand as a country is what George Lamming calls “a group of people marooned into a cocoon of confusion.” A group of people without a worthy yesterday to beget a map for a better tomorrow and a multicultural arrangement with no unifying cause.
However, amidst the cloudy ray that is left of our sight, we can begin to be Nigerians with hearts if gold, one wrapped in glitering foils of honour. Only then can we stand the tribulation of our times, and work towards writing right, the wrongs of our past. This alone will engrave our hearts on the agelessness of time.

Alpha E. Y. 2017©

A COSMIC IGNORANCE

“… We lacked a simple of:
Which side is of the Egyptians?
Which is of the Israelites?

We limped through a hot dreary yesterday
Haggard weary and thirsty,
Bring us upon a milky pathway, we prayed.
From a distance so misty,
We saw a pitched black smoke
Rise a wall, high up to heaven
It wore a floating crown of eagles.
From the other side,
We heard echoes of wailings alike:
“Bring us upon a milky pathway they prayed”
As we hoped and waited
The eagles picked us by each moment
We lacked a simple knowledge of:
Which side is of the Egyptians?
Which is of the Israelites?

Alpha E.Y. 2017©

FOR JACOB

 

Dear brother,
I doff my cap for you.
Thinking of our days together,
I see your follies are few.
In difficulties and scourging hunger,
Your silent courage
Whispers hopes of laughter.
Dear brother,
Pill with me through life’s foliage,
Let us with pride count every mileage
As our dreams grow yonder.
Dear brother,
I cannot grow any younger
But I wish we breathe forever.

By Alpha E. Y. 2017©

A VERSED EMISSARY TO MADIBA

Say to Madiba,
We watched our flaring avarice
Lick the zenith of chimneys,
Condensed sooth flakes on our heads
And rained Tuta Absoluta,
That blighted the tomatoes of Zanzibar.

Say again to Madiba,
We fanned our flaring Avarice
It coated red our carved pipes.
We puffed our day-light into haziness,
Until we smoked our brains to aridness.

Read my missive to Madiba
Tell the salinity of our tears.
We watched our lustful avarice,
Wheedle a barren maiden.
A futile wantonness
That shrank our testicles
Into juiceless dabin’nos.

But also account to Madiba
The palm trees did not fall with the Irokos
The palm wine tapper said so
From the marshy homes of Ikiriko
We only drank to stupor
And when Nkwor market sees no light
We shall all go back home.

By Alpha E. Y.  2017©

LIQUID THOUGHTS

Afandai sat still for about thirty minutes glaring at her son, Aku, as he struggled to bring the Grain Mill back to life. She thought she enjoyed watching her son put to practice, his four years of apprentiship. I am proud of you Aku. She whispered slowly in her mind. She couldn’t tell if he heard her or not, but of course she is. It didn’t matter if he knew about it. For a moment, her optic nerve couldn’t collect anymore. There were no newer images to fascinate her. Only the broken Grain Mill lingered before her sight. For her son, he is just a drenched blank paper, upon which no story would be written nor read. He will certainly grow to be nobody. She could do her best to teach him the basic ethics of life, but how that would mean a capital for life’s enterprise remained perplexing. Her eyes swelled with tears. She could cry it out loud, if only it would change a thing. They only flowed with no obstacle nor voice to echo the agony from her heart. Will she ever be able to explain the meaning of the statement “I am proud of you?” His father said that once when he was born but never lived to explain it in full. Maybe, he only said it to show the ecstasy of surviving the stigma of childlessness from the society. He was a certified father by the order of Aku’s birth. He never intended to stop there, until he created a significant chain of bastards. Children that would have to start their lives on their own. Fight their way through the harsh realities of life. On Afandai’s part, her husband could do whatever, for all she cared, but she could not vindicate herself from being a cohort in wasting this boy’s life. She was part of the plot. Even though she never knew about the end.
Her pains would have been balmy if Aku’s failure to be useful to his generation remained her only duel in life. But she is also broken afar from her wants. Her first union with Aku’s father faded away like the morning stars. For the second, she can’t really explain why he vanished. It was again on an attempt to see the crest people say is greener on the other side. She wanted it for herself and Aku too. Having failed, she only blames herself to have ever asked from life again. She is obviously part of a generation marooned in a world in which heart desires become the very means of a person’s bondage.
Her second attempt at happiness still lingered in her memory cogently. She still burnt with fury at the deception he wore on the first day they met. She could feel her bare foot being willed into the labyrinths of destitution. If only she knew he was a married man, or perhaps, if she was still married to Aku’s father, the Solomon of their days… She wondered if there was a better wisdom God ever gave to man.

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On that day, Afandai had watched the two basins of her cassava flour, sit on the table like pyramids of Egypt all day. No transaction reduced them, except the adventurous eyes of tourist which her customers had imbibed lately. On that day, even Mother Nature swore a siege against Afandai. Day-light bowed in respect as the clouds roared in labour at the final minutes of their ninth month. She packed in her pyramids of “Alebo” quickly and was soon on her way home. She lifted her legs fast. Forcing them to move at an unusual pace. She had not gone far when a black Camry (2008 model) drove slowly beside her, so that, they were parallel to each other. She kept a mindless attention at first and continued home. This time, at a breezy pace. The car was not the type to give up easily. Not when feminine passengers are involved… “Madam, permit me to put an umbrella over your head through the rains,” came a gentle-manly voice out from the car. She knew she needed an umbrella for the rainy weather at hand, but hardly saw the umbrella willing to cover her even through sunny days. Hesitation at that point was not necessary, hence it gave way for urgent familiarity. “But sir, as much as I would appreciate your kind gesture, I refuse as well, any inconvenience I will cause.” She said, with a cheerful smile. Men hardly knew when not to strike, not when you announce your willingness through such a smile as one Afandai showed. “With great pleasure madam, I wouldn’t mind carrying a real umbrella through the rains for you, better still, I think the car makes it much easier.” The man replied. And so it began. A journey that led her to nowhere. He couldn’t just stop visiting, and sometimes, made of flowery gifts his accomplice. Desecrating gifts that could be used to paint lifetime joy in some cases. He held Aku by the hand and talked to him about how special he was; making it clear when necessary that, it is only one who is void of senses that could abandon such a set who needed the best of all attentions. Anytime he did that, he made sure Afandai watched with thoughts through her mind. He could imagine her thinking about how angelic he is, what a benevolent life saver he is. Coincidentally, he was right. All her thoughts, whatever they were, practically culminated into the popular axiom: “you don’t know the value of what you have, until it’s gone.” He confirmed this in her readiness to start a new life for herself and offer to her son what she considered to be the best. True enough, Aku needed a father and a family. On Aku’s part, agreeing with the situation at his disposition became paramount. He couldn’t imagine the ecstasy of having to wake up one morning with a father. He had always envied the children in school, whose fathers made it a duty of making the fatherless, such as him, feel less cared for by coming to pick their children from school every day of the week. Now he has a father, he will not ask a silly question such as “which market was he bought from?” no one in his shoes would.
Looking at Aku now, Afandai couldn’t lie to herself that Aku is a symbol of her error in life. She sobs. He is innocent and deserves more to his life. He is intelligent and hardworking, but it couldn’t do more than give him a very good jamb result. The admissions shut their gates at him. It was the biggest stride she fought, but it only mocked at her from afar. It became apparent that he needed someone to go with him and see a person or two, to identify with him and say his life could also be useful to the development of the nation. This alone can make solid her liquid thoughts.

LONE TEARS

ALPHA E. Y. TIMELY ECHOES

Here is a short account of my life as a soldier and a father. The first I can boldly attest I was and still am. But for the latter I shall leave to your impartial judgement. To tell if I owed the essence of my existence to either my family or to the country I swore to protect. I wish the clock would take a deep breath in its workings against the lengthiness of my story, so that, I can bring to you a detail of the vagaries myself and many Nigerian soldiers faced in the battle against Boko Haram. It was a battle that fought us on three fronts. The first is the ambitious warfare of greed amongst our political leaders. Such that breeds an avarice that is puffed up with vanity. The second and most overbearing front is the psychological crises of our obligations as fathers to our…

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LAILA

Life would not find completely its essence if it does not explain cogently to Laila what justice meant. How and where her birth stepped wrongly on the order of existence is what she could not decipher. She was a blessing to her parents for being a fulfilment of their union. But the torments she grew with over the years would clearly mean she is just but a missing link between a child and the result of an underserved pleasure. God should not have permitted children to be born from every fertile ejaculation. All these clouded Laila’s mind as she leaned by the wood upon which the lingering kitchen rested on as a pillar. The night breeze was restless so that it flung the kitchen’s corrugated iron sheets clapping, and extending their duties to her young dark skin. It penetrated underneath her half sown wrapper, parting open the torn part and swaying dancingly her follicles. She stood patiently and darting her sight to the pot as the blazing flames flicker round it. The water would soon be ready she wished, or perhaps, would soon hear Aunty Wiki’s tormenting voice, instructing her to come and clear every crumb on the mat for her dinner. Washing the mat after Aunty Wiki and her two children finished dinner was the only duty Laila did with every passion. At least, her stomach at that point had records of food particles drop in it, like pebbles settle calmly on the floor of a sea.
“Laila!” Came Wiki’s shrill voice. “Infidel!” she re-echoed. Laila’s heart sprang like a pendulum so that she answered twice at a time. “Aunty, Aunty.” She cried. Trying to catch the pace, her flappy wrapper ran through a nail on the cupboard fixed beside the outer passage of the kitchen, so that she jolted slightly. It threw her rapidly to a bucket whose mouth was open to pay her for her wrong steps. Gathering every strength she could, Laila limped into the room. She stood coiled to herself like a hen that just escaped the torments of the rains. Her limbs danced as water escaped their way out of her wrapper, and forming  streamlines down to her feet. “Infidel, how long does it take you to answer me?” Wiki thundered. “Sorry aunty, I fell to the ground.” Laila’s teary voice jostled out advocacy. A voice that should say how much she wished to have arrived early enough. One that should drop an ice on Wiki’s fury, and just say to her, she is also a daughter and aught be acknowledged as one. The cascade of tears on her cheeks, her running nose, wriggled lips and the emptiness of life she wore, could tell that Laila’s heart crawled out to her face. She wished to say more. However, she was wrong, for Wiki was quick to refute: “Shut your mouth! You are only lazy and you deserve nothing more than where you belong right now.” It appears clear to Laila now that her voice can push not more than empty echoes of justice. Not when an infidel like her remains her own attorney. And so she bent to gather the plates. She picked Pipi’s. Her tears trickled into it but she tried to hold them back by sniffing them through her nostril. She turned round to pick Wiki’s plates, but it was no use obeying now. Clemency was never Wiki’s ally. Not when it concerns voiceless non entities like Laila. All they deserve is penury for their parent’s misdeeds. Parents whose long-professed love withered at the sight of its test. It was never meant to stay longer than the wedding day. Wiki swung her hand rapidly like a crashing plane and made of Laila’s cheeks the impact point. It sounded loud so that Pipi fell sideways to the ground with her hands on her ears. Okinwa, Wiki’s son, only stared with intense admiration at the exposed part of Laila’s young thighs the incident exposed. Pipi opened her hands slightly and pointed at Laila’s right leg. “Mummy, Laila’s leg is bleeding.” she cried! “Oh darling” wiki responded quickly. “She is only excreting waste blood.” Pipi stared at her in amazement. One could tell from the expression on her face that, she found it hard to chew her mother’s response. Perhaps, at four, her incisors were not strong enough. She threw another question that would confirm what her mother said. Any answer she got, will remain in the never-fading side of her brain. “Mum, are you sure it doesn’t hurt?” “Don’t worry dear… never mind.” Wiki stammered. “Ok mum” Pipi concluded and stood to retire. “Laila, don’t worry, you will be fine.” she consoled. Laila gathered the plates into a bowl, wrapped the mat carefully as she struggled to avoid the scornful and lustful looks that came from both Wiki and Okinwa respectively.
Soon, she had finished all that was left to be done for that day except for the waiting-for-her-mat thing which often ushered her in to the house for the day. The December breeze had intensified in its assaults. The rough sounds from creaking iron sheets could confirm it. She leaned upwards in order to prevent her tears from falling, but it was unnecessary as they only found paths down her ears. The stars discharged every light directly at Laila as she glared to catch every ray from where it shone from. She dazed to the skies to see if her mother’s words were true, or if the God people say exist could lift her hand off this boiling crucible. She could hear her mother now, comforting her with her usual tone of regret “I wish it did not happen my daughter…”

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Her mother’s words became a resounding gong on Laila’s mind since the day they ushered her into the flames of hell as a saint. Yes, she could see her resilient mother whom God did not allow to live longer than she prayed. She knew for sure that if mortality could fight its helpless nature against the scourges of death, her mother would choose to watch her grow forever. For it was in a bid to bring this to fulfilment on a day that her mother went out but never returned.
That faithless morning, upon which clouds without rain engulfed her young sunny life. Laila waved her mother continuously, as the road down the street stole her visibility away. Her right hand seemed tired, yet her left hand offered an extension. She made that a duty whenever she didn’t go to school. For some time now, it had become her perfect obligation. She has been home from school for two months already. Her fees have not been paid. Laila felt she could go out to do whatever, just to help her mother. Disappointedly, her mother wouldn’t let her. “I will do my best for you Lai” she always said. Laila had always believed in the good judgements of her mother. And so she resolved to pray for her each time she went out. Whenever she swung to the right, the prayer that went with it is: “God Bless mama today”, to the left: “God please keep her safe today” again to the right “God keep her safe please”. And so on that day she waved with pride filled in her heart. She hoped that her mother was just leaving for some hours and would be back to her by nightfall.
The breeze gradually died into a tranquil calmness, so that only crickets creaked. The perfect solemnity that filtered Laila’s senses could confirm aunty Wiki and her family were fast asleep. She folded her mat carefully as she sets to retire for the day. Aunty Wiki had just three rooms apartment in which two served as bedrooms for herself and her children respectively. The biggest served as the sitting room in which Laila finds a corner for her bedroom on faithful nights she is not asked to sleep outside. And so today marked one of those. She settled her mat behind the three sitter cushion and laid gently on it to allow her young bones smile in their weariness. The night’s dark hardly had the strength to dim her senses. Nothing could sleep her mind. Not even now, for her eyes were forced slightly open by the stream of tears from within it. She could hear Okinwa crouch closer. Amidst the heart of the night, she could feel his hands gradually slide apart her wrapper. Her tears intensified with no voice to go with them. She only sobbed without struggling as he parts her legs. Her tears were enough blows of struggle to his conscience. She wished. However, she was wrong, Okinwa had not a drop left in him. He carried out his course whenever he had the chance. Laila’s case was a minor issue. She should be used to it by now he thought.

By Alpha E.Y .  2017 ©

EMPTY SHADOWS

Empty Shadows in discord
Casting dark replicas
As unclean as Erebus.
Shrouded in sulphate
But translucent in Euphrates.

In a teary dusk we saw
Cascading rufescent
Cuddle mountains into parapets.
In a teary dusk we saw
Moon darting horny suns
Thenceforth,
Silent tears of bleeding crimson.

Empty shadows in discord
All cast to the sea
Discombobulated in hasty but hazy triumphs
Like Pisces trapped in fiords

Tilth us all in one ridge
Cry all in one ditch
Up from a crossing bridge
Tune dear brother a single pitch

Alpha E.Y . 2016©

ALPHAMIRA

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Here at last on the shores of time
Ripples of memories our love brings.
With the trickle of every tear,
With sunken eyes of laden grief,
I shall wave with joy our moments of brief.

Yet, my lost Alphamira
As ageless as the star
You remain dear to my heart
We may be as the earth to the dodging skies
Our hearts are as water upon another
One no death can filter nor can time can sever
Oh My dear Alphamira ….

By Alpha E. Y.  2016©