Tag Archives: prose

Unbranded!

Reprisal to Nneoma’s branded

By

Chinedu Ifechelobi

I was yours! Right from the start. I saw you years before you saw me. In my dreams, all perfect in the cotton fields, everything sweet, me longing, arms wide open, you smiling, gliding towards me to hold and never let go…

I knew you years before you knew me, in the car with your parents, going to church, singing at the Sunday school, dancing and floating in the air, draped in laces, adorned with braces. I loved you

I loved you, even before you noticed me. I was young wild but wise from the start I knew you were all mine, smiled from a distance but you didn’t notice, waved as you passed but you didn’t look, called out but you ignored you were mine but you didn’t know. So I wandered, my sweet little heart in search for you but in the wrong places, I came back all broken and battered wishing you would see, notice and know, only to see you also in my state, weary from the same journey…

I came for you ready to make you see, ready to die for this cause. Seeing I had nowhere to go, seeing you were all I had, seeing my weakness, you opened your arms, not to mend my bleeding heart but for the desire to own, to brand. I smiled, you saw deception. I opened my arms, you saw a trap. I gave my heart, you saw a bargain, I smothered, you saw seduction. I spoke of dreams, fantasies and a future we could own you saw an explorer waiting like a predator to pounce on his prey. I gave you my heart, you offered your head. Many times I tried, I pleaded, screamed and insisted but you were consumed with your need to brand and to possess. Many times I gave in to you so you would see that love was not all about getting your way, but the more I gave in the more you pressed, the more we were headed for the loveless abyss. Many times I walked away hoping that the loneliness would remind you that love was all that was needed. You couldn’t be bothered, I was made for you and you for me, so I always came back. The world was cold, hard and wicked without you.

So many times I came back, for all my heart needed, was you. As many times as I came back you sent me back to the wolves. All I wanted was to love, to share to give, to lead and to build. We could have, but all you wanted was to play, to own, to dominate and to brand and I knew from my sojourn with the wolves it was all they wanted too. So when you sent me back this time, I found among the wolves a sheep! She is neither all I want nor all I need, but she’s my heart’s balm. She takes me for me, stares in my eyes like she sees stars on a lonely night, sees through to my heart when I speak, loves me to the last jagged straw. She’s not all I wanted but she has become my all, she’s not all I need but she meets all my needs. For this sheep among wolves has become my ride to die chick. This could have been us but you wanted a place to put your stamp but you failed to see  that the last piece of my remaining heart had no space for stamps; UNBRANDED

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Colours of Christmas in Eastern Nigeria

As an Igbo girl, eastern Nigeria is my default Christmas destination. I go right down to my roots, to my Father’s village! I have done this for all my life and I can hardly remember Christmas not spent in the village. I am not alone either, every Christmas, there is a massive exodus of Igbos from the cities down to the east. I join that exodus every year and it is fun. The fun starts with the trip – the mad scramble for bus tickets (for the many who do not have cars), the packing to fit everything that we MUST carry in bags and boots, then of course, the accidental meeting of friends on our way homewards and the mad frenzy to get out of the city before the 25th of December. To sound religious or romantic (whichever) I could say the origin of Igbos travelling home for Christmas is rooted in the bible when Joseph and Mary had to travel to their hometown to be counted but I will be the first to admit right here and now, amaro m. I don’t know why we go to the east, I just know we go to the east and Christmas in the eastern part of Nigeria is fun!

Maybe it’s fun because everybody comes back, those cousins you haven’t seen in ages, those family friends who you haven’t visited in forever in the big city, everybody comes down and its communal living all over again with the beautiful harmattan breeze, burning firewood smell in the air and general laziness that comes with the season setting the mood really nicely for all of us.

Maybe it’s the general laziness that makes it fun, the endless “gists” about anything and everything while we nibble on everything in sight in tranquillity, that could be the reason we all rush back. If not, It could be the ceremonies that make it fun! Because all of us have run away from the hustle and bustle of the different cities and have found ourselves in the east, we fix memorable occasions to coincide with it too and then we jump from one igba nkwu to one birthday to one wedding and another title taking and then a get-together gorging ourselves on lavish food, meeting people, spraying money in the air and “gisting” as we go!

It could be the joy of our grandparents that makes the visit to the east so appealing at christmas. The visits to the nneochies and nnaochies who are ever glad to see us.

There is healthy abi unhealthy competition in the east too, that could be what makes homegoing fun or not so fun, we don’t set out to compete when we get there we just tell stories that drive very scary competition by their very nature “nwanne, I nukwa na Emeka bu G-wagon nata obodo a?”, “Enyi, I makwa na-anyi ga-egbulu umunna efi this Christmas”, “Bia, I fuu Obi? A nu m na o si obodo oyibo nata and o na-eme ofuma” and on and on we go, telling success story after the other and setting scarier higher standards for those who have no stories to tell, wahala!

I personally think it’s the sleep that makes it fun, that very satisfying sleep at the end of a day spent catching up, visiting friends and partying, when you fall into bed with a smile on your face and hug Mama’s wrapper tighter to create a cosy cocoon without the intrusion of the harmattan breeze. Then the mornings when no alarm goes off and you wake up late with thoughts of what next to eat, who next to visit and what to wear for the day’s activities.

I don’t know what makes Christmas in the east so much fun, I just know I am headed that way again this Christmas!

A LIFE OF WORDS

by

moi

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I see the world in words, the beauty of clear pictures brought alive by words strung together to evoke vivid imagination

I am seduced with words and by words, flowery speeches of passion I return to read over and over.

Beautiful writing beclouding my senses softly and certainly like no bright picture ever will

 It is in words I see emotion, the description of dirty bitter green jealousy, the vibrant red of hot pulsating life, the disgusting dull brown of greed, pettiness and slime, the stench of decay obvious in yellows and greens dotted with black.

It is in words I see most clearly

I tell my stories in words, the beauty of family, the light hearted freedom of friendship, the warmth of humanity, the pain and joys of living

I love in words. Passion, desire and deep yearning expressed from the depths of my heart. Me, giving the best of my gifts for the one that holds my heart

I hurt in words too, shouts of pain and tears from my soul expressed in the words I write. Angry outbursts of disappointment, disgust and disdain, I spew them all

It is in words I grow, knowledge is best expressed in words, in the things I have deeply felt enough to write for others to read, in the things others have written too and in the words of instructors who circle my life

It is in silence I will die, the clear pictures formed by words totally fading away in the face of sealed lips shut in death. The eyes that send appreciation to my lips tightly shut, the hands that pour my passion finally stilled.

It is in words I live my life, silence for me, is death!

 

BRANDED!

You were mine! I owned you. If I had evil powers to own souls and people, I couldn’t have owned you more. You were mine from the first time I saw you. I branded you invisibly and I called you mine. I was never going to lose you. You were never going to get away from me. From the second you said hello to me, I knew I was going to own you.

You didn’t know this. You were young like your mates, you were full of life, doing what young men did best, wrapping hearts round your finger, breaking them and moving on. When you looked at me, you didn’t see your future or your everything. You saw a girl like every other girl ripe for the taking. When you spoke to me, you didn’t speak like you were talking to the centre of your universe, you spoke like you were talking to the orange you were bargaining to buy and suck dry.

I heard words you didn’t say, I knew what you were and who you were. What you were, was a sharp guy, love ’em and leave ’em type. Who you were, was MINE! I set out to reel you in, you thought you were getting me, I knew I was getting you. For every successful step you counted with me, I counted milestones with you. You sought to trap me, I pretended to evade you. You tried to devour me, I pretended to be scared. You thought you were the hunter, I knew you were my prey. I reeled you in deliberately, I branded you, I covered your eyes too. You became mine with every attempt you made to get me.

First I owned you, then I recreated you. Constantly shaking you down to make you lose all the things I didn’t want. You thought you were pretending, I knew I was forming you. Of course you strayed, many times you wandered away but you always returned. Sometimes you tried to break free, you made a bid for your freedom but I always dragged you back. I was fascinating, warm, soft and hard, I wasn’t yours yet so you always came back trying to hook me, every time you came back, I trapped and shackled you.

You lost the fight, you were definitely going to. I captured and enslaved you. My power over you was great, I branded you and you belonged to me. You followed wherever I went. I deliberately cut you loose a few time but you always found your way back, I knew then that you bore my mark, you wore my brand too.

Now you call me wife and I call you husband. We do not talk of my power over you, I am content to let you believe I have none, you know I have a lot, but you don’t know if I know it. And so I’ll guide you through life subtly, always in control but never letting you know, constantly agreeing yet disagreeing with you. Society will forever encourage us to be together and nobody will interfere, such is the beauty of marriage. Till the very end you will lead me where I wish to go, wearing my brand. We are married!

Hot brand

MOTIVATORS

motivators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was way back in 2003, I was in my final year at Secondary School and we had a Home Management assignment to finish. Our Teacher had brought very plain material and embroidery threads in many colours and asked us to embroider the material beautifully after sewing it into a table cloth, all of this with a needle and thread. Every Home Management student had the plain material and a selection of threads to embroider any pattern we chose. Of course some people were expected to do well at this some others were not.

Even though I was not exactly slow at School, nobody expected me to do a fantastic job, I was expected to do passable work and I expected I would do that too. I didn’t count myself among the people who would have beautifully finished artistic works of art. Like I said, I wasn’t at all dull, I just didn’t have it in me to meticulously create fabulous work that everybody would oooh and aaah over. Our Teacher asked us to come back for more thread if we needed it, I didn’t expect to ever go back for more thread. I wasn’t ever going to need it. My embroidery was going to be just ok, the lowest mark I would get would be 6 out of 10, the average mark for average students who couldn’t be bothered to exert themselves to wow the teacher.

Chinyere changed all that! She was the girl I went to, to draw a pattern I could embroider on. She was a spectacular artiste, her talent was visible even back then, everybody recognized it. Many others went to her to with pictures they wanted her to draw on their length of material and she drew it beautifully. I went to her too. Not because I wanted anything wonderful to be drawn on my material, I went because I couldn’t draw to save my life. If I could, I would have drawn anything on it. I went to Chinyere also because she was a friend’s friend. She was in the same dormitory as my friend and I was always going to that dormitory to see my friend so I thought, why not? I pointed out some very simple designs for her to draw and left her to it, when I came back, I was amazed! She had drawn two simple but complicated network of flowers on opposite angles of the cloth! They were beautiful to look at! They weren’t what I asked for but they were too beautiful for me not to claim. I showed her the threads I had picked earlier and she asked me to exchange them for different colours. She asked me to make her drawing come alive and make it more beautiful than it was.

The drawing was just too beautiful for me not to try to do it justice. I couldn’t let her labour go in vain, the drawing would not let me take it lightly, it was inanimate, yet it compelled me to put in my best, from the folds of my piece of cloth it screamed demands at me, so I responded to its call. I went back to my Teacher over and over again to collect threads for the cloth, I stitched carefully and beautifully not wanting to make a mess of the pattern Chinyere had drawn. Soon, people were drawn to the beauty of the work, I kept hearing “I was told to come look at your work, I hear it’s beautiful”. Even before I had to hand in the work, my teacher had heard of its beauty, needless to say, she was shocked! I wasn’t one of the creative students quick with the needle or even interested in needlework. I eventually got a very high mark for the work and when it was time to do our final practical which involved cooking, setting tables, making beds and washing clothes and plates, Mercy (fake name now) “borrowed” my beautifully finished tablecloth to set her table. She never returned it.

Really life is like this. You meet people who demand the best from you, who compel you to give the best that you can. People who instinctively know that beneath your carefree attitude, you are capable of much more. People who will not allow you to get away with giving less than you are able. These people build platforms for you to stand on. They give the boost you need and stand in the shadows to watch you excel, taking pride in the fact that they have helped make you. They identify with you at the end but never steal your shine. These people are called, MOTIVATORS.

BEDMATES

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You settled for it. It would not have been your first choice or even your second. You picked it after you looked and there were no other options.

It was the last blanket on the rack. It was either pick it or be left without a covering.

You settled for the last and dragged it to bed unwilling. It barely provided the warmth it should have, you could hardly bear to let it do its job. You found its touch irritating to your skin, its attempts to warm you felt like a leprous hug.

 Sometimes you threw it off the bed in disgust. Other times you refused to take it to bed. Your nights were nightmares. You shivered with cold and still wouldn’t take up your covering. You preferred the cold. You hated the choice you had made and you wanted to make another. It suffered too. It felt useless.

 You only picked it off the rack because you would have been left with nothing if you didn’t pick it. Your group of friends all had blankets. Beautiful colourful blankets. They told stories of how they snuggled up in their blankets every night, how it warmed them, how they couldn’t wait to get under it every night and how they couldn’t bear to leave it every morning and of course how they ran back to the warmth of its embrace everyday. When they told stories of their warm beds and awesome nights, you shut your mouth for shame.

So you made a choice. You took the only available one left. Alas your story was not like theirs. You hated the choice you had made; but you were saddled with it. You wished you had endured the cold. The covering on your body was punishment.

At first you consoled yourself, you had picked the last blanket off the shelf, many other people did not get blankets. You tried to be thankful that you had grabbed that last one and you had something. Then you walked into a new shop and saw racks and endless racks of lovely blankets that suited you better!

You wished! Oh! How you wished…

 But the only law in the rule of bedmates says “you spend life with the one you pick! No purchase is returnable”

 

N.B – Am not talking about blankets. No prizes for guessing what am talking about but I still want to hear from you! Decode this!

Photo credit: Google