Follow the sun

7.38 AM

The streets are crowded

A glowing yellow ball

seats at a vantage point,

hiding behind rooftops.

Ike tiddled his flute

This early in the morning,

he had to go the farm.

He spent the first hour

lying on his back,

playing the instrument

then he buckled his belt,

and begun harvesting cassava.

Other kids his age would frown

at the thought of picking up a machete

or being stuck in a field

for most of their day.

They would rather play football

or shoot arrows at bush animals

but not Ike,

he didn’t see the need to play

when he had four younger siblings

relying on him.

Both his parents were gone

few rumors have settled across the village

regarding their disappearance.

Some say they couldn’t appease Sango

on the eve of the New Yam’s festival

as every man had to present his harvest

outside his hut.

In the still of the night,

Sango would descend on the land

and claim what is rightfully his.

However, the god was offended

by the measly bundle of cassava

at their doorstep.

He was so appalled that

he broke into the home

to kill them all.

Ike’s mother pleaded for the sake of her children,

asking Sango to spare her younglings

Pity overshadowed Sango’s wrath

so he agreed.

Others rumored that his parents

were so frustrated with their life,

and responsibilities

that they took off in the dead of the night

without so much as a farewell.

Ike doesn’t recall much from that night,

except that his mother sent him

into the other room in their minute two-room hut,

and instructed him to not come out

till dusk.

In the morning, his parents were missing.

In Ike’s world,

there was no time for football

but on this particular day,

the sun was deterrent to his job

He straightened his posture,

and in a burst of fury he exclaimed;

“Oh Osun, You know my heart and all I wish to do

is plowing the earth so I may feed my siblings.

I have no shilling,

only a leaky thatched roof above my head.

Why must I be cursed by the sun for my ambition?”

When he finished, the sun grew black

Ike froze in fear.

He wondered if the day of reckoning

the high priestess spoke so frequently of was nigh.

He could feel his heart implode in his chest

and minutes later, the sky became bright again

but something had changed.

The ember hue beamed eastward,

away from the field.

Ike picked up his machete and gear

He ran across the fields into adjacent farms.

He ran into the village,

past the maidens bearing terracotta pots upon their head

He crossed the village stream

and came to a halt at the east border of the village,

before the forbidden forest.

The forest was home to the gods

Only the high priestess and witch doctor

were welcome to enter for their customary rituals.

Without much pondering, Ike ran into the forest

He came to a halt at the foot of the tallest palm wine tree he’d seen.

That was the vantage point of the sun, he was certain.

He dropped his gear and tugged his weight up the tree.

Once at the top, he could see not only the village,

but other settlements,

even the city of Lagos,

where the traditional King lived.

He was amazed at the view surrounding him.

It occurred to him that he wanted more.

He wanted to explore life outside his village.

Eventually, he conceded to the blinding sun rays

and climbed down the tree against his wishes.

What he saw bemused him.

At the foot of the palm tree.

Ike was looking at a polythene bag

filled with iron ore.

He considered grabbing it

and running away

but he was no thief,

and besides, only a dumb fool

would steal from the gods.

“It’s yours,”

A familiar voice came from beside the tree

Ike stretched his neck to see his mother.

“The gods are rewarding your good will,

you could leave this village and live comfortably in Lagos,”

she continued, “or you can come with me, Ikechukwu.”

He wanted to wail and roll in the dust.

He had no strength left in him.

Eight years have passed since he last saw her

His eyes locked with his mother’s

and he knew if he left with her,

he wouldn’t have to toil the soil another day in his life.

He would have peace.

But, he wanted to be more

so he held her face, pecked her cheeks and bade farewell.

He grabbed the bag and begun his journey home,

away from the fading sun.

Limbo

A rose  petal withers,

falling, floating to the ground,

one after the next.

A little boy watches

and learns an Inexorably lesson;

life is not a bed of roses.

 

 

Today a boy  is born,

he cries, and jerks…. so he lives.

If he doesn’t, he dies.

Just like the rose.

We survived, nonetheless,

Every human is elated

by the miracle of life.

 

Your young mind is that of a dilettante;

a natural explorer.

An old soul is erudite and diplomatic

when they’ve reincarnated once. Twice.

Three times,

a pattern is repeated.

 

So let’s take a second away from our ego

and step into the mischevious unwelcoming world

wind grazes our skin

stars glisten above our crown

A mush of greenery surrounds us

Dogs bark.

 

A lighter stricks fire beneath your lip

Smoke blends into a beautiful abstract piece

Everything is blank like inner space

We hug a bottle of Johnnie Walker

like an anchor to a harbor

least we slip back into limbo.

 

The clock strikes a few seconds to twelve

Alas, it’s time to go

The door swings ajar

as we bid farewell to a solemn evening

What we have, this reveling feeling

no one can take away.

We shut the door behind us.

 

Time unfreezes, the pattern repeats.

 

Image source: hicksgallery.co.uk/artist/amy-judd/

 

End of The Tunnel

 

Above all, trust yourself.

 

Defeated. I sat on the cold ground in the dark, feeling nothing but the wisp of air blowing through the tunnel, it distinctly sounded like a fiddle playing. I wasn’t scared at all, just fatigued like I was throwing punches at something that wasn’t feasible. I must have folded my fists and coaxed myself with “just do it”  a thousand times, but each time I end up uniting my buttcheeks to the dirt beneath me. I even dozed off and at some point and created several hypothetical scenarios of the many ways this could go and when I woke up, I allowed myself to linger on the thought of fighting till my hands were in shackles and my eyes, gouged out.

 

Slowly, I rose to my quivering feet and each step became a little easier. A winged buddy sidled next to me and split into a handful, and then some. Honestly, I was glad to have any manner of companionship and from intuition, I knew they were happy to see me too.

This time,  I wasn’t looking at the walls, my focus was straight ahead as I marched on. After a while,  I noticed that my butterflies weren’t flying ahead as they usually were. Perhaps something was blocking me but I had no way of confirming this, I couldn’t see that far. The winged creatures stayed close to my peripheral vision.

I was perplexed, something was out there as sure as I could instantly feel the doubt overwhelming me and soon I could make out a silhouette, not a tall one. I got nearer. It was in black overalls, it’s back towards me, it assumed a bent posture as if the world was weighing down on it—– or kyphoscoliosis. I stopped behind it.

uhmm” I muttered, quite unsure, “can I pass? what are you doing here?”

I hear a soft moan, I knew then that it was female.

“do you want to pass?

I nodded

“So why don’t you?”

“Because… ” I quickly retracted my reply. Something told me she already why. She turned, her chest towards me now.

“Because you fear being followed in the dark”.

“Who are you?”, Her face was like a shadow. I couldn’t make out anything but her brows and eyes.

“We used to be best friends,”  she sighed ” but you abandoned me, like you do with everyone”

“I still keep in touch”.

“right, keep telling yourself that,” she chided, “you’re here because you unlocked a memory, you let your mind wander too far.. and now you can’t get back.”

Her tone became aggressive, her eyes glowered.

“You think life is just gonna give you stuff because you say pretty please? you’re nothing.”

“that’s not true”

“You think that by completing this grandiose quest of yours, you’re worth something,” her voice waned to a whisper, “well I’m telling you, you’re always going to be the empty person on those walls”.

No no no no, my mind was shattering.

She let out a derisive laugh, “you know most people whose mind wander off like yours have two things to ground them. An inflated self-esteem and a support system. You have neither, Idara, you’re pathetic”. Her laugh grew more hysterical.

“NO!,”  I finally heard my enraged-self say, “I know exactly who you are and while I may not have friends, I trust myself no matter what you or anyone thinks”.

Those words seem to act like twenty upper-cuts to her torso because I could immediately see her weaken and fall. I, on the other hand, have never been more assured of my senses.

“You hear me? I trust myself”.

She let out a deafening shrill and exploded into several pieces before my eyes, leaving behind ashy feathers. I allowed myself a moment to process what just transpired before hobbling on, careful not to step on the “evil” feathers. I started wondering if there would be more tests as I could only deal with so much but right about then, I saw it. Light. Real actual light, not the illumination from the butterflies, I was ecstatic.

I  ran the last few meters. I felt great, like a detox after a bad hangover, like purity and golden sunshine rolled into one. The butterflies were disappearing and this time, for good reason. The air felt great compared to the muffling metallic scent, although, I don’t know how long I was in there……”Hey,”

It was him.

I’ve been searching all night for you, where have you been?”

I glared behind to find everything but a tunnel.

“Needed a walk to clear my head”.

“I was worried, found your phone and house keys. Some folks say it fell out your pocket and they were trying to return it to you but you were…… nevermind, how are you?

“A bit tired”.

“C’mon, I’ll take you home, catch some snooze before day-break”.

I took his extended arm and he cradled me like a toddler but I wiggled my way to his back because piggy-backs are better. We walked off into the distance, out of the park, speaking audibly.

“You know I didn’t mean to upset you when I said I trusted you”

“I know Viktor.”

 

 

image source: darkbeautymag.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

 

A Kiss before Friday

Let’s not play this game termed desire

It tires me so

She opens her palm

and in the center of the crease

a form,

translucent, symmetrical

like the dew-drop on a rose petal.

 

I  just want to talk

about how I feel

I’m meant to be somewhere

next to you.

and here you are,

before me.

Maybe there is a God after all.

 

She glances down

her hands, quivering

perhaps shock overwhelms her,

or desire reveals itself?

 

 

Her eyes say

We yearn for the truth

in the most outrageous ways,

but her heart is beguiled

by the insidious tales

of a hopeless romantic.

 

She said,

Let’s get drunk on bourbon

and share a kiss before Friday,

sway with me around the courthouse

like it’s nobody’s business.

Our voices echo

a tone of youthful promises.

 

 

The dance steps of the performer she knew

became the footprints of a stranger

At least we agree

that to love a stranger is one thing

but to live with them is another.