Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WORKING OUT. A short story


Temi knows she cannot avoid the three men chatting loudly just by the entrance of the Galleria. They all know Korede’s father. She braces herself; they will say her son is a splitting image of his father. They will shake their heads as they point to specific identical features as irrefutable evidence- the broad three pronged nose, the round head, the long chin, the fair complexion. Only his eyes look like hers, and not even a great resemblance, they will say. If they had not seen her around carrying that dishevelled, swollen look for nine months, they might have wondered who his real mother was. She will not be teary-eyed, when they remind her of Tommy.
The smile in Korede’s eyes as she lets him walk, his soft miniature palm in hers, his small proud steps- huge strides to him- make it easier to carry on. Her eyes are recovering from being twice their size because of nights spent up, thinking, about how quickly things can happen, how change can take the wind out of you and how it may never make sense why things changed.

She had barely weaned Korede when Tommy met the other woman. That pouchy stomach was still prominent and she was only gradually getting her real nose and lips back. She spent hours in the bathroom obsessively scrubbing the dark skin on her neck and feet to get her skin colour back, that even brown tone she was always proud of.
 Exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months. It was what all the friends and aunties were doing. Her husband insisted; he wanted a healthy baby. He had every internet article on infant feeding and health saved onto his desktop and often fell asleep reading articles on infant care with his forehead flat on the keyboard while she drowned in shrill baby screams.
Three months. That was how long Temi could cope. Three months and four days. She had breastfed him so often, her nipples felt sore. It was the only thing that could make him stop crying. She drove angrily to the market after Korede kept her up -she had been counting-  for 24 hours. She checked for baby formula, buying one sample of everything on display, to see which one he would prefer. There was nobody to stop her. Her aunties who had come when she gave birth stayed one month before returning to Ekiti where they all lived. Her sister came not long after, but had to travel after three weeks when her Visa finally came through, to join her own husband in the UK. She had made no friends since her company recently transferred her to Abuja and Tommy who didn’t have a stable job, had travelled to Lagos for the week to pursue some contract. She didn’t know how to break it to him that she was now using baby formula but he didn’t show up on the Thursday he was supposed to. He sent her a message saying he would be in Lagos for a couple more days. A couple more days became one more week. The following Thursday he just showed up in a taxi, not giving her enough time to hide the baby formula that was on the table. She kept a straight face when his eyes widened with surprise. That was one quarrel they never had. She had played it in her head when she saw through the bedroom window Tommy come into the gate. He would walk in and raise hell, they had agreed on the exclusive breastfeeding thing, the doctor advised six months at least, it was the healthy thing to do. She would raise hell too, he was supposed to return one week ago, he was not returning her calls and he just showed up one Thursday, as if nothing had happened. Perhaps if he had returned her calls they might have discussed it. He didn’t want to talk about it. And even though she was ready to, she didn’t want to fight about it. So they buried it in silence. The unexplained one week. The abandoned exclusive breastfeeding.
Now she knows that was the week he met her. It must have been, now that she has read all his emails and Facebook messages. She got so much of the back story, more than she wanted to know. The woman must have been a writer she thought, hell, she even enjoyed reading some of the messages, until she had to wake herself,  tell herself, it was real, it was happening to her. The other woman, Maureen, took every opportunity to relive in obscene flowery detail the things they had done, leaving a trail of evidence.
Calabar. Obudu. Ice cream. Incredible ice cream. Croissant. Sex in the bathroom.
 Do you remember Tommy darling, the day we first met at the airport when our flights were delayed? When you wouldn’t stop complaining? I still can’t recall whose idea it was to go have a Star at the airport bar.  It tasted different, the Star, you remember?
Or perhaps the Star was altered by the exciting buzz of sharing a drink with someone who was at once a stranger and sweet companion, a nameless stranger whose eyes could see through all her walls and facades.  
            Temi lingered on those lines when she read that first email and wondered why Maureen wrote of herself in the third person and whether the eyes meant the same eyes she saw in Tommy’s eye sockets, regular eyes even on his best days. Christ! she thought, were those the eyes that saw through walls and facades? Those eyes that got red very quickly- when he took his bath, when he had to take a bike for an appointment because his car would get stuck in traffic, when he drank as much as one beer, when he had a headache, when he was reading?

Sweetest Maureen. I do remember that first day. We must have had three Stars each. Ha! It’s the shoes I remember most, us taking our shoes off and walking barefoot around the airport. They looked at us like we were nuts, they couldn’t see how much fun we were having. Ah, darling, life is best lived in the moment.
            Indeed darling Tommy, life is best lived in the moment. It’s what I thought when I suggested we do something wild and spontaneous. And even though I suggested it, I didn’t realise I would be having the best night of my life, a rollercoaster of fun.  
Ah, sweetest Maureen. It was my best night too! Was it the Star that made us abandon our flights and go to have Margarita’s in town? (I still haven’t had Margarita’s as sweet). Babe, we were on a roll. I have been trying to remember what movie we saw that night...
            Hahaha, Tommy darling, I wouldn’t expect you to remember. I don’t remember either. We were making our own movie. That’s all I remember, our hands finding each other and exchanging warmth, that looong kiss and how we had to stop to breathe. I think we left before the movie ended... that night was magical.
Temi grits her teeth. She is torturing herself. She has seen all she needs to know, but she keeps at it, opening every single email to or from Maureen.

Everything in the house is now a painful reminder of all that has crumbled.  The old golf club which she used to smash his desktop computer, reminds her.  The black, leather-covered, wrought iron chair she was sitting on when she stumbled on his emails, this too reminds her.  She knows the exact spot between the living room and the kitchen where she stood, reading his text message saying he had left for good and that there was no need to discuss it. It can’t work. She remembers she leaned over the sink in the bathroom, crying, because although she knew about his affair, she didn’t think it would come to this- that while she was planning how best to confront him, Tommy would leave her and move in with the other woman.  The signs weren’t there. He was still kind, still did the things a cheating husband burdened by guilt would do. One week before, he had asked how much her new wig cost. Although she could see the shock in his eyes, he didn’t ask how an ordinary looking wig could cost so much. He came back that evening with a hundred thousand in cash.
Temi had found out everything the internet had to say about Maureen. She searched for Maureen’s profile on Facebook and because her privacy settings allowed, went through all her photos. She cried when she saw Maureen. Dreadlocks, badly executed on hair unfit for the purpose, riotous colour combinations, who wears blue and green together? She downloaded some of the pictures. The ones with Maureen looking serious attending what looked like a seminar, the ones with Tommy sprawled out on a bed that looked like a hotel bed, the ones with Tommy and Maureen, frightened laughter on their faces, riding a Ferris wheel, the ones with them holding each other at night outside a bar, the ones where they both had that upside down, waking-up look, that suggested he had spent the night at her place. She saved them in a folder she named ‘evidence pics’ after the emails which she saved as ‘evidence mails’. She found her handle, @Msexytoy on twitter. She couldn’t understand what type of grown woman (she says grown ass woman) used sexytoy as a name. She had seen on Maureen’s Facebook profile that she was a consultant with the World Bank. There was a Wikipedia page that said Maureen Luka who holds a PhD in Development Studies from The University of Queensland in Australia has worked in as many as seven developing countries in projects dealing with violence against women. She knew Maureen was vegetarian and Tuvaluan. She googled Tuvalu. No, it was neither a religion nor a professional association but a sovereign state with a little over ten thousand people, not nearly enough to fill the National Stadium in Abuja; it had a parliament with fifteen members, two less than the number of children her grandfather had, and the Queen of England was also the Queen of Tuvalu. She enlarged photos of Tuvaluan women. They all had wild flowers in their hair. Their skin is the colour of Indians who run restaurants in Abuja, she thought, a sort of brown that looks like hot water and a good scrub would wash off.
            She sent Maureen two emails after she got that breakup text from Tommy. Two long emails. The first one, calling Maureen an old hag, a home breaker, a dirty good-for-nothing slut who can’t get her own man. She sent it off and waited for a reply, checking her inbox, every hour. After one week she went back to her sent items to be sure she had sent the message. She checked to make sure there was no ‘mailer daemon failure delivery notice’ and checked her spam folder. Nothing. Then she changed strategy, sending an even longer, but softer email, without name calling, entreating Maureen to understand.
            Dear Maureen,
Please talk to me woman to woman, tell me what I have done, what my son has done to deserve this. I did not chance upon Tommy. We did not just live together. I did not just get pregnant for him. He came to my family, he came to my father. Tommy married me under the eyes of God in the Holy Roman Catholic Church and under law. Please Maureen if you have any heart, any conscience...
She obsessed about getting the email right, wiping her tears, determined to reach Maureen. She looked up words from the huge thesaurus which had inscribed on the sides and pages ‘The Majekodunmi’s’. Looking at the inscriptions, in blue Permanent Marker, she recalled the day they had sat on the red rug in the living room, books scattered on the floor with two blue markers, play-fighting about who had the best handwriting. He was wearing a yellow t-shirt that was slack around the neck, some free thing he had gotten at a Malta Guinness Promotion. The brown inscription, ‘Makes your day’ had already faded as had ‘Malta Guinness’ and more than once she had threatened to hide or burn the shirt if he insisted on wearing it. The first book he did, a new Good News Bible given to them as a wedding present he got wrong, writing the first few letters too boldly leaving only little space to squeeze in the remaining letters. ‘Our surname is too long, I am going back to my maiden name,’ she joked, ‘Tokoya is a much better surname. And I can’t even do the compound name that women do these days, imagine Tokoya-Majekodunmi. Terrible.’  They laughed.
She tried to remember when they stopped laughing, and thought- with certainty - that it was the week she stopped breast feeding and started using baby formula, the unexplained extra week he spent in Lagos which she now knows he spent doing things wild and spontaneous.
 She had thought getting back into shape might do her some good a few months after weaning her son and registered with a gym paying the yearly subscription from her own pocket. Her waist, that 32 waist that used to drive Tommy crazy, now lost to her pregnancy, was going to come back, the flabby stomach was going to disappear along with the flesh on her arms. One year would do the magic. But then he got the events planning job in Lagos for a series of conferences, seminars and training for the Lagos State Government. He was going to be away three weeks every month for four months. Now from one of Maureen’s emails, she knows the job lasted only three months. Thanks for staying back, the email said, thank you for a sweet November. She wished she had read these emails sooner. Perhaps she might have stopped him from leaving. Or perhaps she should have confronted him immediately she read the first one that Saturday afternoon when he went out to pick up the laundry and left his email still open on the desktop. She was not one to snoop around; she was just trying to check her own email. Tommy knew this, and that was why he was careless, and used the same password for his Facebook account, email and desktop computer- iyawomi2006. She wonders now, why she saved those emails and closed the web browser, pretending when he returned that all was well; why she pretended for a whole month that she was not busy asking everyone if they knew a Maureen Luka with dreadlocks, checking her online, reading her tweets which were always about salads and new vegetarian recipes, getting to know this new rival of hers; why she didn’t tell him, the day he left with a bag bigger than usual- the last time she saw him-  that she knew that his ‘meeting in Lagos’ was a meeting with Maureen.
She rationalised why Maureen hadn’t replied any of her emails. If she was Maureen she wouldn’t reply a drowning, grasping woman trying to save her man. She wouldn’t add a bloody battle of words to the woman’s misery and loss. That would not be fair. Maybe, she thought, especially as her husband changed his profile picture on Facebook from a photo of Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr. to  one of the Ferris wheel photo’s he took with Maureen, maybe, Maureen was being kind to let her mourn alone.
***
She gets up from her messy bed and makes her way around the labelled packed cartons of different sizes all over the house, to the table in what used to be a study where the desktop, now lying in a junkyard somewhere, used to sit. Her new Dell laptop is in her hand. Reaching the table, she realises she doesn’t have the laptop charger. She walks back to the bedroom recalling that she had put the charger in one of the cartons. The charger is laying in a carton with old rechargeable lanterns, earphones- some good some bad-, an electrical extension box, and an extra Nokia charger which she bought when she thought she had lost her old one. She takes out the charger and reseals the carton labelled ‘Old Electrical Things’.
The laptop boots and she fights the thoughts in her mind that tell her not to give up hope, the thoughts that tell her this is all a dream gone bad and she will wake up to find herself sweating, hearing that drone that Tommy swears is not a snore and reach out to feel his heaving mass; the thoughts that tell her not to take it lying down, to go to Lagos and put the fear of God into the adulterers and bring her man home. She fights it because she is tired. Tired of crying, of the heaviness in her eyes. Tired of the harbingers of woe, who take it as a God-given duty to call her from Lagos with every latest indication of the finality of Tommy’s move- the new car he now drives, the events he attends with Maureen wearing the same fabric, a complimentary card with a new Lagos address. She is tired of her father telling her Tommy will come back. Her father says so because she hasn’t told him everything, about the other woman, about his new life. Nine months is enough. Enough time for him to have had a baby with Maureen if he wanted. She is tired of the temptation to check his email, the old password still works; tired of finding new things- that Maureen recently travelled to Australia, that she misses having sex with him, that she wants to have his baby, that she needs to know if he wants his iPad in black or another colour, that she told her mother in Tuvalu about them, that her sister in Australia (who is proud of the courage he had to leave his wife for true love) can’t wait to meet him when she visits Nigeria next summer.  
            She plugs her internet dongle into one of the USB ports. It is her custom to type her emails using a word processor before copying to Yahoo Mail. She types.
Thank you Maureen for not fighting with me when I tried to draw you out, you could have and God knows, it would have hurt me far more than it could have hurt you. I hope he is with you what he could not be with me.
 She saves it in her drafts folder. This message will never be sent because it is for herself, for her peace of mind, something Maureen can’t delete or choose to ignore. She has thrown in the towel without an audience to boo her, walked away to avoid any more blows to her spirit.
She has the second message all composed in her head. This one she will send. ‘My husband,’ she will begin. This is the last time she will call him husband. She will tell him she calls him husband because by law they are still married. She will write that she was bitter, angry, but today she is at peace and wishes him well in his new life, even though the beating of her heart and the pinching pain inside her nose will say otherwise. She will advise, more for her sake than his, that he changes his password because she cannot trust that she will not keep reading his emails.
***
A nanny stays with her in her new apartment on the outskirts of Abuja. She goes more frequently to the gym because working out takes her mind off things for a while and she can channel her anger into something useful. It is a rainy, lonely day; she succumbs to the temptation to check after succeeding for many months in not checking his email address. Tommy has indeed changed his password.
            Korede is asleep and the nanny is doing the dishes loudly humming the gospel songs that Temi hates to hear. Today, ‘Thou art worthy o Lord’ is on repeat. The nanny is always like this on Saturdays and Temi isn’t sure if it is in anticipation of her day off or she just likes to get in the mood for church one day early. Before she leaves early on Sunday mornings, she performs the same lengthy ritual of transformation in front of the full length mirror in the bathroom, preening herself to a random selection of praise and worship songs.  This nanny, an unmarried woman in her late forties, is good with Korede. Temi likes her because apart from her good cooking and honesty, she doesn’t pry, doesn’t ask why she is all alone with Korede or why she doesn’t go to church.
Temi opens her inbox and finds a new email from Tommy. He does not use the ttmajekodunmi@yahoo.com that she knows. It is now tommym@yahoo.com. She wonders if this is short for Tommy Majekodunmi or if the ‘m’ after his name means Maureen.
Hi,
Wanted to inform you that you will be getting papers from my lawyer soon. If you don’t have a lawyer, get one and I will pay. It is only fair.
Tommy.
This really, is the end, she thinks, holding her chest that thumps like the drums in a Police band, letting herself cry, one last time. She purses her lips and tries not to let Korede or the nanny hear her. Her head hurts; she feels veins popping out on her neck. She calls out for her mother and asks her why she left, why she died and left her all alone in the world. She hates her sister for moving to the UK and her father for believing that things will work out, not seeing that things have crumbled. Then she puts her workout clothes and shoes in a knapsack and unplugs her iPod from the cable connecting it to her laptop. She is headed for the gym where she will work out to the rhythm of angry Eminem songs.

She thinks of the tall dimpled man with perfect abs and fine manners whose eyes she avoids at  the gym, who asks her often, if she would like to catch a drink with him. Perhaps she should let him buy her a drink. Perhaps he will be funny or witty or just a gentleman and make her forget for just a moment the heaviness in her chest, the tiredness in her head. Perhaps she too should do something wild and spontaneous, to know how it feels. It might help her make sense of it all; how a stranger can make you do crazy things: erase years of memory, pack a bag and head into the sunset.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN CAR OWNER


I write a lot about cars in Nigeria for two reasons. First, cars are one of leading causes of death in Nigeria – we are reported to have the second highest road traffic fatalities in the world. Second, and more importantly, because in Nigeria, a car is often the most visible evidence that God has listened to your prayers, looked favourably upon the tithes in your pastor’s pocket, and blessed your hustle.
If you grew up in lower to middle class Nigeria, you will remember when that neighbour bought his first second-hand car, to the fascination and envy of the entire neighbourhood. He parked it outside his house with an L sign hanging awkwardly from the number plate. Sometimes there was no number plate yet. No matter how used the new car looked, it always smelled new when you went close. And as far as your neighbour was concerned it was new. His children acquired a new swagger and waved more than normal whenever they were heading out in the car. In the back seat, they looked like stolen kids saying their last goodbyes. You envied them. You too wanted to inhale the heady scent of newly delivered second-hand cars. The children did not come out for football for one or two days after that and some of the other kids wondered if this disappearing act was a newly acquired superiority.
Many years later you have gotten that job, better than what your parents had. You have not only bought one second-hand car, but have changed it to one so clean it could pass for new. Maybe your faith was even big enough for your hustle to produce a brand new Korean car. A Kia. A Hyundai. I rejoice with you. It is important however to acquire the attitude of one whose hustle has been blessed. This article will help you do that.
It used to be fashionable to clip your car keys to the rest of your house keys and let them dangle from one of your fingers – the car key would always be unmistakeable, the largest with black plastic. I know how enjoyable the jiggling of keys is, but the era of that massive bunch of keys containing everything including the key to the kitchen store is over. Dead. Try it now and you will just look like a commercial taxi driver. Even if after work, on your way home in the outskirts of the city, you carry a few passengers, you do not want anyone to call you a taxi driver. Separate your house keys from the car key. Any car that still has a different key for the boot is a car you want to change. If you still have that type of car, this is the time to stop reading, go on your knees and beg God to bless your hustle with an upgrade to something that has only one multifunction key.
When you disembark from your car you need to hold that single key in your right hand in a way that is partly visible. That way when someone wants to shake you, they can see you move the key from your right to your left hand. They will see that single multifunction key and have no doubt what work God has done in your life. When you are in a public place or visiting someone, place the key on the table right by your smartphone.
When you arrive at an event and you can’t flaunt your single key, complain about not finding a place to park. Moan about having to park far away. When someone says they saw you buying something or eating, or strolling – any activity where your ownership of a car may be in doubt – quickly add that oh, you were just returning from the mechanic or the car wash. However, you don’t want to use the mechanic line too often lest people think your car is the type that always gives you problems. That would be disastrous for your reputation. Only people with poverty hangover constantly complain about mechanics. The car wash line however, says something about the sophistication of your hustle.
While I have advised before to cover your car in church stickers, this may be running out of fashion. It is fine in the first two weeks of the year to declare it to be your ‘year of anointing’ or your ‘year of unsurpassed success’. But after that it gets old. I will tell you what is cool these days, especially if you live in Abuja: stickers from foreign universities. Nothing says ‘God has blessed my hustle in the long term’ like a sticker from say, Harvard. Even if you went there for a two-week course. And it does not have to be Harvard. It can be from some unknown monotechnic in Eastern Europe or Asia. Once Nigerians know it is not from Nigeria, your respect will grow. Whether from America or Kazakhstan, a foreign trained graduate is a foreign trained graduate.
(If you have kids and drive say a Toyota Sienna Bus, acceptable stickers include: MY CHILD IS A STAR STUDENT. Because a bumper sticker about your child on a spacious Sienna says to the person driving behind: ‘I have done something useful and unselfish with my life. What about you?’)
As a car owner it is important not to leave fellow Nigerians guessing about which of the gods actually blessed your hustle. This is where a hanging rosary comes in. Whether cross or chasbi, hang it on the rear view mirror so that anyone who takes a look will know whether your God is the one who gives many mansions or the one who gives virgins. A rosary serves many purposes:
1.      Protection against car accidents
2.      When protection fails and you need to say last prayers
3.      Protection against car theft
4.      In case a religious riot breaks out, there is a 50% chance the people burning cars will be your spiritual brothers and will spare your car
It doesn’t not matter that half the time during road rage you will be saying “bastard”, “your father”, “idiot”, “ubanka” or “uwaka” right there in the presence of God. The Nigerian God knows how drivers can be. S/he will understand.
Most importantly however, and especially when you are able to buy that tear-rubber Korean car, when someone congratulates you on getting a new car, say: Na God. You want to show gratitude for the blessing of your hustle. Even if you run a criminal enterprise, the more you credit God with your success and thank him/her for it, the more your hustle is blessed. Because nothing, whether criminal or otherwise, happens without the consent of God. If S/he lets you get away with it, be thankful. You never know, one day you may find yourself flaunting a Range Rover Sport or something cool like that.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

AN EKSPLANATION*


My husband,
Long time have pass, I know, but my body will not gree me if I don’t talk my mind once and for all. I know all these months you are looking me like devil pikin or even like devil but is okay. I gree. They say is the fault of dawa dawa if soup smell reach neighbor house.
But if you will let me say something, haba! Did it reach the one to pursue Blessed with sharp cutlass? If to say you pursue Pastor Gilead who look like those people in Wrestling, ehen, nobody could have get mind to lock you in mad people house. Blessed is just a child.
The thing is truly truly, nobody can have excuse for doing the thing I did to you to make you crase finish and follow that boy that all these years have been calling you daddy. Afterall you are the one that come from Makurdi all the way to Anguhar to find wife when your friends who have wife that read book are laughing at you. You are the one who look me in NKST church choir, by yourself without anybody pointing hand and tell me that you like my figure and my long hair and that Am very fine. That word you talk that first day that we went to chop point and kill is still sweeting me till today.
So you close eye and marry me even though you are graduate and civil servant in Benue State Ministry of Information. You even tell your sister to sharrap when she put mouth to scatter our marriage talk because I stop school in primary 5 when moto jam my father in front of Mama Kakaan shop together with the schnapps that he carry chop money to buy. (I wish that I get my mother mind. She did not cry common tears for my father. She say it is waste of time to cry over man.)

It is hard to talk these things because truly truly it is not small try you try for me and my brother that you help to find work in ministry as messenger. I know that it is not all husband that can register me in lesson to write WAEC of which I fail three times. (I will try again this year, even if it is 3 credits at least let me get.) So I must tell you thank you for those things.
But in another ways, you did not try for me. In the beginning it is small small things that vex me. Ok, maybe you are thinking it is the snoring that you are snoring like Mama Agnes grinding machine, but no that one did not worry me like that. Afterall my father before moto jam him with bottle of schnapps use to disturb all the people in our compound in Anguhar with snoring.
Me I gree it is from village I come so you can call me village woman, but that first time it was hard when you are lying down with me. All your body is smelling of sweat and you have gone to chop onions (abi is it garlic sef) and refuse to baff even when I boil hot water for you.

It is not a bragging something but true, village people are clean than town people.
Another thing, this one is hard to talk but I will talk the thing as everything have scatter finish between us. When you are sexing me it is like you have carry vex from somewhere and you now come and pour it in my body. Fast-fast, hard-hard, like government work until you finish and tire. Then sleep will catch you immediately as if sexing me is sleep medicine. If you are thinking that the thing is sweeting me, I will not lie to you, it did not sweet me at all at all. Even my breast sef you cannot touch and when I touch it when you are doing your own thing, you will vex and say that it is not good for woman to be touching her own breast. Is not that I like the thing too much, but I want you to hold me and touch me and do it small small. Abi you are not watching how they are doing it in film?
Anyway the true talk of how Pastor Gilead enter this matter is another reason Am writing this letter. They are telling me that you still read newspaper in the crase people house like before so I know you can read this. In fact if you ask me it is not crase that you crase, it is a very serious type of vex that when a person vex, it will look like crase.
Pastor Gilead advice me, the first time you slap me that slap that tear the corner of my mouth. See, it is not me that carry the matter go and meet him. If to say you use to come church very well, you will know how those NKST pastors cannot allow their eye to look something and keep quiet. Pastor Gilead keep asking, asking, asking, until last-last the thing touch me as Am thinking of why you tear me hot slap, and tears begin to fall from my eyes. As tears have disgrace me finish, what remain again? So I just close eye tell him that you slap me because I ask you if you have drink to stupor when you come back enter bathroom and begin to vomit. I didn’t even tell him that you carry me and throw on top bed and start to sex me by force by force even though Am begging you to stop. It is not the vex of the hot slap that vex me and make me do the thing that I do, after all my father, is it not army belt he use to carry to flog my mama? So a common hot slap is nothing.
But Pastor Gilead, and Am not talking this thing to vex you, he has the way that when he talk the thing can enter your bone marrow and you will not know when you just start to tell him all your life secret. So small small I start to tell Pastor Gilead everything and as Am talking he is listening and looking me in the centre of my eye. He is not repairing my English or laughing me like you. So in my heart I begin to wish that it is my husband letting me talk like this and not telling me I don’t know anything. Good English is not sense. Village people have sense.
Truly truly, Pastor Gilead didn’t start with bad things. In fact he ask me to talk all the things that is worrying me with my husband but every time I try to talk something with you, you will carry money and push in my hand and ask me to stop disturbing you. All this could have not happen if you just hear me when I want to talk.
So that is how one day I don’t know what enter my mind, I will say is devil but you say you don’t believe in devil. I begin to talk to Pastor Gilead about the bad way you use to sex me and I ask him if it is bad for woman to touch her breast when her husband is sexing her. Because the issue really disturb my mind. I could have find another woman to talk with but all those NKST women, nothing they know than wrapper and contribution for this and that. And my sisters or my mother, I cannot talk sexing talk with them.
Pastor Gilead talk all the things that cool my mind that day. But you know how it is with that kind of talk, if you talk it plenty, your body will begin to feel like doing it. So as he is looking me in my eye and talking the sexing talk and Am looking in his eye, somehow somehow, the thing catch us at the same time and it happen. If to say he did not do all the things Am wishing my own husband is doing, maybe it could have easy to say no or stop. But by then my mind have fly comot from that place to bad bad places.
Am not prouding of what happened. Am not prouding that after 3 years it is only the time that Pastor Gilead touch me that I pregnant. I did not plan to pregnant for him or hide it all these years until your amebo sister, I don’t know how she carry and know this thing begin opening her mouth. And me, you know me I cannot lie. I could have swear to God inside NKST church that it is all lie and you will never know that it is lie because you and Pastor Gilead resemble very well and Blessed nose and ears resemble your own. Am not a liar. I can do any other thing but to lie, face to face like this, I cannot.
My mother is still throwing curse on my head everyday for greeing that Blessed is not your own. Me I have talk my own and my mind is clear.
I have pack from your flat in Makurdi, me and Blessed that you nearly kill. Your sister want to cause fight because I want to carry the TV back to Anguhar so I tell her she can go and chop the TV and the rug and the cushion all. Does she know my story? It is so so fight that she knows. Let her go and find husband instead of chooking mouth in people matter.

They have drive pastor Gilead from being Pastor in NKST. He was telling me to come and follow him so that we can marry and I can pregnant again. But last month a small girl in evangelism group pregnant and she say it is for Pastor Gilead. Me I cannot fight small girl because of man so I have leave him to pregnant anybody he want to pregnant.

I know sorry cannot cancel everything that have happen and put you in crase people hospital, but sorry. Even though I have tell you that you have hand in the whole thing, it is me that allow the devil inside Pastor Gilead trouser to enter me. So sorry. I don’t want bad blood between me and you anytime they release you.
Should in case they release you Am in my mother place in Anguhar. And I carried two standing fan. Should in case you want it, just come and I will give you back.
I will change back to my father name as everything have scatter between us. My uncle will return the money you pay on top my head to your people this week so that should in case person see me and like me, he can marry me. It will be hard but my body have not too spoil like that as it is only one child I born.
I hope they are treating you fine. I could have come there but  shame is still catching me after everything. My only worry is that if they let you tey in that crase people house your crase can come and permanent. Because now I know that it is only a very serious vex that is doing you. Only one question that is doing me. Why do you change your name inside the crase people house?
Till then.
DOOWUESE AONDOAKAA




*this is a sequel to TO THE EDITOR

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

TO THE EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER

PO BOX 37684
BOONE IA 50037-2684

If I was president. Let’s start there on account of how everyone calls me ‘presido’ here. If I was president I would only have affairs with married women or other very powerful women. Not that I find the whole affair business agreeable. Quite the contrary, no one knows the pain more than me. It’s just that I finished reading this old issue of TIME Magazine about Clinton and that young girl who nearly got him kicked out of office. Clinton is a foolish man I tell you, to be getting involved with someone who has nothing to lose. Everyone knows the safest affairs for married men are those conducted with married women. You want to know how much of a mess we are in? Just do a DNA test for all children. Ha! Big trouble everywhere.
            By the way, that stupid Lateef who brought me the old, torn and oil-stained magazine thinks I don’t realize the magazine is from many years ago. They might say I am crazy but I know my dates.
Lateef is one of the four attendants in our dorm. I insist on calling it a dorm instead of a ward because it feels like boarding school. Sit here. Sit there. Swallow this. Sleep at so and so time. Anyway Lateef, some days he treats me well, some days he talks to me like a proper human being, other days he thinks I am stupid and brings newspapers and magazines from the last millennium. But I trust him because he keeps a moustache.
Men who shave their moustaches are not good people- they have something to hide. Look at them, Clinton, Babangida, Abacha, Bush, Mugabe and the pastor whose children called me daddy for 10 years. All shady guys. You are an editor so I figure you are smart. Do the research and you will see I am right not to trust them.
Dear editor, do you keep a moustache? Don’t get me wrong, it is not a hopeless situation if you don’t. Look at our last military Head of State, Abdulsalam. A soldier in the same gang of corrupt coup-plotting moustacheless soldiers. But when he handed over, he did the respectable thing- he grew a moustache and beard. Have you ever heard him in the news saying the sort of stupid things that our clean-shaven ex-Heads of State say? No! It’s the moustache I tell you. On the other hand, editor, our former President Obasanjo, used to keep a moustache. He used to be sensible. But then he shaved. And shaved all his sense away.
As you may have guessed, I keep a moustache. I didn’t always have one. But since I came here, (I have had plenty time to think about these things) I figured it all out. I blame some of my problems on it. Now I am wiser.
Yes, back to Lateef. I think I trust him. I may not be able to count on him for up-to-date magazines, but I can get good answers from him. It was he who explained this ‘presido’ business to me. He said when I was first brought here I kept shouting, ‘I am the President! I am the President!’ Me, I don’t remember anything about it, but then that period was not a good period for me. I could have said anything. Hell, I killed the damn Pastor. That’s most of what I remember. My head bursting with voices when I laid eyes on him. My body drenched in sweat. A feverish cold all over me. ‘Kill the Pastor! Kill the man without a moustache,’ was all I could hear. So I strangled the man.
Apart from Lateef there are three other attendants in this dorm, each in a different shift. There are the two Kunle’s. The one with a huge stomach, dirty cracks in his heels, and fat stubby fingers we call Big Kunle. The other one is small, wears glasses and has lips, pink like they were once burnt by fire. Small Kunle.
I don’t like Big Kunle. Not because of his dirty cracked heels or dirty nails. Not because he shouts at us a lot. He masturbates in his office when he is on night duty and the idiot doesn’t care that we can hear him from the dorm. True most of the patients are asleep because of the sleeping pills they make us swallow every night, but I am usually awake. I put the little white pills beneath my tongue and spit it out afterward. I like to think at night. That’s when ideas come to me.
It is my opinion that Big Kunle should shave his moustache. He is an unfortunate exception to the moustache rule.
Small Kunle is ok. He is the only one who has given me any recent magazine. He is a reading man. I asked him for the magazine he had under his arm this morning and he gave The New Yorker of December 6, 2010 to me. And since then dear editor my life has not been the same. It was the beautiful woman on the first page that attracted me, her eyes like marble. Then I flipped through and got to the story by Jim Gavin. It was a long story! Some parts I didn’t really understand but most of it was really good and made me laugh. Especially the end where the main guy Costello throws a lizard over the fence and it lands in his neighbor’s pool.  Then I thought, this is a good story, but I can tell a story better than this. See, I would have sent an email but they don’t let us have access to computers here. It is Small Kunle who will help me post this letter to you in America. He has a nice moustache. (By the way, what does the ‘IA’ in your address mean?)
The last attendant is Teju. That’s what his name tag says. But everyone calls him Ghaddafi. He is short, muscular and fat-lipped. He walks around with a horse whip hanging from his waist. Me I just stay out of his way. He smells of garlic anyway. I am not surprised. He doesn’t have a moustache.
Our dorm has two rows of iron beds the legs of which are screwed firmly into the concrete floor. Some of the guys like Bobo who drools and has occasional fits, are strapped to the bed with leather straps. With Bobo the attendants usually have to be careful because he bites and I am sure his saliva can transmit whatever syphilitic madness he has. I learnt that phrase from Small Kunle. Syphilitic is quite a tongue twister, easier to write than say. Small Kunle thinks Bobo won’t last too long seeing as his family has abandoned him.  Bobo went mad one day and bit his mother in the neck because she was talking too much. Crazy people have superhuman power in their fits of madness, believe me. I see it here all the time.
Me, my family hasn’t quite abandoned me. They have only stopped coming. I still get my supplies every week like clockwork. I don’t really care that my mum and sister have stopped coming. They must hate to see me among all these mad people. And madness, it is contagious- I know how hard I struggle not to be like these guys. Again I think they got upset because the last time they came I screamed at them for not bringing me my medicated soap and Teju had to come and drag me away and all. I really didn’t mean to scream. It’s just that they should know I can’t bathe with rubbish toilet soap.
But Maroof- the morose guy to my left- his family still comes around. Twice a month. He never says a word to them. He just stares like he has never seen them before. All of them smile, like they practiced it from home. They bring him chocolates and fruits and sometimes they bring him a family photo. The last time they came they all stood around the bed and took a photo with him. Maybe they will print it and bring it the next time they come. Maroof only ever eats the bananas. The rest I think, the attendants take home. (This I am not sure about so be careful if you have to publish this)
Inside our dorm are rooms that are always locked like jail cells. Lateef tells me those are the really violent ones. Often you can hear screaming from there. One of the guys - I have never seen him because they never let him out - killed six people. He is in chains with his hands spread out like a fowl being roasted over an open fire because he chews his fingers until they bleed. (The fowl description is Small Kunle’s). When he went crazy, he started by killing his dogs and all his neighbor’s chickens. Small Kunle tells me he went mad because of hard drugs.
I really feel ok, editor. I have been here all of five years and I miss my bathroom and bed and kitchen. Do you know I used to cook? Ok, it might not be strange in your country for a family man to cook, seeing as you people do everything the opposite way, but believe me, here, it is a big deal. Egusi was the soup I loved cooking. The only thing I hated was cutting onions.
You know sometimes I even miss that evil wife of mine. Is it strange to miss someone who has been really mean to you? Anyway, this reminds me, I need a lawyer for when I am released from this place. One with a moustache who will handle the divorce. Once they certify I am fine, which if you ask me they should have done years ago, I’ll get rid of that snake once and for all. Imagine, fucking the Pastor for the entire ten years we were married! That’s not even the worst of it. He was the same guy  who did our marriage counseling, who mediated when we had quarrels and who gave me advice on sex when I confided in him that she wasn’t responding the way I wanted (which totally worked by the way, I would never have guessed about the ears).
And oh, about my ‘fucking’ above, I noticed you allow those words in your magazine. I saw it on pages 73, 74, 80 and 81 and decided to use it too. This is one reason I prefer your magazine to TIME.
So yes, my story is that I went crazy when I found out that Blessed and John-Paul - both fair in complexion like the pastor - are actually the pastor’s children. Pastor Gilead’s children! You see I didn’t suspect on account of how my father, my sister and my wife’s mother are all light skinned. (I really should stop calling her my wife. The snake’s name is Samantha)
I didn’t notice that they both had the same crooked feet that Pastor Gilead had. I could never father children with such crooked feet. We have good feet in my family.
So how did I find out? The factory I worked for produces agro-chemicals. Some guy from the health department raised an alarm about a certain new chemical we were using that came from China. To cut the long story short, we all went for a series of tests, floor managers first. That was when they told me I was infertile. That my sperm didn’t have shit in it (pages 71 and 80 of your magazine had ‘shit’). And the hospital report said, it wasn’t caused by any chemical, because all the other floor managers were healthy. The doctor suspected that I had always had rubbish sperm.
That’s when I started losing it. The more I inquired, the more I found out, the more I went crazy. The factory sacked me because they said I was becoming unstable. I had punched my line manager in the face when he called me sloppy.
Well, the snake Samantha when she saw I was breaking down from it all got afraid and moved out to her mother’s house. She told her mother everything and her mother told my mother. My mother explained it all to me and then I really started losing it. Then Pastor Gilead had the nerve to show up at my house one morning! That was when it happened.  The voices. The fever. The sweat. The strangling. The next thing I remember was that I was in a strait jacket being taken to this home by order of the court. Small Kunle told me they found me not guilty by reason of insanity. Not that I am really insane, but this is better than prison. They rape men in prison.
So you see, ten years of all that shit and the only way I found out was the damn company test. That’s why I don’t get Bill Clinton. A young, ambitious intern? That’s looking for trouble. He could’ve found other powerful or married women – women who know how to keep secrets. Only a man without a moustache can be that foolish. If I were president, I would keep a moustache.
Ps.
I hope to get out soon and then I’d send you an email. I hope that you will publish my story somewhere in your magazine. You can title it “If I was president” or “How a pastor stole my family” or “How keeping a moustache saved the rest of my life”. It really doesn’t matter.
Thanks and hoping you will seriously consider a moustache if you don’t already have one.

Otaigbe Goodluck Otaigbe, (Presido)
Ward 5
Federal Hospital for the Criminally Insane (no need to publish this)
Ota, Ogun State
Nigeria
Africa West Africa
Africa

*find the sequel to this story HERE

Sunday, September 21, 2014

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN PASTOR


Many manuals are full of jargon and unnecessary information. I have decided to keep this brief and to the point. Because I care.

Fly private.
There is nothing that shows that God is in charge of your hustle like flying private. Spend millions of dollars just so you can travel conveniently and in style. Sure, agents of the devil will call it a waste of money, but they don’t realize that a man of God should not suffer any discomfort while doing the work of the Lord. That is why you are rightly called a man of God. You are too special to spend time waiting at the airport like other normal people. If they are so upset they should go and question the God who blessed your hustle and lifted you above your poor followers.

Bless women with your seed.
Some people may find it less than ideal to sleep with young female members of the congregation, but sometimes these things are beyond human comprehension. When you sleep with female members of the flock, do it with a level of grace that only the anointed can understand. Only God can judge you. And what is sin, when there is grace that abounds?

Ask people to sow seed.
(Because you have lost so much seed with the sisters in the church) Ask people to sow seed so that God can bless them richly. Because if they do not sow seed by paying into the designated envelopes or bank accounts you have given them, nothing will grow in their lives and their souls and finances will be as barren as dry shrubs out in the desert. They sow seed into your bank account, they get blessings, you get blessings, everybody is happy.

Do not pay tax.
Again, these many agents of the devil may spread rumours about your stupendous wealth and the luxury in which you live. Yes, you are making a profit, but whose business is that? Is it not where a person works that he will eat? And did God not promise you prosperity? Only wicked persons will want to deprive you of what they did not give to you. So what if your wealth is the result of weekly sermons about tithing? Humans, being what are, will forget to give God his due. It is your duty to remind them. One of the problems is that people assume it is your money. You may be spending it, but it is not yours. You are only a caretaker. People need to just calm down, pay their tithes, and trust you to know how to balance accounts with God.

Remind people to never, ever, speak evil against a man of God.
Like I said before, humans need reminding. Our rebellious nature sometimes gets the better of us and we begin to look too hard at the life of a man of God or worry about his immorality. A man of God is not subject to the same rules as ordinary people. You have a level of grace that mere mortals cannot understand. You need to keep reminding your members to fear God and by extension, fear you. Because questioning you means questioning God. And all those who question you will not make heaven.

Hang out with corrupt politicians from time to time.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you being close friends with a corrupt government. Was Jesus not a friend to harlots and tax collectors? And what on earth is worse than the Jewish tax collectors in the time of Jesus? You need to make corrupt people feel at ease in the presence of God; who knows, perchance they may be persuaded and accept the gospel of Jesus. Lay hands on them from time to time. And when they make huge donations, purify the money with the blood of Jesus and move on.


 There is nothing like a good healing.
Claim to heal people from time to time. Sometimes you may have to hire and pay actors but it is all to draw people and make them believers. After all, did the bible not say that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son when He knew he had a sheep waiting nearby? Was that not deception by human standards? But the scriptures say that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. While you perform miracles however, never attempt to heal people who get injured in your church premises during say a stampede or the collapse of your church building. (Also, make predictions and prophecies about everything from politics to football but do not make predictions about your own life and church, even if a great tragedy is about to happen. This is bad karma. And sometimes God just prefers football to collapsing buildings. Don’t ask me why. He works in mysterious ways.)

When you go on crusades and travel to perform signs and wonders, travel with your personal physician.
You know how doctors are advised not to treat themselves or their family members? Well the same rule applies with men of God. No need to heal yourself or your family. After all, doctors also need to eat. And like Jesus, you like to feed multitudes.


When your wife, who is also a pastor in your church, catches you sleeping with other women and moves out of the house, ask your congregation to pray for her. 
Because it is your wife who needs the prayers, not you. It is her hard heart that needs healing and forgiveness so that she can recover from the mistake of exposing you and attempting to get a divorce. She does not realize what she will miss. Where else will she go to get seed as holy and anointed as yours?
Alternatively, make her do a video denying all allegations and giving an account of your faithfulness which people who try to make war against the kingdom of God refuse to see. Let her stand by you when you deny the allegations and call her mummy. The congregation will look into her eyes, see her certainty and know that there is no way you could have been involved in threesomes or coming on the back of strippers. 


Use the word “da” in place of “the”.
For example:
Da lord wants you to give me his tithes for my private jet.
Da bible says touch not my anointed.
Sounds nicer.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

HOW TO BE A WOMAN IN NIGERIA

I wanted to write an article on “How to be a Man”, seeing as we are told in scripture that man was made before woman. But since that manual was going to be too short for its own column, I decided to include it here.
How To Be a Man in Nigeria:
Do what you want, when you want, how you want. The world is yours. Only fellow men can stop you. The End.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let us talk about women.
This is how to be a woman in Nigeria.
As a woman you must understand the Grundnorm which will guide you throughout life: You, having been made from the ribs of a man, are inferior to man. Once you understand this, every other thing becomes easier to swallow.
In Nigeria, your life is incomplete without a man. So when you have got those degrees, that plum job, that house, those cars, it would be right for a journalist to ask you: so, (after all these irrelevant achievements) when are you going to get married? Because in Nigeria, a woman who does not get married will not make heaven. She is incomplete, like a missing sock, or the left leg of a sandal.
As a woman professional who has done the right thing and got married, you must prepare in every interview to answer the following question: How do you balance family and work? It does not matter that successful men with many wives and dozens of children are never asked about work-family balance. It is not a man’s job to take care of children. That is why you were made. And that is why when you decide to go and become successful, we need to ask you if you are neglecting your primary responsibility, which is cleaning up after the man you married.
A good, scripture-believing woman must avoid agents of the devil, like those who say that women need to have the same rights as men. Any woman who tells you that women are equal human beings and deserve the same treatment is a woman that wants to drag you to hell.
In matters of sex, you must never admit to knowing anything more than basic lying down and letting it happen to you. You are not a participant. You are a mere facilitator in an activity designed to make your superior human enjoy the process. That is why women who talk about their sex life are called sluts. It does not matter that it takes two to tango. If nature wanted you to be a human being like a man, it would not have made you the one carrying the pregnancy. A slut simply defined is a woman who wrongfully appropriates to herself the right to enjoy sex. I would advise you not to worry about the fact that a man, who does the same thing a slut does, is called a stud. Even in the animal kingdom, male and female animals have different names. That is why a male dog is called a dog and a female, a bitch. It is not my fault. Ask the white people who came up with those names. Just remember the Grundnorm: women are inferior to men.
The rule is, never admit to enjoying sex or even to having had previous partners or boyfriends. If you meet a man and you are not a virgin, you must find a way of explaining why you are in this sinful state. You can say that you were doing inter-house sports in secondary school and while doing the high jump, you lost your hymen. Or you can blame it on riding bicycles. But if you have to admit to ever having had sex, say that it happened only once and that you did not enjoy it even. Say that he deceived you. Then the man will forgive you for not being a virgin. Do not ask how many women he has been with – how is this relevant? It is your virginity that counts. However, never ever admit to having been sexually abused, because you will be blamed for putting yourself in the position to be raped. And no one will want you.
Do you have a daughter? Do not despair. Sometimes God tests us with trials. While believing God for the miracle of a son in your life, I have prepared a list of things you must do to prepare your girl child to be the ideal woman. Follow this list and your daughter will turn out to be a happy, blessed Nigerian woman:
1.      Let her wear pink. Girls wear pink. It does not matter if she likes blue.
2.     Teach her to be a princess. Princesses sit all day in castles and wait to be rescued by princes to whom the world belongs. Her goal should be to make a prince happy one day.
3.   Do not teach her how to change light bulbs, car tires or lift heavy items. That is for her brothers. This will ensure that she will go through life depending on men to do these things for her. A woman who knows how to depend on a man is a happy woman.
4.    Teach her how to be a good wife. This means first knowing how to clean and cook for a man. Because if you do not cook for a man, he will find another, well-trained cooking woman to sleep with. And it will be your fault. On no account should you teach your son how to cook. This will weaken him and make him a slave to some evil witch of a woman. You do not want this.
5.    Teach her to know her place. A woman does not raise her voice where there are men. That is a badly behaved woman with no home training. A good woman knows that silence is golden.
6.   Let’s say your daughter has finished university and just found work. While it is ok to buy a car for your son to make it easy for him to get to work, you must not do so for your daughter. In fact, before she gets married you must advise her against buying a car for herself. This scares men away. And god forbid that your daughter ends up as an old angry spinster. Old angry spinsters become feminists or worse, lesbians. And we all know lesbians and feminists will not make heaven.
7.    Teach her to cover her body properly and wear very long skirts. Because women who expose their bodies provoke men into raping them. You don’t want the devil to use your daughter to tempt men.
8.   Avoid things that may make your daughter look like a lesbian or diminish her feminine appearance. If she must engage in extra-curricular activities, make sure they are activities for women like skipping rope. Forbid her from doing anything that can make her calves or shoulders look muscular or like yam tubers. Discourage her from lifting weights, and excessive sports. Excessive sports can make her woman parts, like breasts, reduce in size. God forbid that your daughter ends up looking like a man. Next thing you know, lesbians will start eyeing her. God forbid.
I will keep sharing tips with you as they come to me. Because I care.
God bless your hustle as you try to become the perfect happy Nigerian woman.