The First Time We Said Our Vows

For the duration of Valentine’s week last year, I moderated a beautiful series (if I do say so myself) on TheNakedConvos. On the 14th of February, 2014, this post written by yours truly went live.

It’s been a year, and I believe it’s time to share it here.


My dearest Abim,

There will always be finer women
There will always be smarter women
There will be women sexier,
As there will be women more motherly

If I ever chose to,
(And this does not mean I ever would)
I could find another woman I’d deem
More suited to me than you
I can find a woman who loves me
Even more than you do
One who I find more lovable than you.
The irony though, is if I were to choose
To embark upon that quest now,
And found a woman whom I thought
Was more suited to me than you
I would soon find yet another
Who seemed even more suitable than her

Yet, I choose you

For love is a choice
A decision
A commitment
And after considering many variables
Such as our friendship
Steady and true
And the way our hands fit
Into each other’s
And the way your voice
Resonates with my heart
And my spirit
And my very soul
And the convenient fact
That our genotypes match
And also because my loving you
Comes entirely naturally
Even when my head tried to fight it
My heart already chose you
It was only common sense to follow through

And so I chose you

Regardless of your shortcomings,
Or your flaws
Regardless of the ups or the downs,
Regardless of sickness or wellness
No matter what else may be offered,
For no matter how long

Only on the condition of death
Will I let you go
And even then,
Never in my heart

I make the choice to love you
And only you

Abimbola, I will always choose you

Yours Forever,
Tokini

_____

My Tokini,

You were always the creative one. Poet. Artist. Musician. Thespian. You may never have been master of any of those art forms, but having all of that myriad of talent balled behind your beautiful personality made you out to be the most charming man anyone would ever come across. It’s funny though, how you tried and tried to charm the socks off of me. And failed. Drama king that you were, I don’t know how you ever thought the antics you displayed- the spontaneous romantiques, the unnecessarily boisterous shows of affection- would win me over. I was the realistic one. The no nonsense one. The one who couldn’t be bothered with your type. And there you were, doing everything wrong to win me over.

But that letter changed everything.

Oh, I saw through the bullshit that was flowery words and a bundle of figurative expressions put together to make a girl weak in the knees. But then again, we’d already established the fact that I was not that type of girl. The go-weak-in-the-knees type of girl. What did it for me was how through the My heart beats for yous and I will die for yous, I could see the practicality of choosing you, based on the words you stated in writing. The promises you were making which I could hold on to. It was how I could take that letter for what I first saw it as: a binding contract I could always hold you to.

Nothing had changed. I was still the stoic; you, the boisterous. And we fit. You were in your element when you brought out all that charm and wit again at the wedding. For the first time, you ‘performed’ the words you had sent me in that letter, up-staging me. You had to wait until I was done with my drab, straight-from-the-books vows before dramatically shushing the priest and then wowing our audience with your performance. The letter had read like they were vows, I just never expected you’d go all Hollywood on me at my wedding. I was not impressed. These were your vows to ME. I, not the blasted audience, should have been impressed. Frankly, I would have been most impressed if you’d just stuck to the bleeding script and not gone firing on all your loose cannons again.

But you were you. And I am me. We were different, yes, but we fit perfectly. Your bullshit and my no-nonsense like the repelling, yet forever attached ends of a magnet. The practicality of us; this was what held me the most from leaving when you so earnestly broke those vows. I should have expected more from you after that display at the wedding but if anything, it made me expect less. Much less. You were, after all, all about the talk.

How could you bring another woman into our home and so wantonly disregard my opinion on account of hers? You chose her countless times over me. Breaking your vows again and again. What ever happened to “I choose you and only you”? Where did all the promises go?

Bullshit.

She and I constantly fought for your attention. Outwardly, we bickered like school kids over who was right and who didn’t know anything but silently, we waged war upon each other, each fighting for the cause of who knew you better and who loved you more. Yet, somehow, it did not feel like victory the day I walked in on you telling mama off on my account.

“She is my wife, mama. She is me. If you cannot accept that whether you like it or not, she is your daughter, then maybe you should go back to your husband’s house and leave her own for her.”

That woman. She had the look of an obstinate goat chewing on the naira notes that should buy its feed and remaining petulant to its master’s display of dismay. You weren’t getting through to her. Yet, every word you said that day stung my very soul. No one should speak to their mother that way, least of all on my account.

I will never know what went through my head when I dashed towards my then arch enemy, crumpled at her feet, wrapped my arms around her legs and began weeping like a baby. Through the film of the tears in my eyes, I saw what appeared to be a mixture of shock, incredulity and utter confusion in your face. It was the first time you ever saw me weep.

Mama’s white flag was sent waving when she reached down, pulled me up and held me to her bosom. You could not have understood what had gone on that day. At the time, even I didn’t. An allegiance was formed and your words were replayed back to me…

I make the choice to love you and only you

When ten years later, you stood proud and ended with that, again upstaging me with my simple vows, I was more tolerant of your performance. Especially with our small audience of two, who you were doing an excellent job of entertaining with your loud gestures and over-the-top voice. They may not have seen the significance of the words but they felt the love. I felt the love. I saw less bullshit to see through by this point. Much less bullshit.

No matter what else may be offered,
For no matter how long…

When you came to this part at our twentieth anniversary, with much less gusto and much less conviction, all I could see was the bullshit. Thick, dark, smelly, disgusting bullshit that was too much to possibly see through.

It had taken you many, many years for you to convince me that perhaps, not all men were lying, cheating dogs. At least, not my man. And then you had, in one fell swoop, disproved your entire theory.

The episode of Hauwa in our story was a short, dark interlude which many times I wish I could just package neatly and ship off to the farthest reaches of my memory and never again remember. But it happened and I have a daily reminder in the form of Andi.

Choosing to take in the evidence of my husband’s indiscretions and raise him as my own is a decision I have never come to regret. I knew what it felt like to lose one’s mother at a tender age and Andi was not deserving of that punishment for crimes he did not commit. Crimes I had come to accept my complicity in. I could defend my actions of four years previous all I wanted, but I had come to admit to myself that when I vowed that I belonged to you,

To have and to hold from this day forward…
…to love and to cherish

I had broken my vows by locking up shop just as much as you had when you strayed to Hauwa’s honeypot. Of course, this did not absolve you of any guilt. None at all. I may have played a part in driving you into another woman’s arms but I did not also give you the directions to get there. That was all you. But forgiving you was a choice I had chosen to make long before you ever even committed any offences. Same as choosing to love you…

In sickness and in health,
Till death do us part

Bald headed, withered-bodied and causing you to pause every few moments so I could spit over the side of the bed into the waiting pan, I witnessed the beauty of you nursing me – and our love – back to full health. Our thirtieth anniversary vow renewals couldn’t have had a more apt venue than a recovery ward.

There was no more bullshit. We had laid ourselves bare before each other and found ourselves out of the deepest darknesses… together. I had been ready to let go and move on, but you refused. I… We… could never have beaten the cancer if it hadn’t been for you. Being there, supporting, praying, caring and mopping up the bullshit that had caked over our love over many years.

And then when you were done, in your usual dramatic fashion, you went and died yourself. After not allowing me, abi? Well done, Tokini. Well done o.

Tonight, I will perform the vows you made to me. As always, the audience will be just our children. You’ve been gone eight years now but I refuse to stop celebrating our love. Death may have separated us but I have chosen that never…

Will I let you go…
…Never in my heart

It suddenly occurred to me early this morning that in over forty years, I had never replied that first letter. And so, here I am now, doing you that courtesy.

You were a talented man, Tokini. A good son. An excellent father. A beautiful lover.

And I am so glad I chose you.

Yours forever,
Abimbola.


Dedicated to the beautiful Honey whose presence I was given the exquisite pleasure of indulging in today. Loving you is a thing of beauty.

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Dark 18: Omosayo

Then Satan whispered to him, saying “O Adam, shall I lead you to a tree of eternity and a kingdom which does not decay?”  (Qur’an 20:121)   

The above verse pretty much sums up my 2014. Having the devil lead me from one deception to another… but in this 2015, I’m wiser. I’ve learnt to stop praying for a lighter rain and instead ask for a better umbrella. Because no rain…no flowers. Towards the end of 2014, I decided to turn my life around and I’m on track. I’ve taken the major decisions I needed to take (cutting the crap, removing anything that doesn’t serve a purpose…bla bla bla) but it can get better. These are the minor but key victories I want to achieve in 2015…in no particular order.
 

I’ll be doing my industrial attachment in the second half of the year. I’m really excited ’cause I’ll be working full-time. I hope I get a nice place with fantastic people, as I really want those six months to be wonderful.
 
I saw an idea on quora about filming a random 1-second video everyday and stitching them together at the end of the year and I decided to try it this year. I’ve missed a few days already, so I’ve decided not to do it everyday. I’ll only do it on days that interesting things happen. I can’t wait to view the final result at the end of the year though. 2015 in five minutes 😀
 
I have a nice collection of hard-copy books that are just gathering dust in my closet. I intend to read one for every month this year.
 
I want to be fitter. Try on that “7-minute workout” for size. If I like it, I may eventually join a gym. I also want to try yoga. I’m not very flexible. That gasto change this year.
 
I also want to fast often. Maybe twice a week. I’ve learnt that the benefits far outweigh the hunger (which you eventually get used to). I’ll spend less money on junk food and save instead. I’ll end up eating healthier, as I don’t want to be fasting on chin chin. I don’t really have anything to lose (besides a little weight).
 
I’ve wanted to visit an orphanage for a while but I’ve kept postponing it. I really want to accomplish it this year. Visit at least two orphanages. If I’m able to do that, I’ll term 2015 a success. I’m really passionate about this.
 
I don’t want Jonathan to remain in power. I’m tired of him. We all are. Good people, please let’s boot him out. Thanks.
 
2013 was my year of transformation. I entered 2013 not knowing what I wanted to look like. I was still enjoying the young girl life. At the end of 2013, my fashion sense had developed and my transformation… complete. I was looking like a baby geh! was looking “take-away”.

2014, on the other hand, was a year of growth. I may have been looking mature but 2014 showed me I wasn’t. I GREW. Putting it in capitals doesn’t quite cut it, it was an incredible amount of growth. But growth never comes without pain. It was a lot of painful but I thank God for it. The most important part of that growth was spiritual. I used to pride myself on being innocent and godly. I made mistakes in 2014 and eventually, I learnt being godly isn’t about not making mistakes. It’s about not giving up when everything seems to be working against you. I’ve corrected my mistakes but I won’t be too hard on myself if I fail again. I’ll just learn from it and pick myself up. 

I don’t yet know how 2015 will improve me but I can’t wait.
 
Fingers crossed. 
 
Peace be upon you.

Announcing: The Disconnect

2

For 30 years, a man has expressed himself via different media, perpetually bringing into light the immense variety of form and formlessness which co-exist – sometimes in perfect balance; sometimes bringing about utter chaos – within his head.

This is me. Artist. In word, in sound and in imagery. And it is time that you witnessed… The Disconnect.

On Saturday, 13th December, I stage my first art show at The Osh Gallery. 381 Herbert Macaulay way, Yaba. 4pm. 

Come and see some of the characters and entities who play around in my heart, soul and mind and have somehow managed to escape unto canvas. You might even want to take some of them home with you. They are that intriguing.

Drofu will also be showing their art and merchandise. You want to see and purchase that too.

Dark 22: Dolapo

I ‘finally’ met Dolapo last Christmas. I love her mind and I especially love her vocabulary. Wish I could download it. The kid is destined to be great, I should famz her more.

_____

Hi. Umm, I’m not quite sure what I plan to say but we’ll go with it. The spirit of the New Year passed me over and I couldn’t get me head into the brouhaha of Crossover. A nigga just wanted to sleep, too much to ask? Didn’t help that I spent the actual day and many after sick as a wet kitten. But enough about that.

Had you asked me to do a recap of the past year it would look much like a sleep-deprived individual’s waking dream. Being chronologically challenged doesn’t help either as I can’t keep track of what happened when and so every telling will have holes but we try to keep with the saying that “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” so it all eventually makes sense. Hopefully.

On the radio the other day the presenter asked what our personal theme for the year was. You know how churches go “My Year of Double-Double” or “My Year of Death to the Enemy”, yeah. So mine is, drumroll please, My Year of Happiness. That’s all I ask and all Cosmo (that’s my pet name for the Universe) does not want to give. But hey, who cares, I’ll be happy anyway.

Every bit of joy that can be gotten from this year shall be savoured and I’ve already started.

I’m changing my course. I’m finally growing up.

I met this guy in December. I met a lot of guys last year but I hope this becomes something. If not, I’ll be happy anyway (I’d better be, can’t be moping around).

I got a job in December. It seems fun. I hope it stays fun. If not, I’ll be happy anyway.

I’ll be 18 this year (hint! hint! Not like you lot care). In some subconsious desperation to spice up boring 17 I did stupid things last year. Stupid in every sense of the word. So this is the Take-It-Easy Year.

So that’s it I guess. Read, I pray to God write and study how to mindfuck people. So yeah. Oh and remember to be young, very important. Have fun y’all. Buh-bye.

Dusk 21: Ebun

It’s funny and probably embarrassing to her, but Ebun and I had been following each other on twitter for a while before I recognised her as the little tot I’d known way back. Small world. Her turn…

____

It’s 2014. I’m so psyched because there’s so much I’m looking forward t! 2013 was such an amazing year and I strongly believe it’s gonna roll over into 2014. As cliche as it sounds, I also believe in writing goals and actually working towards them.

This year, I think the most important thing for me is to improve my relationship with God. Get closer to Him, study the Bible and whatnot. Hopefully, I find a study buddy this year. Someone to follow through and put me in check. And no, I don’t want any one/group online.

Healthwise, I FINALLY started a work-out routine and i hope i can pull through! Healthy eating is a no-brainer and I’m proud to announce that I’ve recovered from my coke addiction. 😀

School’s just gonna go on smoothly. I hope I can return to Alliance Francaise this year to bag another diploma.

My photography career would also kick off in full force. This year, I hope to take at least 5,000 photos, attend seminars/workshops and get as many internships as possible.

I also want to try as much as possible to acquire additional entrepreneurial skills. I hope my mother would finally accept and realise that there can never be too many MUAs in the business.

For now, I’ve decided not to visit Goodreads because I’ll probably be tempted to  pick a random figure and set a reading goal. That didn’t really go well last year. So, this is me holding back until I’m sure I’m ready to make an effort. Electronic reading isn’t really my forte……yet.

I’ve also decided to take a shot at freelance writing and maybe follow the yellow brick road wherever it leads.

Basically, this year for me is about taking charge. I’ve come to the realisation that I’m not getting any younger and this is the time for me to actually do something.Anything can happen. Life’s too short. Fortunately, 2013 saw the beginning of the actualization of my dreams so 2014, Bring. It. On!

Cheers to a fabulous year! 

Dusk 10: Chiggy

If there’s something I love about #30DaysOfHope, it’s the beauty of the privilege of being let in. Being allowed a glimpse behind the facade. Especially when it’s in the case of someone who is your friend and you realize that you’d gotten so used to the facade, you don’t recognise what is behind it and that you could do much better. It’s like a second chance. Chiggy gives me a second chance here…

_____

My name is Chiagozie. Friends call me Chiggy. Family and friends that have become family call me Chiagozie or a derivative. Agozie. Gozie. Chiago. Chi-Chi. *Shrug*

There was no angelic choir ministration (at least none that I or my family know of) at my birth at the National Teaching Hospital. But my relatives rubbed white talc powder and the women danced around in small groups to shrieks of “eh eh eh……eeeeeeehhhhhh”. I’m Nigerian of Igbo descent. It’s what we do. Caesarean birth. Regular childhood or not. It’s arguable. Bad university days. Not arguable.

Fast forward to 2013.

The very year.

In keeping with my ‘going-against-the-status quo’ nature, I didn’t start the year in a church building. Oh I’m Christian by the way. Instead I snoozed into the year on my friend’s bed in cold Kaduna, all ‘duveted’ up. It was another January 1. I’ve seen over two decades of it. I couldn’t be bothered. No resolutions. No goals written out. Just bits and pieces in my head of what I wanted to do.

Year kicked off quickly with mad ass pain. Paralysing pain. That lingered for months. Nothing in my past had prepared me for what I was experiencing and see ba, I have a high pain threshold.

Yo peeps, DEPRESSION is real.

Then one arm of my business went really awry. Cue in; more pain. I couldn’t deal. The mistakes started. Things I would not do half drunk, I did with clear eyes. ‘Friendships’, doors that should not have opened, opened and in came crazy. Sorry not came, POURED. My weight dropped in two dress sizes. To me, it was a mess. I must have looked pretty put together on the outside…facade.

After an encounter at the end of September, I had had enough iskanchi. Sic? (Hausa word for nonsense). I assessed my year, it came up short. Assessed my friendships, I almost puked. Assessed where I was on my way to the big picture and I hadn’t contributed any meaningful step in that direction. Hadn’t finished a whole book throughout the year and ‘ember months were here already. I so wept that Wednesday. But by the following morning, I knew I had to deal. Deal or die dealing. I decided I was going to live. L.I.V.E. really start living. I hadn’t been living. First came the cutting off of distractions starting with their birth mother, Twitter. Then the heart wrenching outcry to God for help.

Let’s just say that, that decision called up ‘swept-under-the-carpet-for-years’ issues that brought me to my highest point of vulnerability. I sweated, hyperventilated, thought I was going to drop dead at any point from the weight but I stayed on it and DEALT.

People and their opinions became 4th place after God’s; mine; my family and 4th place is indeed faaaaaaaaaar, in my books.

The tears of relief and release, that type only Abba brings flowed. I forgave the ones I hadn’t forgiven. Plugged my energy leak points. Opened my heart to love. No, I hadn’t been receiving love well. I had been on the defence for so long that acts of love by people that really loved me went unnoticed and to some, I had told them to their faces that they didn’t love me. I apologize. Then all of a sudden, I noticed the sun for the very first time. It was really bright. I noticed how wide my smile was. One smile and eyes will close. I started to feel. I noticed my curves. I became a woman. Before now, I was Chiggy the tomboy. Words can’t do this experience justice. It’s beautiful. Simply euphoric. Like walking on air all the time. Clear headedness. Sound mind. New life is being forged. I love it!

Fast forward to 2014.

It’s the morning of January 2, a call woke me up.

‘Bayo has gone to be with Jesus and I didn’t want you hearing it from someone else, Yinka said’.

Words I will never forget. The next five days went by in a blur. I am back from burying Bayo. My Bayo. Full of life. Fashionista. Fellow entrepreneur. Life of any gathering. 29 years old. Somebody’s first son. My brother and friend. He was loyal. DELIBERATE.

So you see all that euphoric joy 2013 ended with, in 2014, please I am alive and here to double it.

Thank you Adebayo Adesesan for reinforcing this life’s essence for me. I will never forget.

Fulfilling purpose every step of the way.

Living vivaciously.

My life right now, the one I have chosen to live will call into operation my highest powers of perception, responsibility, attention, sacrifice and inner reserves of strength and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My life is no longer ordinary. Now? Angels recognize. At the end of this journey, they’ll line up for ‘ussies’ at the gate. A worthy daughter and gallant soldier is home. As for humans, they’ll eventually catch up. So help me God.

I’ll learn to dance.

I’ll pick up swimming again.

I’ll become more and more sensual. It’s my right as a female. *stare down* Ehen….

I’ll receive love. And respond with same intensity.

I’ll learn to speak Hausa perfectly.

I’ll see West Africa and its glory.

I’ll write more.

I’ll volunteer at that rape centre I read about.

I’ll tone this Abs so the lucky one can pick beans on it.

Of course I am almost finishing my first book of the year.

Amongst other things… 😉

I have this on my wall as a daily reminder of my chosen life.

fotor_wp_ss_20131101_0002

Welcome to my 2014.

7+17

Today, makes it 17 years.
I planned to pen something in memory of my dear mama, but after reading what her last baby wrote, I knew all that needed to be written had been. My (not) little brother’s words…

Who Be Tobi?

And here we are.

I must say, I’ve both impressed and bested myself. How, you ask. Well, it so is no small feat, proving myself to myself! But that’s a tale for another post, come Thursday. At this point, you’re probably expecting a proper introductory post with what’s to get out of this here blog site, huh? Well, sadly, I must disappoint you to attend to what’s surely priority: honouring my mum.

Expect my introduction (complete with weekly lineup information) before the day wraps up tomorrow.

I, thus, kick this off with an imagined account of the last few living moments of my mum Juliana Folake Aworinde. Yes, you read that right. Imagined. But that’s not to say that these are not based on true events. The roller coaster ride of events leading up to the moment Mum got “caught up” are no less than true-life. But this isn’t a lamentation…

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