Martins’ Placebo

A Christmas tale.

______________________________

Martin disembarked from the bus and just stood there staring at the bag in his hand.

This was not him.

He’d never taken these things seriously. Instant, temporary remedies – if at all they worked – for overly superstitious, small-minded and guilt-ridden peasants. No one in their right mind would pay attention to such drivel. But here he was. Sigh.

* * * * *

He hadn’t been prepared when the man beside him suddenly stood up and in a loud voice which scraped into every cranny of the dead coaster bus, boomed…

“Yah having problem and I have di ansa foreet.”

Martin had visibly but inaudibly groaned even as the man reached into the old rugged bagco bag he was carrying and pulled out a jar of red pills.

“You see dis one here, it do cure hedik, diarrhea, shit block… dat is dat one somepipple are calling constipation, or pile, typhoid, malaria, running stomuck, staph, gonoh, piss piss…”

With every ailment he reeled out, the man fiercely gesticulated with his right hand, rattling the jar of pills in his left as he did so. As he mentioned ”hedik”, he’d rested the knuckle of his open hand on his forehead. “Diarrhea” had seen his hand go behind and signify pulling something out. Possibly for the benefit of those who sat behind but had him in their line of vision. When he said “shit block” and clenched his fist right to his behind, Martin had had to look away to keep his sensibilities from being offended any more than they needed be.

Still though, he could do nothing to unhear as the man went on and would even pull out two more jars from his sack. Martin wanted badly to be incredulous when people began pulling notes out of their pockets, purses and wallets in exchange for these magical pills but he knew his people. They believed anything they were told, no matter how ridiculous it sounded.

He was still looking out the window when he felt the peddler fall back heavily into his seat. He hadn’t noticed the transacting stop and he was about to blissfully forget the man’s act when he heard his name.

His reaction was slower than you’d have expected. You would imagine he would whirl around in shock but instead, he turned in a somewhat lethargic manner, like it was a companion sitting next to him and he’d expect them to know his name. He had not fully processed the import of hearing his name in a crowded bus in which he was absolutely sure he knew no one, until he was staring in the eyes of this stranger who looked back at him. Then his eyes widened in shock as he gathered his wits.

He first looked down to see how this man could have possibly recognized him. He had no ID card on him. He used to dangle it proudly from his belt hole on his way to and from work until it was taken from him many many months ago by the telecoms company who, as stated on the back of the ID card, it had always truly belonged to. He wasn’t wearing the work shirt he was required to at his present and far more lowly job. That shirt had his name displayed on a scrap of cloth sewn above the left breast. Everything else was in his wallet. Nothing visible could have given his identity away to a stranger. He looked up and forward, trying to convince himself he had only imagined hearing his name.

The peddler leaned in a bit and spoke to him in a voice far different from the grating one he had used earlier. This voice was well-spoken, unaccented, cultured and steady at a volume that he was sure only he could possible hear…

“Martin, you don’t believe in my pills do you? You don’t think this is real.” He very slightly raised the worn bag hanging between his legs for Martin to throw an uncomfortable glance at. “I used to be like you, you know? I believed everyone like me was a fraud, until I was shown the truth. Now, I make a ton of money from hawking these…” He reached into his bag and pulled out a full jar of brown pills and a wondrous thing happened. As he looked up to finish his statement, Martin thought the word, even as the peddler said it, both looking right into each other’s eyes.

“Placebo.”

Martin could feel certain gears in his head come to a grinding halt and suddenly begin turning in the opposite direction. He looked at this man from head to toe, his terribly faded, oversize and worn out yoruba traditional attire sewn from inexpensiveankara and then took into consideration the voice which had moments ago been directed solely at him and how greatly it contrasted to the one which had been used to confidently address the rest of the bus and came to the conclusion that while this drug peddler sounded pretty convincing, he wasn’t buying whatever he was trying to sell him.

The man chuckled and continued,

“You haven’t even heard what I have to say yet and you have already come to your conclusions?” More chuckling “I’m Martin by the way.” He extended his hand for a hand shake and Martin, the one in the faded shirt and jeans, tentatively shook it, a puzzled look emblazoned across his face.

“We don’t have much time left, we will soon arrive your bus stop” This was true. “I have a christmas gift and a message for you.” He reached into his bag and continued rather rapidly now as he pulled something out.

“You’re on your way to Shoprite to look into the windows of toy stores at items you cannot but wish you could afford to buy for your son and two daughters. You’re even contemplating stealing them. It will not work, they will catch you. The charm bracelets you’re hoping to add to your wife’s collection as you have every year except for the last, you cant afford or steal those either. Yah having problem and I have di ansa foreet.” He grinned at Martin in the jeans.

Martin in the ankara was now holding an interesting contraption in his right hand while extending his bagco bag to Martin with his left. Martin took the bag, not eagerly, but not tentatively either. He was sold.

“The jar of pills will never empty out. Sell them the way you’ve seen me do today and with the sales you make, you should be able to live a moderately good life until christmas next year. Who knows, you may even be able to buy those gifts for your nagging wife and her annoying children by the end of today. You have exactly one year to fulfill this exercise after which you will hand this bag and advice to another Martin on the next christmas day, in another bus just like this one. Never sell on fridays or sundays, because those are the days people have the most faith in their… other religions. All the other five days of the week, you’re in business. Those are the only conditions you must adhere to to attain the immense wealth I am about to walk into. It has taken me a while but I have now been able to determine exactly what kind of wealth I want. With this.”

Martin handed over the contraption. Martin took it with a puzzled look on his face.

“That is a camera. It’s a 1960 Diana. Google it and read up on it. It’s pretty cool vintage stuff. I never even knew I could be interested in photography until I handled this baby. I’ve amassed quite a few great pictures in the past year. I like to consider myself something of a luxury photographer. Wish I could show you my collection but we’ll probably never meet again…

Oh, we’re almost at your bust stop now…

“Anyways, what you do with the camera is photograph the things you want to receive for christmas next year. One way or the other, you will definitely receive them. Wash the film, keep the pictures. If you’re wise, you’ll be sure to invest your photography in things that should sustain you for a very long time afterwards, if you know what I mean.

“That’s pretty much it. I would take questions but you do have to get off here, don’t you?

And at that, ankara Martin sidled over to the left with not a word more while denim Martin shuffled past him, trembling from head to foot, and staggered out the bus, hassled all the way by the bus conductor and driver.

He was still pretty shaken when he checked the bag to see the 3 jars still filled to the brim with pills, despite all the sales the other Martin had just made.

He took the interesting looking camera and turned it over and over trying to figure it out. He was a novice when it came to photography but he had handled a few analogue cameras as a teenager and knew there should at least be somewhere for film to be loaded.<

He had only just begun to wonder where the hell he would find more film for a camera which was designed in the 60s once the one in the camera finished when he found the latch. He was thinking perhaps that was the catch here, finding more film for a camera which had gone out of production decades ago, when he sprung the latch to open the film compartment.

There was no film in there.

______________________________

This story was published on TheNakedConvos a year ago.

Standing Before Kings

Today, I stood before and photographed the number one citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, amongst other notable figures. I’m not easily overwhelmed but many hours later, I’m still quite… overwhelmed.

In my wildest imagination, my strongest ambitions, my greatest hopes, I never pictured myself walking into “the villa”. It just was never something I aspired to. And yet today, it was almost like walking into a dream. Except it wasn’t.

I’m not the most diligent man. I’m far from efficient most of the time. Discipline is something I still strive at. Yet, as far from fitting to this as I think I am, I can’t help but feel that this captures this experience the most…

Proverbs 22:29 NKJV

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men. 

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the things I hope to accomplish. I still have tons to learn. So much that, sometimes, it appears impossiblethat I will ever have enough time to cram that much knowledge in this tiny head of mine. Not to even talk of the time to practicalise the things I’m learning. Yet, huge doors are already swinging open ahead of me, by no virtue of the greatness which I clearly lack at this time.

Divine favour is real. Tap into it.

I met Bayo Omoboriowo at the villa. (If you don’t know him, google him). The first thing he said to me was “I know you” (not quite, he only remembers my face from uni. Still, I was somewhat abashed and my head swelled a bit). After I said to him “You’re doing some awesome work”, the second thing he said to me was “I’m only learning”.

So modest.

If someone like him is still learning, then I never sabi anytin nah. Yet, there’s a lesson to learn there. At no point do I ever want to see myself as having “arrived”. No matter what I achieve, I hope that I never strain to do better, bigger, greater. I hope I never imagine that anything I’ve ever achieved is of my own doing. I hope to never stop learning.

I’ve left “here” for “there” and I am thankful that I am not ruled by fear. Now, “there” is “here” and it is and will remain beautiful. Through and through.

For you reading this…

God will open doors before you. The ones you knock on, the ones that were shut in your face and the ones you never imagined you would stand before. All this in Jesus’ name. Approach those doors with boldness.

Here. And There.

I’m afraid.

I thought I needed a change of environment. I needed some fresh air. I was so sure I needed a fresh start. But more, standing on the threshold, I’ve come to realize that…

I’m afraid.

I’m the one who is wont to go out on a limb and seize the bull by the horns, wrestle him to the ground and be the victor when I plant the dagger in his heart. But when you’re the bull and that red flag is waving in your face and you know you must charge, no matter how hard you wish you didn’t have to…. It becomes frightening.

I want to stay here. I can admit that to myself now. Here is safe. Here, I have family and friends and a network and confidence and history and people who owe me favours. I don’t want to leave all this security behind. I don’t want to go there.

But I do want to go there.

I want to go and do bigger things. I want to make things happen. For others and for myself. I want to validate certain dreams I woke up from too long ago. I want to re-find the spark it seems I’ve lost. I want to capture things I’ve never seen before. I want to embark on an adventure. I want to breathe fresh air.

I only wish I could do all of those here. But I can’t. Not right now.

I need to go there… Even though I don’t want to.

There is scary. And the more I look around me, the more I come to the realisation that here is scary too. Here, a stagnation reeks. Here, stress levels soar to an all time high. Here, opportunities abound, but mostly at the expense of one’s soul. It’s scary here. As it is over there.

So it appears I must choose my scare.

I choose there. I chose there ages ago, but that was before I actually had to go there. It felt good to talk about going there. Telling some folk I would be going there made them envious. And telling others, I could see how delighted it made them. Delighted for me. That made me delighted. A warm fuzzy feeling spread from my chest to my back where they patted me when they hugged me and to my face in a warm smile which must have radiated forth and affected everyone it was beamed at.

But today, it’s dark and cold and alone where I stand. On the threshold of the abyss in which there lies.

I know not what lies in there. And I am afraid of my ignorance. But my ignorance will not hold me back. Nor will my fear.

I shall step, nay… I shall dive into the abyss.

I am leaving here and going there.

And it shall be beautiful.

The Demystification of the Yoruba Boy

There’s a storm sweeping across the world. From Ibadan to Kotangora. From Harare to J’burg. From Tokyo to Alaska. From Mercury to UrAnus. A consensus has been reached by pretty much all females. Somehow, without holding an international retreat, a conference call or even running an angry feminist group on Whatsapp, these women have come to the conclusion that…

“Yoruba Boys are demons”.

This is a decision that every member of the weaker sex who has ever dated a male person who hails from south-western Nigeria has unanimously arrived at. This is an undeniable truth. It’s a statement of fact. And it comes with an immovable, unshakeable mountain of evidence which spews from the charred lips of every woman (and some effeminate men, I would assume) who has ever tasted of the sweet demonic poison which erupts from the lips of a furiously persuasive son of Oodua.

Yoruba Boys are Demons.

Every Yoruba Boy who has ever walked the face of the earth is a son of the devil. They specialize in finding the finest specimen of a daughter of Eve and proceed to acid-uously break down her walls of defence against his irresistible charms until he has invaded her castle and gobbled her virtue, dignity and self-confidence up. Big bad wolf style. Following which he goes forth to roam the earth, looking for another female to devour. Of course, there’s no shortage of these women. Thusly, all across the world, and I daresay, the universe, horrific tales of Yoruba Demon conquests abound and the skin colour of the bearers of these tales vary very widely.

Yoruba Boys are demons.

Beware of them. Fall for them at your own peril. Dine with them with a long ladle. See them and run. Kiss them and burn thine tongue. Let them ravish you and their all consuming fire shall ravage you from within and without until all that is left is a smoldering heap of bitterness. The bitterness that comes with tasting poisonous nectar and savouring it until the taste goes from sweet to flat to sour to blinding pain.

Ladies, these are the things Yoruba Boys aka Demons will do to you:

They will kiss you and they will tell.

They will kiss you and moments later, kiss another.

They will kiss you and deny ever kissing you.

They will kiss you and make you fall in love with them. Then not love you in return.

They will kiss you and drive you crazy.

They will kiss you and make you feel indebted that they ever laid lips upon you.

They will kiss you and make you beg for more… then deny you of any more.

They will kiss you and you will just die from pleasure.

They will kiss you and you will end up hating them for it.

They will do all these with no guilt whatsoever.

This is what every Yoruba Boy will do to you, ladies (and gentlemen of that leaning). Every last one of them. No exceptions. This is how they operate. This is the model which is hardwired into their very DNA. It is the blue print every male with yoruba blood coursing through his veins will follow. This is the one generalisation that is not a generalisation. This is true. This is fact. This is Yoruba Boy policy.

Now, here’s the most intriguing part…

This demonic behaviour inherent in all Yoruba Boys was discovered by and is most loudly spoken against by Yoruba Women. This behaviour is also instilled in every Yoruba Boy and encouraged by… Yoruba Women!

Everyone, give a big and resounding round of applause to Yoruba Mothers!

These Yoruba Women have handed down this conundrum from one generation to another since Oduduwa’s chicken first laid the egg from which the world as we know it today would burst forth.

Yoruba Women, on one hand, educate their daughters of the dangerous nature of all Yoruba Boys. They drum it into the young ladies’ ears how they suffered greatly at the hands of Yoruba Men – first their fathers, then their husbands and soon, inevitably, their sons. They motivate their female offspring to beware of Yoruba boys and ensure they never suffer the same fate… All of this while insisting they must not bring home “omo Ibo” or “awon Fulani” or “Kalaba” or “oyinbo” or, God forbid, a lesbian lover! Who come remain?! Oh, the confusion these young girls suffer.

On the other hand, these same Yoruba Mothers are grooming their young sons to be the perfectly typical Yoruba Boy: An arrogant, entitled and self-sufficient son-off-a-gun who sees himself as a gift to all of womankind and is determined to pass that gift around to as many recipients as possible. Because he is Father Christmas. Or more aptly, Broda Christmas. All Yoruba boys are the way they are thanks to their Yoruba Mothers. These women will treat their sons as the kings they are until the poor boy must believe it and goes on to preach this gospel to every feminine ear that will hear it. A king must be paid homage after all, and for that to happen, he must have loyal subjects. Many of them. So how can you blame him when he goes forth to sow the many seeds (usually wild oats) of this truth in every fertile ear and heart he can find?

The great irony herein is that when these Yoruba boys bring their Yoruba girls home, it is the Yoruba mothers who give their potential daughters all the headache in the world. They grill them, stress them, prick and prod them and carry out background checks to ensure this unworthy commoner is worthy of their little kings. The girls who are strong enough to weather the storm survive the baptism of fire and eventually, inevitably go on to hate their mother-in-law, as is typical, while trying to wrestle the heart of the men they love from the vice-like grip of her wrinkled claw. The ones who cannot run screaming to the world and rather than apportion the blame accordingly, the one thing you hear over and over again in their tirade is…

Yoruba Boys are Demons.

These girls eventually marry someone – perhaps of another clan, tribe or race – but more often than not, they end up with another Yoruba boy and bear their own offspring and teach them the truth about Yoruba boys, graciously contributing to the vicious cycle which knows no end.

Now, seeing how I’ve laid down all the realities in this situation, you tell me: who are the real demons?

The Yoruba Boy Conundrum

The term ‘Yoruba Boys’ might seem self-explanatory, right?

Well, it isn’t.

Please, allow me educate you…

Click on any of these tweets to see the thread on twitter and feel free to share

🙂

Things I (Will Never) Say

I’m not comfortable with saying these things. I wish I didn’t. I make a conscious effort to not say them out… but these words are constantly being screamed within the cavernous spaces in my head. At certain times in the past, I’ve been hopeful that I will someday be able to reverse the import of these words and in effect, the words themselves. But this has not happened and I have lost much hope.

Theses are words I say that I wish I didn’t.

I used to be a rapper.

I used to be a dancer.

I used to read a lot.

I used to have friends visit me at home.

I used to be more social.

I used to write poetry.

I used to be a sculptor.

I used to draw regularly.

I used to make music.

Some of these words are foregone conclusions. I will say them till the day I die. I’m resigned to the realities they form. I’m tempted to say “These words will never change” but someone once made the profound statement to “Never say never”. 

A few of these though are malleable. There are steps, mostly drastic, which I could take and possibly reverse these words and perhaps, someday I will.

There are other words though, which scare me. They threaten me daily to become as solid in my consciousness as the words above. I hope to never have reason to say them out loud. I never will.

These are words I hope to never say.

I used to make photographs.

I used to write.

I used to be an artist.

I used to be a blogger.

I used to be a romantic.

I used to be on twitter.

I used to design.

I used to want to get married.

I used to love Instagram.

I used to be an actor.

I used to be interested in visual effects.

I used to be an illustrator.

I used to travel a lot.

I used to tell stories.

I used to be alive.

Restless

Feeling some typa way and decided to live blog on twitter.

The result…


Stifled.
The restlessness is back.
I do not want to be in this place.
I do not want to be here any longer.
The stagnation is apparent.

The ceiling needs to be broken.
The rafters need to make way for the skies.

The smell of freedom wafts past my window.
I cannot perceive it, yet I know it is there.
I can see the scent. I can feel it. Taste it even.
Yet I have no idea how it smells.

Break the glass.
Breathe.
Live.

30 Days Late

Here we go.

Three months and here we go.

This is the first piece of any kind I’m writing in three months. Congratulations are in order, I think.

Now, what to write…

Should I write about not writing? Lol. Done that way too often at this point. I’ve found so many different ways of doing that now. Even as of starting this, I knew how I would do it if I would do it… But I won’t.

So what is this about then, if it isn’t about not-writing or why?

This shall be my 30 Days Of Hope entry.

In an ideal world, I would have practiced what I preached and gone first on the first of January before opening the floor to others. But no, I was drained and I chose to procrastinate till the end of the month. That was two months ago.

Three months into the year and I’m finally putting down what I want to accomplish this year. To be quite honest, the reason it’s taken this long is cos I’m still not sure what any of that is. But as the saying goes, “a failure to plan is a plan to fail”. I don’t want to go on coasting. So lemme lay down a pattern for going forward, no matter how sketchy.

I need to conquer at least two new countries this year. Three would be great. I ’suffer’ from wanderlust and I started with my ‘two new countries (minimum) a year’ plan in 2013. Last year, I managed to do just one, though I also managed a road trip within Nigeria. Couldn’t afford the second country due to the impromptu art project I embarked on (more on that soon). This year, I’ve already embarked on a road trip with this awesome travel collective I joined and I hope to share some of those experiences on here. However, I still plan to do two new countries this year. Three would be awesome, to make up for last year. Now, to figure out how…

Last year, I staged an exhibition. It was a greatly fulfilling project… for the most part. This year, I have no idea how I can possibly pull it off, but I hope to release a publication of some sort. Okay, a book. This is awfully ambitious but definitely possible. What kind of book, I don’t yet know. How? I haven’t the slightest idea. When? Haha. also want to do a deliberate art project. Definitely another exhibition to go along with it. Man, I almost feel like I’m shooting myself in the foot here. Sigh. Oh well…

Career wise, something has got to give. I’m itching for a change and there are several variables here. It could be a change in position, a change in location or a change in resolution. I’ve worked my butt off these last three years and especially these last three months. Something has just got to give. Hmm, We’ll see…

My walk with Christ has been rather lame these last few years. A few weeks ago, I made a step in the general direction of correcting the limp. It’s something I’ve been avoiding for years now but I finally ran out of excuses. I no longer had any reason to run. It was time to give in and so I did. My prayer is that it pays off. Lol, like it has a choice.

This year shall be great. In many ramifications. For me, for you, for all of us. It doesn’t matter what the first quarter has been like. Easy peasy, rough or tough… E go sha better.

In the end, e go better.

Amen.

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.

2014: The Review

As has become tradition, I did a review of last year on Efe’s (@hl_blue) site, which is no longer a wordpress blog but now, stories.ng

Which is why I’m not reblogging this, but rather posting it.

Please enjoy…

_____

2014 has been amazing.

That’s it, my review  is done. We can now call it a day.

Okay okay… I’ll continue, but only because you asked nicely…

My mind is so jumbled up right now, for two reasons:

1. It’s 8.05pm on the 31st December, 2015 and I’ve been writing all four of the paragraphs above for the past 3 hours. So now, I’m in that place where I’m pressured to put down only the most vital things in the least possible time and get this done with.

2. All of those 3 hours, I’ve been furiously busy doing a million and one things at the same time, including this. As I was going about several businesses, my mind kept trying to breeze through the year and pick up the high and low points and the milestones… it couldn’t.

For two reasons:

1. I’ve got an issue with storing memories. I’m great at storing inspiration, feelings, nostalgia even; but recalling a clear picture of things I’ve experienced, heard, see, places I’ve been, people I’ve met… those don’t come as easily. The best example of this is books and movies, two things I’m greatly passionate about. I’ll recall exactly how a book or movie made me feel, the plot, how highly or low I rated it immediately afterwards; but I wouldn’t remember the details. I wouldn’t remember whole scenes. Who said what would be completely gone from my memory within days. It’s just the way it is.

2. The second and more important reason I don’t really remember the great or lousy things about 2014 is that, generally, it hasn’t really been that remarkable. However, it’s been one heck of a year end. Glorious!

And this because two things in particular happened:

1. Love happened. Now, I’ve had a one kind year in that regard in that I’d been loving several people in several capacities all year long. I just couldn’t fully commit to any of them for varying reasons. However, in November, almost like magic, stuff happened really fast and really undeniably magically with this one person. And that was that. Several hearts got broken in the process. People were hurt. And I feel terribly sorry about that. But a choice had to be made on my part and I’m really happy with it, despite all the sadness elsewhere.

2. TheDisConnect happened. As an artist, one is always looking for an opportunity to showcase one’s creativity. One project is concluded and the next is already in conception or even development stages. When one’s talents of light are still under a bushel, they’re looking for a way to uncover it and let it shine let it shine let it shine. In September, it occurred to me that I would be turning 30 in December and seeing how it is a milestone of some importance, I realized I needed to do something tangible, yet memorable. I wanted to say something, start something else… become someone. So I had the idea to stage an exhibition. And I did.

In two ways:

1. There was a traditional, live, exhibition which held at my friend’s gallery in Yaba, Lagos. It opened on the 13th of December and it was well attended and a roaring success. I fee gratefoo, I fee foofeed. This one event probably marked the brightest highlight of my entire year. It was the coming together of a full year’s worth of work. It was beautiful.

It IS beautiful.

2. In only a few hours now, all of that work comes to my very own online space, another reason I feel fulfilled.

olatoxic.com is live!

And there, #theDisConnect comes to berth online. For now and for a little while, the site shall be all about this collection of work, which erupts at noon on the 1st of January. Afterwards? I don’t know what exactly, but the possibilities are endless and I’m at least sure that all my various forms of artistic expression will be showcased in that space.

This leads me to two announcements about existing online spaces:

1. I readopt ‘olatoxic’ on twitter and on instagram going forward. I love my present handle but it is time to stick to one distinct identity. On facebook, I shall continue to use my government name. I also have the rights to olatokunbo.com, which presently redirects you to olatoxic.com so that works perfectly :p I shall not be suffering from aunty Linda Ikeji’s predicaments from a few months ago. Lawl.

2. My blog, Nostalgic Words of Future Me, which can be found at olatoxic.wordpress.com, will not migrate just yet. Whether it will in the future, I cannot ascertain at this time.

However, seeing as it is still where it is, it is where two things shall continue to occur:

1. I shall continue to write a variety of things on there. Chiefly opinion, fiction and poetry.

2. Also, #30DaysOfHope shall be holding there all of January 2015. Interesting tale about that. I began that project 3yrs ago after receiving inspiration from this very challenge I’m undergoing now. Where this challenge involves reflecting upon the ending year, 30 Days of Hope challenges guests to pen down their hopes, goals, dreams and aspirations for the blossoming year.

You’re invited to learn more about #3oDaysOfHope and sign up for a slot here