The devil has done this

At the beginning of time
The devil visited Obalende
Placed a rock here
And placed another there
So the people
Would never be able to walk straight
He put something in the water
Blessed the hands of the suyamen
Sprayed something in the air
That made everyone that sniffed it
Feel that shouting
Was the only way to communicate

The devil was here
Can you not feel it?
Are we sure he ever left?
Can you not see him?

When the heavens opened
And angels held Lucifer sideways
For God to kick his ungrateful behind
Down down to the earth
He landed here
Sat on the rocks
He took a deep breath
And pretended he was relaxed
We thought too…
That if we took breathfuls
Of the Obalende breeze
We would be at peace

The devil was here
Can you not feel it?
The devil has done this
Look now, we are all mad

A Sign.

I am very confused by this shop that I am staring at.

It’s one of the ones beneath the Anthony bridge and although I take the bus over it to Oshodi everyday I have never really bothered with what went on underneath.

It has a lot of signs.

“Chibest photography.”

“Battery charger here.”

I am wondering why a battery charger and a photographer share a store but this is Lagos, these things get hard.

I see another sign.

“Photocopy and print here.”

Maybe the photographer has a printer and photocopier set up in a corner of his studio. Maybe they also serve as props for his photos. Maybe.

I see yet another sign.

“Java Ultrasound scan.”

I am beginning to conclude someone must be crazy. Scans here too?

Oh there. One more sign.

“Carpenter available.”

This is madness.

It is only one store.

It takes me a while longer, as traffic finally begins to move, to notice the sign that says:

“Make your sign boards here”.

Oloshi

You’re sitting in the campus shuttle when it happens. Two girls in the row before yours have been yapping since the journey begun.

You’re half listening to their discussion, half wondering what weave it is one of them is wearing and if the other will let you fix her makeup.

She holds up an iPhone with a broken screen…the one with the bad makeup. She says “Is this him?” The friend replies “Yes”. They both hiss simultaneously and one of them says Oloshi. You cannot tell who.

But it occurs to you that you recognise the photo. It’s his current Twitter profile photo, avatar if you may.

You make a mental note to no longer reply his DMs.

Who wants an Oloshi?

Madness of Numbers

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You no longer know how many great grandchildren you have. This is not because you are senile, you are old, but not that old. This is not because you have lost the ability to count. You can still count, from the number one to the number one hundred like you learnt in standard five, in two languages, Esan and English.

Okpa
Nobody tells you anything anymore.
Osenobula decided to take a few of your children and a lot of your grandchildren back up to serve him. You cannot question the will of Osenobula, even Oboh dare not.
You were in between heart breaks when you heard. You had no time to wonder why none of your friends had come to say ote. Nobody had showed up with gifts and the promise that Osenobula does things for a purpose. The pain of losing a child is not something any amount of sorrys can dull, but it would have been nice to not be alone.
You heard that the entire village believed you to be one who eats her own seed. Holds them back from growing, spilling their young blood for the strength of your coven. You were a bad witch. Even those you had once healed, helped through child birth, helped bring wayward husbands home, helped create wealth from a wealth of nothing.
You called your son in Lagos.
He answered that day, cold. You presumed it was from the pain of losing his own seed. Never had it occurred to you that he too believed you capable of hurting him so. As if these breasts did not feed him, as if these hands did not guide him to manhood.
Nobody tells you anything anymore. Your children no longer speak to you. Every pastor in the world connived to see the same vision. This horrid vision that says you have a taste for your own blood.
Nobody tells you anything anymore.
Eva
You no longer sleep at night. You stay up counting. One to one hundred.
You keep count of the rumours. Someone mentioned at the well that Isi was pregnant. Would it be her first or second baby? There was a pregnancy rumour once but Abhulimhen told you she had miscarried. You wept for days after. Remembering your own five miscarriages, you prayed for weeks, that Isi be freed from such pain. It’s hard to be sure, Abhulimhen lies about his own name sometimes.
You try to keep count of your great grandchildren.
Isi had a boy. Eromosele.
No, Isi had a girl, Ebosetale.
Isi had a baby.
Ea
They called yours a madness of numbers. What else does one title such a thing? Every day you sat outside for an hour, counting. One time in Esan, the other in English. Okpa, Eva, One, Two.
Isi had a boy. Eromosele.
No, Isi had a girl, Ebosetale.
One boy.
Two Girls.
Three great grandchildren.
Ene
These days, you forget what comes after four.
Isen.

A Little

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A little self-love
A little pain
Hang up the boxing gloves
It’s no use preparing for a fight
You done already lost
Clear out the dresser
It’s no use putting make up
On a wounded soul
Lie there
Arms wrapped around yourself
Remember that?
The feel of your own embrace
Remember?
How close to God you feel
Right after you’ve cried rivers

I Dream of a Boy

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I dream of a boy
A frail boy
With limbs like a bird’s
A boy to snap in two

I dream of a boy
Head looking like a teacup
See my boy has but one ear
The other, I talked off

I dream of a boy
Palms rough as a metal sponge
Scrubbing away at burnt pots
With me, for me

I dream of a boy
That’s all edges and no curves
Breakable and not bendable
Breaking only for me

I dream of a boy
His soul buried up up in my attic
His body, sleeping in my bed
His mind, wandering somewhere in Yaba

I dream of a boy
With one million teeth
Fighting to fit in his mouth
His mouth constantly open from the struggle

I dream of a boy
Whose sense of beauty
Starts with my face
And ends with my feet

I dream of a boy
A blind boy
Seeing only what I allow him
Knowing only what I let him

I dream of a boy
That’s mine only
Torn from mother brother
Having no father

I dream of a boy
That’s just like me
Damaged
Beyond any sort of repair