Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the dumbest of them all?

IMG_20170325_134053_editI discovered porn in 1998. I don’t mean I discovered it like Marie Curie discovered Radium and Polonium, more like how Columbus discovered America or Mungo Park discovered the source of the Niger River. It was there even though I had no knowledge of its existence.

Which reminds me, at about the same time Festus whispered to me in Geography class that the truth about Mungo Park’s death was covered up. According to him, Mungo Park was brutally raped to death by Black savages. He emphasised that they were Big Black Men to allude to their sizeable penises, but I figured that part out without his leering when he said Big Black Men.

Like I said earlier, I discovered porn at around that time. The Twins had an unmarried uncle who lived with them at the time. He would often co-opt the family VCR and TV – most peoples’ TVs were hardly bigger than 21 inches, so not a big deal moving it in and out of the living room.

Curious imps that they were, they decided they wanted to be part of Uncle’s private screening and so they did. Through a hole we -I joined after they informed me of a whole new world after they saw their third of such films- found out that the Black Men had much bigger penises than the others and I swelled with pride.

I am swollen right now, but not from pride it is fear that fills me right now. The days of risking a beating to see naked people are beyond me. The risk is greater now, it is either the end of a relationship or a lost job as I will soon find out.

I’m in my second month at this eCommerce business, my job description is Public Relations executive and it is as cool as it sounds, I get to meet so many celebrities I am starting to think I’m one of them.

We are in the Boss’ office with the IT guy, HR head and the Boss himself Tunde, I know the fact that I am the only one standing is a bad sign.

Tunde starts to talk, deliberately, picking and mulling over every word before he utters it.

“So you received all the internal memos about the increased bandwidth to blacklisted sites?”

I swallow spit. How can they know it is me? I have masked my computer’s IP address since my first day here, my screen is turned away from everyone, my seat is in the corner away from everyone, you can’t get behind me, the CCTV camera can’t see what I am doing either. All my bases are covered.

I am going to bluff my way out of this. I hear myself say:

“I received those memos and I have no idea what that has to do with me”

Tunde looks at me, pauses like he is trying to find the right words.

“We sent those emails because we hoped you would take the hint, we know you have been watching porn during work hours, we know there are down times when everyone sneaks some entertainment in, we all do it. Instagram, Twitter or Youtube, but we can’t have you watching porn in the full glare of everyone”

What does he mean full glare of everyone?

“We can all see the reflection of your screen in the glass wall behind you, why you have never noticed surprises me, we will have to let you go, you are a brilliant guy but there have been too many complaints, Bello will give you your settlement and a letter of recommendation, all the best in the future and try to keep private things private”

Of course I never noticed the reflection in the glass; I always close the lid of my laptop when I am going away from my seat.

 

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The Lights of Ceuta

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The lights of Ceuta

Jimi Osheidu

14/4/2015

The first time I heard of it, I was watching newsline on NTA, Dad was still principal at that school where they let teachers speak in vernacular to the students since that was the only way they could effectively communicate with the students. It was Frank Olize who was on the Panasonic TV that made our neighbours green with envy for years until they left us behind and bought plasma TVs. Frank Olize was talking about a Nigerian who had travelled to Europe by road, his name was Newton Jibunoh. Before then I had no idea you could go to Europe by road.

I asked my Dad “can one go to Europe by road?”

He answered: “it’s a very long journey, and you have to cross the Mediterranean Sea at some point, but yes, one can travel to Europe by road.”

It was years later before the idea crossed my mind again, by then we had moved to Minna, I was in my third year in the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Victor my friend was showing me pictures of Igho in London. Igho was part of the students alongside me who got indefinitely suspended for “membership of unregistered associations”, most students knew this was just a nice way of saying cultism, but in some cases that was exactly what it was, membership of clubs that the school didn’t recognise.

Me, I was part of “the Nobles”, we weren’t as fly as say ‘Quest boys” but we got our fair share of the action, or the ‘booty’, as Ahmed would say with that leering look on his face. Well, while I spent an entire session loafing around at Victor’s place at F-layout, when my parents thought I was attending lectures, Igho had managed to get to England by road. There were about six of us at the house that day, Ahmed and his ‘handbag’ Jemila, Victor, Ali, and Charles. Igho claimed we would need not less than #200,000 cash to make the trip, but once we got to Spain, all we had to do was contact his cousin Maro and we were fine.

I liked the idea of it, but I didn’t know if I had the balls to go through with it, I imagined watching my favourite team Real Madrid play at the Bernabeau, or to hear a Catalan girl with hazel coloured eyes say Te Amo to me. I was blissfully in this daydream when I got off the okada in front of our house, my sister Oreka was outside, the terror on her face told me my secret was out.

“You shouldn’t go in now, Dr Alabi just told Dad that you have been expelled from school since last year, he is threatening to kill you himself”.

I walked in regardless, I was big brother, I couldn’t show fear, the walk to the living room felt like the Israelite’s journey to the promised land.”

“and where are you coming from?, Can’t you speak?”

I tried to say something, but I was stunned by the punch he landed in my gut, my insides felt like a gremlin was going to work in it with a jackhammer, who knew he still had that much strength. The rest of that day was a blur, I know I shoved him back after he wouldn’t stop striking me. I remember Momsy crying softly in the corner, i remember grabbing some clothes, all my cash and my Nas’ Stillmatic CD and leaving through the back gate.

I got back to Victor’s place and told him I was down, Ahmed joined us with a bottle of Lord’s dry gin and we started to plan. I knew Momsy had #350,000 of the Women’s Cooperative money hidden in the floor safe at the shop, getting in would be easy; I sometimes sleep in the shop to deter thieves and I knew the burglary proof grille was a mere facade. Ahmed said Jemila could give #150,000, the rest he would get from his brother under the pretext of ‘project money’. Victor promised to come along with me if I would loan him #100,000, he planned to get the rest from sale of his things in the room and rent from the next occupants of his room, his rent had been due for the past month anyway, they were new students and they didn’t know who the owner of was, so Victor was their estate agent.

According to Igho, we were meant to head for Benin, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania then Morocco, according to Igho, we would be able to see the lights of Ceuta in Spain from Morocco. We were so excited we couldn’t wait for midnight. I don’t if know my parents tried to call me, my phone was long dead.

Victor and I left F-layout at 11:30pm, we had drained the last of the gin for some courage. We stopped the okada at the mosque and walked the rest of the way to the market. The market was deathly quiet at that time of the day. We got to the shop without incident, I gently loosened the blocks surrounding the metal grille over the window, then  eased out six louvers so we could climb in. I made quick work of the floor safe, Momsy never bothered to lock it since no one outside the family knew of its existence. I put the cash in Victor’s fanny pack and he climbed out of the window. I was fixing the floor boards back when I heard the voice:

“Wai ne”

I froze.

“wai ne’,  even louder this time.

Then I heard the sounds of running feet, and then the market came alive, yells of “Barawo” rent the air. Someone was pounding on the door of Momsy shop. “Mama Osebi, who they there, thief don enter una shop o, we dey pursue am”, “who dey inside?”.

I had no choice but to answer: “na me Osebi, I dey inside”

“comot make we go catch am”

I join the chase, by the time I get to the market gate, a small crowd had gathered, Victor was in a bloody pulp, his eyes were swollen shut, how did this happen so fast?  Someone hands me the fanny pack, the money is inside.

“which kain sleep you dey sleep wey you no know say thief enter”

Someone says: ’”I see as him dey comot from your mama shop window, him come dey run”

The same speaker kicks Victor in the ribs, he groans softly. One of the vigilante men rolls two tyres from the spare parts shop. An okada man drains fuel from his tank, they set Victor ablaze, he tries to get up when they set him on fire, they strike him across the head  with a metal rod, he falls to the ground twitching. I stand there clutching the fanny pack, unable to avert my eyes from the flames, the acrid smell of smoke burns my nose but I don’t flinch… till this day I still can’t stand the smell of roasting goat meat.

of tambourines and deliverance

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It is the third day I have been without food or water, I am surprised I can still function, at least to some extent, the most surprising part of this deprivation is that it isn’t even food I miss the most, I am no longer thirsty even, it’s the insomnia that’s the real killer.

We have been clapping and chanting about removing the devil from our ancestor’s houses, by we I mean I and this mishmash of people in this church, the deliverance leader today is that lady that has difficulty pronouncing the letter r, we have managed to yell ‘pways the lord’ a number of times already.

Today has definitely been an eye-opener, when the main deliverer asked how many of us had illegally broken our fast, quite a number of hands went up, I refuse to own up to this one, my honesty has brought enough trouble already, truth is, I let some water slide down my throat when I brush in the morning, else I have been faithful.

I like the guy with the emerging beer belly, I overheard him during counselling say he had no problems, and was only here because his fiancé demanded it, wouldn’t it be great to live life thinking I had no problems, I like him very much, he doesn’t let them bully him into shouting any louder than he wants, neither does he shake his body convulsively when they tell us to receive the holy spirit, I like him, I’m not just as brave.

The waif-like woman next to me scares me, I made the mistake of opening my eyes while she was in one of her innumerable trances, her eyes had rolled back into her head, reminded me of something from “the exorcist”, she needs help, I just hope she gets it here.

Sister Pways tells me to yell the ‘tongues’ louder, I keep saying “oh Lord, please save me from this torment” in my dialect, I hope no one here understands my dialect else the game is up for me, obscure as the dialect is you just never know, thankfully she is satisfied by my increased decibels.

We stop after what feels like eons, we are warned not to break our fast till tomorrow and left to get some sleep, I scoff to myself, like that would happen, lying on the floor hurts, it must be some miracle for anyone to lose this much weight this quickly.

I lie down on my mat, my ribs hurt, I wince. Beer belly asks if I am alright, I tell him I am super, he shows me pictures of his fiancé on his mobile (aren’t those contraband on the ‘mountain?), the fiancé is striking in an uncanny way, those eyes can’t be their natural colour, we shoot the breeze for a while till he drifts off to sleep, then starts snoring so violently that he wakes his own self.

I count the hours till morning, I notice shafts of light from the holes the nails made in the roof, it would be a rather sunny day I think, they would soon ring the bell for today’s mission.

I wouldn’t be here if only I kept my mouth shut, me and my i-say-what-i-think self, if only I had taken the damn tambourine and shaken the hell out of it, I wouldn’t be here right now, I’d be fed and rested, instead I had to open my big mouth and say “I don’t like tambourines” at morning devotion.

Reprieve

It has been so long I had this conversation that I am sore tempted to come up with an introduction of sorts, my excuse for the rather long hiatus is that God has answered a lot of my prayers and I have been left so much to do that I have little time to blog, you know what they say, careful what you wish for ‘cos you might get it.
This past year has been a blessing, I have at times slipped into my moments of gloom, but after a juxtaposition of my situation with what might have been, I realise that I am extremely blessed.
I have tried to develop my short story writing with this blog, and would continue to do so, so here goes nothing.

You would think by now he would notice how eerily deserted his street is, or the over gesticulating traffic warden at the junction, but he never notices any of these things. All that keeps him occupied is his obsession, the monkey on his back, his zahir. Zahir, some word he picked up from one of those numerous books he reads to impress the girls, smart is the new sexy they say.

This time around he has picked up some useful knowledge although it is very unlikely that knowledge would be of any help, like been diagnosed with a terminal illness, all you can do is wait for the inevitable. He has pored through various texts, it is of no use, He knows what is coming, the end would surely be ugly, but he doesn’t shorten his strides, determinedly he puts one step after another to certain excruciating pain.

He ponders on the events that have brought him to this fate, the parties with the decadently good food, the skipped morning rituals, doctors appointments he put off indefinitely, ignoring mother’s sound advice.
He prays to all the gods he knows and pleads that this cup passes over him, It is a new year, time to make whole scale lifestyle changes he vows,

He takes a deep breath and knocks on the pale gray door, she calls out in her cheery voice, “come in”, that voice causes him to swallow spittle, pain shoots through the left side of his face. He enters she is dressed in a white flowing robe, she has a glow to her, he notices none of these, she looks at him smiles and says Mr Jimi so you have finally come to get those teeth extracted.

EQUILIBRIUM

I am here again after another imposed hiatus, the stares don’t faze me anymore…I head to my corner of the large hall, my shoes make a click-clack sound on the polished marble, some of the minions present polite smiles, others don’t even bother hiding the hostility they feel toward me.
I know what they are thinking, how dare I come back after last week’s fiasco?…fiasco. they say, ….how do I make them understand that it suddenly made sense for me to take off my clothes in the middle of our power lunch with our revered clients, and do a rain dance on the conference table, boy, did I dance,…it was the most exhilarating experience I ever had, much better than the high those junkies describe on T.V
Now all of these, in retrospect seem stupid and impulsive, but I have never been one to curb excesses, when the voices call, I answer.
They don’t have to worry about me for too long, I am here to pick up the few personal effects i posses, Daddy says he can’t afford to keep around anymore. I have cost the company too much lately, my incidents have become too frequent they say, incidents. They call them in like to think of them as euphoric occasions…I’ll let you in on a secret, i have started to look forward to them, times when i don’t have to conform to their infernal rules. They say I am emotionally imbalanced, but by whose scale have they measured my sanity.
I know what Daddy would do, he would provide the best of care, but keep out of sight, no one wants people his child is a nutter.
I have no complaints. I am glad for the release.
 ADDENDUM
This post was inspired by a reunion of sorts I had with some friends in the past week. I met a childhood friend who has been having psychological problems, I had heard about his problem, but I didn’t know how serious, he didn’t recognize me at first an d when he did, our conversation was disjointed.
I felt guilty that we (my friends and I) kept our distance from him and generally treated him like what he had, would somehow jump at us like a crazed vampire.
I have no solution for his problem, but came to the realisation that we as a society treat people with mental illnesses with a lot of stigma, or just plainly ignore them, I believe a lot more attention needs to be paid to this matters.

that’s my two cents on that…i pray we all find ….love…peace and happiness

Incandescence

It was supposed to be my quintessential day, I go around with the stony expression on my face, the occasional smile when am coerced into one, then I go back home and start the same cycle again, then I got the call that changed the day and my perspective on a lot of things.

It wasn’t the strangest call ever, Facebook had managed to keep us interconnected on a basic level, but it was nothing compared to the voice I heard on the other end of the line…. The words were simple: where are you? I answer: “I’m at the market”, he doesn’t ask where that is or why am there, all he says is “I’m in town”…I say “I can be with you in an hour”, he says okay, we chose a rendezvous point and an appointment is set.
I spend the cab ride pondering on how I will put my situation through to him without losing any face, I mean, I used to be the cool, popular kid, the belle, the one who was most likely to be on the cover of magazines or on television, now all I had was a secondary school leaving certificate, and an unquenchable rage at the world, the driver jolts me out of my reverie, he announces that we are there, I and get out of the cab… I check my image in the window of a parked car, I am as spiffy as ever, at least that should reaffirm his preconception of me, I walk into the eatery and he is seated, unassuming in a corner, he hasn’t changed much, he is still as nondescript as he was, slight build, no distinguishing features to make him stand out from the mob, but I know better than to think he isn’t special, I knew he was special before the world was let in on my secret, my precious.

I smile and wave, like I have done numerous times before, times when the smile welled up from the very essence of me, his face lights up, strange. He shouldn’t be smiling at me. He reaches for a hug. I am stiff and hold my breath during the conjoining of our bodies. Why is he still smiling? Doesn’t he remember? I remember too clearly, no matter how much I try to, I ripped his heart to shreds, I think I paraphrase his words, but it was him to be overly dramatic when it came to such things.
He makes a fuss of pulling out a chair for me, still the gentleman I see, he asks a myriad of trivial questions, I answer in monotones, I want to get it over with, and crawl back into my hole, I like it there in my hole, its quiet and doesn’t look at me with piercing eyes that see into my very soul, seeing all I want to hide and keep locked away forever, images of pasty, pallid men flash in my head, I shake my head vigorously to get them out, he asks what is wrong, I can’t remember the answer I gave him.

I see them again, their callused, liver-spotted hands groping at me, my forced moans filling the dank room. Why is it never warm in this room, Italy was supposed to be warm wasn’t it? I have never been able to shake the cold off my bones ever since I got to this country with Alfred, Alfred with his slick tongue, he said I was going to be a super-model, I liked the sound of that, I had always turned heads since I turned thirteen and Mama had made me listen about the evil that men were, but she was so wrong, they are not all evil, Papa might have left her to care for five rascally children, but angels walk among them, this effusively smiling man in front of me is one them, the angels.

He asks if I have been listening to him, I have, but his words don’t make sense, he still cares for me he says, he has been to see Mama already in the village. He wants me for wife. Wife. Who would ever use that word to refer to me….I ask if he knows where I have been for the past three years, he answers in the affirmative.

I leave him staring in my wake, I refuse in the most explicit terms I can muster, he has come too far for my trifling self to drag him down, I have had pictures and videos of me made, I can’t have him lose it all for me……for the first time in forever I feel good about myself, I actually did something good for someone else…..I might just still be redeemable……

Footnote: I have always wanted to try my hands at fiction, I thought the story I would write will have some action and gore in it, but I somehow managed to write that instead..I hope it made sense and you didn’t feel like you wasted your time…….till next time…I hope you find love, peace and happiness