Once upon a time
Once upon a time
I felt oddly comfortable with Aunty Lucia now, and intrigued, as though I had flown her to another planet. shortly afterwards I began to feel nervous as she asked me a couple of questions I found difficulty in proffering answers to. The boyish charm I had had in the beginning emerged again.
“How about I tell you the honest truth?”
Although Aunty Lucia sounded irritable and nervous.
“What truth is that?” I asked.
“Poor child, he’s asking such at a time like this” She muttered beneath her voice. I knew way from her expression, something had definitely gone wrong somewhere. I was scared all the time as she looked at me strangely.
“Jeff will never be mine again” she said with tears. She was more comfortable with Jeff than she had ever been with anyone.
“What really happened Aunty Lucia?” I managed to ask. Aunty Lucia was still pondering the question.
“Jeff and I had been friends for over nine years until we got married and broke up a year after. I met Jeff at a studio and surprisingly had a shooting together. He was one of the most hilarious folks I ever met in my entire life. I really can’t tell if there was anything extraordinary about the relationship we had but I was fond of him as a friend”
“He will come back for you” I said.
Aunty Lucia smiled a small wintry smile. This time my eyes didn’t waver from her face. Aunty Lucia’s eyes were hard and cool, like highly polished marbles.
“I’m a powerful and intelligent woman” she said as she sipped from the coffee set in front of her.
In the nature of things, it is almost impossible that a young man of my sort should have the good fortune to tide through eighteen years of life without making more blunders than one.
The morning came after this night of unrest, and with it the necessity for a plan. I was far too self-willed to recede from a position, especially as it would involve humiliation. Conversely, some people may be too honest. I think of Jeff as the most ethical and guileless man I know. Scrupulously honest and truthful. I felt that he always had to tell the truth even though he was not a sophisticated kind of individual. Jeff also had an uncanny insight for recognizing something that will benefit others. Misery taught him nothing more than defiant endurance of it. His wife was dead, but only to him. The ironical sequence of things angered him like an impish trick from a fellow-creature.
Half-past ten in the morning was about my hour for seeking a good spot – a time when the town avenues were deserted with only Christians walking into holy sanctuaries for a sacred moment of worship. I picked a Bible, leaving the house in utter solitude. I saw a huge structure, a cathedral full of worshippers, lifting their hands above their heads while the priest prayed silently. I could still feel the pains on my chest I felt the night before, I felt guilty and filthy, concluding such a holy place as where I wasn’t qualified to be. It was meant for only clean people I said to myself. I groaned. Of course i wasn’t thinking straight. If I had been I wouldn’t have come here in the first place. I swallowed hard. Reluctantly slid into the chair as I managed to listen to the sermon from the pulpit. I felt the urge to announce to the entire congratulation what I was going through, my nightmares. My expression darkened. I folded my arms across my chest and crossed my legs. I sucked in a sharp breath.
“Heaven is real, hell is real” the priest declared repeatedly. I couldn’t tell if God loved me, within me I felt exiled, lonely and disgraced. I sought healing and a means to escape the saddest world I ever known. The thought of being betrayed by someone I trusted brought me to the edge of despair, physically attacked beyond recognition and belief.
Hunted by abuse in my present and in my past. On a pilgrimage destined to bring me face – to – face with those who sought to destroy me in my early life. I seldom could find freedom from guilt and healing from abuse. I walked out of the church hoping to hear from God on my way home. I knew I never had a home, all I had was seemly locked up in Aunty Lucia’s world.
The rest of the week sped by easily. I wanted to tell the world my pain, but had realized that no one would believe my story. Who would believe I hated what the world would call a pound of pleasure? I tried to stay away from Aunty Lucia that week. I couldn’t visit, for she had warned me never to bring in any visitor, especially female visitors.
Aunty Lucia drove in at about 6:45pm, all looking exhausted.
“Where is this fool?” She thundered. Instantly I felt a sick feeling in my stomach as her voice rushed masterfully through my eardrums. She came right where I sat, looking unruffled and found me. She smiled. Gazing at me for a safe moment. She loved the way I pronounced her name, ‘Aunty LU-cia’, with some exotic accent. She wanted to kiss me, but her heart was pounding so loudly that she found herself turning away out of embarrassment. Soon she stopped right on her tracks and said, “go to my room this minute and prepare my bed” nervously I stood up, starring at her eyes and the perfectly arching eyebrows.
Then she added. “Prepare tonight to give me a massage, as you can see I am overwhelmingly exhausted” I nodded reluctantly.
I leaned over, hands against my thighs to catch my breath, and stared out across the glistening landscape of that house picturesque of mountain Everest. I thought I could escape from the apron strings of Aunty Lucia.
“You’re hiding again”, Aunty Lucia Shrieked at me. Aunty Lucia was beautiful but had a terrible temperament. Her long hair, was woven into a loose bun. She was graceful and elegant. She had wore two rings that left marks on my face. There was a small cut on my head, and red marks where I had been slapped. A welt from one of the rings already visible on my cheek.
Aunty Lucia slapped me across my left ear, and then shook me, holding my both arms, shouting into my devastated face. “Why are you always hiding?”
“I’m sorry” was all I could say. The words were barely more than a whisper as I gasped for air. The beating seemed to take all the wind out of me, all the life out of my soul, as I looked up imploringly with tear-filled eyes at Aunty Lucia.
“You drive me crazy all the time, doing crazy things like hiding”.
She pushed me from her then, as i slid across the well-waxed floor, a few feet away from her, never far enough, as a blue suede high-heeled shoe kicked me with blinding venom in the small thin high that trembled. The biggest bruises were always on my legs and arms, my body, where they were unseen by others. No effort to apologize to soothe me from Aunty Lucia.
I knew that looking up at Aunty Lucia with tear-stained face would only make her angrier. So I kept my eyes focused on the floor, as though she might disappear if I lay there forever.
Aunty Lucia had suffered depression right from when she lost her husband, not to death but to the hands of another woman. She was never known to be promiscuous or vile until the day she was told by Jeff that the marriage was over. She had been pretty then, and young, something of a beauty, and there was a coolness about her that drove Jeff into frenzy. She begged, pleaded, and wanted him desperately. She pursued him, the more aloof he was. Aunty Lucia soon went back to her own activities rapidly, doing window shopping, going to tea parties in the afternoon, and reluctantly having lunch with friends. And more than ever, she wanted to go out every evening.
She went in and picked a thick rope from the kitchen and tied me down.
Aunty Lucia forcefully pulled out my helpless organ finally, She could see tears dripping down my eyes as she squeezed my organ with all the anger in her. She brought out a dagger, a pen and a paper and said, ” you are 18 and you don’t need me to tell you what to do, you either wake this dead snake up or I kill you with my own venom”. She was completely naked, I tried not to look, I was in so much pain, right there and then nature took its free course. She could feel I was a bit active, in as much as I tried to get rid of the moment. She screamed and was entirely cursing. Calling on Jeff with swearing words. I was being crucified for a sin I didn’t commit. I noticed she was all the time biting the bed sheet. She went down subtly, rode on me the more, my whole frame was getting weaker. I couldn’t move, but was shaking terribly on the floor until she unleashed some liquid on my face. I felt so disgusted. Aunty Lucia drained me for couple of hours until I fell unconscious. Void of any life or breath.
For a split second I was dreaming, I considered the odds, then made a run for the alley. Halfway across the street, I felt a bullet rip through my shoulder. I stumbled, pain searing my senses. Blood dripped down my arm, but I couldn’t afford to slow my pace. I ran toward the narrow alley lined with someone’s laundry, trying to ignore the footsteps of Aunty Lucia behind me. Clinging to the truck’s rusty bumper that I saw, I searched for an escape route, weighing my options one by one. Aunty Lucia wasn’t far from me.
By the following morning I woke up late praying not to set eyes on Aunty Lucia.
I was just 18 but I felt I was only 9 inside me. How I felt the heavy bruises of Aunty Lucia’s fist against my fragile chest almost gave me a seizure. Aunty Lucia believed that so long as I had a snake, big or small dangling in between my legs, then I was worthy of some sort of crucifixion.
A clock ticked loudly in the hall. It was stifling where I stood, my eyes wide in the darkness, waiting, barely to breathe, as I heard muffled footsteps approaching from the distance. The sharp clicking of Aunty Lucia’s heel clattered past like an express train roaring thunderously through the city, i could almost feel the air whoosh past my face with relief in the crowded closet. I let myself breathe again, just once, and then held my breath, as though even the sound of it would draw Aunty Lucia’s attention. Even at 18, I knew that Aunty Lucia had supernatural powers. She could tell where I was and what my fears were. And almost as though I could detect her scent, the pull of a big Aunty to a young man inevitable, avoidable. Aunty Lucia had inky-brown eyes, all-seeing, all-knowing. I knew that no matter where I hid, eventually she would find me. But I hid anyway, had to try at least to escape her.
I was undersize, underweight and dark in complexion.
Aunty Lucia’s heels rattled past again, pounding harder on the floor this time. I knew instinctively that the search had heightened. The closet in my own room would have been torn apart by then, also the equipment closet under the stairs, behind the kitchen, the shed outside the house, in the garden. We lived in a narrow town house, with a small, well-kept garden. Aunty Lucia hated gardening, a Yoruba man came twice a week to cut things, mow the tiny patch of lawn, and keep it tidy. More than anything, Aunty Lucia hated disorder, she hated noise, dirt and lies. I was always being told to stay clean, to stay in my room, and not disturb anything. I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio, or watch the Tv.
Mum had been gone for two years, and come back the year before. She still had a uniform in the back of a closet somewhere, for she was a police officer. I had seen the uniform there once, when I was hiding. It had bright shiny buttons on it, and it was a bit scratchy. Mum was tall, lean and beautiful, with the same eyes the same color as mine. But hers was just a little darker.
The thin high heels walked past the closet again, more slowly this time, and I knew what that meant. The search was ending. I had narrowed it down to the last of the hiding places, and it was only a matter of time before Aunty Lucia found me. I thought of turning myself in, sometimes Aunty Lucia told me that I wouldn’t have been punished if I had been brave enough to do that. But most of the time, I wasn’t. She had tried it once or twice, but it was always too late, by then, Aunty Lucia said, if only I had confessed earlier, it would have been different. It would have been good if I didn’t push my food around the table angrily and let the lead fall over the edge until they left grease spots on the table.
The footsteps stopped outside the closet door this time, and for brief moment, there was an interminable silence before the door was suddenly yanked open. Light filtered back into the bowels of the closet where I hid, and I closed my eyes as though to shield myself from it. It was the nearest crack of light reaching toward me through the coats. But to me it felt like the bright sunlight of exposure. I could smell Aunty Lucia’s perfume heavy in the air, and sense her closeness. The rustle of the petticoats Aunty Lucia wore were like a raging warning sound to me. And the slowly the coats were pushed apart, creating a deep canyon leading straight into the back of the closet. And for a long, silent moment my eyes met the eyes of Aunty Lucia. There was no sound, no word, no exchange between us.
I knew better than to explain, apologize, or even to cry. My already too-small eyes seemed to outgrow my face as I watched the inevitable rage grow in Aunty Lucia’s eyes and with a super human gesture, Aunty Lucia’s arm lunged toward me, grabbed me by one arm, yanked me off the ground, and pulled me forward with such speed that the air seemed to leave my lungs with a small whooshing sound as I landed unsteadily on my feet next to Aunty Lucia. And within an instant the first blow fell, dropping me to the ground with such force it left me breathless. There was no whimper of pain, no sound at all, as Aunty Lucia slapped me hard across the top of my head, and then pulled me to get my feet again with one hand, and hit me as hard as I could across the face with the other. To me the sound of the blow was deafening…
She laughed at what I had said, and just talking about it seemed weird to both of us. I had spent the most treasured time of my life chatting with Sherry, she was so well informed, so intelligent, and so wise. It was a real holiday for both of us, we sat in the garden watching the fireworks that lit up the sky. I needed to say something – something quite fascinating- something that will make her chuckle. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Very well, are you?” She asked too as her smile let out a curve so distinct like a fairy queen. I hurriedly replied “not really but I will be fine.” She smiled and shook her head. I had imagined she already knew what was running through my mind. I was shy to look too closely into her eyes, I had nursed all I wanted to say but somehow I felt threatened by any probable rejection.
“Hey Tom, is there something you’d like to tell me? I sensed you’ve not been yourself lately” She said. Somehow my love for Sherry was something I knew i needed to admit to as a man. I felt my heart was in a race, I looked at her with a lot of questions fighting within me, and knowing that I was at the verge of losing her, I quickly summoned the confidence to speak.
” I am traveling first thing tomorrow and I might not be back again” Sherry said. When I gave myself to falling in love deeply with Sherry I didn’t know what I was preparing my heart for – ineed a possible heartbreak. I had never realized how much it would mean to me to have saved myself for her. In my heart, I already felt married to Sherry. We left the garden slowly back to the car.
“Take good care of yourself Tom,” She said gently to me.
“I love you” I said.
I couldn’t tell where that came from. Sherry smiled. She seemed to have known me for a long time. ” Is that what you’ve been nursing to tell me all along?” She asked.
“Yes” I said.
But she left immediately without saying a word to me.
I hated to leave Sherry. And it was even more depressing when I got back home. I wanted so desperately to be with her, I lay awake in my bed for hours that night. I seemed lost in my thoughts. I remembered every inch of Sherry and her raw beauty. Transported again by the emotions of the past one hour, I began to mutter to myself ” You know I want to be with you more than anything else in the world.” Tears filled my eyes knowing that I have missed a lifetime journey with someone I love.
Only if she would love me forever
Only if Sherry would come back.
To every action, there is a consequence. How does Adaora comprehend the aftermath of a murder erroneously committed?
As narrated by Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys
NO TO A WRITER HUSBAND
Despite Adichie’s love for writing, she would not tolerate a writer for a husband nor live in a place surrounded by writers, Imasuen said.
“She thought if she were married to a writer, one day she’d wake up and strangle him,” he said.*
*“She could never live somewhere like New York, where you were tripping over writers every time you turned around, writers in restaurants, writers in the supermarket, writers on the subway.*
*“But back then the thought of a roomful of writers discussing craft appealed to her.”*
*Imaseun said Adichie thought she would marry someone “flambouyantly unfamiliar but the man she ended up marrying, in 2009, was almost comically suitable”.*
*Adichie was quoted to have said: “One of the perils of a feminist marriage is that the man actually wants to be there. He is so present and he does every damn thing! And the child adores him. I swear to God, sometimes I look at her and say, I carried you for nine months, my breasts went down because of you, my belly is slack because of you, and now Papa comes home and you run off and ignore me. Really?”
WANTED TO BE A PRIEST
Adichie was raised Catholic and loved the ways of the church. But she wanted to be more than just a worshiper, she wanted to be a priest, simply because of the power that comes with it.*
*“Nigerian Catholicism is almost feudal, and the priest is God,” Adichie was quoted to have said.*
*“The priest would sweep in in his long soutane, and you cleared the way because Father was coming. I wanted that! I wanted the power. But it was a beautiful kind of power, because I felt I would instruct people on… I had dangerous ideas as a child.”
BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION
“I was a popular child who had tons of friends and did well in school, but then I would have moments where I didn’t want to see anybody, didn’t want to talk to anybody, cried for no reason, felt that I was bad and terrible, isolated myself,” she said.*
*Her family, she said, does not understand depression because “they expect a reason” for it.*
“I can’t even read. It’s a horrible, horrible thing. I can’t see my life, I’m blind. I feel myself sinking—that’s the word I use with my family and friends. Well, actually, I don’t talk about it with my family much, as lovely as they are, because they don’t really understand depression. They expect a reason, but I don’t have a reason,” she said.
Imasuen said when Adichie is depressed, “she sits for hours and watches films about the Holocaust. Her family tries to discourage her from doing this—it seems to them unlikely to be helpful—but she does it anyway”.
He further said Adichie is not trying to cure herself of depression.
“I think I’m addicted to a certain kind of nostalgia,” Adichie said.
“I watch these films and I find myself in a state of mourning for all the things that could have been. They just make me cry and cry. I don’t know. All I know is that I will continue to watch them. I go on Netflix all the time to check, to see.”*
Imasuen added that Adichie loves originality, freedom and self expression, irrespective of the twists in one’s life.
“She wanted people to feel that they could be who they actually were. She particularly wanted gay writers to feel at home, because it was so hard to be gay elsewhere in Nigeria, and in fact two people in her workshop came out there for the first time. On the other hand, she also wanted people who had what she considered to be the wrong beliefs to say what they were thinking, as long as they didn’t do so in a nasty way. It wasn’t that she felt that all beliefs were acceptable; in fact, she considered one goal of the workshop to be social engineering,” he said.
Most women love pearls, but remember pearls are the products of pain and pressure. For some unknown reason the shell of the oyster gets pierced and an alien substance – a grain of sand – slips Inside. On the entry of that foreign irritant, all the resources within the tiny, sensitive oyster rush to the spot and begin to release healing fluids that otherwise would have remained dormant. After some time the irritant is covered and the wound is healed – by a pearl!
It takes a great effort to maintain an image. Start being you and the stress level will start to fall.
You cannot think of failure and then succeed or in terms of weakness and be strong.
Remember, complaining and criticising can become one of our worst habits and habits are extremely hard to break.
The book of proverbs say, “A merry heart doeth good like medicine”.
Always laugh when you feel like and when you don’t even feel like. Being too serious makes you look old and worn out. Take out time to spend with kids and read with them comic books.
Be warm in your feelings towards others and express appreciation. Never forget that Pulling others down with your tongue or pen won’t take you up instead.
Replace anger with love, despair with hope, sorrow with joy, worry with trust, mediocrity with diligence and creativity.
Finally when you accept personal responsibility for your life, the whole world looks different.
Amidst the derelicts living on the streets of Jonny, followed a stench, a somewhat acrid smell leaving quite a number of students walking through the main gate into campus more or less overwhelmed by the stop and search. Usually girls with ripped jeans and flamboyant tops end up getting the heat.
The vagrant white Mercedes car rattled helplessly from the garage. In it sat a Professor on his way to assume office as the newly appointed dean of students’ affairs. The professor, a good-looking man, had his eyes fixed on the headline that made the news for the DAY NEWSPAPER. His glasses fell in between his nose as he often shrugged in a subtle manner flipping each page with a stern and scary countenance .
” What insolence! ” he exclaimed.
Adamu wasn’t too sure of Prof’s sudden reaction to what he was reading , but he knew whatever it was , it wouldn’t resort to Prof losing his life or perhaps maybe it was just another coup. Adamu prayed earnestly each day never to experience another civil war.
He stuttered and asked with a summed up courage ” Oga at the top….emmm… Hope no peoblem sha ”
” Just Keep driving Adamu, i am fine”
His body desired a good place where he could really express his anger. He felt he needed to tell someone how irrational it was for a local government chairman to embezzle public funds and also be celebrated.
He saw a white signboard, although he had seen it countless time. It was the Faculty of Arts. After driving through the dusty road leading to the campus’s main library, he ordered Adamu to stop as he highlighted with a fierce look as he headed for the Vice Chancellor’s office.
” I need to see the V.C right away” he thundered.
” welcome Prof. Good to see you, the VC He is not in at the moment” she said with a deformed smile.
The secretary who had been sleeping and snoring effortlessly, rubbed her eyes with her left hand and waited to see what next Prof had up his sleeves. ” where is the Registrar ?” He is not in his office at the moment, he left not quite long with the V.c ”
Still busy bitting his thumb and musing within himself the door opened noiselessly and a fair lady in a transparent dress walked in…