The Chicken story

Memories, it can be sometimes painful. When you close your eyes, and between your eyelids, pictures emerge and remind you of things. You are old now and you wonder about the years, the pains and you wonder why they were so painful. What did they call it? Hindsight? Hmmm, never mind. Another festive season approaches, you watch the activity, the excitement that starts building. You remember the weather. It has gone a bit hazy now.
You remember walking the streets as the harmattan winds bit into your skin. The sun already hot, at nine in the morning. The little dust clouds your feet make as you skid across the street, the Earth in your nostrils.. Your head feels stuffed and your nose runs. It doesn’t matter, it is Christmas and you hear the songs. The carols they call it. It is time to dream of Jesus. You ask Him in your mind as you flip the pages. Did He ever celebrate Christmas too? You have read of Santa Claus in strange lands. They don’t understand about dust or dust haze, your fingers numb with cold nor about the chicken. Ah yes, the chicken as you wonder if you will get a fair share this time. Father has not even given any sign that they will be chicken this Christmas. You listen as hard as you can but everybody seems mournful and you return to your corner by the bed as you whisper the question to Jesus.
‘Please send one chicken to us. I know your father is a carpenter, but this is your birthday as papa says and it is the only time we eat chicken…and rice’. You say your Amen and wait trustingly. There are still two more days to Christmas. As you sneak out from your corner, you remember one more thing so you return
‘It is me again Jesus, please do something about the rice too, not that I like it. It is such a bother sitting still and picking the stones out of it. I prefer pounded yam really but the women make such a ceremony out of cooking rice and chicken. Papa prefers hot pounded yam on Christmas morning and he tops it with palm wine. I prefer that too’.
Prayers complete you return to wash the toilets, sweep the yard and wait to see which of your friends are ready. Chicken has started arriving in the barracks now. The clucking and squawking add to the excitement. No chicken yet in our house and a pair of brown eyes look trustingly to the east. In my heart, I knew the chicken will come. I watch Father’s eyes each night.
Today is Christmas eve, Father has gone to work and there is no sign of chicken but I am playing confidently in the yard. Father’s wives are going about their chores. They are making a huge pot of soup. No chicken as Father said it was too expensive for him to buy.
The children are seated around a calabash tray picking stones away from the brown rice. My heart skips a beat. I am holding a quiet conversation with my unseen friend. He is Arab but his colouring is funny. I mean, I think he is Arab like Ajide my friend but I know Him different. Then the knock comes at the door and a voice requests to know if Father is home. One of the wives answers the door.
She returns moments later a big grin on her face as she carries the biggest and fattest chicken we had ever seen.
A note was attached to its leg. The note was kept on the table for father as the children chased the squawking chicken into the yard and got it ready. We were all excited and danced around the chicken as our big uncle was fetched to kill the chicken.
Later in the evening when Father came back from work he listened in amazement as we told him how big the chicken was. He read the note, read it again. Quietly went into his bedroom and lay there reading the note. Father kept that note for the rest of his life. He still never went to Church, but he always celebrated Christmas and we would put palm wine in a goat’s horn to pray for us each Christmas morning, However, he would read the note to himself every morning.
One Christmas morning, Father called me into his bedroom and gave me the note to read. It was a simple note
‘Love is available to all human beings. When we learn to give of ourselves, then the celebration of His birthday is assured.
The chicken has been paid for by Jesus two thousand years ago.
Have a loving celebration of His birth’
Your grandson tugs at your hands and you jerk into the present, smile at him as he shows you his own picture of Christmas.

Where amI?

When it is a lethargy of the mind. You know you sit back, write the story, you are even amused and smile. The story flows, your adrenalin picks up a further step. You find you have been enthused for hours and you hold an animated discussion with your characters. Sigh, that was all in your mind. You come to reality when the empty computer screen mocks you with its flashes. You stand up and move to the window, its dark. Its November, the sky has not stopped weeping. Since October actually. You move to the computer again. Stare at it and wonder if you are ever going to write. You can’t remember how many times these scenes have been played out by you. It is a mercy that you have even returned to posting on your blog. Or go for a walk.
Well you did last evening, go for a walk I mean, surprised to feel the vibrant air again and your legs ached. You wonder why you did not notice the roses were now in bloom. Where have you been? You pinch your skin, and that is when you notice the wrinkles under your arm. In alarm, you hurry to your bedroom. You did not notice you had gotten that old. A long full stare in the mirror and those sad eyes weren’t your eyes were they?
Where had life gone? The phone rings and it startles you. A deep voice at the end of the line tells you nothing. The croak couldn’t be your voice surely? So you clear it and a whisper comes forth. A voice that had not been used for a while timidly wants to know who the caller is.
‘Your husband darling, are you awake now’?
I have a husband? You wonder
‘Do you feel better now’?
Have I been sick? I just went away into the meadows of my mind. Did I leave anyone behind?
You become anxious and stare suspiciously at the phone
‘Who is this please’?
Then the soft laugh and a gentle reassuring voice shakes you awake
‘Wake up darling, you slept off at the computer, must have been a boring story. Your grandson is at the door asking to see you’.
The steps bounce in, the smile of the sun as my grandson says
‘Grandma, I have finished the comic, care to read’?
Big sigh of relief

When do you retire?

I came into my 70th year recently. I understand that women don’t like talking about their age. I hear that and I wonder why. I am anxious about quite a lot of things. Naturally, as we get older, we stare at the grave more intently and we attempt to take stock of our journey so far. I have been asking myself quite a lot of questions. What do they mean when they say one should retire? I still have stories running riot in my head. I have been so disillusioned by the poor sales that I am hesitant to publish. I know my country does not really like reading except it becomes compulsory. I really wish to share but who wants to share with me? I do not want to be maudlin so I simply sigh and keep quiet. My dwindling resources demands that I must have a will to continue living and not be beggarly. I live in a country that has no safety nets for its elderly. It has dumped such responsibilities on the younger generation. Here is the rub, the younger generation have no safety nets either!
When do you retire? How did we come to this pass? I don’t think our leaders have ever given it a thought. Can we retire? I don’t think so because as you get older, you need to keep your mind and body busy. Not strenuously as to aggravate your physical strength but enough to maintain a balance. Garden sense, I call it. I ask myself, the world has gone so digital that even emotional stability is digitalized these days. Natural emotions as compassion, respect and love for one another is derided as being old school. The pace is so frighteningly technical that I wonder if might wake up to a very mechanical soulless world.
I really don’t have an answer.
Meanwhile, I want to take pleasure in the things I have always loved, like writing. Poetry,. Watching young people grapple with the mysteries that has held the world for aeons. I have become more interested in past civilizations, as I look with some curiosity to the future. I guess it means I am really getting old. I am very curious these days, Always asking why?
I watch my grandchildren, listen to their conversation. They are very assertive and confident about their ability to handle the world and live it on their own terms. I find that refreshing. I ask myself, why should I retire? Curiosity is an ageless thing. You keep alive for as long as you are curious. I hope one day when my flight is announced, I will be eager and curious about my next destination
Bah! This one was really a maudlin piece, right? I will do better next time. Promise.

And I face the sunset

I am back,
Famous words right? How many times have I said that? We will see this time. I have been under some pressure, like everyone else I guess. So what else is new?
have thought about a lot of things. Should I wind down? Stop thinking? Just curl up? There must be something to look forward to. there must something I would love to leave behind. Have I done enough?. There comes that urgent question that leaves one restless. Is there a bucket list for me? If I think of one, what will it serve? Leave me more restless than I am already. I am looking forward to leaving. I am curious and anxious about my next stop. Prayerful too. No, I did not return to church. Just curious sometimes and yes, even eager those times when I watch some of our political and spiritual leaders. I am curious too about the ones I will be leaving behind. I don’t want to be maudlin, I hate moaners.
Have you noticed that there is a new tempo to the world we live in? There is a sense of rush and despair. We seem to be breeding more intolerance amongst nations. We are burning at both ends like candles lit in the wind.
Even the music is really depressing. Maybe it is e or my age. I understand that as I get older I will have fewer friends I understand that, but what I don’t get is the rising level of hate, bigotry.
Ah well, I guess I must have gotten really old while I was not looking.


Hello Everyone, I think I am pleased with this conversation. It is a long time I had a conversation with someone across the pond. Today I have the pleasure to invite to CENTERSPREAD a poet and author. He is a poet I find kind, warm and with a sense of the world. I have quite a lot to say so I will not waste your time.
Let us read the poems of Imran Khan before we have our conversation

Imran Khan
Witness to Marriage

Alone between the bunting,
youth’s echo shone
through the pleats of a wedding dress, hung,
lone mast, dead centre of a theatre hall
gaffed wide to hold royalists
cheering rule Britannia in their plastic Harry and Megan masks.
The veil was split, you nodded when she asked “was it just the once?”
It wasn’t, you just don’t mention the other one, hanging in a wardrobe.
Life’s a glass of red spilt in youth, best disguised with a bouquet.
Time took its path across those two dresses. All day,
the only words I heard you say were ‘oh yes, I was a size twenty-four waist’
and the dress didn’t move,
it hovered at the entrance, blocking the path of forgotten,
nobody brought a camera,
you plead your wardrobe rings the bells.

(First published on ucity Review)

A Child Testifies, Rage
I find the court bundles,
find the judge who
smeared my face with war paint,
fingered my veins for Pakistani valves like
my blood could be distributing homemade bombs.

In light that mother’s boyfriend

My granny taught me to dress her trees
with ballooning chapattis.

Has the name Imran Khan

I count twenty-five years next month
since granny told mum, “Ja,
jaldi.” I didn’t know what she meant

What Pakistan was in my spirit
was not purposefully

And taking into account his connections in Pakistan

My twenty-ninth birthday arrives without my footprints passing Istanbul.
My past has been traded for the soil our judge defiles.
I spit a full mile to his ground.

We must secure the child’s future here.

They try to leave an animal inside me
for the doctors, schools and courts to see
and feed.

If mother takes child back to doctor

There is rage in the unmade doctors’ appointments.
Alleging physical harm against the father
There is rage in the bruises she comes back with.
Even where the child testifies
There is rage in each goodbye.

Father takes the child.

(First published on Seventh Wave)


Our horizon died easily,
but I still finger the splice of it. Your
departure echoed along the fringe reef,
my denial stirred grass
beneath the surface.
Now I cling to corals
like they’re answers to questions
which fill me like wine.
Waiting for the sky to open,
we are pounding water
no longer bound to one sea.

(First published on Across the Margin)

What did you think? I felt it was not going to be enough to just post his poems, I wanted to know Imran a bit more, so we had this conversation
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself
I live in Dorset with my partner, our two children and two pet gerbils called Artemis and Renfield. Aside from writing, I work for Amnesty U.K, delivering workshops and assemblies about social injustices within Britain and art-based resistances around the world.

2. How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was about five years old when I was commissioned by my sister to write poetry for her boyfriends. She claimed the poems as her own in return for a couple of packets of chocolate biscuits. I’d love that kind of remuneration now.

3. Your poem, ‘A child testifies..Rage’ was painful for me to read. Why did you write it?
A Child Testifies, Rage was painful to write. In Britain, there have been a great many injustices in the family courts. Court proceedings aren’t public, and judges are able to act with impunity. In an alarming number of cases, mothers have been silenced by threats of having their child taken away. The fear of their child being placed with an abusive father is crippling. After ‘Fathers for Justice’, institutions, such as CAFCASS, showed widespread biases towards fathers. CAFCASS was built with the stated aim of furthering children’s voices, but in actuality do not speak with the children, and do not take time to learn of their experiences and feelings. The workers simply use their own outdated assumptions to make decisions. This is particularly alarming in cases of child abuse. Clearly, I cannot speak for all proceedings, I am sure there were numerous cases that went against fathers which shouldn’t have. But the main issue I wanted to address here is how judges’ personal prejudices have become dangerously powerful within British family courts. These include racial prejudices and gender prejudices, which is what I personally discovered and wished to communicate through this poem.

4. You have a cynical attitude towards marriage, is that just a wrong sensing from my end?
Haha – I’m actually getting married in December, so I hope for myself and my partner’s sake there is no cynicism. This poem came from an experience of walking into a theatre that was broadcasting Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on a big screen. The place was packed with royalists and decorated with bunting. It was a carnival atmosphere. But, hanging up in the centre of the hall was a wedding dress. An elderly lady hung it there – it was her own. Nobody spoke to her about it, it was just seen as a decoration, which I found very sad and poignant.

5. In ‘Cleaving’, you seem to mock ‘tradition’ of rigid concepts and clear divides based on religion, or tribe, in essence, a cry against bigotry. How do you want this poem to be received across the board old and young?
I think that’s a very interesting reading of the poem – far more interesting than I had in mind when writing it. The poem is about ruptures and partings – this could be of a romantic relationship, of a tribe or of our world more generally. I think I’d want young and older readers to read it according to their own personal knowledge and experience, as you have – I really do think poems become far more evocative in that way.

6. How vibrant is the poetry scene in your corner of the world?
In Bournemouth, our poetry scene isn’t very vibrant, which is a shame. But the transnational nature of poetry has helped massively – hearing from people reading my poems in countries around Africa has been an amazing experience. The vibrancy of the community online has made up for the limitations of my own town, and I’ve learnt a lot from this community. I feel I’ve been a bit critical to Bournemouth – we do have lovely beaches and the brilliant chef, Rick Stein, has a restaurant here. We also have several mini-golf courses in the area. There are just lots of distractions from writing poetry

7. Are you into other forms of writing?
Absolutely – I love theatre and short stories. I recently learned that my two-year-old son used many of my novels as part of a soup recipe, where he pours water over them to make a rich stock. My bookcase has since become quite limited. Edward Albee and Mark Twain are my favourite writers outside of poetry.

8. Has your poetry collection been published as a collection?
Not yet, but I’m hoping to have a chapbook published next year. My little girl did something really sweet for my birthday – she printed out all my published poems and arranged them for me. It really got me thinking about getting a collection together.

9. What types of reception have your poems received?
Really positive – it’s been such a boost to have had such kind feedback. The poetry market is tough, and I’ve had my fair share of rejections from publishers, so when poems are published and people take time to engage with them and get in touch, it is lovely.

10, If you do get questions from this blog, will you be willing to answer them?
Absolutely, I’d love to answer any questions. If there are any hard ones, I’ll ask my two-year-old to answer.

11. Tell us if there is any work in progress?
There’s always work in progress – I am always working on poems that have been rejected and thinking up ideas for new ones. A bigger project I’m working on is a children’s book that should be written in the next six months. I’m also working on my wedding vows.

12′. Thank you for talking to us on Centerspread
It’s been a pleasure – thank you so much for getting in touch!

The way forward

I keep asking the question, what does it mean when you get old? It is okay to say I am old now. I learned patience the hard way and learned a few hard lessons too. I am not on a pension. I have not written a word that could be part of a novel in months. Did I retire? That word frightens me. Retirement means death. Like the tide receding. Like the law of diminishing returns. My spirit retires? I don’t think so. I am still writing but I watch more, as the world hurtles by. I don’t like that word either. I sit and watch my books gather dust. I am not eager to publish a new book. I ask myself to what purpose will a new book serve? I have not made any great discovery that the world should know about. More and more of the world leaders make me sick. I watch my grandchildren and wonder what kind of parents they will be and what the standards will be then. I shake myself awake for being so maudlin.
Anyways, on social media, I read about the gradual erosion of the world as I saw it, grew into it and became a part of it.
Man never stops evolving, and the spirit never sleeps, nor does it retire. A realization of that is why I am writing again. I am always going to write. I have not the slightest intention to stop thinking, stop dreaming. I look forward to each day as I learn something new. I am happy to open my eye each morning to new dawn filled with the promise of new discoveries. Anew smile, a new hope, a new hunger.
Have you read these books?
Blood Contract
Numen Yeye
Rose of Numen

Center Spread with Kayode Ajomole

I knew him first when he attended a gathering and I was curious. He struck me as a self-contained young man not given to the exuberance of young men his age.
I learned to yawn each time I saw these half-clad young lions who had very little to say for themselves beyond money, sex and drugs.
He stood out, calm, his own person and over months I became really curious.
Personable, gentlemanly and yes courteous with a charm that made you want to know more.
Kayode Ajomole is a young man who is facing tomorrow with a calm determination that is endearing.
I read his book ..Think….. That was deep coming from a young man,
The book covers a variety of subjects, did not want to call it a motivational book because it invites you to yes…think.
Let me give a few samples I found intriguing:
The mind, dump the baggage, poverty,, societal illusions, minimal thinking, the politician and the statesman
When I finished reading, I decided I needed to have a conversation with Kayode.
Join me as I invite Kayode on Center spread.
1. I am kind of curious about the title of your book..Think, care to explain to us why?
I believe we all have idiosyncrasies but oft times we are not aware of them. And when we are confronted with things that tend to challenge this idiosyncrasy, we shrink from the possibility of knowing that we have been wrong all the time. So we prefer to keep holding on to all that we used to believe. is more comfortable. Think is a call to deep thinking, it’s a call to ask questions. it’s a call to test our assumptions on the litmus of truths. we must think, and think upon resources that are variegated so we can draw enriching perspectives. We can be narrow-minded. It is irrational

2. Tell us about yourself
I have a lot of thoughts bubbling up in my head, so I write to keep myself light. I am enthused by Art and its many splinters. Interestingly, I co-founded a Business intelligence firm focused on helping organizations move forward. If I am not writing or singing, I am definitely consulting for startups and business owners.

3. Generally, in this part of the world, young men are in a, hurry to make money. How will you place your book, motivational?
I’ll let the reader decide this.
4. How do we think intentionally?
It’s the same way we build our muscles. We carry weights. We challenge our threshold. To think intentionally, resolve is most important. The individual must come to the point where he/she knows that thinking intentionally is of much importance as breathing, else the effort will be abandoned when it becomes really demanding.

Next is to identify books and resources that you’d normally not read. I recommend that you find someone who you admire their thoughts, read their books and the authors they recommend. Exposure is the gateway to newness. the individual must strive to become adventurous. You must be humble to ask questions of yourself and your teachers. They enrich your mental resources.

It’s a process I believe

5. Your book is a bit of everything, including Religion, in the style of today, and pastors being seen as general spiritual highwaymen, how do we think about religion?
the scriptures (the holy bible) does not speak against religion. The writer of James in the 1st chapter and the 27th verse identifies true religion as visiting the fatherless and widows, and to keep oneself from being unspotted by the world.
Although many men have come up with their idea of religion. We do not judge guns because terrorists use them to kill even though it was built to protect us, man’s inconsistencies will always be expressed when he takes noble things and seeks to perpetuate his self ambitions through it. such is the fate of religion.

6. Do you think Religion is a form of business?
Some have made it so, but it shouldn’t be
7. What do you want readers of your book to come away with?
A decision to challenge conventions and move ahead no matter what
8. Who is your indeed audience?
I’d say individuals between 20 and 40
9. Do you write as a matter of inclination or as a means of income?
Both. I write both as an art and a craft
10. What has been the reception of the intended audience to this ook?
As a first time author, the reception has been slow, but it’s readers have poured a lot of adulation on the book. I hope it will convince more book lovers to purchase the book and love my works
11. Any other work in progress?
12. Please give links to where, how we can get copies of the book

Books are available online on Amazon. To get paperback copies, call 08034481270
13. Thank you for coming on Centerspread
Grateful for the honour, Ma. Thank you

My Toastmaster journey

I want to share a bit of myself. Some time ago, I attended an event and one of the officials asked me if I was a Toastmaster. I hid my inner irritation wondering if I looked like one. First mistake. Our comprehension of words and meaning could lead to a lot of misinterpretations. I just did one. I assumed that a Toastmaster was one who made toasts at parties. However, I stuck a smile on my face and looked appropriately innocent. She smiled and said, her husband felt I would make a good Toastmaster. So she invited me to check for the nearest club in my area. I smiled and was moving away when she added innocently,’ start one if there is none, you could also help in spreading that awareness’.
I stared at her, she was not seriously thinking I was going to be looking for a wine drinking club, was she?
In that mood, I expressed my dismay to my husband. He smiled and pointed out that the lady who talked to me is known as being very quiet and rarely said much. My performance had been to read a poem of mine. Mollified by that reasoning, I held my peace.
When we got back to my home, I was curious. Toastmasters? Might be good business for my master of ceremonies repertoire I said to myself.
I asked around for a Toastmasters club. People either smiled wondering if I wanted a drink or simply said they never heard of such a name. That got me really curious. So I googled it.
Stunned, I stared and stared. A body that helped you with communicating and leadership skills?
A self-improvement club, where you learn communicating skills. I stared at the byline or motto or whatever…Where leaders are made….
I apologized silently to the lady and continued my reading. A strong resolve flowered in me. I wanted to learn how to use the power of the word in communicating effectively. I might become a leader, but I am definite that I wanted to be a Toastmaster. It was that simple.
I am a Toastmaster, currently the president of Sunshine Toastmaster club in my town. I am having a very beautiful time learning about communication and leadership skills.
I am a leader in the making

I remember

Memories are funny things. I remember today two score plus years ago. I just gave birth to a girl. I knew we were going to be friends. In a world then that felt so desolate and friendless, I felt the pull of a promise. I was losing consciousness and my Indian doctor was screaming into my ears to stay conscious. I was in despair, and her voice was receding but a word struck, ‘daughter’. It pushed me back. I struggled against the waves re-energized. I sensed she was going to be pissed if she learned I just gave in like that, so from a distance, I hurried back with apologies.

I remember my first contact to connect with my dad after he passed. It was kind of funny thing too. The message which I received that I was not to forget to be on the train. It was for me a very strange instruction. ‘You should be at the train station, board the train’. My anxiety not to miss the train, my excitement that I was going to meet my dad. That he would be waiting. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. Most of all I wanted to let him know I missed his passing even if I had prepared for it a whole year ahead, It was not the thing, to go over to your dad and tell him he was going to depart soon. To feel the pain of his passing. One year of living in a daze trying to accept your best friend had left, and then the excitement of the impending reunion. You were aware that he had departed and you were going to see him in his new quarters.

I remember my curiosity as I watched the train move from the terminus and the faces of some of the passengers. Some of them were visitors like me, some of them were leaving permanently and were not so sure of where they were to drop from the train.

As I get greyer

You know, there is something about getting grey. I always looked forward to getting grey. It makes me feel old. I always wanted to be old. I remember in my younger days, like 40 years back, I would simply admire my maternal grandma. Almost no teeth. gaps between her smiles, happiness got stuck on her face. I loved her a lot. There was a simplicity in her life. She would stare at me in awe and I would see the wonder in her eyes when I visited in my skimpy dress. There was concern that I would catch a cold. She would ask after me anxiously and wondered why I had a bird’s appetite.
My mother would laugh and say it was the new fangles fashion of eating sparingly. I would just laugh and hugged Grandma tight.
I was always curious and would ask endless questions. She never complained. It was thus very easy to visit her when she passed on. They gave her a simple room with minimal furniture and she seemed happy when I visited her. I talked about the tunnel then and I had joy explaining what could happen when the tunnel gets filled with lights. We talked about my mother and so many things. I have not visited again because she has moved to another part of existence. She may have even returned
So I am grey with strands of black in the grey. My grandchildren sometimes sit and watch me at the computer typing with maybe two fingers or picking out the letter. My grandson wonders why I never seem to stop typing or whatever, he is a wizard at dismantling things and putting them together, he wants to be a vet but for now, has a roomful of his comic drawings
What would it be like when I get to have y grey go really white like my grandma’s?
In today’s unwinding misery, will there be happy tales for me to tell my grandchildren? I am just one figure in a world that has lost its way home and we all stagger in the dark in the empty market place.
Even the ancients are now afraid to come out and dance in the market square in the varied costumes as masquerades
The ancients don’t have the internet and don’t know how to spell scam, or any of the strange words in the vocabulary of today’s