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The Old Man

That evening Babatunde sat watching the stars and wondered on what he could do. He considered his growing dissatisfaction with living in the city. He really had no wish to live in the city. He would like to have a small pharmacy, not a patent store that littered the village now, but a real pharmacy and he wanted to study the herbs more and learn about its combination. When the government introduced an agency to contro the influx of fake drugs into the country, he had like most people heaved a sigh of relief that some sanity was being introduced into the business. It wasn’t long before he experienced disappointment when the merchants of death as he privately called them shifted their business to the rural areas and he soon discovered that even hospital staff had been infected with the rampant corruption as their stole from the Medical stores and sold them to their clients. It was thus painful to see patients not able to get genuine drugs from the pharmacy managed by the government hospitals but such drugs could be purchased from pharmacies owned privately by staff of the hospital.
He was expected to do such things too , sometimes they made inflated requests and creamed the excess to their own pharmacies. Babatunde knew he could not get involved in such practice and he contemplated leaving because he sensed that someday soon someone was going to know about the dirty deals going on.
An old man walked by and he automatically gave him the one owrd salute reserved for elderly people. The old man replied and asked if his father was home. Babatunde stood up respectfully and said he had seen his father on his way out to have a talk with his friend at the end of the street and offered to send for him. The old man smiled and said he just wanted an excuse to rest his legs as he had been having a walk round the town.
Babatunde smiled and said that was really interesting as he knew that men of his age tended to sit and smoke the occasional pipe after the only main food of the day. The old man nodded and took the offered traditional seat that Babatunde offered. Babatunde noticed the very old type of shoes that the man had on. He was intrigued but said nothing. The slippers were made from tiny beads and Babatunde had never seen such on old men around but remembered that old men were known to have such slippers. His father used to tell him about it and had shown him he kept in his room as a family inheritance.
The old man asked him about his business in town and he smiled that he was a businessman but rather a servant of the state as he worked in the hospital as a pharmacist.
“Hmm, the medicines that have been rendered ineffective because they have removed some or most of the real substance of the medicine. Olodumare shows you what you need to use by the shapes of the plants and will indicate a prevalent ailment when such remedies starts to grow around the area”. He gave Babatunde a keen look, “Do you know where the lost prince can be reached now, according to the rumours making the rounds, the lost prince has incarnated and he can be reached”
Babatunde gave the old man a startled look, “Do you know of him?”
The old man nodded and suggested that Babatunde should be thinking of that as well, then he rose to his feet and offered that he might walk by the next day and tell Babatunde his ideas.
“Give my regards to Gbadamosi” and he went on his way.
However Babatunde was aware of the mystery when his father claimed no knowledge of the old man and asked his son to describe him. Babatunde tried very hard to remember what the old man looked like but remembered the slippers.The answer made his father to give him a sharp look as he watched his son closely and asked him if the old man had given his name.
Babatunde was becoming irritated, “Papa, you don’t expect me to ask an old man his age do you?”
“I suppose, you are right his father responded but stared when Babatunde said he was going to the orijajoogun house.
“There is no old man in that house”
“What?, he expressly said that?”
Babatunde felt goose bumps all over him but a determined look came over him and he told his father that the old man said he would come round the next day.
Babatunde waited for two nights in a row and felt a keen sense of disappointment when the man did not show.
The morning after his endless wait he made ready to leave for the city and drove not paying particular attention his surrounding just looking round him, he had driven past a spot when he though he saw in the rear view someone who looked like the old man sitting pensively looking out. He reversed his car and parked. He got out of the car and moved close. Sure enough it was the same old man of three evenings ago. He was still wearing the same tiny beaded slippers. He sat on the old stump beside the man. He was about to given vent to see his anger when he remembered that the old man had told him that those who listen to the Earth may pick her rhythm.
The old man didn’t really look at him but indicated he knew Babatunde was close when he placed his hand gently on that of Babatunde, then he looked at him. He spoke softly as if he was talking to himself and reliving a picture.

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Numen Yeye……Impression from readers

I have been in between clouds and wondering when I might come down to terra firma. Why? I had been tensed up for weeks about my book Numen Yeye. There had been times when I had shrugged, told myself bravely I would take the bricks or I would be gracious if I got roses.
Okay, could I say anything in my defense. Numen Yeye is very important to me because of a couple of reasons. Maybe it is time I give a little bit more insight why Numen Yeye became important. In my neck of the woods, we have two fairly distinct camps. There are writers who write exclusively for the readers in the country and make no pretense about that. Then there are the ones who want to write for a global audience but those have two clear sub groups. The writers who write about our customs from the standpoint of seeing everything cultural as barbaric. They tend to want to write more for the western audience solely and have a taste to show us off as unmitigated savages.
There is the other sub group who talk to the global market square in a language that creates a reality of who we are, understanding where we come from but innately identifying with us, warts and all. I would like to belong to this group. I am Nigerian, with my eyes wide open, knowing about my country, accepting me warts and all. I feel we are not as terrible as we have been painted, because we are a round group of tribes with our suspicions of each other, exasperation at our leaders and the failures we face when we do not accept that Life is motion and it is important we get the business of living right.
Am I making sense? I wish to try to make sense. There is a saying in my corner of my country in my language which loosely translated states clearly that only an illegitimate child will point to his father’s house with his left fingers. When I came across that statement I was curious and asked my grandma to explain. She gave me a little lesson about loyalty. I learned being loyal does not mean whitewashing the truth when we are faced with it but being honest enough to admit our ignorance and courageous enough to take a peep into the dark ignorance that hold us in thrall.
Thus when my book Numen Yeye became available in print, I wanted to know what my tribe felt about it. After all I was writing about myths and concepts we have buried under our civilized skins. These myths and concept colours our beliefs and we needed to maybe be open about it and not shrug it off as ignorance, myths, superstitions.
Let us share excerpts of some of the reactions I have so far…
My first impression of Numen Yeye was WOW! This is different, I kept reading and I’ve come to the conclusion that its a breathe of fresh air, different from the norm. Its very insightful and paints a fairy tale yet plausible picture of a series of events, all in all a very good read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to step out of the clutches of mundane reasoning and have a different point of view on certain Nigerian ‘mythological’ beings….Segun Agoro (film maker/Stride Communications)
The book Numen Yeye is the story of Imole Ife before her conception through conception, birth, growing up to adulthood. It showcased partly the way an average girl would grow up in the western part of Nigeria.
On the other hand, Ife a special child mixed her eccentricity with the usual, while growing up. Ife only distinguishes people and situations by light or darkness and relates with them accordingly. Grandma Olaoye for instance was always surrounded by dark shades of colour while Yeye was always accompanied by light. In another instance, when Tinu’s baby was about to die, Ife required more light around her, in the hope that it would repel or clear the impending doom.

The constant migration of Ife between the physical and the spiritual is very gripping and keeps the reader hooked, if not for anything else, for curiosity. She is constantly in communication with one misty or another and most of her activities are pre-guided from the spiritual world. The friendship between Sasaenia and Ife suggest bonds that are out of the ordinary, that exist amongst humans but may not have any easy or ordinary explanation.

The book went through a lot of the rich culture of the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria, treating the following parts of their culture:
The marriage process,
The value of chastity,
Initiation in to adulthood and guilds,
The art of story-telling and transfer of wisdom from the elderly to the young,
The seeking for divination
Traditional belief and superstition, surrounding the existence of abiku and emere,
Communal way of living in polygamous family settings, embedded with jealousy and mutual suspicions.
The beginning of Chapter 14 is a vivid account by the author in lewd as well as enthralling narration, a phenomenon called ‘OKO ORUN’ by the Yoruba. Quite strange, but almost real.
Many times the reader gets lost in the thoughts of Numen Yeye (written in italic) and makes them forget her story in the real world.
Noticeable is the fact that the book with thirty chapters has no pagination. The language of the book is very easy to understand and the content is very relatable for Africans. To other readers who are not familiar with that culture, it would be an adventure into the thought system of traditional people and their basic life and way of living….Ms Olufunke Tolutope(psychologist and blogger)

In my next post I will share the full review of the state newspaper on the book Numen Yeye. Meanwhile it will be nice to have your thoughts on this book.
Numen Yeye is available on Amazon.com

Numen Yeye……Conversations

I don’t know how I feel really. My new book is finally out in print and suddenly I have problem sleeping. I am so knotted up that I am beginning to have sensations I can’t really identify. I think about it and suddenly I am nervous, my hands go clammy and my heart races. I am presenting at a writers conference in a matter of days too.

You know that feeling when you look at the new baby and you dream. You hold the book in your hand and you are hard put to put a name to the emotion that assails you. You mention casually to your friends that the book is finally out in print and you hold your breath waiting for the reaction.

I had one yesterday. He is the editor of the local newspaper. A respected editor because unlike the usual pack of  journalists who will want to find out what is it personally in a story, you can be very sure he is on the level. Very disciplined, untainted by the endemic corruption.

I wanted to hear his own opinion and it was important for me. If he thinks your book is rubbish, he would courteously simply refuse to review it and would say very little. I waited and watched. He took the book, read the blurb at the back, as well as the first few pages while standing and suddenly gave a wide smile. He looked up and asked if he could read it first as he would like to own a personal copy of the book. I blinked. “What do you mean”? I asked him.

“I think it is going to be a very interesting read” he answers and asked me what was the cover prize. I tentatively mentioned it and he nodded in agreement as he added, “only the very deep can understand what is in inside the book. I think it is going to be very interesting book indeed”.

Now I have a sleepless night as I ask myself a thousand nervous questions. I have gone over the book again.. Lord I.. I caught myself suddenly praying. It is like waiting for your boyfriend to pop the question or something else, having a baby and suddenly being anxious that it was very important that this particular baby do well.

You sense the significance of this particular baby and deep in your bones, you realize it is vitally important that this baby is acceptable. To serious readers. It is an indication of where you want to be now. What you want to say to the rest of the world I am a Yoruba woman who is learning to see my tribe as the rationale for this present incarnation. I have asked questions, like every growing young girl I have had dreams. My traditional religion had posed questions for me and I have searched for faith for years, tried to understand the risk of living without a faith and understood the fears of those who embraced other religions.

I am not into the practice of traditional religion, but I had learnt gradually from my grandmother, my husband the value of having a root, a base to search for the meaning of my tradition and what it offers me. I have always wanted to know what it is and as I learned more, I understood and gradually a love, and understanding of the rationale for the basic faith has dawned.

I may not necessarily engage in it but I can understand it and I can relate with the rationale behind it. It has made me want to portray myself “as is” I mean, what you see is what you get. It removes the strain of longing to be American, I never wished to be, but I love them and do not mind visiting them, learning about their cultures, but I could never be part of that culture. I would wish they have the charity to accept mine too.

I feel the same way about all other cultures and accept the togetherness on our diversity. My book Numen Yeye has been a voyage of a sort for me personally. It has been a learning period too as I groped and searched for the meaning of my present incarnation and the rationale of my being.

I first came across Numen Yeye on a warm night when my grandma started the story as the usual tales by moonlight ended and I still had urgent questions. I have listened to my grandmother since then as she continued with the story even after she got a seat with the ancestors.

I hope you will like to read it, I would not mind to share it with you. I am proud of the depth we can reach if we only stretch forth our hand to each other in love.

Talk soon again.

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