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Nostalgia

You know, there is always the question of asking yourself if you are ever going to be a best seller in your lifetime. These days, those are the questions that I find myself asking each time I start writing a story. The question started simply enough. A very young child came to my house and we started chatting. He wanted to know why I was hunched over my computer almost all the time he was in the living room. I blinked and tried to focus on the young man. He noted that most times he called to say hello to my children, he invariably found me typing. I took a deep breath and wondered if I should do one of two things.

You know look down my nose at him and reply in a pitying voice on how he has missed the true calling of the writer and tell him he was not likely to understand what writing meant to me, yeah, I am still broke and I am not sure if I can claim that I have sold my book in thousands never mind millions. What? No, I am not about to discuss my despair either. Hey!, I mean my despair that I am never going to finish writing all I have to write. I never have enough time and the stranger thing is, I have had days that I sit by the computer and the stories just goes on in my head and the computer remains blank. That is really frightening when I wonder if all this is going to be worthwhile. I am not trying to change the world neither am I likely going to change my immediate community, unless I wish to be a liar.

That is another thing, my niece doesn’t think I work anyway. She came over to spend the holidays when I was part of a television series on teenage reproductive issues. She had liked me and was enthusiastic about the series, I NEED TO KNOW. She read the stories every night, staying up all night sometimes. I was preening and waiting for the commendations to flow in. She looked up and I saw real bewilderment on her face.
“seriously auntie, I have never met all these people you talk about in your story, you are just forming them up right?”
“You mean like I am making them up”? I asked her slowly puzzled at what she was implying. Here, let me insert a warning: We are writing Nigerian English and my friends across the pond may have to hold on for a translation later.
My niece nodded and I smiled, “Yes of course , that is what is called fiction, the situations are real though”.
“You mean Ikechukwu is not real?”
“No my dear, the young boy that acts the part is real but that is just his television name”.
“Hmmm, very easy job Auntie, just sit down, dream up stories about people and you get paid for having fun”.
I stared at her, opened my mouth to explain what enter- educate drama is all about and clammed shut as she stared askance at me. She commented that she envied my job and wondered why I had not become a millionaire at the very least. She said she might one day take up my job.

That was years ago, the juice train left and I stared into the hard glare of straining to make two tired ropes stay glued. Digital television, internet radio and programmes took me to hunger street and I needed to look at dim areas of my creative mind to quell the noise of my growling belly.
I have been writing since I can remember the meaning of pain, hunger, dreams and a compulsive need to talk to persons I have never met. My imagination wakes me up every dawn as the sun dips her fingers on my hopes and gives me a taste of its promise. I have like a thousand stories, impatiently jostling for attention. Men I know so well in my head, conversations that seem unending, situations crop up and I ponder on their solutions. An urgent need to tap a shoulder and start a conversation.

I am doing one right now right? Were you interested? Oh well, you got this far. That must count for something. But you see, a new fear is peeping at me. How much time do I have?
Will I ever write a best seller? Sometimes I picture a vast field, the sun is setting, the players are all gone, I am staring at the lonely abandoned ball in the field, the stands are silent and a lone figure walks onto the field, he touches the ball and hears in his soul the roar of his dreams and he makes a lob into the far end of the field. The sun yawns and calls me over.
I will see you soon my friend.

Blood Contract

Hey, I am feeling pink, because Bobby took me back to my very first novel internationally. He read my very first novel with IFWG publishing. BLOOD CONTRACT.
Couple of my religious friends were scared off by the title imagining I was going to write about some voodoo stuff. Those were very puzzling days, confusing to me as well. It was an ey-opener learning that my side of the pond had yet to get over the bogey thrown into them by our white masters about our local brewed religion. I think that was why I wrote the Numen Yeye series. I must have told you how Numen Yeye started and so much has passed since the days of BLOOD CONTRACT.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00061]
However as I learned and hopefully grew in the novel writing business, I got into the habit of reviewing books for authors like me. Some of the authors paid me back by offering to read my own books. That natural law of give and take happened recently with Bobby and I.
So he first bought Rose of Numen and then gave me the extra gift of reading my very first book. This is what he put in amazon.com and goodreads.
“I really enjoyed Biola’s book Blood Contract and recommend others read it. It kept me intrigued and wanting to read more. As someone who knows nothing about the Niger Delta, I found this book to be very informative of the land, culture, and societal problems. Blood Contract deals with issues of corruption, greed, evil, rape, oil bunkering, family, societal norms, God and poverty, just to name a few. I am now more informed of the Niger Delta, the damage of oil bunkering, the corruption of young boys and men, and the suffering that exists in that part of the world. I also found Biola’s writing to be inspiring and I look forward to reading her other books as well”.
A river has passed under the bridge since that book was written. I had an offer to have the book made into a film script. I even had the script written and my excitement rode the skies, but then this was my country and for all the dreams of mice and men. Sigh…. Who knows you just might read this and decide to send me a query about the book. So I will be waiting okay?
What makes us write? What do we want to achieve? For every million unknown writers out there in the great world, there are the tiny few that attract attention and somehow hold that attention.
When I started to write some 42 years ago, I had very small illusions about making the millions or even smile to the bank. But I had stars in my eyes about the written word and that excitement has outlived all other feeling till date.
I am crazy about writing. I have written television plays to educate adolescents, parents, and written just about every topic including horror!
I hope I have matured over the years, 42 years ought to count for something right? But I am still interested in human beings, our dreaming, and the painful thud when we have to face the hard grind of reality.
An elder in my community who had written for longer than I have, answered my naïve question about living on writing with a gentle laugh, said I might be hungry for a long time. He was right. But I feel like a child in a candy store when I am asked to write a story and I can deliver that story within days. Television scripts I might add. Writing a full length novel was a different kettle of fish.
So what do you think? Did you ever read that my first love affair with the virtual world when I clicked on a name and he became a much loved publisher… Gerry Huntman.
I have been blurbing right? I don’t know really but I feel like just sharing with you this time. You know like some friend you are used to warbling with. Lol.
Chat soon

To the Survivors…Revisit

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As the year closes, I thought, I should share some of those things that have left an impact on me. One of the things I have learnt over time is books I review tend to stay with me and some of the authors tend to become my friends. One of such authors is Bobby Uttaro.
It could be in the style of writing or the contents, Bobby’s book, “To the Survivors” has stayed with me and in a way has become a kind of comfort book for me. I live in a country where rape and rape victims are on the peripheral vision of the country. I am sure there had been reports of rape before I read the book, but my senses became real sharpened enough to take particular notice and that became depressing.
How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity. To the Survivors
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
How do I mean? I came across cases of rape, from infants to elderly women for different reasons. It appears women have been under siege in my country for longer that I imagined and we don’t seem to be doing anything concrete. I am not about to start another article on this but I want to thank Bobby for at least making me know about one of the dirty secrets of humanity.
Rape is not exclusive to a particular nation nor is it alien to any society, I guess rape has existed amongst us from the time of the cave men, but it is the oldest shame that man has on its collective soul.
I am thus repeating my interview with Bobby today, with the hope that somehow, we will be reminded of the road we still need to follow to achieve that which we are seeking. For as long as we deny the woman the right to refuse a sexual advance, I think we are diminished by that violence.
Please enjoy
To the Survivors…..Book Cover
I opened page one and was sucked in.I raged, cried, was angry and kicked but Bobby had me by the short hairs and dragged me through me, through the minds of every breathing human being making me look at a crime, issue that for us in my corner of the world we have been unable to define properly let alone classify and give it a name.
The innocent girl on her first wedding night to a man old enough to be her father as she is dragged to matrimonial bed and raped by her elderly husband . Her terrified screams and flailing arms applauded by all. She is welcomed into matrimony through the red mist of her violent entry. That was the story. In my corner of the universe, that is how you marry. In my time and age.,I learnt about this during my first visit to my hometown in the south west when I came to my family for the first time. I stood in shock as I heard the wild screams. Rape.. a word that young bride never heard of but has been made to experience as a received standard response to sexual activity. The women watched the men, resentment in their heart, hate to the mate who is brought in and polygamy grows hand in hand with hate and resentment. People of my mother’s age and some of mine. This is a hard book for me and anyone who has ever empathized with rape, assault, and even molestation and I passionately ask you to pick up a copy for yourself. It is a must in libraries and schools. In fact any public place.
I am not telling you my story, but the subject of Bobby’s book and the very painful reactions he has made me go through. I want you to meet Bobby and I hope his answers will help us.
1. Welcome Bobby to Ephesus.

Thank you for having me. It’s a blessing and honor to speak with you.

2. Can you define rape in all its ramifications as you understand it?
In my opinion, rape, especially child rape, is the worst crime human beings commit against each other as it causes the most damage to a person’s mind, heart, and soul over significant periods of time. People who are raped have their power and control taken from them. Some believe they will die during a rape and others want to die after. Think about how terrifying and sad this is. The pain and suffering that rape survivors experience can often last many years to a lifetime. But the damage caused does not just hurt the survivor; it hurts that person’s family and friends as well. Significant others are often devastated, sometimes more so than the survivor. I know of a man who was so broken after he learned that his girlfriend was raped years before. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to process it. It was as if nothing in life made sense anymore.
There are so many ramifications of rape, probably too many to list now. In my experiences, I have yet to see a crime that causes so much shame. If one feels shame, one will inevitably have serious health problems. Many, if not all rape survivors at one point in their lifetime, possibly even for years, have suffered deep shame. This is so incredibly sad because on top of being raped, a person most likely lives with shame for years. Shame is crippling and paralyzing. Think of the suffering people who have this undeserved shame live with and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

The ramifications of rape are vast, but I will mention a few. Rape is linked to shame, anger/rage, depression, insecurity, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts and suicide, eating disorders, and other health issues. It causes low to no self-esteem. It can alter people’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Many rape survivors live in fear. Many rape survivors are physically and spiritually shackled. Rape can shatter the soul. And on top of all of these horrific effects and sufferings, many rape survivors blame themselves. But I want everyone to know that it is not their fault and that they can regain control back. Their lives can be happier and healthier if they are unhappy and suffering. The soul can be strengthened and healed.
Lastly, there are many societal and financial ramifications from rape. Rape can be linked to drug addiction, prostitution, organized crime, and our prison populations, to name a few. For example, I had a meeting at a women’s prison in hopes of getting the book To the Survivors to the inmates. At the time of my meeting there were approximately 100 women incarcerated inside. The Director of Women’s Programming told me roughly 75% of the women had been raped. Also, the Director of Mental Health Services told me 99% of the women had been raped. Why were they incarcerated? The majority were incarcerated due to drugs and prostitution. There is a clear correlation between our female prison population, prostitution, drug addiction and rape. This is also true for some of our male inmates as well.
Ultimately, rape causes more damaging ramifications than I can answer in your question, but hopefully this is a good starting point and answers some of it.

3. Is Sexual assault, rape or sexual violence graded?

Some people grade different levels, but I don’t think that it is necessary to do. I don’t think we should. Every sexual assault, molestation, or rape, is a crime that causes suffering. We should help anyone affected and not grade their experiences.

4. Rape is not gender sensitive and is prevalent in every society on the earth, what can be done to stop it?

The prevalence of rape can decrease if more people make changes within their own hearts. I believe that we can stop and prevent some acts of rape, but I do not believe we will stop rape entirely. I believe rape will exist as long as human beings live on this earth. This is not meant to sound hopeless. I am very hopeful of what can be done and I know more people can heal. I would not keep doing this work and be speaking with you if I did not see real human and spiritual growth within people. But I do believe it is important to be realistic about the world we live in and the evil atrocities that will continue to exist.

Rape is the most prevalent and least reported violent crime throughout the world. The majority of people do not even speak about it, let alone get active and help people affected. Minimal rape crisis centers exist worldwide and too many people don’t want to deal with the realities.

It is believed by some that the second most lucrative illegal business in the world is human trafficking. Billions of dollars are made every year off the sale of human beings who are forced into sexual slavery. In addition, little boys and girls are raped in homes by relatives. People are raped by their spouses. And we know that even some individuals who work in the most trusted public service positions – from law enforcement to religious clergy – rape. How will this stop? I don’t believe it will ever stop, but we can help people in their healing process and we can raise awareness through education.

Education and people intervening if they see something inappropriate is necessary for the prevention of sexual violence. Sadly, many people don’t see the signs of a rape or sexual assault before they occur. If we educate people on some of the signs, we may be able to prevent some crimes. For example, there were many signs of early troubling or inappropriate conduct in the lives of Jim and Chris, who are speakers with individual chapters in To the Survivors. If people around them were educated on the signs and empowered through that education to act, those innocent boys may not have been sexually abused. However, no one noticed, or some noticed but did not intervene, and these boys suffered.
I don’t believe we will ever eradicate rape on this earth, but I believe that we can help people in their healing process and live healthy and productive lives. We can listen to each other, show each other compassion, and empower each other. Too many survivors suffer in silence alone. But I want to tell people that they do not have to suffer in silence. They can heal and they can also help others if they choose to. Our voices are incredibly important and valuable. We can make a real difference in the lives of those who are struggling and suffering. I hope and pray for more of us do that.
Ultimately, rape can stop if human beings stop raping. It is a choice. Sadly, it is a choice that people will continue to commit and many others will continue to not speak of.
5. Would it be right to say that as much as the assaulted is counseled, the aggressor also needs assessment and managing?

So many acts of sexual violence are hidden from others. This, of course, makes assessing and managing a perpetrator exceptionally difficult. How do you assess and manage a person abusing another person when no one knows or speaks about it? This happens too often. The majority of rapists are not arrested, let alone convicted and then sent to prison. And even those who are sent to prison, how long is their prison term? The majority of those convicted come back into our society. Should more be done to manage them? Yes. But the majority of rapists freely walk this earth and commit vile crimes.

I do believe the aggressor needs counseling, but only if the aggressor wants counseling. Sadly, some people commit these crimes with no remorse. I believe remorse and redemption exist for those who want it, but not everyone wants it. If you read all of To the Survivors, you will see that none of the perpetrators showed any true remorse for their crimes.

In order for people to change, they must first make a change in their own heart.

6. Is the rapist mentally deficient and may be classified as disabled?

No. I do not believe we should call rapists disabled. People in wheelchairs are disabled. People with autism who can’t adequately communicate to others are disabled. Rapists choose to commit a crime. Some doctors, teachers, lawyers, police officers, politicians and religious leaders, to name a few, commit rape. Do we look at those professions as disabled?

7. In your book you are neither a rapist nor a victim so why did you write about it?

God. I did not consider myself a writer and never once tried to write a book until the experience of an intensely vivid dream one morning changed my life. I woke up from this dream and said, “I have to write a book.” I interpreted this dream as a vision from God. I prayed to God, moved from the bed to the computer, opened up Microsoft Word, and continued to pray. That is how To the Survivors began. To the Survivors would not be helping the amount of people it has helped if it weren’t for God. I would not be speaking with you now if it weren’t for God. There are too many people suffering, and I know this book can help with that suffering.

8. Some cultures really do not believe in marital rape as rape as they argue it is a male right to enforce their conjugal rights, what do you think?

I think this is horrible. Words cannot fully describe how awful this belief is. This absurd belief and reasoning allows for women to get raped. This kind of thinking accepts rape and too many people suffer as a result. Where does this ludicrous belief come from? Rape is rape. It is an evil crime. I believe it is a demonic and satanic crime. It does not matter if you are married or not; no spouse should rape or endure being raped. No one should be raped. What makes men inherently superior to women? Nothing. Why should a man have the right to rape his wife? He shouldn’t. There is no logical or rational explanation for this and it should not be condoned. Unfortunately, it is.

You say that some cultures do not believe in marital rape as they argue it is a male’s right to enforce his conjugal rights. I know it is hard to believe, but some women do rape men. Should women rape their husbands? Of course not. So why should a man be allowed to commit an evil crime against his wife? Why would he even want to? The belief that men can rape their wives due to their “conjugal rights” is wrong and it sanctions rape. Marriage is supposed to be about love, not rape, and complete dominance of one over another.

9. The first thing that happens to a person that has been sexually assaulted, molested or harassed is to hide, keep quiet or feel shame and they go into hiding the event, how do you identify that to help?
It is not for me to tell people how to act. It is solely up to the survivor to do what he or she wants to do. Personally, I would like more and more people to open up to a trusted individual in their lives, but I cannot make a survivor do that. Rape and sexual assault are so incredibly hard to talk about. But I believe we have to be there for each other and let others know that we will sit and listen to them if they ever need anything. I pray that more people create loving and safe environments in which people can disclose their stories and pain if they choose to. More people will come forward as more people come forward.
10. Your THP sounds wonderful, have they thought of extending their great work to other countries? Through affiliations, overseas training to create awareness to communities?

No, but I will. I try my best to get this book and these messages to countries throughout the world and will continue to do so. You are a big part of that Abiola. God bless you. Thank you for this connection and opportunity.

11. Do you have any plans to make your book available to Africa and Nigeria?

Absolutely. One way to make the book available in Nigeria and Africa is by talking to other people, posting on social media sites and through this great interview. This interview will raise awareness of the book’s existence to people in Nigeria, and I thank you for that. To the Survivors can be found online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, kobo.com, smashwords.com, goodreads.com, and other online retailers. The e-book can also be found on my website for free at http://www.robertuttaro.com if people cannot afford the book. I want anyone to be able to get a copy of To the Survivors should they have an interest. People can contact me directly through my website if for some reason they cannot obtain a copy. Lastly, I would love to travel to Nigeria or anywhere else if anyone ever wants me to speak about these issues.

12. Share your thoughts on what you hope your book might achieve?

I have many hopes for what the book might achieve in the lives of others, probably too many to list here. I will try to answer as best as I can:

I hope people keep breathing and do not choose to kill him or herself.
I hope people will not feel shame for being raped or sexually assaulted.
I hope people will not blame themselves for being raped or sexually assaulted.
I hope people understand that they are not alone.
I hope people connect on some level with at least one person in To the Survivors.
I hope people understand that they can grow and heal from any pain they experience.
I hope people who have not been raped or sexually assaulted become more educated on how to respond to incidences of sexual violence and the suffering of survivors.
I hope people stop raping and assaulting.
I hope people understand that God loves them more than they can even fathom, even if they do not believe in God.
I hope people talk to God and listen to God.

These are some of my many hopes.

Will you be willing to answer questions on your book after this time, if you will please tell us how we may do that.
Yes. People can email me at info@robertuttaro.com if they want to ask me anything.
Thank you being on Ephesus.
Thank you for having me. It’s been a true blessing. God bless you, Abiola.
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Numen Yeye Series

It is my new year. On the first Saturday of this month I turned 65. Nothing new in that as one day looks very much like another eh? For me though, birthdays are markers and I have a habit of looking forward to them. You know, do reviews and previews of my the past months and years sometimes. It was special for me this year because I had a chance to formally unveil to my own circle of friends my book two of the Numen Yeye series. Rose of Numen had been releases a couple of weeks before then.
I am using the instrument of fiction and facts to tell my people a story, and it is with a longing that we will dispense with the false façade we give the world. We are Nigerians, and I know that deeply ingrained in every Nigerian is a search for the Truth.
Why did I start these Numen series?
I spent my early years in the Northern part of my great country. I was used to walking wide open spaces in the blistering sun , the wild windy storms that will stop as abruptly as it had started.. We lived in Kaduna and I spoke the Hausa language instinctively with family and friends. I listened to tales of the dark south as I heard tales of rituals, dark medicine and held the southern peoples specifically my Yoruba homeland in dread.
When my policeman father was transferred South, we thought we had received a veritable death sentence. I had a sense of being closed in. Then I met my maternal grandmother and heard a story that opened a love for my tribe, a questioning of the very things that had kept me frightened. She was a priestess, a love and mystic that in the very simplicity of her life showed I had nothing to be afraid of. She told me about the pantheon of the gods of my ancestors and how it is I could find the same in any particular religion in any particular part of the planet Earth. Above all, these gods in a single thread led straight to Olodumare, the Supreme One.
So I wrote the Numen Yeye series first as a play, in the same trilogy as I later did in prose.
Last Saturday, I presented to my own community of friends and fellow authors, the second in the series…ROSE OF NUMEN.Rose of Numen front cover
Let me share one of the comments of Lloyd Weaver an African-American, when I gave him the book to read before coming to the presentation:” I am totally stunned. There is nothing more to be said. I thank the Mother of All.. You have put your soul on the line and rendered your life sacred.”

Lloyd Weaver

Lloyd Weaver


Quite heavy words for me but I understood what he meant for Lloyd is an Ifa priest of a reputation that earned him a chieftaincy title from the accepted cradle of Yoruba land, Ile Ife. I felt excited when he came to the launching and spoke glowingly about the book. His comments underlined the comments of the book reviewer, a head of the department of literature, Dr. Sola Owonibi.IMG-20151005-WA0029

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In the words of Dr. Owonibi, “I am a teacher of Literature, I should know about Literature and with all sense of responsibility, the book Rose of Numen, is a great work of Literature. It is a great work of literature, a book that I am proud to recommend to anyone. I congratulate the author on a well written book and the publishers for a great cover and layout.”
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I felt like I was floating on a cloud and listening to accolades for someone else. I will continue next week . I hope you will order for your own copy.
You can buy a copy from ifwgpublishing.com
Or at amazon.com

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.

The Tussle

The next morning Babatunde and Tope chatted over bowls of hot pap and akara. Babatunde had prepared the corn pap watched by an amused Tope who made caustic remarks about his brother’s culinary efforts.
The atmosphere was friendly and convivial as Babatunde asked news of home and events. Tope sighed though when Babatunde asked questions about the candidates for the kingship.
“One of them does not look like he is going to get past the first round.” Tope said looking at his akara cake with a frown
Why? Babatunde startled by the comment
Tope was still frowning at his cake and sighed, then shrugged, “I guess I just don’t feel he looks like a king material
“Ifa will decide anyway” Babatunde consoled his brother
“Hmmm.. I don’t always buy into this Ifa thing these days you know. There has been many a king that Ifa has no business approving as kings as they turned out to be unmitigated disasters” Tope spoke with feeling and Babatunde raised eyebrows giving his brother a keen look, “It is not per chance you have a particular candidate in mind do you?”
Tope pushed his plate away and walked to the window looking out into the morning traffic for a few seconds. He turned round and gave his brother a slow smile, “you are not paying attention to me are you? Will you be able to drive me into town? I need to pick up a few things to take home, particularly pesticides for my cocoa.”
“Sure” Babatunde replied and knew his brother did not want to say anything further about the kingship tussle. That tussle had been on for more than six years and he sensed that his brother was bored with the whole thing. Two ruling houses were fighting over who was to rule the town next and that had generated quite a lot of bad blood in the town with rival supporters of one prince or the other. He was part of the inner circle of Ifa and was thus banned from taking sides nor making comments.
The procedure was simple, each candidate was expected to be able to trace his lineage and you could not be installed if your forebear did not have a son while on the throne. Every resident had a right to claim the first king as father but these particular gladiators were determined to lay claim to the most popular deceased king and that had started dissensions. There had been whispers about the paternity of one but no one had been brave to state who started such a rumour.
Babatunde had a different tussle on his mind anyway. It was what type of message he was expected to send to the Ifa circle of which he had been made the young Lion. He had a problem with the timing and date. However he knew he would be the one to find time to go.
He took Tope shopping and drove him to the garage so Tope could return to the village before nightfall.
When he got to the office, Babatunde went to check if the chief pharmacist was around and he was told he would have come back in the afternoon as the fellow was in a conference. Babatunde smiled at the secretary and returned to his office. Ngozi asked after the headache and it took him a minute to recollect what she was talking about.
“Your blank face clearly shows the headache didn’t last long” she laughed and walked away.
Minutes later he was immersed in work and it took a while before he noticed Joke the office girl tapped his desk repeatedly to attract his attention. Babatunde looked up straight into the face of a fairly tall distinguished looking middle aged man
The man smiled and stretched out his hand, “My name is Adewunmi, a friend said I might find you here. I am an accountant, came to make your acquaintance”
Babatunde stood up and asked the man to sit his eyebrows raised. His line of job did not encourage visitors unless they were patients seeking an alternative to a prescribed drug. His visitor didn’t seem to fit into that category.
“How may I help you? He asked politely
“That will be interesting don’t you think”? Sasa’s voice floated in and Babatunde was startled.
He gave his visitor a close look and sure enough he saw the deep blue eyes of Sasa smiling at him.
Babatunde was stunned and stared at his mystic friend, “How did you do that”?
Sasa grinned and sat down crossing his legs elegantly. “I have to learn how to do this you know. Something is coming up and this fellow whose coat I quickly borrowed will be visiting you in say two hours and we felt it was best to warn you ahead.”
Babatunde stiffened, “Who is this fellow?”
Sasa coughed and wiped his mouth mimicking the mannerisms of a rich spoilt man, “eh he fancies himself as the next king” Sasa gave a mocking bow, you know we have gone so far away from seeking the truth that any type of dross gilded over with yellow paint might be confused as gold”
Babatunde laughed out not so much for Sasa’s expression but the look of disgust Sasa had on his face. Then he got serious giving his friend a close look, “Your eyes will give you away you know if you try this stunt with anybody else. Africans don’t have deep blue eyes you know.”
Sasa retorted with spirit, ”You haven’t seen all Africans Fancy pants”
They both laughed.
“I am intrigued, really. I never thought this was possible. Used to read about our forefathers being able to take up skins and do what is called magic but this is new on me” Babatunde said
“You are actually on a different level you know and your experiences are thus different. The best Babalawo may never achieve what is possible or be able to experience this kind of conscious level you know. Real healing is not just about herbs alone but a combination of all the possibilities open to the human spirit. By the way, spirit is the key word. You are wearing a coat that depicts you Fancy pants but it is not your real yourself, you know that”
Babatunde nodded and stared at nothing in particular as his thoughts swirled and Sasa watched him. He sighed and gave Sasa a smile, “so what am I supposed to do when this prince comes in here?”
Sasa dipped his hand in his pocket and brought out a soft stone wrapped in animal skin. “Let him talk as much as he wants but give him this at the end”
Babatunde was mystified and stared at the stone lying in the open palm of Sasa. He stretched out his hand to lift it out of the palm of Sasa and was shocked that try as he might, he could not lift the stone. Sasa gave a soft laugh, “fancy Pants, your education is making you really soft. You know you do not lift things from me without giving me respect”
I…
“You must lift the stone with the skin”.
Babatunde did that and he held the stone but almost dropped it in shock when Sasa mentioned casually that the skin was from the past king. Sasa explained that it was held together by the thoughts of the people.
What do you mean thoughts?
Sasa groaned and looked out, “well it will soon be time for our friend to come in, your office girl is about to have a heart attack because she thinks Prince Adewunmi had already come in here. We will continue this conversation later and oh Prince Adewunmi is not really a prince but has the qualities of one”.
Sasa stood up and adjusted his coat as he walked out. A minute later, a very agitated and puzzled office staff was hesitantly asking if Babatunde was free to receive a visitor again.
Since everything was still a puzzle to Babatunde simply nodded as he quickly slid the object in his hand to a drawer.
The man came straight to the reason for his visit. In very precise tones he mentioned his name and what he had come. He wanted to ask for Babatunde’s support in his bid for the throne of the town. Babatunde listened patiently and smiled. He explained to his guest that he was not the one to make the choice but must follow the dictate of the oracle .
Prince Adewunmi made a cynical gesture and brought out his cheque book, “Look my friend, let’s not flog the issue. I understand the price is ten million and because , the way I heard it, you are the chief priest as it is, I will offer fifteen million. That can set up your pharmacy.
Babatunde clenched his fist and slowly rose to his feet when he heard Sasa’s sharp cough. He sat down as slowly taking deep breaths. Then he gave a gentle smile and pulled out his drawer and brought forth the stone wrapped in the skins.
In the same gentle manner he invited the prince to lift the stone, explaining that there was no need for the money, that if he could lift the stone, the prince was assured of the kingship. That stopped the prince as he stared at the stone saying nothing. There was some silence as both men stared at the stone which seemed to gleam. Babatunde spoke softly, ”being king is a good thing to aspire to and Ifa chooses what the thoughts of the people have chosen, why don’t you find out for yourself what that choice is. We consult the oracle not to thwart but to confirm what will best serve the people, just lift the stone and I will be sure if you are potential candidate”
Prince Adewunmi stared at the stone for more seconds then stood up abruptly and slammed out of the office.

Dream Murder

He did not want to go home. He stared at the table in front of him as the shadows gathered, the hustle of the city slowing down as the night hawkers set up. He sat there as the sounds around him changed in tones and volumes. Why bother to go home he asked himself, should he maybe go to the police?, and tell them what? He shuddered and slouched deeper into his chair. At least he should make some attempt to put on the light. He could always go see the pastor, he told himself, or well one of these miracle churches where they would promise him release… from? his wife?

No pastor it is not about divorce. She is giving me everything I ask for. Good food every time I ask for it . Right figure, you know the type of figure that seemed to have- no don’t even think about it.

His skin crawled and he knew he was afraid. Should he tell his mum? ‘I told you she was the wrong color, didn’t I?’ , his mother would scream at him and then suggest they go ask the ancient one, or she would suggest a village wife as antidote.
What would he tell the police? They had seen worse maybe. So his story wouldn’t be anything new— except maybe raise a laugh.

Was he really frightened? He really didn’t believe that, did he? But then, did he dare to say it to her. He also felt jealous. She had described the affair so well that he was not so sure he should not actually head for the divorce courts. He should give Ade a call. He imagined Ade’s smile and he cringed, for he also remembered that his friend had been skeptical when he had come in excited that he was going to marry Kike.

He tried to remember that party Kike told him about. She had acted like a normal lady. You know quiet, respectable, married lady. As always, she had not said much either, just kept to her corner and stayed close to him. What was the conversation at that party? Not much-er, okay, yes, he remembered. Jide had come over. Did he notice anything in the handshake he gave his wife? Jide, bland Jide, who they all teased because he never seemed interested in women. He looked and acted as if he was happily married.
Jide wasn’t his particular friend so he never really could say much about him.
It was always the odd hello and sometimes they politely asked after each other’s spouses. He tried to remember if he had ever introduced his wife or if the pair exchanged pleasantries. Kike always seemed to have a frown on her face anyway.
He had no way of knowing the man had the hots for his wife. Thinking of him as his wife’s dream lover sent cold chills down his spine…the thought nagged at him…, her dream lover? I’m going crazy. But what the hell was the man doing in the dreams of his my wife?

That is right, he mocked himself. Was he to report to the police that his wife was having an affair with a man in her dreams?

He was not going to give the same reason to Ade, that he wanted to divorce his wife because she had a lover in her dreams and had been dumb enough to tell him.
He shifted in the chair, knowing he was afraid to admit to what had frightened him was not the explicit love making she had described but what had happened. It was not the dream lover but his wife. He was afraid to go home because his wife. He searched in the drawer for the bottle of whisky and took a shot. He did not feel better. You know give a man a knock on his head and the man wakes up with a headache, or carry out a threat to stick a knife up his entrails and the fellow winds up dead the next morning. What happens if I dream of her or she comes to me too in a dream? He shuddered. I mean if I am going to die I had better do it as a man. Had she marked him too? How do you pacify a witch? He heard that such people do not like eating bitter meat and he shuddered.
Am I married to a witch? Go home to your loving wife he told himself and the phone rang with the special ringtone he had allocated to his wife. He jerked as if he had been stung and stared at the phone not answering.

“I hit him in the head with a stick and he called me the next day to say he had a headache. Why is he having the same dream as me, and why is he having a headache when I only hit him in the dream?” his wife wailed plaintively

He had stared at her as she asked that question, her eyes wide and worried, tears filling them as she gave the final sequel to the story. He could not ask her if she had enjoyed the lovemaking in the dream, or if Jide was better than him. He swore at himself in self pity.

“I warned him not to bother me again because next time I wouldn’t just hit him with a stick I would come with a knife and stick it up and kill him,’ were her final words and he remembered how he had backed away. His tentative phone call to Jide, how his throat went dry when it was picked up by a stranger who said Jide was found dead on his bed with blood on his lips. He came to work in a daze.

The phone rang again, it was his wife calling, the janitor knocked on the door as he crashed to the floor.

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