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Morning Mists….Conversations

I am keyed up to the eyes and like a pregnant woman,feel as expectant. I woke up this morning feeling optimistic. I really do not have a reason to be but just got bored being miserable. There is no reason for the misery but you see living in my country, you would be hard put not to feel frustrated. I don’t subscribe to endless moans about the state of security. It stares you in the face all the time and you simply sigh and try to identify the meaning of life for you.

I just came from the park, my heart beating fast in earnest prayer that a loved daughter making a trip would arrive safely, unscathed by the so many unseen dangers. You have prayed all night and then you listen to the news . A journalist has been kidnapped in my sleepy corner of the world and suddenly you are scared. You ask the question, why? She is a journalist, earning a salary and probably struggling to make ends meet. Why?

There is a saying in my corner of the world pond, it is more like a prayer, simply it goes like this: may you not walk on the day the road is hungry. How long is the prayer supposed to cover? She prayed too and as she saw the door to her home she may have sighed and maybe muttered a prayer of thanks feeling safe. According to the news reports, she didn’t make it through the front door. She was kidnapped.

I wondered if maybe I should go back to sleep to cancel out the bad news. In my tribe it is the best antidote to having a bad day. When something bad happens that early in the morning, you are advised to go back to sleep to cancel it out and start the day afresh

Imole Ife in my book Numen Yeye had to learn that. Weave her steps in a creation she was thrusted in and pick her way through these many bewildering maze. I did not go back to sleep. I could not afford that luxury. Sleep was not a luxury because I would be required to close my eyes right? That would be my problem too, because each night for about a week I have imagined the silent screams of two young persons.

Nailed to planks by an ignorant father for a crime they could not comprehend nor identify…accused of witchcraft by a frightened father, broke, hungry, and thus angry. He was a ready tool for a fool and the actual third victim of the herbalist who had divined the children as witches.

I had no wish going to sleep, looked eagerly to waking up and the nightmare became a daylight affair. I felt miserable being broke. I longed to be so wealthy to help both the father and the children. This was not Salem in the middle ages but my despairing country in the 21st century. A country so blessed and enriched that more of its citizens would rather leave than stay. The classic irony is painful.

I am not enriched by currency but by the sad turns and twists of this part of creation. Even in my waking moments, I hear the cry and imagine the language of the six year old son if he could express his thoughts. So I just borrowed his skin and this is my lament.

Trussed or spread?

Father contemplated

the best way

to nail me

to the plank.

Pain in hot streaks

lathered my hands

and heart

his demand like mists

rolled in on red pain

the lash of whip

tore through my skin

like soft rain on embers

of agony,

I pleaded my love and innocence

as dread member of cult or coven

of witches or wizards.

But father’s missing wealth

his anger and fear

rode him to near murder.

Seven days of agony

fed on bread and water

close to the pearly gates

the crash of the door

faint hands in distant cries

brought me back.

 

My heart and father’s love

however

was dead from all help.

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WAITING FOR REVIEWS……CONVERSATIONS

I have been having a nervous discussion with myself. You know, like I told you, I have just had a second book out this side of the pond and suddenly I have been nervous. The reason if I care to face it is an acute case of self doubt. I feel somewhat exposed too. My easy acceptance is being threatened by the modicum of recognition I had garnered over time through my writing.

I sent my book off to a reviewer blithely as I know him as one of the best arts journalist and review in the market. He didn’t know me so I had felt comfortable sending the book, Numen Yeye to him. He had in his email clearly stated that he would not bother writing a review if the book was not to his liking and I had shrugged not giving him much thought. Read the book I had said to myself.

The book got to him and his reply has made me nervous. Two things happened, one I did not know he was one of the best reviewers around until a mutual friend told me, and I also did not anticipate that he will read the blurb and become really excited about reading it. Why? Years ago, in another life I had done a series which seemed to have taken over from me and anything I had written since then.

It was a series meant for teenagers on sexual reproduction and like now I had just had a conversation with teenagers. I met a very young girl then who was able to act almost to detail a picture of the lead teenage character. She became quite popular as an actress after that but my series had been her launch pad. It is not the lady that has become my rival, but the series itself. Most people do a double take and ask me wonderingly if I am actually the person who wrote I NEED TO KNOW. I answer at first with amusement that I did and then they give me a second look.

My would- be reviewer has just done the same thing. I wonder if I should feel worried or relieved about that. I read somewhere that you can only be as good as your last and that your subsequent series, novel should always be better than the last. Quite a lot of people are convinced that the series was the best ever and I try to tap them to say, hey I am still alive and there is more where that came from.

I am bemused when people keep talking about that, because I think writers just want to share a part of their world, their take on issues around them, or even warn about an impending danger. Writers receive from a world that senses no boundaries and has a plethora of emotions, characters to choose from. Writers weave, weld, and re-create known norms in ways that excite and challenges the reader.

My argument has always been that we are all writers in some way or the other. We recount our day, experience and feelings to someone at one point or the other as we collate those experiences.

I actually didn’t plan on talking about writers, reads like some immodest thing to do , or some nervous appeal for understanding. But I am really nervous and I find myself waking up suddenly wondering which page he is reading now and wondering if I should have added one more sentence or recreated that scene in a different way. He is reviewing right and I am in agony hoping at the end of the day, he does not refuse to pick my nervous call. My fingers keep hovering over the phone.

He has just had the book and other things are maybe demanding his attention but …sigh.. oh well. It is why I try to read a book sent to me to review. I remember days like this and try my very best to pay attention…but he is paying attention..I think or … no perish any negative thought I tell myself firmly.

Hey where is that book I was asked to review? Be right back soon. I promise.

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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