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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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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.

Poetry collections

I just decided I might just share some of my collections. Spirtuality tends to creep up on me and I am left challenging the essence of my existence. Sometimes it is an irreverent consideration of the abstract term of paradise, when I ask myself if it really exists and I catch myself wondering if I would like my neighbors. Yes, I know we both agreed that I have maybe a few bolts not properly screwed on right. No need to rub it in . Seriously though, what will it feel like? I feel self conscious thinking of it and just want to get on with the business of living. So you see I will once in a while post poems.

I make a promise now though, to ensure that I post at the very minimum of once a week. Fair? I have a teaching job you know. I will be working with creative minds about writing. Ergh! always assumed the crazy addiction of writing was reserved for folks like me and you eh? I look with curiosity when I see young persons walk in, a glint in their eye and a readiness to argue the fine point of writing. I sigh as I see myself in them and I feel a tingle. Didn’t I just say I was posting poetry? em..em okay here goes. They are just collections so keep the carving knife for later okay?

COLLECTION

The day drapes herself with purple hues as it wakes.
It makes ready for creation
all that is needed to weave
from the golden sun, experiences of Light.
As you open your eyes
to the greeting of a shimmering morning,
may the Light rays find you happy and well.

Dreams flow rich,
from the running brook,
man stands to watch
the colouring book of His grace.
My soul longs to feel on me, the grace,
I sigh and lay in the soft grass of home.
The bells through the flashing lights
tell me that harvests are almost done.
Will Father find enough for the treasure?
I hope for you that
the harvest though not very pure,
will ring the bells.

The sun can be persuaded
to have roses in the desert.
The dew at dawn is as
soft as the outer reaches of the sun.
the hand that holds the Sword is loving and firm.

The scapel of the surgeon is sharp
to remove the errant tissue.
It is mercy.
The eagle lives on the crag
as the dove descends
and the sea breaks out on victory song.
The unicorn sniffs the golden air
for the sun is married again.

The Rose has seven points on her garb.
The temple is no longer hidden
and there is blue light all around!
The Final Judgment?

The fox returns to his hole
To lie in wait
For the intrepid chicken
That squawks its stupidity
The protection of the blind lady
Is but a momentary fancy

The hyeana’s laugh
Strident and hoarse
Is menacing in its promise
To tear feathers asunder

The growling belly
Of the howling mob
Like visiting tornadoes
Make Christmas lights
Of human bodies
For human frailties
Stand mute as sign posts
To an exasperated Earth!

Look to your justice
For here comes Justice!

In blazing light colors
Shifts from tainted egos
The bloated fellows
From tainted cloaks
In calm fashion
Renders bare human passions

Today;s Man profoundity
Was yesterday’s folly
Tomorrow my Janus
I stand bound to love
To serve Justice in Purity

They abuse the Seven
In an ode to heaven
To see in their temerity
Their take of severity
May suffice to serve seven
Four and three
False and false by same degree
Is this the final judgment?
Really and truly?
Have you ever?
Well I never!

On a sad cold night,
The Sun in shame hid its face.
Mother love had to bring
Down from the wind pane
Names of those, year
Before, had sworn fealty to the lord
Their ego’s a giant boulder
Stood astride their flow!
Time and again,
Man has fallen and stood unreliable
How many times shall the
Light watch, as we again
And again betray our
Promises to be faithful.
Is there an alternative to Light?
How can the mountain be
Anywhere but where it is?
How can we reject what
We have deserved and
Enthrone our pettiness?
When will the bandage really
Fall, and real service begin?

Random Musings

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 neice 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.

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