Black History Month, Descriptive, Emotion, Fiction, PenPractice, writing

A Good Death – Part 2

I never understood how deep the forest was until I began marching through it with my brothers and some of the other children from the tribe. We had left the morning after my father’s retelling. 

If only I knew that was the last time things were going to be normal. I would never have left. The prize was not worth the effort or the process it took to attain it. The Raga are monsters. 

In front of us, leading the fifty children of Ogun, was the Elder’s second wife. She was the acting shaman of our tribe, the priestess by which we prayed to our god, Ogun. She, along with her husband, told us what our god required from us each year and we would do our best to meet it. 

It was a surprise when she began the journey as our leader but soon enough, the surprise waned. Tearful goodbyes and last hugs with our parents were the only things in our minds as we navigated deeper into the forest. Soon enough, all we saw were trees and visions of trees. 

Over us, the sun went down and a full moon replaced it in the sky. The forest was bathed in the blue light of the moon and the shaman, Okoye, lit torches for the eldest of the children to carry. 

On my belt, I wore the knife my father had given me for my seventh name-day. It wasn’t the best-looking knife but the handle was covered with the fur of a bear father had killed and the blade had been carved from a black rock that fell from the sky, according to his account. 

The wooden handle was cut from the mahogany tree at the center of the village, an act that was only permitted by the shaman and no one else. 

“The tree is the gods and the gods keep it,” mother had explained. 

The knife was in my hand now as we walked deeper into the forest. All around me, my brothers and friends had their weapons in hand. Some were carrying bows and short knives, while others had machetes and warrior blades. Those were our elders. They were the ones who weren’t quite warriors yet but had begun their training. And Sogo was one of them. 

He locked eyes with me, his dark brown eyes catching the light of the torch in his hand and he smiled at me assuringly like he always did. He sheathed the blade back on his belt and ruffled my curled hair with his free hand. 

“Don’t worry, Jide. I will keep you all safe from whatever comes our way,” he whispered to me before gently pushing me on. 

His words settled my restlessness and I nodded and pushed forward with the rest of the children. We had no idea where we were going, except that we were to keep walking until the shaman determined that we had walked far enough. 

Still, we kept walking. Around us in the dark, animal noises filled the air and increased the tension in the group but the shaman didn’t stop. If I remember correctly, she even sped up as if trying to get to the destination in time. 

At a point, our slow creep through the forest had turned into a run and by the time she told us to slow down, we were panting for air and begging for water. We didn’t get any, save from the already emptying waterskins the eldest children carried. And yet, the shaman didn’t stop. And along the way, we lost ten from our group to exhaustion and thirst. 

We were lucky in this regard, my brothers and I because father had taken it upon himself to train us to go on for hours without rest or water. I still don’t believe it was because he expected this to happen but I was glad that the training kept us alive. Largely. 

Sometimes, Elder Okoye would allow us to rest, but only for a few hours before the journey started again. 

Day turned to night, which turned to day. And then the cycle continued. Hunger gnawed at us and thirst clawed at our throats but the shaman didn’t stop. She just kept moving like she was unaffected by what we were feeling. Perhaps she was. That is something I will never find out.

Regardless, Deji, my five-year-old brother, didn’t make it past the fourth day before he collapsed on the floor for good. 

It was on the seventh day that we finally got the chance to stop. 

By this time, blisters had formed underneath our feet and it was increasingly difficult to focus on moving. The shaman didn’t stop but she slowed down a bit and we took some rest from it. The sun had risen for the day and it bathed us with its warmth which felt oppressive in our thirsty state. 

And yet, there was something about it. Something strange. As thirsty, tired, and hungry as I was, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something wrong with the day. I wasn’t sure if it was the sun, or the way I felt, or how far the shaman appeared to be from the group. 

I mentioned it to Sogo and he frowned before hobbling forward faster to catch up to her and as if on cue, the shaman began to run. The rest of us tried to catch up with her, struggling as we increased our speed but by the time we went through the group of trees that she passed, we had lost her. 

And gained something different. 

As we passed through the trees, we burst out of the forest into a large clearing that seemed to stretch from end to end with no more trees in sight. The ground was different, hardened and yet, smooth and cool to the touch. Cautiously, we all exited the forest and stepped on the strange ground. 

Ahead of us, was a structure, unlike anything we had seen before. It stood taller than most of the trees we had walked past in the forest but the more I stared at it, the more it reminded me of the mahogany tree back home. 

Looking at it filled me with an intense sense of dread that increased with each second. The entrance to the place was open but even in the light of the sun, it just looked like a black cloth had been placed across it. Like a shadow veil that we will have to cross. I blinked as I noticed a ripple in the shadow veil. 

Like someone else was present in our vicinity. I took a step forward without meaning to and tried to be sure that I saw someone beyond the door. 

A shout of celebration broke my gaze with the veil and I looked down to see a river bank separating the strange, smooth road from the building. 

At once, all the children rushed forward and I found myself running along, my mind suddenly filled with the thought of water on my lips and down my throat. Kunle and Seun had jumped in already and were swimming in it. Sogo was just behind me, along with a few other children as we raced towards the water. 

I was a step away from the water, already filled with playing children when I froze and looked up once more. 

Across the river, standing at the other side, was the shaman. We all stopped, even those in the water. The shaman looked down at them and shook her head in disappointment. Before we could do anything, all the children in the river disappeared under and they didn’t resurface. 

Slowly, to our horror and immediate understanding, the river changed from the bright blue it was, to a deepening red. In that instant, I had lost both of my brothers.

Black History Month, Descriptive, Emotion, Fiction, PenPractice, writing

A Good Death – Part 1

When I was young, still wet behind the ears as I ran around the mahogany tree that grew in the middle of the village, my father used to tell me stories about his days as a warrior of our tribe. Back then, it made little sense to me, the stories. His eyes would water and his mind would wander about his glory days and how he wished he died a good death. 

He was still a warrior during these retellings, though the grey in his hair contrasted against his ebony skin. It was a sign that he was growing in age. 

Each retelling of his ‘glory days’ began with his return from the hunt. Every week, my father and a few of the other tribesmen would come together and go out into the forest to hunt for the tribe. Sometimes, the hunt would take days and the whole tribe would worry, waiting with bated breath.

And yet, the mornings of their returns always coincided with the rising sun and they would enter the village, bathed in the golden light of the sun god, their skin rippling as if dripping with Sango’s blessing. I used to believe that spirits walked with them whenever they returned but such is the mind of a youngling. 

Still, the hunters would drop their kill at the center of the village, underneath the mahogany tree and our tribe’s shaman would come to separate it, with a portion reserved as a sacrifice for our gods. The elder would rest a hand on the hunters, whispering a prayer on them before dispersing them to their wives and loved ones. 

On those days, my father would rush back to my mother first, carrying her off the floor and showering her with kisses before taking her inside to discuss. To discuss. That was what my mother called it. I know better now. 

One day, after their ‘discussion’ was finished, my father sauntered out, sweat still dripping down his skin, and gathered us together. I was the third son of five children. All boys. We were the pride of my father and I could see that, even then when I knew of little. 

My father took a seat on a small stool, just outside our hut, and my brothers and I sat around him, eager to hear what new stories he had to tell us. My mother came then, as she always did, to hand him a bowl of some ripened fruit punch and he emptied the bowl into his mouth before speaking. 

“Have I ever told you this one story…” he began and we drew nearer almost subconsciously. 

“Have I ever told you this one story about the time I first faced the Raga Tribe? I have told you about the skirmishes of Ogun and how all these smaller tribes sought to fight us and encroach on our lands. Those fights were easy. Not challenging in any way. 

“So much so that even Ogun did not interfere or assist us. He let us fight on our own merits because he knew there was nothing the smaller tribes could do to hurt us. And he was right.”

My father’s hands went to the wooden beads linked around his neck and he fingered it gingerly. The beads were in different colors, ranging from red to dark blue that mirrored the endless sea. 

The manner in which he began, made it seem like our fight with the Raga was completed but I knew different. Even now, in the comfort of our new home, stories of fights with the Raga were common. Still, as children, we were never told about who the Raga tribe were and what they wanted. 

Now and then, a few warriors of the tribe would head out to assist another tribe in resisting the Raga’s invasion. We rarely saw the warriors return. 

They were our enemies and eventually, we would have to fight them when we became men. 

“But the Raga Tribe… There was something different about them,” he said solemnly. 

Worry lines deepened on his face and for an instant, I stopped seeing my father, the warrior. Instead, I saw my father, the man. His face hardened as he stared into the distance, the scar on his right cheek catching the sun’s glint. He flared his nostrils as if taking in a lasting breath before taking time to look at each of us in turn. 

I remember frowning then, unsure of why my father was acting unlike himself. In his retellings, there was usually a smile plastered on his face as he told his stories. Sometimes, he would get on his feet and show us the attack he used to win a fight, or how he positioned himself to catch his enemy by surprise but this time, he just sighed and continued. 

“It was before you were born…” he said, nodding at my younger brother before pointing at me, “…and it was just after your first year.”

“We got word that some of our former enemies, the Fishing tribe to the south, had met an untimely end. Word of a stronger tribe moving along the coast in search of a new home. The Elder called a council and assembled the warriors together to tell us what we must do.” 

He dropped the bowl to the floor, close to his feet and I glanced down to see my mother, sitting next to him, refilling his bowl. She flashed me a sad smile and I frowned. 

“The elder said we must be ready to defend our tribe if the time comes. Which went without saying. But there was a tremble to his voice. Something was bothering him. Still, we answered that we will do what we must and he dismissed us.

“A week after that meeting, the eastern tribe… our Enemies, the Hanaya, were destroyed by this mysterious invader and it was then we understood that our time to fight was fast approaching. I was a warrior captain now so I made my men practice even as I laid traps in the village in preparation for the mysterious invaders.”

He paused and drank from the newly filled bowl before handing it back to my mother and gracing her with a smile. She smiled back at him in appreciation, the little indent in her cheek deepening. 

“It was in the middle of my trap-laying that the elder called me and told me that we must attack the Hanaya village after sunset. I questioned the decision, finding no reason for why we had to be the aggressors until the elder told me what his scouts had seen.”

“What had they seen, Papa?” my eldest brother asked. 

My father looked at him and leaned forward a little even as his voice went quieter. 

“Monsters,” he replied. 

We all flinched and he chuckled as if expecting our reaction. Still, he leaned in further as he began to describe them. 

“The scouts saw monsters who stood on two feet as we did, but their skin had no color,” he explained. 

“No color?!” my younger brother exclaimed.

“Not a drop. The monsters had pale skin, like goat’s milk. Their eyes shone with blue gems and the hair on their head was yellow, like a lasting sickness refusing to leave. The scouts said that they carried an unknown weapon in their hands, one that spat fire and hot metal.”

“A weapon that spits fire and metal? How did you beat them, Papa?” My elder brother asked. 

My father looked at him and then at the rest of us. His face became grim as he took the bowl from his mother and emptied it into his mouth. 

“We didn’t. Not in a straight fight. Like the elder suggested, I gathered a group of warriors and set out to do what must be done to stop their spread. At night, under the cover of the shadows, we made our way down to the Raga. We thought as they will be sleeping, we will just take them before they wake up. We were mistaken,” he explained. 

“From the top of the hill, we could see the lights in the village, glowing like numerous fireflies in the distance. I should have turned back then. I knew in my heart that it was the right decision but I took it to be fear. So, we went down.”

My brothers and I drew in closer, our minds completely captured by the story. I glanced at my mother to see her grab my father by the leg and he looked at her, a flash of sadness crossing his features. 

“You see, in the short time they stayed at the Hanaya tribe, they had built tall slim houses that stood as tall as trees in the forest. We were unaware the Raga had seen us before we even saw them,” he said, leaning closer to us and dropping his voice a little. 

“We had lost before we even knew it. I lost the warriors with me that day. The men that I called ‘brothers’. I watched as their lives all got snuffed out like fire torches.” 

The silence at that moment was oppressive. On normal days, when my father would retell his war stories, my brothers and I would be joking with him by now, laughing as he played out how he won against his enemies. We didn’t do that this time. 

My father sat back straight and took another bowl of fruit punch from my mother and emptied it, before whispering a word of thanks to her. She smiled at him before refilling it, though she didn’t hand it over to him yet. 

“None of you have asked me why they are called the Raga tribe,” he said in a solemn voice. 

No one spoke for a moment. Then, I asked the question. 

“Why are they called the Raga tribe?”

My father fixed his gaze on me intently as if he was looking into me. 

“They are called Raga because when we faced them that day, we walked into a line of the monsters awaiting us with their metal weapons. And as soon as they saw us, there was a loud sound from their weapons. Their name is how I remembered the weapon sound.”

He stood up from the stool and crossed his arms as he regarded the five of us. For a moment, I saw a glint in his eyes that looked like tears but I thought I was seeing things. He extended his hand towards my mother without looking at her and she handed the bowl to him.

My father took a sip from the bowl this time around before handing it to my eldest brother, an act he had never done before. 

“Drink. Today, you all become men,” he said. 

My eldest brother, Sogo, looked at my father for a moment before drinking from the bowl, after which he passed it to Kunle and then to me. I drank it, feeling the heat in my throat as the taste of the fruit punch mixed with my senses. I could see why my father loved it. I could also see how much I didn’t. 

After my youngest brother had drunk his share, my mother took the bowl from him even as my father commanded us to rise to our feet. He kept his gaze on us throughout and it’s only now that I think I understand what might have been going through his mind. 

Perhaps he was trying to sear our faces in his mind so that he wouldn’t forget. Perhaps. 

Blog, WinterABC2020, writing

I Missed My Ninth Day, I think…

I don’t know where to begin from. I have been absent from blogging for six days now. Usually, I’d say I’ve been absent for ‘reasons’ but the truth is simpler;

  1. I couldn’t write
  2. I couldn’t focus on any of the topics with the way the world was going
  3. Some of the topics don’t quite match up with the blog/website

To be honest, I did consider writing quite a few times within the last few days but I’d open the blog and stare at the blank page, debating whether or not I stay on topic or deviate and speak on what’s happening outside in the world. Never reached a decision so I just didn’t write.

Still, I’m here… Well, here now.

And now, I have to decide whether or not I take on Topic #9 or Topic #14.

Or maybe both.

Both Is Good The Road To El Dorado GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
If you haven’t watched ‘Road to El Dorado’, you’re missing on some goodies.

Let’s begin with 9. Depending on when this goes live, #14 or #15 will be next.

Four of The Accounts I Follow and Why I Respect Them

  1. @ImAdeAkins

Consistency tweeting is something I respect and I hold in high regard. This is a trend in the accounts I follow. AdeAkins is someone I’ve known for a while and I’ve watched him excel. His podcasts are excellent and informative, his cocktail mixes are fun (especially with the namings) and he doesn’t just tweet for tweeting sake.

There’s something pure about using your voice to discuss important issues, be it Mental Health, Finances or Black Lives Matter.

2. @SincerelyOghosa

YouTuber / Influencer / Vlogger / Black Girl Magic. From the moment I followed her on Twitter and Instagram, I’ve been glad I did. Not only is she a fun youtuber to watch, she’s also focused and intentional in uplifting small black businesses. She’s fun to talk to and honest in her experiences either it be in Dating or Travelling.

3. @WilliamAdoasi

Founder of Vitae London. A black owned premium watch company. Having spoken to him a few times, I can easily say I love this dude. He’s active in helping communities, he speaks out on injustice whenever he can and he’s just an all-round amazing guy.

4. @Gaemechanger / @Gabz_Amadi

I put these two together because of the podcast they run. Also, because of the conversations we have on twitter about Christianity, belief and life, really. They are hilarious but truthful. They don’t shy away from odd or heavy topics but instead, express a willingness to understand and explore the topic from a biblical and life perspective. And that’s something I really like.

I believe that’s about it for the ninth topic. I think I like it this way. Short and concise.

On slightly unrelated topics;

  • For those interested in this particular hobby – I retrofitted my old YouTube channel into a gaming channel and I’ve begun putting some videos up. Heck, my voice is even recorded on it so you can hear me speak if you’re curious.
  • One of my books is free for download for subscribers to my newsletters 😀 – So Download, have a read and please leave a review!
  • Lastly, #BlackLivesMatter. The world is going through the motions but please be good to people around you. Please.
Blog, WinterABC2020, writing

Numero Seven – The Short One

Today’s topic is less about me and more about some of the blogs that I’ve been fortunate to see, read and enjoy. Blogs from people who are more or less, my people. My kin. Both in skin colour and in virtue.

As such, this is going to be a relatively short post.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to;

Doctor Kanayo

  • So I’ve enjoy reading her posts, most of which is superb not only in writing but in the message that is being passed across.
  • She writes about her faith, her job and life in general which is always a plus to read especially when its coming from a Psychology teacher. So please, give it a read.

Igbocurls

  • I have known the author of this blog for a long, long time and while the aim of the blog does not particularly apply to me, I believe it would have some application to anyone who is interested in learning, understanding and maintaining their natural hair.

Those are the two I have off the top of my head. As I haven’t been blogging and reading blogs as I used to years ago, I have fallen off in keeping up to date with bloggers in general, especially bloggers from my country.

However, that can easily change now, I believe. If you’re Nigerian and you’re a blogger, share your link in the comments. I would LOVE to take a look at your blog and follow you.

Better yet though, if you blog either consistently or every now and then, please do the same. It’s always an informative exercise to be able to see and experience things from other people’s viewpoint 🙂

Blog, WinterABC2020, writing

Six of 22. #WinterABC2020

Today’s post is late, mostly because I’ve spent the better half of it being busy with my other projects up to the point that I almost forgot I was due for another post.

“What other projects?” You ask with a coy smile.

Well, I have a few things that I have on my plate that I’m simultaneously working on. That is, at the moment;
– I’m working on a few stories (which I release as a serial on Reddit). I want to get my current ones done so that I can work on my book’s sequel.
– I repurposed my YouTube channel for gaming and game related stuff, along with Twitch.
– I’m doing some game development work with a few friends.

“Isn’t that kind of a lot?”

Why, yes. Yes, it is. But I find that being busy helps my creativity in writing and with the lock-down keeping me largely at home and largely aimless (after 9-5 work), I decided to prioritise some projects.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about today’s topic!!!

Four Things I’ve Learnt on Social Media

Oh boy. Social media is something unique. Unlike anything that has come before it. Honestly, I still think back to the days before we even had the mental concepts for smartphones. And the difference between life before and life after smartphones is something unheard of. And it brings me to my first point;

1) Nobody knows how to use it.

Which closely translates to, ‘nobody truly understands what it is supposed to be for’. I mean, think about it. What is Social Media for?

Is it to keep up with friends? We’ve got their numbers for that.
Is it to keep up with the news? We’ve got the TV for that.
Celebrities? Celebrity magazines have dedicated stalkers for information.

So, what is its purpose?

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tiktok and the likes will give you vague explanations to their uses but at the end of the day, we all use them the same way.

As an outlet to our lives. Which brings me to my next point.

2) Everyone shares too much.

You probably understand what I mean by this. The common example would be the people who so happen to share a lot about their relationships on twitter or facebook, listing out details that should be private or rather, dealt with in private.

You have some people completely detail the faults of their parents or partners or friends for some support in their decision to cut them off. Don’t get me wrong. If your family, friends or loved ones are (a) abusive, (b) racists or (c) on the narcissistic end of things, it’s perfectly understandable to cut them off. I just don’t think it necessarily has to be public unless the situations demand it be so.

Quick PSA: If you’re in an abusive relationship, please leave. Don’t wait until they become better. Just go.

All in all, in this area of oversharing, once you dig deeper you eventually figure out that for most of the people over-sharing, they are doing it for lesson number three.

3) Clout-Chasing.

This is something I personally detest. When people start sharing their stories not because it is particularly important but because they want some ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’. It trivialises important issues into a game of internet points which I find to extremely wrong.

And clout chasing takes so many forms.

You have the people who share fake stories. You have the people who bully others. You have the ones who post ‘thirst traps’ but pretend like that wasn’t what the picture was for. You get those who expose their DMs every single time they get a private message because of the picture they want to paint. You have people who are always contrarian. You have people who will always agree.

You have stans.

You have fancams.

You have meme accounts who only exist to take a shot at anything and everything that breathes on social media.

You have accounts who pretend to be racist just because it’s the ‘cool thing to be edgy’ on the internet, only to then turn around and ‘apologise’ when they get exposed.

Most of the lives on social net want to achieve some sort of fame that they’ve attached to follower count, likes and retweets. And I can’t say I fully blame them. After all, the advent of social media opened the doors to celebrity status via the route of ‘Influencer’. Suddenly, the pedestal that we place a lot of our ‘hollywood’ heroes are now within reach.

All in all, all of this brings me to the last thing I have learnt on social media.

4) It is having a bad effect on some people

In this point, I will leave the following so that you can read it up at your own leisure but the main crux is this. Social media is having a negative effect on some people’s mental states because we are being inundated with snippets of very different lifestyles.

And while it doesn’t sound like this should be a problem, some people can’t help but constantly compare themselves with those they believe to be successful. So, consciously and sometimes subconsciously, they start to change how they look, act, talk and behave in order to paint a picture that has no truth to who they really are.

Social media has made a lot of people live false online lives. And that’s a problem.

You can read more by clicking on the picture.
Blog, thoughts, WinterABC2020, writing

And On The 5th Day, He Wrote Again! #WinterABC2020

So, I know it was obvious that nothing was written yesterday. To everyone here, new and old, I apologise. I wasn’t in the best head-space yesterday and the thought of crafting a biographical piece on me didn’t get me out of it. I had a title and everything but yeah… Thursday was a miss.

Nonetheless, I made a pledge for relative consistency and I’m going to continue my best at keeping to it. That said, I believe my actions yesterday lead relatively well into the topic for today.

Welcome to “How To Take Breaks”. I’ll be your professor but call me Doc.

“How to take breaks? We all know how to do that!”

Take this as a reminder then. Taking breaks is something that everyone knows how to do and yet, still fail to do properly. If anything, there’s a slight negative connotation when you tell some people that you’re taking a break from something, either it be work, family or relationships.

Taking a break is not bad. I repeat, taking a break is NOT BAD. Sometimes, it is even crucial!

“How Sway!”

serious the four GIF by Diddy

There’s a phrase I used to hear in Nigeria and still here from time to time. It’s relatively simple, spoken in pidgin (broken English) but it solidifies the point I’m trying to make quite well. And it’s this;

Body no be firewood.”

In other words, there’s only so much you can take, physically, mentally, emotionally, figuratively, etc, before your body calls it quits and starts to shut down. And when your body starts to react to external and internal circumstances, you start to feel that.

For example, Stress.

Work stress sounds like something that should be encouraged: ergo, giving your continuous 100% at work, 9am-5pm, every single working day but it will eventually get to a point where your body will tell you to cut it out. And it will tell you fast.

This is what the NHS says Stress can do to you.

There is no justification to let the above happen just because you want to impress your boss, or your family or your partner. There is none.

YOUR HEALTH MATTERS – Physically, Mentally and Emotionally.

And, to be quite honest with you, you cannot give anyone the best of yourself if you’re not in the best place for yourself. Let me turn that into a quote for you to share around.

You cannot give your best if you’re not at your best.
– I. Ogunbase.

That is where having breaks come in. You can either have it as long breaks (a la Holidays or Sabbaticals) or short breaks, such as days off (even if its a half day). This is the physical aspects of it, the one that applies to work. The moment you start feeling the pressure on your mind and body and YOU KNOW that it’s putting you in a bad place, take a break.

The other ways of taking breaks are usually known;
– Watching a movie
– Playing a game
– Going out with friends
– etc etc

All the above help. I must stress, however, that taking breaks does not mean abusing it or becoming lazy as a result. Because that stops being a break and starts being an actual escape from responsibilities. This is a different topic but yeah. Don’t mistake taking breaks for being lazy. Don’t be lazy.

Breaks in relationships are more complicated and rightly so. Because taking a break means something in the relationship is not quite fitting properly. Now, in this day and age, when someone says they are taking a break, it automatically means they are breaking up with you.

When in truth, it should really mean ‘taking a break’. The break itself is supposed to a self-reflection of where the person is at with their partner, where they are planning to get to and the steps that they need to take.

And yes, it can lead to an actual break-up BUT it can also lead to a stronger reconciliation that helps both parties to grow and excel together. Both results are important in regards to your emotional state. Sometimes in life, self-introspection is needed and shouldn’t be missed.

All in all, try to take breaks whenever you feel like things are getting ‘too much’. If not for your sake, do it for your future. Do it for the best version of you.

Blog, WinterABC2020, writing

Third Time for Consistency #WinterABC2020

Hi All,

Hope you’re all having a nice wonderful afternoon amidst the fires of rebellion going on around the world. Touchy subject, I know… But I plan to touch on it eventually. Today, however, we will be addressing my favourite food of all time. One that makes my stomach happy and in return, makes me happy.

And yes, as a Nigerian, that sorta defaults to Jollof Rice.

Know the Differences Between Nigerian and Ghanaian Jollof Rice ...
Photo from Demand Africa

Now, I’m not going to go into the age-old battle of whose Jollof Rice is the best between Ghana and Nigeria (it is the latter) as I don’t think it’s useful to the conversation at the moment. As long as it is made well, I’m a sold customer.

Especially when it’s garnished with;
– Roasted Chicken
– Fried Plantain
– Salad or Coleslaw

I’m a sucker for the right combination. That said, I don’t believe I would be revealing the best combination on here. That information stays with my fiancee and my mother. Everyone else will have to do.

“What about this dish do you love?”

Honestly? Not sure. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to try out different dishes over my life so far and while they are all excellent, something about Jollof Rice reminds me of home. In the metaphorical sense.

I would call it the ideal comfort food and I believe you all understand what I mean. The one dish in the world that no matter what mood you’re in, it puts you in the state that makes you feel like everything, every issue, every worry, every single thing you’re expressing would be alright.

That’s what makes the dish special to me.

Blog, WinterABC2020, writing

Day 2 of 22 – The Direction I’m Headed #WinterABC2020

So.

Yesterday’s post garnered more support than I usually get and I’m touched by the motivation to push ahead with this task ahead of me. Thank you for liking it and for the push to continue the path.

So. Today’s topic.

“What’s the main goal of my site?”

This is fairly simple and at the same time, not so simple. The very simple answer being that I wanted a space where I could direct readers to be able to see my body of work and subscribe / buy my books. Very simple answers.

The ‘Not so simple’ answer points to marketing / visibility. Let me explain.

The blog was created sometime in 2012 when I was studying engineering in some university down south. Like outside London, UK. I was going through some issues in my life (mentally, emotionally and physically) and I needed a space to unleash my thoughts. Heck, you can even check out my first post here.

The blog’s name was even called “Conversations With Myself” and the URL was “http://www.thorougheyes.wordpress.com

Over the months and years, I’d fill the blog with my thoughts, poetry, prose and some short stories. It was like a diary that wasn’t quite private and wasn’t quite public either. It was just a space where I could unburden my mind, if only to be able to function in society.

But as the years would go on, I would also change and writing began to become important. And as with all important things, they eventually yield fruit. I began writing stories properly and eventually finished a short novel. A novella, if you will. Counting The Seconds.

It was still the beginning but I had taken a step into a different realm, one that operated with different sets of rules that I was unprepared for. I’d continue writing and by the 23rd of March 2020, I’d have three books published.

Which meant, I had and have to be relatively professional about the art if I wanted to succeed in it. So, it took some working around but the blog turned into an official website. A place where any who stumble upon it would know me, the writer. And the books that I’ve released into the world.

“This is all interesting. But…”

I know. I haven’t answered the question yet. Not really. So, let me do that officially.

The purpose of my website is for me to be able to market myself as an author to all who might be interested in my body of work. My homepage is such as to show you what I have released, the reviews I’ve gotten, my biography and how to subscribe to not miss updates.

However, the purpose of my blog is still the same. As professional as the website might be, the blog side of it remains so that I might unburden my thoughts and free my mind of the things that shouldn’t be on it anymore.

I walk two paths here. And I plan to walk them to the best of my ability.

Two Paths - Human Eyes
Image from Google Images.

PenPractice, Shorts, Stories, writing

Short Story:- “The Long Drive”

I’m not sure what car I’m driving.

All I know is that its a manual transmission, 5 gear system, though my feet has been on the gas for a while now and I haven’t had to slow down yet. I don’t know where I am, or where I’m headed to. I’m just driving.

The last thing I remember was laying in the hospital bed speaking to Katie and Susie. They were crying. Fuck it. *We* were crying. I was unbearably weak and it hurt to cry but I cried nonetheless. It was the thought of not being able to see Susie grow up. The thought of not being able to cuddle with my wife after a long day at work. Cancer was a bitch.

When all was said and done, I opened my eyes to this highway. I don’t know what the weather is like but I can feel the wind in my hair and it feels good. It’s dark. I think I’m in a sandy area. It’s hard to tell from the darkness, but no matter how much I try to focus on my surroundings, my eyes get pulled back to the road. The smoothness of it, the way the car handles.

I’ve been driving long enough that I’m beginning to feel like the car was specifically made for me. It handles so fucking well, it’s like whoever put me in it, created it from scratch from everything in my memory. Everything about the car feels like the best aspect of all the cars I’ve ever driven.

Time is useless. I’ve tried counting the seconds to minutes to hours and I’ve given up on the idea. Time is inconsequential. The more I enjoy riding in the car, the more the wind makes me feel calm, I keep casting my mind back to when I met Katie.

It was at University. First week. The student unions had organised a bar crawl around the local town and I had joined my new housemates out that night. Katie was in the second bar we entered in. She stood by herself at the bar, drinking. I know I was tipsy but the way the light caught her frame, it was like time slowed to a stop. Blonde haired, fit-bodied beauty that I stammered my way to a conversation that made her laugh.

Then she poured her drink over me and stomped out the bar.

I chuckle at the memory. It had taken two months after that before I met her again. Turns out we share a course. I think I had apologized then but she still didn’t accept it. But I’m persistent. I think. Wore her down with my charm. The sudden brightening of my surrounding pulls me out of my memory. I am in a black desert after all. Odd.

Never knew black deserts were possible.

Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever really opened my eyes to new things without Katie’s help. And Susie. And Martha, Joe, Shawn and every other person.

There was this one time when…

I would like to believe that I have been driving for decades at this point. It’s just a random number but it is the best I can estimate. It’s the least I want to estimate. The feeling I had gotten from the drive initially has dissipated away. It took a few years for that glow to wipe away. Now I see it for what it really is.

The black desert had been an illusion. A trick of the eye. A sleight of hand to make me believe I was experiencing that which had never been seen before. I couldn’t be farther from the truth. I quickly found out that the longer I drive, the more I remember about my life. The memories I had once thought forgotten come back to the forefront of my mind. The images would flash through me, vividly as if I am living it anew.

I remember with more detail than I care for, the feeling of my mum’s breastfeeding. I remember the first punch I took to the face because my father decided it was never too early in my life to show me how much of a bastard he was. I remember discovering new sensations under the Oak tree behind the house, before we moved locations after the divorce. I remember the lies. The heartbreaks, every single one of them.

With each memory, the environment lightens up. When I woke up to this scene, it was as dark as a quiet night down the highway. Now it’s as bright as summer’s day. And I understand why. I wonder if Katie would judge me. After all, she’s the reason I’ve done the things I’ve done.

As I said, decades here make you think. And when you’re remembering everything, you remember the bad too. I remember the secrets I’ve buried and all the times I forced it back into the grave whenever it tried to surface.

When Katie was still pregnant with Susie… things were hard. I remember the letters of foreclosure I hid from her view. The mortgages were getting to me, I was demoted at work, funds were tight and I found myself increasingly at the bottom of numerous bottles. It was bleak and with her due date approaching, I found myself in a dark place. She kept saying it will be alright… whenever she saw me worry.

“We’ve got this…

That was her favourite saying.

I remember the downtrodden bar I walked into that night. The seedy kind with the “no camera” rule for accountability or lack thereof purposes. I remember the 10 shots of “me intentionally trying to kill myself” shots I had before I got roped into a conversation on making quick cash. Some men had propositioned me. They needed a driver. And they were offering to pay some disgusting amount of cash.

I was skittish at first, but then I remembered why I was at the bar and not with Katie.

So I agreed.

I was the driver of four unfortunate men that night.

But I got the money I needed to bounce back.

The sun is hanging high in the sky at the moment, and it’s so goddamn hot. The speed of the car doesn’t change but the wind blowing through my hair has lost its cool. It’s hot air now. The uncomfortable kind. I undo the top buttons of the shirt I didn’t notice I was wearing. I guess my awareness is returning with my memories, albeit at a slower pace. My fingers feel cramped up and I take some time to flex both hands.

It is only then I notice that I am not alone in the car. In fact, with that realisation, I get the intense feeling that reveals to me that I haven’t been alone in the car since the beginning of my journey.

So I turn.

I turn to face the four men, whose faces I wished to never see again.

I can’t stare at them for long. My eyes get pulled back to the road. So I take glances at them, just as they take glances at me. I see their expressions change from fear to anger to fear again. They think I am the one who’s brought them here. I want to tell them that we are all stuck in the same car but when my mouth opens, no sound comes out of it. Nothing. I try again but I hear nothing, and my mouth doesn’t move either.

I close it and focus back on the road, even as it transports me back to the night I met the four gentlemen.

Jack, Ahmed, Lewis and Rocky. Jack and Lewis were brothers, with the former being the eldest. Ahmed was a friend of theirs from a life before. They wouldn’t explain where but I don’t think I was lucid enough to demand to know. I was in doubles by then and the talk of money meant I didn’t really care about the extra information. Rocky was like me. A straggler recruited to join an expedition of sorts.

The plan was that I was going to drive them to a location for them to pick up some stuff, then drive to another location where I’d just have to wait for a few moments, before driving to go pick the money up. The location of the money was going to be given after they had returned from wherever I was going to be waiting for them at. Temporarily skittish, but money won.

They had made me chug down a lot of water before the drive began.

You have to be very awake, they had repeated as I threw up and drank more water outside the bar.

You’re our important piece.

Ahmed gave everyone a pair of gloves to wear, on account of the cold, or so I thought before we had all piled into a nondescript white van, with Jack and I in the front. The rest of the lads had piled up in the back. I drove them to the shed of a house out in the country, past midnight, where I waited as they went to retrieve their tools from the shed. I figure, out of mind, out of fucking sight, you know.

If I don’t know what ‘tools’ they are getting from the shed, I don’t have to know what job it is they are doing past freaking midnight.

They all return, excited about the trip ahead. I nervously nod as Jack directed me to the next location. The drive there was quiet. Jack didn’t talk much but instead seemed to periodically massage a slight bulge of sorts in his jacket pocket. My mind had screamed that it was a gun which made my body more obedient. If it was a weapon, I wasn’t going to act out while I was driving. My grip on the wheel had tightened in response.

He made me stop on a quiet street in the suburbs. The street was empty as well as the houses. I didn’t have to wonder anymore about what I had been drawn into. I was with robbers. Jack made me give him my ID, on account of me not getting cold feet at the last minute, which was a plan I had hoped to enact. I curse in my head as he took my wallet before vanishing into the darkness with his boys.

Those were the first longest waiting period I’d ever have to endure. The seconds dragged on and I kept apologising to Katie in my head. I had cried a few times too, lamenting at the stupid excuse I had given her.

“Working late baby… Will be back in the morning”, was my official story.

It felt like I was probably going to die.

My phone had vibrated and I had checked to see who was messaging me. Katie. I read the message from the notification but I don’t reply. I can’t reply. I can’t bring myself to.

Oh Katie…

After an excruciating thirty minutes wait, they had returned rushing back into the van, urging I put my foot on the gas and peel off. The window separating the guys in the back and us in front was open even as the details of the nights’ events spilled out before me. It was worse than I thought. I knew then that I was damned.

“Whatever you do, don’t fucking stop…” Jack had said excitedly as he licked his lips.

He had placed the gun I suspected he had on the dash of the van even as I sped through the street. I look through the rearview mirror and catch the colour of bright red flash before I turn the corner. Smoke. Fire.

As the others chattered on in the background, I gathered more information about the group of men I had associated myself with that night. Hired killers. They hadn’t gone to rob a house. They had gone to kill a man and his family. Except the reason it had taken so long for them to return is because of the heinous acts they had committed to the family. I remembered saying a quiet prayer for them.

I swallowed back a vomit as Jack made a call. I had heard him mumble a few sentences but the words that stood out to me was money and account. Once the call was done, Jack called out to the group.

“Guys… we’re home free. $10 MIllion. They are sending the address over, we can split the cash and pretend we don’t know each other” Jack called out laughing, even as the burner phone buzzed.

10 fucking million…

His eye lit up while mine locked on the gun. For self preservation.

The weather is fucking sweltering at the moment. I feel like I should be dying, dead or melting at this point but the drive continues. My shirt is off. My trousers are off. I’m driving fucking naked. The car moved regardless of whether or not my feet was on the gas. My hands are the only thing glued to the wheel.

My passengers are naked too. They can feel the heat. The car speeds up faster and faster and the heat is unbearable. I know why they look afraid. Why they looked like they were…begging. It made sense after the memory.

My secret is not that I was with them on the night they raped and killed a family.

It is a secret. But not The secret.

The van that night had a locking mechanism that meant whoever is in the back can’t open the door from inside. It had to be done from outside. So when we were close to a bridge I recognised, I grabbed the gun from the dash and put some bullets into Jack without hesitation. I remember the howl his brother made as I grabbed the burner phone. I pointed the van towards the water and exited the vehicle. I watched it go over the edge. I waited to hear the splash. I made a copy of the location of the money before making an anonymous call to the Police.

Then I had left.

Once I had gotten the money, I made another call that night to tell someone that “it’s gone full circle”

“We’ve got this…”

I smile ruefully as the memory dissipates. I glance again and find that the four passengers in my car are gone. It’s just me now. Alone in the burning heat as the car speeds up. I wonder if that’s the trick of the road. Maybe it is supposed to make me reflect on my act. I chuckle at the idea.

I don’t think I’m getting off the road like the four men just did. I think I will be driving for a long time. There is so much more aspects to that secret after all.

I do wonder though…

I wonder when Katie will join me.

Anxiety, Coping System, Descriptive, Emotion, Late Night, Life, Pain, PenPractice, Poem, Shorts, Sleepy time, Thoughts, thoughts, writing

Responsible.

Responsibility is light.
Responsibility is heavy.

Responsibility is as light as a feather,
The spring in your step propelling you further till you fly,
It becomes the wings on your back,
Lifting you past the clouds till you’re up on high…
It is the cool shades you wear when you step into a function,
It draws the eyes of admiration on you.
For you,
It blots out the stars till you’re the only star shining.
The brightness lighting up the dark sky so intensely,
It only made sense for everyone else to shield their eyes.

Responsibility is the twinkle in your eye.
The confidence in your actions that make everyone want to stand behind you.
The winning smile that lets you past the doors that once kept you.
It is the strength you never knew you had or wanted,
Equipped to lift the burden of others.
It is the hope of tomorrow,
The sunrise on another day.
The assurance that you are in a better place than you once were.

It is freedom.

And it makes you cry.

Tears of joy, yes,
But not without merit.

After all those years of waiting, you’ve finally gotten here,
And it is everything you’ve wanted.

Responsibility is heavy.

It drags you off the edge of a cliff,
And lets you hit the waters with no mask.
So you gasp for air but the lack thereof doesn’t kill you.
You just suspend in viscous space,
As the liquid sears your lungs and makes you cry out for relief.

It is the bags beneath your eyes because you haven’t been sleeping.
How can you?
When it is knocking on your walls,
Questioning every decision you’ve made and
berating you for the ones you didn’t make.
So it renames you as “Negligent”

“You thought you had the right stuff but you don’t” It says.

Responsibility is a duty.

It commands. Never requests.
It punishes when you fail to reach the criteria it sets before you,
Even if the rule-book to your actions have been hidden from you.
It demands the entirety of your being,
Gifting you a burden that you can’t give to anyone else.

It gives you the option to ignore it,
Of which it incrues an interesting amount of interest on it.
So that when you return,
You will find your responsibility ripe with profits that you really don’t want.

Responsibility is not kind.
It is not cruel nor is it wicked.
It doesn’t love you and won’t give itself to hate.

It simple requires your best “you”.

And sometimes, that’s not enough.