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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.

Thoughts

22 Days of Probable Word Magic #WinterABC2020

Hi Y’all!

Hope you’re all holding it together during this season of multiple pandemics. It’s obvious that the year has a lot it wants to detox itself off this year. Still, if you’re reading this, I’m glad you are safe and healthy. That’s a commodity, these days.

Anywho…

I have been advised and roped into something that I have been taking a look at for the last week. A chance at doing something a bit more consistent over the course of the month, both for the website’s sake and I guess, some personal growth. You can get the hint in the hashtag I put in the title.

#WinterABC2020, hosted by the wonderful @Afrobloggers, is a chance for African bloggers to stand out and express themselves fully and truly. I am African (Nigerian by birth) and I blog. I guess, in however small a way, this applies to me to.

So, for the next 22 days, I’m going to attempt to perform some written magic, delving a bit more into who I am, what I do and the way I experience the world, based on a few choice topics chosen by the hosts of this current event.

Write Words GIF - Write Words Writing - Discover & Share GIFs

So, without further ado and in line with topic 1-of-22 simply titled ”, here goes;

I am three times self-published author, going under the pen-name of I. Ogunbase. Which is formed really by the initials of my first name and my last name. It took a while for me to decide on it because of marketability but I eventually came to the conclusion that my identity is tied to my name and I don’t want to hide behind a false one just so that my books will be more appealing.

I’m Nigerian (birthed and lived in for 14 years) and British (for the later half of my current life). I love writing, I love gaming. I love God. And it is my hope that I can be consistent in the next 22 days.

That’s my pledge, really.

Some topics might be tweaked to better fit the site but I’ll talk more about that in tomorrows hashtag post ;). Until then, have a great day.

And wish me luck.

Thoughts

Big Picture. Little Picture.

You know… It has been a while since my last blog post and honestly, I shouldn’t be writing in the mood that I’m in. But, writing in an emotional state tends to be the best state in which I can make words make sense.

I need words to make sense.

2020 was and is supposed to be a different year. A different way of thinking, new moves, new life and the promise of something completely out of this world. Something I’ve been chasing since she said yes to me over the phone when I told her I’d like to date her.

The dream of a new house and a new car. A few books out under my name and some upwards movement with my life and that of those around me. Colleagues had plans in place, I had weddings to attend and one to plan even. There was a positive trend to the year.

And then. Covid-19.

Covid. Flipping. 19.

And all the heavy lifting that had been put in place from the months before… All the sweat and tears and frustration and stress of trying to pull everything together into a cohesive picture suddenly goes out of the window. The monsters and the burden that had been discarded down were suddenly back up as the scramble re-began and trying to pull it all together.

I mean, it’s not everyday that one sits to fight and survive a pandemic, even if the death stat is about 5% of total cases. 5.3% to be pedantic, really.

Still, the wedding is most likely going to be postponed. The vendors are back into negotiating stages. The house process is postponed. Stress levels are rising. Everyone is working from home and all of this…

All of this = Little Picture.

It’s the extent of the things that I can control, even if the control itself is nothing more than an illusion. A brilliant and sweet illusion but the faux control is still enough to give off the right amount of dopamine that is just grand.

And then, there’s the big picture.

A global pandemic.

Who knew all the years of watching disaster movies would end in us experiencing one? Real-life imitating fiction and we’re living in it in real-time. Right to the tip-top second.

NOTE: Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold (among other possible causes, predominantly rhinoviruses), and others that can be lethal, such as SARSMERS, and COVID-19.

The coronavirus, Covid-19, is spreading like a bad rash on a hot day and we’re barely keeping it back. The hospitals are overflowing with patients, everyone and their moms are getting sick and the unfortunate souls with outstanding health conditions are being forced to come to terms with what it means to contract the virus.

Countries are struggling to contain the spread, entire cities are trying to survive. Face masks are low in supply, the economy is having one heck of a wild ride and the sneaking suspicion that things will be a lot different when the virus has completed its cycle assuming, of course, that it completes its cycle.

Conspiracy theorists are filling the airwaves with half-truths and misinformation, looking for something or someone to blame. 5G is the current culprit as people attribute the technology to being capable of causing difficulty in breathing. I mean, I’m a tech guy but for all my research, I haven’t seen anything to attribute it to such.

Still, the false belief that it was 5G that kickstarted the virus has made its way on WhatsApp and Facebook and you know what happens after that.

Italy and Spain are battling the worst of it. USA is barely doing appropriate testing, along with their cousin, UK. The middle east is doing their best to sort out lock-downs while Africa (as a whole continent) is trucking on because (a) there’s a false belief that we’re immune and (b) we don’t have the testing facilities to prove otherwise.*

*Well as far as I know…

Nonetheless, I guess one of the best things to come out of this is the awareness of just how much the nurses and doctors all work to keep everyone else safe and sane. When this tale is over, I hope people remember them to forever be the heroes that they’ve shown themselves to be. More importantly, I pray that they will be able to be whole again when it’s all done.

All in all. Covid-19 has us by the privates and it’s squeezing tight.

The Big Picture.

So, here I am… angry and frustrated at how my plans for the year have more or less been tanked. And feeling guilty because in the face of the problems I’m looking at, I’m intentionally ignoring the bigger issue of what the world is experiencing.

And even with the knowledge… Even with the realisation that nothing matters until Covid-19 is sorted out and a vaccine is found, I still can’t help but feel like the year has robbed me of what I had been looking forward to for years now.

And I don’t know how to feel about it all.

Stay Home. Save Lives.

Uncategorized

Sleepless

The phone dims back to black and I’m left in the silence.

The quiet space of no conversation and yet, it is littered with words and phrases left in the space to be picked up…

Or stepped on…

The dilemma of choice playing the backing track to my current predicament.

I… walk through the mess of words separating me from my haven and search for the two that might allow me to say good bye to the day as I enter the next in unconsciousness.

I would like to say I was successful.

But I don’t know.

I do locate the two words I think I might be of use but that resolution lies at the end of a call.

So, I watch as the backlight of the phone light back up, as I insert the two words back into the equation.

“I’m sorry,” I say.

And then watch as the time ticks away as I await a response.

Thoughts

Take.

Let me go in peace,
Let me grow in peace,
Take my feet, if you want,
It’s just a little piece.

You chained me to yourself,
Made me hate myself,
You’ve won this game of yours,
Let me save myself.

Let me go in peace,
I’d like for my tears to cease,
You’ve had your fun enough,
I’d like some breathing space.

I won’t say that I hate you,
There are no words to rate you,
I believe I’m just spent,
So please, grant me the grace of leaving you

Let me go in peace,
Let me grow in peace,
You’ve taken my feet, so congrats,
It’s just a little piece.

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.

Thoughts

Forever…

It has been forever since I came here to write anything… And to be honest, I’m kinda sad it has taken me that long especially after the whole “I’m going to write more” posts. Nonetheless, I guess I should still be happy I’m here.

I’m here.

To start with, I have been writing… I have been writing a lot more than I thought I would ever write in my life, to be completely honest with you. I have been a redditor (term for person who has a Reddit account) for a while but I joined a subreddit (site within Reddit) dedicated to writing and I’ve been using it to practice and hone the craft.

As a result, I ended up creating a subreddit of mine, where I posted the story responses to the prompts put up on the site. And that spurned out a lot of good things for me.

With all that happening, I was fortunate to befriend a lot of writers in the community who helped me get better with their feedback and criticisms and it all led to the following;

  • I finished and won at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time in my life.
  • The novel I wrote for NaNo was a novel that spawned out from a prompt on the WritingPrompts subreddit
  • Said novel is complete and currently in the editing process.
  • Also, wrote a few stories which were well received by the community enough for me to kickstart my own Subreddit.
  • And now I have some serialised stories which get posted on a weekly basis for people to read.

There are no words to really express how my writing over the last few months has transformed into something completely different and how the journey has taken me so far. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to do more.

Secondly, if you’ve been here long enough, then you’ve surely seen my back and forth writings about life and what not. Life has been pretty awesome. Turns out I needed to grow some and change my outlook on certain things in my life, and my unwillingness to do so made me experience or rather, deal with my emotions immaturely.

PS: I don’t mean that everything’s fixed or great, but everything’s good and I am content.

Lastly, my girlfriend is awesome, but that’s a different post on its own.

All in all, I’m happy to be back. I’m not going to make the promise of “I’ll write more here” and all that like I did last year, but I will try and be here a lot more than I have been last year.

If anything, I will be cross-posting the serials here also, under the serials tab so that you amazing people here can also read along with everyone else on my subreddit.

Thanks for being here, all the same.