Lagos Begger 

When I spin my sad story, it hits you at the core of your humanity. A little sharp pen knife twisting at the softest spot of your heart. You may not always have enough to spare, but who would ignore me in my state; torn blouse, feet like the roots of an old tree in the village square, the cracks and torns on them tell a story, the journey, pain and poverty.

Hey Stranger, look into my eyes, I’m trying to get you to where it’ll hurt. Don’t be afraid to really look at me, a piece of lone meat arranged on the butchers table, carelessly strawn yet strategically placed: a tale of the days end but when you look closely enough, under the table you eye a heap of dejected meat and you realise that it is only the beginning of the night struggle.

I’m on display for your pity, my heavy bag strapped across one shoulder, a weight on the already weighted shoulders. Two mountains sitting side my side that has been troded by all the tourists in this place called life. Your eye dance shyly around me as you weigh your feelings. You try to wonder what my journey is. These are not the right size of bag for a man coming from a day’s work, the bag, a crack filled former leather ruck sack whose ‘oyinbo manufacturer’ should be long dead by now, the straps hanging there just by grace, are helping to bear an unimaginable bulk of load. Your mind tells you that this ensemble is just a thin line between madness and poverty.

How I wish you would ask me about what I carry in my bag, I’ll tell you I carry the world, I carry my world, I carry my whole life with me because it is never certain if my feet would have enough energy to lead me to where I last slept. I’ll tell you I carry nylons and photographs and pieces of old clothings that cushions these aging bones for a night rest and my certificates.

You eye my two hands, I can see your inquisitive stare, my two complete hands. You look them fingers, wrist to almost my shoulders to be sure that the open palms I stretch out to be filled by your benevolence are truly mine. They look soft, like those of an innocent child, who has never had to work to fill it’s own belly. The sudden flick of your eyelashes hit the pit of my empty stomach. I hear the “lazy man” loud and clear. If only you knew how life punishes us, painting our reality the way it chooses to.

If only you would have enough courage to ask me to turn them over, maybe then you would tell from the long bulging viens and unkempt fingernails how hard this hands have worked, how long they have tried and how tired they are of clinging unto hope.

My face can manage a small smile now, I swear it’s unconsciously, as I see your hands dart towards your pocket. My heart says a little prayer. “Arghh God make e be 100 naira” my eyes are careful not to overly show its excitement, lest you see the jubilations of a victory not yet achieved, lest you change your mind and life teaches me another lesson on counting the chicks before the hen puts to bed. 

A little hesitation there, I feel you wonder, if you put your hand in the right pocket, the one where you keep the loose change from buying snacks and pure water. Your pupils roll around like a blind man trying to see in eyelessness. Your fingers finger the folds of naira, rising briefly to take saliva. You feel the currency, telling the value from the way it feels in your fingers. 

I can help you. Rubber is 20 naira or even worse 10 naira. I know it isn’t 50 naira, it’s been a long time since I set my eyes on that scarce grey paper.

Rough, crumpled and folded around the edges is 100 naira, 200 naira is a bit smoother, but crumpled nonetheless.

Cripsy smooth and clean are the bigger ones 500 and 1000 naira, those ones barricade the lesser nairas. At the outer edge of every bulk of folded naira, giving strength, prestige and hope.

The pause, tells you have found exactly what you needed, I see your face on my face as you quickly calculate my worthiness, maybe you do it to remember my face, the emotions on your face are unreadable. They do not want to betray the value of the currency your hand is bringing forth.

I’m sorry, I must end our eye contact here, my eyelids fall on the bulk of nairas your hand had ousted from the pockets of your black khaki pants. 

I’m not excited, my eyes go back to your face, I try to store a bit of you in my memory, men like you with your thin face, men like you is should avoid. I quickly imagine you counting the money 1000…. 500….. 200….. 100……. 20……. 10 and peeling out the 30 naira for me. 

My roving mind is halted as you place the heavy bulk of naira in my open palms. My eyes quickly find their way from my palm again as I close them tightly shut feeling the comfort of this bulk of naira in the middle of my medulla. My eyes find your face again, I store another bit in my memory. And my mouth open in a loud cry of happiness, praise and prayer. “Oga God go bless you, you no go beg, you no go see problem wey go make you beg, your children go look you o. Oga you too much o, chai God go give you plenty money, you no go die!”

Ours is a brief encounter where many emotions are displayed and a few are shared. As I scurry off still mouthing my praises and prayers. Your eyes burn a hole in my back. Your imagination playing a frenzy within you.

I see you see me in your mind, at home, my face illuminated by the light of a kerosene lamp calculating my income and writing today’s gain in a little note pad while the sounds of Kelly Handsome’s ‘maga don pay’ serenades me to sleep. Shadows casted round my jam-packed one room apartment in Mushin. Half for the real me and another half filled with tools for the person life made me choose to be. 

I leave the bus park, my mind full, a satisfied man. My full mind must play it’s tricks on me, Men in black khaki pants are nicer than Men in brown ones. Men with thin faces appreciate beggers, they know our struggles, the chubbier ones are the stingy ones, who have used every spare bit of naira for Bofrot. 

I hit my feet against a stone, my left feet, the same one I had dashed against a stone this same morning. I remember the superstitious stories of my childhood, I had stopped believing in them or in anything. Right feet means good and left feet means bad. 

I wonder if I had just fallen victim of those wicked people who give poisoned money to the poor. I fish inside my bag for one pure water. I must soak the new nairas in water to wash off any evil juju.

I continue my journey, half smiling, half smirking, half filled with hope, half filled with fear. Would this be the end of the bad days or the beginning of another bad circle. 

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For Father

​I’m not really over you,

I catch glimpses of your face on every random guy walking by.

The “oh it’s you” moment until the real proves me wrong.

You’ve made me a sad story,

My lines echo in the other sad stories i hear,

Of how love was felt only for a little while.

Sundays used to be our best days,

You would cook and tell cheap stories 

And I would look at your face 

Captivated and awed,

Trying to live those lives through your expressions.
I still remember I never heard you laugh

And looking back that should have been a sign 

Now I know that

All those tales were just tales

You never really did care enough to share your life with me
Did you see me as just a chore?

How dare you enter my life with such affection then carelessly pull the chair off my back?

Do you ever think of those times?

These memories I hold so dear… do they mean anything to you?

You had the power! I looked up to you!

We could have been anything, many things and something.

Your absence damages me

I hope one day you realise that a daughters first love is always their Dad 

It was your duty to give me a good experience.

So long WordPress. I missed here. I hope I meet all my friends and followers well.

It’s been a rollercoaster year, in between school, work, exams, family and all… it’s hard to create time to write.

I’m here once again. 

Know My “No” 

We never really decided from the beginning to keep our pants on or off. But a no should mean no!

Even when we decided to go see that raunchy 50 shades movie. The cinema hall was as dark as the night and filled with couples each burning with a different fire. You could literarily see the sexual passion steaming from the cinema screen and flooding their minds.

A hand placed carelessly on my shoulders, moving slowly as he leaned in for a kiss. A kiss so deep, hot and moving that his hands moved too close. Gently I shoved him away “my no means no” 

In the dim light of his room, it was just a harmless Saturday date but after a few glasses we both had to take of our clothes. Suddenly his lips found my nipples and he began to play his music there. Flicking their hardness with his tongue causing moans to escape from my slightly parted lips. His hands began to wander and they found my honey pot, hidden within a garden that has just been recently trimmed. He began to push his fingers inside and outside , but before he could go past a few strokes. I shouted. My no is a no!

The other day wasn’t his birthday but we decided to celebrate something. He drove over to pick me up from my place. 

I was dressed to kill. 

As soon as I got into the car the atmosphere changed. There’s something about a girl with her hair pulled back, red lips and a short dress. He said I turned him on. 

The next minute we couldn’t seem to get our hands off each other. My head was in between his laps and I was making him sing a foreign tune. But I guess the music became too much for me & I raised my head. My no is always a no!

It was early in the morning. I had stayed over at his place after last nights dinner. I always liked his hugs and kisses but this time around, I guess I played to much. I could feel him inside me, shuffling and trying to find a rhythm to his pace. I gently twisted and turned. And out the stranger came. My no must be a no!
This is for the people who can’t seem to understand the concept of consent. 

A no is a no matter how far it has gotten.

Silence is a no.

Maybe is a no.

Only a yes isn’t a no.

Circles . 1 .

Lara paced the room frantically, trying to get a spot where the network connection would permit her to hear her husband. 

“Mi o gbo yin… hel…l…o, hello daddy Dara…” she shouted into the somewhat useless cell phone before the connection went off for the umpteenth time.

Yeekpa!!! Her mind began to play a frenzy within her, “how will I hear from him now?” she muttered into the empty apartment.

She sits, she stands, she loosens her fading wrapper from her waist and draped it across her heavy chest. Each breath a laborious sigh, laced with confusion, fear and apprehension. 

Suddenly she starts to cry, loud tearless wails that cut through the walls of her apartment alerting the neighbours who had just left her to prepare evening meals for their own children. 

” Omo mi oooo? Dara mi…    yeee … Arghh Olorun oooo ” she screamed her rhetorics at the still sound of the house. Hitting her frail self on the ground uncountable times in despair.

It’s been 24 hours since her son Prince went missing after school. 

Hours of waiting, then searching until it was too late to see anything. 

Some minutes ago,Baba landlord had suggested that her husband go with a relative to check the nearby mortuaries just in case.

She couldn’t dare imagine why baba Dara had been calling. “yekpa… temi ba mi! Arghh oju kan soso oooo ko gbodo je be , yeeee oooo!!!! she screamed hitting herself harder against the cemented floor. 

Lara would never bury her son, her only son after 20 years of childlessness. 

————-

“kotripko …. kotripko…. dia” the man in white chanted. His croaky voice in collision with the sounds of a corwy filled gourd being shaken.

The dimly lit mud room, sparsely decorated in yards of red material. In one corner, facing the Dibai, was a pot bellied wood carved god almost drowning in palm oil and a few naira notes on the floor.   

In the other corner , Paulinus knelt naked, facing the man in white. On the floor in front of him was a small boy also naked. His throat, freshly slit, and his blood pouring out, soaking the heap of white cloth a few metres in front. 

Joy filled Paulinus heart. A surge of confidence parted his lips into a semi smile. He would leave here a brand new man. 

“Money, money, monnnn…ey!!! ” this thought was enough to make him burst out with laughter. He beat his chest and pinched his arm to be sure that this wasn’t a dream.

His own house, houses sef, his own cars and his own business. Small Pauli, about to become a ‘made man’ with after so many years of extreme poverty and ‘boyi-boyi’.

————

On the road, a woman emerges, dressed carelessly in faded unmatched iro and buba. The buba appeared to be twice her size and with each drudgy step she took the loose neck of the blouse fell lower exposing her bony shoulders. She didn’t seem to mind. Since she lost her only son, Lara never bothered to be present or alive. Her frail figure swayed to the wind and road sounds as she slowly ascended the hilly road. 

————

“Follow the map Kay!” Sandra sharply chided. Their Toyota venza matte black car bobbed along idanre road. The roads were bad; potholes at every turn and the erosion had eaten deep at them causing the road to be full of little hills and wide valleys. 

It’s been 10 years since they first came this way. Idanre remained pretty much the same as she remembered. The cluster of mud family houses and a wide expanse of lands that used to be filled with carefree children running wild. 

If the light of that fading afternoon sun was the flash from a photographer’s lens. The picture of idanre would he a village caught in mid transformation; half mud, half brick and an abundance of corrugated zinc roofs. 

Their car looked so out of place here, Sandra hoped it wouldn’t draw much attention when the got into the village, alerting grandpa and spoiling the surprise.

Kay swore he remembered the road to their grandfather’s house. “Relax San, trust me, after this corner we are there.” He said throwing Sandra a playful smile as he descended the hilly road.

Just as Sandra lifted up her eyes from the day dream it was too late. How would they have known that someone was emerging from the hilly bend. 

With a fluid motion, the doors flung open and they both rushed out to see what had happened. The tattered looking woman struggling to mouth her last words before the breath of life escaped her , “…se o”.

————–

Over the years, Pauli had grown weary of the endless sacrifices; random strangers, close friends,  madmen and women, his wife dear rosaline, his first son and now his self? 

 What really was the point of getting this money if he couldn’t be happy ? “No, never!!!” Amadowu has taken everything from me and now it wants my own legs ? “I will never be a cripple!” Pauli shouted and stormed out of the shrine. 

He was going to damn all consequences. all!, but just as he angrily navigated the bush path that led to where he parked his Mercedes Jeep. He felt a sharp pinch deep in his brain, just like the sting of a gaint soilder ant, then another one on his scrotum , and another one again on the curve of his back.

Pauli quickly took off his isiagu shirt with an alarming swiftness, just like that of a mad man, his eyes roved round taking large gulps of his surroundings. 

Pauli had truly gone mad. 

Slowly the farmers returning from farm began to gather, men, women, boys, girls . They all stood, arms across chest, open eyed at Pauli’s confession. 

It was me oooo, that killed my wife rosaline and my son Uche.” Kai.           Aru aru ”  I killed my old friend Akin and kidnapped their only son from idanre.”tufia” I killed my former neighbour ameachi and my own father.

The farmers, the women and boys began to leave one after the other.their ears had heard more than enough. With arms across their chest and mouth wide open the wondered about the man. “He whom the gods desire to kill they first make mad.”

———

.2. 

UnDamaged 

I’ll tell my dad about you.
Its all his fault and a half,

Those hugs he never gave

I found in your cold embrace,

Those harsh words

I tried to drown with your sweet nothings.

Oh! how my soul craved an ‘i love you’.

Bad…, bad enough to let me go,

Into the dark with you.

I mistook your roughness for passion

And the abuses for care…

How shocked I am to discover

The softness of a father’s love

They are nothing near what you gave,

Crumbs I struggled for,

I was blinded by your interest, mistaking it for attention,

But by strength,

I have groped through the darkness to feel the crown on my head.

I slowly realise 

I’m queen, worth more than you could ever afford. 


I’ll tell my daughter about you.

How that crooked smile she will seem to like is nothing but crookedness.

Your experience won’t dazzle her, she won’t be caught naive

Your smile, your moves, she’ll see for what they are

Your hands would never be allowed to grope in the dark her budding towers

Your alcoholed breath she’ll never be too close to inhale.

Most importantly, 
I’ll tell my son about you

How he should never be like you

Girls are meant to be treated with respect, and love is not a sport you play to acquire trophies.

He’ll be smart, but not smart enough to flick a pill in her glass and still maintain his coy grin 

He’ll fall in love, under bright lights, Never in the dark.

And when he does, he’ll hold her high like a ‘throphy’ cos indeed he can see that she’s priceless, queen. 

High walls 

Under the dim light of the dining room. I could see his smile, and how it made him appear crooked.

The candlelight illuminated the thick folds of his face making him look just like a monster,  I had always thought Ade was handsome…

Sometimes, I sat and imagined how it all changed. My loving fiance who dotted on me affectionately and showered me with gifts. It was hard to reconcile the loving man I married with this one seated in front of me.

“Yvonne, why are you not eating ?” His voice subtly coed, dragging me out of my daydream, but before I could answer the threw in another barrage of questions. “You’re thinking of another man abi? You have found a lover, tell me ehn ?” 

The next thing, his towering figure was above me and his strong hands were on my shoulders squeezing them roughly.
“Ahan Ade, how would you say that, have I given you any reason to think that I will cheat on you ? ” I cried.  

Although there were no tears running through my cheeks. I had seen enough of these nights to know that soon I would be crying under his harsh blows or the strains of his leather belt.

Every other day, I have had to wear double coats of concealer. Dark shades were now my favourite accessories, a ready list of endless lies to cover up my bruises. 

I would leave, but the child growing inside me would need a ‘father’, a home, a life, one that only Ade would be able to provide for us. 

Sometimes, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought about those days. A few years ago, when I was single, young and very pretty. The toast of many eyes.

I could have married anybody.

Ade, or Chief as he was called, came into my life. He wasted no time in making his intentions known to me. He wanted me to be his wife.

He was thrice my age, thrice my size and very rich. He offered me an all round security, much more than I could have ever hoped for.

Until my fairy tale turned into my nightmare. 

Shortly after the wedding, Ade changed.

The love became control, the care became over protection and concern became distrust.

My friends would visit and Ade would beat me for having visitors. I had to recieve all my phone calls on speaker phone. I only posted pictures approved by my husband. 

With each passing day, the boundaries drew closer, Ade set new barriers of control over me, Slowly but surely, he shielded me from the public and cut me off from friends and family. 

My castle, my prison, Ade’s car, Ade’s driver and private security, incase I had to go out. 

Sometimes I wonder about the young girls who follow me on Instagram, I hope they never imagine, or think to be like me. 

I weep at how they’ll envy me, married to a billionaire, decked up in Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.

Do they know I would give my right eye for freedom. A bank account in my name or the slightest chance at leaving this prison ? 

What’s really in a gift

The gifts we give say more about ourselves and how we see the would be recipient. This can either be a good thing or a bad one.

I just entered into a competition on Twitter that is gifting a phone to someone with the highest number of Retweets. The moment I sent out my own tweet, I started to analyse the sort of person that is expected to get this brand new phone.

“Not necessarily someone in need of a phone, just anyone with a large fan base, someone popular or someone who can afford to buy the number of Retweets needed in that short period of time…, and that’s definitely not me.”

Giving gifts can be a form of PR, to gain popularity or be seen as benevolent. It can be plain giving just because they sense a need or because it’s the season of giving.

In receiving gifts a large no of things come to play. There’s luck(being chosen randomly among a number). There’s being in the right place at the right time (like being on Twitter when someone decides to tweet airtime pins. There’s need (wanting a car and finding someone who wants to gift a bicycle). There’s who you know, as I’ve come to realise rich people give the most lavish gifts (imagine being in a wedding and something like branded iphones are given as souvenirs).

So as I mourn the loss of that gift I’ll never win. I realise that this Christmas I should give a gift that says less of myself and means more to the recipient. I’ll give a quiet gift, not a loud one that’ll speak more to me.

As I decide, I come to a realisation that the first gift of Christmas that was given thousands of years ago when Christ was born is just like that ;

  • It was silent, Jesus was born in a manger. For so mighty a gift and so awesome a personality. He was given by God as quietly as possible so unlike the birthing of a ‘modern day prince’.
  • It means more for us that he came, than it means for the father who had to give to save us all.

So while there’s still time to unpack or repack the Christmas gifts before it goes out…

Complements of the season and a merry Christmas to you. Thank you for gifting me your precious time.

I love you. 

Stories of a thousand scattered thoughts

I lived in an uncompleted building, every morning the landlady’s son would come begging for bread.

He wasn’t hungry, he just loved bread.

I’ll taunt him and say “begi- begi”.

Before giving him 2 slices

Then one day he stopped asking me, because he had learnt where I kept the bread.

I cannot remember the house in which I was born or the one in which my mother feed me milk. It was a sad house.

The house were I grew up wasn’t really happy, but it had a large field where I could run around in and forget the chores and assignment.It was also where I thought I fell in love.

I lived in a bush somewhere… Sometimes,  I had to cross a pool of water to get home. It was like an adventure, until I realised my mind couldn’t accept the term poverty just yet.

When I stopped going to school, I never sat at home during school hours to hide my shame the way some of the neighbours kids would. I explored the crannies of my hood. Traversing the ends of the dump, scavenging pieces of play from garbage site. The only pride I held was that I wasn’t like those kids who had to eat out of the dump site. “We had food at home.”

The university was a way to break out of the cycle but I hadn’t realised that it also was a new world that would hold me responsible for everything, somehow I found myself in a shabby building filled with rooms, barely furnished rooms filled with girls.

It was there I made my first 6 figures, judge if you may but life happened in a motel. It was there I had the best of friends, the wierd, the crazy, the encouraging, the religious and big Martha who would say; “God no dey bless ashewo!!! In her Senegalese accent.

I left the motel one night and ended up in a small apartment, it was there I learnt to plan again because life wasnt counted by the nights. I lived daily, I still am gathering more stories and letting the places I’ve lived make its mark on me. 

Rejection 

In the face of rejection there’s always a reawakening. Everything just seems clearer after the tears or maybe because our fantasies blind us so much.

I’m not really a happy bunny now cos I didn’t make the internship I was gunning for. But I’ve learnt a few things about being rejected from my amazingly stronger younger sister. 

There’s happiness and strength at every point in your life, if you look well within you’ll find it.

So I’ll give myself a pat on the back and encourage my gloomy self with this few words.

Dear me, 

You’re just where you ought to be at this very moment of your life. The universe makes no mistakes. ‘They’ just weren’t ready for the awesomeness that you are, heck!!! ‘they’ didn’t even deserve you.

I don’t know if I feel really better, but I know not to sit here mourning this loss. I feel strong, strong enough to continue living towards my dream and I am confident the universe will only throw the best lessons, experiences, moments and people my way.