Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cracked Earthen Jars

The euphoria of being published on Bella Naija has not died i will not lie. I mean it's almost a month now and I still go there to get high on the positive comments.

Seriously, I love writing. The way it makes me feel these days ehn... I can start like four different stories and the ideas just keep turning in my head. It's truly an exhiliarating feeling which I cannot fully encapsulate with words.

The link to the story on BN is here:


Ok, so moving on.

The story below is something my writing instructor called "Nigerian Sex and The City"

I don't know about that sha, I think it just shows cracked earthen jars :D



Four women were meeting that evening. They had four different realities and the only thing that held them together was an inexplicable bond of friendship and love. It was to be an evening of laughing and talking over cocktails, of touching each other’s souls and reminding themselves that they loved each other. They planned to meet at Le Metisse, an upscale restaurant in Lagos. They were roommates in their freshman year at the Queen Mary University in London. They had moved back at different times after they graduated, swearing that nothing would ever tear them apart, they would be best friends forever. Other Nigerians envied them because they were rich, they were young and they had each other.
Adanma was the first to arrive. Always a sticker for being punctual, she was sitting down sipping a margarita at 5.50pm. The sun had gone down but the soft yellow glow of the dusk shaded the roof of the restaurant where she had chosen to sit. She looked over the balcony to the ground and watched the cars driving down the street. Her face veiled by really large sunglasses, you couldn’t tell what lurked beneath those darkened lenses. She felt her purse vibrating and picked it up to dig out her phone.
“you guys are just chronic late comers. Shey we said 6pm… Well I’ve been here for about 20 minutes now and I’ve downed my first strawberry margarita. I’m about to order a second” She paused because the glint of a white Range Rover Sport caught her attention. She listened for a second and watched the car a bit more “oh I think Tammy is here… oh hurry here abeg!! And Aisha, you had better be bringing my purse if you don’t want me to wring your neck”. Heaving a sigh of relief that at least one of the girls was here she took another sip of her cocktail, attempting to numb her pain so no one else could tell what she was going through. She didn’t expect any of them to understand anyway. Tammy for instance could never understand. Their lives were so different. None of them could honestly say that they didn't wish they could swap lives with Tammy. She was rich, smart, and beautiful and she was married to a gorgeous man from a prominent Lagos family. Tammy’s life was a fairy tale.
She sat and watched him as he polished off the last of the fish on his plate. She signaled for John to come and pack up. Clearing her throat and sitting up a bit she said "Tonye, my friends from Uni want us to go have drinks tomorrow. Is it fine with you?" He picked up the remote control and flipped through the channels till he found the Cable News Network, watching t.v for almost ten minutes, he spoke. " Ok. Mutiu can take you" the tone was not as condescending as she was used to, so she wanted to believe he was in a good mood. She was the epitome of the submissive wife. Sometimes she wanted to tear her hair out. She was living in a glass prison. Surrounded by beautiful things but she just wanted to be free, to be allowed to run free.
“thank you” as a slave grateful to her benefactor and not a wife to her husband, or from one partner to another. “Should I ask John to bring your fruits now?” She looked back at her husband who barely nodded in response to her enquiry and continued to watch the news.
She turned up the temperature of the air conditioning when she got into the room. It was cold, literally and figuratively. He never conversed with her as a partner, there was no decision making process in their home. He was the great liege and she was his servant. The beautiful princess locked in a very cold concrete tower, the only difference between her situation and any Disney adaptation was that she was locked in by the handsome prince who was supposed to save her. She heard his footsteps down the hall way. She couldn’t remember the last time he touched her, the last time he kissed her. She involuntarily bit her lower lips; something to hold back the tears that threatened any time she remembered she was living with the shell of the man she had married. In retrospect, he must have married her because they made the picture perfect couple, and when you married a princess, no one could easily tell that you preferred the touch of your best friend Richard. He didn’t want her, he wanted him but he was afraid of what society would think of him. So they continued with the fa├žade; Tamuno and Tonye Briggs, their world being held up by an idea of the ideal.
The thoughts whirled in her head for the longest time and she didn’t realize when sleep pulled her into its warm embrace until she felt a nudge…
“Tamuno, please get up we need to talk”. She rubbed her eyes and blinked as her eyes struggled to adjust to the lights in the room
“What is it? Is something the matter?”
“I’m done Tammy. I’m done with this, this charade, this lie. I’m done hiding” He couldn’t even look her in the eyes, he averted his gaze. The same way he did when he gave her a new pair of Loubotins, or Mahnolos.
She stared blankly and told herself she was confused and didn’t know what he was talking about, but a woman always knows. She was quiet for the longest minute and knew that this was it, her marriage was crumbling and it was happening in the weirdest way ever.
“what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know Tammy, I don’t know, but you deserve better, and I can’t keep compensating with gifts. I’m really sorry. I’ll move my things out in the morning. You can keep the house.”
Tamuno’s world spun around her, she was being released from her cold tower, only in the most cruel way.
The laughter that rang out from the table where three of them sat was infectious. An innocent bystander looking at them would want to share in whatever it was that they were having because they were happy.
“I don’t know why we haven’t thought about doing this before, all of you forming busy and we’re all in this Lagos. So if this yeye Aisha didn’t even come to Lagos we won’t have seen your brake lights Mrs Briggs” Adanma teased
It was Aisha who noticed the cab roll up and saw Folake come out of it looking disheveled.
“Look at Folake oh, and why does she look so frazzled?” They looked at each other in shock. Folake was the ‘glamazon’ amongst them. She was the most fashion conscious and the one who cared the most about looks and clothes. When they were moving back, Ada and Folake had to travel together, and she would always recall the story of how she never thought it was humanly possible for a person to hurl back 8 suitcases of shoes, clothes and handbags.
When they were in school, Folake Williams had a lot of cash to throw around and they all knew it. She was the only one whose dad was would send £5,000 half way into the term because Folake would complain that her allowance had finished. He could afford it, he was a member of the Senate and there was a lot of money coming from Abuja. His daughter was a big spender. When the rest of them would scour the streets searching for bargains, Folake would hit the big stores for only the best. She was daddy’s only girl after all. She only needed to want it and it was hers.
When she got the message that her friends from Uni wanted to meet up for drinks, her reaction was a cocktail of emotions. On one hand she was excited to see them, especially Aisha whom she hadn’t even run into or seen in over three years but she was a long way from how she was when they knew her. She twirled her hair with her fingers, it felt soft and silky. She hadn't paid the balance outstanding of N90,000 but the hair was the least of her problems right now. The bank had repossessed her car because she had defaulted on her car payments. It was such a huge financial mess right now. She couldn't run to her father now, he had law enforcement fish to fry. The Economic and Financial Crimes Comission had dug their sticky little claws in her father and they weren't letting up. She hissed at the unfairness of it all. 'Stupid Stanbic!! Stupid EFCC!!' she heard a rap on the glass door of her office and looked up
“Folake, meeting at 3 with the client in his office. He liked your pitch earlier on and he wants to discuss the workability. If you can win this bid, I know there's definitely going to be something extra in your pay cheque this month”
“I woulda expected a more excited response from you. Are you ok?”
She smiled at her boss and just nodded. Wondering how much ‘extra’ could be when her take home was #200,000. Her car payments alone gulped more than half of that and she wasn’t even going to think about her maxed out overdraft facilities. She’d always thought she needed to cut back on shopping but now she had reached her limit, she couldn’t even afford to buy anything now. Now she had to hang with the girls that evening and she didn’t even have a car; she’d take a taxi but she didn’t even have enough money for a drink and a cab. She pushed her bangs back and sighed
“Folake, are you sure you’re alright?”
“No I’m fine Osahon. Thanks”
He turned around to leave and she knew right there in that instant that if she didn’t do this there would be no way for her to see her friends the next day.
“Err… Osa, please can you loan me 5k?” This was a very difficult for her but she was at her wits end, she had put herself in this mess and she didn’t have a clue how to get out of it.
He seemed to notice her discomfiture and pulled out his wallet and counted 10 pieces of crisp #1,000 notes and gave her. “it’s fine. You don’t have to return it”
Her voice shook as she collected the money and said “thank you. I don’t know what to say”
“Don’t say anything. Work on your presentation and bring you’re a-game to the client”
Four hours later, she could safely heave a sigh of relief that she did bring her A-game to the presentation the client was going with their ad campaign. It was also a good thing that Osa had bailed her out of her bind temporarily. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, trying to block out reality then her phone rang. The number didn’t look familiar and she picked
“Madam Folake, the cheque you left with my shop girl bounced. I have been calling you and you have not been taking my calls. See ehn, I don’t want to cause any trouble but please come with my money if you don’t want me to come and disgrace you in your office. That is all I will say for now”
Not giving her a chance to explain or even respond, the person on the other end of the line hung up. Lord, when was this going to come to an end?
It was always difficult having to decide what to eat and the menu had a diverse range of things to choose from.
“We should just order a large pizza and scoff it down with red wine. I hate having to choose what to eat” Ada said
“No way missy! We’re not doing Pizza. I want a long proper meal with you guys. This isn’t us in school all over again please. Besides it’s been ages since I saw you guys, I want to spend as much time as possible with all of you.”
Tammy who had been perusing the menu for the longest of time, suggested they had parmesean shrimp pasta.
“Oh that sounds just nice but does one of you have an epi pen ready for when Aisha goes into anaphylactic shock?”
Aisha had a horrible allergic reaction to sea food and it was something she found quite embarrassing. “You guys are not serious. I’ll just do steak and you guys can have your shrimp” She paused and looked at Adanma “You, why have you had those sunglasses on? Or the sun hasn’t gone down on your side of the table?”
Then she took the sunglasses off
She got back from work a little after 7pm and she was tired. She’d seen Ebuka’s car outside so she knew he was home. The lights in the room were off and the curtains were drawn. The only illumination from the room was the glare from the TV. There wasn’t any sign that he was in the room. She took off her jacket and put it in the wardrobe. She didn’t hear him come out of bathroom but she felt him stand behind her. He held her and nuzzled her neck “baby, I missed you”
She stiffened a bit. His touch did that to her, because she didn’t know what would come next. His hands roamed down from her breasts to her waist, holding her firmly in his grip
“I said I missed you. Did you not miss me?” He was breathing harder now, the full force of his erection pressing against her and backing her against the wardrobe door
“Ebuka, please I just got back from work and I’m tired. Please” She was squirming now but he was relentless. She groaned in pain because the door handle was pressing into her belly “you’re hurting me. Please stop”
He didn’t stop. He turned her body towards him, one hand firmly in between her legs, exercising some form of hold on her.
“You’re tired ehn? From doing what? Or who?” He was angry. She never knew what set him off but he was always angry. She squirmed because she knew what was going to happen next. This was a regular move from his play book. If she was too tired he would take her as savagely as he could, if she was submissive she would go away with minimal bruises; if she was resistant he would show her who the man in the house.
“I said tired from doing what? Am I not you husband?” her lips trembled, she tried to answer in the affirmative but she wasn’t fast enough. It was the first of a series of strikes that was going to hit her face... She started whimpering “You are.. you are my husband” With one fell swoop he pushed her skirt down and rammed into her. She bit her lips to concentrate on that pain instead of the pain from her rape. She was being raped by her husband. Constantly. How do you explain being abused by your husband? He rammed into her again and again muttering the words “I am your husband and nobody, has a right… a right.. a right…” he trailed off asserting his rights as he emptied his seed into her.
She lay there weeping as she did every time he got this way. She couldn’t run away, she had nowhere to run. She lay in a fetal position on the bed and she felt his weight on the bed
“Adanma… Nwunye’m… biko I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.” She didn’t open her eyes but she knew the routine, she knew he held in his hands a bowl of warm water, a bottle of disinfectant and a towel. He was going to dab at her wounds and try to reduce the visual effect of her physical trauma
She cringed as warm towel touched her forehead, he gently cleaned the blood from her face, his feathery touch soothed her. The same hands that inflicted so much pain was nursing her. It was like a whole new being taken over him. She didn’t know which was which any more. She was tired of trying to rationalize him. There was no one to talk to and she was ashamed to talk about it. He colleagues were used to the band aids on her face and the constant wearing of sun glasses. She could hide her pain from the world and she had done so successfully, but she was going to meet with her friends tomorrow and she knew that those women knew her and loved her like no one else in the world. She wasn’t going to successfully hide this from them. She wasn’t sure she wanted to but she would try. She would try. Foundation and sunglasses would do the trick.
Nobody noticed the hours go by as Ada and Folake took turns in telling of their woes. Anger resonated from the table as they listened to Ada tell of her abuse It was almost unreal, this was happening to one of them and there was nothing they could do about it Folake who sat closest to Ada grabbed her hands and told her she didn’t have to stay and take the abuse. They sat in silence taking in the quiet of the night. They had asked the waiter to bring another bottle of red wine.
Tammy had been really quiet all evening, not that she was a really chatty person normally but she was dealing with her own issues, trying to make sense of it. She sat slowly taking it all in, everything she was listening to just showed the fragility of their existence. It was Folake’s voice that broke into her reverie,
“At least Tamz is fine.”
She cracked a wry smile, unsure of whether to tell them what was happening to her, not sure if to let them into this cracked earthen jar that was her life.
“See how she’s just smiling. Mrs Briggs. True I want to be like you when I grow up. First I want all your shoes because luckily I’m a size seven” she prattled on and didn’t notice the tears trickling down Tammy’s face
“Tonye’s gay”. It was the first time she’d said the words out loud, never saying it because she didn’t want it to be true; but it no matter how long she lied to herself it was irrelevant now because he was done lying to himself and the world. He was ready to fully embrace who he was and he had told her to move on.
“Tonye’s gay. My husband is gay”
The chill that went through all of them was unmistakable. Aisha pulled her into a warm hug and held on to her.
“You’ll be fine honey. You will be fine” She pulled back and held out her hands to her friends.
“It seems so real now you know our lives happening and so fast and it’s so sad that we are so near yet so far. We need to stay in touch. We’re sisters. Well at least I love you guys that much. I wanted us to get together ‘cause I had news and now it all seems so irrelevant now.” She paused, she took a large gulp of her glass of wine because she was going to need something strong to tell them why she was in Lagos
“ I have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I’ve been referred to a specialist in Lagos to determine how aggressive it is. I don’t want you guys to panic. I can beat this. I know I can”
And just when they thought the evening couldn’t get worse, Aisha dropped the elephant in the room

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quick detox

I make a conscious effort to make all my friendships very light and playful. You see, the thing with serious friendships is that you can't really control the damage they cause in the event of a breakdown.
Over the years I've not been successful in keeping my feelings at bay but I have perfected the art/skill of seeing an end in the horizon and so I quickly jump off the emotional train just before it crashes.
Many years ago my friend Chichi had to go to Uni. I was devastated. I didn't show it of course but I was broken. She had new friends and she tried to carry me along but we did it for a while and it failed. She moved on. I held on that friendship bond and I refused to be friends with any other person because I was being 'faithful'. I was lonely. Things were happening to me and I didn't have anyone to talk to. As time went by I started making new friends but I told myself 'never again' but who was I kidding? However, I was wiser; I formed a defense mechanic against these heartaches. Since I couldn't help forming these deep and intense friendships I had enough sense and foresight to quickly take my feet out before it got cold.

My friend is going for her LLm this September and I'm really sad.I told her I'm weaning myself off her so I'm trying not to see her often and all that. It's really hard. I was lamenting earlier on this week and someone said 'A girl is going away and you're this sad'. The bonds of friendships sometimes go beyond boy and girl and no I'm not a lesbian. But I'm mush! and I like to protect myself by being overly cheerful and playful. I never take things seriously enough.

In the past two weeks I've become really friendly and dependent on a new friend I made and really he's like the other half of me. You see, that in itself is a problem. So giving myself a heads up and taking my foot out of this seemingly comfortable 'foot spa' before the water gets cold.

I 'kent' shout abeg!!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

TFESS Assignment

It would appear that I have neglected my blog for about a month, but I have not really. I have been working to make it even a better place (that sounds like a very poor campaign slogan right?) Anyway. I found out The Future awards people were having a class for aspiring writers and yours truly registered and every saturday for a month I attended writing classes. It was fun. The facilitators were really cool and I took plenty notes, kai I don't think I was even that serious in school. I was very punctual for every class. :D (yay me!!)

Anyway on the last day one of the facilitators gave us an assignment. Write an article directed at an online portl and don't exceed 700 words..

I wrote it, writing teacher/friend extraordinaire/ supporter re-arranged my paragraphs and the result is what we have here

The Gnawing Ache Called Abuse

In 2011, at the peak of what we like to call civilization, it is rather depressing to know that women are still being abused physically and emotionally in Nigeria. A few days ago, the social media went agog with the tale of a man who brutally killed his wife and mutilated her body in the most inhumane way. It was reported that the perpetrator of this dastardly act had been abusing the victim for so long before it eventually culminated in her murder.

Some call it resilience, suffering long for love. Others call it stupidity. But for some reason, this woman stayed while she was being beaten black and blue till she was killed. There has been a large outcry in the media for his head on a platter, and this is not without good reason.

But the situation itself leaves a number of unanswered questions. Why do women stay with abusive men? Does a woman derive a sense of stability from being with a man? Does being with a man, irrespective of how badly one is being treated lend one a sense of belonging? Self validation perhaps? Does a woman tell herself that the errant man will suddenly see the light and stop beating her? Does a woman who stays with an abusive man believe that someday, the man who wooed her will return?

This author will be so bold as to hazard a few humble submissions in answer to the posers listed above. The ‘why’ will forever remain a mystery. The reason is that, years of evolution have conditioned our flight or flight mechanisms to protect our personal existences. The psychological end of the debate is another kettle of fish entirely.

Does a woman derive a sense of stability from being with a man? Yes, to a certain extent women, as should men derive a sense of stability and belonging from being together. After all, companionship is what the very essence of marriage and being together is all about. However, this should not be done at the cost of one’s sensibility. While every little tiff and disagreement is not a reason to jump ship into a canoe of separation and divorce. Zero tolerance should be given to abuse in all its forms.

However this is not the case, as we speak and our society is to be blamed at every level. The first of which is the rush (and the pressure) to be married in record time. Young women edging closer to the big three-oh are constantly reminded of the gradually winding down biological clock by friends, family and even total strangers in some case. Who is to say, that this alone doesn’t push women to settle for ‘less’? And stay settled in the mess the ‘less’ has caused?

A lot of women who remain in abusive relationships are plagued with the questions "Where will I go?", "how will the world perceive the fact that I am unable to stay in my marriage?", "who will look after my kids?" And so they stay; enduring the split lip yesterday, the busted gut today and the broken nose tomorrow. They do this till one day they take their last breath.

In an age where women liberation and the woman's rights are being screamed at the rooftops, women are still their own worst enemies. A woman will judge another woman by such intensely high standards that one wonders where the loyalty lies amongst the fold. The married woman would look at the single woman with immense pity, urging her to ‘settle down’. The single woman would wonder what craze possesses one to lose one’s freedom for the shackles of marriage. The ‘settled’ woman looks down on the feminist as being too vocal, the single and financially self sufficient as being unfulfilled. The feminist looks at the ‘settled’ woman as being a betrayer of the folk, willing to trade independence for the not so controlled environment of marriage and kids. So while women are busy tearing themselves apart, no attention is being paid to the scourge which cuts across all types of women.

It is not enough for women to stand on the soap box and "demand for equal rights" from men. It is even fallacious to assume or even say that men are the bane of the feminine existence, neither is it enough to constantly remind men that we are not the weaker sex. It is important for us as women to stand together. We should respect and cherish ourselves enough to support and not pass judgments on each other. It is only in doing this that an abused woman would find the courage to admit that she is being abused and refuse to stand for it. Only then will she find comfort in knowing that there's a world out there that doesn't condone the victimizing of women.