…Fido raced on like a mad dog out of hell. it was one of those adrenalin controlled moments in ones’ life when the brain and its’ reasoning capabilities suddenly go on vacation or take a back seat and let reflex drive. there were four…no, five hefty guys on at his back and they were not about to ask for his autograph. He was no star, at least not today, maybe tomorrow. Sneaking a quick look back through his peripheral vision, he corrected his earlier judgment that the guys behind him were hefty. In all fairness, ‘immense’ was the correct word to adequately describe them. They were like moving houses; the kinds nobody could build where he lived.
Suddenly, night descended upon the afternoon. At first, he thought it was an eclipse and then he realized it was still day time behind him. It was no eclipse, it was the goalkeeper blocking his way, obstructing the sun and determined to keep him from scoring.
The game had been going on goal-less for 119:48 minutes though to him it seemed like forever. It was the final game of the Borogiri Youth’s Football Championship and his team; the 50 kobo cubs had never reached this stage, ever. He was the tallest player in his team at 5ft, 7inches and stood shorter by a good two inches than the opposing side’s (Kila People’s United) shortest player; the goalkeeper, nicknamed goliath who was currently bent on either catching him, the ball or both.
Although blinded, his sprint was still on autopilot and sight impediment could do nothing to disturb the final phase of his flight. He suddenly found himself flying over the ‘Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Juggernaut’ combined goalkeeper with the ball in between his ankles and straight into the finish line underneath the goal post. A shrill whistle went off the instant the ball crossed the line and his brain chose to kick-start at that same exact moment, it seemed. Sounds of “goooooaaaallllll” rang out and seemed unending. Seconds later, the final whistle sounded and he became a star overnight.
Fido had no parents and wasn’t sure the grandma he lived with was even his. They only talked when she nagged. Not that he talked back, he didn’t dare. All he could manage were mind retorts. His warmest memory of her was when she once caught him stealing meat as a teenager at midnight and pitifully shook her grey head and went to sleep. She probably had been too tired that night to have gifted him the usual ‘beating of your life’ she seemed to have in excess. He would forever treasure that singular moment of warmth. That had also been his first experience of a miracle. In his life, that was a really scarce commodity. Thoughts of miracles nudged him to the present as he reflected on the championship win two days earlier.
Yes, that was his second experience of a miracle. Scoring that goal, lifting the trophy, getting all the smiles and important handshakes, that was a miracle. He had even been approached by a football scout for the biggest club from the city; Obesere FC, and he, Fido, from the gps-less village of Bogobiri, had signed preliminary papers guaranteeing a month’s paid trial at the club on the spot. The second miracle of his life had forever transformed it.
Though, he had very minimal possessions, he knew that would soon be history. He promised to visit the popular Yakoyo restaurant and treat himself to N120 Agege bread and N150 Ewa Agoyin the day he got his first pay.
He had no girlfriend and had almost abandoned hope of having one. The girls he liked just didn’t like him and the ones that liked him scared him so he’d just decided it was best to be single than dead. But, that was soon to change, he was sure of it. He had a certain philosophy about life. A man’s Life was like Garri. The price of Garri could change overnight but the Garri itself remained Garri. The price of Garri had changed for him, forever he hoped. He had found honey and now the bees would come, surely.
He loved football especially when he was playing it. He cherished the game. Today, he cherished it more. School had started and ended for him on the streets. He’d graduated from hawking vegetables and finally advanced to class VII; apprenticeship at a roadside mechanic shop. Football was the one thing he did well and loved doing. Ironically, his legs were the most treasured part of his body.
Five guys were chasing after him, again. However, this time, it wasn’t on a football pitch. These guys wanted another kind of ball from him it seemed; the one beating in the left part of his breast. Some (3 of them) of them had guns and were shooting! His autopilot wasn’t doing him much good because his assailants were closing in on him, fast.
It was afternoon but it could as well have been midnight, for the whole neighbour-hood was deserted and stayed silent as sin. The gunshots were responsible, no doubt.
One of the goons, the closest to him dived in a bid to tackle him to the ground but Fido had anticipated it and he swerved suddenly without breaking his run. He negotiated the next turn between two buildings and found himself in a dark alley. He kept running even though he could hardly see and realized too late that the blurred shape before him was a wall painted badly just as he ran headlong into it. Night came during day for him the second time in his existence.
CELEBRATING CHRISTOPHER OKIGBO:POETRY NIGHT
anchored by acclaimed poet Odia Ofeimun
The Life House with the support of Ayaka Magazine will host readings and discussions of Christopher Okigbo's Poetry.
Christopher Okigbo is widely acknowledged as the outstanding postcolonial English-language African poet and one of the major modernist writers of the twentieth century. An accomplished soldier and writer, Christopher Okigbo was killed in action in Nsukka aged 33.
Our family of Nigerian poets and Okigbo experts and enthusiasts will join The Life House to enrich this event and to celebrate our very own Christopher Okigbo. The event will be introduced and anchored by Odia Ofeimun and will feature Akeem Lasisi, Austyn Njoku, Patrick Oguejiofor, Jumoke Verissimo, Tolu Ogunlesi, Ivori Abdul, and many others.
Please join us. It will be a great Sunday.
Entry is free.
RSVP advised. (sms only 0703 403 0683)
Your beauty bubbles like red palm oil being extracted from the banga fruit
Your eyes so bright like the miday sun filled with soft tenderness
You stand tall and gracefull amidst the maidens like the iroko stands amidst the
Your black hair sweeping down your shoulders kissing the nape of your spine
Bright morning star of eloquent beauty whose effervescent light shines through the
path of my heart
Your skin glows like the evening skies when the day grows longer than the night
Your voice is like the melodies of the ''inwin's'' chanting their midnight choruses
in sweet unison
The sweetness of your palm always reminding me of the hands of a loving mother
Your teeth sparkling and white like palmwine undiluted
Your hips well curved and puntuated like a water calabash
The goddess of untold beauty
You rule the kingdom of my heart
by Rasaq Malik
FOR JUMOKE VERISSIMO
(Memories are many on these lanes) In silence I heard your raging voice Tramp-ling down Cursed elders In the lineage of our Shattered histories In silence I witnessed your arrival In the moments of tears You dried our tears-soaked linens And washed away memories of ruined moments II Those sequences of pains Pouring- acidic river into our ocean I see without doubt Pains Riding I heard on our The songs of morn hunch-backs Your arrival brought II (My garment is thorn) tears are pom- of ades remem brance Must we cuddle eyes with tears? Verissimo I see traces of tears On the field behind my deserted garden Anthems are mere songs Recited at the dead of dusk I see women with dead children Vagrants with lost memories Dirges are choruses of morn I know elegies without learning I see memories on these lanes
by Uzuazo Onwah
"My God," She sighed and raised her head, "The early bird is still unfed." In great despair, with silent cries She bowed her head and wiped her eyes. Her clothes unwashed, her books untouched, To say the least, her needs were much. She'd been kneeling to pray to God, But she hadn't uttered a word. She stood up then and turned around, Distracted by a buzzing sound. It was her phone, a call from dad. She hesitated, thinking hard, A call from the one man she feared? She answered the phone, filled with dread, Barely hearing as a voice said, "Come home quickly, your dad is dead." She stumbled out into the sun, Hopeless, thoughts of the future gone. She walked as with no direction, Endless gloom her destination. At least her school fees had been paid, "But this water," she thought, "is too deep to wade." "What then is the use continuing? "Next year I'll still be sorrowing. "I'm the first daughter, the first child, "What scripture have I not applied? "My God shall supply all my needs, "I've made my vows, I've sown my seeds, "I've cast my bread upon the sea, "But nothing has returned to me. "Oh Lord, if I must continue, "Then show yourself, God WHERE ARE YOU?" She snapped back from her 'delirium' As a blaring siren brought her home. Images of fire started to form As she panicked and started to run. She had left her room door unlocked, Her ring boiler had not been unplugged, She stepped into the road, not looking up Even when a speeding car screeched to a stop Within inches of her in hurried flight, Until her room was in sight. "Thank God," She whispered, "No fire", Entering and heaving a well deserved sigh. She reached to unplug the heater, But slipped and fell, spilling the water, Stiffening as the current gripped her, Pulling her into the great beyonder. Her neighbour, hearing the commotion, rushed in And rushed out to cut the power, And rushed in again to meet what she'd feared: Fate had prevailed,the girl was dead.
by Priscilla Adetoun Adesheyoju
What I saw in you was love.
What I gained from you was lost.
How on earth can this be true?
When all I ever wanted is you.
A broken heart; a shattered soul.
I had lost you even before I had you.
When again can my life behold?
With my face bent with permanent fold.
All I wanted was for you to see.
What I had for you from within.
by Fisayomi Ogungbe You are the soil the farmer cannot do without like an arrow in the hand of an archer you determine the fate, the future of a nation, of families. You are an inheritance you are the future a name dies without you you are the name a child is what you are
by Teehem She’s a witch, my mother Or how could she be so strong?
They were right, her foes
My mother’s a witch
That’s why she don’t sleep at night
Watching me, hovering, protecting me
That’s how she does those things
Real men fear, dread…
How could she know what furrows my brow
When still to unravel, burrows my soul?
I might be poor now, I may be ugly,
I may be useless…
But dear God, I have this one wish,
For me, spare this witch…
For as long as she lives, how can I fail?
by Teehem Dreams are my affliction; they disease me Dreams drown me, fill me with sweetness Then disown me Rheumy dreams, lucid…pap solid I stir through Storied dreams…folktale’s pleasure Agony of myths Bewilderment of legends Across these firmaments Reign I over Celestials Dreams, the writer’s ink Fuel this train of thought Oil this frenzied brain Let its engines steam vapour down And redefine gravity Dreams; weapon of immortals Titan treasure, dialect of gods Dreams; a fool’s folly Rendezvous of soul and spirit Where Utopia opens…and Hades too Dreams; I dare dream This chatter; dreams shatter New life, barter me.
In your arms I lie, the world washes on by. No shadows in your beauty, for your smile lightens up the darkness. In the sweetness of your warmth, I fear not the blazing snow. left I am in my imaginations when in your arms I lie.