Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Beautiful one (i)

Beautiful one…..
Beautiful one…..
Those words seemed to be coming to her from the wild and the wind. She looked to the left and to the right of the footpath she was walking on. There was no one in sight, she was totally alone. The thought of those words brought smiles to her lips, and her steps took on a new spring, like the bitingly sharp cold of new harmattan.
Beautiful one….She loved the sound of that. Those words had a nice ring to them, and she relished being called that. There was only one person who called her that, and he was far away from her.
As she walked slowly with a smile, she began to reminisce on the man who called her that. She thought of how tall and masculine he was. His strong biceps with which he would lift her in the air and the muscles that stood out on his arms when he did that. She thought of his baritone voice which had a resounding effect to it. His voice automatically commanded authority, even without his trying. He stood at a height of 5ft8 inches, and he tended to intimidate most people he knew, including her. His face was the kindest male face she had ever seen, especially when he was fussing over her.
“Beautiful one, you need to stop being all stubborn. If you continue this way, you will end up hurt and you know it would break my heart to see you hurt.”
It seemed just like yesterday when she had heard him say that. But it wasn’t. It was almost a decade ago. The thoughts of his words, and all he was helped her memories of him fresh.
She felt a sharp pain on her big toe and she cried out. She realized she hadn’t been paying attention as she walked. She was caught up in thought as she bent down to examine her big toe. A small bruise had formed and little trickles of blood, was oozing out, out and out and out. This was what her people called a bad omen.
Bad Omen indeed. There could be nothing worse coming.
She tried to stand up, and it hurt too much to make that much effort. She stayed in that position for a few minutes and tried again. This time, she stood up but fell to the ground almost immediately.
“Ehimma” She heard someone call out from the distance as she hit the ground.

Hours later, she lay on a bamboo bed in one of the many closely built huts. She had being unconscious for hours and in that time the people who surrounded her had been busy making incantations and supplications to their gods. They were finally worn-out with all that activity, such that when she came to, they were sitting outside, to get some fresh air.
“She is awake.” Ame said when she peered into the hut and saw movement.
One of the women carried a palm oil lamp into the room the girl lay in. They found the girl looking around the room, dazed. Her eyes shone brightly, and she as white as a sheet.  She passed out again the next minute, as they spoke many things that sounded like gibberish to her.
“This poor Child.” Said one of the women.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Under the Mango Tree Series: Episode 3 Rainbows and Jason: Part 3

Rainbows and Jason: Part 3

This coincided with when their daughter got pregnant and engaged to her boyfriend in her fourth year of university. On the day she came home to make the announcement to her parents, she found her mother in a foul mood. She was seated on a cushion by the front door, and she claimed she was waiting for her sleazy cheating husband. Iru left her mother and went to satisfy her cravings. At that time, she had a craving for oranges, which she went to get from the table in the kitchen.
She had finished peeling the oranges and was about to eat the first one when she heard voices coming from the living room. She rushed out of the kitchen upstairs with an orange and a kitchen knife. It was a heated argument, unmistakably coming from her parents. She saw her parents arguing and coming up the stairs.
“Not again” she thought to herself, and watched as they both came up.
They climbed the stairs and reached the first floor where she stood.
“Must you guys argue? After all this time, can’t you two just sit down and talk to each other like two adults?” she said.
“Stay out of this.” said her father.
“You want her to stay out of this because you don’t want her to know about the secret family you are keeping, right? You don’t want her to hear about your cheating and lying.”
Sola yelled with her voice rising higher with each new word. Before their daughter, Kris slapped his wife across her left cheek. He started to hit, kick and pound on her, like her body was the mortar while his hand was the pestle, while their daughter tried to stop him.
“Stop this Daddy.” But he wouldn’t listen. Soon, she noticed that her mother was crying on the floor, and she was bleeding from her head. That was when she moved to push him off her mother.
It all happened so fast, and the next thing she knew her father was lying on the floor of the house with a knife stuck in his chest. He was bleeding profusely, and his pupils were dilating. Both women stood over him, the mother bleeding from her head, and the daughter with blood on her hands and clothes.

Iru had had her baby two months later, a baby boy. She hadn’t been in touch with the father of her son for the time she spent in hiding. She wished she could call him and inform him that their baby had been born, but she couldn’t. She was a wanted murderer in Nigeria and a tag had being placed on her arrest. Her pictures were displayed in public places, and everyone was on the lookout for her. Whatever she was doing, she needed to stay off the radar, to prevent publicity and exposure.
On this day, right after the birth of the baby, Naana held her great-grandson in her arms, and smiled at him.
“Welcome to the world.” said Naana, smiling.
She handed him over to his mother and sat back watching the new mother bond with her child. Iru held the baby to her bosom and closed her eyes. Tears flowed down her eyes, and Naana moved closer and placed an arm around Iru’s shoulders.
She was discharged the next day from hospital and she went home with Naana and her son who she named Jason. Over the next couple of weeks, she cared for and loved her son as if her life depended on it. She played and laughed and enjoyed life with her newborn as if all was well.
One night, six months after the birth of her son, she found her grandmother sitting by herself in the dark. She had just put Jason to bed, and went to sit with Naana. At first they both sat in silence, before Naana broke the silence.
“You told me, while you were pregnant that you would make up your mind about the situation. Have you decided?”
She was quiet for some minutes before she spoke up.
“I have not decided yet. I will still think about it. You know I can’t just make up my mind, because I have to think about my son as well.”
She didn’t speak about this anymore, until her son turned ten. He had being asking questions about his paternity since he was five. She always told him his father was in Nigeria. This time, he asked her why they weren’t going to Nigeria to visit his father, and grandmother. He said he wanted to go to Nigeria, and she told him they couldn’t. He started to cry then, and that broke her heart.
He had being called a bastard, by a bully in school, because he told his peers he had never seen his father.
That night, she sat with her grandmother and spoke to her.
“I am going to Nigeria.” She said, without looking at Naana.
“Why? Iru, do you want to go to jail?”
“Yes Naana, I want to. I am tired of running, and hiding.”
Over the past decade, they had relocated from Kumasi to Tema, and then to Canada. They moved whenever they got news that people suspected Iru’s location.
“But, we won’t have to move anymore. We are safe here; no one can find you here.”
Iru was now crying.
“Jason wants to go to Nigeria. He is asking questions about his father, and his grandparents. He is wondering why he doesn’t have a normal family, like his friends….”
She paused to wipe the tears that threatened to choke her.
“…What about me? Don’t I deserve to be happy? Because of a mistake I made? Don’t I deserve to have a good life?”
“But this is a good life. Living with Jason and I…..” Naana said.
“And keeping my life on hold because of all the running? I’m going back, Naana. Am done running.”
“What will you tell Jason?”
That question jolted Iru, and she left her grandmother to seek solace in the arms of her pillow. Two more weeks of thinking and planning before Iru set off for Nigeria. She sat Jason down and told him that she was going to Nigeria for a visit.
“You will understand it all, when you get older.” She told him.
“Naana will take you to Nigeria to visit your Granma and your father.”
The thought of that made Jason happy, and he wasn’t too sad as he waved goodbye to his mother at the Thunder Bay international airport. However, the tears in his Great-grandmother’s eyes made him wonder. Just before Iru boarded the aircraft, she ran back and gave her son and Naana a big bear hug and a kiss, with big giant tears falling down her cheeks.
“Just in case I never see you again, just know that I love you.”

Months later, she was grateful she had given the two most important people in her life that last kiss. She was sentenced death by the firing squad. In her last days on earth, she spent her time writing letters to the people she loved, telling them the whole truth. She wrote to Humphrey Adeyinka, the father of her child, asking for his forgiveness and telling him about his son. She wrote to her son, telling him the truth and hoping he would understand.
She made her peace with herself. She made peace with herself for the accidental death of her abusive father. She made peace with herself, for her impending absence from Jason’s life, and for her aborted dreams and future. She made peace with herself, and her inevitable end.
She was at peace with herself, and by the time she stood tied to the tree, facing the team of men who would gun her down, she faced them with a contented smile. With a smile on her face, she thought of the two things that spoke of beauty, hope and the future. With those thoughts on her mind, and a smile on her face, she closed her eyes and waited as the bullets came tearing through her clothes and then her skin like fire. Even when the pain from the bullets moving through her body brought tears to her eyes, she still thought of those two things.

Rainbows and Jason, until she breathed her last.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Under the Mango Tree Series: Episode 2

Rainbows and Jason: Part 2

Naana Adjoa Boakye had been living with her only granddaughter in Kumasi, Ghana for the past couple of months. She was a sixty-seven year old retired high school teacher who had spent more than half her time on earth in Nigeria. She lived in Lagos, and married a Lagosian. She had a beautiful daughter, Solape Ogundipe who she took back with her to Ghana upon her husband’s death.
However, when Sola turned twenty, she returned to Lagos to live with her paternal aunt. A couple of years later, she married an engineer who she claimed she loved more than life itself. When they got engaged (which seemed like a short time after they began dating) and they were introduced Naana took one look at him at and said to her daughter
“I do not like him.”
She entreated her daughter to hold off the wedding for a few weeks at least, but the love struck Sola wouldn’t listen. She married Kris nine months after she first met him. The first four months after the wedding were blissful and beautiful. Sola was happier than she had being in a long time, and she told everyone who cared to listen as much.
Sola was one of those people who loved deeply when they did. She was easy going, and smiled a lot. Hence, she was easily approachable, fun loving and sociable. She made friends wherever she turned and was always Miss Popular. Naana who was a quiet and reserved person found her too sanguine sometimes and thought this was a trait that may bring trouble in the near future.
Naana saw in her daughter, a splitting image of her late mother. Naana’s mother Yaa was sanguine, and lived a happy go lucky life just like Sola. She feared about her daughter’s future, especially with men. As a girlfriend, Sola was perfect. But, as a wife, not so perfect. Especially when she was married to a special breed of men – the very jealous kind.
Kris, Sola’s husband was a very jealous man. He loved to know what she was doing, at what place and time. Knowing how nice and sociable his wife, he tended to worry about her a lot. As a banker, he knew she met a lot of people daily, especially men. And as a man, he knew that men loved beautiful women and tended to hang around to them to admire and flirt. The thought of men hanging around his wife admiring her beautiful curves and smile sent waves of fear and anxiety rippling through him like a million prickly pins in many sensitive places.
That was when he started to frequently check-up on his wife. He would drop by at Hallmark Bank, in Surulere where she worked to check up on her unannounced. He would take unexpected breaks from his office in Ikorodu to visit his wife at home on weekends. He constantly called her phone, and when she missed his calls he had very graphic images of her in bed with another man. This often sent him after her, trying to ascertain what she was doing.
By the end of the first year of their marriage, they had started having fights about his overly jealous attitude. And then one day it graduated from verbal fights to something else. The first time he hit her was when he found her talking to a man who turned out to be an ex. This was at a gala event at her office, and he waited till they returned home. He beat her the way you would a log of wood into many pieces (literally), without giving her ample time to explain to him that it was a harmless conversation. She ended up with a black eye and several bruises on her body. He was deeply sorry about it, and promised never to do it again. But did he keep that promise?
As time went by the frequency of the beatings increased. Sadly, Sola went through this phase of her life alone. She never told anyone, not even her mother who she was fairly close to. In the third year of her marriage, Sola became pregnant. He made a shocking pronouncement on the day she informed him that she was expecting a baby.
“It’s time to quit your job, darling.” He said, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
“That’s not happening Kris. I can’t do that.” She protested.
Her friends Candy and Ije advised her against quitting her job. They thought she shouldn’t quit, since she was doing so well, and was due for a big promotion in a matter of weeks. Even her mom disagreed with her husband’s declaration.
However, a month of sweetness and persuasion got Sola to hand in her resignation letter to the bank management and become a full time house wife. She believed that staying home would quell her husband’s fear about her cheating or leaving him. It seemed to work as he didn’t hit her throughout the pregnancy. On the contrary, he was all sugar and spice throughout this time.
At the ninth month, the baby was born- a girl. That was when things turned around again. He had expected his first child to be a boy and he couldn’t accept the fact that he had a daughter instead. His disapproval was shown as his many childish tantrums and gradual withdrawal from his erstwhile caring style. After the birth of the baby, she decided to start a small business to keep from being a bored housewife.
His answer to that was an emphatic no. He didn’t want her out there in the world in easy reach to all the men he knew would want to chase after her. But, she went behind his back and started a unisex boutique. When he discovered this, the beatings started again; more ferocious this time. He would beat her up, if she returned home late from her shop. Even if she answered back at him when he spoke or hung out with friends he didn’t know, he would reply by beating her up.
This continued for years. As a result of the beatings, she never had any more children for him. Her second pregnancy was aborted by his constant beatings, and so were the third, fourth and the fifth. However, she never had the guts to leave him. She stayed with him because she loved him, and because she didn’t want to end up as a single mother.
Furthermore, she kept the abuse secret from her friends and family. So, the bruises on her back were a fall from the stairs to her mother. The black eyes were an eye infection to her friends and the broken arm was a domestic accident to her aunt. She thought she had everyone fooled, but soon everyone started to suspect that all the injuries couldn’t be from the sources she claimed. Her daughter on the other hand was not fooled by anything she said. She knew what it was, and it filled her with rage when she thought of it.
She knew what her Dad did to her Mom, and it made her sick keeping her Mom’s secret from their friends and family. To ensure that she didn’t witness the abuse, her father had shipped her off to boarding school, when she turned eleven. She had cried all day on her first day in boarding school, afraid for what her father would do to her Mom in her absence.
The proof of it was in her mother’s walk, when she returned home on holiday. Her mother had claimed she sprained her ankle, and walked on clutches. Her father simply petted her mother, while fully collaborating the story. But as she recovered from the injury, he started keeping late nights which was actually the undertone of something bigger.
Over the years, Kris Okonkwo started seeing his young secretary. Soon, she became pregnant for him and when the scan showed it was a boy, he advised her to keep it. Bimbo, his secretary bore him a son when his daughter was seventeen years old. Then began the double dealing and the lies. He spent countless weekends with his new family, but to his wife he was working. She didn’t question this new turn of events until her mother voiced her doubts about his countless trips. Naana set a private investigator on his trail and it was revealed that he was having an affair.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Under the Mango Tree Tales: Episode 1


Red. Yellow. Green. Blue. Orange. Indigo.
Beautiful colours.
Beautiful colours of the rainbow. Two things spoke of beauty, hope and the future, to her. The first was the beautiful rainbow etched across the pale blue sky like nature’s subtly crafted lines on a baby’s palm. The second was the seven month old foetus growing inside her. With innocence and pure exuberance, the foetus played on the playground that was her womb. These two things made her believe in a better tomorrow.
She winced, as she felt a familiar ache as the playing foetus continued within her. Placing a trembling arm on her protruding stomach, a beautiful 5ft 6 inches tall woman stood out on the patio of a two-storey building by the lake. The wind and the waves brought a chilling cold that bit through the two layers of clothing over her once slender body and her fear. She trembled in the cold, but stayed put in the patio. Her mind was working overtime, and her thoughts ran wild as she stood there. Principal on her thoughts, were questions.
What ifs? Whys? How comes? And more questions.
“Iru, do you realize standing in the cold in August could be bad for your health?” Said a woman clad in a long Kente dress, and a wearing big smile that lighted up her face.
She slowly made for the patio.
“Naana, you are back.” Iru said, turning to face the newcomer.
“Yes my dear. How long have you been standing out  here?”
“I’m not sure really.”
“It’s really cold out here, you know. “
Naana touched Iru’s arm.
“Iru, you have got goose bumps. Let’s go inside, and get you warmed up.”
“I didn’t realize how cold it was.”
“That bad?”
A lone tear dropped down Iru’s left eye, but she made no effort to wipe it.
“You poor child.” Naana said, and drew Iru into her embrace. Seconds later, slowly untangled herself from the embrace and led Iru back into the house.
Inside, she led Iru into the first bedroom on the first floor of the single storey building. She helped her sit on the edge of the large bed in the centre of the room, went to get a red blanket (Iru’s favourite) and wrapped it around Iru’s shoulders.
“Thanks Naana, you keep taking care of me like you would a child.”
Naana patted her granddaughter on the arm and sat beside her on the bed.
“No matter how old you are my dear, you will always be my baby.”
Iru smiled, knowing that statement had many an element of truth.
“Thank you, Naana.” Iru said looking into her grandmother’s eyes, with a sad look in her eyes.
“Everything. I couldn’t have come this far without you. I will be eternally grateful to you, as will my baby.” Iru said, patting her belly.
“Come on Iru, anything for you.”
Naana took Iru’s hand in hers and stroked it gently. Iru then laid her head on her grandmother’s shoulder.
“I couldn’t have come this far without you. Thank you.”
“You could have done well, probably better without me.”
Naana looked up at Iru, and noticed a glint in her eyes.
“Listen, everything will be fine.”
“Will it? I really don’t believe in fine anymore.”
“No matter what, you need to believe.”
She sobbed quietly, still in that position while Naana stroked her arm.
“Iru, the tears have got to stop you know. Remember, you are pregnant. At least, there is hope.”
“I can’t help the tears….”
“Well, make more effort. There is hope, my dear.”
She looked up at the matriarch as she spoke.
“……..but you and I know that I am hopeless.”
Naana hissed and shook her head slowly.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A voice, small and sing song like, called out.
The voice reverberated and echoed in the coldness of dark.
No answer.
"Ugo, my beautiful one."
The sing song voice called out again, this time slightly shaky.
No answer.
The voice slightly more shaky, with a pause in each syllable of the word.
The wind answered, with a repeat of the word that had been called out. With the answer came the sound of movement.
The sound of the wind, pulling with it everything that stood in it's way.
The sound of rustling leaves, and tree branches swaying to the subtle yet strong music of the wind.
And then came the rain.
Few drops.
And then more rain, with ferocity and persistence, beating strongly on the helpless leaves, trees and the Earth; like a drummer's steady hand on the surface of a conga.
Each syllable of the word, came slowly and with depth from a voice quivering like a leaf in the hands of the wind. The word died a sudden death, as the sound of rain, wind and thunder drowned it out.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Chapter Two
The house on Mountford Hall was beautiful every time of the year. But it was especially beautiful in summer when the canna lilies and chrysanthemums as well as the dahlia and cosmos.  The blend of colours from green to red to purple and blue blended together and gave the house an ethereal look. A look she loved to savour during the afternoons of the sunny summer days.
She stood there taking in the colours and the scents. The beauty and the contrast, created by nature and flowers. She watched as the summer breeze made the flowers dance. The heat of the sun at 29ยบ was scorching, and she longed to go for a walk in the park or to sit by the beach dressed only in bikini. She looked on, seeing beyond the flowers and plants and the beauty.
A tear dropped down her left eye, and she slowly brushed it off as she heard a distinct footstep approaching the garden. She planted a smile on her face, and focussed on the beautiful flowers before her. She counted in her head.
“Here you are girl.”
Sidi turned to face a beautiful petite woman with long red hair and a tight expression. She smiled, as Sidi gave her a hug, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“Hello Aunt Bree.” Sidi greeted.
“Hello Lesley….Hello Connor.” She said to the youngsters standing behind Bree.
“Have you being standing out here for long?” Bree asked.
“Not so long, no.”
“Well then, come on in. I didn’t know you would be home this early or I would have left the key for you.”
“Neither did I.”
She followed Bree wordlessly, with Connor and Lesley lagging slowly behind.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Chapter One
Sidi smiled.
That was all that mattered at that point, Sidi’s smile. When Sidi smiled, the world seemed to simply stop and stare. Nature paused to savour the beauty of her heart warming smile. Her smile revealed deep dimples on both cheeks, standing out like stars in the sky on a dark night. Huge brown eyes closed slightly when she smiled and her features softened. Her nose stood up straighter and accentuated the perfect curve of her face. Her mouth opened slightly to reveal her white set of teeth. Small child-like teeth which filled her mouth and made her seem younger when they showed.
Sidi’s smile made the biggest problems melt away and seem like naught. She smiled with every core of her being and according to Lesley, Sidi’s smile was like medicine to the soul. Saying that made Sidi actually laugh.
Sidi’s laughter was like that of a three year old who had just received a pack of her favourite chocolate candy. As Wallace would say, Sidi’s laughter was refreshing to watch.
She smiled, at Katherine who everyone called Kat, and then at Liz.
“Your smile makes me wonder what you want.” Kat said, giving Sidi her full attention.
“Nothing really, just to take the Mickey.”
Sidi quickly grabbed the pack of skittles from her friend’s hand and ran as fast as she could. Kat followed on her heels, as angry as a bull. She was yelling and swearing as she ran in pursuit. The others in the park watched with delight, knowing the chase won’t be for long.
With Sidi panting and gasping for breath, she slowed down just in time for Kat to catch up with her and grab her size 18 jogger pants. They both came to a sudden halt, as Kath retrieved her chocolate from Sidi.
“Ah……that was hot race. Bet I’ve lost a few pounds from that.” Sidi noted, as she sat heavily on the green grass.
“You wish.” Said Kat.
“Hey Fatty, it’s not easy being a size zero.” Connor chipped in, laughing.
The others joined in, laughing hard as Sidi stood angrily and went for a walk around.
“You didn’t have to say that to your cousin.” Kat said to Connor.
“Yeah right. Makes no difference though, she is fat.”
Kath shook her head and went away in search of her friend.