The Journey + Please Sign Petition

Hello. We’re all aware of the current situation in Nigeria. We all need to do whatever small part we can to ensure the girls are returned safely. That said, before reading, please take some time to sign this petition and this one as well. God bless.

I stared out the window, watching the lane markers on the stretch of seemingly endless road ahead become less visible by the second. The sky that had just seconds ago boasted one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever witnessed – a glorious display of God’s artistry; dark grey clouds breaking up from a thicker gathering into smaller, more individual, beautifully unique shapes, dancing and quietly racing towards a bright orange tomorrow somewhere beyond the trees – steadily transformed into a solid darkness, illuminated only by soft clouds lazily drifting by, lit by far off city lights that promised an end to what had been a slightly grueling, deeply emotional trip.

About nine hours on the road, my bladder was almost full even though I’d had nothing but a can of malt all day, my legs were beginning to dislike the space they had been occupying the entire trip and were dropping subtle hints of discomfort, my butt had lost all feeling, and my body had decided I had slept enough for the day. Never mind the fact that I looked a complete wreck. The worst of it was the sky I had relied on to keep me entertained for the duration of the trip had abandoned me in the dark bus with people I had no interest in, leaving me to fall back on the thoughts I had spent the day trying to escape.

Despite putting your life in the hands f a complete stranger, who could very well be a mad man, speeding down and expressway, totally disregarding almost all traffic/driving rules, and acting like he and his vehicle are oblivious to the speed bumps and potholes on the road, road trips often aren’t so bad. Especially if you’re smart enough to go with a companion or you’re a sociable person who just makes friends with everyone on the bus and then basically becomes a nuisance offering unwarranted opinions and making a whole lot of unnecessary noise in a much too small bus. Unfortunately, I am neither. More often than not, I find myself travelling alone and have taken some sort of solitude in these happenings. I’ve never considered myself a sociable person, in real life, and thus don’t even bother to engage any of the fellow passengers any more than a polite nod or handing them some toilet paper – as I always travel with a roll in my bag. Besides, I always have my laptop and/or a book on hand, so I’m pretty covered as regards entertainment.

However, the circumstances that had led to me embarking on this trip had prevented me from adequately preparing and so I was left companionless yet again, and without my laptop or a book to keep me distracted. For the first time in what seemed like ages, I was on the run again, from another one of the kind of situations I almost always find myself fleeing from – emotional. My problem, the way I understand it, has always, and probably will always, be that I am a lover, not a fighter, if I were to sugar-coat it. Basically, I fall in love with someone, get upset about it, and then run away. This body, mind and soul was not made for confrontation, and I shy away from it like an open discussion is the sun and I am a vampire who has spent five decades living in caves drenched in darkness, and never once in all that time having gotten a glimpse of sunlight.

So, here I am. On a bus with about 12 people I do not know and lack the will to interact with, no sky or visible scenery to pretend to be deeply interested in, a tape of some supposed comedian reading terribly rendered versions of stolen jokes from a script playing over the speakers, and left out to dry by the sandmaster in conjunction with the driver seemingly deliberately speeding across speed bumps, causing the bus to jerk violently every now and then. Realizing my options are limitless, I decide the most suitable course of action is to strongly monitor my thoughts and prevent them from straying towards what I really should be thinking about.

Leaning back into the not-so-plush seat, I close my eyes and focus on thinking about the amazing week I had, driving extra energy into the “amazing”. I smiled as I remembered karaoke and game night, and chuckled a little within myself as certain conversations came to mind. Sometimes you never realize just how much you really miss people until you find yourself surrounded by them again. I let my mind wander from that to accessing how much a lot of people have grown, and how tragic it is that some have just managed to pretty much stay the same while everything and everyone around them changes; basically living their lives as living testimonies to the old saying “You can take a monkey out f the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the monkey.”.

Some part of my sub-conscious records the fact that the bus hasn’t moved for a while, and I snap out of my reverie. Everyone on the bus is talking excitedly and horns are blaring from every imaginable angle. Outside the window, I notice a long line of red lights ahead of the bus, also not moving. Before I have time to really register what’s actually happening, three sets of flashing blue and red lights speed past the bus, leaving behind a trail of sirens piercing through the deafening horns from cars tired of being on the road and anxious to get to their destinations. Personally, I’ve never understood why drivers who can clearly see that NO car is moving continue to toot their toot their horns instead of remaining calm and probably seizing the opportunity to grab a quick nap, considering flying cars are yet to be invented as several movies and cartoons promised us years ago. What I find even more intriguing is that the fellow passengers on my bus, who are coming from a place that has often been referred to as “traffic capital”, were forming agitation.

In their defense, some actually had to make continuing journeys that night, so their annoyance was somewhat understandable. Luckily, I had no place I was in a hurry to be at so I just leaned back into my seat and dragged my thoughts back to where I’d hopped off; memories of smiles and laughter, conversations late at night, movies, and other, precious, irreplaceable, simply indescribable moments of simple bliss and profound ecstasy. Soon enough, we started moving again and I resumed staring out the window. We were closer to the city now and the roads were lit with streetlights and lights from one or two buildings scattered down the way. Grateful for the steady crawling of the vehicle, I rest my head on the window fully confident that my head will not be banged against it anymore at the pace we were moving.

A few more hours to go, I sat in my chair, staring lustfully at the road, still unsure if I’d done the right thing, plagued with thoughts screaming to be let out of the box I’d locked them in and unfinished stories playing out over and again with different endings, most begging for a chance to be told

oxcecexo

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Lost

I kind of sort of stumbled upon this while going through some of my old stuff. Started writing this early last year. I don’t know why i didn’t finish it and i can’t remember where i was going with it. 

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“Acrophobia, Teni.” He kept sting at me with that blank look on his face, failing to understand why bringing me to the amusement park and trying to get me to go on a ride I was certain would end my life was not his brightest idea.“ I’ve told you this before, sweetie.” I say with a sigh. “I can’t go on the ride, because I’m afraid of heights.” He looks crestfallen, but I’m still uncertain about whether or not I care. As far as I’m concerned, I was dragged out of the comfort of my home, taken to an amusement park against my will, and forced to endure the sun’s blistering heat. I am not happy. And as sure as my name is Ogechuchukwu, I am not putting my life at risk by getting on any of the rides available at the park.

Using my let palm as a shield from the sun, I glance up towards the particular death trap Teni is trying to get me to go on. As I watch a group of three people I assume to be friends get into their seats and strap themselves in, I start to wonder if maybe I’m being just a tiny bit too hard on Teni. I mean, he just wanted us to go out and have a good time, which I guess isn’t so bad. The machine starts up, and I can hear the hinges creaking as the chairs are lifted and eventually left suspending loosely between two poles. The chairs swing back and forth slowly for a little while, and then they suddenly start spinning. Hinges groan and creak as the chair is spun in every possible direction. At some point, the chair is turned upside down and suspended for about five seconds. I didn’t realize I had held my breath until they’re moving again. Sweet, thoughtful romantic gesture or not, nothing could compel me to get on that thing.

Quickly pasting a smile on my face, I turn and wrap my arms around his shoulder. Things between us have been rocky for a while and while I appreciate the effort he’s putting in, I think I’m honestly just tired. He stares down at me and plants a soft kiss on my lips. “Let’s go.” I hate the way it sounds, but sometimes using my whiny baby voice is the only way to get Teni to do anything.  Cloud rolls over the sun, providing us with some momentary relief, and he takes my hand in his. He smiles that smile that always melts my insides. His lips are moving but I don’t hear a sound. Obviously realizing my lost, he takes my face in his hands and turns me towards the ride I was only just staring at. The small cloud that had covered the sun seemed to have stretched across the length of the entire amusement park, and darkened. Rain? I thought to myself before turning to Teni to repeat the question out loud. Where Teni stood just a few seconds ago was now empty.  “Teni!!!” My eyes dart around frantically, searching for him as the wind begins to pick up. Empty soda bottles, candy wraps, pieces of paper, tiny pebbles, and sand are being picked up off the floor and flung at me as the world around me continues to darken.

Everyone is gone and I’m alone. I raise my arms to shield my face as I break into a run. I can still hear the creaking of the rides.  Are people still on them? That can’t be… SMACK!  My thoughts are interrupted as I slam; face first, into a wall. My collision sends me tumbling to the ground, and I lay there writhing in pain. In the midst of my agony, I feel something hot against my leg, and force myself to look at it. Light. I blink a couple of times in attempt to adjust to the brightness, but it doesn’t really help.  A part of my mind is wondering why there’s a ray of light hotter than anything I’ve ever felt before focusing on my leg, and the other part was wondering what on earth was going on.

And then I heard it. It was really faint, and had I not head it a second time, I would have believed it to be in my head. But I heard, steady, strong, and unseen. ”Öge.”

2

PROMPT: Write from a dark place. It could from any area of your life. Remember to go with your first flash and just write for 5 – 10 minutes without pausing.

I ain’t ever done no wrong

Well maybe I have…

But help me Lord. Help me

My heart… it hurts

It weighs a tone and a half

And yet, it feels kinda empty

How is that even possible?

I’m worried it’s too big

Will you please take it way?

Yes, I’m willing to trade

I’ll trade you my heart for someone to hold

Or just someone to talk to

To laugh with and tell all my lame ass jokes

A friend or a lover, doesn’t really matter

Heck, I’ll take a stranger for a night

As long as I’m not alone

I’ll make the night last forever

At least in my head we can be together forever

Blissfully basking in the glorious warmth of my memory

My treasure

What am I saying?

Can one be happy without a heart?

Doesn’t seem like a fair trade Gosh,

I feel so lost

So hopelessly stranded

Stuck behind a sky-high fence I sat and watched everyone else build around me Imprisoned by my own thoughts

Strangled by failed dreams and unrealized potential

Alone forever with no way out

Feeble cries, lowly whimpers

Unnoticed and unheard, but mostly ignored

Pounding on the bricks until my fists bleed

Praying for someone, anyone to save me

It’s getting boring looking up to the skies

Not to mention desperately pathetic

Went ahead and dug a hole to bury my soul in

Somehow, I ended up crawling even deeper

Stop this insufferable rambling

Help

Help me Lord, help me

Magic

Image Credit: Katerina Bodrunova

Image Credit: Katerina Bodrunova

When we dance, it’s like magic

I can close my eyes and just imagine
A perfect time, the perfect place
No distractions, No regrets
Two souls intertwined; you and I
Happy; as in love as we both could be

The world is gone; fading

And I can’t breathe

But none of that matters

Because when we dance, it’s  like magic

Jar of Hearts

Image

So, I wrote this listening to Christina Perri’s ‘Jar of Hearts’. I wrote it from a different perspective than I normally would and just tried to let my fingers do the work instead of over-thinking it. I enjoyed writing it, and i hope you enjoy reading it.

 

Tonight is darker than most at the cabin, mostly because the power is out. Once again, the store owner has been unable to pay the light bill, and we’ve been cut off. No worries though, we’re used to the dark now, as it comes more often than not. Thankfully, it’s the rainy season and the weather is a bit cool. I especially enjoy being seated just opposite the one window in the small store. It’s flung wide open tonight, and I embrace the wind that wafts in freely from time to time. Yes, I’m perfectly fine. I’m more worried about her, really.

She’s hunched over her tiny desk in the corner of the store, pawing through pieces of paper by the dim light of a candle that will either burn out soon or be put out by the gusting wind. She’s been at this for nights o end now, searching frantically for her whatever it is she’s been so keen on finding. It hurts me that I can’t help, that I can’t reach out and hold her. I will her to turn around, to come embrace me like she does when she’s really depressed, but she doesn’t. Instead, she keeps going, pulling drawer after drawer open and emptying the contents.

The sound of thunder tears through the silence in the shop and a crack of lightening briefly lights the room. The shelves rattle briefly, jars clink and I shake along with them. The thunder seems to faze her as well. The candle she’s holding slips out of her frail hand and hits the floor. The light goes off, and we are once again drenched in complete darkness. The soft sound of rain hitting the roof is joined by sobbing. My heart breaks and I desperately want to go to her. Another crack of lightening lights up the room, and I can see her tear-stained face staring right at me. It hurts me to see so much pain in her eyes, but as much as I can’t go to her, I can’t look away.

I can’t hear the rain, or her sobs. The room is eerily quiet. I just know something’s coming. What I don’t know is if it’s good or bad. It seems like forever since she’s been this way. Undoubtedly, constantly being on the move has had its toll on her, but we’ve learned to survive; to be fine. Now, it seems like our past is back to haunt us.

“Open up!” The pounding rivals the sound of the raging thunder outside the shop. “I know you’re in there.” Shaking again, I’m genuinely frightened.

She glances at me briefly before lifting herself off the floor and going to the door. Sighing, she places a hand on the knob and turns the key. Before she can pull the door open, whoever s on the other sides pushes hard, knocking her backwards and causing her to stumble a little. Composing herself as best she can, she squares her shoulders and stares right at the visitor. “Why are you banging on my door like you own the place?”

The laughter that fills the room is unsettling. It is deep and soulless, and fills me with chills. “Lady, if you don’t have what I came for, then I do.” His words might as well have been knives.

When she speaks, I hear her struggling to remain calm “I don’t have it yet… I need more time.”

“More time?” A low chuckle that’s just as empty as his laughter “Guys, you know what to do.”

A group of men I hadn’t noticed troop past him and into the store. In the blink of an eye, they are pulling shelves down and sweeping the table, wrecking everything. “You can’t do this!!” I can hardly hear her midst the chaos. Everything is crashing down around me. One of the men appears in front of me and reaches out. “No!” She screams “Leave that alone.”

She lunges at the man holding me now, and he smacks her across the face. “Don’t be stupid” Stepping over her, he walks towards the man I now know is in charge. “Look at this.”

I’m trembling now, more out of fury than fear. Seeing her on the floor, shaking and crying, helpless, it sparks something inside of me. The man with the evil laugh comes closer and examines me “You’ve been holding out on us, ey?” He spits on her small form. The straw that breaks the camel’s back. As he reaches out to collect me from his comrade, I let myself slip. Neither of them is fast enough to catch me, and I come crashing down.

With all that is within me, I will myself to burst. It works and I find myself in a million separate pieces. Fuelled by rage, I shoot myself upwards at her assailants, burying myself in their eyes and exposed body parts. I’m not sure if it’s enough, but I hope it can at least buy her some time. I can barely hear anything and my vision is getting blurry. I manage to hear the men retreat, and I think I can see her still curled up on the floor.

The sight is somewhat enchanting, her lying there on the floor, surrounded by the coins that were once mine to protect. Suddenly, it gets really warm and the coins start to glow. Not just the coins, but the entire room. I’m overwhelmed with a feeling that’s neither joy nor sadness, trapped in a neutral plane of emotions as I listen to the steady crackling around us. Is this what peace is?

When I Say I Love You

When I say that I love you

I’m not just speaking words

I am saying I will go through the unimaginable for you

With you

Hold you up when you can’t quite catch yourself

Help you face your fears

Support your ideas

Your dreams

Because they aren’t just yours anymore

They’re mine too

 

When I say that I love you

I am giving you all of me

A little too much perhaps

But this is because I trust you

I trust that I can be myself around you

Weak, open, vulnerable

I trust you not to turn away

I trust you to do the same

 

When I say that I love you

I’m saying I will be your stronghold

I will cry when you cry and laugh when you do

I will help you build the empire you dream of

Show you the greatness I see in you

Because you are my star

And you need to know that you deserve to shine

 

When I say that I love you

I’m asking you to believe in me

To let me in

To trust me

To care about me

My hopes, my dreams

To be here

To never hurt me

At least not intentionally

I’m asking you to be the reason why I smile

To share my joy and my pain

To be my star

I’m begging you to love me

 

When I say that I love you

Sometimes

It’s like you don’t hear me at all

Tobi

“What exactly are you saying, Mrs. Ibekwe?” my wife, MaryAnn, asks the principal in that soft, calm, barely audible voice that had attracted me to her in the first place. She seems to be well in control of the situation, and thus I have resigned myself to watching and silently gauging the situation. I haven’t yet felt the need to speak. Maybe if things got a bit more escalated….

I shoot a side glance at my daughter, standing between her mother and myself, fingers clasped in front of her, head bent low, staring at her feet. She’s obviously trying really hard to look remorseful, but I know she’s cooking up something in that mind of hers. I can almost see the wheels turning in her skull. The amount of intelligence my daughter possesses is far too advanced for her age, in my opinion. And, in as much as the outstanding academic performance that this intelligence yields makes me proud, it sometimes gives me cause to worry. This is one of those times.

Whatever she’s scheming, a part of me knows I am the focal point. My darling MaryAnn is hardly the disciplinarian. She seldom ever yells, and never raises a hand to any of the children no matter how upset they make her. Well, at least not with Tobi. Admittedly, I am largely to blame.

Tobi is our youngest of seven girls. Yes, seven girls. As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, my actions and some words may have pushed MaryAnn to keep trying for a boy. When she conceived the seventh time, I was certain the child was male. Call me stupid, but I went ahead and got prepared without even so much as a confirmation ultrasound.

The delivery day was a punch bowl of emotions for me. I dare say I was even more anxious than my wife, who was simultaneously screaming and breathing. I stood next to her and held her hand while she pushed. I don’t remember how she ended up in my arms. I simply remember the doctor announcing “It’s a girl.”, and then feeling something I couldn’t quite describe as I held her against me.

I held her in my arms, and resolved that she would be my treasure. The one to end my waiting and fill the hole I’d left open, for what seemed like a millennium, in expectation of a male offspring. Nothing I bought was returned or put in storage. I’d spent good money in preparation for a son, and God forbid I let it waste.

Access to Tobi was restricted. I had a business to run, so I had to set up an office at home just to ensure she was constantly under my supervision. No creche or kindergarten, I was Tobi’s tutor. Why waste perfectly good money on those ridiculously exorbitant babysitters when I could teach her all she would need to know myself? I selfishly kept Tobi to myself, away from her sisters, and time with her mum was the bare minimum.

Work started taking a toll on me, and I had to enroll her in a primary school. But I made sure she was thoroughly engaged with sporting activities, and I continued to spend all my free time with her. Showering her with trips and gifts, and spoiling her against my better judgment.

I taught her as well. To be strong, physically and otherwise, assertive, and hard working. I taught her what it means to be a man. To know what she wants and go for it. To never back down, never show fear. I built her. I thought I could mold her into the son I’d always wanted.

Most of this molding occurred on camping trips I started taking her on when she was eight. Sadly, it was also on one of these camping trips that things started to go awry.

Being with me all the time, Tobi had seen and heard a lot of things. Most of which she shouldn’t have. I’d noticed she’d started behaving inappropriately, but brushed it off. At most, I scolded her on few occasions. That particular night during our camping trip is easily my worst memory. Thinking about it now sends chills down my spine.

At bedtime she complained of being cold, so I’d invited her to come share my sleeping bag. Waking up in the middle of the night to my baby grinding her naked body against me was beyond shocking. I’d stared in disbelief for a couple of seconds before addressing her. When did she take her clothes off? And why are my shorts pulled down? “Tobi, what are you doing?”
“I’m so cold, daddy. I’m just trying to get warmer.”
“Where are your clothes?”. Silence. “Tobi! I asked you a question.”
“In the corner.”
“Tobi, stop this right now and go put your clothes on.”
“No.”
“No?” Needless to say, I was beyond shocked. Tobi had never disobeyed me.
“No. I want you to teach me” And then I felt her tiny hands close around me. “Like the girls in those videos you watch.”
My baby was jerking me off. I should have pulled away. I shouldn’t even have been hard. But I was. And I was enjoying the feel of those soft, little palms slowly sliding up and down my shaft. And then, I made the single biggest mistake of my entire life. I whispered in her ear as my hand slid round her and cupped her mound. “You can’t tell your mum, or anyone at all, about this.”.
“I know, daddy. And you’re mine now.”

She’d gone on to torture me with guilt and threats from that day on. I was potty in her hands, and she bent me to her every whim and desire.

Getting her to go off to boarding school was the absolute worst. I’d pretended to be against it, but was glad my wife was insistent. Convincing Tobi was the difficult part. Eventually, she gave in when I told her people would suspect there was some inappropriate relationship going on between us if she stayed home.

Now, here we are.

My mind is drawn back to the present, and I watch Tobi intently. She’s avoiding eye contact. Tapping her feet. “Tobi.” She looks up at me. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Daddy, I’m sorry. But I really like Anari. I didn’t mean to upset anyone.” The look in her eyes are defiant. Like she’s secretly daring me to punish her. I’d taught her too well.

My wife starts to mumble something about her speaking nonsense and the principal is going on about one punishment or the other. I think she’s suggesting suspension. But all that didn’t matter. My eyes are locked on Tobi’s. Without her uttering a word, I know. This is her revenge for being sent away. Now, she was daring me to keep her away. Knowing there would be hell to pay for the decision I’m about to make, I paste a smile on my face and look up at the principal. “That won’t be necessary,” I said. And then I turned to her. “Tobi, go pack your things. We’re leaving.”

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Hi. So, I’m here again with my monthly post. This was kinda inspired by my contribution to decades II. Some of the comments made me decide to attempt to write it from the father’s perspective. He’s supposed to be the victim. I’m not sure how well I’ve portrayed this, which is why I’m putting this after the story. I wanted you to read it, and have your own individual, unpolluted thoughts about it.

So, please leave your unbiased comments below. I’d really appreciate it as I’m trying to broaden my scope (that’s the correct phrase, ba?). Thanks.