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2015

When I think about 2015, I think about how terrible I felt half the time. Ill, exhausted, empty. Going through all of these was not pretty. I remember sitting curled in a ball in my apartment, eyes closed, thinking nothing, feeling empty. Often I took long walks to clear my head. Often I went out to be among people, noticing their smiles and soft laughter like a baby’s bottom.

Despite all of these I remember how I smiled, my closed my smile that reached my eyes so that they squinted and looked like a pair of Chinese eyes so you could barely see the glistening black balls.
This year was me doing things I really wanted or needed to do without letting the way I felt at the moment hold me back.

I do not know how to describe my year succinctly. How I failed Nigeria or how I lost a friend. I cannot describe how I tremble when I think of four hundred level land law and law of trusts or Equity and how God saw me through it all. It might seem easy, painting it delicately, the way the sun smothered my skin on the sunny days or the way my skin whitened and lips broke and bled during the harmattan, but I could never do it well. I could never describe what a friend I found in Assumpta or Dunni or Ife, or how great my Arts and Africa family has been to me.

2015 was good to me in so many ways. I had so many opportunities I never expected. How to thank the people that made it all happen, I do not know. All those free stage play tickets I got and free books made my year surreal.

Seeing as I captured a lot of 2015 moments, I’ll describe my year with pictures

 

 

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Rele readings.

Amazing day listening to Toni Kan and Victor Ehikhamenor.

I was a volunteer at Ake festival 2015. It was a lot of work. But it was fun.

 

Artsandafrica.com kicked off this year. It is incredible being part of this family. I’ve learned so much and met amazing writers from all over the continent.

Somtimes, Tosin, Assumpta, Dunni and I would go to creamium and spend the little we had on ice cream. #2015rituals

I met Binjo this year. He is an amazing friend and takes all my crap bullshit and gets all my jokes. haha. And Denike too. Awesome friend. Unfortunately, can’t find any picture with her.

 

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A lot of other things and mad men and specialists stage play (Wole Soyinka month)

I saw a lot of stage plays this year man. Made several trips to Terra Kulture and Muson center. I think I’m still in debt.😂

 

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Saraba talk; Eghonghon, Victor, Fope, Excuse me, Tani.

I remember this day. We got to the venue of Saraba’s talk very late because of the issue of wrong address. The Saraba talk was hosted by Dami Ajayi who is one of the coolest people you can ever meet. I’m not even joking. From talking to him and reading his work, I learned a lot this year.

 

 

Middle picture. Funny day. Before we got to freedom park for the Poetry festival, I called Tosin creative poverty. I said it so naturally, I thought it was funny that he was reacting a certain way. Lol. We had an awesome time here. I left early, but later that night, my cousin drove me back to freedom park for the borderless concert against my wishes. When we got bored, we drove around Lagos. Awesome day. And night.

Last Picture. Also a night thing. Wura and I had so much fun. We got home real late. Have I mentioned Wura is absolutely amazing? Totally lovable.

 

 

 

Wedding, parties and other stuff with my lovers.

We were slaying anyhow. Amazing night. Fope, Ona and I had our short stories featured in the book published to raise money for autistic kids. Amazing writers Ona and Fope. It has been a good year with Fope. She is so much of an amazing Partner. even with the ups and downs.

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An exhibiton at terra kulture. Lots of exhibitions this year.

 

 

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Film festival

 

 

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London Life Lagos Living.
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Social Media week at the human rights firm

 

 

 (June 20 2015)
(June 20 2015)

 

Class selfies and other selfies.

Last day at Chris Ihidero's Story Story Master Class. awesome experience (October)
Last day at Chris Ihidero’s Story Story Master Class. awesome experience (October)

 

This was an amazing three day workshop at British Council. Learned so much.

First sunday in the year.
First sunday in the year.
When my baby sister made me up.
When my baby sister made me up. Took myself out.
When Duny (Old sister, middle) graduated Masters with a distinction, I was just too proud.
When Duny (Old sister, middle) graduated Masters with a distinction, I was just too proud.

 

 

 

These are but a few pictures from 2015. And these are just some of the people that made my year. They’re a lot. If I were to talk about Efe Paul whose poetry I so love or Lola Shoneyin who made Ake festival happen, I’d be writing a new blogpost.

Plus there’s Damola Olofinlua through whom I could attend the Etisalat prize for literature award ceremony. An exclusive beautiful event. I was very close to Wole Soyinka. So close, I could have run my fingers through his hair. Jokes. I would forever be grateful. Then there is Adebola Rayo (Artyliving) who made my Easter with two tickets to see Saro Musical. There are so many other people. You, as you read, you’re making my 2015. Thank you.

There are so many people I have to thank. So many things I have to say. But I’ve been unable to arrange my thoughts. Perhaps before the year runs out, I’ll dish out my vote of thanks like I’m at an awards ceremony.

Ake festival was a huge highlight for me this year. I got so many free books, my book shelf is spilling. I met a lot of people and mostly, I got to be a part of something huge. (P.s I am Maxim Uzoatu’s personal person)

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Maybe I was not all that happy this year. And often I ask myself, what am I going to do about that? It is not like life is not going well. My grades are excellent, I’m in almost good health, and so I often say, Ope, you have ever reason to be happy. But no. There’s something else. It’s like getting up to pick something somewhere but getting there and forgetting what you went there to pick in the first place. It is small. Often unbearable. Sometimes you stare into space and start crying, conjuring unrelated things that should be long forgotten.

If you know, you know.

I’ve found my solace in so many things. Novels. Mariam. Friends. God.

These keep me sane.

Whatever it is, all I know is I’m getting closer to being who I want to be, even though I’m not sure what exactly or who exactly that is. Baby steps Ope. Closer. And closer.

My writing also grew and grew this year, even though I did not write as much as I wanted to, I read a lot. A lot of big things happening next year, that I am sure of.

It’s been an amazing year and some. Thankful.

(P.s; thanks to Isma’il for some of this amazing pictures)

 

 

 

A Curious Tale

#1 It’s that time of the year again!

30writers

#1

The very first post in this series is written by Adenike. Adenike is a writer who is “finding her voice.” She likes to write poems and occasionally, short stories. She writes to inspire and entertain. She blogs at denikhe.blogspot.com and can also be found at lucidlemons.com. You can also follow her on twitter @denikhe

In this powerful poem, Nike seeks to capture the abstract nature of the curious tale and country called Nigeria.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

This is a curious tale of love

Of blood that birthed tears

Tears that washed hands

Tears that deceived you into thinking your hands were clean and you were pure

You who is listening to this tale

Hear, hear

Even if you do not need to listen

For this tale is the song that resonates in your heart

An ever present melody

A curious tale

This…

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30 DAYS 30 WRITERS

Hi everyone.

Last year my friends and I ran a writer series titled—30 days 30 writers. It was a series which aimed to celebrate Nigeria. It was a medium of expression for the Nigerian youths.

That was 2014. A lot has happened since then. People have died, people have given birth. Nigeria has grown. We have a new president; President Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, so much has happened.

And here I am asking for your hands again—readers and writers, to contribute to this—Independence series, to celebrate Nigeria. The series starts 2nd of September and ends 1st of October. If you are interested, send your posts to ope.adedeji@hotmail.com

(N.B you don’t have to be a professional writer, so far as you can articulate your thoughts and feelings on Nigeria neatly, your post will be picked)

Prose, poetry, poesy, drama, articles anything, will be accepted. Remember, your piece should appreciate Nigeria in any form. You can look through some of the past entries on the blog. Posts from the series Last year.

Last year, the series featured writers like Seun Odukoya, @thevunderkind, Fope Ojo, Timi Yeseibo (livelytwist.wordpress.com) and a lot of other great writers.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section or you could just email me.
Send your post as an attachment to the above email. Include in the body of the email a short bio, a short summary of your post and a feature image to go with your post. (Your post will be edited)

At the end of the series, there will be a writers meet (open to readers and writers that did not participate) where we can just all mingle and discuss etc. The venue will be communicated at a later date.

Oh one more thing, the posts will not be going up on my blog this year. I hope to make this a yearly thing and so, 30writers.wordpress.com is the blog where all the posts would be featured.

I do hope to hear from you.

Ope Adedeji.

Mama (Part three)

mama

Mama liked to pray. It was the first thing she did in the morning and the last thing she did at night. She sat on her bed, very close to the window; a pink and blue scarf tied to her head. She nodded a lot while she prayed. Sometimes, she only moved her wrinkled hands, gesticulating or wriggling them together. She prayed only in Yoruba. On rare occasions, she went on her knees and cried in prayer. Her prayers were always muffled and small, her thin lips barely moving. It was always hard to tell what she was saying. When we were sick and not eating anything, Mama stood by our bedside and said long prayers that were sometimes really annoying. When we got well, she would raise her hands to heaven and smile a really wide smile—proudly showing off missing teeth. She taught me how to pray too; asking that I clasp my hands together, close my eyes and repeat after her.

Mama loved to pray but Mama stopped praying the weeks before she died. She stopped sitting up by the window side early in the morning or last thing at night. She just lay on her bed, her gray-black afro neither tended to nor scarfed. She didn’t eat much. She didn’t even speak much. She didn’t pray for Momola when she fell sick or congratulate Uncle Hassan when he bought the new car. She just stared—that empty scary stare. Mama was very sick those days. Her heart was failing.

The day she died however, she sat up on her bed and slowly and with so much effort, moved her buttocks to the right, until she was right beside the window. Then she asked me to fetch her scarf. The pink and blue one not the yellow one, she insisted. As the sun streamed in, lining her clay brown face, Mama looked up to the sky and whispered a thank you.

There would be no tears.

writer

You want to cry. You want to die. But you want to cry more than you want to die. You want to flood your home with tears. You want your wails to paint the wall. You want the tanbolos crawling on your table, to listen to your pain. But you are sitting by the window, watching the rain, unable to cry. The look on your face is plain, as plain as soup without salt. Usually, when your heart feels this sort of pain, you chew on your bottom lip, bury your head in your palms, and weep. You would weep the way the sky is weeping right now. The sky is weeping, as if it feels your pain, more than you do—like the well-wisher that wept more than the omo-oloku.

Your hands are clammy. There is a pen standing between your thumb and forefinger—you are trying to write. You want to write about the pain that occupies you heart. You would tell about it through the eyes of a young girl who allowed Love move into her heart. You would tell how Love became Pain and how Pain kept on hurting the young girl. You would tell how Pain instead of Love, built a mansion in her heart, and never wanted to leave. Then you would tell of how Pain decided to leave, but because the girl thought it was still Love, she longed for it. You would be careful so your readers do not know that you are the girl. But you cannot write as you want. You have written several words and doodled endlessly, but you cannot tell your story.

You feel as helpless as the time when your grandmother died. You did not like her very much. But you felt the pain of losing your sole guardian. She was the one who birthed your insecurities. “Orobo!” she would call for you as if she did not remember the names she gave you eight days after your birth. She was constantly teasing you about your size, comparing you to your slim siblings. She was constantly telling you how nobody married fat girls. She would point to a fat woman on the street, and whisper maliciously, how the woman’s husband was always at a brothel at night. After some years of living with the wounds her careless words caused, she complemented the nickname with a new one “Crying machine.” She gave you the name because you were always crying like an emere when she abused you. Sometimes, she would call you an emere, and laugh, emere to tobi, bawo lo se ma n travel?

It was not like Maami specially disliked you, she was always insulting everyone and everything. But the negative effects stuck to you like a bee on nectar. You were young, but it still made you sad. It was worse when your classmates started to call you orobo and copy your walking steps—you had bow legs, and were overweight, so it was funny to copy. As much as a joke this was, it continued your journey to sadness.

But you discovered love. And though he became pain, you were determined to keep him close.

Your pain looks like a long chocolate bar—six feet, dark complexioned, smoky cat eyes, one bad leg, charm and beauty. He is your love that became your pain. Maybe now, he is your drug, because you do not understand why you need him so. You need him. You want him. There were days when he treated you like shit, and took you for granted. There were days when he smelt of other women and other days when he mocked your weight. Instead of leaving him you took to praying for his weakness.

“Men are very weak, you have to pray for them” your grandmother told you this, a long time ago and you cherish it like a rare gem, holding it close to your heart. You would stay up all night to pray for him. But your prayers were not answered on a permanent basis. The answers were always temporary. Today he is loving, tomorrow he is not. So now, you find yourself unable to find words to pray that he comes back.

You want him. You want him, so that while he is not treating you like shit, he is telling you how beautiful you are, and how he would very much like to bite your nipple. He did know how to flatter you until you flew and flew to heaven. You want him so that when he is in a good mood, and sauntering all over the place like a butterfly or a romantic French boy, you can feel alive. It is only when you feel alive that you can write those captivating stories everyone on your twitter timeline talks about. When you’re sinking in self-pity, like you do when he is mad at you for no reason, or when you’ve received criticism on one of your stories, or even, when you feel ugly and fat, you feel dead, so you cannot write.

Since you started this relationship with him, you’ve been telling the world about your adventures. You put it up on your blog—Chronicles of my Part-time Lover and share it on twitter and Facebook. There was nothing special about the adventures; riding power bikes, going mountain climbing, visiting art galleries and museum—but you modified them, you glorified your tales into the kind of passion young girls purred for.

When he was happy and not brooding about his joblessness and how he was mistreated because he was “handicapped” he was your biggest inspiration. But most of the time, he was sad and would throw tantrums at you. You are very weak. You could not do anything, but upturn your lips in sadness that could not be feigned. Even with the sadness in your eyes, he would hurl insults at you. He would watch you cry, and torment you with your secret nickname—crying machine. He had once gone on to sing a song you told him in confidence that your grandmother sang to you. Ah toh le ologbo, ho jeun tan, ko palemor.He could not even pronounce the words right. You were more angry that he could not pronounce the words right, than that he brought up your childhood bed-wetting habit. While that was the most callous thing ever, you did not leave him. And you had no plan to leave him.

He would get better, you constantly consoled yourself. At least, he never raised a finger to hit you—if, and when he did, you would leave him; that was what you told yourself. At least, he called you Nkem, which was all you ever wanted—to bask in the love of the one you loved. Now you would cling to the way he said “I love you” on good days, and the way he patted your bum while you cooked. You would think about his bouts of jealousy and his overprotectiveness and feel butterflies dance flirtatiously in you.

You do not know why he grabbed his bags and left yesterday morning. All you know is that he was raging like fire in the turbulent wind and you had no dignity, so, like a firefly, you chased after him. But he pushed you away, his face as one who was utterly disgusted. Who would rub your ego? Who would cloak you with awesome compliments that your low self-esteem and inferiority complex never knew. You draw the words with your scrawny handwriting on your notepad.

Who would love me?

You want to cry because nobody would. You want to cry because there is no love for fat girls. You want to cry because now you’re thinking; maybe he is irritated by me. Maybe my fat irritates him. But you would not cry. You draw a huge ball on your note pad and you write “Hi everyone, I’m Salewa, and I’m a fatty.”

Then a lone tear falls on your notepad. But it is not for him as there would be no tears to mourn him.

Angel of Death

agbada dress

The sound of death is what wakes me up from my nap. It is a small mosquito that is dancing by my ears. My hands are pushing and slapping at it but it is trying to tell me something—about death. I do not want to listen because I know the person that has died. I rub my eyes groggily, until the blurry and hazy things in my vision stand still. I can see the angel of death standing by the net of our room. He’s dressed in a green and black pattered ankara, agbada. He even has a cap on. He has a big belly which pushes his agbada out—the way the bump of six month old pregnancy would push out a woman’s maternity gown. I know he is death because I have seen him before. I know he is death because he has a smug look on his face.

We are staring at each other—death and I. I have so many questions for him. I want to know why he came to my home next. Weren’t there other people he could have picked?

I was there the day he came to take the old man who owned the compound. It was just a year ago, and the old man had been seriously sick. We call the old man Daddy Ilaje. I saw him staring at the greenness of the landlord’s door, a smile playing around his lips. He saw me, twirled his moustache with his left hand, and with his right hand, motioned for me to come.

He whispered, slowly and charmingly in my ears, that he would be coming back for more. A few weeks later, the old woman who lived in one of the rooms in the backyard died. I did not see him that time, but I knew he was the one that picked her up—a woman who had not even been sick. She had just slipped on the wet ground and died. I was very angry because it was the old woman who used to tell me folktales. I was also angry because death was a glutton. I cried, but no one understood.

I’m determined not to cry now. The smell of death steals into me as I try to sit up, so I’m pushed back down, against the hard ground on which I have been sleeping. It smells of burnt soup mixed with the pungent smell of stale shit and urine.

My hands are beginning to itch. They itch the way they do when bedbugs slowly steal unto my skin and suck my blood. But there are no bumps now, just the itchiness, which I scratch relentlessly.

“Why won’t you please go away” I ask him in Yoruba, my small voice attempting to be loud “I don’t like you. I never would. Just leave my family alone”

He laughs. His laughter is even more sickening than the smell of death. I start towards him, more confidently as he starts to speak.

“I just wanted to tell you, I’m done with this compound dear” his voice is harsh, yet soothing. I’m near him. The angel of death has a bad odour distinct from the smell of death. He smells of garlic, cigarette and sweat—the way the louts at the bus garage normally smell. This odour mixes together with the smell of death that is painting itself on the walls of my home. “I just wanted to tell you, you won’t see me for many more years’ sweetheart”

I want to hit him, I clench my right fist, open the net and push my hands towards him—but it’s the curtain I’m pushing. There’s no one there but the green curtain of my home. This makes me angry and scared all at once. I look around—the boys are playing in the backyard. They would never believe me if I told them the angel of death has just left with sorrowful news

What if death was just joking, playing a fast one on me? What if I had only been imagining things?

I walk towards the compound’s front door, downcast. There’s a slight rumble in my stomach, and I know it’s not hunger. It is fear, dancing in me. I am wondering how I would survive. I swallow hard. I sit on the hard concrete ground. I do not care that I am still wearing my school uniform, I know that the moment my mother returns home, she would not notice it. Ordinarily, still having my uniform on, would have cost me a slap. She would be consumed in mourning the death of my father to even remember my existence.

My father. I wonder what sins he must have committed to be doomed with such a fate. Agony and pain—and a host of other evils, conspired against him. Though I’m barely six, I can tell this much. There were always so many worry lines on his face. He never smiled, and he was always looking ahead; even when he was sewing. My father loved to sew. He was a tailor, a very important one in the Bariga community even. But poverty was the order of our lives.

My father was always worrying even about the little things. He would worry about how I did not understand simple additions. He would worry about my brother, Kazeem, not doing well enough in the relay race at our inter-house sport. He would worry about his ex-wife, that she was the one orchestrating his ill lucks. He would worry about life—building a better home for us and removing the clutches of poverty that grabbed us. He would worry about my mother, the way she was boisterous, and always starting or ending arguments.

I feel like my mother is the cause of his death. Last week, she got into a fight with out late landlords wife. My father hadn’t been taken to the hospital on admission yet. He was still lying on the bed, nothing but a bag of bones, looking but not seeing, moving his lips, but not speaking. Insanity was working itself through him.

In the argument with our landlady, my mother had accused the landlady saying “We all know that you killed your husband.” That was the final straw of the argument. I couldn’t believe my mother would say that to an old nice lady and I dare say; she does have a heart of gold. The landlady, delving into her dialect—the egun dialect, spawned curses, all sorts of curses, at my mother. I saw curses rolling and dancing towards my door. It was then I first knew my father would be dying soon. Very soon.

And now he is gone. I wonder what life holds for my brothers and I, beyond today. My mother is just a cleaner, and as affordable as this “face-me-I-face-you” compound, is supposed to be, I am pretty sure she cannot afford it. I wonder if we would have to beg on the road, as the Fulani men and women do on Abeokuta Street. There are many of them there, and I wonder if they would accommodate us. I wonder if I would have to stop going to school—gladly even. I hate school. I hate the way I’m beaten every second for flimsy reasons. My teacher has wickedness running with her blood. She says the education we are getting is almost completely free, yet we are good for nothing. I listen to those words, every day, the koboko, hitting my skin, as if I am nothing but an animal. Hence, I have come to this conclusion; school is not right—at least for me. Maybe we would hawk. Bolatito might continue to his tailoring school. But Kazeem and I, might start selling plantain on the streets of Bariga. Of course, mother can do us a favour by marrying a second husband, a richer one, that can control her—that would be the ultimate plan.

If I had known that my life would head in this direction, I probably would have died at birth. I hate this life. I hate that people are saying my mother was the one killing my father. It is questionable and probably true, but I do not want them talking about it like it is their business.

My mother was always so lively during his illness—dressing well and plaiting beautiful hair styles. She was always complaining too: “I can’t go anywhere; you’re his daughters too, come look after him. I have places to go. He’s stressing me”
They only took him to the hospital a week ago, when he’d been sick for months, sickness; unknown.

My eyes flare up. The night is enveloping me, with a reassuring hug. Its darkness is soothing—but I know doom has only just arrived.

A cab screeches to a stop in the compound, and my mother comes out. Her hands are spread apart in sorrow. Then swiftly, she’s on the floor, rolling. My stepsisters are trying to carry her. The women from the compound rush towards her, weeping and trying to comfort her at once.

My mother is screaming.

Baba Bolatito is dead, oko mi ti ku

Tears are welling in my eyes. I wish there was something I could have done to stop the angel of death from visiting. I hate this scene— seeing my mother like that especially.

I bury my head on my laps, and ask for the angel of death to please come and take me away from all of this.

For Love of Peace.

girl hands

You’re just like your mother, she says. She says it as she slams the door in your face. She says it as she leaves repulsed and fuming. The words echo in your ears. She’ll be back, you say to yourself as you fold your hands against your breast, tapping your legs against the hardwood floor. Waiting, you hold on to her cogent smell that breezed through as she ran out and had stained you just a few minutes ago. You tell yourself there’s no way she can make it anywhere in the rain. She’ll be back you say. So you wait. You wait another ten minutes, and then your hands grow weary of being in that position. You grow weary of standing.

You take deep breaths watching as the rain water kisses the window—a slow romantic French kiss—almost like the one that had just happened. You bite your lips.

She hadn’t taken an umbrella. She had just taken her handbag and left, her face wet with tears that looked a lot like the rain that is customary of this winter season. She stormed out of your home like a raging wind that forcefully wanted to shake the earth—just as this wind sings against your windows and vibrates your home.

You walk towards the kitchen counter and pour yourself a drink—white wine. She’d just bought it, and you feel guilty unscrewing the cap to drink it without her. You taste it and smack your lips. You linger on the taste for long, savoring every bit of the droplet on your tongue.

Your eyes sway sadly as reality hits you hard. She wouldn’t be coming back to you. The truth literally knocks you off, as it settles in your mind that she is gone. You chased her away, the same way you slapped mosquitoes at night back in your village in another country. You chased her away, the way you blew away the ants that perched on your counter occasionally. You discarded her like she was used toilet paper.

You are not like your mother, you say to yourself. But the words are weak and flat. They sink to the bottom of your glass. They mock you with dreadful laughter.
You stare at the straw yellow color of the wine, and drink it up as if in a hurry to swallow your words.

You are not like your mother; you try to convince yourself again. The words are harsh and bitter, even against the sweet taste that lingers in your taste buds. You cannot believe she made the comparison, despite everything you told her about hating your mother.

You conjure the last image you have of your mother in your head and suddenly, it smells of your childhood again. It smells like the bitter leaf you grew at the backyard when you were young. It intensely feels like the day your mother left you and your father, without even flinching. It smells like the untouched food of rice and fish stew on the dining table cooked by your mother, the day she left. It smells of the older woman that came to pick her up.

You remember the older woman’s harsh face, her sarcastic smile, and her distant eyes. You remember the older woman’s beautiful things, the excess golden bangles and rings on her hands and fingers, the excess strawberry scented body spray, the heavy red lipstick, the brand new red Toyota corolla that matched her suit. You remember the older woman’s condescending eyes as she stared at the dingy shack you called your home. You also remember your mother standing beside the older woman, holding her hands, a smug smile on her face, announcing that she was leaving you, and your father, to be with this woman.

A million feelings rush through you now, as it did that day, ranging from genuine surprise to hate. But it’s not that day. You’re a grown woman now and here—with hair, full breast and wide hips. You’re strong and tall, a replica of your handsome father, even in his frailness.

You told Alafia—your half-caste friend, everything. You told her how your weak Father died a slow slippery death because your mother had left him at a critical point in his life. You told her how she had left him when he was poor and dying—and stank of potion and pills. You told her how you had watched him die. You told her how your Mother had beaten your father once in his illness, when he defecated in his pants. You told her all these because you had slowly taking a liking for Alafia. She had become your drug—to save you from the pain of these memories.

You always think of the bitter leaf you used to grow as a child. The native doctor who came to your house once a week to administer drugs to your father had told you bitter leaf was a good drug for his strange illness. You think of the failures of the bitter leaf, and the way you and the bitter leaf tree had bonded as if it was your pet. When you’re hungry for complete peace, you plug in your head phones, listening to beauty of Enya’s gibberish. You’d try to chant with her. You’d try to float in the air, as Enya songs made you feel that light. But none of these gave peace of mind well, as speaking to Alafia about your life problems.

You pour yourself some more wine. Do you regret the actions that sent Alafia running? Your now silent home answers you back. You stare at the lines of water on your window—it still reminds you of the kiss. You do not regret experimenting. You do not regret what would have been called an abomination by the old women in your village.

You think of your earlier acts; how you had kissed your best friend. When you reached out to her cheeks, you had been having one of your heart to heart with her, her listening ears being the only harmony you needed. You felt hazy as you touched her soft cheek, a whirlwind spinning in your mind while your subconscious screamed for you to stop.

It felt like something you’d always wanted to do, with her.

No, you do not regret trying. You do not regret trying to know if you were attracted to her lush light skin, almost as creamy white as that of the Caucasians you live among, or attracted to her full red lips as you’d found yourself more than once, staring intently at them. It was almost a full minute before she withdrew from the kiss, pushing you away. Her face was white as one who had seen a ghost; a mixture of fear and a bit of anger.

Are you like your Mother? You ask yourself, the bottle of white wine to your lips. There’s no answer. The wind, the rain, the otherwise silence—they don’t answer you. You do not regret kissing Alafia, but does that make you gay as your mother was? You smile, then you frown. You do not know.