I don’t know, don’t ask me

There’s a thud thud in my chest
that isn’t blood pumping to my heart
a thud thud in my chest
like a fist of fear
a lump of trepidation
halfway between my mouth and my stomach
a ball water won’t push down.

I don’t know what is wrong, don’t ask me.

It’s been like this
for a while now.

So maybe its a phase
Mood swings that have refused to simmer
that keep rising
like when okro boils and pours out of the pot.

I really don’t know, don’t ask me.

But today I want to lay down and cry.
Weep even.
Long drawn sobs that would leave me shaken
But I don’t know how much more shaken I could be
This thud thud in my chest
This sigh
This I don’t know what this is.

I don’t know don’t ask me.

Gently, Gently

If we tell you say
Gently gently
Soffry soffry
Small small
Man no be load
No carry am for head
You go talk say
Because we never marry.

If we tell you say
Gently gently
Pele pele
No cry no cry
Them no tie you put for there
Man wey dey beat you
Na animal him be
You go talk say
He love you, and you love am too.

Oh ho!

We sef go love oh.

But he go be man
Wey no need to beat woman
To prove him manness.
And he no go be head of family for mouth
Sidon
Cross leg
Watch TV
Make him slave feed am
Feed him children join
Come lie down, open leg
Make he knack
Like say tomorrow no dey.

If we tell you say
Go school go school
Learn work learn work
Shine eye shine eye
As woman
Wey you be
If you no hold your own for hand
This world go leave you for back go front.

As You No Do Again

You say you no do again
Just like that
E pain me die
I no be Jackie Chan
But e for better
Make I fall down
From 10 storey building
Make I
Break waist
Break leg
Break hand
Break head join.
You say you no do again
I no fit cry
I no know when I begin cry.
Shuo, man like you?
Guy, rest.
Oya now, tell me
How I wan take do again
Where I fit see your type again
Who you sabi wey fit laugh like you
Laugh me when I dey stupid
Laugh me like say I funny
Who go fit
Put my head for her chest
Yarn me say make I no worry
Say we broke now no mean say na forever
Come enter kitchen turn the garri.
Which market I go see your kind love buy
If you tell me where e dey
If you show me who dey sell
I go leave you go buy
But I never see, e no dey market
And your love na my cocaine.

If We Talk

If we talk

Them go say we too dey talk

But wetin God give us mouth for

No be only to chop oh

No be only to chop

Because na here I sidon

Na here we sidon

We, me, Mama Chigo and Nene

For front of Nene shop

Nene never marry oh, but she don born one

Na front of her shop we sidon

When one big jeep

Big big Jeep like this

Black

Wey dey shine

We no even fit see the inside

Nene say na tinted glass

Oho

Me I no know that one

Big jeep

Black

Wey dey shine

With tinted glass

Come park for front of barracks

That 3 story face me I face you

Face me I slap you

No be Lagos we dey?

Person comot village dey sleep under bridge

But na Lagos he dey

For him mind.

The big Jeep come park for front of barracks

Na him Osho wife

Osho wey just marry

That small fine, lepa girl

I no know where he see am marry

Osho wife come out

Do leg kpree kpree kpree

Enter jeep

I no see am oh

No be me talk am oh

If we talk

Them go say we too dey talk.

Talatu

I should build you a shrine

In the corner of my room

My heart is full of potchmarks and scars

A place unsuitable for a goddess like you.

I should build you a shrine

A temple

An altar

To worship.

Plant verses at your feet

Kisses for my piety

My heart out for your love.

But what god does not acknowledge her faithful

And turns deaf to a prayer.

I’ll build a shrine for you in my room

New religion

Old convert

Same sin

Loving you.

Whether I Love You

I been dey deep inside you

Preek inside toto

When you ask me say I love you?

Whether I love you?

Kai this woman.

No be with penis dem dey take love woman.

E follow

But no be with penis.

Because e still get woman wey I go chook preek inside

Wey nothing concern me with

Wey I no go get shingbain feelings for

You get?

But see as I dey stroke you

Dey give you the preek

Dey suck your boobie as you dey moan for my ear

My toes don curl sef

Something wey never happen to me before when I dey knack woman

My brain wan burst

I dey reason make I no cum quick

Inside this your sweet toto

Wey wet die

Like say them put am oil

Abi tell me

You get crude oil inside you?

Black gold

As I dey drill

As you dey whyne waist

As your bobbie dey bounce

Tell me, you get oil inside you?

This toto sweet die

This toto go kill me

I go die on top am

Something must kill a man

You come ask me

Whether I love you

I weak

But as I sharp reach

I pause from the drilling

Look you for eye

Kiss you

Come tell you say I love you

And for the first time I know say no be my penis dey talk.

Sometime in May

There was no power through the night. Thankfully it wasn’t hot. He would have had to deal with her irritation at the sweltering heat that sometimes ravaged the room. He couldn’t remember a deliberate attempt to cuddle, but they seemed to be in that position, his right arm feeling numb under her, her naked buttocks facing him. The cover cloth was strewn carelessly half over them, he pulled it up and covered her and then gently retrieved his aching arm from under her.

“Whatever you do please don’t wake me, you promised I can sleep all I want.” She said faintly, half awake.

He smiled.

“Yes, you can. But you are at least going to eat breakfast.”

“Leave me alone.”

Ugh.

Sleep still hung over his eyes like cobwebs. He grabbed his boxers and put it on, and sauntered to the couch. He wondered where his phone was. Probably dead. Every other morning he would have been miffed at a dead phone when he needed to talk to her first thing when he woke up. And asked her how her night was, and when her classes today would hold, and what she would have for breakfast, and if she had completed her assignment before she went to bed last night. This morning she was in his bed. Her gentle head nestled on the pillow, mouth open in a slight drool. She was as cute as a baby.

*************************************

It took him 30 minutes to convince her to take a walk with him. The market wasn’t far, and he didn’t want to get things for breakfast she wouldn’t exactly want. They’ll make up their mind on the way. She won’t see anyone she knows. Yes, he promised her pancakes. Fine, they’ll get flour. Yes. They’ll have Twinnings. Wait, what was Twinnings.

“You don’t know Twinnings? How can you not know Twinnings?” She was exasperated.

“What’s Twinnings and why am I supposed to know it?”

“How exactly have you been living if you don’t know Twinnings?”

“Is it like a life support system or something?”

She rolled her eyes.

“Do you know Laceal?”

“No.”

“Good. So you see, whatever your Twinnings is it isn’t the end in end.”

“Ok, wait so didn’t you read 50 Shades of Grey?”

“Naah. It was tedious.” And he made a face like it brought unpleasant memories.

“Ok, no need.” She fell silent.

Minutes later shopping for breakfast was done. And he had gotten Twinnings. Strawberry and Echinacea flavoured Twinnings tea.

She stirred her cup and watched him break eggs into a bowl. She wasn’t sure how exactly she had willed herself to be here, skipping school was a risk with consequences she was still going to face, to be here all weekend long. He promised serenity, and cuddles, and pancakes. In return she had offered fried plantain, and to stay nude for him. What were they thinking? But she was here now. And he was happy. She wasn’t sure if she was. She was just a rolling stone, and he, was just a mushy soul.

*************************************

She said she’ll be fine alone. Besides she needed to sleep. He said he won’t be long. She moved her mouth away when he tried to kiss her. He was going to lock her in, was she ok, she wouldn’t feel like a locked in pet? She told him to go away. He dialled the number as soon as he locked the padlock. He spoke quickly into the phone. He apologised for not calling earlier, he couldn’t get away from her. Yes they were still on course, everything was to go on as planned. He would be there in 30 minutes. Jumaat service was in 45 minutes.

Friday afternoons in Zaria meant among other things that traffic was a chaos. Once a bus stopped him and other passengers midway to their destination, the driver and conductor abandoning their vehicle, they were going to pray. He expected a refund. He didn’t get it. They mouthed something in hausa, he didn’t get that too. Today, like every friday was, faithfuls trooped to the mosque for prayers, mats under their armpits, jalabia flowing in the arid wind of the north. An old 504 horned in the distance, he hurried, it was for him. Soon he was in the front seat. The driver drove. Silence.

“Park here.” The driver obeyed.

“Take this money and don’t come back here.” The driver nodded.

“Thank you. You’ve been very good to me.”

“Thank God. Now go. I have work to do.”

“Be careful.” He said and waved, then turned and went on his way.

Khalib, opened the trunk of the car. A criss cross of wires ran across through it. He inspected it carefully, this was the easy part, the most part of the job was done already. He closed the trunk of the car, carefully, nothing could go wrong from here on.

*************************************

The explosion reverberated through the town. People said they felt the walls shake as far away as across the rail line. All was calm now from the initial chaos that erupted at the wake of the blast. Nobody died. Ahlamdulilai. This Boko Haram people, what do they want? There were rumours flying around. They were targeting the Imam of the market mosque. No, university students. You know they sent letter of warning one time like that. No, that was BUK they sent letter to. The government needed to do something. This country wasn’t safe anymore.

He walked dazed into the compound. He had managed to dodge the maze of people gathered in front of the house. No one knew what happened. People were making calls. Was he there? Did anyone die? He ignored the questions. One silly neighbour was screaming hysterically. She came to Zaria to school oh, not to die in the hands of Boko Haram. She was going home. Why didn’t UNILAG give her admission? What sort of life is this?

She sat up, when he opened the door.

“Oh my God, what happened to you? What happened, talk to me? Where were you?”

He collapsed into her arms. Her weight could barely hold him. She let him lie on the bed. His ashen face staring blankly at her.

“I’m thirsty. I need water.”

She panicked just a little bit. But she brought a sachet of ‘pure water’ to his trembling lips. He sipped a little. Said he was fine. He wanted to sleep. He’ll be fine. He was in shock she told herself. Don’t let him sleep, he’ll never wake up.

“No! Sit up. Talk to me, tell me what happened. I heard the explosion.” Her face was stricken with fear.

He read somewhere that a couple were likely to fall in love with each other more deeply when in the face of danger. He honestly hoped @Uberfacts was right. He had taken too much risk.

Caleb Maiye.
Living, Loving, Dying.