Author: Oge.O

I always find it hard to write about myself ... Part of me wants to write something deep and alluring but the other part is having a hard time coming up with something deep and alluring

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So this is the story I wrote (last minute tanks to Nina’s persuasion) over a year ago for the Farafina Workshop Shop last year. I didn’t get in, I didn’t even think I would but at least I tried. Please read and feel very free to drop your suggestions, thoughts, criticism in the comments.

Thank you!

 

Prices are increasing.
Everything is now expensive, we’re getting by but still. Yesterday my mother was calculating how much it costs to fuel two cars and a generator in a week. The other day the mallam that sold suya had all types of vegetables but no tomatoes. I jokingly mentioned it to my aunty that it’s that bad now.
“Aha, tomato” he said while arranging sticks of meat on a  rusty yellow tray
“E don cost no be small”
He wore an ugly looking silver ring on his oily finger. For some reason I continued to stare at the mallam’s oily fingers as he continued to arrange his ware. His apprentice poured more oil from an old bottle on the meat and turned them over.
I continued to stare and inhale the smoke
* * *
I spoke to my father today. Nothing out of the ordinary. The usual how are yous, how’s your health. The only thing out of the ordinary is that I haven’t seen my father in three years. Over the years people have asked “Don’t you miss your father”. I always shrug it off, and tell them not really. Now see, my father wasn’t around much while growing up so I guess I’m used to it. So I use his absence to cover up for my moody days or when my roommate catches me crying. People tend to buy that lie. A lot.
But today I asked a question I never asked in three years
“Are you still coming home this summer”
“Yes of course now, sometime in July. Just a month and half”
I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes are watery. “How’s Uncle Amaechi”

I’m staring at the table .I’m staring lot at things lately
* * *
I’m sitting here staring at students walk by. Most of them are walking blindly, looking at single sheets of paper in their hands with writings on it. It’s exams, nobody is walking slowly.
Sitting opposite the bus park, waiting for my friend and I start to think of him.
We’re arguing a lot nowadays. He says I’m uptight and far from sensitive. I don’t argue about the latter. He once told me he had a love-hate thing for this artistic side of mine. He loves it but it makes him think I’ll drift away at some point. All I could say to that was “Shit happens”
He doesn’t like the way I go neither do I but I agree with him. We have no spark anymore so there’s no need wasting time.
I’m sitting down,  staring at students walk by and I’m thinking about him.
* * *
As much as prices are increasing, we’re getting by. We still find time to laugh. I’m sitting at the verandah with my mother and aunty . There’s no light so we’re entertaining ourselves with small talk. Someone’s approaching the gate, it’s the landlord’s son
“I’m sure he has gotten to smoke again” I say breaking the silence
Mummy lifts her hand to slap the mosquito on her arm
“If you see the girl he brought the other day ehn, ike ya ra ka basin. Her bum was as big as a basin”
I try to hold it but I can’t. Mummy’s laughing so hard that she starts to cough.
At that moment I realize that we will be fine, that I will be fine. I’ll leave home soon and I don’t feel like I have the ability to survive without my mother guiding me. I’m afraid one day, he would come back with that smile and say in that low deep voice “I miss you” and our tragic love story will repeat itself. Over and over I’ve chosen the love that has hurt me. The type that drains me to my bones even though on the outside it looks like it did not leave a scratch.  I feel like my identity isn’t mine sometimes and there is so much that I can do but I don’t try. I have words in my head that I can’t get out no matter how hard I try. It is these words that cause me to turn and be restless till 4 in the morning. But still I’ll be fine.
* * *
Every where is quiet. Everyone’s asleep already except from me. I’m not restless today instead I am calm but still there’s no sleep so I’m staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness. My phone beeps. I pick up it up to read the text with no intention of answering it. The message was simple,
“Kedu”
At that moment I have no strength to lie. “We’re not fine but we’ll be fine, nothing’s wrong.” That’s all I say.
Idi kwa sure? Are you sure?”
As simple as this question is, nothing prepares me for it. I break down and start to cry. Every thing feels like a mess, I’m a mess. I’m crying and staring at the ceiling in pitch darkness but the tears makes everything blurry.
Just like everything around me.

 

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The House My Grandfather Built

22 Umunogo, Enugu
The door reminds me of the house my grandfather built
Both my parents are from Anambra State and they both grew up in Enugu. No they meet each other as kids so this is not a childhood love story. In a way it could be a childhood love story, it could be one of my childhood love stories on how I fell in love with Enugu .

In the house my grandfather built is where I spent a handful of my summers growing up. I didn't know how many flats where in one big building but I knew one or two families were from our hometown . In this house there was no Enid Blyton but Mabel Segun. I would read and after I was done I would pass it down to my cousin. Sometimes he could like to claim that he was the same age as me. I would remind him that he could only say this on this birthday and if he dared I would remind him the next day which was my birthday that he wasn't anymore. He would look at me and smile "nwanne m".

It is in this same house that my uncle would make us memorize Psalm 91 and recite it to him a week later, each person going into the room while others would wait outside the door hoping not to forget when it was their turn.
I remember pouring cold water on our heads in between memorizing because it felt too hot. My Aunty looked at us , laughed and shook her head with her facial expression a mixture of amusement and pity.

It is in this house that we would sneak out on Sunday mornings by 7:30 to attend a church service that started by 6. It was simple. Wake up, wash your face, change then escape. We would walk close to the walls of the house so as not to be seen by any relative who happened to look out the window. When returning by 8:30, we would decide on a topic that we 'had been taught' in Sunday School. It was better than the 9am Sunday school that finished by 3

In this same house, my Aunty would make us translate all our game songs from English to Igbo. "Na'asu Igbo, speak Igbo " . And in order to be sure, she would stand there and supervise us. Imagine jumping and translating 'Humpty dumpty, stop, every body stop' to Igbo. I remember telling my mother's younger sister that the Igbo the children next door spoke was funny. She laughed, "ha na'asu Awka, they're speaking the Awka dialect"

It is here that I would learn that roasted plantain isn't just a snack, it's a meal. Plantain with palm oil, ugba, with bits of fish and kpomo was a meal. And a good one. On some days it was abacha with fried fish and uziza. I remember one summer I went from a 48 to a 51. Sometimes my cousins and I would gather enough money to buy Pepsi and biscuits. There was some joy in dipping Coaster biscuits in a cup of Pepsi.

I visited Enugu again few months ago , after many years. The house had a new paint. The people who lived there most certainly didn't recognize me , I didn't spend enough time for them to be told "That is Oge, nwa Chinweoke ba'ni , our Chinweoke's daughter". My cousin tried to claim he was the same age as me and I gave him a side look and he smiled "nwanne m" . He has just a year left to get his engineering degree. Uncle Obiora still has the shop downstairs. The small red canopy that served as a Catholic Church opposite the house has been replaced by a wall .
My uncle has moved but brings his children back now and then.
My mother's younger sister has her own children and lives in Maryland. The other day on the phone she asked me "Can you still say Psalm 91 by heart?" . It was my turn to laugh.
I can't pronounce Igbo words in my mother's dialect neither do I know how many flats are in this big building.
I stood on the same balcony that we used to listen to catechism from, with my cousin beside me. Just like the generation before me, my children will stand on this balcony. They would translate their game songs from English to Igbo.
The door is still the same and I can't recite Psalm 91 by heart.

Travel Chronicles

I met a boy once.
His name was Alex.
Okay I didn't necessarily meet that boy named Alex , I sat two seats and an aisle away from a boy named Alex.

So I sat two seats and an aisle away from a boy named Alex on a flight from Los Angeles to Paris. No I don't go on fancy vacations because I can't afford it, Paris was a stop over. I know his name is Alex because I heard him introduce himself to the lady who sat next to him. Alex wore glasses and had a stripped cardigan on which matched his socks. Both stripped but different colours. Alex had light brown hair with streaks of blonde. And also a beautiful smile. He was super nice to the old lady who sat beside him. Not technically beside beside because there was an empty chair between them. From the conversation, Alex talked about how beautiful Tahiti had been when he visited. I just listened and stole glances when I could because the lady besides me wasn't much of a conversationalist. I mean I smiled and said hi but didn't get a response. I met Alex's glance twice or thrice, I can't really remember. I'm sure he won't remember the girl in a grey cardigan with blue twists. And there's a greater possibility that he was just looking over my head or pass me.
We would never find out.
So I took got off that plane with my hand luggage and an unrealistic funny short story on how I fell in love on a 12 hours flight. I would tell this story to my friend while at the airport and almost miss my flight back to Lagos.

Months later I would be reminded of Alex when I sat next to a girl at the airport in Ethiopia waiting on our connecting flight. No I don't go on fancy vacations because I can't afford it, Ethiopia was a stop over too. She had a 3b/c afro which I thought was beautiful and I couldn't stop admiring her piercings. We shared a smile and confusion on whether the next flight boarding was ours or not. While sitting there , I noticed she had a bag of things, looked like souvenirs to me from where she had visited.
I would stand next to this same girl at LAX waiting to pick up our luggage. While I waited for my two boxes which of course one was filled with food stuffs ( a Nigerian that travels without food stuffs is that a Nigerian?) , she picked up her over sized camp bag and left. I stared at the fully grown tree tattooed on her ankle, silently wishing her good luck with whatever growth she had or wanted in life.
I should have asked her for her name.

I am grateful for French air hostesses who mispronounce your surname but escort you to board your almost missed flight.
I am grateful for different stop overs that make me feel like a seasoned traveller even though I have only two stamps from two different countries on my passport.
I am grateful for friends that keep you company with the aid of airport WiFi.
I should start collecting souvenirs , even from stop overs.
I should have taken a picture of that beautiful sunrise I saw from an airport window.
I should tell strangers that they are beautiful.
I should ask for names.
So I am grateful for Alex and the girl with the tree tattoo on her ankle.
It feels good to write again.

– for Alex and the girl with the tree tattoo on her ankle.

One Day

Nne m, I’m restless 

I want to tell your stories, I want to tell our stories

My pen is blunt and my tongue heavy

But these stories will be told

Truths reveled , sworn secrets exposed 

All hell will be let loose

Promise me one thing Nne

That when your truth is reveled, my truth reveled 

That I can still sit by your feet and rest my head on your laps 

Rub my back til I fall asleep and call me nne m

‘Creator’ 

For those who we can sit down with, open ourselves to old and new things

For those who accept their imperfections and our imperfections 

For those who accept a total stranger from Nigeria with an immense show of love 

For him who is not afraid to speak his truth 

For her who is far from home but building a home 

For teaching a young girl that she too can speak to a spirit 

That one cold night with words accompanied by soothing sounds ,  is what she carries continually with her 

                                      – thank you 

So for my last post ‘Jigida’ I decided to take a few pictures since the ones I found on the internet were : 

1. A little too explicit 

2. Lacked that  ‘je ne sais quoi’ 

So I decided to take pictures myself. 

After my brief ‘photog’ moment, the post picture was chosen and I was left with a couple more. So decided to share them here
So featuring: 

Beads – mine 

Back drop- my mother’s materials that I wished I own and still hope I own

The pictures were taken with a phone camera and some the Snapchat app.

Hope you enjoy them 😊





 




  
                                           – Oge.O ❤️

Hey! 

Happy New Month! 

It’s been over two months since my last post. And well I was waiting still I got that one picture that just said I-still-look-fab-despite-the-shit-I-have-been-through-be-inspired-by-me. But then *throws hands up* …hey.

I was really going to come up with this one inspirational or really deep post, but it seemed my poetic words aren’t just there. I can’t bundle up a whole lot in just few lines this time around. So instead I’ll talk about what has happened this few weeks. 
1. The Big 2.0 ! 

I happen to have left my teen years behind me. No lie whenever it’s almost my birthday, I’m not excited until few hours to the 7th. Instead it’s anxiety, mostly anxiety. Anxious that I’m getting old and I still don’t have things figured out. But thankfully I have friends who can make you smile and give you badass face beat 


2. Conversations I Never Had

There are issues you never want to remember or re visit or conversations you just think “Oh it’s done it’s done, I’ll probably never talk to this person again” . But deep inside you want to talk about it with those certain people about those certain issues. Tired of having those conversations with yourself, displaying those emotions only within you. The scene might never happen, that closure might not happen and you can’t keep living your life in a cycle. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

3. Forgiveness et Regrets 

‘First forgive thyself. Ye can only give what thy hasth ‘ 

I feel that should be a quote somewhere in the Bible or a Shakespear play. I have learnt that some of the burden we carry within ourselves is the burden of unforgiveness . Not only towards other people but to ourselves. I can’t give what I don’t have. I can’t forgive you if I can’t forgive myself. 


I have decided to live by this. Or try to at least.

Most things I felt really useless or guilty for actually did make me smile, one way or the other and many times! So why should I regret my various moments of happiness even though some of them were short lived? 

So instead choose not to regret your happiness.

4. Mental Illness 

So sometime in November, my class went on a one week trip to the Neuropsychiatric Hospital at Abeokuta, or like we call it Aro. Through out that week we had classes and Ward Rounds. I bet you three years of psychology classes didn’t prepare most of us for saw. And no we didn’t see people tied up with chains, uncombed hair and laughing hysterically. No that is not just what mental illness is all about. You have people like you and I walking around , attending therapy sessions, take their medications, a few relapses, playing football. People my age, parents , people younger than me. People who have just literally started achieving things , people who have achieved way more than I have 

Life just deals us different cards and nobody is above mental illness.

On a lighter note , I did take some pictures at Aro. Even though half of my course mates were all about how the place needed a ‘face lift’ , making it look really modern. Aro has this aura of serenity 




Yes there are lots of trees at Aro  


I would have loved to take pictures of few old stone houses I saw. They had chimneys, gardens surrounded by lots of trees. I thought they were beautiful and my friend was like “Ehen Olivia won’t you take a picture, see the kind of thing you like. But we had gotten to a dead end and it was super dark and it felt like a scene from a horror movie. No lie.


But this picture is my favourite for some reason. I always found myself looking for this very gray door with the stairs everyday. 

5. Art of Breathing 

Sometimes, all you need to do is breathe. Just breathe. I remember during this semester at some point I had a long week and I decided one afternoon I was just going to watch a movie and sleep. I get to my bed and it is soaked. Apparently someone (me) had left water on the bed and it was everywhere. My pillow, wrapper. I stared at it and I just put my head down. My whole body was ready to channel the physical, emotional and academic stress of the past few weeks into anger. And my friend is hovering around me “Olivia are you crying, it would dry”. I raised my head up and said “I can’t kill my self” 

Load work of assignments, final year project, uncertainty in career choice, relationship/ situation-ship , uncertainty in various areas of life … breathe because no lies. If I don’t breathe I will die and I know I’m not going out like this 

6. Pretty Bubble also known as Personal Space 

Which some people choose to poke and poke and continue poking . Like people don’t even poke anymore on Facebook why are you doing this!!!!!!! No I don’t want breathe, I want you to learn to respect this invisible pretty bubble that you can’t see but you know exists. Sometimes you have to tell them I need a little time or space to myself, don’t touch me, my things, my parts because just don’t. This bubble is pink and bubbly don’t unbubble the bubbliness I beg you . 

Sometimes you can’t .

You just can’t