Thursday, June 08, 2006

Said He to the Fly

In the corners of a lonely room, where the only contact with the world was a bad colour-television and an uncharged mobile phone, the author would look around and think of nothing more to do than count the squares in the ceiling. And this not for too long, for the size of each of the nine was often large enough to pass over, and sometimes too small to count to the end. Time ticked, trickled like water leaking from a rusty pipe. On the wall was nothing but two drawings of him, each of which bore different semblances of his different moods, but nonetheless a product of one and the same picture. He savoured erratic temperament of the artist's muse which had failed to for once be consistent when the artist worked. Or how else would he explain the very obvious discrepancies even in the age of the subject of the two pencil drawings but to believe that it could actually have been another god - maybe that of wine - who brought the mischief lag in-between two drawings. The reasons given for making the second drawing at all was that he had atone for the rough handling of the first. Afterall, the poet had paid only for one, wishing all night that a self-portrait in pencil will achieve a quality desired and worthy of some future use. But what the artist could not explain, but was now obvious more than words could express to this commissioner, this poet, was why one of the drawings, made from one and the same photograph depicted him younger than the other. It was him alright, but the first one - the one roughly done, perhaps in vino tinto, showed someone stern, focused, and quite like a pensive poet he would not mind to portray. The second had a smaller head, same posture, same shirt - actually from the same photo he took on the lawn under the tree where the Kenyan photographer taught him swahili a little over a year earlier. But this version somehow had a younger, naive and quite innocent look. He surely had looked like that at some point in his life, but surely not here, and he had not commissioned a drawing to underrate his admired pose in that solo photo. The visitors to the room who, out of curiosity, had peeled off the top cardboard to glimpse the other one behind it never for once agreed on which one represented him the most. And only a few agreed that it was not just vanity that made him prefer the older, more serious look to the other. They agreed, however that whoever did the drawing was good. And indeed he was.

Mosquitoes ruled the night. In addition to the cold, he reviled them. And in his angry swatting at the air in the dead of the night, his shirt as a tool, he still thought of the human error to kill a wrong fly. Maim an innocent fly while scouting just for those mosquitos that would not even keep quiet to hide their presence but would taunt him awake from a much deserved rest.

"They would blame themselves alone for looking like a mosquito." He thought.

Èmí-in mi Èmí-in re

The following is a translation of the poetry of a Yoruba poet/ewi chanter. One of his most famous pieces of oral poetry released in 1984(?) and published in text in 2002, "Èmí-in mi Èmí-in re" is loosely translated to My love, life (is) your life your love. The following is only a part.

All rights for this translation is reserved.

My love is your love, there's none else on earth.
Come home dear and sweeten me in splendour.
My dear, eyes in a pair do see clearer
and feet in twos walk better in grace.
Beaded waists, being double can sit gloriously.
Oyinkanola,
Hold me now
Let our bodies touch, for good.
My heart is your heart; there's none else alive.

An ear does not befit the head
--nor one sandal the leg.
Rid of the thumb, the hand is but one ugly stump,
and without ears, our head will resemble a useless log.
Ears-glorify-the-head, that is what I call one who loves
and is loved in return.
So let our heads touch, and lips too
let's lie on each other and let our chests embrace
in sweet dialogue.

You are the snail and I the pot,
I long you to cover up, where lies your exit??.
You're the shrub and I the squirrel,
tonight, I climb you to the top.
You are the shooting star and I the moon,
this evening, I take you to heaven's gate
where lights surpass each other
and till dawn will my moon outshine the stars.

Love is the biggest commandment, people.
People, let's make love.
Only love can keep six people in a small room.
Without love, there's strife. Let's strive.
Strive to keep our loves burning hot...

The weevil that eats the vegetable leaf is probably justified,
Oludoyinsola, my love, I tell you,
there is a limit to the leaves' extravagant beauty.
...

My love is your love, none else exists.
Hold me now like pillars hold the roof.
My heart is yours and for none else alive.
Touch me now, like spider webs and shrubs bind themselves in the jungle.
Hold me now; beloved,
like sperm and ova embracing in the dark bosom
towards becoming a pretty infant babe.
Two on two, perfect on perfect,
let our eyes meet, let our lips touch;
face to face, the border's clear;
My heart is yours, yours mine, my love, there's none else alive...

...

Now come home, like it's done,
sweetie, why wait, come home.
As you have heard:
You are old enough. Do come home.
The yam that delays loses the company of long fish stew.
The rain corn that waits vainly
will only miss the joy of bean cake and fried bean ball.
That damsel that stalls needlessly
is only denying herself the prompt ritual of a new born.
You are old enough, one with graceful breasts.
Don't wait to level up with the farmer,
Ajoke Oyindamola, come home and retire.

...

Odidere is the cult, others are the uninitiated.
When you enter the ant's nest, I'm with you.
Even if you go into the soldier ant's underground cave
It's you and me.
Now, it may even be heaven's large yard - dear -
With a palm nest rope, I'll climb with you up there.
Only he who can count the fishes in the deep
can count all my heartfelt love for you.

My love is yours, and my heart wholly too;
There's no such else on the surface of the world.


Postscript

Sixteen whole brakes
is what women are known to have
But the man who takes the first away
surely too must possess the second.

A woman is not seen useful
during pleasure and fanfare;
Let's wait till it's bad and discomforting
to see the darling, longsuffering wife.

The acquaintance can never be compared to the road guide.
When the guide turns and leaves,
When things become too hard:
Only true acquaintance will show us out.

Trans. 2005/1

Headfirst into the Meddle

Headfirst into the Meddle
ISBN 978361427, Khalam Collective, Ibadan. 2005/3

Growing up never has been easy and most of us have experienced some sort of bewilderment as one enters this weird adult world. An aversion to melt with the main flow, to lose one's individuality and freedom can lead to hesitation and mere mimic of the required initiation rites. Thus, although appearing mature and confident outside, a person might still remain a child within and with a child eye's s/he then sees the world and with a child's mouth questions it all. Days of high spirits and the sense to see beyond the plain material then can be chased by hours drained in low esteem and the fruitless search of some worthwhile ambition. Furthermore, in later years, love sneaks in and clouds one's mind, especially when nobody seems to love one back. As you might agree, such egocentric contemplation only disturbed by worlds bad news can wear out even the strongest mind.

The work compiled in this fine collection, is a testimony of many idle hours in which the author Tubosun with nothing more than a pen fought against those inner demons and an environment hostile towards juvenile dreamers. Some of the pieces created in this way were inspired by his own childhood and later years on campus, while others are completely fictitious but nevertheless add the picture of the so-far made journey which still uncompleted will cause the reader to reflect and wonder.

Anja Choon
March 2005

Enquiries to iGwatala@gmail.com

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Poet and Nomad

Nomad? Yes, but not in the sense of true homelessness even though I have sometimes had to battle with the thought of a deeper kind of "lostness" and ubiquity. This nomadic ubiquity - or the desire to always be on the move, and see new places is from a far deeper consciousness that I am yet to be able to understand, or explain. And even within movements such as one that has sent me up north to cold Jos pleateau on National Service, I have found chance meetings with the past in empty abandon of restless trivia which belongs only to a time almost too long forgotten. In this cocoon of constant procession is the shuffling pack of what was, and what would be, without a thin line that blurs all the difference. Imagine Moses on the mountaintop with the best view of Canaan ahead but locked in a least-explainable dilemma of his own place in the multitude below.

CULTURAL CRAZE-FLUX STROLL DÉJÀ VU

Forward moving in paces mothers laid
Are steps taken now on paths trod times before.
A road winds thin here as new beginning
Though ever yet as constant trampling floor.

At once new, at once old, time flies
Once set free, once browsing on strange human ties
Old times bred new by fresh human forms
Still move me to recurring life paths of stray norms.

Being here, divine flesh onward on preying hands
For true meed meal had wandered free alive,
Shapes of mores mixed breed with human dream bands
All fly apart anew, again on real, now needful strive.

I can only wish, only vainly hope:
Real storms still drive on time's twenty-rope.


(Written in stupor on attempted reflection. The accomplices on the late-night binge were Benaiah Eluma, David Brown and Chris Ihidero March 2005, Niser Ibadan.)

Poem

To Her Father's Lover

Wonders seek way from hard, heartless tones
and stronger strangling laws that bid me stare
as weight of sleep hangs on mind twice depressed:
my only love lay on her father's chest.

I stare, blame, with all futile strength
espoused to filmsy flames of some sealed settled woe
betide. Twice reclined moan. She's laid there spread:
it confounds thought from lately tired head.

What do I say when sand fills the mouth
and rote replaced by nods to earlier claims?
Drum rolls away for the dark drapes drawn
to fast forestall a well deserved dawn!

You talk of love, despise my noble fear
to rid this smell since now more tears appear.

Graffiti

"LOSS OF HAND-SET IS AT OWNER'S RISK PLEASE TAKE CARE."

Seen at NYSC Orientation camp in Jos, 2005.