SCREENSHOTS
by Anthony Nonso Dim

Episode One

The first Sunday after your thirtieth birthday in July was the day you dashed into your small apartment with one hand pressed into the middle of your buttocks to keep a hole shut. Although you rushed, your gait was unsteady, as though one of your legs had grown shorter – it mostly happened when you were pressed. Heading to your desk you grabbed a roll of toilet papers in a scrambling rush, panting as you made your way to the toilet where you winced and pouted until you sweated, and every object in the world at that moment trembled out of focus as if in a blur.
It didn’t come out even though you could see on your reflection in the tiled walls that the veins of your neck were pronounced like roots of a plant. You slapped the tiled wall on your right, groaned breathlessly. Your body released a loud fast fart instead, the string sound of a faulty bass guitar. The smell didn’t make you feel light-headed as other days. Your eyes rather shone in surprise at this sound, you would have said “Who did that?” if you had not been alone. The stuff wouldn’t come out still even though you gasped like a woman in labor and your mouth had been opened to capacity.
Now you were in-between feeling disturbed and feeling confused about this witless paradox: you had rushed to the toilet because of this, and yet it chooses not to come out.
You felt pangs of pains like someone was pushing a sharp stone into your anus and you wanted to fight back. Your stomach roared.
In this desperate struggle you now understood why it had been said that your neighbors had sung praise and worship while groaning in toilet. You regretted that you had laughed it off when Mama Chioma told you, you wondered whether this experience was karma as a result of your obliviousness and lack of empathy.
“Heeelphie!, Heeelp mieeey!” you groaned “Help hieeeiym” then like the sound of tearing sheaf of papers, the first one stormed out and dropped. You gasped and wiped sweat off your brows, then the others followed the first, storming out as though the door had finally been opened for ‘children’ to go out and play with each other in the water outside. Objects began to take shape again in your eyes, then you realized that the hem of your shirt had been in your mouth, in-between your gnashing teeth. You looked up to the ceiling and muffled “thank God”.
Because things in the toilet were becoming clearer, you could now see your shadow elongated and multiplied into four onto the tiled floor, as happened when it was midday or there about. Now that your anus was starting to feel menthol fresh like the mouth after savoring peppermint, you took interest in the shadows and noticed that one of the human shadows which you supposed were yours, was topped with a vague female hairdo. Startled, you counted the shadows: one, two, three , four. You waved your hand, tilted your head to the left, then to the right, only one of the four shadows mimicked you. It was either the others were resistant or they were not yours, the devil must be cracking jokes.
Your mind raced, your heart panicked as you swiftly turned to your back where a window was opened, only to find that three people had been watching you. Among them was Kemi your fiancee who lived in the next compound.
Tears formed in your eyes as you watched the three of them hastily turning away in a let-me-mind-my business demeanor. You wanted to chase after them but your body wouldn’t allow you. When you thought you had spoken the word “idiots”, your lips had only been trembling in shock. Power left you especially as your posture dawned on you afresh: your shirt pulled upward and held in a tight knot in your left hand, how your strong-looking auburn feces were cutting corners inside the water closet, your trouser and boxer shorts gathered below your ankles, how the sun rayed across your buttocks and crotch region, giving the spiky hair a golden color. You wished you could switch off the sunlight or just banish it from human sight.
Now you were certain that God had punished you himself. The word “finished” in the very disparaging Nigerian sense seeped through your psyche and flattened your spirit. When you managed to wipe your buttocks (after you slid the windows shut) you cursed yourself, you could smear the stained toilet paper around your neck if it would serve as a kind of spiritual ritual to make those three idiots forget what they had seen.
In your room you had barely sat on your bed when you changed your whatssap status to “We are defeated”. “We” because in times like this you felt defeated in plural, the whole of your being: Body, Soul; and Spirit. You restlessly dialed Kemi’s number saved as “Baby”, it was unreachable.
Then you sent a text that said “Baby why have you done this to me?” your hands were shaking.
Her response came almost immediately as though she had waited for a text in preference to useless calls “Baby we heard you screams around the housing, so we now come and check boya shey something have happened ni”. Kemi’s English always came to you like an accident, it startled you like lightening. It didn’t surprise you when she said Funke Akindele was her role model. She had been denied a visa to Zimbabwe because she had spoken such a courageous – but- mindless English at the embassy in Ikeja.
Once when you went out with her on a date, before you proposed to her, she had turned her attention to a woman three tables away in the restaurant and shouted evenly “wo, stop cross-table-fellowshipping”. She had caught the lady stealing a glance at you both. You thought Kemi was jealous and protective of her city boy – this girl who was a proud alumni of an Ogbomoso village upbringing.
“We are finished! How could you have been watching me shit, with two other small boys? Kemi where did I go wrong? ” you texted again, your heart was pounding.
“At least give God glory. Many are praying for the gift of shitting to come out, it did not come. Bread can block the way. I was so much happy when your own come out. I said that ‘ah, ope o'”.
You looked up at the mirror on the wall to find your mouth slack, panick sliced into you. So she had been watching you from the start when you made those shrill moans upon sitting on the water closet seat, even when you tilted your long neck and waved a hand to test which shadow was yours. Now you imagined you had looked like an exotic animal from the viewers perspective – dinosaur maybe. The lazy silence in the room rang in your head.
Your phone beeped “But Chinedu everybody shits” her text appeared again, you dropped the phone against the desk, hands on your head
“All those peoples they are well wishers ni. You shit, you successful” another sms appeared. On good days you would have imagined her putting those texts into words with her singsong Yoruba ascent and a wan laughter in her eyes, her jaw shaped like letter U when she spoke. But your imagination was blurry black-and-white except for the toilet scene which was to your greater sadness, extremely clear.
“Nooooooooou!” you screamed with tears in your voice, to nobody in particular, but those three faces still felt very close to you. Had they taken photos? Shall they post them on facebook? You logged unto your Facebook on your phone and blocked two people: Chike and Ekene, lest they tagged you with something stupid. You didn’t block Kemi. Kemi is a fool! Village girl!
You grabbed your phone to dial Uchenna’s number
“Uche you have finished me! Uchenna!” you pronounced his name emphatically like your safety depended on it.
“What’s the problem?” his voice sounded rather smirky and happy, it irritated you, so you charged at him
“The bread you gave me, with pepperish beans. Uche you might find my ass on newspapers very soon maka Chukwu”
“What!” this time he giggled, perhaps he thought your sentence was metaphorical because you were known as the ‘father of metaphors, the kind of man who would say “in a nutshell” Instead of “in summary”. You hung up, threw the phone to the bed “mtcheeeew, fuck fuck fuck the world” you said as you punched the bed. Now, even though Kemi had been a village alumni, you felt with her, a kinship so close to foolishness”.
You threw yourself on the bed and buried your face in a pillow and muffled shouts into the foam, biting into the sheets.
“Bang! bang!! bang!!!” a loud knock on your door, it was Mr. Festus the Tiv caretaker, you could tell from his I-wanna-fight voice “Shame! You didn’t flush the toilet Mister Madubuike” you wished you could blend into the billows of smoke you could see through the window, rising from a burning dustbin outside, and just become a puff of black or white smoke, varnishing peacefully into the skies.

The next day on your way to the office, the children in the neighborhood who beat tins and cans with mock drum sticks didn’t need mention your name in the song “shitti shitti uncle” before you knew that they referred to you. If only they could perish at the frown of your face!
They jumped around like mice dashing past spacious rooms, they were all interchangeable in your eyes
“His shit is like dog shit” one of them finally said, a blob of laughter trailed off, and that was the punchline.
You suddenly found yourself chasing after Chike, you grabbed him by the hem of his shirt and gave him three intermittent slaps with the back of your hand so that it sounded like the fluttering of small flags. The frenzied shouts of the other children swept through the neighborhood, then you saw their varied-sized mothers coming out of their various flats, one by one, door by door. The women were not smiling. You froze.

To be continued next Saturday

Anthony Dim works as content supervisor for Afreecan Read literary community, Kwa-Zulu natal, South Africa. He writes fiction and non-fiction. He lives in Marianhill.

We Fly at Night

                                                 by  Anthony Nonso Dim

Mosquitoes in St. Mathew’s parish Amukoko are disrespectful, unruly and uncouth. However, in some way I do think of them as unfazed. Like the missionary that I aspire to be, they are willing to die for their cause, and I can’t slap myself enough in this mission house. Each night I crave for a speedy break of day. I work in this church with Father Benny, a 72 year old Irish priest who is unfazed too. His pink face is now severing into beetroot since he came to Nigeria from Ireland.

So here he is after morning mass on Tuesday sitting on a bench under a mango tree in front of the parish office, body lousy with golden hair, rosy cheeks, poignant with cologne, bulging tired eyes after celebrating a vigil mass the previous night for members of the Charismatic group, he has no choice. I fling a good morning as I walk past him. With a half-smile he asks me whether the insecticide works, I say yes, even though the mosquitos still found a way of nursing ambition and fulfilling their dreams despite the poisoned air.

Fumbling in my pocket for keys at the entrance I notice a large lump of saliva at the door step. Perhaps it was that angst-filled Warri woman who bounded into the office yesterday protesting she wanted to change her child’s baptismal name from Juliana to Uchubiyojo. As a seminarian who tries to feign perseverance, I politely told her that Uchubiyojo was neither a saint nor a gift of the Holy Spirit, and we argued back and forth, so she left with a furious snarl, hesitated at the door to drop this saliva, in memory of her. I swallow my anger, the way Father Benny likes it.

“Oh yeah, I’m coming” Father Benny is saying to a caller on phone, he hangs up. Someone is dying, he tells me he’s leaving for Anointing of the Sick as he starts to rise, so anyone who wishes to see him in office would have to wait until he is back. I nod a yes to him. And as his old corolla eases out of the cool of the churchyard, I think of other places and objects upon which those tyres will screech today: the chunks of road outside eaten by erosion, the unapologetic ditches, arrested house rats flung from windows to the road, looking guilty as charged as they wait for their final death sentence by tyre screech.

For a moment as I unlock the doors I wonder what drives Father Benny. I think perhaps it is the awareness that many churches in Ireland have been emptied of believers, turned into pubs, bars, basilicas have become art galleries. There is now a rise in the number of people with no religion in Ireland. And here he is in Lagos Nigeria, in a booming church where every weekday is half a Sunday, the church swarms with believers, and he is a custodian of these souls who believe that God’s small universe…the church, will remain impeccable as they imagined it from childhood. I expect him to be grateful, to be propped by this turnout.

So I take my seat at the reception in the parish office. Elizabeth, the jolly fat parish secretary in her mid-thirties walks into the office while my eyes are half-shut in a short morning prayer. We exchange greetings, she sits adjacent me. We gossip about a Jesuit priest who has been kidnapped, we do gossip whenever Father Benny is not around, then after we exhaust topics she minds her own business of typing church bulletin for next Sunday.

I like this gorgeous space because even here, outside Holy Mass, that Catholic Solitude still exists:  The musty scent of books plus Lysol hang thick in the air. A large frame of the sagacious tearful smile of Pope John Paul 11 waving to a cheerful mammoth crowd with his grey hair flinching in the wind like Olympic torch whilst leaning on his crosier, the Cardinal Archbishop of Lagos in his full regalia is wearing a fatherly smile. But my attention barely rests on these as I always have to read my way through bans of marriage on my table, write announcements for Sunday masses, and attend to each person who walks in. Today I am telling each visitor that Father Benny will be back soon, gesturing them to take their seats as they wait.

It is now half past ten and there are four people who want to meet Father Benny and he is not back. Perhaps he has received other pastoral calls again, a man who is not entitled to having missed calls, no freedom to own a schedule book of his own. He has been doing this for thirty years, without a wife or a child, just to reserve every ounce of his time and attention for God’s people.

At half past twelve a lady walks into the office in flapping oversize dusty slippers, her skin as dark as a moonless midnight, her head like a sucked-until-small lollypop is completely shaved, her silky scarf unveils it slowly as it unwraps and separates from her head and slowly slips down to her shoulder, hangs across her breasts, drops on the floor, she steps on it as she approaches my table. Now I fear she is unhinged, her eye-catching eyes are glistening with a desire to cry. She leans on my table, my chair squeals an inch backward. I invite her to sit, she refuses, insists on standing, quiet, now keeping faraway looks. A nervous tic resumes in me.

“Hello?” I say

“We want to see Father Benny” she says, her voice is like a pitched chorus of two girls speaking through metallic throats. I ask why she wants to see him, she says she is not alone, then I notice another young lady, a mediocre version of herself – very black and sweating, standing outside the church office, and I am scanning and matching the two of them to see whether they are twins. The one outside is looking bitter; stretching to yank at leaves as if scolding them for blossoming on the wrong tree. “How can I help you sister?” I say again, feigning fearlessness.

“Madam speak up! The seminarian is talking to you” Elizabeth dives into the conversation, evenly, turning from her computer towards us with a coy frown on her forehead while arranging a sheaf of marriage papers in her hands.

“We are both evil spirits, the two both of us” I feel suspended in the air from legs to buttocks as she gestures to the girl outside “me and her” my brain is still rebooting, it is praying a fast Hail Mary

“We fly at night” my heart flies, the office’s solitude varnishes as it shimmers out of focus, Pope John Paul’s smile seems to melt away, one of the visitors on the waiting list is trembling. I hear the marriage papers drop against the table from Elizabeth’s hands

“We come do deliverance”.

After a hard swallow, long silence, and my eyes are starting to see clearly again, I tell her Father Benny is not around. I beg her to join her friend outside while they wait for him, the way Father Benny likes it. She remains there, looking sternly at me, her lips widen in a huge smile like she’s about to eat a favorite food. My heart hurdles again, again and again.

“Brother Anthony I want to piss” Elizabeth says with a fast shivering voice, sprinting from her chair. She leaves without the key to the toilet.

“The keys”

“Oh. Yes. The keys” she avoids my face as she hastens back to collect the key bunch from my hand and scurries to the toilet, she had jumped over her seat which had fallen to the floor.

“Is…is that your sister?” I ask her, my voice sounding distant from me. Perhaps my nervousness is more intense because I am glancing at her shoulders and imagining wings growing from them, she dodging electric poles, defying the laws of gravity in the company of her sister, two dark shiny heads and owl eyes.

“Oh yes” she says in earnest “it’s good when sisters don’t just walk together but also fly together” I tap a foot on the floor to be sure of the floor’s support, I am close to numb while she smirks, pinches the side of her laps, leaves her scarf there on the floor and moves out of the office in the slow elegance of an overfed cat. I feel a purge of relief as she exits the office. Outside, she hardens her face as if in preparation to begin a hard work, and joins her sister in the tearing of leafs. So the sound of yanking and tearing of leaves increases. I won’t tell them to stop – it is not for me to decide how many leaves a mango tree can boast of. But three days ago I had scolded a little altar boy for cutting leaves from the same tree, I worried that he would leave the floor littered with leaves. Now it doesn’t feel wrong, let them tear on, I shall sweep when they are gone. It doesn’t take anything to sweep.

Mr. Simeon Okafor, the hegemonic church compound manager is a restless soul who has a touch of stubbornness about him. I don’t like how he orders people around or walks into my room without knocking just because he’s the compound manager. He is slim and slouchy, the flatness of his buttocks emphasize how much he refuses to sit, perhaps his buttocks have evolved into this flat shape that needs no sitting. His trouser wears him. Typical of him, he stops at the tree and watches the ladies tearing the leaves with utter seriousness. One branch is already bald, Mr. Simeon’s mouth drops. I think he is thinking of something witty to spit out

Wetin? Look at you these gaals” he snaps furiously at them that saliva drizzles from his mouth, his face flushes with worry mixed with anger “Do you know how much we pay the gardeners to  trim this?” he adjusts his trouser, looks from under his glasses. They ignore him like he is a mere fresh air that human beings need do nothing about. I’m afraid for Mr. Simeon for the first time.

“Hello gaals. Ahn-ahan, you have no respect? Listeen silly gaals” he intently crushes pieces of leaves on the ground with his feet and makes to touch one of them, the one who had come into the office

“Don’t try it” she quips “you are playing with fa-yah”. Mr. Simeon takes a step backward, takes off his glasses, blinks intermittently in disbelief

“I am a former secretary in the river Niger where we hold general meetings” her voice is still like a chorus of two girls. I notice Mr. Simeon’s right ear jinx once, this must be really serious. So I dip my hand into my pocket and caress my rosary beads as one more Hail Mary recites itself in my brain. An aspiring priest cannot afford to express fear in the presence of church members, I don’t pull the rosary out, I just tap it as if to say “stay with me”.

“And she” she gestures to her sister “Is the present treasurer. She keeps babies for sacrifice” pause “we really do love small babies”

“I like sucking from their skull. What about you?” the other one chimes in, facing Mr. Simeon

“I like their heels. Really cool dear, cool. It is how they taste” she says with tears in her voice “I love baby heels” wipes her eyes, then turns back to the tree and focuses on the leaf tearing. Why did she cry? I am confused.

“This man has one new baby abi?” the other one says. And it is true, Mr. Simeon’s baby was baptized by Father Benny only two weeks ago.

“His baby is very fresh. I hear she is red” her sister concurs with two slow nods, licks her lips with her tongue, then bursts two ripe pimples from the side of her face with one scratch, they weep in sequence. The other one doesn’t wait for the pus to crawl down, she stretches a finger to her sister, robs off the whitish-yellow liquid and puts her finger into her mouth. “Very tasty” she says, nodding in approval.

“Je..ieinz” his tiny set of teeth and thin lips are trembling “J-zus” he lets out a shout, I start to feel my head full of water, my brain swims in my skull, my vision blurs once more. A waiting visitor in a Christian Mothers’ uniform who was asleep suddenly comes wide awake, wipes the ends of her mouth with her wrapper and pries her eyes with both hands

“Where is Anthony? Where is the seminarian?” Did Mr. Simeon just call my name? Something props me to rise from my seat and rush to the toilet at the backdoor

“knock-knock”

“But I have not finished, Brother” the secretary says “the thing has not come out”; she is plain useless in this situation. I return to my seat.

“Everything has happened today, just today” the woman in a Christian Mothers’ uniform whispers to the man near her, but the bandage around her neck won’t let her turn to him “I thought it was a dream. I didn’t realize this is happening in my presence here and now”.

“May God take power from the devil” the man says in Igbo, snaps fingers into space. Outside the office Mr. Simeon has disappeared and they are still tearing leaves, the floor is littered, the tree sways left and right.

Soon Mr. Simeon arrives with two men: a police man and a church security guard, and everything is starting to feel more tensed, the secretary is still in the toilet, the entrance is littered with green like a bouquet is being prepared for visiting goats. The four of them on the visitors list who were mumbling prayers, are now mumbling complaints about the girls “police, they are demonic fellows” “God forbid” “Let them do something”. Perhaps they cannot go home because the witches have blocked the entrance. The fat police man shouts “khaaa!” at them, they stand still. Another fresh air has blown, so what? Fresh air is natural.

“You girls are really stupid” he charges, holds out his gun, Mr. Simeon takes cover behind him, although his hands are still folded as if he’s still in charge of things. The security man who is a Muslim, is quietly reciting “la ila ila la” as they keep tearing.  Finally Father Benny’s Corolla comes into sight. The car halts with a loud squeal of break, he climbs out in haste almost running to the police man.

“What’s the problem han? A gun? In my church?” the police man puts down his gun and Mr. Simeon erupts with reports about the girls, relief seeps through my nerves. But they are now cracking stems, one of them bends and grabs a handful of torn leafs, throws into her mouth and starts munching, she suddenly embodies the firmness of a goat chewing the cud.

“Hello ladies” Father Benny says softly. They both stop the tearing at once. I hear the toilet’s door behind creak open, Elizabeth takes her seat near me, I am disappointed in her…coward!

“It is you that we come and see” one of them says. Elizabeth springs up “they both say they are demon possessed” she says aloud. “They are witches”, “They fly” two of the visitors say at once, then silent after their sentences stumbled into each other.

“Follow me into the office” Father Benny says “Or did any of you come before these ladies?” he says to the visitors

“No – o let them go first, it is fine” they chorus, shook their heads.

“Me I want to go home. I don’t want to see Father again. I will figure out how to take care of my marriage issues. Father is busy” one of them says

“Oh! Because the entrance is now cleared” the Christian Mother says

I want see wetin go happen” another one says. I can now focus on reading the bans of marriage file. “I am sorry” the secretary says “I thought you wanted to piss. The toilet is now open”. My heart tightens in fury as I withdraw the words I wish to throw at her “when you go back to that toilet, make sure you never come out anymore”.

I continue reading. Four pages later, I see the ladies walk out of the office, both of them now approaching the secretary and I. “I want to shit” the secretary whispers in a scrambling rush to leave “I need the keys” she says with furious command, hands open in my front. But she has not returned the keys to me, perhaps she doesn’t remember she still has them.

“But it is my turn now” I say. She tells me she is a woman, that I don’t understand how women’s body work, looking desperate like a thief about to be caught; her cheeks shook with determination, her eyes shone “give me my key”. But the ladies have reached our table already, all eyes in the office on us. I hear Elizabeth mutter something that sounds like her mother’s maiden name. She last muttered it when robbers came to the parish on the first week I arrived, and after the robbers made away with the money, I asked her for the meaning of what she said – there must be something salvific about Chuchukruku. I think of my Mother’s maiden name too, but Nnamabia doesn’t sound salvific, so I start muttering a praise worship to myself. Otherwise, the office is death silent.

Father say make we book another appointment” one of them says, I fix my gaze on her pinched nose.

“Do not be afraid” Father Benny appears behind them with a smile “This is a psychological case. I have called one of the sisters at the hospital who is a psychiatrist. Demons don’t come looking for deliverance Anthony.” Suddenly a car with the words Medical Missionaries of Mary parks outside and an unveiled Reverend Sister with untidy grey hair climbs out of it. As the girls move out of the office to meet the Reverend Sister, Father Benny apologizes to the visitors for inconvenience; they forgive him very fast with rigorous nods except the Christian Mother whose neck is bandaged.

It is now evening, there are no more visitors in the office and Elizabeth has gone home. The early evening mosquitoes are starting to do rehearsal’s for night’s work. Father Benny invites me into his office; his face is the reddest it has ever been.

“That experience this morning must have troubled you han. Thank you for making them wait”

“Thank you for coming back” I say, feeling shy.

“Could you have dealt with it if I had not come back?”

“Hmm, Father. Many are called, few are chosen, others are conscripted” his face goes red pink in a stifled laugh, and I join him, he laughs like a baby. He laughs all the louder and holds his round stomach so that he looks like   an Irish comic strip.

Anthony Nonso Dim from Imo State Nigeria, was born and raised in Mainland Lagos. He holds a BA in Philosophy from St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, South Africa. He’s presently the Content Supervisor for Afreecan Read literary community, South Africa. He is a seminarian who also paints, writes prose and poems. He lives in the Marianhill Monastery in Kwa-Zulu Natal. We Fly at Night was first published halfway as nonfiction in the Work Naija: An Anthology of Vocations, Brittle PaperThis complete version of We Fly at Night, unlike the 1000 words version published in Work Naija anthology, is classified as fiction

 

 

If I Write You 

By Onuora Ilodibe

If I  write would you write back
Would you send me postcard
Bearing Buckingham Palace
Reliefs at Dartmoor or Yorkshire
The Landscape and drainage
Orchids culture and the people
Hospitable loving and friendly

If I write would you write back
I’ll tell you about my country’s
Relics dilapidated structures
Strewn and broken bridges
Deltaic creekside peasants
Men fishing for pollack

Shanties brim when it souse
Children swimming the banks
Mothers barking obscenities
Broiling fished over gridiron
Spillage endangered aquatics
Contaminated soil and water
Diseases famine and hunger

If I write would you write back
Would you render them succor
Displaced children in IDP camps
Dying of hunger pain and malnutrition
Diarrhea malaria scurvy contamination
Toll continually increasing by the day

I’ll tell you about the oppressed agitators
Pressing for birth of her own nation
Across the Niger calling for a referendum
With bomb feast sabotage vandalism
Clashes between farmers and herdsmen
I can’t tell how it started or when it will end

If I write you would you write me back
Would you call me or send me a postcard
Would you enjoin me in my predicament
I have looked up to you all these years
Would you abandon your progeny
As your protege all I know you thought me

If I write you would you write me back
I’ll tell you about our underage girls abducted
Forcefully converted and married away far north
Outlaws plunder murder threatening to islamize
Our great nation borne off sweat of hero’s past
Quakes and about to drift at religious seams

If I write you would you write me back
Would you see things from the perspective
Of proletariats who has nothing to win or gain
Would you come to aid our last resort has failed
To change our situation further deteriorates
Scared to death as we sleep with our eyes half open

Onuara Oludibe is poet, MC and a writer from Nigeria. He has a BSC in Geograph and Meteorology. He currently works and resides in Lagos, Nigeria. His love for poetry dates bac to his childhood days, and has written ample of poems which include Uwa Abiara and Long John

Laughing Democracy


by Sunday Paul C. Onwuegbuchulam

Happy ululations fill the charged air,
Feets jump up in the jingoistic euphoria,
Mouths open singing songs of jubilation.
What good thing has happened to our hearts?
The khaki head had hit the wall.

Dum dumdum, the drums roll,
Cha chacha, the evil is gone,
Like a nightmare in the night he is gone,
With the break of the golden dawn.
The dictator is dead, the people are drunk.

At last freedom walks in with hope,
For their persecutor, their killer is dead.
How and what killed him, who knows?
He died like a mosquito crushed to a wall.
Even as strong and untouchable as he was.

Now the people can relax and choose.
They can give their mandate to their man,
And the dividend thereof can rake.
For such is what they only seek,
To eat from the fruits of democracy.

A mirage! It was meant to be but not to be.
People defied obstacles trudging out en masses.
They queue up like sentries baking in the sun.
A heavy downpour asked them home, they refused
The reason: to bring their dreams to reality.

The election was meant to be free and fair,
It failed to be free not to talk of fair.
Gun tottering thugs dislodged and maimed some
Victims defying rain and sun, but couldn’t thugs
Some did not vote as their vote was already counted.

The people shouted ‘foul play’ all the way
Old khaki heads are back after stepping aside.
This time not in khaki but in ‘agbada’
They say it is democracy, people know better
In tears, they laughed at a laughing democracy.

They-must-be-crazy in this de-mo-crazy
“That’s better”, says our colonial masters
Absurd! Is it obtainable in their country?
No amenities, no employment and of course no food
A caricature of democracy, I say.

Pssst! Do not talk or say I said
Those who did as the Fourth Estate of the Realm
Compulsorily visited their dead ancestors
They left for work to their graves
But wherever they are their pen is mightier.

For the ignorant knows the truth
The truth is the sun, it is now blazing
It will burn and burn and consume
The rogues and killers, cheat and jesters
Who play and steal in this drama – laughing democracy.

 

Dr Sunday Paul C. Onwuegbuchulam is from Imo State Nigeria resident in South Africa. He is a researcher and lecturer (International and Public Affairs). He has published peer-reviewed articles in journals straddling the areas of philosophy, theology, conflict transformation and peace studies and political science. Reading and writing poetry, prose and drama is a hobby and passion developed early in life to which he devotes his pastime. The theme that controls his poetic thoughts centres on human existential realities and the plight of the alienated in African societies.

 

Behind The Scene

by Iliya Kambai Dennis

I often go down to the basement,
To listen to myself speak to me,
To cuddle my thoughts, to find answers to the lingering
Questions running through my empty mind,
Why do human beings embrace nyctopilia
But give less preference to lumière?

There, In the face of silence is evil.
Behind the reflection of the mirror
Lies a third scene only the
Eyes of the eagle can see.

I often lie on my ceiling to read
The writings on my bed, to see,
Reasons why they walk a million miles
To reach the castle of tabernacles,
To join their hands In prayer,
To cross their hands In worship.

But at the dusk of each day;
They throw their smiles to the dust
So to wear the heart of their soul
Then after dawn of each day,
They rinse the scarlet of the darkness
On their faces to wear the mask of goodness.

I often go to the woods with eyes closed
And mind opened.
To hear the owl sing In my dialect at night
“man is wicked”.
This truth she always sings is naked.

Does the slowness of a chameleon
Make it evil? Perhaps,
Its ability to exist In different colours.

I have seen their nature and read their
Footprints on the wall of revelation.

They are owls that fly by the day,
Angels of day light, devils of peaceful night.
They are vile In white garment,
Poisonous as the venom of a viper.

If these owls live unhaunted
And these vermin untamed,
There is a capsizing certainty of this ship
This shaky vehicle that conveys us all,
Whose paddles dwell In the hands
Of these owls.

Iliya Kambai Dennis hails from Kaduna state, Nigeria. He is a physics student at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto,Nigeria. He loves writing, especially poetry. Several of his poems can be found on African Read.