The girl behind the polka dot

The girl behind the polka dot

It was the third of June
the rains beat down none too soon
for the heat, the heat was strong enough
to cook the brain

The rains lashed down
but I was safe behind the screen
the wipers screeched their protest
idle since last year
now venting their despair

The red carpet was out
the man ahead lost his footing
the cameras flashed
his shirt was dripping
the TV crews – shooting

The hall was crowded
the lighting occluded
the fashion impressive
the models attractive

Her face haunts my dreams
her vision my days
the rain washed away all:
sins and signs
things and grime

Love, affection, infatuation
gasps,whispers, exclamation
heaven, earth, and in between
death, taxes, all that lives within
lighting, thunder, lightening

silence …

It was the girl behind the polka dot.

Come with me

Come with me

Come with me
Says a close friend to me
There is unpleasant task at hand
But it needs must be done

The day was dreary
The Sun was weary
Such days are for men to sleep like the dead
So I put on a shirt of colour
To put some light into the day

My friend called it false
And bid me put on black
For where we go
A pall is laid on all
A friend is passed on to who knows where
I knew he was in trouble
But I only asked once or twice
And he said I need not worry
Time heals all wounds
Now he is dead and gone
I would that I need not go
But I have dined at his table several times
And his sisters – don’t they call me brother?

The mother held the casket like life itself
The father did not take it like a man
As we filed past the coffin
I looked in and was surprised to find him in repose
If it were a bed, I would have thought he was asleep
But in the casket where he laid, the smell of death though faint was there indeed

We stayed awhile
With heads bowed in silent consideration of the pains of those alive
And the thought of the dearly departed
And after an hour or so
I asked my friend if he knew of what malady the young man died
Loneliness he said.
The look on my face betrayed my lack of believe
But he bid me hold my peace
I know I will know more in time
But not in that place for respect of the dead and the sorrowful

Could loneliness take so young a life?
I think my friend spoke in parables
For stick and stones may break bones
But thoughts of the heart
Surely, they may wrinkle brows
But take life, I thought not

Loneliness he said
Maybe I heard him wrong
In that silent room in which he whispered
The walls might have swallowed a syllable or two

Time passed slowly
Meaningless in the room
While men rushed about in the gathering gloom
And the voice of one who lady luck had given a boon

And as we bid the family adieu
I could not resist the urge to gaze for one more time upon that peaceful face
Drawing near I looked in again
What surprise! It was I that laid in state.

2:30AM 19/Jan/2013

Give me the cap

Give me the cap

Day 1: So today, I was my aunt’s chauffeur (excluding the cap :-).

I woke up early to take her to church (St. Johns) in Ikoyi. The church normally has 3 services: a 7am Holy Communion service; an 8am English service and a 10am traditional service in Ibo Language. We usually attend the 8am service (I have been accused rightly by the Vicar’s wife that they only see me when my aunt is in town). After the service, we branched at a petrol station in Ikoyi where there was almost no queue and filled up my tank. Home to breakfast. My uncle and an older cousin showed up later.

My aunt had told me the day before that I was going to take her to a few places and the plan was to leave shortly after breakfast, but that was delayed until my uncle and aunt left.

Soon we were Surulere-bound. We went to the home of a retired couple who were close friends of my aunt. Spent about 30 minutes there and we were offered dinner. But since we still had a second place to touch briefly, it was agreed we should go and come back afterwards for the dinner and a proper visit.

We went to the home of another friend of my aunt who was the widow of some very important figure. I noticed from the burst of the husband in front of the entrance to the house that he has been dead for a very long time. The wife was also an “achiever” in her own right I believe. I dozed a little while my aunt and her friend (and her friend’s daughter caught up on things). I suspect it may have been a combination of the slightly warm room and the fact that I didn’t quite get enough sleep the night before.

After a suitable time, we returned to the first couple’s house. We were invited to the dining room shortly after we arrived. The dinner was quite good – rice, stew, chicken, vegetable, fried fish and fried plantain. Followed by a couple glasses of a very good red wine (as if I know what a sub par one tastes like). The conversation was even more interesting. Some people would probably find it a little uncomfortable. But I have for quite a while realized and accepted the fact that sooner or later (hopefully) we all have to leave this world. A lot of the conversation was about friends who have passed on, and in some cases the manner of their passing (some rather abrupt). I don’t really mind people talking round about me (meaning I don’t contribute much to the conversation – though in this case, there was nothing for me to contribute – the subjects of the discussion were all old enough to be my grandparents). I have of course been told by someone (I care about a lot) that part of the problem is that I don’t talk. If only the person knew (the one million things I would rather have said but would probably not have been welcomed!).

But still it is true that I enjoy the flow and ebb of conversation going on around me. If the company I am in don’t mind, I like being a spectator just absorbing details of how people of all nature live their lives.

The reminiscing went way back to several decades and some possible miracles in certain people’s lives. A few scandals were covered as well.

Well after dinner, we retired back to the sitting room and the conversation continued. My aunt whipped out her iPad to show her friends pictures of the extended family. I must say I can count people from a wide variety of countries among my relations now (think New Zealand, USA, UK, etc.). Though one must realize that the more the family disperses round the world, the greater the possibility that one may walk past a relatively close family member in some distant land and not even know it.

Back home at about 9:30PM. Sitting in front of the TV watching DSTV channel 255 (CI) while typing this out. Which reminds me of the topic of the sermon in church this morning which was on the 3 servants with the talents. So as the Chaplain said, if you don’t exercise your talent, you will lose it. So if I pretend I can write, then I must go on writing so as not only improve the talent but keep it.

So that is why I am putting this piece up!

Day 2: Got in the car with my aunt and a visiting family member all ready to go and the car refused to start. Rain started drizzling. Opened the bonnet and pretended to know what I was doing. Checked the oil. Radiator had enough water. Hmm. Tried a couple more times to start the car but no luck. Had to take the smaller Skoda. I got into the driver’s seat and it felt as if I was sitting on the floor. I am not short but I still almost had to crane my neck to see properly out the front windshield! The break felt like there were gremlins under it resisting my attempts to push it down – the net effect was that the car was bucking like a bronco. I took it slow.

Visited another elderly friend who had just lost her younger sister a couple of months ago. I sat quietly on the sofa writing a story on the BB and “fighting” sleep every once in a while. Such visits and the natural conversations that result brings home to one the reality of life. I sat in the lovely sitting room of a house which was about 43 years old and looking like something from one of those home décor magazines out of some Western country. There were lots of pictures of the family including some of the grown of kids and their children. I couldn’t help but compare some of the middle-age pictures of the host with her current look – age is a strange thing. We are vibrant and all rearing to go one minute, and the next (in reality several years) we can barely muster the strength to get up.

I wouldn’t say being in such situations help me forget my own (suddenly mundane) problems, but it helps me put them in the correct perspective for all of 30 minutes. Unfortunately, once I am out of the particular “setting”, my own issues resume their central position in my mind.

Had a close shave on the way back. Just about getting off the bridge (incoming from Ikorodu to Apongbon), going relatively slowly, and thinking about the same one thing that’s been on my mind in recent months when suddenly (as the driving guides would put it) a harzadous situation started developing in slow-motion right in front of my eyes. The car to my right suddenly jumped ahead “brushing” me on the passenger’s side, got in front of me; skidded towards the central divide while the driver fought to control it; then back towards the center of the road before finally stopping. Meanwhile I had to step on the brakes to stop from running into him from behind. I pulled level, wound down the passenger’s side window while the fellow actually got out of his car. I pointed out that he ran into us. He said it wasn’t his fault, didn’t I see the bus that got in front of him from the other side. I said the bus (which I didn’t actually notice but I believe he was telling the truth – I think he turned towards us in trying to avoid colliding with the bus)  did not run into us – it was he that did. I didn’t get down but suspected the damage should be minor – due to my relatively slow speed, stopping in time and the very slight bump I felt when he made contact with our car. I wasn’t sure of his vehicle though – it’s possible his front axle may have been broken. My aunt said he should apologize and after that we went on our way. Fortunately, the headlights weren’t broken, just a little dent and several deep scratches in the paint work. The bumper may have separated slightly on the right from the body as well.

I was reading a Christian book this morning and some section talks about not living in the past. Asking forgiveness if possible from whomever one has wronged, then also asking God for forgiveness. And finally moving on – I think some issues are easier to move on from than others. The ones that fall under “what might have been” are probably the most difficult.

On a lighter note. Hmm. Can’t think of anything that qualifies. But smile anyway; I think I passed the all-time low point (hopefully) some weeks ago. The future is bright (we hope and believe). And if you meet someone who is having a not so good day, if there is anything you can do to help – including a kind word or just listening to the person “vent” or unload his/her mind, please do.

Thank you for reading.

The Mark

The Mark

I do not get angry. In my line of work, angry people have a short work life and generally a short life.

In my house I have a room with padding on all the walls and floor. It’s like one of those rooms they hold the medically insane who are dangerous to themselves and others. Actually it’s one of those rooms; I had it built specially. It’s also sound-proof. Right in the center is a dummy.  I have beaten the dummy out of that dummy but it just won’t die. I am sure it will be alive and well long after I am all bleached bones looking accusingly at all comers and reminding them how we destroyed  the planet with plastics and waste.

When I am out of my house, I do not get cranky; I do not get annoyed; I do not raise my voice or my fist; I do not hyperventilate. I am as calm as the ocean before the storm. But once in that room, I let loose. Those who have no self-control do not last long in my line of work.  They serve as punch lines for other’s jokes – most of who will soon fall victim to the same thing themselves.


I am standing at the corner of 4th and 5th. An unlit cigarette in my mouth. I don’t smoke and when I am done it goes down my throat. Yeah, I know but not to worry. A bullet will probably be the death of me. Long before “C.A.” has any chance to shrivel my organs.

I shouldn’t be here. But the situation calls for extreme and decisive action if I am to save my head and my reputation.

It helps that I am one of those people who are largely transparent to others. I have a non-descript visage. The police could be braining people with batons during a violent riot, and I could walk past their line with not a second glance from anyone. I have sat next to people for hours on a train and the only description they could give less than hour later is “a man”, tall, short, thin, young, middle-age – they couldn’t be certain. Which suits me very well.

There was only one way out of the building and the “mark” has to take it sooner or later. I am standing there with a Remington 700 under my non-descript coat. I could whip that gun up in a second and have a bullet racing towards my target in two. It’s a fact: practice makes perfect.

There was a little commotion at the entrance of the building and the mark came out. He had lawyered up. And was surrounded by chaps in dark suits and darker glasses who thought they were mean. I did not move a muscle. I waited as I have for several days now. He had to get in the bullet-proof car.

As he was hustled towards the car, I could see how he could think he was safe enough for the time of day. Twenty seconds after the front door opened he was at the car. The door swung open from the inside and he was helped in quickly from within and behind. In the split second when it took him to enter I sent a neat little specially-made projectile towards the car. It was a difficult shot by any reasoning. The purpose was for the bullet to hit the target’s neck through the slight gap between the car frame and the open door as he passed from outside into the vehicle. Timing was key. Instinct was everything.

I couldn’t see him but I knew he was dead before he knew it. That bullet was made to explode on impact with anything harder than flesh. It would have hit his vertebrae, snapping his neck, exploded and taken his spinal cord along for good measure while delivering a highly toxic and corrosive concoction into his system.

I could tell by the commotion I could hear behind me as I made my way nonchalantly and slowly past the gathering crowd and the car pulling off the curb in a hurry.

I still couldn’t get mad. There was one more thing to do before going home to beat the dummy.