Posts Tagged 'missing loved ones'

A song on waiting

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

The evening limps on dragging feet

slowly, the enlarging darkness of night

overruns the day

urging the dying day to bed and rest

the lights die out

as silence enfolds the enveloping darkness

and she waits

 

 

Time crawls on millipede feet

seconds last long like sluggish minutes

sadness and worry rest heavy

heavy on her restless pacing feet

(occasionally stamping feet)

as a damp blanket

 

Between pacing, stamping and sitting,

she stays on, stays up, eyes heavy

soul heavier, spirit drooping

wrestling with the harsh hands

of hurt and reality

that now strangle her dreams

and choke her soul

 

she checks the hum of every passing car

ears straining and acute

hearing the silent footfalls of footless spirits

responding to the call of the night

as they glide to their nocturnal haunts

 

And she wishes she could go forth like them

but she cannot

worry has hollowed her eyes

self pity erodes her soul

creeping doubt slowly strangles her self confidence

but courage and hope prop her up

 

and she wonders which company keeps him today

what outside tall tales inspire his loud laughter

what colored claws and lips

trace well perfected caresses on his frame

and bring sparkles and glitter

to his otherwise dead eyes

 

and she wonders

where all that intensity has flown

where, how, why and when

all that “we go die together” died,

where it was buried….

and she wonders and worries

as her mind wanders, and waits and hopes

 

 

and she sits, stands, sits,

sighs and waits…

waiting for the car lights in the drive way

for the well feigned contrition, the well rehearsed tales,

the unreliable car, the low battery…..

dreading the smell of alcohol and strange perfumes

and just wondering how long…yes, just how long before!

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For the Sun Child

By Noel Ihebuzor

 

Inert the child lies,

bathed in blood,

still and silent,

 

the silence of the ward

broken by the mother’s aching sobs

exhausted,

 

long labour had drained her,

almost turning her blood blue,

till eventually the blade

 brought relief and pain,

 

baby was curled, drained

 cord twisted and twined

around a narrow neck,

life slowly choked by the connection

that had linked them

and nourished,

 

the emptying evening drags

as she sits and sobs

imagining how this life

she had known in kicks and movements

would have looked

had the cord that nourished

not also extinguished

pondering this mystery of failed procreation

where lives are twined forever,

scars remain after departures,

 

sadness slowly strangling her soul,

like a cord, the pains of an empty womb

 now more acute

as her soul bleeds

above and below the lines of suture.

 

****For the SunChild who lost her baby, and who felt that the sun had gone out! Be strong, Tashie, Ndo!

 

Juanita

Our dearest Juanita

A song for Santos

By Noel Ihebuzor

Surveying his still and lean frame

I still and steel myself

trying to dam the hot streams seeking release

I lean back in time and spare tear drenched thoughts

to visit with his past before his still present

and survey a future without his comforting presence

 

 

The little boy besides me clutches my hands

all grief and bewilderment, suddenly thrust into adulthood yet a child,

struggling to be brave and I too struggle to be brave for him

holding his hands as we both struggle to suffocate the pain that seeks to suffocate us 

and my thoughts tumble, my words stumble,

my mind wobbles as do my legs on this walk of farewell

a slow walk of love, honor, respect and remembrance

molten waves of sorrow scorch me as I walk and gaze

As I gaze on him and remember, and recall and re-live….

 

 

Santos, Santos the gbogbo di gbogbo

Dimkpa asa, okunrin meta,

“One Naze man at a time”

Okunrin dara, nwoke obioma, ome nwanne….

O very very Santos Achuku

Not you to enjoy the spare rib

when ribs stare at one from withering rib cages

not for you the lean prime cut

when the world bulges in the middle  with the

withered frames of lean children,

soon to be cut off in the prime of childhood

lean as thin drying and dying sticks

stick children with sagging skins

which cling like dirty sack cloths to the tiring bones

 

 

 Oh, Santos , how often did we rage at a deaf drunken and indifferent world

and for you, Santos,  action was also soothing

and so, willingly at Lekki, Tere-Ama, okorieukwu and beyond,

he lent his throat to voice their pain

with no thought of gain

save to soften their pain and to soften his too

and soothe the pains of separation he bore

gladly he lent his time, his mind, his voice, his frame

that  theirs may grow

that smiles would grace their faces

 

 

I sing for you Santos

You who now sing no more

For you Santos who loved life

but for whom songs for others was

vital for the vibrancy of your own songs

and for the voices you missed so

 

 

I sing for you Santos

I sing my sorrow and your grief

I sing for those voices,

voices whoses touches you missed and still  miss

those voices who are unable to sing,

suppressed, silent, sad,

subdued and sullen  

 

 

 I sing for the hard of heart, haters and hatters

hard nuts, twisted and knotted 

I sing Santos knowing that that your charity beams on them,

your arms of embrace still open though you be still

 Gingerly tenderly, I caress your presents

this endless present,

a past that lives, heaves and breathes

and a future that glows and beckons

The three time frames,  yet a continuity, endless

O very Santos, you came, you lived, you loved and you live on

the road you walk is smooth, your path is good, Uzoma

no stomps graze your feet as winged creatures lift you

lead and accompany you to the warm welcome of His bosom and light.

 

 

**** This is one of my clumsiest songs. I wrote it in 2009 for my late elder brother and friend, Valentine Uzoma Ihebuzor – ( I called him Santos and still do! ) after we had committed his mortal remains to mother earth in my father’s compound in the village! Santos sleeps right next to his bedroom window and the sands of my village lie gently on him! Today is three years since that committal!  Up Santos!

Mother and child

At term, he took Ugonma in,

the taxi had rattled, creaked, bounced

and chugged on the dirt road, all the way

to the maternity

 

A midwife, looking fazed in her faded uniform

walked Ugonma

feet and lips swollen,

screaming in pain, water breaking,

into the labour room

every dragging step slow,

laboured  and painful

 

A wait long and weighty like eternity,

and then a delivery attendant,

her face the picture of nonchalance,

eventually shuffled out of the labour room

to thrust roughly  into his trembling hands

a list of  items required

for the delivery.

 

 

The Okada rider, his machine idling,

spotted Obi as he hurried out from the maternity

signing and screaming

“chemist shop”, yes, “chemist”

the rider on sensing his desperation

doubled his fare, cursing the country,

swerving and swearing as he rode.

.

Places and people flew by and past on that mad rush

to the chemist shop, an airless suffocating place

running over in dirt and disorder

where a a dishevelled male plied a messy trade.

 

Items purchased,

Obi rushed back to the maternity,

straining his ears, lips moving in silent prayers

his hands trembling,

items handed over with haste

the attendant checking with  indifference and

troubling sluggishness, and then shuffling back

into the delivery room with the items.

Obi waited outside, counting the minutes,

the seconds as long as hours and twice as slow ,

his heart pounding,

fatherhood within reach at last ,

after seven heavy years of wearying waiting

 

Totally immersed in imagining what must be going on inside,

waiting for the beautiful moment, oblivious to everything else

vaguely aware of when his mother and Ugonma’s mum arrived

and how they both laughed at his fretting and fidgeting

assuring him that all will be well

saying that “God never sleeps”

 

 

He saw the midwife as she came out,

her apron all blood and stains

saw her signal the two women to follow her

and now alone, he dreaded his loneliness

soon he thought he heard a wail

that came from the soul, the wail of one broken

They brought the baby to show him,

looking so small,  fragile and delicate

and when he asked after Ugonma

Her mum,  her voice brave, but broken by pain

yet tinged with pride said

“Ugonma has left this world, “uwa nsi”, she spat out

“a woman at last,

to the shame of those gossiping tongues

who had chattered that she was a “male””

God gives and God takes, she said

and when Obi said “why, Ogom nwanyi, why”, she replied

“a man can never wrestle with his god, his personal chi

nor challenge the decision of God”

His groan was deep and heart rending

his voice saying slowly, chilled  numb

“This death cannot be a decision of God,

we wrong God when we blame Him for our failures

as humans”

 

“Chim, sudden total darkness has fallen on my life at high noon,

a driving torrential downpour has caught me in the middle of nowhere,

blinding me, my path has now become a thicket of dense inpenetrable prickly shrubs”

 

he cried and sang, inconsolable, lost and broken

His mum laid her hands on him and said slowly

“a woman who can do this,

who can abandon a new born at the moment of birth

must be an “Ogbanje””

and his look of pain, rage and disgust froze her.

 

He called the baby Chiwetalu (Brought by God)

and at night when Chiwetalu screamed from hunger

when Chiwetalu cried,

troubled by gripe and colic from formula milk

his heart bled, he cried and held her

and rememered Ugonma and still asked her why

even though his age mates had warned him not to,

had advised him to reject any advances from her

if she walked into his dreams from the land of dead

They had advised him to wear two tight underwears to bed

as she may return to seduce him

and then tear off his manhood

since they all knew how much she loved him in life.

 

In Obi’s mother’s village,

an unmarried teenage girl had lost her  baby

to fever and diarrhoea

one month after delivery,

 

a girl lost,  Nwadiuto

who had now lost virtually everything

– her baby

– her innocence in a moment of madness,

– her schooling as she was expelled from school

once her pregnancy was noticed

– and the support of parents

who had thrown her out for disgracing them.

 

Her mother’s village proved to be her sanctuary

there they welcomed her, kind aunts helped her

manage her shame and the pains of pregnancy

 

Her mother frequently visited her there

whenever she thought her dad was not looking

(her tough and puritan dad saw all,

looked the other way, said nothing,

but silently thanked God that she did)

 

Now her chest full of grief and still sore from her loss

her breasts full, swollen and tender,

her life emptied of meaning and attachment

she agreed to nurse and breast feed Chiwetalu,

this life so fragile, so trusting

 

The hungry ruby lips needed some coaching and guiding

flesh and rubber feel and smell differently

but soon the hungry lips tugged and sucked at nipples

engorged, tender, touching her,

awakening her and flooding

her with images of her own child

who now sleeps forever

 

and Nwadiuto cries for him,

for a father he never knew and would never know

a man whose heat she had felt

but not his love nor his affection

regretting their brief interaction,

rushed and unfulfilling for her

 

She laments this and her loss

laments her parents

who further lost her

when they threw her out

when she felt most lost and needed them most

and occasionally when Chiwetalu cried from hunger

she would also think of his mother

that the hungry earth had claimed and swallowed

 

 

And from a distance,

heart still broken, but filled with gratitude to Nwadiuto,

Obi watches these two lives and surveys his

united by loss, by losses that could have been avoided

 

And he ponders how one life had in coming

taken another life,

how another young life had flown

emptied the life of a teenage mum

but leaving her full sorrow and milk

how that milk now bonded

two lives and a third

and His tears never cease to flow

from a mixture of missing, thanking and wishing.

 

*****First raw and rough cut of a song  that invaded me in its inchoate form, begging to trapped on paper. MMR and IMR are my targets here – and I now agree that overt didactism ruins creative writing. This shambolic song is one good example. OK, I pack it here for now and will come back to retouch it later, hopefully. Noel

A song for Santos

I would have played the sweetest of tunes then for you

but boils erupted all over the lips of my flute

and malicious termites mangled its delicate throat

 

Santos, the song I had hoped to play for you

must await another season when these sobs that clog and choke my  throat

these blocks that freeze my heart and voice

slowly clear up

 

in the season of waiting, dry and lean,

O very Santos,

Dimkpa asa,

only this pool of red tears is the voice of my song of sorrow.

 

A long song for the boy who waits

He sits and counts the days and the hours

mama has been away to the market

for seven market weeks now

and they all say that this market she went to

is located in some very far away place

and he tells himself that he will ask her

why she did not wake him the morning she left

to go to this far market to say good bye 

He had woken up to learn she left for the market very early

at that time of day when the dew still holds back the lizard’s tail

and slows down their running,

at that time of day when night spirits

are hurrying back to their abodes

before their sworn enemy the sun catches

them out and abroad 

and so he waits and asks

“when will mama return from the market

other children’s mothers come back and go again

and I sit,  waiting for mine, mine who will not come back

mama, when  will you return from this market”

And he wished she would come back

prayed to Chineke and his personal chi

to hasten her return

so that he could tell her

how everybody had been so nice to him lately

and how papa no longer scolded him

how nda Uzoemena had come and taken

him to mama’s maternal village four days

after mama had gone to the market

and he had stayed two days

he would tell her of all the woman who hugged him

all saying Nwam-oo

and the nice meals they all competed to cook and bring for  him

and Nne, his grandmother who held and hugged him,

and the hushed whispers of the women when he was there

and how he thought Nne cried the day he arrived

and how when he asked why

she was said it was from joy of seeing him,

him, son of her only daughter Nwabuaku 

He would tell her when she came back

that once or twice in the night

he heard papa sobbing

when papa thought he was asleep

and he  smiled  as

he imagined how mama would then tease papa,

papa who always said men do not cry

yes, there was a lot he would tell her

how nda Nneka now came over to cook for papa and him

in the evenings and would stay to chat with them afterwards

how her onubu soup tasted more bitter than hers

and how he had resisted the first time she tried to bathe him

a boy of four was a man he prpoudly told her

and needed his privacy

he would tell how he overheard nda Uchechi and nda Onyemauche

discussing the other day

and one of them, he couldn’t remember which one of them,

saying that papa

would need another woman to look after the house, and how

they said Auntie Chimaoge would be perfect for the role

and he wondered why, but he would ask mama

and he knew she would smile softly and shyly and explain

as she always does

and he still sits and waits, missing her with each day that passess 

not knowing when she will come back,

very sure she would come home

but telling himself that he would not tell her any of these stories

until she had given him the ripe udala, the akara and yes, the utara ukwa

she would have bought for him from the market,

and then he would hug her and hold her

and ask her to never ever leave him lonely for this long again .


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