Posts Tagged 'separation'

Review of Kemi Ogunniyi’s “My Wife’s Husband”

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

Flash fiction as a genre is enjoying an amazing lease of life and burst of energy in Nigeria’s literary space. Kemi Ogunniyi’s “My wife’s husband” is one more manifestation of the blossoming creativity in this genre. A tale that probes relationships and loyalty, it packs a punch which is starkly at variance with its brevity.

The first striking thing about this work of art is its title, a title that sets the mind wondering whether one is engaging a work that deals with polyandry or one that suffers from some deliberate aberration in its title. When the reader emerges from the jolt caused by this provocative title, he/she then encounters a tightly told story of love where the lives of the living are tied up closely with the dead. The story of woman still in love with a dead man and the struggles of the man who loves her in the present to relate to her crisis and support her in the process is heart wrenching.

The story is compact and packed with “virtual” detail which the mind of the reader unpacks as he/she reads along. By exercising very controlled parsimony and brevity, Kemi provides space for her reader to fill out the unsaid and the unspoken – the death of a husband, the remarriage of the widow, the unhealthy love of the dead, the hallucination that comes with such obsessive attachment to the past, the long suffering of the present husband and the tragedy of dreams and lives shattered by sudden death. Kemi’s skill in this micro fiction lies partly in the space she allows us for these legitimate inferences. But beyond this, Kemi serves us a micro fiction at its very best –  a story with single focus but with multiple subterranean subthemes and streams all ambling along and supporting that single focus. The story’s denouement is startling, plausible and touching. The denouement I have referred to is not one of closure since it leaves the reader still asking more questions and wondering why! All of this is achieved in a prose passage of 309 words using a first person narrative voice where the narrator, despite his pains, manages to remain composed and dignified, thereby revealing his own capacity for empathy and love.

This micro fiction is a must read! May our land continue to witness the flourishing of creative skills of the type we have seen displayed by Kemi and ladies of her generation.

Noel Ihebuzor

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!

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!

 

Ogbanje III

By Noel Ihebuzor

Thick as moonless night, debilitating damp

was your grip on our minds, clammy,

our thoughts misty fogged, drugged by mystical myths,

sights clouded, we saw the horned dog,

eyes red chilli, schools of skull carrying

fish flying and whirling around,  transporting

red toothed ageless mermaids sucking young blood

and souls, never questioning

the cry of the night owl calling to mate

made mothers freeze, cowering in fear,

covering the feverish body of

sick children lest the hollow hooting of the owl

their mournful summons siphon their spirits out

mothers, fathers shivering, sweating

ignorance thick on them

like wet blankets, minds haunted

  

New day, new dawn, the frontiers of your kingdom

roll back by half every quarter

the native doctor’s beads and amulets

now gather damp and dust,

shallow short red earth covered mounds

sad resting places for souls spirited away

slowly vanishing with the roll of time

 

new wisdom, knowledge and vision replace

specious séances garbed in obscurity

progress breathes, heaves rolls forward in waves, freeing,

washing away ignorance,

shrinking superstition,

knowledge unrobes untruths and lies,

its rays piercing illuminates the dark kingdoms

where once you roamed, raged

 ragging souls and joy with your minions,

uncovering why children die

that for which we blame the gods recedes

memories of starless bleak nights and deadening days

when mothers and fathers drained by truncated childhood

now distant, your shuttles, abrupt wailings,

the dreaded terror of childhood

ended in infancy by feverish frequent returns

to spirit-land recede, the suckling mother gay

suckled by the sound of happy progressing infancy,

bonding and binding to a child who stays

 

Victory, we rejoice and regale,

cakes and candles

celebrate another passing year new and many more to come

 

But let us beware,

one victory signals another battle

new Ogbanjes could be spawned in the emerging

sterile and suffocating space

where politicians with sterile policies

men and women caged by greed

minds manacled and shackled by corruption

the grabbing hand, ending up throttling life and sucking it

in resources siphoned and stolen

our red eyes survey the empty and emptying clinics

the dying and decaying social provisions

the death of vision, and we weep     

beware also of  kindred new spirits that end childhood

lurking in sprouting new religions that reinvent

the power of witches and wizards

selling smoke, suspicion and superstition

to unsuspecting slumbering followers,

shallow bewitched, emasculated by fear, minds entrapped

 

The bank accounts of preachers, politicians, public servants swell 

as ranks of new ogbanjes now begin to emerge,

to swell in ever increasing shallow graves,

and the soul draining groans of parents in pain.

Fizzy Feelings and Fuzzy Physics #2: Inertia – By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

We drift in habitual wobbling circles
hobbling like feet poorly cobbled, feeling
neither earth nor one another, stranded
arid motion free stretch of ever elongating slippery
quicksand highway, without grip or traction

Smiles stiff and still
not sparking eyes, sparkleless
exhausted, shambling, soulless routines once so fresh
now stale, sour, and old
constant motion long past dancing

Radius, diameter and circumference in grating logic
circling each other in yawning cycles 

We roll unresisting into a heavy, unpiloted slide
remaining in these present states easier
as with each change comes resistance
which must be swept across
or persuaded into action

what is held still craves flow,
though frozen and powerless
to break old bindings
and change direction

We shuffle limp on a limping highway
limp unable to rise nor flow, trudging on a treadmill
threadbare, going nowhere

The mournful sky wraps above and around us
mourning our uninspired mornings
soggy flat in colorless monochrome
borderless without hope, our soulless soles
burdened, weighty  and weighed down
at the border of the deadening present and a feared future

Eager to depart, move on and move apart
and resist its own yearning,
and though we have breath and pulse, we lie inert

The half-life of what lived long past
in search of direction,
going nowhere, unable to live
unwilling to leave

Habit a tripwire trapping our feet,
a seething past that teemed,
boiling over, over-run with energy heaves,
now idles
empty of steam and wind

With no wand to wave to will us forward
we live as hollow shells
in endless cycles of repetitions
that weep and
wait for that external force to move us
either backwards or forward,
to push us on or push us over Inertia

 

**While a pleasure, as always, to write with Noel, I can’t wait to move on to more dynamic physical concepts in this series we are working on

Again, Noel’s voice is not italicized, mine is. (Susan)

****Susan and I explore in this duet a concept in physics that dates back to Newton’s seminal work. Inertia is essentially about the inability of an entity for internally generated change and movement in the absence of external impetus.  It is a great joy to feel how in this duet we have been able discover some life and truths about life in Inertia!  Always a pleasure to sing with Susan and to feel her voice, soft and delicate,  blend with mine, gruff and often strident!  (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.

 

The long mile

She walks with slow dignity

Feet as lead, soul as stone

auto-pilot, behind him on this long last mile

a dark strangling walk, unfitting end to a journey

that had commenced with songs and stars

a mother’s heart frozen cold, numb

as sorrow scorches and freezes her

all at once  her to the core

of her being

 

No tears flow now

“He would not want me to cry in the public

Even though this mile I walk behind and with him

should be his to walk for me”

 

she dreads the end

the sight of another mother opening to receive and enfold him

the sound as shovelled in loose earth

draws the blinds forever

 

the tumbling sands drown her prayers

for the father’s bosom

to welcome this pilgrim

who returned too early

 

and as she  prayed

the welled up tears, push down the barriers

of soul destroying composure

and cascade, the heaving sobs and wails from

a shattered mother

shattering the solemn calm of a painful goodbye

 


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