DEAR UCHE NJIE, FROM MY LIFE I WRITE TO YOU THE MEMORIES OF A LONGING LIFE.
Like the spider spinning her web and knowing which threads were safe for her to tread on and which were the sticky ones meant to trap her meals, I am quite a stammerer blaming the work of my maker whenever I lift up my face to look the sun in the face. It doesn’t matter the kind of smile it wears, I have made this voice of mine to come in a monotonous way to overcome anything. It could be from the beginning where we began the dance of the spirit that I learnt to hold my heart and watch the moon peeped from the corner of the market. I wrote this listening to Maroon 5′ Memories — As a matter of Fact, music has not only become the weapon of my warfare, it has become more or less the must-have weapon of everybody around the world. To the left, a little child is being driven to sleep by a lullaby from a doll; to the right, a depressed man is being taught how to smile again by the lyrics of a soulful or RNB music; downtown, a hustler’s dream is being fuelled by the lyrics from fast-track music. And in the Ivory towers, the beauty of wealth is celebrated with royalty music. Music is not just only a weapon to different people but it has now become a culture to drive different purposes. I have chosen to be called the wizard of Aba as people have chosen my kind of voice —
My voice from the other side echoed picking debris of burnt souls in the streets of Ohafia. You don’t need much colour to this voice. Any colour — black — yellow or Green may work. Any child who claims that he knows as many proverbs as his father should be prepared to pay as much tax as his father does and he may have the same grey hair like his father to equal his wisdom. My mother once said that how we enter the house does not matter sometimes but what matters is the way we leave the house. I hate the fact that I have to believe that boys like us are still reaching out to fight for things with certain kind of silence— damaged —broken and gullably twisted in between. What if all we fight for are facade? What if?
I have come because of the memories our ancestors left behind, those whose passing I did not want to watch. I have come because of my longings to hold a soul as holy as ours. I wanted to come back many times, just to ask you what you think of life and breath. I have not come to tell of the story of two brothers wearing the same shoes. I have come to tell of this adage told by our forgotten identities in the same entity where we have been mockingly stacked into what we can not finish before the night arrives. I have been standing here for a long time. I have been holding a Sceptre and the Ofor. I have been telling a story to some boys in my street. I have been telling them how to be boys. I have been holding one with me. As I allowed the other sit on my laps. I am going to ask them of their names but I will be willing to tell them about myself and boys like you, too. I have told them of their fathers as grotesque shards of lost hope. I am not going to make them cry, I promise.
I am going to be honest with my tale. On the tree opposite me are two birds looking at us. They look like those you see in Nkwo Ngwa market. One boy chased them away before but they didn’t go. I asked him to leave the birds alone when they returned but he reluctantly left for his mother’s house. I don’t know why he left but some boys here said he has trouble looking at the eyes of others. By the right side of my house, Some people are celebrating Birthday. I can see the celebrant in a red rosy gown. She is wearing black shoes. She paints her lips red to match the Red gown she’s wearing. Her boyfriend is around her. He looks like those kind of boys that didn’t suck their mother’s breasts for nine months. He looks shy and calm. He looks at us seated. His eyes are inviting but this party isn’t my call.i am telling these boys of mine how this country has failed us. I am telling them how our mistakes have made us who we are. From my life, I write you the memories of today holding what is left of what is good. We can say goodbye because we’ve met in rickety vehicles of chaos transporting dreams to different places. I am standing here digging a shallow grave, a dog had died last night in our compound. The boys dug a fatal grave last night but I covered it this morning before we gathered. I am standing here right now, praying and hoping the weather comes with a different kind of free rain to wash down these tears of ours. These tears that have forever be ceremonial to culture — I am here doing many things at the same time. I am half way to doom.
You know what the Ancestors once said about spirits? They said spirits arrived in great numbers, with great personalities, in honour and nobilities with contradictory notions; and they treat us with many potions of faith and trust, subject us to diverse incantations, sacrifices, thoughts, massages, and libation. Our Ancestors said spirits are nightwalkers that in the midnight, they expose us to special spirits evoked in the sacred forest of life, but nothing they do ever help us get better as humans. They are fond of holding us into their incantations and prayers but don’t know how to send forth goodness to us. Even the herbalists that stand between us and the gods and the spirits, they don’t find their ways into our dreams anymore. They dont attempt to do battle with the shadow forms that lurked in our mind; but all they have succeeded in doing was making our nightmares worse and exaggerating, and exacerbating our illness, till it became so bad that we longer speak or even try to long for each other.
No one gets a mouthful of food by picking in between another person’s teeth. I have not come to wish our morning to keep wallowing in engulfing darkness. I have come for this longings and memories of our own. After a decade, I stopped planning those trips of coming with this longing of self worth and for five years I did not pack a weekend bag or tell my mind to prepare for a trip down south. I was always frozen in place, unable to get out of bed, certain that any movement would shatter me into a million tiny pieces. You know I have not come to wrestle with fate with my fists of faith but to keep this longing in the soul of tomorrow for the perfection of the boys in the streets of Nigeria and Africa.
©John Chizoba Vincents