St. Scholastica

I wish I could just go back home.  Schola thought to herself. Why did mum insist I go to school today of all days? She had been sitting in the toilets for the last 15 minutes trying not to cry. From the first day she walked into her 11 grade class the whispers had followed her. It wasn’t just that she was currently one of just about five black students who attended St. Patrick’s Preparatory School, a school which had to be the cream of the crop of private schools in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Evanston, she was also African. African with an atrociously long name. The curious stares of her classmates had changed to snickers when they heard her name. 

Ngengenenge Scholastica Mbaya-Nfor. 

The name was irredeemable. During her first week of school she had tried to think of ways she could shorten it.  That had proven unsuccessful. Her name was a mess of double consonants that were simply beyond the linguistic ability of the staff and students of her school, it seemed. Even her Christian name was no better. She wished her devoutly Roman Catholic grandmother had picked another name. Elizabeth, maybe. Then she could just be Liz, or Beth. But she was Scholastica. After trying and tripping over Ngengenenge countless times, her teachers and school mates had taken to calling her Scholastica, almost always accompanied by the barely suppressed laughter. She’d quickly started referring to herself as Schola. The name had caught on and she’d just started to develop a thick skin to the ridicule. Then Ebola epidemic happened.

Suddenly, she was now Schola-bola. She heard the name whispered in the halls as she walked to her locker. It didn’t matter to the students that she was from Cameroon, a country not anywhere near the current hot zones. She was African and that is all they needed to know. It also didn’t help that she’d just arrived the US from Cameroon, that summer. Being newly arrived meant an added layer of perceived threat. Her classmates shied away from her and even Kate, her lab partner for chemistry, who Schola considered her only friend had begun to act funny. She probably thought Schola hadn’t noticed that when they were in chemistry lab, she constantly wiped down their work surface with acetone, even when there had been no spills.  

When Schola had told her mother what was happening, her mother told her to develop a thick skin. 

People in this country will always find something to accuse you off as long as you’re not from here,” she had said. “You have to learn to live with it.”

 Her mother would know. She was a Gynecologist/Obstetrician and was currently embroiled in a malpractice lawsuit. A patient of hers had died during childbirth and even though all indications pointed to the fact that the patient was a high risk patient: a woman in her late 40’s with un-diagnosed cardiac disease which the autopsy had revealed, she had also been the wife of a wealthy Evanston investment banker who had lost a wife and an unborn baby. The husband was deep in grief and had even deeper pockets. He was convinced that her mother’s incompetence – stemming from the fact that she had completed her medical education in Cameroon and not in the US – was the reason why his wife had died.

This morning, Schola had woken up with an itchy nose and throat. When this happened to her back in Cameroon, it usually meant within the course of the day she would develop a runny nose, start sneezing and possibly a fever and a head ache too. She had begged her mother not to let her go to school but her mother had been convinced she was just trying to get out of going to school and had refused to listen to her explanations. Schola had asked her to call her grandmother in Cameroon, who had raised her while her mother tried to get into a residency program and establish herself as a doctor in the US. Mama knew Schola’s aches and pains well and would have confirmed her claims, but her mother had refused adamantly. Schola had donned her uniform and tried to keep her tears at bay as her mother drove her to school. Surely enough, she’d begun sneezing and blowing her nose during English class and predictably, her classmates had acted like she was patient zero for the Ebola apocalypse.

She’d excused herself and made for the bathrooms, where she now sat. She heard the bell go off for lunch time and then the rush of footsteps and animated sounds of students leaving class. She wondered how long she could stay in the bathrooms before someone would notice she was missing. The door opened and girls poured into the toilets. Snippets of conversations swirled around her. The conversations ranged in topic but they were mostly about boys, peppered with “ohmigawds” and “totally” and “Snapchat” and “Facebook.” Schola felt like an alien at this school. Her world was so different from theirs. By all accounts she had been born into the lap of luxury, compared to her peers back in Cameroon. Between her mother who was a doctor, her father who even though divorced from her mother, had stayed in her life showering her with gifts, and her doting grandparents, she had never wanted for anything. But the students at St. Patrick’s took luxury to another level. They vacationed in the South of France, their parents had homes in exotic locations around the world and even owned private jets. Even their pencils had some designer label attached to them. Their conversations sounded like the conversations of regular American teenagers until you realized that the “Uncle Larry” the girl next to you was talking about was actually Larry Page of Google fame.

Schola wished for her days at G.B.H.S Bamenda. At G.B, as they had fondly referred to their school, it would not have been so bad. She would have fit right in. Ebola would have been a minor worry to most Cameroonian students, despite the fact that the country was probably at a bigger risk for an epidemic than the US. They would have made jokes about it too, but the jokes would have been lighthearted. Less vitriolic, not intended to make anyone feel like a subhuman being – an outsider. Also, there were a few children with more complicated names than hers.  Even by Cameroonian standards, Ngengenenge was a complicated first name for a girl but she had shortened it to Ngenge and that had been easy enough for everyone. She’d caught some teasing for her English name but it was so rarely used that had not lasted long. Besides, there were Banso children with names like Hilaria, Chrysogonous, Kizito or Relindis to tease. As a very Roman Catholic tribal group, the Bansos were notorious in Cameroon for giving their children the names of saints – more esoteric the better. Coupled with the fact that regular Banso names were tongue twisters in their own right, Banso children almost always were the targets of teasing. There would be Fondzenyuys and Mbiydzenyuys. She’d actually had a classmate called Chrysogonous Ndze Mbiydzenyuy. She remembered how they had laughed at him and felt a twinge of guilt. 

I need to snap out of this. She thought to herself. The bathroom crowd had thinned out with just two other girls in the bathroom. She could hear them talking about some girl named Cheryl who apparently had herpes.  She unlocked her stall’s door and stepped up to the sink to wash her hands. The girls paused their conversation when she stepped out. She didn’t recognize them but they recognized her. One of them took an exaggerated step away as she reached for paper towels. Schola sighed deeply. Simply going to the school nurse, telling her she did not feel well and asking for permission to go home would be a better solution right now. There was no way she was sticking around to be laughed at. She dried her hands and made for the door. 

The first shot rang out as she stepped into the hallway. She watched in stunned confusion as a girl, about 5 feet away from her fell to the ground after a spray of red emanated from where her head used to be. Around her students screamed and pandemonium ensued. The shots continued and Schola stood rooted to the spot, fear and shock rendering her paralyzed as she watched the carnage unfold. He wore their school uniform. Tall and lean with wavy black hair and the glowing tanned skin of the American upper-class, he would have been just another boy in the halls, if not for the gun in his hand. The gun with which he was methodically shooting his fellow school mates as they tried to get to safety. Schola found herself counting. He fired fifteen times, and then stopped. 

The fire alarm was ringing, the water sprinklers had been automatically turned on when the alarm was pulled. It sprayed water everywhere drenching everything in the vicinity. In the distance, Schola could hear the sound of screams, running feet and doors slamming shut. Police sirens sounded in the distance. The smell of heated metal hung in the air, mixing with the equally metallic but more organic smell of blood. Around her students lay on the ground, motionless – dead or unconscious. Others rolled around groaning and crying having either been shot or trampled upon during the stampede. 

Schola stood frozen, directly opposite the killer. He slid the apparently empty clip out of the gun and put in a new one, reloading with small economical movements. She watched him, paralyzed, unable to run. It felt like a nightmare. One of those nightmares where you knew danger was imminent but you somehow found yourself unable to move. The part of her brain that had not been shut down by fear ran a commentary in her head.

He’s going to look up and see me. Then he’s going to shoot me. Why can’t I run? Why won’t my legs move? Oh my God, why can’t I move?

He finished loading and looked up his eyes locking on her. He blinked slowly, looking surprised to see her. Schola closed her eyes, tears running down her cheeks. She knew what was coming. Under her breath she began to say the Lord’s Prayer, in Cameroonian pidgin. 

Our Father, whe you live for heaven, your name must be holy, make your commandia e come for we, how you want, so e must be for ground like for heaven. Give we chop whe enough for we for this day, and excuse we bad, like we too, we excuse the people whe them do we bad, no lef we go for bad road, but move we for bad thing.

“You’re the new girl, the one from Africa,” his voice came from directly in front of her. She hadn’t heard him move. She nodded, eyes still tightly closed, still praying, now sobbing. 

“Open your eyes. I’m not going to hurt you. I promise.”

Scholastica shook her head no. She couldn’t look at him – wouldn’t look at him. His was a face that would haunt her for the rest of her life if he really let her live. She didn’t need to see it up close.

“OK. That’s alright. What’s your name?” he asked, his voice gentle.

“Ngeng – Scholastica” She managed to say between sobs.

“Scholastica,” he mused. ” A Roman Catholic saint. Twin sister of  St. Benedict of Nursia. They say she prayed and summoned a storm, so her brother would stay and talk with her. She must have been a very lonely woman.”

He paused as though waiting for her to respond. She didn’t.

“I know they laugh at you, because of Ebola. The dumb fucks don’t even realize you couldn’t possibly have the disease.”

He paused again, and then continued.

“They laugh at me too, because I am smart and I see through their entire pretense.” 

He laughed then, sounding genuinely amused. 

“They’ll never laugh at me again after this. They’ll say my name with fear and anger but they will never laugh at me again.”

Schola heard him walk away, his steps loud in the water puddles that were beginning to form from the sprinklers.

“Hey,” he called back at her. Her eyes popped open before she could stop herself and she stared into his blank grey stare. “I’m really sorry you had to witness this.”

With those words, he turned and walked away towards the cafeteria.



The Lunch Date Pt 7.3

Read Part 1 here   Read Part 2 here   Read Part 5 here
Read Part 3 here   Read Part 4 here   Read Part 6 here
Read Part 7.1 here Read Part 7.2 here

                                             *******************************************

“You’ve been avoiding me…”


“Yes, I have…And you know why.”

“I needed you, Mabel.”

“You need to sort things out with your wife, Max”

“My wife?” He laughed bitterly  “I don’t have a wife. I don’t have a marriage.”

Mabel didn’t say anything. Around them, the hospital cafeteria buzzed with activity, the lunch crowd in full swing. It was about a month since she’d dodged him in her office hallway. She’d come back from the bathroom to find him gone. Marcia her receptionist, had told her that he’d been on the phone with someone then had taken off in a hurry without saying a word. She’d not followed up with him, not even wanting to get involved further in whatever was going on. She also had tried even harder to avoid him, sometimes even ignoring his calls. He’d finally cornered her today just as she left her office for lunch and insisted on talking with her. They’d walked together, making small talk about work. He’d gotten a sandwich and she a bowl of soup. They’d selected a table away from the main traffic area. Both meals now sat, forgotten in front of them.

“You’re still married, Max. That puts me in a very difficult position.”

“I talked with her, you know.” He continued. Mabel’s breath caught. What had Iya told him? Did he know they had met?

“Yeah, you told me you and her talked.” She said, trying to sound unconcerned,

“It’s so complicated…Mabes. I want to be mad at her but at the same time I cannot be mad at her.”

Mabel wrestled with her emotions. He still talked with her as though they were an item, using the nicknames he’d  formed. Under normal circumstances, this would be the point where she, the mistress, would lose her cool and accuse him of playing with her emotions, while he had no intentions of leaving his wife. But how could she? She understood perfectly why he felt conflicted. She felt conflicted.

She kept her expression neutral.

“And I’m sorry I am putting all of this on you. It’s just… you’re the only one I can really talk to about this. Anyone else would ask for explanations and I just cannot talk about it to them.”

“What makes you think I don’t want explanations?” She asked, wryly.

“I don’t know. You should want explanations. You, of all people, should be demanding explanations. But you are not.”

“No, I’m not.”  She mused softly, playing with the plastic wrapping of the cracker she’d gotten with her soup. 

“She loves him. This man she’s having affair with. She loves him. They’ve known each other since her time at Cornell and it’s his family’s company she works for. You may have heard of them, the Roths… they’re a rich Jewish family here in Chicago. They were in a relationship back then and they broke up. He married someone else and she married me even though she loves him.”

He sounded so broken. So lost. She wanted to gather him close and hold him tight. 

“I was in a bit of denial. I didn’t want to believe she would betray me like that. But then I began to notice things I had missed when I assumed that all was well between us and we were just busy with work. The distance, the emotional distance that had developed between us. Looking further back, I realize that this distance had been there since we reunited. She was with me but she was only halfway there. It wasn’t like we were before in Buea. Even knowing this, knowing that she lied to me, I still can’t be completely angry with her because she had some pretty tough choices to make herself. She’s been through so much.”
He paused, seeming to catch himself. She understood that he didn’t want to sound too sympathetic of Iya when talking to her. She didn’t say anything.

“We should get a divorce. That is the only logical resolution at this point. I won’t try to hold on to her if she doesn’t want to be with me. But even that is complicated. Someone from our village, some nurse who works here saw us – me and you, that is –  together and somehow put two and two together. She’s been talking to people in our community here and the assumption is that I am cheating on Iya. If we divorced now, I will end up with the reputation of a cheat. But I don’t want to come out and say she cheated first, that’s none of their business and it  will open a whole new can of worms. But at the same time, when my parents hear about this, they will be so disappointed. Seeing their oldest son as a successful professional who is also married and settled is a dream they’ve had for ever. I’m supposed to be setting the good example for my little brother and sister. I don’t want my family or hers for that matter to have to deal with that mess.”

“But you won’t stay with her either.” Mabel pointed out calmly. 
“No, I can’t. She doesn’t love me. I will not remain in a marriage just to keep up appearances. I want more than that. I want better than that. I’d rather be alone than have to settle for that.” 

He ran his palm over his face as though wiping away the thought of being stuck in a dead marriage. 

“My parents didn’t have a grand love story or anything but they liked each other,” he continued.  “They wanted to be with each other. You could tell by the way they interacted with each other, how they functioned as a unit. They created a family life that really laid a foundation for me and my siblings. We were happy. I could easily tell which of my friends had parents who had resigned themselves to their marriage. I always promised myself I would never settle for anything less than what my parents had , if not for myself then at least for my children.”

They sat in silence for a couple of minutes. Then Mabel spoke.

“If you are worried about your parents, you should call them yourself and tell them this. You don’t have to go into details on why you and Iya are no longer able to stay together but tell them what you just told me. Tell them what you want from your marriage and that what you and Iya have will not give you that, after all. They are your parents and they will understand or at the very least accept it, if they care about you. Let Iya decide how she breaks the news to her folks. This is her mess too and she has a role in fixing it.  The only people you, maybe, owe explanations to are your direct family. Nobody else’s opinion on your marriage counts. Let them talk if they want.”

“You don’t understand, Mabel. Iya and I…. We…. Let’s just say there are a lot of people looking up to us. People we’re going to disappoint by divorcing, especially with talk about cheating.”

Mabel sighed deeply. 

“I know, Max. But you know you’re not going to stay in the marriage and try to make it work. People will talk, no matter what. You can’t possibly factor that into this decision. Yes, they are going to be disappointed, but that is life. They will get over it. Besides, people have lives to live and their own problems you think they are going to stay focused on what issues you and Iya have? It will be a scandal for a couple of months, whispers will continue for a year or two maybe, but they will get over it, eventually. Yours is not the first nor will it be the last scandal. Things do not always work out, and we all have to go on to find other ways to stay inspired. You’re doing what is best for you, for both of you, what will leave you both happier. She’s going to be with someone she loves and who hopefully loves her back. And you…” 

Mabel paused, then fell silent.

Yes. 

What about him? She thought to herself. In all this talk about the end of his marriage, he hadn’t mentioned what the next steps would be for him…and certainly nothing about their relationship. There was a time when she would have let herself believe he loved her and that if things ended with Iya, it would mean they could be together but that hope had been crushed the day she had sat there and listened to him rhapsodize about Iya with his boss. Now that he knew for certain that things were over, would she still be the one he turned to? And would whatever relationship they now had last longer than however long it took for him to grieve?

“You’re right.” He said, completely oblivious to her inner turmoil. “I should talk to them. The sooner this ends the sooner everyone can get the hell over it, the sooner I can carry on with my life and Iya with hers. “

“And me, Max? What about me? Where do I fit into this plan?” 

Mabel hated the note of desperation she could hear in her voice but she needed to know if she also needed to get the hell over things and carry on with her life. Her heart sank, her fears confirmed when she saw Max look at her, his eyes widening ever so slightly, as though he had only just then realized that the woman sitting opposite him was not his therapist but his lover for the past year. His mouth opened but no words came out. 

Mabel pushed back from the table and picked up the tray containing her untouched bowl of soup. Without a word, she walked over to the trash receptacle and dumped the food out. She placed the tray on the shelf carrying stacks of dirty trays, sanitized her hands and then left the cafeteria.


Read Part 7.4 here






The Gui Chronicles 1

Lem had the dream again. She’d begun having  the dream from the day she saw her first flow, which meant she was now able to start wearing her seer stones and sit with the arobos, the tribal seers. She could now sit with them and hone her skills as one of the people chosen by Laa Gui, the Water Mother, to guide the village.


It was a strange dream and this time it was different.

It started with her in her mother’s womb, just before Laa Gui called her mother’s water. Her people the Gui believed that a child in a womb, surrounded by gui’she – the waters of life, was how Laa Gui gave the gift of life. They believed that Laa Gui formed the child in the depth of her own womb, Gui’mbe the wide expanse of water on whose shores they lived, and slowly transferred a little bit of the water and the child into the mother’s belly as the child grew. When the child was ready to live in the world, Laa Gui announced this by calling back her water which flowed out of the mother’s body, before the child came out. 

In Lem’s dream, however,  Laa Gui called her mother’s water but instead of being born into the world a screaming baby, she was born back into Gui’mbe  fully aware of who and where she was. She would spend the dream swimming under water, never surfacing for breath. She played with Laa Gui’s other children, those who still lived in her womb and either had yet to be born or were destined to stay in Gui’mbe so the Mother would not be lonely. She  learned their languages and ways, ate their foods, learned their secrets of healing. All through this, a sense of foreboding stayed in her mind. It felt as though Laa Gui was making her see and learn these things as a reminder. A reminder and a warning. Of what, she couldn’t tell.

The dream always ended in the most confusing way. She would suddenly feel the need to breathe which she hadn’t felt before, so she would swim to the surface. When she emerged from the waters, it would be dusk. Gui’mbe gleaming with the burnt orange light of  Saa Shan,  Laa Gui’s mate who ruled  Shan’mbe –the skies. Every evening  he sank into her bosom for their nightly connubial rest. As she treaded water, breathing the sweet evening air, marveling at the beauty of Saa Shan’s descent, a dark shape rose from the point where Gui’mbe and Shan’mbe met.

Moving slowly, it would grow and grow till it became fully visible. It looked like a krong  one of the small crafts the water masters used when they visited Laa Gui to catch fish for food. But unlike the water master’s vessels, it was bigger and longer, with tall spikes covered with wide stretches of cloth. 


In her dream, she would look back towards land and find that she was far from the shore, so far she could barely make it out. No one would hear if she yelled. She continued to tread water, watching the vessel move closer and closer, a dark, ominous feeling creeping over her as it did. When they were close, so close she could see figures moving aboard – figures that looked like men. She watched in horror as they released what looked like a huge spear, a spear attached to a chain. Slowly, they lowered it down the side of their vessel towards Gui’mbe and then just before it touched the waters, they released their grip so instead of breaking the surface gently, the spear pierced right through, it seemed, into Gui’mbe’s belly, the long chain to which it was attached allowing it to fall till it hit Laa Gui’s back with a thud.

The jolt of this thud usually woke Lem up from the dream, but not this time. 

This time, the piercing of Gui’mbe generated a ripple. This ripple grew into a wave which swept Lem away from the vessel, bearing her towards the village at a speed faster than she would ever have been able to swim. The wave deposited her on the shores where the water masters kept their krong and as it receded, flowing back into the depths from whence it came, Lem heard Laa Gui speak to her, the first of what would become many times.

“Naa mu fe nk’a, Lem. Naa mu Gui ben-ben. Naa mu shatani wi long pem.”

Warn them, Lem. Warn my children, quickly. Warn them their downfall is coming.




Dueling Poets: A Conversation

So things got pretty epic on my Facebook page yesterday. My friend True Lion apparently possessed by the spirits of Kwesi Brew, Mbella Sone Dipoko and Lord Byron unleashed some lines of poetry on us all. Not one to let things go without a comeback  (I no go carry last for palaver iambic pentameter), yours truly responded in kind. Here’s what resulted.


Enjoy!
 
 
 


True Lion

Double standard.
You say no to Africa
Yet you say Africans don’t like you
You put Africa in a box
Label it, Hunger
Label it, Poverty
Yet you say Africans don’t like you
You colonize Africa
Suck the living hell out of her
Spray her with debt in the name of AIDS
Yet you wonder,why
Why she hates you
Africa was born free
But Everywhere in chains
With everlasting scars all over her body,SLAVERY
But yet you wonder…..
Sitting on this fence called “my position”
I wonder what plans her youth has for the future
For greed has failed us
With leaders dying on the throne
Leaving no real channel of communication

 

Palava Woman 


Hypocrisy
You say no to the America’s wiles
Yet, you want America to validate you, save you
You put America on a pedestal
Label it, Freedom
Label it, Heaven
Yet you say America looks down on you
You abandon your homes for America
Sacrifice your integrity to get to America
Give her money in the name of visa fees
Yet you wonder why
Why she laughs at you
America was born guilty
Her history painted in blood
Blood like yours
With everlasting scars all over her body
SLAVERY, JIM CROW
But yet you wonder…
Sitting on this fence called “my position”
I wonder what plans her masses have for our future
For our sense of entitlement will fail us
With people unwilling to lift a finger
Leaving Africa powerless. 


True Lion 

I don’t buy it
Never will pay for it.
Shots taken on African men
Shots Not founded at all
It’s the opposite
Might not be the way you accustomed to
Just a different way of approach
Just a different way of loving
Actions, not just words
Actions, not just words.
Daddy a care giver
Never used the L word frequently
Never wore the L word on his mouth
But his actions all about loving
Actions, not just words
Actions, not just words
Action gets a make over
Action dresses up the L word
The evolution of an African daddy



Palava Woman


I won’t carry it
Never will bend over for it
Burdens imposed on African women
Burdens not deserved at all
It’s the opposite
Might not be the way you accustomed to
Just a different way of approach
Just a different way of living
Actions, not just words
Action, not just words
Mummy, liberated.
Never used the F word frequently
Never wore the F word on her mouth
But her actions all about living free
Actions, not just words
Actions, not just words
Action gets a make over
Action dresses up the F word
The evolution of an African mummy 


True Lion  


Can’t fight it
So I stand by it
Can’t ignore it
So I embrace it

       Knowledge to acquire
       Knowledge we require 
       So I embrace it 

I keep asking,
Are we on rebate?
Why Carry yourself so low
Why we living in ignorance? 

Come join the ranks
Knowledge is power
Knowledge is to be acquired
Knowledge we require



And then it got even better because our awesome friends decided to get in on the fun. 
 
 

Kangsen Mpaco Masango

The interjection from left field,
On thoughts of the killer and killed,
Had us wondering what would be so different,
If the sheep had the butchers knife to wield.
It will be the same,
We’d still the the bleating butcher is insane.
We’d know he is corrupted and power is to blame,
Because power is the name of the game.
If the good die young Africa would been still born.
If cheaters never prosper , then slavery would have never been born.
But man curses and is cursed,
So every man must sing his verse.
Africa’s despots steal her virginity , and neo colonist grant them immunity, 
allowing them to act with impunity and they collectively debase humanity so, 
what’s it to me?
I want to be the verse,
The one that inspires, transpires and conspires to make the soul of man aspire to to better… 
Let’s be better y’all

 


LUNCH HOUR MUSINGS

Now on my lunch break, memories of the treats from him and her still on my mind. Treats of their poetry that teased my brain from the funk of the morning fog that clogged my thoughts and bogged me to slump with a thump. 

I pry my phone open, anticipation heightened, treat or no treat? I scroll, now intrigued, how did this start, what’s the genesis, what did I miss? Need I dig? But whose thread dare I seek?

Ah yes, they didn’t fail me, Pretty & True they hold their pledges through. Yet truth though pretty, does it an animal create? The bubbling roar of the lion makes his point, Beast that he is, will he let Beauty be? 

I feel like a voyeur in their world as they toss and fuss, talk and moan, Beauty & the Beast, their words all true. Pretty Lion, True Beast, in my mind they write till dusk
                                                           – MAH MEKOLLE 

But back to business…

 

Palava Woman

Don’t fight it
Don’t be crushed by it
Pay attention
See the truth in it

Knowledge will empower
Knowledge will liberate
See the truth in it

I keep saying
Even as I berate
In ward, let the thoughts flow
Introspection will break the trance

I walk the ranks
Knowledge is indeed power
Knowledge that must be acquired

Knowledge will liberate

 

True Lion

I am on a long wait
Minutes feel like hours
Hours as long as days
My mind is working overtime

Uncertain times
Questionable moments
A recipe for a racing mind,

Pacing mind
Chasing answers
Uncertainty crisp dipper

What the hell
The bells rings
I hit the Dell with questions.
I get answers on my Dell screen

Tough times
Tough love
I hit the nail on the anvil
Never easy to make decisions
Decisions in unfamiliar situations
Paid the cost to be the boss
You are fired

(I be di cut some my small sweet pre-siesta nang) 

Palava Woman

My bed is warm
Hours feel like minutes
Minutes as short as seconds
My body exhausted

Busy times
Hurried moments
A recipe for an exhausted mind

Foggy mind
Checking time
Annoyance, need more sleep

What the hell
The bell rings
I ignore it
Sleep is sweeter

Tough times
Tough love
I shove the phone under a pillow
This decision is easy
Decisions in times of sleep
Never asked to be the boss
Never realized I was hired

 

True Lion 

Whisper to me
I am in need, in deed

Whisper to me
I can hear you 
No matter how low your tone.
Even in silence 

Whisper to me
I can read your mind,
Your every move
Even in the darkest nights

Can you whisper to me?
I am in need in deed
Those comforting words
The silence breaker
The whispers to me

Palava Woman 
 
What use is a whisper?
What do you need?
 
What use is a whisper?
When plainly I can speak?
Low tone? Silence?
Clearly we just met
 
What use is a whisper?
Wishes and aspirations
Goals set in delusions
Lost in night darker than darkest
 
Again, what use is a whisper?
What do you think you need?
Words meant to incite
Silence never an option
What’s in a whisper?
 
 
THE WATCHER WATCHES
 
Watching closely 
Things just got deeper
But deeply seeming or surface posturing?
 
They’re off the course 
Now they’re whispering 
Whispers of what, pray tell the Watcher. 
 
15:00 snack, the 
Watcher watches
He bids her whisper, 
Beauty says never!
 
Popcorn popping 
The watcher waits, 
Whose turn to speak
But thee make haste!
 
– MM





Alas, that was it for the night. Palava Woman had not so poetic business to take care of. 

But you know I couldn’t let it go without a Feminist rant, so here’s one for the F club ladies. Woman eh!

Défi Lancé 
 
Here’s the deal
Let me help you make your choice
Here’s how I feel
Listen to my voice
 
You can let me be me
You can let me be free
You can give me my space
You can join in my race
 
But if you purport to lead
If you want to be the hand that feeds
If you want me to “submit”
If you want to play the beat
 
You better be a pillar
A drummer like no other
You better be the mighty iroko that never falters
Your feeding hand ever strong
Your lead never wrong
 
Or you can just let me be free
Let me be me
Let me have my space

 

Join me in my race
 
I don’t know about you folks, but  that was fun 😀 
We should do it more often.

 

Make We Go See Mami Them: Understanding and Response

Hair salons in Cameroon are fascinating places. The conversations you hear there between women, you’re not likely to hear them anywhere else. I’ve already talked about Caro’s in Buea Town but I also remember Fancy Fingers, the best braiding salon in Molyko, just around Malingo Junction. I was getting my hair braided there one afternoon and had mostly just sat there listening to the conversations of the women around me. The women were mostly talking about the Nigerian movie playing on the small TV screen. It was a love story, fraught of course with betrayals and misunderstandings. Loud sound effects, fake western accents and enough drama to give Shonda Rhimes a run for her money. I think Desmond Elliot and Kate Henshaw were the main characters.

Any way at the end of the movie, Desmond drops to his knees and proposes to Kate. Romantic violin music swirled in the background and all the woman in the salon sighed in bliss. Then one of the girls spoke.

“I no know why this Cameroonian boy them no fit make like Nigerian boy them. Cameroonian boy no go ever propose, like Desmond just propose so. Wuna go just di follow, di follow, di follow then one day e go look you with corner eye ask you sey ; Ase-eh, we di go see mami them which time noh?”

We all laughed our assess off even as we agreed that when it came to chatting, romance and proposals, Cameroonian dudes left a lot to be desired. 

So  this morning, when my sister from another mother, shared a rant about the continued cluelessness of Cameroonian boys, I immediately remembered that afternoon in Molyko. Here’s her rant. Tell me what you think!


This Thing I Call “Understanding and Response”

Most of us know instinctively what this is, but if not let me explain what this concept  means. Simply put “Understanding and Response” is the manner guys have of implying something (usually romantic feelings) and the girl to whom they imply understands them enough to respond in kind or in “understanding”. This is a common practice I’ve observed among Cameroonian men, in particular. I believe the root of it is simple. Their egos are fragile. So rather than come out and state their feelings, because they fear rejection,  they would rather imply and if the girl seems willing to “go along” or “understand” great! If not, they’ll act like it was all just a joke. 

Let me give you all an example: 

A guy and girl are introduced through a mutual friend. They chat online occasionally and increasingly after meeting. He has asked her if she’s in a relationship to which she answered “no”. They have both discussed views on Cameroon, on religion, on music.  Through their chat messages they have literally covered basic topics one might have discussed on the first date or a meet and greet during rentre scolaire week on a new campus. They have joked over TV shows and over their mutual friends. He has made comments like “e dey like sey ya time don reach for carry bele.” She has made comments like “you need for find woman you di over follow girl dem“.

One would say they are friends and yet they are not because there are undercurrents and those undercurrents speak of understanding and responseYou see the guy assumes that because he sends you a message and you both have three hour long conversations, that you would know he’s interested. He assumes that because he has called you “sweety” or “sexy”  you understand his particular kind of interest. 

It is with this assumption that I have a problem. 

I know some would say its the way things are today, that we have progressed but the fact  is, in my opinion its regression. What happened to asking? Where does CONSENT come in with this understanding and response deal? When you are implying so much that you would take a kiss (if offered of course) do you consider that, what a kiss may mean to you may mean something else to another? 

Call me traditional (and proudly so) but I don’t think you are dating someone until you’ve asked and both of you are CRYSTAL CLEAR on what that relationship entails. I don’t think you are INTERESTED in someone till you EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST clearly. I’m not saying you should propose marriage within a month. But say it! If you want take it back to school and right on a piece of paper:

I want you to be my girlfriend. Do you want me back ?

Yes       No

Circle ONE.


Here is what pisses me off the most, if you didn’t notice I was pissed, this practice puts girls at a disadvantage. A girl may want a relationship with you, but doesn’t know what kind of relationship you are offering because you haven’t asked anything you just keeping implying. But in demanding that you state your intentions clearly she is seen as putting pressure on you or being immature for not understanding. 

 Badluck! As if maturity makes one foolish!

And on the other hand. If the girl goes along and accepts these implications whatever they are, she is to blame for all the wahala down the road when something happens, like he cheats. She will be asked: Did you guys ever agree on an exclusive relationship? What was the agreement from the get go? Did he even make any promises? So why are you saying “He broke my heart” when words weren’t even uttered except a “Sweety” here or a “Damn you have a fine ass” there?  


See eh, as you begin so shall you continue. 

And then of course the faux pas: This guy who has probably visited you after work and left your house at almost midnight, or the one who has been calling you pumpkin and making noises about traveling to Cameroon to hook up with you first thing. This mbut gets OFFENDED when you tell  him in the course of all his implying that you aren’t interested in a relationship. He says “Who even asked you out?” He claims you made assumptions about his interest. (Of course you did, no be so e di start?) You assumed and then made an effort to stop or clarify things early because understanding and response is how everyone does things.

You see, this is the ultimate aim of Understanding and Response. Guys are afraid of hearing no, so they escaped from asking. Now, if they imply and you pick up the bait, fine. When you don’t, it’s not a rejection so their egos are intact. But if you understand the implied and respond by giving the fatal and dreaded  blow to the ego: rejection, it becomes an assumption and its your fault. 

Tsuiiipppp! They nova born wuna.

We’re on to you, fellows. We understand and we will respond as we see fit.

Moments from the Life of a Woman

He had a beautiful apartment. Clean, airy and full of light streaming in from wide bay windows. With filtered air and the noise from the busy Chicago street below muted by perfect window sealing, the apartment quietly screamed wealth  in the way that only pricey apartments in Lincoln Park could. Creamy white walls and brown hard wood floors were complemented by black leather furniture accented with brightly colored cushions. A bookshelf lined one wall, stuffed to overflowing with books on what seemed like every topic known to man. The walls were bare, except for a series of abstract paintings and a large framed black velvet surface on which were glued coins, stones and shells from every place he had ever visited in the world – and they were many. He was, after all, marketing director for Vantage Travel Management and Consulting, one of the top business travel firms in the US. 



She sighed happily as she walked around, taking it all in. She’d barely had the chance to look last night. Between the three glasses of wine she had consumed, the excitement of finally being able to visit his place and their mutual arousal, checking out his apartment had been the last thing on her mind. But this morning, after leaving him in bed, putting on her clothes and starting a pot of coffee,  she had given in to her curiosity about him and how he lived, hungry to know more about this guy who basically was her dreams and prayers wrapped up in 6 feet 2 inches of delicious male body.

They’d met at L’Appetito, one of the restaurants which served tenants of the John Hancock Center, the building which housed both their offices. It had been a rainy and miserably cold Chicago evening and she’d been unwilling to return, after work, to her quiet empty apartment for a solitary dinner. She’d gone to the restaurant instead, ordered a bowl of soup served with some delicious garlic bread and settled into a corner to people watch and enjoy her meal. Her eyes had soon fallen on the man sitting at the bar, nursing what looked like brandy, watching her. He’d raised his glass in salute and she’d smiled politely in return. They had spent the rest of the evening ignoring each other. After that day, they seemed to run into each other everywhere. In the parking garage, in elevators, a couple more times at L’Appetito, in hallways, she’d even spotted him a couple of times on the Red Line. They always simply smiled at each other and made no further contact but when they’d found themselves standing in line for coffee at Lavazza, their smiles had turned to amused laughter.

“I’m going to act like I’ve not noticed you stalking me…” he said playfully.

“I’m going to do exactly the same…” she had replied with a chuckle.

She accepted his offer to buy her coffee and they’d made the short walk back to their building together, chit chatting along the way. Their chance encounters had continued and instead of just smiling, they had started talking to each other. About work, about trips, about projects. She’d been careful not to show how interested she was in him and he’d been completely respectful of her space. They’d carried on for over a month and she’d begun to wonder about his intentions but he eventually asked her out to dinner. That had evolved into more dates, more time spent together and the beginnings of a relationship, now approaching its sixth month.

He was amazing. Highly intelligent, well accomplished, a great conversationalist and had a great sense of humor. He had  traveled widely, loved his job and was ambitious. He was attentive and kind with the kind of joy that just seemed to flow from within.  He had the annoying habit of cracking his fingers loudly and just about anywhere and he didn’t wear any cologne, which was a little off putting, but otherwise, he was perfect.

She stood in the middle of his granite and chrome kitchen, eyes closed, breathing in the familiar and stimulating smell of coffee and allowed herself to fantasize about living here with him. Waking up to Saturday mornings like this, followed by a quick run, maybe a trip to the Lakefront for brunch, then grocery shopping and errands as a couple. She felt like one of the characters in the Harlequin novels she’d snuck into school and stayed up reading by torchlight,  after lights-out hoping and praying that the dormitory captains would not not to catch her, and that her batteries would last till the end of the book. So lost was she in her fantasy, the key turning in the lock didn’t at first register. When she heard the apartments main door open and close then footsteps followed by what sounded like the wheels of a suitcase, she turned towards the sound, a little alarmed.

Curious brown eyes met curious brown eyes. Both sets of curious brown eyes turned to shocked brown eyes as both women realized what exactly was going on. No words needed to be said. Curious brown eyes clouded with fury.

“Steven!!!!” the woman roared, as she headed for the bedroom where he undoubtedly still lay sleeping. The bed room door banged open as she stormed in. A beat later she heard his voice, hoarse with sleep and panic…

“Irina…? You’re back early…”

That was all she needed to hear. She picked up her purse, which thankfully was on the coffee table and quietly let herself out of the apartment.