PHOTOGRAPHER: kehinde ogunsanya
He pulled her face
to invade her space
he was close, so close,
for the first time, courage rose
in him, unlike gone days n’ nights
of wishful thinking, of aborted biddings
her mouth, his lips, wet n’ red
so very, very, very wet, spread
over hers to feed starving lips –
their first kiss.
Copyright © Ugo Nkwoala | Spilledwoords.org| 2021
Lad! Remember that no man ought to forget
a child’s tender youth is like tempering of wax
apt to receive form – discipline before affection
mix threats with a fair look, manner with wit.
A potter fashions his lay when it’s soft
a sparrow taught to come when young
hot iron by a hammer’s stroke begets form
and keeps it forever when cold.
Wise husbandman sow hemp before wheat
a seasoned gardener mix hyssop with thyme
a cunning painter for the whitest work
casts the canvass a black background.
Things past are past; Time’s hand turns not back
too late ‘ts to shut the stable door
when a steed tiptoes off
be not a Trojan – repent before your town is in ruin.
Nothing lasts forever; wounds heal,
broken hearts mend; grey skies turn blue
the sun shines where there used to be rain
Death renews creation; Birth renews death.
Know the difference, my son:
staring and stark blind, wit and wisdom, love, and lust.
Oh, be merry but with modesty
sober but not too solemn; valiant not too venturous.
Remembrance of past follies breeds guilt
love God, serve God, and fear God
his blessings will be beyond your heart
and the wishes of your friends and foes.
Fine crystal is sooner crazed than hard marble
the greenest beech burns faster than the driest oak
fairest of silk soil than the skin ‘t covers
the sweetest of wine turns to the sharpest of vinegar.
The caterpillar cleaves unto the ripest fruit
the most delicate wit bewitched with vice
one drop of poison infects the whole tun of wine
one strand of bitter leaf sours a pot of porridge.
Mistrust no man without cause
be not credulous without proof
light to follow every man’s opinion
nor obstinate to stand in your conceit.
I end my counsel, beseeching
heed my words; heed them faithfully
still do not to take to heart
all that comes to your ear,
Ignorance is kind; Wisdom pain
sometimes Truth is talking craze
othertimes a Lie the best medicine
for a grieving heart.
© Ugo Nkwoala | Spilledwoords.org | 2020
Photo by Sebastián León Prado
It was the stuff of a satire, were it not painfully true. Nnenne sat silently on a black-spotted Ankara patterned sofa surrounded by chattering friends and coworkers. She and a handful of friends at Lolo’s urging – her childhood friend and workmate, had gathered at her residence to celebrate a hard-fought promotion greeted with the sort of joy reserved for the winner of a national election. It was inevitable given that the cooperate culture at O-Town’s medical centers placed women in subservient roles. It was deserving of applaud, worthy of a party.
She gulped a bottle of Heineken over joffof rice, fried chicken served with sliced vegetables, and baked beans mixed with mayonnaise. In addition to the sitting-room doors, the dining area windows were flung wide open due to March’s dry season’s heat that rendered the overworking air conditioners ineffective. Had she been right to honor this invitation? She accosted herself in self-scrutiny. Maybe, she’s one too – Okë Mgborto*. Ladies who go around broadcasting how fine they are without a family to care for, a husband to order or supervise them. They enjoy sizable disposable incomes and lots of free time, unhindered travels to London and Dubai on shopping sprees, adopt expensive hobbies like collecting pieces of jewelry and posh automobiles, and throwing lavish weekend pool parties – all the while obsessing about getting a Mr. Right to marry.
As she was ruminating over this, two loud ladies in their early 50s, dressed not so sensibly for their age and not yet on overdrive with the Jack Daniel’s cocktail they were sipping, caught her attention.
“Adanee, you’re still with the bureau of Statistics?”
“I ran into your boss – Nze Ngozi Amadi, at a conference in Ibadan last week.”
“Mtchew, that parrot, she thinks a woman’s God-given purpose is to get hitched and breed.”
“Even in this modern day and age such a progressive mind still thinks so?”
“She’s not alone. Society still considers unmarried women failures and misfits.”
“Does she tell you that?”
“No, she knows better than to say so to my face, but occasionally her foot-soldiers deduce am not a ‘Full woman’ as if I’m a mutant.”
“A middle finger for those half-ass men”
“You mean the John Benson husbands of this world.”
Both ladies laughed while jovially shoving each other, definitely the whiskey was kicking in.
“It’s a brave new world. The thin line between being a husband and a wife is getting blurrier by the day.”
“I better get me a willing male and pay his dowry the John Benson way like your boss.”
“That will be lit.”
One of the ladies raised her glass as if proposing a toast.
Common sense is the most important sense of all. Listening in, Nnenne resolved to call Arinze to let him know she’s in her first trimester. Singleness can be hard work, so also grinding marriage and parenting. Can you have your cake and eat it? If Arinze can’t live up to what society expects of him, then the impossible will become a reality. She hopes custom wouldn’t be stiff-necked to this truism.
It’s about time I meet my in-laws for an introduction, Nnenne decided.
*Okë Mgborto: Ibo expression for unmarried ladies that have passed their prime.
(To be continued)
© Ugo Nkwoala | Spilledwoords.org | 2020
Photo credit: Michael Discenza for Unsplash
© Ugo Nkwoala |Spilledwoords.org | 2020