Suicide note

Ramatu,

You actually did form a part of my life, and you did so in ways I can’t explain. Only I wish now I had more time to appreciate. But even as I write, there is this looming doom in the horizon and it’s just few hours before the Imam comes with a vest of explosives to dress me up. Life has been most indifferent for me. I know they say it’s not a bed of roses, but I would have preferred a bed of thorns to what I am passing through. My peril describes that of a sinking man who actually thinks he is floating until his back touches the river bed. That’s the sad point I am now, a point of no return.

It all began when I met you. You carried an aura, a semblance of that possessed by Queen Amina. You were queen, an angel or so I thought. I fell in love with you. But ours was not the Western world where you could express your love publicly especially when it was considered ungodly. Religions in Nigeria demand purity and Islam would not be an exception. So even in the midst of our passions, I never got closer than close to you in those early days. You would invite me over to your house on Salah days but I shied away. I remember on one of such occasions you promised your father would be out and only your mum would be in. So I went along with you. We talked, joked, laughed and were only interrupted by your mum’s intermittent calls. That was my very first visit and it seemed pleasant. When you came to see me off, you held my hands for what seemed to me like forever. I felt I was in the presence of Allah. That night as I walked back to school, I felt butterflies dance in my stomach. Our friendship went on and on and we began seeing each other at late hours and odd places. I loved it but usually wondered what kind of father you had that was never at home to monitor your movements. Each time I enquired about him, you answered, “He has gone to the mosque”. He must be a devoted one I thought. Whenever you came to visit me, you would wear one of your big hijabs. When we wanted to kiss or do our thing, I would hide under the hijab. No one ever noticed, probably because romance under the hijab was the norm then. This went on and on until one day you said you would like me to meet your father. He was a politician and was well known throughout the state. We arranged for a Friday after mosque for me to meet him.

Alhaji Usman as he was called was not a man who spoke much. So that Friday when he met me in his house, he only asked my name and whether I’d been to the mosque at all. When I told him I had, he only smiled and went into his room. You were proud I’d met your father and even spoken with him. Your mother served freshly made Kunu and Masa but I didn’t join them. I was shy. That was my second visit and what would be the last.

One evening I returned to the room and met a note. I looked at Abdul and he jabbered “your girlfriend brought it.” I carefully opened it. You wrote, “My father wants to see you”. Fear seized me. Had he found out my sins with his daughter? I’d be finished. The next sentence read, “He said you should meet him at the mosque unfailingly this night, any time this night. Love you…” What could he possibly want from me? We had only met once. And why did he choose the mosque of all places? And he said any time at night, was he going to sleep there? I looked at my watch and it was already past seven. I decided to go straight away.

Alhaji Usman sat beside the Imam in a circle of eight men. One of them was dressed in army uniform. I could recognize the silhouette of one other person, Shehu. Shehu was one of the most notorious students in school, a strong advocate of Islam. What was he doing among noble men? I wondered. I drew a mat from the shelf and sat on it waiting for Alhaji Usman to be through. I could hear faintly their voices. It looked like they were agitating over something. The discussion went on for about forty minutes before they prayed and dispersed. I felt like asking Shehu to wait for me so we would walk back to school together but I had no idea how long Alhaji Usman intended keeping me. As the others walked out, I saw Alhaji discussing privately with the Imam and afterwards started walking towards my direction. I could perceive his Tulare fill the air, the scent of a noble lover of Allah. I imagined that it was bought from Mecca. As he approached, I quickly squatted well and bowed in respect. I received his outstretched arm and stood up. He did not look like he was mad at me for anything. His very first statement made me relax. “I knew you’d come”, he said. “Right from the very first day I met you at the house, I knew you were the special kind. But as you can see, you have come late and we possibly can do nothing today.” I saw the Imam approaching. He whispered something to Alhaji and then left. Alhaji Usman continued, “Please come a little earlier tomorrow.” He hurried after the Imam till they both disappeared into the inner room.

That night as I walked back to school, I wondered what Alhaji wanted from me. I thought about the man in military uniform, the agitation, the fierceness of the few faces I saw. What was wrong?

The next morning had a series of unusual happenings. The hostel tap had been damaged by nobody. Ali, the hostel chef, master in noodles and eggs did not open and most unusual of all, Abdul had left the room before me. I left my room to look for water in the next hostel. There I found Shehu addressing a group of students. I pretended not seeing him and quickly took the next turn towards the tap.

It was a light day and I returned to the hostels earlier. I and Abdul played the game of chess for a while and then I slept off. I woke up some minutes to seven and made straight for the mosque. They were already seated in the usual manner and the Imam was addressing them. He stopped when he saw me, motioned me to sit down and then continued. “Jihad is the holy struggle against good and evil. It is the fight against infidelity and the infidel. The opportunity the almighty Allah has given each of us to prove our fidelity. You are instructed to slit the throats of the infidel when you see him. How would you feel when you stand at the gate of heaven and Allah asks you, “what did you do with the one weapon I gave you, your body?” Will you display the wounds of martyrdom or will you bow your head in shame only to be thrown into the fires of hell?” As he spoke, I felt the tension, hearts beating, fists tightening, faces sulking. He sat down and then shortly after, the man in uniform who then was whispering to Alhaji stood to address us. He shouted, “Allah ku bar”. We responded “Allahu Akbar”. He did these three times and we responded and each time the tempo rose above the previous.

The meeting dispersed at about 8:03pm. Alhaji Usman walked up to me, his face so serious. He told me to follow him. I went with him into the inner room. There the Imam was sitting with three other mujahideen round what I observed was the blueprint of a building, a church building to be precise. He beckoned me to draw closer. I watched as all five men discussed. They studied the blueprint over and over again. Then it became clear to me. They were planning on blowing up the building. I became more scared when I heard the Imam say, “Sunday would be the best.” I looked at the name at the bottom of the drawing. It seemed familiar. “Was that not a church, wouldn’t there be people in there on Sunday?” I thought. By now, their intentions were no more hidden to me. This was war, and I was right in the middle of it, part of the plan so to say. Alhaji Usman told me we would be sleeping over at the mosque that night. I could not hesitate. After all it was already past ten.

The next morning at about 3:15am, I was awoken by the Imam. Alhaji had gone home and I was to make a journey with the Imam and the mujahideen to Suleja. The Imam drove the bus, I sat beside him. At the back were the mujahideen and one other face I could not recognize in the dark and more so because it was masked with a a cloth made from a talisman. At such, only those of us in the car were aware of a fifth traveller. The talisman would protect him from all unwanted eyes. Due to several other delays and visits paid to prominent politicians on our way, we arrived at Suleja around 4pm in the evening and that was when I realised that the unknown face I had travelled with all these while was Shehu. We were welcomed by five men who took us into a room lit by only two torch lights. There Shehu was separated from us into an inner room where only the Imam could enter. I was left with the mujahideen. They watched me closely and hardly said any word neither to me nor to each other. Later we were served kunun gyada and a cupful was taken into the room where Shehu was. After some time, it was returned untouched. I guessed he had refused to drink. The mujahid closest to me looked at me and said “He should be happy that Allah saw him worthy for this one” referring to Shehu.

The next morning, the 10th of July 2011, we left the house where we had passed the night. The Imam drove us again through a narrow path and packed some distance away from a building. He then whispered something to Shehu who was in front with him. Shehu was unusually big that morning. He alighted and walked down to us and said in Hausa, “Brothers, the time has come. May Allah be praised.” He looked straight at me and said “Carry on.” He then made for the building while the Imam drove away. Some time elapsed then we heard a blast, then screams, then noise, then silence. I bowed my head in utter shame, a murderer. The Imam said, “We head back home” then smiled and never said anything throughout the rest of our journey. Satisfied that the mission was accomplished, he sped off. The next morning I woke up still in the mosque and saw the Imam listening to the news from his radio. I heard them talk about the blast from a church at Suleja after which the presenter announced that the University had closed down its campus till further notice citing security concerns. The Imam had made it clear to me that having come thus far with them; I would not be allowed to turn my back anymore. Any attempts to do so would be interpreted as treason and infidelity. I needed not be told what would become of an infidel. I could not run away to my elder sister Aisha. She and her husband saw no use in me. And besides, they would not in any way help me. So later in the day, I went with the Imam to pick the few things I thought I might need.

Days rolled by and we went from place to place doing the one very thing. On 25th August that same year, we arrived at Abuja. There I met with several other disciples like myself. We were not allowed to interact with one another. Three people were selected for this one and they were transported to the venue in a similar bus with the one we came with. There the car for the operation would be waiting for them.

With each passing day, my interest for school diminished and I got more at home with my present life accepting my predicament as the will of Allah. I had not seen you for months now but would not dare ask your father. Even the few times he spoke to me, he only congratulated me for accepting the will of god. “Many youths” he would say, “will never be as courageous as you my son.” But I never stopped thinking about you. I never cared about the fact that it was him, your father who got me into all this. The more we travelled, the more I lost contact with you. It was clear to me now that you would have given all sorts of explanations to why I left and left you in the dark. But I loved you all these while. Time would fail me to express much love as I would have loved to for I must let you know the truth.

We visited Damaturu after our attack at Abuja. It was there that I came face to face with the one who would enchant me and declare me trusted. The initiation process was very brief but full of incantations. He told me I was hence forth worthy to meet Allah at any time I chose to, provided I chose the right cause. I had become a mujahid. At the completion of the Damaturu attack, I was told I would be taken away for training. I will spare you the details of my training because they are not good for a lady’s ears, especially one who has love for the trainee. While we were away, news reached us from Nigeria that eleven of our brothers had been killed by the Nigerian army. There was need for immediate deployment. So I returned home on the 30th of January, 2012 along with other brothers of mine.

Back in Maiduguri, I was reunited with my old family; the Imam and the earlier three mujahideen. We were all glad to see each other. It was there I got to learn of the next point of target. Musa, the eldest of the three mujahideen told me that his time had come. That finally, he would go to claim his seven virgins at the house of Allah. He was the chosen one. The Imam handed over to me a blueprint tagged “Army Headquarters Kd.” I was literally lost for words. The thought of raiding an army headquarter was just something I did not want to think about. Not that I was afraid but I felt, we were biting more than we could chew. Nevertheless, I reserved my feelings to myself. Letting out such discouraging feelings to the rest of the family would be counted infidelity. And for a young mujahid who had risen to high ranks in no time, I would dare not try that. We set off for Kaduna on February 6, 2012. It turned out to be a well accomplished mission. Two brothers well known to me now gone; first it was Shehu at Suleja now Musa in Kaduna. My time, I knew was coming.

Something tragic happened on the 31st of May. I and the Imam had gone to buy food when we received news that there was an on-going attack around home. For us home was far away from where the ordinary people thought it was and when “they” raided a small gathering of our brothers, they went to report to the media that they had looted our hide outs. Five of our brothers alongside an infidel who was kept in our custody were killed. It was another loss. We were visited at night by Alhaji Usman who assured us that only the will of Allah could be done, and only what he permits. The whole camp was filled with pressure. If “they” could get as close to the gathering of the five brothers then it meant they were closing in on us. The next morning, the three of us along with other prominent mujahideen sat down to plan what the Imam called “a series of jihads”. Two of our brothers were sent to Bauchi to carry out what we all agreed to be called “a friendly attack.” Friendly in the sense that not much damage would be caused but only to create awareness that we were still around. People argued and argued that whatever was worth doing was worth doing well. So if there was going to be any strike at all, there should be a proper one. Nevertheless, Bauchi’s mission was successful.

The next places of duty were Kaduna and Plateau. Some of our troops headed to Plateau while myself and the Imam headed for Kaduna along other brothers. We stayed there and planned fervently, a triad hit.

On the night of 16th June, I was summoned by the Imam. He looked at me very sadly and rubbed my head. I felt his rigid coarse palms on my newly shaved skull. Then he stroked my beards and asked in the calmest voice possible “has Allah not been good to you son?” I muttered a solemn but hazy “he has”, fully aware of what I felt was coming yet scared of the sudden reality. Then he looked down and said “go, prepare yourself. Your hour is come.” I left him not knowing how I felt.

Back in my room, I did not say the usual prayer that was the custom before going on divine duty. I picked my pen and pad and began. I had to write you because it was necessary. Each one of those moments I spent with the group, I spent for you with the hope that at the end of it all, I might have no difficulty asking for your hand in marriage having proven strong to your father but….here is where I end. All I have left are the scattered shots of the times we shared together, in memory. I hope I don’t misplace them on my way to heaven. It should suffice me to say that throughout my stay with the Imam, I failed to accept the correlation between the holy jihad and the struggle against western education. Please let the world know I did not die fighting against Western education. I died trying to please your father, for you. Mine is a different story altogether. Please kindly extend my last remarks to Abdul my roommate and tell him not to travel home to Mubi, at least not in the first week of October. I love you Ramat.

Sadiq.

Steven Kator Iorfa

©2019

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The strongest charm ever made: Samson’s tale retold

I lived a life full of pride. My life was awe with matchless grace. My hair was strength, my strength was grave. Nations and cities bowed to me and all I knew was victory. Victory, till I fell to charm. Now let me tell you about the strongest charm ever….

Yahhhhhh!!! I’m so excited to write this. Sometimes most truths are really just hidden in plain sight.

Let’s start by screaming at her, cursing out loud, and maybe, if we get the chance, we would still shake her hand; because she showed you the way.

On a cloudy Friday evening, I took the lone road I’d always stayed away from. The grasses were wet, my feet felt moist. The air was soothing and my heart was free. I saw her. I trusted her, why won’t I, When I had nothing to lose. She was the roadside beauty. Her wink always made me act funny. She was good; at least that’s how I remember it. She was on every man’s lips, only problem was, not every man could get so lucky; her attention had a high price.

I was muscular, athletic and strong. In many parts of that region, I was a kickass warrior. Trouble was my father’s name (laughs); I could almost always get away with anything.

She caught my attention that cloudy evening, when I chose the wrong street to walk my dog. I was careless as usual, not minding whoever my dog tried to disgrace. I loved it actually; what a Bruno he was. As I turned down the lonelier bend, there she was; looking. Charming her way, as usual, she was the first to notice, after all I had big abs. While I was still carried away by the stubbornness of Bruno, she was positioning herself for the kill or let’s call it; the catch.

My heart stopped, I couldn’t even contemplate. Was I delusional, such a beautiful somebody could not even have existed in your time? Call it whatever, but I was hooked at first sight. Unfortunately, I had developed poor wooing skills; like always, my muscles did that job. I was already on a spaceship to HERS and there was no turning back.

I saw her, I know I saw her. I cannot be mad, my two eyes caught her; smiling at me, and my godammmn legs just had to find out. Then we made out (and don’t even ask me what charm I used); I was getting wooed and I didn’t even know it. Her body was perfect, her sense of humor would make you feel like you had never laughed yet, there was no other girl on her level, she was phenomenal; and she knew it.

I was in trouble; and I didn’t even know it yet. I was trapped in the web of my desires.

I fell! I fell without a rope and don’t dare ask me where. I’d whisper anyway, I fell in sin.

It didn’t take long; I was already proposing pitching some permanent ideas to her father. She was my burger without the buck, my silent night on a stormy day, my rose without the thorn, she was my slut. I couldn’t bare it anymore, so I told her everything; my heart is yours.

He was my stuff, my war without the sword, my pass, my personal bodyguard, He was my crush. There he was sleeping on laps; I would like to narrate how beautiful he was, but let me bear my cross. I would have loved to trade souls, but money was always first.  

It was my first loss, she was my only cross, her lies were stronger than death, she was my curse. ‘My heart is yours’ I told her, and that was clearly her plus. The battle was lost the first time we crossed, but how would I have known that I had been jazzed.

Three times she asked and three times she tricked me. All she wanted was the gold and it didn’t matter if my eyes had to go. Three times I broke her bounds, but her jazz was too strong; because every single time, I only came closer to telling her, what made me strong.

Now it is gone, now I am no longer strong. Now she is gone, I wouldn’t even know if she’s not. My eyes are gone and so are my locks, now I could never kill a thousand men like I had with a jaw bone.

Her charm was strong, only it was not hers. My heart was wrong, it fell in LOVE.

Love; real or not was strong enough to cost me my strength.

Love; true or not, was strong enough to take Christ to the cross.

Love; now or later will cost you some sacrifice. May it be for the good. May it be for the truth. May it be real.

Love’s charm is unbreakable.

John Okor and Steven Kator Iorfa

© 2019

A Letter To My Friend Seeking

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Dear Ijay, 

I am a firm believer in the need for people to unravel themselves. And this is true of every sincere person I have known.

We all get to a point where we pull things apart, sometimes by accident. In our soul and mind, bit by bit we spread all our pieces in a bid to know ourselves, to understand the ‘why’s’ without any demanding interference and this is good.

This sort of chaos unfolding is common when you have been stifled all your life. You are longing to know  – ‘Is my life being defined by what I have been conditioned to be?’, ‘Who am I really when no one is pushing me?’. So somewhere in the midst of this ruckus there arises a suffocating need to either free and continue to conform or be free and allow yourself transform, into who you truly are.

I have had to unravel this scroll of a life for myself too and I am still unravelling. Like the best kind of book with a climax and downfall every good story should have, I have gasped, laughed out loud, I’ve been shocked out of my wits!, bawled in frustration, been enveloped in cruel drowning silence. I have screamed loud enough for the quantum world to hear (into my pillow that is) and breathe a sigh of relief with my salt stained face. I have found my unfolding to be painfully beautiful in its honestly true and  deepest form.

Ijay, permit me to share with you what I have learned.

It was never my conditions that defined me, it was always who I chose to be, freedom isn’t free. After all said and done, constraint still posed an essential companion.

Knowledge begets responsibility and where knowledge is a full head, responsibility is an understanding heart that knows when and how to act.

There are truths that resonate within this stubborn blood and bone I peel away from my soul day by day. It is beyond social conditioning, unravelling this way brings me face to face with the perfection of intricate and carefully thought out design. I did not just fall out of the sky neither am I a mere miracle of Oduduwa in the sense of a tale. No.

I was formed from a spark of light in the dark watery depths of my mothers womb, where egg and sperm collide. This effect must have a cause, my perfect design daily combated by jealous imperfection screams of a perfectly covert designer.

It is why no matter how much I call myself god I have never been able to spell it with a big G. or have you?

I could never lie to the multiple layers of prickly cells underneath my skin. something of a truth has been weaved into my DNA. I cannot deny me and with this singular act of adrenal rebellion, I have learned the touch of peace.

It is cool and calm but it does not always put us at ease. When things started to change inside me, the world around seemed to align accordingly. If my heart hated it then I didn’t want it and there went my taste for addiction.

My Dear Friend, do not ever let anything stop you from unravelling. It is a necessary piece in this puzzle called life. There will be beauty and pains, you must experience fully. Unravel without the biases, without the trends, pay no mind to the hype elaborately expressed beliefs of  people (especially on social media).

Listen to the dirges of your body, those dreary songs that beg for more and lead to no end. Drown them out by listening more to the yearnings of your heart. Learn to sit on the ground, legs curled up beneath your core as you separate truth from the lies, the feelings from the facts, the assumptions from whats real. Don’t ever be afraid of this process, all of creation is on your side.

Soon you will cease to be ashamed of being naked, alone at 3am in front of the mirror. You will learn to say sweet things into your eyes because you know there is someone beautiful within, who is desperate to meet you.

In all of this Ijay,

I pray you fall. Deeply in love with the process of seeking and finding.

I pray you fly. Far above the noise of the earth.

I pray you’re unafraid. Of knowing you have a beginning and an end and maybe your end is endless.

And  if you find that you are eternal, know that it is okay to be all this and Forever.

 

With all of Heavens Love,

Msray 

 

 

 

 

 

Glimpse Of Glory: The Forever

As I sank deeper and deeper into sleep, awakening was a bright vortex beyond my reach. I screamed as I fell but my voice wouldn’t come out. I looked down and I saw their eyes huge and sinister now,  a million and one hands stretched out to grab me “No please let me go”, all I heard was laughter, screeching loud laughter, then voices, they wouldn’t stop speaking.

I could hear them all at once

you are of the grave, of this grave you are!”,

“who are you?”, I tried to make out the words but nothing.  I was limp, a ball of lead , noodles for limbs, I could sense my heart beat weaken, it switched from a steady thump thump to a silent thud and then a restless ease.  In that moment I stopped breathing.

Have you ever been in that place where your dreams are more desirable than the nightmare you’re  living? Well I was there, its called Death.

     I sank into oblivion, I know this because the voices, they grew distant as I got sucked into a whirlpool of memories.  Floating through the uneasy swirl I saw my mother. Her beautiful skin soft and sweet against the golden rays of sun.

I stretched my mutilated limbs to touch her but my limbs passed through the mist of floating swirls, a teardrop left my eye and floated towards another memory of her, the dull calm sunk me deeper into folds of empty unknown, until slowly, steadily, I let go.

***

“….and oh the joy that floods my soul, something happened, now I know He touched me and made me whole…”

It was the chirping of a blue robin perched on a stalk that woke me up, my crusty eyes struggling to adjust to the light that pierced into my cold flesh warming me sweetly… the sun!
I smiled as I rubbed a moist palm over my face, I burst out laughing! hands! I had hands! my joy could not be spoken in words.
I wriggled my toes as I stretched myself towards the sky to take in the full beauty of the morning,
Satisfied with the feel of the soil, dug deep between my toes.

Such bliss, such glory.

————————————-

~Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it is alone.~

To Be Passed On.

Msray
© 2018

GRAVE: The Begining

The day I died, was the day I went to prison.

My life had just begun, or so I believed.  It was shocking to me when I found out that i’d be serving time, being me, my obvious crime.

The cell had black grainy walls, tightly compact . Grains below, grains above, I could not see the sun, I could not see the clouds, my cell was very dark.

The grainy walls were porous. From time to time food and water were passed down to me though the narrow holes.

I spent my first days looking up, I was scared and confused.

Why wasn’t I enough? why was I here? who keeps feeding me? where is my mother?

Day after day the cell walls grew tight around me. I could not push anymore! wet faced, and exhausted from trying, I looked on, feeling my hope’s of freedom ebb away.

” this might just be my destiny, maybe I should wait and see,” I thought to myself. Days passed.

I know this because I steadily watched the transitions of night and day through the cracks in my wall.

I could hear crickets outside. One time I tried to whisper to someone lurking around the walls, I was very hot and I longed to feel the wind on my skin, to feel the light of the sun deep in my pores, so I whispered and I waited but no one came.

One day, I sat in my cell and looked around, I never really noticed those grainy walls, they seemed to have faces with shut eyes, they were sleeping.

Horrified, I ran to the middle of the cell and starred at the walls around me, all sleeping faces, then as if on cue they began to wake up, one right after the other, yawning and clicking their lips in reckless abandon.

They seemed calm, their eyes shone in unison,

”Look Lads One of Us!”, they were excited. I couldn’t understand this because I knew where I had come from, I was not  one of them,

”My skin is fair like the morning sun and my eyes bright as crystal waters, I am nothing like you!”, I replied with borrowed confidence from a lender I could not fathom.

They all starred in amazement, sheer mockery.

”You? of the sun? then what in Earth! are you doing down here?!”, they stressed the word Eaarrth, as though it was a hidden joke among themselves and burst out laughing. Their voice was loud and eery, like metal scratching on metal surface. It was horrifying, I couldn’t take it. I wanted to cover my ears but I couldn’t , it was only then I noticed I had no hands.

”Look at him, he thinks he is fairer than us, little does he know that he is of the dust  and back to the dust he must return, silly boy” they spoke as one, yet it seemed as though they thought differently, it was the most unusual conversation I had ever experienced,

”I am not one of you! I am only here for a time and I will be out just as I came!’. I tried a second time, But their cackling held me down like strong arms placed on feeble shoulders,

” Look at yourself before you claim to be distinguished, before you argue with eyes that really see you for what you are…”

I listened to them, for the first time in the cell I looked down, down from the opening, down from the walls, down at myself, I was brown, like them. A pool of tears formed underneath my eyes and stung my throat,

”No! this isn’t possible, I have always been fair like the morning sun”, my tears fell in uneven streaks leaving trails of despair on my now decaying cheeks, ”I am not one of you”, I said in limp defeat as I sat on the ground, and cried bitterly.

This time they said nothing, they simply watched me, countenance tranquil, a knowing smile on their faces I could feel it. They had me where they wanted me. They had me in defeat, But they never said a thing, they simply stayed still watching me sink. Soon after, I grew weary, eyes sore, soul torn I did what I hadn’t done before,

I closed my eyes and fell into deep sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED…

(13th September 2018)

Msray
© 2018

Our Love

Our love tale started like soaking cannabis in hot water. I took a sip. You did likewise. The sole of our feet got baptised in this fever that got our tummies beating the African drums. We looked each other in the eyes, we found dark universe surrounded by a red sea. We could see what love is all about; two heads that one is better than. We felt like screaming but the fear that the onlookers would tag us mad forced us into each other’s arm.

You could hear my heart beating. It was not the Jazz you love. My heart made music, the kind Mozart made. You said it made you dull. But that was my whole life. I tried to let my eyes speak volumes of poetry anthologies but all you heard was words poorly knitted. You smiled. Not the type of smile you decorated the sky with the first day I stood before you as a stuttering child, fearful but determined to let you know that butterflies only visit your garden.

I prayed we never recovered from this euphoria. This state of having the moon constantly using our name in the lullaby it is singing. I told of the symphonies composed by the crickets and frogs ( hiding in the near by bush) in our favour. You said I was silly. Not that kind of silly. You meant that I stole your heart with my madness. I was happy. At least, someone has finally got me in the list of men who parade the face of earth with careless abandon of what lips would say. You were the earthquake my soul yearned for.

That was when you told me of a fairy land. I was the ragged prince and you the princess living in a mansion of a castle. You told me that I was the male Cinderella. I agreed. You made me to be born again. It is no metaphor. You turned me to a suckling praying that I will forever remain at your breast…

(C) Symolean

Let’s Pray

I was breathing heavily.

I made my choice already, I kept mute.

“So no one is a Christian here?” the man holding the gun shouted.

I was dead silent, with my head lowered and my eyes shut.

“You are all a bunch of pretenders and liars” he said laughing sarcastically.

“You don’t know God; you don’t even believe he exists” he said.

It was a Sunday morning. I was well dressed and ready for service. I looked through the mirror as I knotted my tie. I adjusted my trousers and stretched out my body.

“You look good” I said to my reflection and he smiled.

My smile was short-lived when I remembered what my mentor said to me few days ago.

“God wants to test you” he said. I knew I had not been the most serious of Christians but I worked in the protocol department in the church, I gave my tithe and offering, I did most of all that was required of an average Christian. Yes, I did. But I think I got the gist. Being average wasn’t what was expected, but that was me, at least for now.

“Brother Dele, Good morning” a voice greeted as I locked the front door to my room. I turned to reply. It was Funmi, she lived in the room across mine.

“What’s up Funmi, Happy Sunday” I replied smiling.

“Are you not ready? Oya na let’s start going” she said adjusting her skirt slightly.

We walked out of the compound together. The Church wasn’t very close to where we lived, as it wasn’t easy to find an Anglican Church in this rural area, most corps members just settled for any living church in the area, but I had a thing for Anglican Churches.

Not long, we arrived at the church. I took one last reassessment of myself, and walked in with satisfaction.

I opened the western door and was confused. It was so dark, I looked back to be sure if I was sane and there was no door again, like the darkness had moved. I seemed to be in the middle of it now.

I reached for my pocket bible, hoping to feel safer as I clutched it.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” I whispered silently, my legs shaking, my arms trembling.

Then a light came on. It wasn’t very bright but it felt much better than pitch darkness.

I thought the worst was behind me, I didn’t know I was in for a treat today.

A huge figure walked into the light, a man. I couldn’t see his face clearly but he had a gun in his hand.

He was saying something, but I couldn’t hear him. He seemed to be getting angrier, he kept moving around but within the light, and then He stopped.

He pointed to the dark, not towards me. A young lady walked out immediately, she was shaking, begging for her life.

“Please don’t shoot me” she begged.

“I will surely shoot you, except he passes this test” he said.

I started trembling. I somehow had this feeling that I was the one to be tested.

What kind of test is this?  I thought to myself.

Aiiee! She screamed as he cocked the gun.

“Listen, If you are a Christian here, come out now and I won’t kill her” he said. He raised his hands up making a signal, and the lights fully came on. I still couldn’t make anything of this place. I could see other people too, but everyone was too busy shaking and trembling.

“If you are a Christian come out, or I kill her” he repeated. It was strange, I recognized the clothing of the girl he was holding.

Was it Funmi? I asked myself. I hoped she wasn’t the one.

I was breathing heavily

I made my choice already, I kept mute.

“So no one is a Christian here?” the man with the gun shouted.

I was dead silent, with my head lowered and my eyes shut.

“You are all a bunch of pretenders and liars” he said laughing sarcastically.

“You claim to know God; but you don’t even believe He is…” he said.

“No” a voice interrupted

“No, you are wrong” he continued

“I am a Christian, a Child of God” he said walking towards me. His clothing was very similar to mine; I was just waiting to take a closer look at his face.

He walked up to me and halted. I couldn’t believe my eyes; like I was seeing myself standing in front of me.

My jaw still dropped, I shivered slightly as I tried to speak.

“Ho-how is this…?” were the only words I could mutter. He leaned closer to whisper.

“Your reflection” he said with a grin, and continued walking toward the man with the gun.

The man changed his aim, pointing the gun at me, my reflection rather.

“Oh, bravo” he said clasping his palms in sarcastic appraisal

BOOM he fired

My heart skipped a bit as if fell to the ground. There was a ruckus as everyone scattered around

“He misfired, Who does that?” I thought to myself.

“Nobody move” he shouted, firing another shot in the air.

I tried to stand, I couldn’t move.

Argh I grunted. It felt like I was hit with a hammer. I looked at my chest and saw my shirt soaked in blood. My vision became blurrier, my head seemed heavier. I had no control over my body anymore. I dropped to the ground again.

Everything was fading fast, I could see a bright light, I could feel it, I was going. I could hear someone calling out my name faintly.

“Dele, Dele” the voice called out faintly.

The voice grew louder and clearer.

“Dele, wake up” the voice shouted.

“Jesus” I shouted as I sprang to my feet. I was sweating and panting like one who just wrestled the devil. I touched my chest and heaved a sigh in relief.

I turned around and it was my wife.

“Honey, you had a nightmare? What was it?” she asked with worry in her eyes.

“Funmi, it was really serious” I replied still trying to catch my breath.

“I think God wanted to show me something. We will talk about it in the morning”

“Let’s pray” I said, holding her hands.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.prayer-e1522104184118.png

Incline Your Ear. 

“Come out from among them and be separate…”

As a child growing up in an African home, one of the times I swallowed advice with open heart and ears, were those moments where I had “disgraced my mother outside” by eating the food offered to me at her best friends house! And having endured the swift pulling of my “disgracefully hungry mouth that has never eaten jollof rice and chicken before” once her friend walked back into the kitchen, I would then silently nibble the now tasteless food anticipating the beating I was going to get at home.

On those rare occasions I can remember, my mother would call me to her room! And just when I walked in, hands crossed, full bladdered and pulse dead, she would say.  

“Sit down, let me talk to you.”

                          ——————-

Why do you want to eat from the world My child? Blending in trying to be a perfect fit? 

What can she offer you that isn’t Mine? The cattle on a thousand hills, the stars and seas.

Do you  really trust in Me? Is My promise, My  gift not enough for you?

What more must I give up to make you see? That if the world finds pleasure in you, it is because in you she doesn’t see Me.

Why are you afraid to stand alone? Why do you cry to Me and grope for answers elsewhere. 

Have I not loved you with an everlasting love?

Come my child let us reason together. My plan is not to leave you in despair it is not just to soak you in trials, but to cleanse and purify, through it all I will always be there. 

In the fire before you come, in the fire to see you through, in the fire as you grow from glory to glory, It is I! I promised! Have you forgotten? Truth CANNOT lie.  I know how it ends, it is why I Am here. 

Come to Me my child, I see your burden. The one you hide and still cry out “holy”, the one you justify by a thousand good deeds, the one you silently blame on others as though their absence will set you free, open up your heart, show Me where it hurts, I Am here to heal you, I Am here to deliver. This journey was never meant to be for one man alone, let me guide you, let me keep you, let me literally change your heart, lighten your burden, let me do My part. 

It is for this purpose alone I came to this earth, this purpose alone makes me suffer long. If you will only dare to lay All down and turn to me All the pain, the despair, guilt and shame, expectations, beautiful lies, dreams and hopes, good and evil, the mixtures of this tree that creates necessary evils. 

I Am Life Source, I will Sustain You. 

It is not my wish that you stand in Egypt and claim CANAAN’s promises with your lips alone, I Am not with you in Egypt to prosper you in her ways but to bring you Out! I will journey through this wilderness with you, this dryness in your soul, you will never be alone, you win because I won. I walk with you through this valley until we both come out One, I Am not ashamed, I Am not disgusted, I Am not tired, I have come that you might have Life. 

I Love You

It is True

Will You Trust Me?