She said
“…and may your daughters be treated
the same way you treat women and girls…”,
and no one in the audience could say “amen”.


Lifeless, but Deathless

Death is the new life.
Death is the old lie-fe.
Although we become lifeless when we “die”,
we become deathless when we leave.


My gentle Oladapo is okay. He fell sick and he left me but he is okay. Bolanle is okay. She was so energetic.

Uncle Ismaila is okay. He took me to write my common entrance exam at ISI and taught me Mathematics the day before. That bread and egg and tomtom though. That year. Immediately after the exam, we began to look for where to shit. It wasn’t until we got to Osogbo where my other family members were before we “shat”. I can’t believe we held watery shit from Ibadan to Osogbo. We should have been on the Guiness Book of Records. The way we were sweating. My uncle Ismaila is okay.

Debra is okay. One day, during one of the social events at the ISI cafetaria, an A-Z list of the junior and senior students was mentioned. “As attractive as so-so-so. As beautiful as so-so-o. As creative as so-so-so. As dirty as Ronke Babajide. I was going to get some food [I stopped going for socials] at the tuck shop when I heard my name on from the speaker that could almost cover the whole school.

Gosh! I ran back to class so fast and placed my head on the table. I was so embarrassed and sad. Whoever it was that submitted my name, I hope it was worth it. It was the exact thing that I needed for the low self-esteem that I had. I, for some reason, thought being different was bad and I had to keep up. I didn’t fit in any group.

Debra was a class higher but we became friends. She didn’t let me get depressed. We would walk to the main gate together and spend our money on suya or corn. Debra even bought chicken suya for us one day. Romance-novel gang. There was always one woman that needed to be “saved” through sex but it was worth it. One day, Debra took me to watch Amos Tutuola’s “The Palm-Wine Drinkard”. Debra passed on after a car hit her. Debra is okay.

My grandmas are okay- Mama Ireakari and Mamee. My grandpa is okay. Jane Davenport is okay. She didn’t stay so I could show her how I tie my scarf, but she’s okay. My cousin’s baby is okay. Gorgeous-eyed Matt is okay.

All our “dead” relatives and friends are okay. They just don’t live with us anymore, they are living, and they are okay.


She Took the Midnight Train Going Anywhere


…and she let out a mild giggle as she looked out the window [😂 the one on the other side of the train, smartass]. Yes! It was finally happening. 

She breathed the air in slowly, and although it was not as fresh as she had dreamt it would be, it was not that bad, plus it did not smell like human’s sweaty and dirty body, and his musty clothes. 

“A bitch has no collar. A bitch has no owner. A bitch has no name. A bitch’s not the same. A bitch has no soul. A bitch is, at last, on her own”, she muttered, before closing her eyes.

She thought about going to doggo’s house, kissing his butt and licking his ears, then lying down, with her back on the ground, and as soon as he came closer, releasing hot urine into his face. She giggled again. 

“A bitch is free. This bitch.”


The Man of My Dreams

Many times a week, after we stopped talking, I would have several dreams of him- terribly stressful dreams that would make me cry. In those dreams, I would anxiously wait for him in the church that I grew up in, that we grew up in- where we first met, or in an unknown, deserted place, but he would ignore me.

He never remembered our initial meeting when we first began to talk, as much as I tried to get him to, but I did, very clearly. He was with his friends, and since they were so tall, they looked intimidating to me. He stretched his right hand out towards me and I put mine in his briefly, before asking my question. The question was about a creative-arts program that was to be held, if I remember correctly. I thanked him, and walked back to my guardian or friend, I cannot remember which.

The dream that made me cry the most was the one in which I was talking to him but he was avoiding eye contact and walking away, leaving me in an unknown place.

I had a very similar dream before we stopped talking, and I narrated everything that I could remember to him. I had not been in contact with him for over a week at that time and I was beginning to worry, and as soon as I remembered the dream, after he texted me, I gave him the details. I did not understand that it was a prediction then, and that a little excuse for walking away was all that he needed. We had a little, insignificant quarrel, and he milked the argument so much that my heart lost its perkiness.

Nine months after, just when I thought that I had moved on, that my soul was healed and I was free, although I had occasionally, very intensely hoped that he would text me, I saw him again. It looked like a children’s program was being held at the church. I sat and waited for him in one of the seats at the back, and I saw him pass me by. He did not notice me.

He looked very sad, and his hair was so full and unkempt. I had never seen that much hair on his head. I watched him sit on one of the chairs at the front of the hall. I wanted to walk over to him to say hello but I could not. In the first few dreams, I did the talking. In all the other ones, neither of us spoke to the other. I only watched him and hoped that he would talk to me, but that was it.

After he sat, I went over to the speaker who had the microphone and whispered something into her ears about the children she was addressing. The few sentences that I made were acknowledged- she nodded. I walked back towards my seat and out of the hall, hoping that the distraction would make him notice me. I made sure not to look at him this time.

Ileke idi

I went into a little room with a sleeping mat on it and I laid down. Immediately I dozed off, someone banged on the door. I jolted out of my sleep and screamed his name. I looked up to see if it was him, but it was not. It was my younger brother. He made fun of me the way he does every time any reference to him- the him- is made in my home.

I woke up, and asides the perspiration and tiredness that I noticed, my muscles were sore. My whole being was sore; I cried like never before.

This is me coming to terms that it is over, that he is not coming back, that I have left that church, that he does not love me as much, or at all. This is me letting go off the broken karmic tie and resigning to fate. This is me dying, accepting that my yin will never be balanced with his yang. This is me at the funeral of our attraction and love that died long ago. This is the ninth month, and when I had the dream at around 8 pm today, I birthed my stillborn.

Winslow Homer - The Gulf Stream


Let Your Compliments Complement

“Classical Study No. 37,” from 1979. Credit Eldzier Cortor, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York

“Classical Study No. 37,” from 1979. Eldzier Cortor, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York

You don’t have to belittle yourself to successfully offer a compliment to someone:

One person screams “dahuuumm, girl! This your highlight is brighter than my future. You’re so peng”. The other girl laughs.

Ah! Jesu Oyingbo must hear of this.

I’m sitting there, looking at the highlight, looking at the girl that offered the compliment, looking back at the highlight, not knowing whether to laugh [because I laugh at weird things that don’t make other people laugh; I make my own jokes and scenarios in my head] or cry because Sade’s future is so bleak, according to her, and there’s nothing I can do for her.


One, Two, Unbuckled My Shoe

One, two,
nobody knew;
three, four,
I was so sore;
five, six;
he gave me licks;
seven, eight;
then he laid me straight;
nine, ten,
he was uncle Ben;
eleven, twelve;
until I was twelve.

P R O T E C T     T H E     C H I L D R E N:
Nobody is your child’s wife or husband, whether or not they refer to your child as that as a joke. Let the children be children. Listen to them, check their bodies if you are their parents, assess their behaviours, and be their defence against the world. Don’t “protect the family name” when your children are involved; if a family member molests your child, report them to the appropriate authorities.


Roses Die

Women who talk back when they are spoken down to are “mannerless”;
they have “bad attitudes”.
Men who don’t talk back when they are spoken down to are “morons and retards”.

She served him dutifully because she wanted to; most importantly, because she was led to. It was the Lord who led her. Now, her psychic friends say it was some karmic obligation she had to fulfill, or some shit. Whatever. She had a “very good attitude” then. “imeyatekcorawulo”, wasn’t it? 

It was a very undefined relationship, extremely confusing. Today, they’re sexting; tomorrow, they are just friends- siblings in the Lord. He never wanted to talk about what they were, His Royal Highness, The “Dawonlopoloru” of Mind Game Kingdom the third. 

It’s her 21st birthday and she asks, “if I lived in the same country as you, you would take me out and buy me a meal for my birthday, wouldn’t you?” He says “no”. She gasps. “Well, why not?” “Why would I? Yen yen yen yen yen yen yen.” She’s upset. “I would do everything I can to make this man happy, and he wouldn’t even buy me a meal on my birthday if he could. I’m not even worthy of a plate of rice.” “Aye le, aye ma le, oro aye yi, otoju sumi.” It’s a wicked world we live in.

She’s getting even more upset. She says, “it’s not about your money. I would buy myself a meal. Don’t flatter yourself. I just wanted to feel that you cared about me. Yen yen yen yen yen.”

He snaps. The egoistic, ungrateful man writes a whole fucking epistle on how rude and bad mannered she had been to him. It’s funny how bad-mannered men can’t stand bad manners. He says he is done with her, talks about reporting her to his parents. What is he? Two?

She begs. She doesn’t know what she’s worth. She says “okay, forget the meal and everything else I said because I was hurt, I’m sorry. For two years, we’ve been in this ordinary friendship [cough cough] and you want to just leave. The devil (that’s you, moron) is about to scatter all we have (’cause of your immaturity).” He doesn’t listen. She cries, attempts suicide, cries again, doesn’t eat for days, then overeats, but she heals, quickly and fiercely. They haven’t spoken since. 

Oya came in to scatter and rebuild her life. “Eepa e!” Osun came to cook and decorate. “Iyalooode!” He was stinking the whole place out. Good riddance!


‘No Use’ is Abuse

He doesn’t want to eat whatever meals she prepares; the old him wouldn’t even be satisfied with just one serving. Yesterday, she made this delicious plate of yam-pottage for him. He gets home, heads straight to the dining table, ignores her greeting and her presence, and calls his eldest daughter. She responds, and he asks, “Sade, talo s’ounje yii?” [Who made this meal?] She says it was her mother. He gets up to pour it into the dog’s bowl. “Sade, make me another meal with the ingredients in that bag.” He points to the nylon bag that he arrived with. “I don’t want to be poisoned by this witch.”

Liberian Artist Ehi Obinyan

Art by Liberian Artist, Ehi Obinyan

She says “good morning”, and “good evening”, and “good night”, and the days keep going by, but he never responds. He doesn’t sleep beside her in her room like he used to; he doesn’t sleep with her. He sleeps in his own room, and it’s been 10 months. He’s an angel of evil; nice in open spaces, psychopathic behind closed doors.

It all began the day he yelled at her for taking too long in the market and she, being very stressed and upset, briefly apologized but called him a “short-man devil”. He has always been very sensitive about his height, and it really hurt him. He swore to himself to show her how much of a devil he could be.

He hasn’t really spoken with* her since then; only the children know about it. They speak to each other briefly when they have visitors or when they attend social functions together but that’s about it. She has apologized many times. She even slipped an apology/love letter under his door one night, but he tore it into shreds after a quick glance.

It’s domestic abuse, but a different kind- the kind that kills the soul. It’ll be the 11th month in 10 days; it hasn’t stopped.