In Dependence and Other Things 

Vanessa existed in the way Oliver Twist did, the way Shakespeare defined love for us.

​  All fact is fiction, and all fiction is fact. It is a mystery the individual can, and should, never unravel, much less, understand. 
  I accept the above statement, and rather unwittingly, live by it. I think I’d have preferred to say, I find myself living by it – like a student finds herself bored in a French class she’s forced to attend. In retrospect, she realizes she’s not just bored of the class, a seed of boredom for the lecturer has brewed into a cauldron, therefore controlling her subconscious self. In like manner, we find ourselves in a habit, while, really, we’ve allowed the roots of that habit plant foot. 
  But, we aren’t talking about these things today. It’s fact and fiction, and the fuzzy line between. Hear this: I fell in love with Vanessa while I squatted on my decrepit bed. She was comely, and with a plaid shirt, appeared to be a character cut from Miss World. She held my stare such that I felt a breeze of comfort, even if I was being defiant. I strolled up and saluted. She smiled, the smile that says, “He’s actually interested in me. Me. Oh my gosh, like really!” We talked for a few minutes, and as I turned to depart, I requested her number. 
  Her response was a knockout. 
  “You’ve got none?”


  She grinned, clear blue eyes misted. “Dude, I don’t exist. I’m just a means to an end, not the end itself. Sort of…”
  Something in me snapped, like a ram pushed to the edge of the cliff. I lifted my head as the door swung inside, spewing an athletic young man. He approached me and took the book. It was then, when he sniffed the purple cover, that it came in clear words. 
  Vanessa existed in the way Oliver Twist did, the way Shakespeare defined love for us. Thrice, I had become enamored of a character. A mere character. 
  Maybe they are not mere characters. Maybe the people we read in magazines and fiction are as real as the lanky girl who hawks dried fish past our gate. Maybe Oliver Twist was once a young boy and not Dickens’s brainchild. Maybe Ishmael was in all forms aboard the ship hunting Moby Dick as there were captains steering the wheel of Titanic. I’m not much into folklore, but what if the stories we heard by the moonlight were events in some people’s lives. 
  And, how about facts being fiction? Would it be awesome if Trump being president was an upcoming writer’s imagination. What would your response be if you learnt your spouse was your spouse because a crazy writer wrote it at such? Or that the child who laughs at every tickle happened to be your son because it raised the stakes of a bestselling novel. 
  A glum stare fills my face as I imagine the story in Showdown playing itself out – kids who have been schooled on good and evil being able to write events into reality, then watching these realities spiral out of control (purchase the novel to enjoy the juice). 
  See, it’s back at takeoff. We can not separate fact from fiction. We can not hate one because of the other. And we cannot understand it either. It’s like Ted Dekker said, “The questions shouldn’t matter. It’s about loving as Jesus loves us, and knowing He does.” Amen? 
  Vanessa is the heroine in In Dependence, a novel by Sarah Ladipo. She’s British, unlike the one before her, an American detective. You, as I did, may peruse how I came to like a detective. It’s the magic of books, good books, great books. They slip into our world – the one built on facts – and swoosh their wands. Out it goes, through the window, and we are immersed in fiction. Until we get jerked out of the ‘fictive bubble’ (Dekker’s words). Do we for these purpose dump books in a bonfire? By all means, no. 
  No, we read. We accept. We let these things shape us, not too much or too little. Enough to make us understand who we really are. Whose we really are. 
  For that is the greatest quest, the most noble of all. 
Here’s an excerpt:

“Care for a drink?” someone asked. 

“Would love one.” She took the glass and drank the wine quickly. 

“I’m Charlie,” he smiled, “and you?”

“Tired.”
P.S: Miriam was her name, the first lady I loved. She was cultured in Saudi Arabia and fled to America, falling in love with a Clairvoyant geek, while on the run with the same man. Of course, she’s Muslim, and I thought it so real I nursed the idea of marrying a Muslim for a week. Is that fiction? Or is it fact? 

What Happened On Saturday?

Hello.

I have been away for so long, so long blogging feels odd, like a beginner taking the first strokes in a swimming pool. I intended to break the silence with a post entirely different from what you are seeing, but it is. And what can the petite me do to twist the fingers of fate?

Well, today’s Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Makes it a special Saturday. And I’ve written about this Saturday. What exactly went down on Saturday? That Saturday?

Please, this is entirely fiction. Do not draw historical conclusions. Thank you very much. Soon, I’d get back to blogging, and stating the reasons for the absence. Enjoy.

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“Saturday was smack-down. Right before the smash, no one predicted the outcome. It was unprecedented, yet predestined.”

The boy giggles. “Father, you’re speaking literature.”

Josiah smiles. “Forgive me.” He sips from the bowl on the table. The boy turns ever briefly to consider the trembling water. It is calm after a few seconds, as if it was never disturbed, much like the sea of Galilee responded when Christ gave the command.

Josiah walks to the shelf pushed against the north wall of the room. “Samuel, come.” He’s speaking the boy’s name for the first time, and it tastes sweet. Honey

“You have a kid story on this festival?”

Samuel stretches his fingers to the second row and runs them along five, ten books, stopping on a hardcover. The book is coated in dust as expected, a problem Josiah handles with a rag. He moves to the table and shifts the bowl of water.

He raises his head to find Sam by his side. Hunger bites the kid’s smile.

“See, Good Friday. Enough historical research and opinions. Ashterah, Easter eggs, buns, blah, blah, blah.” Josiah feels the anger in his tone before he looks at the boy. “Sorry.”

Sam shrugs.

He turns two leaves. “And the resurrection, which occurred on Sunday.” Three pages were dedicated to the happenings on that day – the attire Mary had on while she approached the tomb, how she could have observed the angels with naked eyes, debates ranging from what Peter said to how John reacted.

“What do you want me to see, father?”

“This.” Josiah jabs a finger at a page filled to the half with words. Saturday. “Nothing much is said of Saturday, except that it had to pass.”

“But…”

“But showdown occurred on Saturday. The devil thought he was winning, and the next snap, he was under Christ’s feet. Christ had won. He was raised by His Father. It’s like having a two wrestlers tug, with one bound for defeat. In a thunderbolt, the condemned has forever knocked his opponent out.” Josiah exchanges a glance with Samuel. “How does that sound?”

“Surreal.”

“It was real.”

“Yes, Father. It was.” Samuel watches the grandmother clock nailed adjacent the doorpost. A quarter before seven pm. Almost dinnertime. He turns slowly. “Father, why did Jesus not rise on Saturday? Why Sunday?”

“Why not Monday?” Josiah asks. “Did the Lord require forty-eight hours before the resurrection could take place?”

Samuel stares.

“No, don’t answer. As you know, son, the details of his death, burial, and resurrection, were recorded to the details by the prophets.”

“And by the psalmist.”

The passage came to Josiah as if he were just reviewing it. I am poured out like water… My bones are out of joints… They pierced My joints and feet…

“The twenty-second psalm,” Samuel says.

“The twenty-second psalm,” Josiah says. Hence, The Lord is my shepherd. Because he rose… the twenty-third psalm.

“He rose on Sunday.”

“Oh, He did.” There’s a gurgle in Josiah’s throat, like wine signaling to burst. “He did, so we live.”

There’s a knock at the door. “Mother,” Sam whispers.

Josiah, leaning on the wall such that his view is to the window, nods and shuts his eyes. Footsteps fade.

“What happened on Sunday?” Sam asks.

“Rejoicing. Rejoicing in heaven, rejoicing that’s not an everyday occurrence.” There’s a steep silence, then a soft whoosh.

“Rejoicing,” Josiah whispers again, eyes unopened. He sings into the darkness.

Block F 

​Ugh. 

Exclamation expressing disgust, horror or recoil, says Wordweb. Disgust is not what I feel. Neither is it recoil or horror. Perhaps ‘ugh’ covers it best. It’s like having prayed and prayed till the point of being drained of words and all you utter is a full sigh. Like fetching bucket after bucket into a plastic barrel and then heaving at the last pour. Like punching keys away through the night then hitting the nearest couch for four hours – waking and giving a long druggy yawn. 


That’s how the past few weeks have left me. Without syllables. Imagine that predicament for a writer (and we all are writers, we don’t just face the work). I’d go through each routine while humming, “I’m going to sit my butt and write. Really am,” like the grasshopper making mental notes to gather food against winter only to find itself starved then. 
Over the weekend, something happened. So many things. And one of the results is this – blogging. No, I didn’t forget the need to blog, or how to write. Neither was I deprived time. I just couldn’t put together a blog. Well, not anymore. This one is called Block F. 
The block has no entrance or exit, bordered by intertwined steel wires with holes tiny enough to swallow a newborn’s fist. It has to its left Block C and Block D as rearguard. A trail of white paint runs on all four corners of the block.
A boy comes out of Block D, wearing dark shorts. His face, hidden in the darkness, is pressed into wrinkles. His shirtless tummy is as flat as the decrepit land before him. He takes a step and coughs. He spits loudly into the gutter, taking in the splash. Another fellow grouches, “you people are the ones keeping this hostel dirty.”
The boy closes up to the guy, one hand balled, the other balancing a bundle. The grouch quickly looks away and retreat, bread and beancakes in both hands. He must have had too much, the boy concludes, while he is in dire need. The boy watches him disappear and hisses, then clears his throat and spits again. It’s a missed shot. The boy steps over the pavement supporting the walkway and is hit with an overdose of howling wind. He doesn’t shield his chest. 
He takes another lazy step. A mass of white light blinds him. Sheathing his eyes, he gathers his bundle closer. The lampbearer is now at him. He mutters a weak, lifeless, “sorry” and is in Block B in an instant. The boy considers trailing him, dragging him by the neck and beating him to excitement. He lets the thought fade. Wind picks intensity, accompanied by rumblings in the sky, like a kettledrum cadence. 
The boy smells rain. 
He hastens steps, crossing patches of grass before arriving at the concrete floor. He unties his bundle and retrieves a thick cotton which he spreads slowly. He picks the only other item in the bundle and lays atop the cotton. The boy steps back, assessing, like a mason supervising a project. He smiles. He steps on one end, facing his entry point, and goes on his knees, as if participating in a liturgy. He utters no words of reverence. 
He doesn’t know when he sleeps off. His last thought is the rain been like drops from an Alaskan river. 

Monday Morning… 

​ 

 I remember Monday morning precisely as Ben Carson recalls the day he separated the Binder twins. I remember it like Ted Dekker cannot forget the day Black was published, like Science cannot forget the day Newton’s laws were postulated, like Music cannot forget the day Hallelujah chorus entered our world, like a prude recalls with clarity the place where she had her first sex. 
  Monday morning did not start at 12am or 6am. Perhaps the time is of no importance, for time is a subject of perception. Nine minutes and eight seconds to a grammarian wouldn’t be defined the way a physicist would define it. 
  It was three forty-seven in the morning, second hand ticking twenty when my eyes, heavy as a detached leg of an elephant, shifted from the clock to the sheet spread before me. My eyes weren’t heavy because I lacked sleep. They weren’t heavy because I had the previous evening. 
  They were heavy because I had worked them. 
  The entrance to the room was steeped slightly upward. I stared at the vast of black sheltering the compound. To the left were decrepit structures with jutted roofs. These structures displayed wares for fourteen hours as students trooped in tiny flocks to see to their needs. These structures fed families of twos and fours, and the woman with child. 
  Ahead, a field coated with dry cement swallowed a respectable segment of the floor. Invisible white lines bordered all sides of the field. A pole swayed in the center of the field, bearing a halogen lamp. The lamp was not functioning. 
  The sky was stuffed with stars impossible to count. I buttoned up to prevent an onrush of wind slamming against the exterior of the room. A tag scribbled in bold fonts spelled READING ROOM. 
  Movement behind had me turning. None of the fourteen students – all male – had changed positions. The boy with the KEEP CALM shirt was still lost in his letters. Two rows ahead, another sat with mouth so wide it’d swallow a basketball. Spittle hung on his lower lip. 
  I walked over to my wrinkled drawing sheet and smoothened the tuft. Though disturbed by the howl, the beauties constructed in thin lines, thirteen of them, held my gaze. As I considered, I spotter angles that had required patches and manipulations. 
  I recall all these for it was Monday morning. Monday morning was the moment you dragged a bag to the floor, not minding the scattered contents. Monday morning was the moment for sorting out assignments from notes, like the Shepherd does sheep from goats. 
  Monday morning was the beginning of five days of intense, choky learning. 
  This Monday morning, I couldn’t help but not be afraid. I had, after all, spent 25% of a day working constructions. The week would be windy, a stretch, but I’d survive. My fingers would not bleed and my eyes would not fall out of my head. I wouldn’t call black grey or label a banana as cereal. 
  So I believed. 
  It is Thursday now. The sky is overcast with mournful colors. I watch a Camry teach a bus lessons on road swiftness. I’m walking along the concrete pavement that extends the length of the tarred road, thinking about the day before. I cannot recall in staggering details the things which have shaped me these last days. I cannot begin to tell of the habits, the irritations, the lad who plays flute at a quarter to midnight…
  I do know with all assurance that my eyes, heavy still, are yet to fall off my head. In this do I delight. 

Dear Young 

News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct.

Hello. For today’s post, I attempted writing to a younger me. As I’ve overtly suggested in the last two posts, I’m in school. So, I penned to a fictional me the things I’d have loved to know. 

Here it goes. 

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Dear Young, 
  News of your admission to college came to me like a lover receives the proposal of her partner. To say it gave me great joy would be to repeat a quotidian phrase, but as you’d learn in the journey you are set to embark, nothing is absolutely wrong or perfectly correct. There are thick and thin black lines, white lines, gray lines, and brown ones. The play is yours. 
  You requested that I give you candid advices as you prepare for resumption, well aware I once maneuvered this road. Not so off, but I should warn you. Never engage this method with anyone. Now, the response. Your brows are arched, right? Your lips are knotted in a bewildered smile. I urge you, listen. 
  The ancient ones quipped, “Experience is the best teacher.” Without permission, I modify. “Experience is a masterful tutor, appropriate for some specific sessions.” One of such is being a Freshman with the intent of obtaining a degree. As you balance bags on both arms, your pocket jammed with bills, let thy head remain blank. 
  I know, I know, you’ve been choked with warnings and stories and rumors. “Remember the son of whom you are.” “Try as much to avoid relationships in your first year. The foundation must be solid.” “Discover what works best for you and stick to it like parasite to host.” “Cut frivolities.” And the one which always beg a grin. “Don’t join bad gangs.” All commendable instructions, but… 
  Dump them in the bin. Loll in the backseat as you’re driven to the park. You might be fortunate to leave late in the morning. Don’t struggle to catch an interstate bus – and you may if you wish. They say you don’t sleep when making your first trip. Please, do, like a baby overwhelmed with love. Get snacks and drink to satisfaction. Take a silent belch. Alight with grace, then take a deep breath. The first human you notice must enter your diary. 
  During your first week, you’d be hit with a streak of surprises. If you had taken the advices of elders to heart, your reaction would likely be irritation. If you didn’t, your reaction would be awful wonder. When you stumble into the hostel’s kitchen and meet the sink clogged with brown soapy water, strands of noodles and sachets of paste, shut your eyes and turn slowly. Try to stifle the grouse. Attimes, you’d be in a hurry, perhaps a mistimed class or a formalty meeting. Those are the moments you practice rinse-and-spray. You have no business with the bathroom on those days. These are the things experience alone teaches. 
  If you ever considered yourself an academician, prepare to be dwarfed. If you thought you weren’t dotty towards intense studying, know you’d meet more passive students. Lectures? Stab as much as doesn’t pile towards a negative effect. You might wake one hot afternoon and discover your ears were deaf to an assignment, cross the ocean if necessary, but get it done. 
  Last I remembered, you were pretty inclined towards fashion. Hmm. Snag your seatbelts, cause you’d be schooled on dressing. You will be out under the walkway at noon, bent over your dirty laundry. You’ll raise your head and notice two guys. The first will be clad in track pants, a gray vest defining his torso. He’d run a thick comb through his hair, sweeping every last tuft. He’d make a sideway spin, brushing his beards. As he observes every ritual, you will run your imagination loose. You’d note he cares more about the message he communicates than his outfit. Then, you’ll realize the other fellow is cloth-concerned, his black trousers a bit large and his baseball cap totally not it. 
  You’d have had a bout with envy prior to this new phase, but the form which awaits is the other side of envy. Here, you do not long for the branded belt of a roommate or an icy drink a classmate consumes after a stuffy class. Rather, you’d lust after mental things – the accuracy of a mate’s construction, the tongues of the midnight prayer warrior, the skill of the boy next door. Ever had an affair with worry? School would cleanse your blood of it. 
  I suppose I’m exceeding the expected length. There are a lot of things yet to be scraped. In one sentence, discard all Advice, including this. If there’s one thing I’d strongly recommend, it’s life. Get the life into your system before you set foot in the institution. With that, you might fall, but you’d not collapse. You’d be weary, but you’d faint not. And God-willing, you would read the second part of this letter when you complete the course. 
Till then, 

Your friend, 

Michael. 

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Comments? Opinions? 

On Being a Student 

Originally made for two, then converted to six, the room harbors ten bodies. They lay on mattresses as the sojourner makes his entry. His legs feel drained of blood, and a push from behind would have him tumbling. The sojourner is not so tall and less favored in body fatness

Hello Blog-world. Trust your weekdays were awesome. Mine had me pressed against the corner at a spreadeagle posture with my torso twined like a flexible mannequin. 

Anyway, weekend starts in an hour (as I assume) and what better way to part the grand curtain than a piece. 

I wrote this yesterday, pent up with fatigue. I attempted peeking into my thoughts – ever done that? – and penned the sights, sounds, and emotions. Stuff is, we don’t really see ourselves till we seek. Hence, God alone knows the heart… 

Thwack, thwack. Digression. The piece shoots off in the next paragraph. I also added a picture of me – I’m not big on them. From the best I can summon, I pray a rewarding weekend for you. Stay meek. 

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Office.

About sixteen boys are pushed in a random queue before the door. A blue plate is pinned on the door, with the occupier’s name chiseled in block fonts. A man appears and orders three in. The remaining boys scamper past wooden stools to a larger entrance. The man takes four steps. A week’s worth of stubble festoons his cheek. He’s telling the remnants the difference between university and secondary school. They are as silent as the dead. 
Class
The book lies at centerspread. With the tip of a blunt pen, the writer churns away. Her eyes do not shift from the figure manning the stage. The figure is draped in an oversize shirt. To say he’s thin would be calling a tornado a slight storm. The hem of his pants jump to reveal sun-beaten ankles. He drops the marker and steps off the dais. The girl with the book stops writing. She doesn’t raise her head. Just as the figure approaches the girl, a thunderbolt strikes. The room is ghostly quiet in one minute and awashed with surprise the next minute. Two students are at the stairs, panting. The door is still swinging from the outburst. No one says anything.

Walkway 

Bunches of bananas are arranged in semicircles on a rusted tray. The girl kneeling at the tray is only slightly bigger than a bunch. The senior walks past the fruits, takes a pause, and drops his head backward. He turns slowly and considers the forest-green fruits. The girl springs like an exploded canister. She grabs two bunches and draws the senior. A mate passes and urges the senior to purchase. His brows arch and his stomach grumbles. A hand goes into the pocket. The pocket swallows two-thirds of the arm before spewing out six ruined notes. The girl before to grin. 

Road

A pavement, solid concrete, extends the length of the tarred passage, cut off only occasionally, in the event there’s a roundabout. One of such is marked in black and white paints, like a zoomed zebra crossing. It runs behind foggy bushes, arriving at West Gate. The gate is controversial, choosing to stay closed some and part wide some. On the other side of the road, tall trees sway east to west at the smallest breeze. The trees stand in proximity to each other, forming a frontline attack and a rear guard. In between, all that is expected is present. 

Room 

Originally made for two, then converted to six, the room harbors ten bodies. They lay on mattresses as the sojourner makes his entry. His legs feel drained of blood, and a push from behind would have him tumbling. The sojourner is not so tall and less favored in body fatness. At times, he walks straight, like a parading soldier. Tonight is not one of those nights. Two of the occupants have mouths parted to exhale, the release filling the room like the grunt of a sow. The sojourner drops his items and slugs off. 

Participant  

It’s half past five in the morning. Before me are the rigid tasks for the day, not different from those undergone the previous day. I yawn, lift my lower leg, and sleep off. 

A Story From A Story

“He’s there.”

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on.

“You see him now?”

Clap, clap, clap. Now’s the perfect time for clapping, because I’ve got novels. 

In Monday’s post, I mentioned not having any book to read and how empty that could make a writer feel. Well, not anymore. I have thirteen novels now, e-books, courtesy of a mate. And to make the icing more lip-smacking, it’s the Left Behind series. 

To celebrate, I wrote a story. Off-the-cuff. I was thinking about being able to describe negative emotions and the lines I wrote about doubt to a friend. The rest is below. 

But, I ignored the rule of editing, so all errors should be forgiven. 

Enjoy. 

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The first day I stumbled into the boy, I thought he was gauche. The third finger of his left hand was completely tucked in a nostril. He looked at me and picked out residue, then tapped it away. Next, he tiptoed to the nearest table and, with all the force he could draw from his belly, – which was a bucketload, given his stomach was like a gourd, like stretched wineskin – he guffawed. 
A lady slicing into chicken almost fell off her chair, serrated knife tipped towards the boy. The boy was already moving. He’d found a table with spaghetti as the main course. As his eyes rolled, I observed something strange.

His stomach kept increasing. The faster the roll, the larger the growth. It was surreal, like a Star Wars effect. 
The boy stopped by a bald server and swept off a glass of wine. If the server felt anything, his expression didn’t reveal. The lady with a knife had adjusted. No one seemed to notice. 
I pulled up. The boy was twice his size. He’d grown as tall as a basketball center guard, and a blow from his leg would knock out a pro wrestler, no doubts. Yet, he was searching, searching for more. It wasn’t just food. Gold bracelets, fabrics with intricate designs, keys kept in holders, he swooped them all. He had no bag or purse, no hidden wallet, much like the disciples sent out to witness. But except disciples left humans feeling queasy like the humans ate maggot, this was no disciple. 
I approached another observer at the north of the hall. A dirge of a countrysong warbled through the hall. 
“Hey.”
“Hello you,” the observer replied. He was fondling a bottle of water, sealed. Didn’t look like he’d had anything all day. 
“You’ve been watching since.”
“Is that a crime?”
“Didn’t say so.” I wasn’t calling for a fight. “See, I’ve noticed something. Wanna seek your opinion.”
He was looking past me. “Say what.”
“There’s this boy who’s been taking others stuffs and no one seems to know.”
“I don’t see no one.”
“He’s there.” 

I did a half-circle. The boy was present, alright, but lifeless at it. Had I not watched him earlier, I’d assume he was a joker, a mannequin. His size hadn’t reduced, though. I decided to play on. 
“You see him now?”
“Hey, guy,” observer called. His gaze was fixed on the boy. “I don’t know who’s nuts, you or me. I’m looking where you said and I only see a family of six at a table. No boy packing other people stuffs.”
My lips parted slowly. A drop of spittle hung on the lower lip. “But…”
“Look, I haven’t had nothing all day. The food here wouldn’t satisfy me. If anyone is doing the packing, that should be me.” He shook his head and squeezed the bottle. I looked away. “I’d sure love to meet the boy.”
I turned. 
He was gone. 
Something blazed by, like a bazooka travelling at neck-breaking speed, like a maniac groom pursuing his bride. 
The boy was gone too.

As I wrote, greed kept ringing. Do you suppose the story portrays greed? Dissatisfaction? Comment your opinion.