Ireoluwa

You with the hair as dark as charcoal and as stubborn as the tide

Why do you curse your being?

Why do you look in the mirror and spit at your own reflection?

Why do you fill your soul with darkness and discontent?

Why do you hug sadness and welcome dissatisfaction into your heart?

Why do you stay awake all night crying for reasons you don’t know?

You with eyes as bright as day

Why do you store spite within you all the time?

Why do you lock yourself up and wonder which part of your body to cut next?

Why are your words filled with broken glass and needles?

Why are you always so guarded?

Why do you run away from joy and cling to misery?

You with the most beautiful smile

Where did you learn to fill your insides with barbed wire?

Why do you stifle the cries for help coming from deep within your soul?

Why did you let him break you so?

You with the unmatched perfection don’t you know?

Don’t you know you are beautiful

Don’t you know only you can make you happy

Don’t you know happiness is only ours to fight for

Don’t you know the eyes of a lover is never the place to feel beautiful

Don’t you know your pillow is weary of your tears

Don’t you know he isn’t worth it

Don’t you know life only gets better if you will it to

Ireoluwa you have to know.

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Ireoluwa

Of beautiful things

You tell yourself you’re unbreakable, unemotional

You give yourself reasons not to pay attention to emotions

You like being called cold hearted

You build a haphazard wall of sarcasm and cynicism

You never let people know how you truly feel

It begins with a text; hey

You begin to talk

At first it’s careless banter

He’s funny, witty. Charming even

You laugh, you guard yourself. Never going to happen you say

But then it does happen.

Your random chain of thoughts somehow goes back to what he said

You catch yourself smiling sometimes

It pisses you off but then it doesn’t

You like it but you hate it

Then you look forward to the conversations

Those long unending ones that go on for days with an undefined pattern

You sigh, you cuss, dammit.

It’s happened.

Somehow those walls begin to falter and chip off

You’re no longer as guarded; you’re vulnerable

You feel free but then you’re scared

You like him and it’s not sarcastic or ephemeral; it’s the real deal

But you don’t know how to express it

You try but then you fail

And then you’re sad

Because you fear he might like you; love you even

But he might never understand you.

You promise yourself to try, he’s worth it?

You smile at his words, you fancy his voice with that south-eastern twang

He’s funny, cheerful, caring. He’s a lot of good things

A gentleman.

You find him beautiful and it sucks

But you like it and then you hate it

Deep down you know it but you refuse to admit it

That you’ve found it, found him

Your very own beautiful creation.

Of beautiful things

Sunday Morning Charades.

Sunday morning service.
Don Moen’s captivating voice resonates through the lush interior of the Mercedes and I wonder why I feel obliged to play his CDs during my early Sunday morning drive to church from home. I check the watch Father gave me a week back just because-8:52am-mother will have a cow. I’m about to tell Akpan to hurry when he deftly parks in front of the church’s main entrance. People are scurrying about, rushing to get in and I feel I should hurry too but if mother heard of my doing such an abominable act she would disown me; my expensive George material wouldn’t even make it possible so I resist the urge. The usher spots me and smiles one of those smiles I can tell she only reserves for people that look like wealth and smell of royalty, I smile back. She’s about to direct me to the front pew but I wave her away and walk towards my usual seat, beside mother.

She looks at me and gives a disproving look that screams “One shouldn’t be late to the house of the Lord.” I bend to hug her and whisper my apologies; I don’t mean them. Mother likes to keep up an appearance in church and make people believe that we are from a humble family which God has showered his unending blessings upon, I go along with her charades but we all know better. She is always at church smiling from ear to ear, leading the women’s group to one function or another, telling everyone to call her “Sister Vero” instead of Chief. I wonder why she tries so hard because I can see through the plastic smiles and the forced hugs from the other women that they don’t buy the act, that they know about Father’s shady dealings in Aso Rock, that they know she has “special boys” everywhere that satisfy her feminine needs; but she carries on. Maybe she believes if she tries hard enough she can fool God with the delicious scent of her imported perfume.

The praise and worship session begins and I sing along but not too loudly so according to Mother “they won’t think we’re bush.” I watch a woman clad in threadbare and outdated Ankara screaming the worship songs at the top of her lungs, her arms stretched out towards the ceiling, her eyes squeezed shut, and the full length of her poverty stricken body extended like if she could, she would pull the ceiling down and snatch God’s blessing from him. I want to seem more reverent and stretch my arms out like her but I fear the expensive watch on my wrist won’t let me and Mother would lose her mind if I begin to scream the songs out loud so I resist the urge. The Pastor begins the prayer session and I hear the woman scream “Amen” from the top of her lungs, her voice sounds hoarse. She starts jumping up and down and then rolls on the floor, arms stretched out and palms wide open, as if the dust on the floor were infact God’s blessing and she wanted it all for herself. I can’t help but wonder at such open display of desperation but I admire her reverence. She didn’t care what people thought of her, it was just her and God. I imagined myself doing that and seeing mother pass out but I think against it because my perfectly tied gele and expensive George material won’t let me.

The following Sunday
I’m sure Akpan is curious why I didn’t wear any jewelry or make up today but I’m not obliged to explain anything to him. I rush into the church like everyone else and the Usher from last week looks at me, sizes me up and turns away. I guess she doesn’t recognize me in my old Ankara wrapper and plain black top looking like a commoner. I approach the front pew avoiding my mother’s direction but an usher directs me to the back saying the front is “reserved for dignitaries”, I guess he doesn’t know my father owns the biggest oil rig in this country but I follow his direction and find myself seated beside the poor woman from last week wearing the same threadbare Ankara. The worship session begins and I will my voice to be loud and my lungs to scream with abandon; I’m sure I sound crazy but I don’t care anymore. The woman begins to jump and I jump too, my arms stretched out without any watch to hold me back. The prayers begin and I’m screaming amen, I feel myself run to the front of the altar and begin to roll on the floor. Yes, I can feel it now. I hear my mother scream my name “Iruoma! Iruoma! What are you doing?! Iruoma!” She sounds scared but I don’t care. I want her to shut up and leave me alone, can’t she see that God is blessing me?

Sunday Morning Charades.