Away with love
And away with its lies
A way it is
Of feeding me the highs

Away with hate
I’ll forgive one more time
There ne’er was time to die
Than the moment of truth

Away with cheer
This fairy make-up tale
The ruse contrived
To keep me in limbo

Away with sorrow
Else, away with life
Of what use is the life
That ne’er was lived at all

One Fine Thanksgiving Day

It was well past bedtime when the knock came on her door. She was seated in front of her desktop trying to do some work but was dosing off in the process, so she wasn’t sure if she’d heard a knock or it was something else that had jolted her back to consciousness. She tried to get back to work and then the knock came again. She was sure this time. She called out, “Tare, is that you?” wondering what on earth her daughter was doing up at this time.


“Yes mum,” came the hesitant reply.


“Come in,” she said, urging her daughter in.


Sotie was a hardworking migrant mother of two, a single mum who loved her 2 teenage daughters to bits but had a disagreeable way of showing it. She smothered them with so much “love” that they could hardly breathe. One couldn’t now dismiss the possibility of paranoia because she called her daughters practically every hour, wanting to know if they were fine. She also had a temper that would dwarf that of water at its boiling point. Her mother once told her “Sotie, you’ll send my granddaughters away from home, with your style of parenting.” Funny how it proved true, in time. Last summer, her older daughter Ladoh stormed out of the house after an argument they both had and has been living with her boyfriend ever since. But Sotie still loved and missed her daughter very much.


As Tare walked into her mother’s room, she couldn’t help but wonder if this was the right thing to do, judging by her mother’s reaction in Ladoh’s case. She decided that she was going to tread cautiously. “Mum,” she began, after she was beckoned close, “I uh…..” she started to stammer. Sotie sensed the hesitation and her eyes narrowed. She was always too quick to catch this kind of vibe, even ones that were yet to hit the air. Tare took a deep breath (she was going to spill it out anyhow, heaven could fall for all she cared!) and said, “Mum, there’s a boy at school, who really likes me. He wants us to be more than just friends.” This she blurted out and followed immediately with a heavy sigh of relief.


Now Sotie would, on an ordinary day, have gone off the handle immediately but a glance at the clock (it was past midnight) told her that hysteria couldn’t be more ill-timed. Too, she was fast realizing that that sort of reaction wasn’t working with her daughters. True, they were of Nigerian origin but having moved to the United States in their tender years, this was the only culture they knew. Now sitting before her daughter, the alarmist in her kept saying, “you stupid ungrateful girl. I sent you to school to study and you come here telling me that a boy is interested in you! What! Are you out of your senses?” In any case, on this night, while the struggle between Alarmist and Level-headed went on in her mind, Level-headed held sway. She smiled.


“Wow! Honey, that’s beautiful!


(“What!” exclaimed Alarmist).


Level-headed, pretending not to notice, continued, “You know, dating affords you the opportunity to get to know someone better, especially if you’re hoping he’ll be your Mr. Right. Now, tell me honey, what do you think about him?”


(Alarmist interjected again, “like seriously?! I think I’m having a heart attack!)


“Well, he seems to be a nice guy and I kinda like him,” she said, completely oblivious of the conflict going on in her mother’s head.


“Hmm, that’s not a bad thing, if you manage it well, was Level-headed’s gentle answer.


Tare poured out her heart and Sotie, for the first time, really listened to her daughter. She didn’t know what came over her that night but she was sure that they had struck a chord in each other’s heart. Tare, on her own part, knew that this was not the mother she had known all her life. This one was different and she preferred this one.


After that, they got closer and closer. Sotie would tease her occasionally while they did the dishes together, asking, “so how is Mr. Right today?” and she would say with her happy smile,” Last time I checked, he was still nuts over me.”


One Saturday afternoon, she chanced upon Tare’s phone. Actually, Tare had fallen asleep on the sofa while chatting and the phone had dropped off onto the fine rug lining the floor of their sitting room.  She bent to pick up the phone and something caught her eye: it was the last line of a chat that read, “My mum’s my best friend. I can tell her anything. She doesn’t judge me” Her heart melted. She was so beset by emotions she didn’t notice her eyes fill up, only realizing it when she blinked. She said a silent prayer then and thanked God. Something was finally working.


Stealthily easing out of the living room lest she wake the young lady, she prayed again, this time for her older girl, Ladoh. She missed her so much but Ladoh wouldn’t even pick her calls.


She still spoke to her kid sister Tare though – they had a special bond between them as many siblings do, that withstood all pressure from without. Unknown to Sotie, Tare and Ladoh were talking more often these days….


It was Thanksgiving Day and the twosome of mother and daughter sat at the table, hands held together, eyes closed in prayer, grateful for the love they now shared and wishing for the day when this duo would once again be a trio, as used to be….


Then the bell rang. It was a silent question as they looked up at each other, wondering if the other was expecting a visitor. Tare said, “I’ll get it.”


Ladoh was standing at the door, baggage and all, her face covered in a grin. “Hello baby sister.” Tare flew at her, screaming with all of the excitement that she felt. Sotie edged questioningly towards the front door wondering what the commotion was about.


When their eyes met, it was to say how much they had both missed each other and how they both were sorry for the events that tore them apart. Sotie hugged her daughters tightly. This was no ordinary Thanksgiving.  This time, their entreaties to God took on new meaning. This was a war where the three of them had all come off victors.

Abosede – Of trusting too much

Abosede - african-woman-carrying-water

The day was Sunday, a mighty beautiful Sunday. The place? The ancient historical city of Owo, sometime before the Niger Area could declare Uhuru! The stage was set for the birth of a maiden, a saintly damsel, the apple of many eyes. She was not of royalty but her ways were. Beautiful and simple at heart, dreaming dreams any young maiden would dream, reveling in the sheer awesomeness of her terrain.

Empowered by her little flicker of optimism that she might someday belong to royalty, she said “yes” to a doting young Prince Charming whose habitation of the palace was not to be. He rather preferred the life of a sailor and she was just as glad. Every girl would have a sailor, if the prince didn’t come by!

And so began Abosede’s real sojourn on the journey called Life and its uncertainties. She tells me her story today and I tell you the same and know that you will know better after this.

She ‘sailed’ away to the capital city Lagos, where she would birth her 5 children, between intermittent voyages of her sailor husband. Ever the devoted wife that all expected her to be, she never asked for much, ever content with the available. An unsavory side to this though was that she never questioned her husband’s decisions about the family. She didn’t think it necessary. She trusted implicitly. Unknown to her, her sailor husband also suffered the same malady: of trusting too much. He trusted another – his ‘best friend’- with his life and those of his loved ones, his resources, investments and entire life savings.

Trust came crashing one day, when he found out that he had been swindled and lied to. But alas! Too late, his job was already lost. He never would cross the borders on board grand vessels in the uniform of a sailor. He never got a severance pay. All the property that he had committed to his friend had been sold. It was the sad beginning of an unhappy tale, one that would leave its bitter aftertaste on the mouths fed hitherto.

In exchange for meager returns, Abosede would trade petty stuff. She tells me of how she sold off all her gold and other jewelry, when it was time for her children to start higher learning. How she would trade her clothes, ridiculously under-priced by hungry ravens who took advantage of her misfortune. She relates to me her indebtedness to many a borrower, just to see her children succeed.

Many waters have passed under the bridge but for her, it is not yet freedom. For she cries, she looks back on the sands of time – how much of a long way she has come and how she has nothing to show for it – save for hips needing to be reset, pains that defy analgesics and the now wavering ray of hope that the future would be bright. She has no abode of her own, no shelter to protect her from the elements. She tries to forgive – herself and her husband – but her heart fails her sometimes, and yet she must.

I listen and I am thinking, that I would never be so naïve as to accept hook, line and sinker (plus fisherman I think) everything that anyone would have me believe, or to live in the mistaken confidence that tides never turn and that fortunes never change. But I forget, that I am wiser today because she was imprudent yesterday. I see clearer today because yesterday the outlines were hazy for her.

Her children love her, for they owe a lot to her but at this time, their love is all that they can give. The “system” still hampers what they wish to become – true successes – worth putting a smile on their mother’s face.

Abosede, I salute you. You are strong, you are brave, you are kind, unselfish, adorable. Many call you màmá but your children call you Mámà, for you are strong, you dare all the odds. However, to me you will always be the Sunday girl, not just because you were born on a Sunday but because you bring sunshine into our lives. I celebrate you today, with the prayer and faith that such audacity to hope will be rewarded.

Finding my way to Forgiveness


I couldn’t go back to her. Didn’t know how to. After 47 months of separation from my wife Sue, how could I possibly ask her to take me back? It was comforting to know that she didn’t remarry or get into another relationship but then maybe she didn’t want to. Didn’t need to. Not after I abandoned her and my kids without explanation. How she must hate me!

I knew she was angry. It was obvious from her zillion messages to my inbox back then, that she was seething with anger, which I had ignored. At the time, I dismissed them as the ranting of an angry woman but if I were in her shoes, I’d probably have done much worse.
I noticed the sweat on my palms and my heart racing so I decided to sit, all the while asking myself how on earth I drifted away from those that mattered most to me. It all started with a brief moment of weakness (or lustful greed when I look back now). I tasted infidelity and wanted it over and over again. I couldn’t just stop, the lure was overpowering, uh!

Suddenly the bible story swept through my mind, of Jacob and Esau* and how they became reunited after animosities threw them apart for many years. I’d write her a letter I decided. No emails, no calls, just write. I wanted her to see and feel my regret as she read. I was prepared to do anything to make it up to her, gosh! How had she managed with my littluns all these years? Not even a dime from me in support of their upkeep. And come think of it, she didn’t even take up the case with Child Welfare! “You’re completely useless Istvan,” was all I could say to myself. “Your case is pathetic. How can you throw love like this away?

I waited for 2 long weeks, in the hopes that I’d get a reply to my letter. I was ready for any kind of response, anything at all except silence. But nothing came. So I decided again to write, this time ordering some flowers in accompaniment. Still nothing. I’m not sure how many letters I wrote after that but when I came to my wits end, I knew it was time to do the brave thing – walk up to her door and say how truly sorry I was, for everything. I’d understand if she didn’t want me back but I had to let her know how truly sorry I was.

When I rang the bell, I did not know what sort of reception I would get. It took a while for the door to open but when it did, I saw in an instant all the array of emotions on her face: shock, fear, uncertainty, not so much of joy but  I was unsure if there was still some anger lurking somewhere in those glassy eyes. I imagined she would slam the door shut and then reappear within seconds with a glass bottle aimed at my head or even a knife….

Something of a million years passed before I finally picked up the courage to speak. She had grayed a bit, lost some weight too but it was obvious from the wrinkle lines now forming on her face that it was a lot for her to bear. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. I wanted to reach out and comfort this hurting woman but I was just hung… voice was heavy. I got on my knees not trusting them to bear my weight any longer…. My body shook in uncontrolled spasms as I just poured out myself, my stupidities, my regrets, everything. Would I ever be able to right the wrongs?

Then I saw her fall on her knees too, right in front of me. She held me, looked into my eyes, her frail gaze holding mine. “I read every one of the letters,” she began, “every one of them; but my heart was too heavy and my hand….. couldn’t hold the weight of a pen…..” This time it was my turn to hold her as she gave way to all emotion. She had every right to, even though by far, she was the stronger one and I was a coward, more than I had cared to admit.

I held her for a long time, knowing from then on, that holding her forever was all I wanted to do.


*The account of Jacob and Esau’s reunion can be found in Genesis Chapter 32:11-20 & Chapter 33:1-11