What Mother Said

 

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash. For Young J who stuttered (and still does now and again in moments of overexcitement)…

**

Don’t let this
be a big thing.
Don’t let the tyranny
of a lost word hovering
just beyond the reach
of your tired tongue
drag you to the edge
of self-immolation.

Cherish the bitten
lower lip, the lisp
when the words – like
a pent up flood
breaching the edge
of a levee – finally come.

Some days your teeth
may grate with the effort
of self-control
as your breath meets
the ticking seconds
but when the count
meets nine you will have won
a hard-fought victory.

Facebook Fail

I woke up to five missed calls on my phone. I had felt, rather than heard its insistent buzz deep within lalaland but sheer tiredness had kept me from waking up. Instead, the phone’s chirpy ringtone somehow ended up blending itself in with the background to some weird dream I promptly forgot on waking.

Of the five missed calls, three were from my mother, one from my father’s phone and one from a private number. This has more or less become her standard M.O. – when she feels I am intentionally refusing to answer her phone calls that is. That she’d called five times suggested it was important, so I groaned inwardly, punched in the numbers for my calling card and made the phone call to Nigeria.

The full repertoire of grunted, fairly redundant greetings done, she proceeded to the core of the reason why she’d called.

“So ‘Seni, I hear you young people now find wives on facebook”

“Mummy”, I reply in best son voice, “where did you hear that from? Facebook is just a website for staying in touch with old friends”

“That’s not what I heard” she replies before she launches into a ten minute tale. Some distant friend of the family, who I had met two or three times at most, who is now retired had scrapped his savings together and sent his son abroad to study at one of my former Universities. Post graduation, he’d found a job in London and was doing quite well by all accounts until he found a wife “off Facebook” my mother insists and got married to her.

A year later, he’d lost his job, it turned out she had been a fraud of sorts (she’d lied about where she worked amongst all other things), and he was back in Nigeria trying to find a job. Somewhere in between talk of having visited some medicine man in an attempt to suss out the cause of his misfortune and all the other ‘spiritual’ sleuthing a traditional Nigerian does..

My mother’s point – important enough for her to try to call me five times in quick succession – was that one wrong move such as finding a wife off face was dangerous. And I needed to be warned/ have my ear pulled to remind me… When it had all wrapped up and the telephone conversation had ended. I sighed and returned to whatever remnants of sleep I could eke out.

It was only 8.30am

Awkward conversations, proxy wars and the end of an era

In that productivity black hole that is the half hour before lunch – where the energy and the gusto from an early start have been steadily eroded by the mundanity of work and the insistent prattle of phone calls, emails and the odd buzz-word infested meeting – I stroll for the umpteenth time into the restroom, almost colliding with a man who is fiddling with the zipper on his fly. I least expect to find someone just inside the door, even though this time of the day is one where the restroom shuffle, coffee room trips and huddles of two and three in the hallway are time honoured strategies for the keen time waster.

Although he is as surprised as I am, he collects his wits much quicker than I do, explaining through a stutter that his zipper has somehow come unravelled. In the five-ish minutes I spend using the urinal and washing up my hands he struggles to restore the integrity of his fly with a safety pin. Just how he manages to have a safety pin in hand and to the rescue escapes me – something tells me that he’s had the safety pin in place for more than just this trip to the loo. I leave before he resolves his little problem thankful for the chance to escape the awkwardness engendered by restroom small talk.

el Madre, never one to shirk the opportunity to launch into a full frontal assault, appears to be learning in middle age that some subtlety – especially when it is related to her quietly stubborn brood – is the more likely weapon of choice for maximum impact. After the sustained attack that was the first half of 2011, she and I managed to have civil conversations through the back end of the year; ones which were largely successful in  avoiding the elephant in the room  – my perceived lack of application in resolving her grand child conundrum. In truth the attentions of a doting son in law, and a grand daughter who is quickly learning the tricks of playing adults against each other helped to keep her mollified. In tandem with her withdrawal, my uncle F has ratcheted up his interest, and he calls me one Monday morning lunch time to remonstrate with the newest prodigal in town. He is the one Uncle who has black sheep credentials, ones which he continually uses to press the case for a change of heart from yours truly.

On to Facebook on Monday night – boredom meeting a pining for just any conversation – and I end up talking with one of the lads from my class of 2009. He’s due out of the UK for good in a week’s time, his inability to get a sponsoring company putting paid to any furtherance of the dreams he once had. It turns out in the few months I haven’t been in touch with them three more of the lads have upped and headed back to Nigeria, one has acquired a Polish bride keen to enjoy the services of her black stud and one more has bitten the bullet and headed to Canada to reinvent his career. It is perhaps a testament to the harsh climes and how quickly time has passed by that my class of 2009 is light on the ground; with the bulk of us either back in Nigeria or weighing up Nigerian moves. It truly is becoming the end of an era, our era.

Of Exes and Mother’s Angst

Dear Lawwd! Matters came to a head today over SpiriChic. Thing is Mother and I have spent the past few months locked in a mental war – losing it is inconceivable for me, because it would constitue such a loss of face that I couldn’t possibly put my foot down on any thing with her in future.

SpiriChic, one of two young ladies I ever seriously dated, is a certain un-official ex from a few years ago now, whose existence was leaked by a parroting sibling in a moment of crass indiscretion. Said ex and Mother got to meet and hit if off instantly, which should have raised red flags in my mind at the time. My assumption has always been though, that as long as I hadn’t told the parents anything, whatever mother assumes is just that, an assumption.

Fast forward to today, when the subject of my future plans came up, especially with the relocation thingy. Mother proceeded to exhort, cajole and even downright threaten (not quite, but exert a fair bit of pressure anyways) all to ensure that yours truly restarts the broken connection with said ex, who in her eyes is a perfect fit!

I understand her dilemma – she is scared that her son might be captured by a white woman…. Oh well, that’s not in the plan yet!