In Memory Of...

Fatima Priscilla Gana – A Year Later (In Remembrance)

We remember you, Fatima Priscilla Gana.

On this date, a year ago, we laid your body to rest.

We remember your guileless smile; your heart of gold.

We remember your child-like trust and belief in others.

We remember your ability to see no wrong in people.

I remember you…

… I remember crushing eggshells with you in the kitchen, for your mum’s Rose garden.  Your mum was an ardent gardener and saved the eggshells to be crushed and used to fertilize her rose garden.

I remember you teaching me a few Nupe words – ‘echi’ for yam – which I found funny at the time because ‘echi’ in Igbo means tomorrow!

I remember pushing each other in the swing in your garden and listening to your stories about the orchard on the other side of your house…going swimming with you at your Uncle’s house with a firm promise that you will teach me how to swim so I needn’t be worried.

So many memories…

…I try to write some more but I find that the pain of knowing that all the reunions I planned in my head, will remain just that…plans.

I envy those who spent more time with you; our former class-mates who met up with you in recent times; who shared space and time with you before you left us.

Even though I try and squelch it any time it comes, the hurt hasn’t lessened. I push the tears back, squash the crushing pain and pull together the cavernous gap in my heart.

They tell me ‘you’re in a better place’ and I try to believe and accept but it rings hollow. What better place? I ask in my head. Couldn’t you have stayed with us a little longer? I wanted to meet you again in this life. I wanted to see your smile, your gap-toothed smile, in the here and now not in some ‘better place.’

Then, I stop my sulking, my ranting, my raving because I can feel you looking at me and shaking your head; a half-smile playing around your lips. Just like you went to your dad and told him about me all those years ago, I can see you looking for a solution for me…looking for a way to ease my pain even though you’re not here with me because, Fatima Priscilla Gana, that’s who you are…always looking out for others.

I remember and I will not forget.

Till we meet again…Fatima Priscilla Gana, an angel….I salute you.


Fatima Priscilla Gana      [1971-2014]
Fatima Priscilla Gana [1971-2014]

Mami-Wọta Made My Hair [III]

The first incident took place when I was three years old.

My grandmother and seven aunties wanted to prepare a feast to mark my third year on earth.

My mother refused, bluntly.

You must understand that this is unlike my mother. With her mother-in-law and seven sisters-in-law, she had always chosen her battles carefully. All those childless years of cruel teasing, taunting and torments… she scraped, she smiled, she bowed; in short, she stooped to conquer, as it were.

For the quiet.

Because she loved my father and was able to deal with their noise more than he could. She allowed them the first year to gloat, to joy, to make merry while she and my father sat with quiet smiles at the feasting table.

The second year, the same.

But, not this year.

No more.

Continue reading “Mami-Wọta Made My Hair [III]”

This is not fiction

One Year Blog Anniversary and Epiphanies

Today, a year ago, I wrote my first blog post after three years hiatus from blogging; a blog which I deleted, by the way. [To be honest, I didn’t actually write it, I just copied and pasted one of my old posts just to get me started]

But today’s post, funnily enough, is not about that. Even though I had this grand plan of writing this great anniversary post! This post of all posts that will trump all other posts!!!

Man proposes, while God disposes, right? [One of my mum’s favourite sayings]

Anyway, today’s post is based on a realisation of myself; a realisation that I have this child-like quality of taking people at their word. That, when someone tells me something, my first, second and third reaction is to believe them. I don’t see any reason why they’ll lie to me as I know I wouldn’t lie to them so, why shouldn’t I believe what they say? It also means that I put a lot of value on words and I don’t believe people should profess things lightly. So when someone tells me something, even though their actions say the very opposite, I tend to believe what they say rather than what they do.

So, I was ruminating over a certain situation; someone had been saying stuff to me for, well, quite a while now but it was only today that it struck me that that’s all they ever do – say stuff.

During my ruminations, a word dropped into my mind – ‘By their fruit, you shall know them.’

Now I know not everyone believes the Holy Bible or reads it or agrees with it. To some, it is a fairy tale, to others, a folk tale or a tale written by men for reasons best known to them. Be that as it may, some of our everyday sayings, our thought processes, even the general moral code by which some of us – believers, non-believers and unbelievers – live by, come from the Book.

Have you ever used the term ‘scapegoat’? Then you refer to the goat that was ‘presented alive before the LORD to make atonement…and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness’. (Leviticus 16:10) The scapegoat is, putting it literally, ‘the one who sends the sins away’.

What of the term or the idea of a ‘David and Goliath’ situation? For example, when there’s a stand-off between a small, cottage business and a giant (no pun intended) conglomerate? Well, you’re looking at 1st Samuel 17:32-51, when David, a simple, shepherd boy ‘smote’, Goliath a giant of over nine feet tall, with a slingshot! (I love that word – smote).

My point is that whatever you believe, or not believe, the Holy Bible is a treasure trove, a rich source of, quite frankly, a whole lot of stuff!

Take for instance this scripture that I mentioned at the beginning – ‘By their fruit, you shall know them, as simple and as self-explanatory as it is, it hit me with the force of icy water poured on a deep sleeper!

You know how you work hard to make a relationship work? You give excuses for the person; reminding yourself of how wonderful they were when you first met them or how wonderful they used to be? Or how you try to convince yourself that your boss is really alright? That it’s not his/her fault? It’s just stress, traffic, cold coffee, a dirty carpet, cigarette stains on the desk…[you fill in the rest]

Well, the Holy Bible has news for you! (…me actually. I’m just including you so that I’m not alone in my situation 🙂 )

You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore, by their fruit, you shall know them.” – Matthew 7:16,18,20.

Some of you might be formulating a counter argument, reply or riposte. I respect that but while you’re doing that, let me just finish the point I was making.

Rather than waste my time, justifying a person’s behaviour, I’ve begun to ask questions; questions I never really asked before this epiphany of mine.

I’ve now begun to ask – “What is their fruit? What are their actions? What do their actions say to me?

You say you love me but that’s all you do…say. When I look back at how long you’ve been saying you love me, I realise that you’ve actually done nothing for me, zilch! Nada! It’s all been undying professions of love but when the opportunity arises to do something confirming and re-affirming that love, you’re suddenly ill, incommunicado or extremely busy with very important things.

You say I’m an excellent worker but when the time/opportunity arises for you to promote me or reward my excellence, you prolong, procrastinate, or even prevaricate! You say, you declare, you pronounce! You tell everyone, you speak of it everywhere…you do nothing!

You are the tree; your actions are your fruit.

As a mango tree, when I come to you, in your season – the month of May –  I expect to find ripe and ready-to-be-plucked mangoes, not guavas, paw-paws or coconuts. I may even accept unripe/undeveloped mangoes, if not, then you’re of no use to me or to anyone whom you’ve convinced of your ‘mango-ness’.

People’s actions are a clear indication of who they are. Are there exceptions? Of course but that’s not what this post is about. Today’s post is for all those, like me, who know deep down inside that a person is a fraud but find it difficult to accept because of all the wonderful things they say that warm the cockles of your heart – by their fruit, you shall know them. And if they are fruitless or are producing a strange fruit; if they say good things, profess love and all other sweet things, remember, that ‘faith without works is dead’.

If a brother or a sister is naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled”, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?’ The Book of James 2:14-17

This is not fiction

Following Your Heart: Walking The Straight and Narrow

My sister once said to me, “Follow your heart and everything will be alright.”

She isn’t the only one.

A lot of people say that.

On social networking sites, blogs, articles in newspapers and magazines, and in everyday conversations.

I’ve always pictured following your heart as this path you walk, in the early morning light, when the day is yet to break fully. The sky is a canvas filled with pink bubbles and cream cakes with a dose of lemon and ginger tea to balance things out.

The fact is, and I’ve come to realise this, that ‘following your heart’, requires you to be on the straight and narrow; to make your ‘heart’ the focus even when your head is scared witless and wants to go back into its shell, its safe and secure place, where the familiar is prince and routine is king.

‘Following your heart’ means you close your ears to people who will kindly push you off the straight and narrow with their well-meaning advice.

‘Following your heart’ means closing your eyes to other people; people who appear accomplished, people who have ‘arrived’, while you’re still journeying.

Your path is not theirs.

Following your heart also means hardening that heart to decisions that may hurt in the beginning but pay off at the end.

And so I have followed my heart to Okada Books.

I will still share short stories here on Roastcornandube; serialised stories will be on Okada Books.

Follow your heart too.

And people who your heart call to, will come to you and with you.