goals are good

5 Great Tips To Make Your Goals Your Reality

Goals are a great tool for motivation. But if you don’t use them correctly, they can also be a source of frustration. They are only empowering if they are used properly. So how do you make a goal into something that is a benefit for you?

Strategies are important, especially to help you create the type of success you desire and deserve.

Here are five techniques to help you realize good results.

1. Balance: In your life, you will have personal development, personal finance, and other goals. Don’t neglect any of them. It is ok to want things, but don’t forget to balance those pursuits with your own growth as a person. All of these are important so be clear about all of them and make them real for you.

2. Plan Actions: Goals are not items for your to-do list. It is what you are striving for. Plan specific actions that lead you towards your desired results. Use them to provide your compass for those actions. When you plan actions for the day you can easily tell if they’re going to be effective if you have clear goals to compare them against.

3. Share: If you were an archer, would you keep it a secret that you want to hit the bull’s eye? Too many keep their target a secret. Share them with people who will support and encourage you.

4. Write it: Make your goals real by recording them. Put copies of this on index cards and keep copies in the car and in the bathroom and review them regularly. Make them the center of your focus. Don’t just set them and then ignore them. Your goals are like a compass to tell you which way to go. The exciting part is that you get to chose the alignment of your compass.

5. Don’t Give Up: Don’t be afraid to try something, fail and try something else. Take effective and massive action to meet your goals and understand that any true goals will take many steps to achieve. Sometimes you will make a misstep, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s only those who abandon their direction who don’t achieve them.

GET STARTED!

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash
Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

 

designed life list

UPDATE: Designed Life Literary Awards Winners

It’s with great pleasure that we present the winners of the 2017 Designed Life Literary Awards, it’s been close to two months since the inception of this contest. The winners were selected based on the valid shares – note that we noticed some entries that were shared multiple times by the same person and this reduced the value of their shares, The judges also scored the entries based on standard English Usage rules and this led us to the following result:

  1. Olanrewaju Olamide emerges in First Place with the story “1814”
  2. Akinyemi Muhammed— Princely  emerges in Second Place with the story “Buried in time”
  3. Chuks Obi emerges in Third Place with the poem “The Widow”

We appreciate all the finalists and entrants for their participation and we wish you all the best in your writing career and paths.

The winners should kindly contact Mr. Damilola Jonathan Oladeji for further instructions via his email jonathanoladeji@gmail.com and on Whatsapp 08181475673.

Note: we apologize for the delays, the errors and the issues that have followed the organizing of this writing contest, we promise to do much better with the subsequent editions. 

WE BELONG TOGETHER

Looking back on the warped path I’ve threaded, I’m obliged to deaden my sore cuticles in preparation for more inescapable lashes of life, or wail my frustrations at the unfairness, or better still, give up, muscles sagged, and dig myself into the earth till its crude granules violate my tongue. But I refuse to do all that, for in your eyes, I see love strong enough to defuse the tartness of my soul. Maybe I am overly sanguine but it’s nothing but a speck compared to the many flaws I’m yoked with.

Years ago, on the doctor’s bed, our mother, completely drenched in sweat, pain, and the prospective cushioning memories of nestling beautiful healthy twins, birthed you and about six hours later, me. The doctor and the nurses, confused and worried themselves, thinking I was dead, contemplated cutting me bit by bit to create room so I could be yanked out as my head, stuck in mother’s cervix, threatened to kill her. Mother staunchly refused and gave one final determined push that coated her entire body in crimson. I popped out and landed in the hands of the doctor, silent and heavy like a slab of frozen beef. I was slapped and spanked for minutes before I finally let out a weak cry. All the while, you were puncturing the tensed atmosphere with your relentless screech as your lungs accustomed to the foreign air.

The early auguries I showed refused to dislodge the relief gripping the minds of everybody in the room but seven months later, when my neck refused to attain stability, my face an emotionless mask and my entire body as flaccid as rubber, eyes brows were raised and worry lines appeared. To further intensify the magnitude of the conundrum, you, on the other hand, were perfect. You smiled beautifully and responded to everything like a normal child should, you sucked at Mother’s breast with wanton abandon and were starting to master the art of creeping.

Mother riddled the doctor with questions. She wanted to know why God didn’t bless her wholeheartedly; he stopped halfway, displayed unwavering tokenism, and lumped her life with a vessel of burden. The doctor explained in detail, dancing labourioiusly between medical jargons and layman phraseology. You caused it all. You were selfish. You took all the nutrients for yourself and robbed me of even the slightest minimum to stay whole. To top that, you took all the space and squeezed me to a corner, thrusting me into the hands of death. But I lived. The doctor claimed that my survival was a miracle but it did nothing to douse the melancholy. Who knows, Mother probably wished I had died and while that could be tagged abominable, I would forgive her if she did venture down that road. Carpeted before the poor woman was a lifetime of pain and sorrow.

For years, I was with the physiotherapists and the enthusiasm and optimism they had resonated when I was a fresh patient, steadily, diluted into frustration and an acquiescence to the fact that I was resigned to a life devoid of meaningful social interaction- the elusive leap beyond blabbers and gibbers. The few times you came with Mother and me— days when you were on holidays—, you endeared yourself to the therapists and every single person around. Your intelligence, way beyond your years, astounded them. Your robust physique and the rich coiling field of hair capping your large head attracted all sorts of mushy nicknames. Every time you walked in, the focus was shifted from me, the patient, to you, the healthy one. In spite of Mother’s protests, they would get you snacks and drinks, give you the sack of building blocks and watch you construct all sorts with them, and all the while, I would be on the plinth, the gloved hand of a therapist trying to overcome the stiffness my muscles and joints presented with.

The visit to the hospital stopped the day one of the therapists told Mother that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There were only two realistic options for me: remain the same or regression. Any form of improvement was restricted to the distant clouds of divine intervention. Mother wept that day and her tears silenced the entire clinic, thrusting into the hearts of everyone within, a rush of bile and sadness at the iniquitousness of life. You should have seen her that day; you were busy in school. But I know if you were there, you would cry too, like I did. They all thought I was up to my usual antics, crying for nothing, but they didn’t know that, somehow, the glumness of the situation had gripped my tender heart.

While you advanced through school, your cute shorts becoming trousers, I was in my special room, belted to my wooden chair, a bag of cheese balls or Choco pops erected before me, my eyes fixed on a blue cat (who I now know is Tom), surviving all sorts of accidents while chasing a small brown rat called Jerry. All the while, I had caregivers come and go like the seasons; I was never without one. No matter how hard they tried to endure the rigours of caring for me, there was always something I did that broke the tensed rope. For one of them, it was my incessant crying at night, she complained it gave her headaches that set her head on fire. Another claimed I gave her a strange infection that caused blisters all over her face and thighs. There was also the issue of my sudden retches, watery stools and pungent urine. Mother tried to pitch in, as much as she could, in spite of the manacles of her banking job, but all that changed when she started producing more babies.

I haven’t seen you since that day you walked into my room and gave me your superman doll. You were dressed in a white short-sleeved shirt neatly tucked into black pants. Your combed hair glistened beneath the glare of the while fluorescent and the acne scars pocked all over your face were poorly camouflaged with the Vaseline you’d rubbed. You didn’t say a word. You smiled at me and then turned to watch Tom and Jerry for a moment. The scene where Tom ingested a dynamite instead of a carrot made you laugh and I laughed too. You turned to me again, smiled once more and walked out. That little sequence didn’t mean anything until I didn’t see you again. It was your goodbye.

I still think about you sometimes, those fleeting moments when I am detached from my cartoons, my eyes concocting images of you superimposing a constellation of white clouds pocking the blue sky, smiling, both hands waving vigorously. Mother’s new kids come in sometimes and I don’t like the way they look at me, like I’m some miscreation, a blight discolouring their perfect world. You never looked at me that way. The times you did walk into my room, I saw –in your eyes—, love shrouded with the fear of not knowing what to do to correct me. You touched me thrice and on those occasions, it was a gentle immersion into a sea of joy, the same kind of joy I got from Mother when she still had my time, before the new kids took her away.

Last night, I had the strangest of dreams. It had the configuration of stark reality. I was in my chair gaping at the television when the door opened to reveal a tall man in a shiny dark suit. He had a round face chiseled with eyes capped by a thick black bush of hair. I thought it was an angel—or God, who had finally realized I needed a miracle but when the man smiled, I saw something familiar. The joy, the love, the hankering. It was you brother. You rushed towards me, yanked off the straps and pulled me into your arms. Your sobs tore the awkward silence to shreds and I could feel your warm tears drop on my cheeks, rolling into my mouth to dole out the saltiness. The last time I was hugged with so much emotion was the time I hoisted a spoon of rice into my mouth for the first time. Mother was happy but there’s been nothing more to be happy about since then.
“I am sorry for everything brother”. You blurted, “I shouldn’t have left you alone. I am sorry for everything. I am so sorry, I am never leaving you again.”
You burst into tears again, the word ‘sorry’ still sneaking its way into the lengthy emotional bawl. I started weeping myself, blabbing in tongues I’m sure you don’t understand.

When my eyes opened back to reality, my sweaty body strapped tightly to my bed, I looked around for you but I was alone, like I am most of the time. It was my first dream ever and you were in it, and that brought unexplainable joy to my soul. It was more than an imagery or sequence developed in the realms of slumber, it was a message. A message that you aren’t gone forever. You are coming back to never leave me again and I am holding on to that with my life, for we belong together.

Email

Buried in time

Memories of you are buried deep into my head like rocks into soil, firmly, and with no definiteness as to when it was planted – the rocks in the soil, your memories in my head. Even more buried are the emotions I feel for you, clad in regard and unreciprocated love. I have taken pills of depressants to fight the ailment the thought of you brings to my heart. The more pills I took, the harder I loved and wanted to be adequate enough, just for you.

How little words can tear deep into our memories, exterminating the beautiful memories we made, I will never know. I grew in your eyes, and under what I thought was love. The sands we played with and the memories buried beneath them; the horses we mounted and the galloping pain that followed; the see-saw of happy times, and the never stopping merry-go-round of pain that cycled afterwards; all that could have been memories to hold on to fell like the biblical Goliath before David.

***

We were happy together. For a long time everything seemed perfect; little did I know those times were the calm before the storm. Young as I was, I would eat from your hand, and you mine. We would sit and watch the sun set. On some days when you visited, your face would be as dry as a desert, laced with grains of hidden pain and hard work, behind an oasis of joy that was buried in your eyes. On days you came back sweaty; I would wipe your forehead with my cloth and sing to you. Mother had a habit of beat me for wiping your sweat with my shirt, until she got tired. But it was always worth it; watching as your face transformed from a wet, worried, anguished form to a dry, full-of-expectations, happy one. I always admired the transformation. We buried seeds of fruits and waited for them to grow. Most of those seeds came out well, but with them came a tree of displeasure, and an apple of discord that settled on your soil – our soil.

Soils reminded me of your skin. How you could be dark in a week, looking red at times, and white on rare moments, bust mostly brown. Your heart, mind, and body was engaged too much with not letting your father down that you cared less what you looked like, as long as I was happy with you, and he too.

On some days, the wind blows joy, dreams, and love, on some days, the air carries heartbreak, disappointment, and broken dreams. On one of such bad days, you had asked me, “what would you like to do when you grow up?” and I had replied “write about us.” Showing my almost brown dentition as I said it, hoping to be embraced by your smile, but I had met a scowl accompanied by a reprimanding expression on your face. I could swear you wanted to hit me, but you couldn’t. You weren’t in the position to. Mother would never allow me see you again. Not that she liked you being around anyway. “That big sack of weakness” she had said when I asked why she didn’t like you much. You wanted me to be a lawyer. To grow up and wear suits, while telling men and women under wigs and cloaks why I think a particular rich man deserves to breathe, be granted sick leave so they can spend funds embezzled from the government. In all your scenarios of what a lawyer was, you never for once mentioned a poor man, or woman, who needed my defence. They were always about expatriates, politicians, and plainly successful people. “It’s a boring life” – from the moment I told you, and I needed no arbitrator to tell me things were no longer at ease. “You want to grow up poor, complaining about failed book sales and little promotions? Talking about friends earning better for lesser work? Going home with more complains than money? Do you want to build a home that way? How will you see your parents as a writer? You would go to your mother and beg for clothes, and your father to beg for will? A writer is poor. Please be a lawyer, apple of my eyes.”
I was broken by your words for many reasons. I thought you shared my dreams, I thought despite the different bed sheets and roofs that we lay under, we still saw the same dreams. But I was determined to write about us; even if they were sad tales. I sat in my room one day watching as the evening air carried away our memories while mother told you at the door that I didn’t want to see you. I cried over it as you walked away. Your short, black hair would wave to me and my tears would wave back. “Your love would not be the reason my ambition would be abandoned” I consoled myself.

***

I went ahead to study writing as a discipline. I was told of how you severally came looking for me, of how you came knocking and begging my mum to not let me grow up poor. But my resolve was tight, with no gap for weakness, just like your dentition. I wanted to show you, to tell you, to let you know that a writer could be rich, successful, and not have to worry about book sales. I was ready to show you that I would weather the greatest of tempests as if I were Poseidon, and come out unscathed.

Mother would tell me about you, about the disappointments you felt. Mother would surprisingly ask me if I thought I was doing the right thing, and if I wasn’t too harsh on you, but I would say “no. my head knows better than my heart.” I heard you wouldn’t stop fighting too; that you wouldn’t stop running in pursuit of your father’s happiness. In keeping the name your father had worked for, and his father before him. But I was different. You had told me this yourself. “You’re a special channel of different energy,” your eyes had glistened as you told me this. You had been honest when you said the words.

***

I had heard you lost your father. I had buried all the indifference I built on the memories of your wishes for me, to come and pay my regards. But it had taken the power of all five of your siblings to stop you from hitting me. I remember telling you as I left, head tucked in the ground like a dog casted away by its owner, that I love you. I had meant it, every bit of the sentence. But you would say to me, “You’re inadequate and undeserving of my affections.” I wouldn’t ache more than I already had. I would only spend a long time telling myself I was undeserving of your affection. And I would never look back.

***

“I want to dedicate this award to my father. Because of him, I have made you all bleed through your eyes, at a time or another… and to laugh too. More than he knows it, he has been my motivation”
I stepped off the podium, teary eyed and heartbroken than I ever was. My handkerchief became soiled with the only expression of my heartbreak – my tears – as I made it out of the exquisite attention of the hall. “Best writer of creative fiction,” the award in my hand read. As prestigious as the award made me, I still felt emptiness. My wife understood this in the car as we drove home, my mother in the backseat in her unspoken words grieved with me, but everyone else only cared about the smile before the camera. A wise man had once said, “Smile for the camera, die silently after. It’s what keeps the market going.” Was I that wise man in one of my many books? I wouldn’t know. The same way I wouldn’t know how father felt hearing about my many successes. He had told me he loved to read newspapers; I have tried to picture his expression when he would read that I had become a Nobel Prize for literature winner. But memories of him were faint. As faint as the colours of my hair that had lost the blackness it carried in youth. The hair that reminded me of yours, as you walked out that day, when mother had told you I didn’t want to see you.

For years I would try to understand why you had impregnated mum, knowing well that your father – the one I only saw only on his obituary posters – would not allow you marry her. I would never know why you would treat mum like a stranger every time you visited, while giving me all of your love. I would never be able to tell why you wanted me to be a lawyer so desperately. But what I would forever remember were your words, “You’re inadequate and undeserving of my affections.”

Perhaps I could say the same of you now too.

Email

Easter With House Spinster

Easter With House Spinster.

With underlying arms well akimbo
Seductively they glance at each other
Smiles seasonally defined
Amidst celebration in the bed of rose

Gently they pulled their panties
Preaching to one another amidst copulation
The Bible too far from bed
Humbly replaced with  rubber cum metal

None was Godly alarmed
The Reason for the season ruefully undermined
Where then lies the climax
As ejaculation overtakes redemption

Who will save the saving Jesus
Lonely outstretched on the cross
Works already ongoing on the second grave
Christ Himself has run drought of blood

Where lies a candid remorse
For the pints already outpoured
Salvation has grown archaic
Wooing versus soul winning epitomize affray of the moment

How can the immoral game be refereed
The spinster is much in need of it
Gently lovely lowly she plays her wing
Who can suspend the salacious match

Time is here at hand
When Christ Himself shall arise with whistle
Showing the end of the match
And making selection for next league
Being the reason for the season.

Email

About A Broken Family

The white walls. The flowing white ceilings. The endless sound of footsteps. The women in white and their silent chatters with the patients who still had the boldness to smile and gist. The afternoon visits of the flies. The slow movement of the clock, steadily and silently ticking out your life. The tip-tap-tip sound of the very rare rains on the window panes.

That period of time when your own life flashes before your own eyes, like a black and white movie; that period, you notice the littlest of things. During this time, your whole life becomes bright headlights deep in the dark, gradually becoming dim and finally vanishes. This time, the big things break into tiny bits of worries, incessantly tickling the raunchiest part of your bowels.

The nurses are the worst hypocrites. They know what you are going through but will still go ahead and ask, “How are you feeling ma?”

You would be torn between two choices- to say how exactly you felt, emotional and physically. Or just lie and save your strength. Or maybe the nurses mean how you feel physically? They know you never feel well. Maybe it is just duty to ask. Your weak lips break into a smile, “Nurse Kike, I’m fine..”

A thermometer is fixed in your mouth. They want to know how hot or cold you have become. Hot means the pills administered will be double. Cold means worse. It is an imminent sign, especially in the feet.
***
Time used to be the weapon of the brave. Its rhythmic movement send signals to your brains, waves to your ears, odor to your nostrils. And then it remains a day or two to spend with the life machine. The machine with its ‘beepy’ voice telling you the stories of lives he had almost saved. It was a life machine, but we needed a life to learn how to live… And love.

Your life plays slowly before your own eyes. In the nurses, you see your young self. You remember the first time with him. He was the patient in room 004; he had malaria. An injection had created a love story. One which even family and children couldn’t tear apart.

Then came the kids. They were three in number, minus the dead one. The one who wants to marry, the optimistic one and the youngest one. You remember the times you weren’t there. The times their words echoed plead and attention in your ears. The many times you pushed them to the maid to have their assignments done. Those times you had those confrontations with the teenage girls. They are no longer kids, they are now females on the brink of adulthood.

You want to wish.. But no, you tell yourself. Your life is a done deal, and such deals requires no backing out. In life, you have learned that certain people have to be the one who leaves. Inevitably you ask yourself why you are not the kind of person who stays. Maybe you aren’t worth staying. Maybe people like you are meant to be laid in the ground so the foundations of Earth will remain in position. Maybe.. Maybe.. Maybe..

Then again, your problems becomes compounded.

Your children walk in with blank faces. You are a mother, you should see through the blankness. Yes, you see. You see the hidden tears, the fake laughs, the hidden meaning of the long stares. You break the silence.

-Are you all planning something? A surprise?

Silence. Everyone of them smiles; a shrewd one.

-Is someone ready to say something?

The eldest one begins; her marriage is a few weeks away.

-We talked to the family..

-Y’all thought that’ll surprise me?

-Your biggest wish..

A small, forced smile creeps on your face. You know where the conversation leads, but you are too scared to take the path. You don’t want to leave your children heartbroken. But they all possess broken hearts already, coupled with a broken home. A home gripped by the fearsome hands of mortality.

-The doctor says..

-Mother no.. No doctor mom. We changed the wedding date.

You are slightly irritated. It is one you can’t avoid. You strain your ears to continue listening.

-They want you there. We do.

-But I don’t want me there. I am going to a place far away from here. Leaving you guys is enough!

The youngest of the girls speak up. Her voice sends waves through your body. A kind of wave that makes you feel guilty. One which invigorates your body and reminds you that in a few days, you’d be totally unable to feel anything, including this feeling.

-Mommy, are you scared of death?

Nothing surprises you anymore, a symptom of dying.

-I’m not scared of death. It’s dying that scared me.

-Scared?

-Yes, scared. At this point, I try to just appreciate what I have left. But in those last final seconds, when my life stares at me like an assassin.. I know I will be afraid. Not afraid of dying itself, but of its meaning..

-What does it mean?

-Hmm. It means you will be without me. Without a tall woman as a mother. Daddy will come home and no one would be there to kiss him on his cheeks. He will call the maid and one of you will have to take his bag to his bedroom.

-Mommy, don’t talk like…

-Then the whole scene will reek of my absence…

-Stop it, ma.

It is the second daughter. The only one that remains herself in spite of danger. She is a made euphemism. Her long hair and dark eyes hide the fear and anxiety she feels. But her face shows up bright and bold. You believe she’s the strongest. But she isn’t. A strong human that can’t let his feelings go, like a stray bird, is he really a strong human? Or what is strength? Is it our ability to hide behind a façade of pain and come out looking bold? Or break through the wall of fear and pain while letting the hot, sticky pot of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness gnaw at your heart? You might never know; your time is short.

Then the father walks in. Your husband. You remember his face. He looks like he looked years before you married– thin, tall with a burning excitement in his eyes; they never seem to leave.

-Are you okay, honey?

-I am. I’m leaving soon.

-To where?

-To wherever this road leads.

-What are you saying?

You keep silent. Your mouth burn with words but the false excitement in it hold your withered tongue. You call her name. You believe it’s the last time you ever will. So you call it again.

-Anita, go ahead with the wedding on the proposed date.

-No, mummy. We all want you to be there.

-I will go with the memory of not coming to your wedding. That’s less heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is leaving you to him and not come visiting after nine months to bathe the new man in the house. What’s more heartbreaking is for me to stare down at you when the heavy turmoil of marriage falls on you. I will stare at you helplessly. Today..I want no tears…please..

But the tears wouldn’t stay in your eyes either. Like Flash runs down a Skyscraper, they run down your cheeks with enviable speed. You take a look at all of them. Husband and kids. You continue..

-Anna..

Her gentle euphemistic hands rest on yours. You force a smile.

-Have you seen a Potter at work?

-Yes mom. Mom where’s this…

-Like that clay, have you ever seen your life that way?

Silence.

-Our lives are clays. We often get it wrong. We don’t always need to mold it to what we want. At times we are made what we want by nature. It only takes time to realize we’ve been molded. A useless clay will form a hard path in the hot days, endlessly transporting people to their destinations. But on a rainy day, Anna..

Silence. A louder one.

-It throws people off it. It becomes slippery. Then, only wise and folks with common sense can cross the path.

-Mom..

Her touch on your hand has become a fearsome grip.

-It’s better to stay unmolded than to be molded by someone. Then a bridge becomes a cup..

The little girl speaks, obviously your new found knowledge amazes her.

-Does it mean I can’t design my life?

-No.. You can, always. But my baby, with your hands and with your heart..

Silence. They all slowly rush to you. A beep goes off in one of those machines you can’t remember its name. Your breathing’s changed. A man in white walks in and puts a mask over your face; an oxygen mask. Something with a sharp edge pierces your skin, causing an unmerited relief. Your eyes closes…

*****
Your large eyes open to faces staring blankly into yours. You are startled, but too weak to even react.

-Mom..

-It’s today ma. We thought you were gone. Mom…

You try to speak but your whole body tells you not to. It’s the wedding.

And it’s the day you leave. It’s the day you cross the lever.

*****
Everyone in the ward is doing something. Including you; you are screaming. A child is stuck in your vagina. The pain is unexplainable. He is there. His hands are glued to yours. You keep your eyes on him for strength- emotional and physical.

-He’s a boy!

You no longer feel the head in your legs. But your vagina hurts badly. He no longer holds you, his hands are busy with the red baby but his eyes are still on you; promising, silently telling you he loves you.

But the baby dies three months later.

That is how you sink into your pit of depression. You
-Are you all planning something? A surprise?

Silence. Everyone of them smiles; a shrewd one.

-Is someone ready to say something?

The eldest one begins; her marriage is a few weeks away.

-We talked to the family..

-Y’all thought that’ll surprise me?

-Your biggest wish..

A small, forced smile creeps on your face. You know where the conversation leads, but you are too scared to take the path. You don’t want to leave your children heartbroken. But they all possess broken hearts already, coupled with a broken home. A home gripped by the fearsome hands of mortality.

-The doctor says..

-Mother no.. No doctor mom. We changed the wedding date.

You are slightly irritated. It is one you can’t avoid. You strain your ears to continue listening.

-They want you there. We do.

-But I don’t want me there. I am going to a place far away from here. Leaving you guys is enough!

The youngest of the girls speak up. Her voice sends waves through your body. A kind of wave that makes you feel guilty. One which invigorates your body and reminds you that in a few days, you’d be totally unable to feel anything, including this feeling.

-Mommy, are you scared of death?

Nothing surprises you anymore, a symptom of dying.

-I’m not scared of death. It’s dying that scared me.

-Scared?

-Yes, scared. At this point, I try to just appreciate what I have left. But in those last final seconds, when my life stares at me like an assassin.. I know I will be afraid. Not afraid of dying itself, but of its meaning..

-What does it mean?

-Hmm. It means you will be without me. Without a tall woman as a mother. Daddy will come home and no one would be there to kiss him on his cheeks. He will call the maid and one of you will have to take his bag to his bedroom.

-Mommy, don’t talk like…

-Then the whole scene will reek of my absence…

-Stop it, ma.

It is the second daughter. The only one that remains herself in spite of danger. She is a made euphemism. Her long hair and dark eyes hide the fear and anxiety she feels. But her face shows up bright and bold. You believe she’s the strongest. But she isn’t. A strong human that can’t let his feelings go, like a stray bird, is he really a strong human? Or what is strength? Is it our ability to hide behind a façade of pain and come out looking bold? Or break through the wall of fear and pain while letting the hot, sticky pot of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness gnaw at your heart? You might never know; your time is short.

Then the father walks in. Your husband. You remember his face. He looks like he looked years before you married– thin, tall with a burning excitement in his eyes; they never seem to leave.

-Are you okay, honey?

-I am. I’m leaving soon.

-To where?

-To wherever this road leads.

-What are you saying?

You keep silent. Your mouth burn with words but the false excitement in it hold your withered tongue. You call her name. You believe it’s the last time you ever will. So you call it again.

-Anita, go ahead with the wedding on the proposed date.

-No, mummy. We all want you to be there.

-I will go with the memory of not coming to your wedding. That’s less heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is leaving you to him and not come visiting after nine months to bathe the new man in the house. What’s more heartbreaking is for me to stare down at you when the heavy turmoil of marriage falls on you. I will stare at you helplessly. Today..I want no tears…please..

But the tears wouldn’t stay in your eyes either. Like Flash runs down a Skyscraper, they run down your cheeks with enviable speed. You take a look at all of them. Husband and kids. You continue..

-Anna..

Her gentle euphemistic hands rest on yours. You force a smile.

-Have you seen a Potter at work?

-Yes mom. Mom where’s this…

-Like that clay, have you ever seen your life that way?

Silence.

-Our lives are clays. We often get it wrong. We don’t always need to mold it to what we want. At times we are made what we want by nature. It only takes time to realize we’ve been molded. A useless clay will form a hard path in the hot days, endlessly transporting people to their destinations. But on a rainy day, Anna..

Silence. A louder one.

-It throws people off it. It becomes slippery. Then, only wise and folks with common sense can cross the path.

-Mom..

Her touch on your hand has become a fearsome grip.

-It’s better to stay unmolded than to be molded by someone. Then a bridge becomes a cup..

The little girl speaks, obviously your new found knowledge amazes her.

-Does it mean I can’t design my life?

-No.. You can, always. But my baby, with your hands and with your heart..

Silence. They all slowly rush to you. A beep goes off in one of those machines you can’t remember its name. Your breathing’s changed. A man in white walks in and puts a mask over your face; an oxygen mask. Something with a sharp edge pierces your skin, causing an unmerited relief. Your eyes closes…

*****
Your large eyes open to faces staring blankly into yours. You are startled, but too weak to even react.

-Mom..

-It’s today ma. We thought you were gone. Mom…

You try to speak but your whole body tells you not to. It’s the wedding.

And it’s the day you leave. It’s the day you cross the lever.

*****
Everyone in the ward is doing something. Including you; you are screaming. A child is stuck in your vagina. The pain is unexplainable. He is there. His hands are glued to yours. You keep your eyes on him for strength- emotional and physical.

-He’s a boy!

You no longer feel the head in your legs. But your vagina hurts badly. He no longer holds you, his hands are busy with the red baby but his eyes are still on you; promising, silently telling you he loves you.

But the baby dies three months later.

That is how you sink into your pit of depression. You
-Are you all planning something? A surprise?

Silence. Everyone of them smiles; a shrewd one.

-Is someone ready to say something?

The eldest one begins; her marriage is a few weeks away.

-We talked to the family..

-Y’all thought that’ll surprise me?

-Your biggest wish..

A small, forced smile creeps on your face. You know where the conversation leads, but you are too scared to take the path. You don’t want to leave your children heartbroken. But they all possess broken hearts already, coupled with a broken home. A home gripped by the fearsome hands of mortality.

-The doctor says..

-Mother no.. No doctor mom. We changed the wedding date.

You are slightly irritated. It is one you can’t avoid. You strain your ears to continue listening.

-They want you there. We do.

-But I don’t want me there. I am going to a place far away from here. Leaving you guys is enough!

The youngest of the girls speak up. Her voice sends waves through your body. A kind of wave that makes you feel guilty. One which invigorates your body and reminds you that in a few days, you’d be totally unable to feel anything, including this feeling.

-Mommy, are you scared of death?

Nothing surprises you anymore, a symptom of dying.

-I’m not scared of death. It’s dying that scared me.

-Scared?

-Yes, scared. At this point, I try to just appreciate what I have left. But in those last final seconds, when my life stares at me like an assassin.. I know I will be afraid. Not afraid of dying itself, but of its meaning..

-What does it mean?

-Hmm. It means you will be without me. Without a tall woman as a mother. Daddy will come home and no one would be there to kiss him on his cheeks. He will call the maid and one of you will have to take his bag to his bedroom.

-Mommy, don’t talk like…

-Then the whole scene will reek of my absence…

-Stop it, ma.

It is the second daughter. The only one that remains herself in spite of danger. She is a made euphemism. Her long hair and dark eyes hide the fear and anxiety she feels. But her face shows up bright and bold. You believe she’s the strongest. But she isn’t. A strong human that can’t let his feelings go, like a stray bird, is he really a strong human? Or what is strength? Is it our ability to hide behind a façade of pain and come out looking bold? Or break through the wall of fear and pain while letting the hot, sticky pot of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness gnaw at your heart? You might never know; your time is short.

Then the father walks in. Your husband. You remember his face. He looks like he looked years before you married– thin, tall with a burning excitement in his eyes; they never seem to leave.

-Are you okay, honey?

-I am. I’m leaving soon.

-To where?

-To wherever this road leads.

-What are you saying?

You keep silent. Your mouth burn with words but the false excitement in it hold your withered tongue. You call her name. You believe it’s the last time you ever will. So you call it again.

-Anita, go ahead with the wedding on the proposed date.

-No, mummy. We all want you to be there.

-I will go with the memory of not coming to your wedding. That’s less heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is leaving you to him and not come visiting after nine months to bathe the new man in the house. What’s more heartbreaking is for me to stare down at you when the heavy turmoil of marriage falls on you. I will stare at you helplessly. Today..I want no tears…please..

But the tears wouldn’t stay in your eyes either. Like Flash runs down a Skyscraper, they run down your cheeks with enviable speed. You take a look at all of them. Husband and kids. You continue..

-Anna..

Her gentle euphemistic hands rest on yours. You force a smile.

-Have you seen a Potter at work?

-Yes mom. Mom where’s this…

-Like that clay, have you ever seen your life that way?

Silence.

-Our lives are clays. We often get it wrong. We don’t always need to mold it to what we want. At times we are made what we want by nature. It only takes time to realize we’ve been molded. A useless clay will form a hard path in the hot days, endlessly transporting people to their destinations. But on a rainy day, Anna..

Silence. A louder one.

-It throws people off it. It becomes slippery. Then, only wise and folks with common sense can cross the path.

-Mom..

Her touch on your hand has become a fearsome grip.

-It’s better to stay unmolded than to be molded by someone. Then a bridge becomes a cup..

The little girl speaks, obviously your new found knowledge amazes her.

-Does it mean I can’t design my life?

-No.. You can, always. But my baby, with your hands and with your heart..

Silence. They all slowly rush to you. A beep goes off in one of those machines you can’t remember its name. Your breathing’s changed. A man in white walks in and puts a mask over your face; an oxygen mask. Something with a sharp edge pierces your skin, causing an unmerited relief. Your eyes closes…

*****
Your large eyes open to faces staring blankly into yours. You are startled, but too weak to even react.

-Mom..

-It’s today ma. We thought you were gone. Mom…

You try to speak but your whole body tells you not to. It’s the wedding.

And it’s the day you leave. It’s the day you cross the lever.

*****
Everyone in the ward is doing something. Including you; you are screaming. A child is stuck in your vagina. The pain is unexplainable. He is there. His hands are glued to yours. You keep your eyes on him for strength- emotional and physical.

-He’s a boy!

You no longer feel the head in your legs. But your vagina hurts badly. He no longer holds you, his hands are busy with the red baby but his eyes are still on you; promising, silently telling you he loves you.

But the baby dies three months later.

That is how you sink into your pit of depression. You

-Are you all planning something? A surprise?

Silence. Everyone of them smiles; a shrewd one.

-Is someone ready to say something?

The eldest one begins; her marriage is a few weeks away.

-We talked to the family..

-Y’all thought that’ll surprise me?

-Your biggest wish..

A small, forced smile creeps on your face. You know where the conversation leads, but you are too scared to take the path. You don’t want to leave your children heartbroken. But they all possess broken hearts already, coupled with a broken home. A home gripped by the fearsome hands of mortality.

-The doctor says..

-Mother no.. No doctor mom. We changed the wedding date.

You are slightly irritated. It is one you can’t avoid. You strain your ears to continue listening.

-They want you there. We do.

-But I don’t want me there. I am going to a place far away from here. Leaving you guys is enough!

The youngest of the girls speak up. Her voice sends waves through your body. A kind of wave that makes you feel guilty. One which invigorates your body and reminds you that in a few days, you’d be totally unable to feel anything, including this feeling.

-Mommy, are you scared of death?

Nothing surprises you anymore, a symptom of dying.

-I’m not scared of death. It’s dying that scared me.

-Scared?

-Yes, scared. At this point, I try to just appreciate what I have left. But in those last final seconds, when my life stares at me like an assassin.. I know I will be afraid. Not afraid of dying itself, but of its meaning..

-What does it mean?

-Hmm. It means you will be without me. Without a tall woman as a mother. Daddy will come home and no one would be there to kiss him on his cheeks. He will call the maid and one of you will have to take his bag to his bedroom.

-Mommy, don’t talk like…

-Then the whole scene will reek of my absence…

-Stop it, ma.

It is the second daughter. The only one that remains herself in spite of danger. She is a made euphemism. Her long hair and dark eyes hide the fear and anxiety she feels. But her face shows up bright and bold. You believe she’s the strongest. But she isn’t. A strong human that can’t let his feelings go, like a stray bird, is he really a strong human? Or what is strength? Is it our ability to hide behind a façade of pain and come out looking bold? Or break through the wall of fear and pain while letting the hot, sticky pot of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness gnaw at your heart? You might never know; your time is short.

Then the father walks in. Your husband. You remember his face. He looks like he looked years before you married– thin, tall with a burning excitement in his eyes; they never seem to leave.

-Are you okay, honey?

-I am. I’m leaving soon.

-To where?

-To wherever this road leads.

-What are you saying?

You keep silent. Your mouth burn with words but the false excitement in it hold your withered tongue. You call her name. You believe it’s the last time you ever will. So you call it again.

-Anita, go ahead with the wedding on the proposed date.

-No, mummy. We all want you to be there.

-I will go with the memory of not coming to your wedding. That’s less heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is leaving you to him and not come visiting after nine months to bathe the new man in the house. What’s more heartbreaking is for me to stare down at you when the heavy turmoil of marriage falls on you. I will stare at you helplessly. Today..I want no tears…please..

But the tears wouldn’t stay in your eyes either. Like Flash runs down a Skyscraper, they run down your cheeks with enviable speed. You take a look at all of them. Husband and kids. You continue..

-Anna..

Her gentle euphemistic hands rest on yours. You force a smile.

-Have you seen a Potter at work?

-Yes mom. Mom where’s this…

-Like that clay, have you ever seen your life that way?

Silence.

-Our lives are clays. We often get it wrong. We don’t always need to mold it to what we want. At times we are made what we want by nature. It only takes time to realize we’ve been molded. A useless clay will form a hard path in the hot days, endlessly transporting people to their destinations. But on a rainy day, Anna..

Silence. A louder one.

-It throws people off it. It becomes slippery. Then, only wise and folks with common sense can cross the path.

-Mom..

Her touch on your hand has become a fearsome grip.

-It’s better to stay unmolded than to be molded by someone. Then a bridge becomes a cup..

The little girl speaks, obviously your new found knowledge amazes her.

-Does it mean I can’t design my life?

-No.. You can, always. But my baby, with your hands and with your heart..

Silence. They all slowly rush to you. A beep goes off in one of those machines you can’t remember its name. Your breathing’s changed. A man in white walks in and puts a mask over your face; an oxygen mask. Something with a sharp edge pierces your skin, causing an unmerited relief. Your eyes closes…

*****
Your large eyes open to faces staring blankly into yours. You are startled, but too weak to even react.

-Mom..

-It’s today ma. We thought you were gone. Mom…

You try to speak but your whole body tells you not to. It’s the wedding.

And it’s the day you leave. It’s the day you cross the lever.

*****
Everyone in the ward is doing something. Including you; you are screaming. A child is stuck in your vagina. The pain is unexplainable. He is there. His hands are glued to yours. You keep your eyes on him for strength- emotional and physical.

-He’s a boy!

You no longer feel the head in your legs. But your vagina hurts badly. He no longer holds you, his hands are busy with the red baby but his eyes are still on you; promising, silently telling you he loves you.

But the baby dies three months later.

That is how you sink into your pit of depression. You
-Are you all planning something? A surprise?

Silence. Everyone of them smiles; a shrewd one.

-Is someone ready to say something?

The eldest one begins; her marriage is a few weeks away.

-We talked to the family..

-Y’all thought that’ll surprise me?

-Your biggest wish..

A small, forced smile creeps on your face. You know where the conversation leads, but you are too scared to take the path. You don’t want to leave your children heartbroken. But they all possess broken hearts already, coupled with a broken home. A home gripped by the fearsome hands of mortality.

-The doctor says..

-Mother no.. No doctor mom. We changed the wedding date.

You are slightly irritated. It is one you can’t avoid. You strain your ears to continue listening.

-They want you there. We do.

-But I don’t want me there. I am going to a place far away from here. Leaving you guys is enough!

The youngest of the girls speak up. Her voice sends waves through your body. A kind of wave that makes you feel guilty. One which invigorates your body and reminds you that in a few days, you’d be totally unable to feel anything, including this feeling.

-Mommy, are you scared of death?

Nothing surprises you anymore, a symptom of dying.

-I’m not scared of death. It’s dying that scared me.

-Scared?

-Yes, scared. At this point, I try to just appreciate what I have left. But in those last final seconds, when my life stares at me like an assassin.. I know I will be afraid. Not afraid of dying itself, but of its meaning..

-What does it mean?

-Hmm. It means you will be without me. Without a tall woman as a mother. Daddy will come home and no one would be there to kiss him on his cheeks. He will call the maid and one of you will have to take his bag to his bedroom.

-Mommy, don’t talk like…

-Then the whole scene will reek of my absence…

-Stop it, ma.

It is the second daughter. The only one that remains herself in spite of danger. She is a made euphemism. Her long hair and dark eyes hide the fear and anxiety she feels. But her face shows up bright and bold. You believe she’s the strongest. But she isn’t. A strong human that can’t let his feelings go, like a stray bird, is he really a strong human? Or what is strength? Is it our ability to hide behind a façade of pain and come out looking bold? Or break through the wall of fear and pain while letting the hot, sticky pot of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness gnaw at your heart? You might never know; your time is short.

Then the father walks in. Your husband. You remember his face. He looks like he looked years before you married– thin, tall with a burning excitement in his eyes; they never seem to leave.

-Are you okay, honey?

-I am. I’m leaving soon.

-To where?

-To wherever this road leads.

-What are you saying?

You keep silent. Your mouth burn with words but the false excitement in it hold your withered tongue. You call her name. You believe it’s the last time you ever will. So you call it again.

-Anita, go ahead with the wedding on the proposed date.

-No, mummy. We all want you to be there.

-I will go with the memory of not coming to your wedding. That’s less heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is leaving you to him and not come visiting after nine months to bathe the new man in the house. What’s more heartbreaking is for me to stare down at you when the heavy turmoil of marriage falls on you. I will stare at you helplessly. Today..I want no tears…please..

But the tears wouldn’t stay in your eyes either. Like Flash runs down a Skyscraper, they run down your cheeks with enviable speed. You take a look at all of them. Husband and kids. You continue..

-Anna..

Her gentle euphemistic hands rest on yours. You force a smile.

-Have you seen a Potter at work?

-Yes mom. Mom where’s this…

-Like that clay, have you ever seen your life that way?

Silence.

-Our lives are clays. We often get it wrong. We don’t always need to mold it to what we want. At times we are made what we want by nature. It only takes time to realize we’ve been molded. A useless clay will form a hard path in the hot days, endlessly transporting people to their destinations. But on a rainy day, Anna..

Silence. A louder one.

-It throws people off it. It becomes slippery. Then, only wise and folks with common sense can cross the path.

-Mom..

Her touch on your hand has become a fearsome grip.

-It’s better to stay unmolded than to be molded by someone. Then a bridge becomes a cup..

The little girl speaks, obviously your new found knowledge amazes her.

-Does it mean I can’t design my life?

-No.. You can, always. But my baby, with your hands and with your heart..

Silence. They all slowly rush to you. A beep goes off in one of those machines you can’t remember its name. Your breathing’s changed. A man in white walks in and puts a mask over your face; an oxygen mask. Something with a sharp edge pierces your skin, causing an unmerited relief. Your eyes closes…

*****
Your large eyes open to faces staring blankly into yours. You are startled, but too weak to even react.

-Mom..

-It’s today ma. We thought you were gone. Mom…

You try to speak but your whole body tells you not to. It’s the wedding.

And it’s the day you leave. It’s the day you cross the lever.

*****
Everyone in the ward is doing something. Including you; you are screaming. A child is stuck in your vagina. The pain is unexplainable. He is there. His hands are glued to yours. You keep your eyes on him for strength- emotional and physical.

-He’s a boy!

You no longer feel the head in your legs. But your vagina hurts badly. He no longer holds you, his hands are busy with the red baby but his eyes are still on you; promising, silently telling you he loves you.

But the baby dies three months later.

That is how you sink into your pit of depression. You have three girls, but where’s the boy to immortalize the family’s name?

*****
-Do you love him?

-Of course mom, I do..

-Are you sure?

Tears have welled up in the eyes of everyone present.

-Yes mum..

-Protect it my baby.. Fight for your love. What we do for love is fight. But in a war, you should always know when to surrender..

-I love you mom.. But I can’t fight.. I can’t even think.

-Yes, I know. Me too. It is time to surrender..

-No.. No! No! Mum..no..

She places her head on your laps and you run your hand through her hair. You feel her warm tears on your laps and your heart finds it hard to beat.

-White is a sacred color. Don’t stain the pretty gown with your tears.

The little one speaks, amidst her tears.

-I will miss you mom. When will you come to get me?

-You will join me when the time is right… But when you need me, look deep into the sky, appreciate the stars, drown yourself in the beauty of the moon..and I will be right there in your heart, whispering old tales of Moses and the Israelites.

-Mum I love you..

-I love you more than you can imagine baby..

It is at this moment the man places his hand on your forehead. The kids sit on your bed. They all hug you.

Then you remember everything. Your first kiss. First sex with him. Your eldest daughter’s first birthday. Your affair with one of your patients and his forgiveness. His love. The kids’ complaints.

Then you close your eyes because the emotions can almost tear open your heart. You, for the last time let the tears fall down your cheeks. You don’t care anymore. You have lived a life you designed with your own hands.

*****

And it’s the next morning.

Email

DEAR IFE: A PLEA FOR LOVE

DEAR IFE: A PLEA FOR LOVE

the horizon like a crumpled apology
is catching fire again

dear Ife,
i smell like your breath
most nights & when the lights
go off i become wet

dear Ife,
i want to write you a poem
you’ll like so much

in the opening line: my hand is a field
growing towards you
there is eternity in your eyes
don’t forget about me

dear Ife
i want to write you a poem
that blossoms without thorns
in painted lips
you are the book of psalms
i repeat
in my sleep

in my corner i listen to you –
sermon of fire
me – a hymnal of
matchsticks

dear Ife
i want to write about your shadow
& footsteps & how they echo
in the back alley of my skull
you are a brief meditation
on a short story
[let me] butterfly stroke for you in the
worst way
this heat makes me want to
touch things that are not mine
pretty jukebox
without you there’s holes in my soul

Email

FOR BROKEN ORPHANS

.
here is a tale embedded in a boy’s body
like words sewn into fabrics of memories;
here is a boy learning how to love
in a place where death lives in.
.
the boy learns how to dance his voice
into a river with still music;
he learns to burst out into blue songs
and dance with the air plaited with rosy flowers.
.
here’s another boy nursing his broken bones
after flirting with a charming war;
he learns how to whisper soothing songs
deep into his bones, before he takes his last breath
and resurrect into death.
.
here is a girl turning into a silent street –
her body is a roadside littered with rotten carcasses of men;
men who died at the juncture of her hymen
are tales that turns a name into a rotten body.
.
her body is a town where love means fire –
her body is filled with ashes of burnt men;
her scars is a memory
baked into tales of burning names.
.
here’s a girl’s body learning to swallow songs,
songs that died in her mother’s throat;
she’s learning to tear down the wall of her heart
with her screams as her voice fades into the atmosphere.


©Willipraise

Email

The Other Tent

The Other Tent.
I

The morale on the Lafia Dole army command center was as high as the temperature inflicted by the Northern Nigeria scorching sun. The previous day had been a tremendous victory for the Nigerian Military. The well-known terrorist sect was using a village southeast of the base as a cover, knowing fully-well that the army will never be able to attack because of the possible casualties a siege could cause. This fact troubled members of my unit. Sending terrorists to their early grave was our job and at that time we couldn’t do our jobs. This made us very sad.

People like to call be Cap, short form for Captain. My men often assembled in small groups to have small talks and occasionally they’d look at me with some expression I can’t really describe.
The Platoon Sergeant finally came to me and spoke with his face down because he didn’t want to appear insubordinate.
“Cap, what are we going to do about these cowards using women and children as shield?” he paused for a few seconds and added “Sir!”.
I couldn’t give any response. I felt inadequate as a leader.

I realized it wasn’t going to hurt to try to talk to the base commander about this again. Getting to his tent, he was calmly smoking his cigar and gently having his scotch like always. I wondered how someone could find so much pleasure in smoking in the weather condition. Wondering why Colonel smoked in a very hot weather wasn’t what I was there do, I was there to tell sweet old Colonel my plan.

At the beginning of my explanation, he already knew where I was taking my speech and he interrupted me promptly
“Hey, Mister man”, you are not the only one concerned about these girls, we all are. I have direct orders from my superiors to stand down for as long as it takes and also as long as there are women and children being used as cover in that village. Just like I am religiously following the instruction of my commanding officer, you will obey mine too. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir!” I replied putting up an act of a disciplined officer.
I had no intention of standing down. On my way back to my tent I continued talking to myself mocking and mimicking the Colonel
“Hey Mister man, weh yeh weh yeh… ”
Speaking like some toddler just learning to speak properly. Then I replied in my actual voice in response to Colonel calling me Mister man.
“It is not Mister, Colonel. It is Captain” I heard some footsteps, someone was approaching and I was silent, looked around, it wasn’t the colonel and I completed my discussion with myself
“and if you feel Captain is too long you can just call me Cap”

My men were waiting, hoping for some good news. I signaled at the two Sergeants. They gather their men and we met far away from the Colonel’s tent.
They assembled at once, fixing all their gazes on me. It was time to give one of those speeches I have rehearsed alone in my tent.

I began what was going to be the best speech of my life
“I know what they taught you at Depot and I remember what I learned in NDA too, but today is not about our training, today is about our conscience.
Can we really sit on our hands and wait while some people keep daughters and sisters away from their homes just because we were told to stay put?

I imagine having a daughter of mine someday and someone grabs her from her school, then keeps her in some known remote village while I lay awake every night uncertain about the welfare of my girl. There are a lot of parents, relatives and friends of these girls out there laying awake right now, unsure of the fate of their loved ones and here we are, staying put and standing down because we were told to do so.

I will never ask you to do anything that will bring you dishonour. On a day like this, it will be impossible for me to be a good soldier and also a good man at the same time. A good soldier will follow the instruction of his superiors. I am not asking you to be a soldier today; I am begging you to be a father, to be a brother, I am begging to be a man. Join me, let us get these girls back to their homes.

I will not judge you if you step aside because this is what a good soldier would do and believe me this country need a lot of good soldiers.
Today, you get to be just one, either a good man or a good soldier.”

There was no need to ask any questions, seeing their faces I knew these men were ready to send some terrorists to their makers that night.

I gave the final instruction
“We assemble at 03:45hrs gear up and be ready for combat. If anyone asks you any questions, tell them it is just a drill. Is that clear?”
“Yes sir!” The two platoon sergeant with a solid nod.

A good speech won’t bring the girls back home. I needed a plan, not just a plan but a very good plan. A plan that will get my men back at the base in one piece and the girls safely to their homes.

Less than a kilometer away from us, an Airforce Intelligence Unit was stationed to support the army troops with communications and surveillance. I had previously volunteered to fill in for a sick system analyst in the system communications and security unit at the Airforce command center when the young soldier had to be sent home when he was suspected to have a very contagious flu.
I made a lot of friends in the Airforce Comm. Unit and also doubled and while I was filling in for the Systems Analyst, I also doubled as a programmer.
For a few weeks, until the replacement came, I worked day and night with Airforce officers gathering intelligence both for the country and covertly for my team.

I had saved a few pictures from the surveillance feeds just to study the villages nearby. I pulled up these pictures. The abductors were often routinely not prepared for combat between 5:00hrs and 6:00hrs. They were always gathered at some sort of entrance to the village. We will have to go around them, divide the platoon into two. Alpha unit will go and find the girls and Bravo unit will engage the insurgents and prevent them from interfering with the rescue.
It was a simple and clean plan. In my experience, no mission ever goes as planned.

At the Airforce command, someone was my breath of fresh air in the midst of all the craziness. Flight Lieutenant Mary Omali, Drone Pilot. I called her to ask for her assistance by running ops for us from their base. She could do that in her tent alone, all she will need is a drone controller and a terminal to see the feeds captured by the drones.
I asked her how long that would take, she said she already did.

I was a bit puzzled “So, you have a mini command Operational Command Center in your room, Lieutenant?”
She replied
“We are the eyes in the sky baby and I always watch you. I saw you gather your men a few hours ago after speaking with the Colonel; I figured you grew some balls and you were going to need me.”
I was speechless and when I finally found my voice I said
“You are going to be my ears and eyes tonight then?”
She replied and I could tell she was smiling when she said
“No, Captain. I am going to be your guiding angel!”

Flight Lieutenant Mary Omali is one of the most brilliant ladies I have meant in my entire life, military or civilian. Believe me, I have met a lot of ladies. She wasn’t shallow, she was smart and beautiful. If I was normal, I would say I was in love.

II

04:00hrs Rendezvous location
If bravery had a smell, it smelled just like us. I relayed my plan to my team, everyone knew where to be and what to do. Going over the plans again because some of my men can be a little slow at times, we were distracted by the sound of a truck coming from our rear. I signaled for everyone to split into their units and take cover.
Emerging from the dust raised by the vehicle was Lieutenant Omali.

My men recognized her because she has been on our base more than a few times to see me. We would write some C codes in my tents for the drones and discuss a lot about trends in Computer Science and Programming. She often teased me about how often I couldn’t read most of her Assembly Language codes. That was all we did. Talk about computer science and coding. My men refused to believe that all I did was write computer codes for long hours alone with a pretty lady in my tent. I am not obliged to convince anyone what I do in the other tent.

My men stood up in one accord and saluted her as she approached, she saluted back told them to be at ease. The men continued giggling, I gave a scolding stare and they stopped at once.

I dragged her aside
“Jesus good Christ, what on God’s green earth are you doing here Lieutenant, you are supposed to provide support from your base. You shouldn’t be here”
She seemed to have a good response for me.
“And why shouldn’t I be here oh Mister?”
I knew this was going with all the sarcasm. So I told her like I have a thousand times
“First it is not Mister..”
She interrupted and continued my sentence in an attempt to sound like me
“…it is Captain and if that is too long you can call me Cap.”

We couldn’t resist but to laugh then.
She had a rifle with her, I knew if I had told her she is to support the men from the safety of her base because she is a lady. I’d probably get shot, so I kept my opinion to myself.

She is a very fast speaker. She started with a detailed explanation why she could be with us dressed for combat too and not staying in front of a computer to monitor movement in the villages and give us updates in real time.
“Remember that day I came with my laptop to your to your tent ?”
A nodded to confirm.
She continued
“and we wrote a script to automate the processes and tasks a drone pilot will have to do to keep drones in flight and at the same time maintain focus on subjects under surveillance”
She paused, waiting for me to confirm that I in fact remember. With some sort of grin on my face, I replied
“Oh, I remember that”
She hit me to whisk me out of my thoughts.
All we did that day wasn’t just code.

She handed to everyone a communication device and said
“With these little babies, we will all be able to hear ourselves try not to talk all at once so we can hear ourselves properly”

Everyone was in position before we could advance, Lieutenant Omali was alerted by a beep on her PDA and she saw a footage showing that the insurgents splitting into two groups for no reason at all. The other group decided to have their prayers at the far end of the village.

Mary suggested another plan.

Alpha Team (Lead by Flight Lieutenant Omali)
Went in to get the girls. Bravo and Delta Teams from cover from two opposite ends.

Bravo Team (Lead by Capt. Musa Adamu aka Cap)
Engaged the terrorist close to the front entrance of the village, cutting them off and allowing the Alpha team to safely evacuate the girls.

Delta Team (Lead by Staff Sergeant Olusola)
Attacked the terrorist at the back entrance preventing from interfering with the rescue.

At the end of the mission, most of the terrorists were shot and killed while others fled the village.
Everyone got out in one piece except for Lieutenant Omali, she used her body as a shield to prevent one the girls from getting shot. She was just twice.

The high morale and celebration at the base didn’t get to me, I am lost in my thoughts and I can’t clear the picture of Mary covered in blood in my head. It is as if the whole world is at a still.

She is in surgery; the medical staff at the base are trying to revive her. She’s lost a lot of blood. I lay awake wondering what is going to happen to my girl.
The room is becoming blurry because of the tears in my eyes. It’s been days.

Finally, the doctor came to my tent and said she is going to be fine, that I can go see her in the morning when she wakes. I went to stay at her bedside immediately. I waited for her to open her eyes like a watchman waits for the day.
When she did open her eyes, I felt like I was walking on water. I couldn’t hold back my ear-to-ear smiles and neither could I do anything my tears dropping from my eyes.

After been unconscious for days, I’d assumed she won’t have the time to still pick on me and all she did was to say
“Don’t cry, Mister”
Then and there I knew I was going to do anything humanly possible to spend the rest of my life with her.

I was scheduled for trial on the counts of disobeying my superior’s orders and also falsifying the order of a superior. I told the jury I had lied to my men and Lieutenant Omali telling them that I was acting on the instructions of the Colonel and the will of the president.
I emphasized that my men as far as they were concerned thought they were carrying out the instructions of the Base commander.
I was discharged from the army and stripped of my ranks.

My men and Lieutenant Omali were awarded medals of honour for gallant acts in combat.

She never called me Mister again, she calls me husband.

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Mortal Treasure

Life is a design
Cast upon a canvass
Of sobering uncertainties
Like an earthenware of
Mixed colours and forms
It sits at every threshold
Ready for mortal adornment

Life is a story written
With words and deeds
Like seeds sown at random
Upon the sands of time
Are blown by winds,and
Often such survival sojourn
Ends in joyous fruition

Life is a journey
Of purpose and dreams
Robed in ups and downs
It is a quest,a tedious test
Of ability from inability
Where mortals searches within
To call forth creativity

If these are realities of time
Then life is inspired-design
Inscribed on eternal marvel
To veil mortal’s morbid mind

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