Tuesday, 5 August 2008


He gulped down a glob of air, trapped in his throat that had dried from the bottles ofGuilder he had finally forced himself to drink. How did she know that something was brewing inhis head, not to mention, it needing to be spilled?

“Hi, saw you at the party” he said, trying hard to distract her from his nervousness.

“Oh, I saw you too” she said, her eyes pointing to the beer bottle, held precariously in hands, that trickled beer onto the ground and his sneakers.
He quickly and firmly grabbed the bottle, now understanding what she meant by him justspilling it all out.

They had introduced themselves and shared their concise histories . They continued their conversation, while they walked, dazed and drunk, back to those estates they lived in; they had found out that they didn’t live too far from each other. Their conversation had went on without any halt, right from leaving the party and boarding a bus. He had watched her speak, and in thecrowded and street-lamps-lit bus, her words seemed to hover around like white and fluffy dandelion seeds. He tried not to get too distracted with the fluffy dandelion seeds and so listened
to all she said and contributed as much as he could to the conversation.Afeni had spoken about her thoughts and more elaborately, the things she disliked about society. He agreed with most of her theories and thoughts, and felt she had eloquently structured those disorganized thoughts heoften had. Before she got into her compound, with the unwelcoming dogs barking, she told him that there would be a revolution and they would be part of it.

The revolution Afeni spoke of, was what this place had become, before the military came.Cradle as it was called, was formerly a Housing estate, on the other side of town, wheremostly Civil servants and retired people lived. But the housing estate had changed, with establishment of a Liberal Art training centre by a visiting American artist. There was an influx of art students, who were not satisfied with their restrictive University curriculums, into the Housing Estate. And these artists were of the rebellious brand, some of them, including women, proudly wore their paint-smeared baggies around. Most of them had piercings that adorned their faces and other parts of their bodies. Their skins were canvases to their wild and imaginative minds. They hosted parties which other young people
living around were naturally attracted to. Soon, all these incited contempt from the parents and pious residents. Their lifestyles suddenly became proof for the churches and Christian fellowships around, that the end time was near. Those who could live the estate, left. Those who couldn’t, receded to the outskirts . And that was how The Cradle came to be, with theatre students, writers, socially conscious young people and generally those not content or willing to conform with the outside world, joining in.

Tade had been amazed on his first day at the Cradle. The two storey apartment
and flat buildings were converted into studios, make-shift theatres, bars and homes for the young people. The housing estate had undergone change from a being a quasi-suburban area to a very artistically conscious one. As Tade walked with Afeni, who
strangely preferred to prance than walk, with both of her feet clapping in the air and hereyes twinkling, he admired her and the new look of the Housing Estate. The bare walls of some buildings, which formerly had paint ripping out like molting skin, now had graffiti on them. Some of the graffiti were parodies of former military heads of statesand others philosophical declarations and quotes of people he didn’t know. But there wasone which was inscribed on the wall of a church, tucked in between two houses, that struck him the most. It read;

‘When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.’ - James Joyce

Tade knew that he was one, who sparingly got absorbed by quotes, but there
was something poignant in this one that seemed to give an answer to those many disorderedquestions that all unified to plague him. That thought rioted in his head, as he tried tounderstand those nets in his life and how he would fly by them. And the answers seemed so easy, yet they kept eluding him. They had walked past the church, but Tade who was stilldistraught, felt like asking Afeni on the questions that troubled him. Since, he had met Afeni,there were attributes about her, that made him feel she had answers to his burning questions,yet there was that part of him, that distrusted showing ignorance to Afeni.

"Is everything alright, anything around that you find a tad bit pointed?" Afeni asked,emphasizing the 'pointed'.

"No, not really...uhn, just the quote of the Joyce guy"

"Oh that one, a personal favorite of mine" Afeni said, smiling at a friend of hers

who rode abike, shirtless, down the street.

"What 'bout it do you find POINTED?"

"Nothing more than the obvious, but, do you not think that we have an obligation to honor our country and follow the values our parents pass down to us?

should we not...basically live by those culture and values of the society we belong

to" Tade asked, feeling like a heavy dumbbell, had been lifted away from him.

"Tade, my answer is- that in whatever way we decide to fulfil our obligation to society's expectations, we should never compromise our inner selves and who we truely are. And Tade,every custom or value that is repressive to any group or any person who does no harm, should be abolished. There should be no questions asked about it. None!"


NaijaBabe said...

Awesome again.

Its quite true, we should not compromise who we are for what our society wants us to be, or easily put, trying to conform to the givings of our society.

Nice one

Jaja said...

There is something about this that reminds me of a certain period in my life... uneasy, unsatisfied angst-y...

We grow in what we are. We get muscular. We see better. Sometimes o

How body?

Afolabi said...

@ naijababe- thanks for all your comments- apart from some of them making my head almost explode, they help build my confi. in my writing.

@ jaja- i'm doin gud, what's up with you, was gonna email u..if u dnt mind..

And what I'm realizing about growing into what we are is that sometimes these growth changes will not occur naturally or spontaneously..we sometimes have to consciously trigger them. And I'm happy you relate to the story.

Jaja said...

of course you can mail me : misterjaja@yahoo.co.uk

Its right there on my profile.

Buttercup said...

i love how u r bringin home important points with a story...

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