Hi, guys. I just realised I haven’t published anything here in a while. ‘Busy-ness is a bitch.’, right? So, below are some of the jottings I’ve made in recent times. Most of them are from observations in Lagos, which I scribbled down and hoped – still hope – to use in my writing sometime. I know they probably won’t make sense to you – just humour me.
1. On Time
The clock measure time, but not how it is spent.
2. On Bedbugs – An Incomplete Poem
Once you have them, you have them.
Tiny red-coated soldiers,
a bane of history.
That night in bed, with the moon
hiding behind the curtains
like a lad from a monster,
I danced the dance of Eegun.
They’re cannibals, he said,
relentless in their quest, and
very smart too, very smart,
like tiny, tiny human beings…
3. Bar Enclave, Ilupeju, Lagos state, Nigeria
Bar Enclave at Ilupeju was a shock. It was a low building at the mouth of the street, paint faded, nothing grand. (I didn’t see a sign that announced it.) Outside, a light crowd had gathered: young men and women, some in fancy glasses, some with healthy-looking Afros, idling about, chatting, chuckling. They stared at us as we made our way over; their curious eyes made me feel uncomfortable, so that there was a slight twitch to my gait. ‘I hope they’ve not finished,’ Olu whispered to me. I didn’t reply; I was much too excited – it was the perfect crowd. You could smell the freshness in the air; the good-humouredness. It was where I wanted to be.
At the entrance, I inquired from a lady, ‘Is this Bar Enclave?’, though I already knew. I didn’t wait for her to reply; my eyes took on a life of their own, darting about the place, seeing the familiar face of the salesman from the store off Herbert Macauley Road in the vestibule, brushing through the numerous people cramped within, filling with excitement. When the lady replied, ‘yes,’ I almost didn’t hear her.
‘It’s full. No space inside,’ she said with a smile, and someone behind me echoed it.
‘No space inside, ke?’ I asked; ‘We will find space!’ Then to Olu, who was behind me: ‘Come, let’s enter.’
I remember the heat that assaulted me in the vestibule. And the darkness. I remember, also, the many number of bodies pressed together, jostling each other for space; how it felt to be amidst all of that, but I don’t remember whiffing any unpleasant odour. (Perhaps its just that my memory chooses to be choosy.) To the left of the vestibule, was a space large enough to be used for exhibition: there were tables on which numerous copies of the authors’ books had been arranged; men with stern looks sitting behind those tables, sweating – including that particular salesman I’d recognized. I didn’t see what was on the left – at least not immediately.
When I looked, there was Nike Campbell-Fatoki a bit to my left, standing quietly amidst the jostling bodies, observing. The day before, I had been at her own bookreading at Patabah, the bookstore in Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall, Surulere. I squeezed over and said hi, right after I’d filled the logbook.
4. The Bus Driver
An old man drives the rickety bus. He sits like a robot: his back so straight, his chest so close to the steering, which juts out from between his laps, that he just as well might be hugging it. He wears a plain pink shirt over checked wheat-coloured pants, both of which have seen better days. He wears a baseball cap, too. Also pink. The skin of his forearms is quite firm, alive with veins, unlike that of his face which is wrinkled, though not so much as nauseating to look at. What should be his chin is, when he works his face into focus, cut up into two slack folds of fat, rough with grey stubbles. He could be anything from fifty to seventy, who knows?
5. In Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria
He gets a good view of the mammoth rocks on one side of the road at Oke Itoku, which drops down into Idi Ape, and then into Itoku market, where, the driver offers, Kampala materials are sold.
6. Waking up in the Morning
Instead of ‘I tossed and turned on the bed.’, write: ‘I was restless in bed tonight. Moving endlessly from one side to another – of the bed and of my body – folding the pillow under my head for more weight, then spreading it out because it raised my head too high, doubling it (just to see – but that didn’t work either). I eventually relieve the pillows of the weight of my head, hugging one to my chest and cradling the other between my tighs.