ART, Little things, Pixpers

Transformation

I once heard that no one eats with their mouth

Children eat with their eyes;

Young people with their stomach

Adults with their head.

WARNING;  mouthwatering presentation. Risk of hunger afterwards.

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Okay so, where are these pictures from? Most of them were made by me in collaboration with others. It was such a delight last summer to learn to transform the usual fruits and vegetables into such lovelies.

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Musings, Poetry

I pine for You

When you leave the shores of your NAIJA, you can’t help but see your country with new eyes. You come to appreciate and love your nation as it is; or to reject it and call it ‘good-for-nothing’. Call me a dreamer, call me unrealistic, but even with the recession stricken state of my NAIJA, most days I can’t help but pine for it.

——-

Dear Sir,

I suppose I can call you sir though it sounds so stiff – necked and boring … and oh so old fashioned to call the one you claim to love; Sir!

Well, dear sir. Here! I have written it again and I mean to stick with it, complain as you might. Katia has asked me to write you a – – – – letter. No, you don´t know her. She is my friend and sister from Eastern Europe. She herself is in love, in more than the widest sense of the word. She worships the ground where Anton Chekhov passed. She is in Dostoyevsky´s mesh and she has lost her head over Tolstoy. She eats him, has a never ending date with him and sleep – walks with him! Her kind are dangerous, I dare say; those in love with a phantom. I think of her and the intrigues of the ‘phantom of the opera’ comes before me.

Okay, what am I going to say? With all the sincerity I can muster – which doesn’t count for much as you know – I say that I have nothing to say. It’s a proven fact. Where best to establish it than at this very point, at the beginning. I wouldn’t want your imagination to fly, thinking of the rapturous love for you that I will profess. I will only rabble and gabble and from my nonsense, you will make great sense. After all, people in love just wink at each other and it’s enough. And as Nieves, my South American friend, told me the other day ‘where there is love (I think she said ‘trust’ but trust me, I don’t remember). ‘Where there is trust or love if you like, silence is not uncomfortable.

Back to Katia and the all-purpose – – – – letter. I think of you and the memories of my childhood come running in. My dear Ajayi Street in the New Benin area of the city of Benin. They call it the ancient city of Benin. Katia with her centuries old history will probably laugh at the title. But who says that the city is not as ancient as it claims just because we cannot prove its existence beyond the 12th or 13th century? Dear Sir, I haven’t come to start quarrelling over the age of a city with you. Life is much richer than that.

I think of you so much; so much so that I, who boast to have zero tolerance for sentimental bull shits, I almost feel nostalgic for you. For the days we spent together. From the New Benin markets to the dust coloured roads of Isu, Imo state. You remember the other time when we were planning a trip to Imo, I had my hair made. I was so excited to see you soon and to show you my new hair and clothes. I lost all sense. I never had much anyway. I started to spin endlessly on top of the septic tank just in front of our house. What started like an excited game with my feet on the tank ended with me, head down, apparently spinning on the ground. How you expressed concern for my ink stained scratches just below my eye! How you didn’t care to hear the story over and over again. How you gave thanks that it was what it was – just scratches – because it could have been worse. The thought of how big a fool I was then has got me in stitches. But it was all for you, for you my dear sir.

The other night while we were still in Amaizar. Ah! Amaizar. Just yesterday, I mentioned ‘my village’ while gisting with Jackie. She comes from the Big – Brother State, the USA. When I replied that my town was called Isu and my village Amaizar, she commented ‘I kinda like the sound of it. Amazing!’ My amazing Amaizar. That night, grandma and all the elders were having their evening chat. All of us young ones were in the living room eating akpu[1] together, the Ede[2] soup trickling down our palms to our elbows. You were there too. Where am I and you are not? Even when I’m so far away, supposedly out of your reach, you are with me. I carry you everywhere. Here I see many people who remind me of you. Though more than half of them have made a very bad reputation here, there is nothing bad or wicked about you. There are defects of course. I have mine too and I don’t pretend to be like the new wife who claimed her husband had no defects. No one makes such claims nowadays. People seem to glory in the defects of others. What does it matter if you have a pink stain and I have a dark blue one?

Where was I? What was I saying? Something about akpu. In Lagos, I barely ate akpu. They call it fufu[3] there. We ate it once to celebrate our country’s independence. Another time, someone asked for akpu and nsala soup for her birthday. Man! What a feast it was. I am still licking my palms though they had nothing to do with it. Chai! We dug into it with our forks and knives. Nothing like the joy of feeling the consistency of the akpu with your curved fingers, of digging into the fish and beef scattered in the soup, or of the good belch that Daddy usually makes after he has washed his hands at the end of a sound meal.

It´s worse off here. The other day, we got together from far and wide in the capital just to soak gari[4]! I will send you the pictures later of our Ijebu gari and groundnut feast. How those women in Ijebu land fry the gari, turning it over and over on the local stove. I used to like to visit them. Then our host would offer us gari, crisp and hot. And you would let the fine warm grains slip through your hand as you shovel some to your mouth, munching contentedly. The sweet sour taste which makes it Ijebu gari. I wish I have gari to slip through my cold hands now. You won´t believe me but you will. I now wear gloves and use hand cream each time I wash my hands; like a proper oyibo[5].

O my dear one, are you surprised at my nonsense? I am laughing again as your look of surprise floats before me. That day at Osisioma junction in Aba when you caught me in a stall eating a loaf of bread stuffed with noodles. Even the Chinese wouldn’t have gone so far. ‘Why not stuff it with egg?’ You had asked. And I replied that noodles was healthier and cheaper. Ah! The funny ideas I had and still have.

And now I have to go. Miriam is waving to catch my attention. She needs me. We all need each other. One moment Miriam.

My love, I don’t know what part of this letter will get to you. Katia has asked to read it before I send it and bring shame to the family. She would probably strike off some parts considering them unworthy. But in any case she would have caught a sneak peek at you and of how things used to be between us; of how things still are though they are changing fast. But her knowledge will be only a grain in my gari frying pan. A few places in a few cities and a few names are not enough to talk about the 36 states, the Federal Capital and the over 180 million people who make you up, my dear Sir, my Nigeria!

 

© 2016 Amaka Anozie

[1] A staple food made from cooked cassava. It’s called akpu in eastern Nigeria and fufu in Western and Southern Nigeria.

[2] The Igbo word for cocoyam.

[3] see foot note 1

[4] Another staple food, derived from fried cassava.

[5] The Nigerian slang for a European.

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Musings

Grief – struck!

Victoria Lindbergh Rizzi | Awestruck Catholic Social Network: My God, why! That’s what I want to scream. I want to break OUT, running and crying, letting the tears loose. But I am speechless. Petrified. My lips tremble with the sobs that won’t come out. Why? Why do I have to know someone and then he goes. He dies. Cut off in the noon of his life. His name is Mauricio, the brother of a very dear friend. He was an architect. Was. I recoil as I write it. Was! Everything ended. He was going to get married. He came visiting last summer with his fiancée. He was making progress in leaps and bounds in his career. He was a healthy young man, lively, jovial. I was looking forward to the wedding; then to the announcements of each of their children as they arrive. Mamma mia!

The flurry has left my fingers. The words trickle now, one at a time. But the dumbness has also left my soul. I am not running. I stare at my screen, calm! I am trying to understand it knowing that I will never understand. But I have my Christian faith to hold on to. It consoles me to remember that Mauricio is a Christian. He lived his short time on earth very happy to make God happy. I have prayed a responsorial for his soul. I’m praying for his family and friends who have to deal with the shock and the loss and the gap, the big big gap. I’ll continue praying for Mauricio; in this wonderful communion of saints which we live in the Catholic Church, we are never alone, living or dead.  And I know that he’s happy, he’s in heaven. Because happiness after death is for those who know, who knew, how to be truly happy on earth.

I have to go. My friend needs me at her side more than never before.

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Little things

The Pope and I

P and J.jpgYeah right! that’s me greeting the pope last Saturday after a time of prayer at St. Peter’s square.
What’s was it like? It was cool, literally. When I was told 3 days ago, I didn’t believe it. I thought ‘you’ve got to be kidding me. Actually, you’re goating me, ha ha’.
So I left home cold as a fish, took the tram to Risorgimiento {near St. Peter’s} with two friends. We arrived there in good time, got registered, received the tickets, mingled with the others who had come for the same purpose, passed the controls and got seated on the platform, far from the crowd and very close – less than a stonethrow – from the stage where the Pope was to sit.
How did it begin? One friend had registered to attend the marian Jubilee celebration which was part of the many activities of the Pope for the Jubilee year. She was coming with a group of 8 Nigerians, she said. Out of the blues, she was invited with two others of her group to personally greet the Pope at the end of the ceremony. She did a ballot with all the names of the 8 and I was chosen. Boy! Anyway, here we are.
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The ceremony was lovely and warm. There was a procession from different delegations of different countries with images of Our Lady. Then the Pope arrived!
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This ain’t no joke. My excitement mounted. We prayed the rosary with the Pope and at the end, each one of the select group, a total of 80 persons, got to personally greet the pope.
How was it?
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It was beautiful! You know, He was waiting to hear from me, from each one. He listens as he advises us to do.

Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say. It requires the self-discipline of not speaking until the time is right. Instead of offering an opinion or advice, we need to be sure that we have heard everything the other person has to say. This means cultivating an interior silence that makes it possible to listen to the other person without mental or emotional distractions. Do not be rushed, put aside all of your own needs and worries, and make space. Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledge their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams. How often we hear complaints like: “He does not listen to me.” “Even when you seem to, you are really doing something else.” “I talk to her and I feel like she can’t wait for me to finish.” “When I speak to her, she tries to change the subject, or she gives me curt responses to end the conversation”. {Amoris Laetitia, no. 137}

And this’s what I told him ‘I’m reading Amoris Laetitia’ I said and he smiled. ‘And I like it’ ‘Thank you’ he replied. I kissed his papal ring and went on. Yeah, just like that.
Then it really struck me how ordinary the Pope was, the Pope is. And I made one resolution ‘to pray for him everyday.’ I invite you, dear friend, to join me.

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Little things

Thieving the TV

Did you use to watch those late night movies that ITV or EBS showed back in the days? They always had subtitles – that was the best part for me. I had grown up watching many Chinese and indian films. So much so that having fun with motion pictures translated to reading and listening simultaneously.

The best was when my parents were already in bed. Somehow because of our fallen nature, especially when we haven’t learnt to master it, we get some feeling of achievement defying ‘orders’. I was … 14, perhaps. Very well into teenage hood. Once, I was there in the sitting room, eyes glued to the TV. Waiting for all the calls of viewers like me. One girl called to say that she had locked her parents in. She was about 10 years old and wasn’t taking any chances. Her giggles cackled over the line mingling with that of the presenter. I found her too daring and not in any way funny. Perhaps, I was too busy waiting for the viewers’ final choice which ended at 12 midnight. Or worrying about waking up my mum with the noise. My parents’ room was only some yards away.

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On some days, I was what I considered lucky. I would watch till the end at 2am. Then the usual ‘We are going to take a break before continuing our morning transmission’ would flash on the screen for some seconds before it finally went blank. And I with it. A few years after, the flash disappeared. Trying to keep up with new competing stations – Silverbird and AIT – ITV rolled in programs after programs. And so ended my sleep time.

The years pass. Life became even richer. Including the breakdown of our street’s transformer. That one happened more often than desired. What if NEPA [our very own PHCN] doesn’t fix the blown transformer for the next six months? The TV is left to rest for electrical or occupational reasons. And it’s not missed; at least not after the first month.

Jokes apart, time has indeed passed. I’m older though still very young. I am discovering that the members of my family have more content than the TV. With friends, I can see more than a 1001 movies every day – the drama never ends. Of course I still watch fiction from time to time. There’s nothing like being there with only the big screen for light and munching on pop-corn {if you decide to buy some} and laughing or crying between scenes. And discussing the movie for the next few hours, days sometimes, with friends who weren’t there. Guess it’s more like recounting the tales or just finding a valid excuse to spend more time together.

What was it like for you?

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