CHIMEBARA cheered them On

 

After things fell apart, the story was not that of broken china replaced by another, rather it was the muddle its white fragments created on the sands of our brown mind.

Reaped off her soil, the new way of life christened her civilisation pagan. She embraced the chorus, which became her confession and the redemption of her virgin soul.

Tonto Nwankwo had worn her uniform to school. She was diligent and had worn them all through school. Now she often shuts her eyes tightly, to become or emerge in the beautiful dress on the advertisement, but has not.

“The volume of applications for jobs I have written since I finished the university in 1990 will compete favourably with drafts of another novel in the useful hands of Chinua Achebe. Yet I don’t have a job”

Her luring nostalgia to stories of the past, when her people’s eyes were single and their bodies were flooded with light, has become her besetting sin. These thoughts would strike her with the ravenous poison to a dissenting exodus and she would die again.

She had been told of a single story from the past; that her ancestors had a homogeneous perspective to why they were here on earth. There was a shared cohesive meaning to why they lived in community with everything on earth, and accorded all objects the universal, equal and earthly rights to soul and life. Though it was a limited society, but it deserved no such death sentence as it is obvious in her life today. Everything is out of reach, both the old and the promised salvation.

“The bare and glistering skin of my forefathers’ muscles sang the praise of the trees; as their sponge ‘sappo’ cleansed it’s sweating grime. Today our finger no longer fertilise the earth, our black skin is detached from the sun and they are even of less significance now than the colour of this advertised dress”.

Nothing meant anything. Frozen in time, the school uniform hasn’t led to the beautiful dress yet. The excessive coverings of the dress has rubbed Tonto’s people of the wisdom of their sparse covering; which was an echo of their archetype for necessity, frugality and singleness of purpose, not sin, poverty or permittivity, as now suggested.

With her right hand, she reached into the left cup of her brassiere, lifts the heavy lump of her tugging breast, into a beaker she exercised milk, kissing her teeth and fighting off tears, for the more than likely death of another child. Her six months premature daughter, Chimebara Donny Chintua-Chigbu is going to die in ten days.

“In the past three years after marriage, I cannot remember one single day I have not been pregnant. Yet I am not carrying my own baby yet, she cries. Looking up, as unto heaven, she asks “Or, am I a witch?”

Chimebara kicked, squirmed and let out cries in spout and puffs of air as she struggled and fussed to breath. She never opened her eyes and maybe saw nobody.

Chimebara never came home, was never buried but reinvested at the request of these angels who studied to help other children born under the same circumstance.

Under the glass shield, encased in the incubator and cared for ‘Baby Precious’, as she was tagged, and as her place was in the number of uncounted infants, trees and endangered animals who died every second in the world’s remotest corners, Chimebara fought for life as though death never ends it.

She was positive; she told a story in her kicks. Her father, Dike Obiora clutching the hands of his wife smiled, at the spirit of his daughter who has told him so much than a lifetime can tell a struggling man.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

Please, I need your comments and questions. Thank you.

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TEN years since she Died

Ten years since she died

It was April fool’s day 2005. Dike Obiora was forty-two and Tonto Nwankwo was thirty-eight years old. “Sir, Madam has died” says Mallama the house girl. Between their difficult thirteen years of marriage and a dreadful time now ahead, Dike would cling on these dark clouds, perhaps to find and surf their silvery crests. The doctors explained the primary cause of death was heart failure and secondary as cancer of the colon. Tonto had lost the last drop of her blood to the killer tumour which she had fought 18 months long. Crucial on Dike’s mind was their children. How was he to explain these concepts; death and bereavement to them?

“My soul is tired for the things that have been done on it. My body is weak. I am older than my age and sometimes I am ashamed of what you could remember behind this thick love you have for me. I have squandered everything for nothing, not really nothing but what my heart yearns for, though most times I am led to nowhere by it. You have often done more than I could have done for myself; definitely anybody has done for me. The emptiness catches up with me and so often overwhelms me…”

Dike awakes. He finally walks into the room where the children were watching television. They barely noticed him. Confused and wary not to alarm them, he took another deep breath. “Guys, please ‘pause’ the cartoon channel and listen to me for a minute”. As they turned their heads and flashed their pools of clear large eyes towards him, he clinched his hands and took another deep breath.

“God has taken mummy to heaven to rest. You all know that she has suffered a lot this past year and half”
“Yes Daddy” they said. They were merely seven, six and three years old. He was unsure how they were processing the information, but he resolved to be strong for them and to never let them off his sight for a very very long time.

Tonto was a sweet soul whose troubles were overwhelming. Her mind wrinkled as it destroyed her body. Despite her rage and destruction, she was consistently a troubled mind and never a wallowing sordid soul.

“I heard a voice when I was 3 years old. Something told me He was God and that he loved me. I was over joyed and loved it. The days after, I heard it so much as he came around so often, that I began to live in dread of it” she says.

Tonto loved her mother, three sisters and two brothers. They probably loved her more than she felt. But for every other person who tried to love her, the trauma of her natal scourge snuffed every effort to fill her gnawing emptiness.

“I struggle for love, may be because I don’t understand love. Like every child, I want to own my own sisters, brothers and mother. I should have the same surname with my siblings because I share the same womb with them. I want to be theirs. I don’t want to be accepted, because that says something about being an outsider. I don’t want them to be nice to me, because that is about hospitality, may be to a stranger. I want to be them, family, and love, not given but co-owns, not logical but emotional. You understand, don’t you? She asks.

What tears the fabric and tissues of a child’s soul and refuses to heal for 38 years? What wakes a baby from sleep to stack adulthood, and keeps her up for 38 years? moans Dike.

“I hate you Dike. You think am not good for you, you want to marry one of those girls when I die. Good man, you think you have won? I will tell everybody what evil you have been to me. You don’t like me. You snuff off everything I ignite. You don’t encourage me. You are always competing with me. I am never sufficiently good enough at anything. You love your mother, your sister, my mother, my sisters more than me”.
Dike reaches out to love his wife, but sometimes in logic, and once again fails.
“You always make me feel guilty. What is the point of this love when you make me feel am no good? Your love, your mother, everything, even God, yes God, all of you can go to hell”

The phone rings “Hello sister, yes I am fine today… yes, yes. I just want you to know that it is my husband who’s killing me. He is responsible for my illness and death when it comes. Yes, yes. Thank you, sister. I love you too”

Towards the last days, on her death bed, she came near to that conviction that she has now gained her family’s undivided attention. They love her. They are all now preoccupied with her in that special way she has always wanted. If this was it, then she may have lived all her life to get it. She wanted her ‘mommy’ and it was all worth it.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

These are real life stories. I will love hear your comments,  questions, and suggestions please. Thank you.

EMMA wore a Scar

Relationship, Family, Love, Wife

On this mountain, her husband Tutu has been of all plants, the cactus. “Tutu, my husband has applied for bankruptcy and I am not in the picture” she said to me.

It has largely been a thankless affair. She is obviously worn out by her intense flirting with the guts or belief, that there would be some easy path, down the other side of the mountain. This dream had been her hope and often her only lust, after each sunset.

Tutu had lived a life characterised by skipping and stepping on those smooth stones, spaced on life’s puddle. His quiet and handsome face has been a shielding facade of modesty and cultured manners. However these belie, a man whose tender fingers, had once tampered and stifled the mews of some female flock in his manor.

His imagined depository of ‘heavenly’ wealth and delusionary right to comfort, had been occasionally relayed in spending orgies, excused by some conjured gratitude to God. A situation Emma was to cease complaining about.

There was a time Emma was virgin. Her world was airy and rarely clustered. She did Good. Carefully, she populated her world with people who showed her genuine need for her virtues. It felt good and muted pains sacrificing brought. She was equally good to her family; parents and siblings. The world may forget, but your own family will always remember you for good, she reminisced.

With a lot of effort and hard work, she has pushed away days when the long wait for her father’s pension and gratuity extinguished every mustered hope in the family. The nightmare of this godot aged each new day, and inspired it with terror and exasperation. Those days were gone. They were gone behind lovely remembrances of her eldest brother’s eventual marriage and relocation to the United States of America.

Also the little girls, how they would pack their boxes and be driven off to that premium, safe and beautifully located boarding school in the country. The younger sister had married an evangelist who lives in Germany and would be off to some missionary tour to North America. Her father’s burial was decent and respectable and her mother is dignified and aging gracefully.

It’s often said that it’s no good doing good, because the world will pay you back with evil. But no one has said it is ‘so’ good doing evil, because everyone will pay you back with good. Yet on our tattoos we all wear the scar of the deeds we have done. Loving your neighbour may often not be reciprocated, but being good is the sure reward of doing ‘GOOD’.

Now on the mountain top, confused and listless, Emma would comb for that dreamed world; that beautiful plateau, where ‘good’ will come to her and bear her on scented petals. She would remember when she was spurred by the dreams that her friends and family will always remember her for good. She would also realise how sad it is to discovers that through this path she must travel alone. And being in the thoughts and prayers of friends and family was one more call to keep her head high.

Emma would refuse to leave Tutu, not even the consideration of a measured safe distance; something to give him a shock therapy or a period to let things dawn on him. But then, she also knew better. Tutu had planned to reach for a more time relevant substitute far from remorse.

The scar clings deep. Emma embodies the fight; the troubled terrain and tumultuous duels, the grease and grime of years of torture on her face and dress. In her gait she took it all.

Late this evening though, through the cracks of this parched and withered soul, a thought would sprout, nagging and persistent. She would peer into both palms, confused but resolute to confront in the dark, which dignity is better for the woman, who society will nonetheless judge as one who left her husband.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

Feel free to support, comment or share your story or stories with the ‘Community’. Make it an interesting, short, compact and well punctuated story. Your candle shines brightest where light is needed, so let it appeal to all people and gender, across racial, political, religious, and sexual orientations.

Taruzimaso is a growing community of people who have loved and shared their challenges, and are investing in patience, thought, and prayer to help one another.

AMANDA saw in the Dark

KeepCALM3

Amanda was the daddy’s-girl and the first of four girls. She also had two elder brothers. Daddy was another story of an erudite and energetic colonial bred, who was now recessed, by the huge avalanche of mediocrity that was burying our country.

Amanda’s family was struggling with imposed transition, from a life of privilege to one of pauperism. Some members of her family were trapped in the muddle, others were lost and some were hopeful.

In persistent denial, Amanda’s brothers would waste their days in strange battles of conceived entitlements. This was often fuelled by the younger of the brothers’ struggle with some distressing syndrome of hyperactivity.

The colours on their family’s landscape offered no shade of calm, except for her mother and the last baby girl.

Amanda and I met after the university in 1987. On Amanda’s head you could see those tiny brilliant eyes, that still saw in the dark. She spotted me and I was struck by the preciousness of a soul, who must be given the full value of her find. I paid her attention.

Through the years, she talked and I listened. The more she talked, the more I realised she had more to talk about.

Finally she got a job as an air hostess. With the job the scene at home changed for the better. Her family moved from where they had been squatting to a house of their own.

Though her boyfriend couldn’t wait, Amanda was to have a good life and a successful career in the aviation industry.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

Taruzimaso is a growing community of people who have loved and shared their challenges, and are investing in patience, thought, and prayer to help one another. I have always enjoyed listening, and people have told me how much they have been helped.

Please cheer someone up. Feel free to share your story or stories with the ‘Community’. Make it an interesting, short, compact and well punctuated story. Your candle shines brightest where light is needed, so let it appeal to all people and gender, across racial, political, religious, and sexual orientations.

Your comments and supports are appreciated.

IMELDA doesn’t call Again

2014-05-11 13.03.02

Imelda has called again. Things would have been different if any of us had a manual on how to be angry with God. Since this is not the case, then everything is Dominic’s fault. Imelda believes Dominic can make her happy, but he is not doing that and don’t seem to find any motivation to do so. If some people should have a problem-free marriage, by God, Imelda should be one of them. All she wants is to be allowed to watch one or two movies on the television. The next thing she asks for is for Dominic to sometimes walk with her around the neighbourhood or to the city centre or a bus ride together to some museum or beautiful mall. Of all the difficult things in whole wide world, this has proved so more difficult for Dominic to do.

“I was late to marriage and for that, marrying a widower with children was upfront with needs I could avail myself of. I would care for his children, and he would continue to love me and we will both be happier for it”.

“Why is he ‘ganging up’ with the children against me? Can I possibly understand this? Rationally he knows the teenage girl is impudent and disrespectful. She is determined in her tricks to haunt, ruin my happiness and wreck my marriage”

“Dominic now makes me feel I complain for no reason, and that I just hate his children. Can you believe that?”

“Some days are not worse enough until the night comes when he decides to fiddle under the sheets. Apparently he wants to do me some favours; to give me some happiness I must be quick and grateful to respond to”

“How come I don’t have confidence in myself anymore? My self-esteem is gone and my weight is piling”

In all of these, Imelda looks forward to a future when the children have grown up and left home. Now she doesn’t call me frequently anymore. This could be indicative that the situation has changed or that she has changed enough to take control of the situation or what do you think??? My thoughts and prayers are always with you, Imelda.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986