Take Back Your Life

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Look for me where rules are broken and conventions subverted,
Where life is lived by the moment and breaths are not counted,
Where nobody gives a shit about the number of times you’ve failed,
Because you’re yourself, and that’s the best you can ever be.

After years of keeping my head down and struggling to fit in, I finally rid myself of that pointless worrying about the way I am perceived by non-entities who are only too eager to imprison me with glares of disapproval and torture my soul with thoughtless remarks as odious as an errant egg fart in an overcrowded room. It’s not that I don’t want to be loved, but I have learned that I won’t die because one more person doesn’t like me (my hair, my crooked teeth, or the way my jeans are always slimmer than ‘normal’). I don’t care, so I don’t fuss over being accepted and I’ve never been better.

I celebrate my freedom with both middle fingers flashing repeatedly at the world (mentally, because it’s more fun when you do it in slow motion with a backing soundtrack playing in your head). Those two are memorials to all the fucks I will never be able to give because I willingly let go of the capacity to care about things of no consequence, including the unsolicited opinions of individuals who are of less value to me than the shelter of a blade of grass in a thunderstorm.

Believe me, I know what it’s like to feel compelled to justify the actions you take for your own self, to apologise even when you’ve done nothing wrong, to accept more crap from people than a communal pit latrine. That’s not humility, it’s suffering, and there are jail cells far more comfortable than this position.

If you let them, people (and the fear of them) will keep you small and barely human, just another broken spirit in their display case of broken spirits. But only if you let them. You always have a choice, and the power to:

1. Reject the damned cage. You’re not an animal.

2. Speak up when you feel wronged. Speak, I said, not send an email.

3. Wear sweatpants to a wedding. Or skip it completely if you can’t be bothered.

4. Call people out on their bullshit. Cowards are unattractive.

5. Let the colours clash. Style is personal.

6. Not start a sentence with “I’m sorry, but…” Get right to the point.

7. Say no to whatever. There are few things more liberating.

8. End an abusive relationship (with a partner, an employer or a family member).

9. Respect yourself so much that people will respect you.

10. Decide how your story will be told.

There’s not much that anyone can do about you fighting for what’s yours: the right to be happy, respected and fulfilled.

It’s your life. Start living it, don’t just get by.

You Will Get Tired

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You will get tired.

Of waking up by yourself on frigid mornings,
Toes curled into formlessness by the chill of the air conditioner gone rogue,
Your pillow, the only audience of your previous snoring,
Doing nothing to change the unfashionable loneliness long in vogue.

You will be done.

With miserable lunches spent staring more than tasting,
The menu gone from memory before your body forgets it.
With dinners that perfectly define the wasting,
Of your time and your natural capacity to do more with it.

Alone is the new ‘together’,
Beeping machines introducing strangers who never become friends.
A hundred different ways to say “hello,”
But there’s no app for true contact.

Maybe you will find.

Someone to interrupt your aloneness,
A saving grace as fleeting as a shooting star.
But it will never be enough, that one moment,
And the sooner it passes, the sooner it feels far.

The God Of Weak Beings

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I am in progress, a contrast to who I was, the prelude to who I will be,

A wall of canvas, being caressed into a masterpiece by His brushstrokes.

In the Potter’s hands I am a vessel-to-be, the future of the lump of clay you see,

And I am becoming like Him as more of me splatters on the wheel’s spokes.

 

I am wayward and unwieldy, but His patience remains untried, He is eternally kind,

And in His godliness, He acknowledges my humanity, keeping my frailty in mind.

I often forget His benefits, I rave and I rant till He reminds me of His greatness,

Then I am awed into silence by a weight of blessings that leaves me weightless.

 

I grow proud, carried away on the flood of my achievements, little, self-important me,

I turn my back on the Giver and worship the gifts, before the wrong gods, I bend the knee.

Humility comes with a trial, but I am not humiliated, just restored to His Presence,

With love, He teaches me once again that without Him, life would have no essence.

 

I bow before the God of weak beings, the Savior of the downtrodden and castoffs,

He who finds a use for the useless, a greater use than the useful are worthy of.

I am the wick upon which His spirit-fire burns, my mortal self consumed by the divine,

Yet I remain, for I carry a portion of His permanence, the ‘how’ of which cannot be divined.

Boys Want Nice Things Too

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“Maybe I should rob somebody, so we could be like Whitney and Bobby.” – John Legend, Used To Love You

“I’m not materialistic,” you said. But we’re light-years away from those early days.

This is not the girl I chased for months: I see dollar signs in your wandering gaze.

I’m jaded.

It’s never been hard for me to pay: cab fare, tickets on movie dates (you set up), anything, most things, no be today.

But when was the last time you parted with a thousand naira on my account, without first complaining about the state of your account? Fuck, that’s a ridiculously large amount, I know, so are five one hundred naira notes still too much for you to count?

Birthdays. On mine, I let you get away with a card and a cake that wasn’t even my favourite flavour, and you still made it seem like you were doing me a favour. For yours, I broke the bank, (I swear, I did. They called me about it.) and my pocket is still in recovery mode.

‘Oh, baby, there’s this new place we should try!”

That’s the prelude to a snatch-and-grab, elegantly disguised as a lunch date, and there’ll be hell to pay if I show up late, so I (unwilling to tempt fate) show up on time and well-dressed to the pissing away of my own money, because that’s what it means to be your ‘honey’?

Funny. Funny business, if I ever saw it. And I can call bullshit from the farthest corner of the galaxy, so why won’t I call it?

You’ve been merciless with your taking lately, and I doubt, greatly, that we’re on the same page on the matter of what it means to live within one’s means.

I mean, money is not beans, neither is that Louis Vuitton original and all the other beautiful things you’re so quick to send me links to, so innocently by-the-way that anyone else would think you didn’t mean to.

But fuck your needs for a minute (or twenty-two), boys want nice things too. This boy wants nice things too, so I’m off to find someone who, before she asks me for the universe, will remember that I do.

This Fucking Lagos

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Drawn like dazed moths to a dancing flame, they rush to Lagos. Ah, the big city of dreams. Boisterous and vibrant, constantly moving at breakneck speed. Seductive, energising, emphatic and exciting.

But for every dream that comes true here, a thousand die.

And the city is dark and seedy, violent and demanding, and you know it, regardless of how long you’ve lived in denial.

You know that it takes more than it gives, this accursed place. It takes till you have nothing left to give, till you’re a shell all empty save for bitterness and rage, chasing long shadows and doubting your own sanity.

People here will walk all over you till you’re one with the floor,
Then they’ll kick you out through the fucking back door.

Lagos will woo you and then resize your heart.
It will make you do things in which you should have no part.

It will ask you over to lunch, then fuck you in the ass with a tightly clenched fist.
And of all the hurts you will feel, the pain of that violent fucking will be the least.

It will strip you of your humaneness, and one day, mid-expletive, you’ll realise how far down the wrong path you’ve gone, but it will be too late: the monstrous beast will have won.

Don’t come here, son, don’t ever come here.
Stay away, or you’ll be trapped in prisons cleverly disguised as offices, chained to your seat by a dozen kinds of fear:

The fear of never having enough. The fear of disappointing the girl who’s got her eye on you. The fear of the scared asshole in the big office one floor above. The fear of becoming nothing, a meaningless statistic creeping with all the other meaningless statistics.

All the wrong kinds of fear; demons at home in your head, leaping with maniacal glee at the lies you’ve bought.