Downscale or Upscale, What?

I love this job compared to the one I have done in the past eleven years.

You mean working as a teaching assistant?

That of course

But you have been good with children… Your depth of emotional intelligence, empathy, and love for needing children, all came together in that position.

The new job is entirely the opposite, except when am packing products ordered by pregnant women or ones for little babies. 

The story goes, that the door bell rang, and a little girl ran ahead of her mother to the door. She peeped through the key hole, and exclaimed.

“Wao!” Also curious to know who had pressed the door bell, the mother asked
“Who is ‘on-there’ darling?”
“Amazing-on there already, mom”
“Waaoo!” they both exclaimed…

That was the unique and personalised ‘trigger-of-joy’ the delivery man from the ‘Fulfilment Centre’ brings.  Otherwise.., it’s just dumb and physically tasking.

So the former is better?

No! This is a break. It’s a type of being invisible, or under a cover or ‘huddie’. The buzz, the field of machines, the endless stretch of vast space and people dwarfed by sky-high ceiling makes you a nobody but a station and a number. You won’t believe this. In the neonate plantation with the tech, bells and whistles, all is here, jostling and hustling big. But we are kept out. We are now the minority.

So, is the former is better?

Doing that for eleven years was good, but in the last year or two years, it has been impossible. These new ones, categorised as ‘severe’, spit and cough at you. They slap, hit and bite, often they are non verbal and you can feel their anger and deep frustration too. 


These last months have been like the poor wife in an abusive relationship.., the depleting self esteem.., strong lethargy to break and lack of courage to be free.

Other than a break.., any vista or redemption?

May be not. But I like the deafening buzz of machines, sometimes I imagine it’s raining out there. Like the proper rainfall we have in Africa. I find that soothing. 


Also you won’t believe this, When I fart, no matter how loud it sounds, no one hears it. It’s really relieving. Over there, we were just like bloated fart bags in classrooms wishing for any little opportunity to rush to the toilets to deflate, and of course to exhale…

Talk about mental and physiological pressures. Anyways, you sound relieved. I wish you the best. I must be running now. See you later.

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

Curtains On Our Doors

Why don’t we have curtains
On our doors anymore
Why has only
The doors, sufficed
Why don’t we care anymore
If a curious boy took a peek

I remember seeing
Very wretched and torn shreds
On people’s doors
Yet they hung proudly
And the mothers still felt safe
When they were changing
And had no clothes on

I remember how we suffered
I remember how we saved
To install one of those
I am here
I am different
I am somebody
How much this was our marker
Of some illusive social mobility

They were black
They had thick skin
And they were cotton curtain
They were hardly white
Or off-white as they say
Of thick cotton skin
Others were red and people
Found green ones
Sparingly, but always
In their minds

In the Night
All curtain is black
The haves and have-nots
Pushed sideways
As people moved about
Hung with strings
On to the door post
Of life and living

In those days
We didn’t have extras
But in suspended existence
I don’t remember when people
Who took them off to wash
Was this then why
They eventually tore
And shredded
Discoloured, worn and dirty

I remember seeing
The doors tightly shut
With no curtain adorning their skin
As they often did
When the patrons came to pay
And the madams failed to care
Of curious boys eavesdrop

Face me and I face you
As curious as can be
The door is shut
The power is out
The corridor is dark
And the lightbulb is buried
Into the cobweb of her hairy groove

Spurious spiders web
Screening her door to life
Yet babies were born
And music was made
Patrons would leave
But neighbours would not
Some with laughter
Others in thought

In the darkness
The stoves or kettles
Will still be on the table
The buckets and brooms
Next to the wall
The bathroom slippers
Next to the door
Or on the door mats
Where there is one

If the door opens
Then the curtain will sway
The light will jump out
Be attentive, soon they will go
Keep walking
But look to the eye
You will never stumble
Your mind is light

Indistinguishable units
Of a clustered slum
Cacophony of prayers
And escape
Harmonious discordant
Existence that still says
I’m here, I’m somebody

No, we still have
Curtains on our doors
Yes, its just that you
No longer live amongst us
Its just that you
Have walked the dark corridors
Stumbled and fell
Stood and kept walking
Looking to your eyes
The light in your mind

Listening and Creative Communications
Leonard Chintua-Chigbu