Surviving The Peace

18 Park Road Aba 3

The aunties who lived in the next yard now had children, and some of the aunties had their younger siblings from the village come to live with them. There were more children, and play was more fun. The aunties now went out more in the day, and returned later in the evenings. The children played in their groups. They were well mannered and well behaved. In some sort of comical ritualistic fervency, they hauled timely greetings at any passing adults. These were totally not unsolicited but as elders poured libation, knowing it’s the right thing, they religiously hunted the ancestors with these necessities. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, the children will say to every passing adult. The adults always also promptly replied. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and sometimes they may add, be careful children, please play fair, please play well. Sometimes if the children observed the adult was in good moods, they may quickly add “Happy Survival!” The adult, unprepared but caught in the moment, will equally reply “Happy Survival!” Both parties will then burst a few suppressed surge of laughter.

Happy Survival! Adults usually exchanged these kinds of greetings among themselves in those days. Children listened, and often heard more than the words meant. Children giggled secretly, sometimes hilariously, sometimes at the backyard, they would stage a drama, mimicking peculiar adults public behaviours and would laugh out so loud at them.

The children carried the feel of this dramas over them. All day and sometimes with coded postures, they communicated among themselves. They used words with layered meanings. They giggled, laughed and sometimes were carried away even when they were amongst their parents or other adults.

These adults have survived the peace with their bare hands, the same way they had fought the war. It was difficult on them. Everything has been difficult on them. They have moved on and the nuances of the war’s various cranial, and dishevelling elements, with its compressed and brewed hangovers, have constantly left them with an overburdening aftertaste, sully mouth and an indelible debris of coloured eyes and bad behaviour. They are all surviving without intervention, counselling or outside assistance. In their villages, in their traditional institutions and various ways of knowing. They were conditioned to believe that God would be on their side when they are good. In the war, they knew and saw God on their side. They saw him as they were killed and plundered in war.

Now, if there is anything else to know, they want to know, whether he is not defeated now? How can they live without a God? As fallen hero, will he rise to Almighty again?

Those who spat up into the heavens, are yet to see the sputum all over their faces. It is really hard, it is extremely difficult to reconcile with your Chi.

On the street, children beamed with admiration and wonder on their faces, as they looked and argued about the colours on the walls of the houses, the motifs and signs painted on them. On others, you a saw a spring on their steps and energy as they darted across the street to touch things, run up the refuse dumps, and come back out again with finds and satisfaction.

From some houses, people looked at you and all the time, you saw them along with the houses and colours, or sometimes the houses as their backdrops. The houses had numbers on them. You can actually learn your numbers by following the houses down to the end of the street. If you counted on one side of the street alone, you could be calling only the odd numbers or the even numbers. If you looked on both sides, you would be calling them in serial order.

You could also go into all the stationary vehicles riddled with holes, pushed to the sidewalks along the street. You can sit and turn their steering wheels, step on their pedals or bounce on their seats while searching and calling out the house numbers. You did not see the empty bullets and the live ones, with pointed ends, scattered on the floor of the cars. You could not touch them or take them home for fear of what the adults could do to you. You did not also see the shelling and mortar cases stuck on wooden garage doors or the running roofing panels abruptly interrupted. No, in your mind, that red roof panel ran to its end and its ultimate completion was inherent.

The first house which usually starts with the odd number and the next one with the even number will stand face to face across the street. One could be a bungalow and the other a two story building with an elaborate balcony on each flour and several doors demarcated by double or single windows. On some houses, the numbers stood on top of the street name, and on some, it stood in front of it and on some, it was the numbers alone.

Children in the yards giggled and laughed a lot those days. Children did not have television programs nor did families have television sets. But they giggled and laughed a lot in those days. They saw enough laughter and had a lot of it, as they came to the front of the yard and looked into the street. Different acts came along. Some sang. Some showcased magical acts. Some flexed muscles and pulled stationary cars. Some were not former soldiers. None begged for alms. Others showed their war injuries and scars. Some told interesting stories, very long ones. Some did it for a shade, a cup of water, understanding and a long afternoon together. They temporarily suspended disbelief, and strode towards the apparition that beckoned them. They momentarily achieved closure and were war heroes returning to the applause of community and the embrace of family. Over new friends, new families and another place, other than the lone place, where they had slept the night before, they had reunited with part of their family. Happy Survival!

Then there was this uncle who comes along, whose peculiar nuance of the war’s various cranial and dishevelling elements, with compressed and brewed hangover, was called Artillery Shock. This uncle could not scrap the surface of his tongue, even when he was also constantly left with an overburdening aftertaste, sully mouth and an indelible debris coloured eyes and bad behaviour. Under the hot sun, along the street, he ran in vigilance. In peace time, he still ran in short steps, turning his head from left to right and back. He refused to speak, as he was not allowed to talk or make noise. When he ran up to you, he gazed demandingly and piercingly at your face. He looked to snatch the answer from your soul, and if you were unresponsive, he moved on. He ate whatever he had hurriedly and gave you what he did not eat, while still running or hopping. He never stopped. He never came into pastor’s place. He could not stop to come into pastor’s place and he did not have any of his smokes.

The evenings have eventual come. Some children in the yard are wiping the traces of sweat marks off their faces. Some have run quickly back into the rooms, flip the curtains, take a quick shot to see if they made the beds and everything is tidy. One is hurriedly washing a pile of dirty dishes and one is washing and hanging some wet clothes.

The aunties were returning from work. In some sort of comical ritualistic fervency, the children are hauling greetings at the aunties and other adults returning from work. Good evening, good evening, good evening. The aunties and other adults always also promptly replied. Good evening, good evening, good evening, and sometimes they may add, did you sweep the room? Did you make the bed? Did you wash the plates? Did you wash the clothes? One who was hurriedly hanging wet clothes, could not find any explaining why they were still wet and dripping water.

Sometimes if the children observed the adult was in good moods, they may quickly add “Happy Survival!” The adult, unprepared but caught in the moment, will equally reply “Happy Survival!” Both parties will then burst a few suppressed surge of laughter and giggles as the evening sun sets the dusk.

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

DADDY I don’t believe in God

“It’s still beautiful though.” finally agreeing with my son. Many years have now passed, when as a young catholic boy, I had shocked my mother with the news of being born-again. I was persecuted to say the least. But that’s not the point. Here was what I have come to understand. My boy is being honest, and that is beautiful. His views and feelings are authentic, plausible and sincere. I saw beyond that sharp pain in my heart, and the mockery that I had lost to the devil, only as true as my limited self was capable of understanding at the time. Then, latter, I was happy and I became more confident of his future… If God is not True, why shouldn’t my boy come to know?

In my art class, I learned how the blue box wasn’t blue, yet it was blue. It had six sides. The side that faced the light was a lighter blue than the two sides I could see. The lighter side had fleeting properties of green, resulting from the ‘yellowy’ sun ray and the ‘bluey’ hue on the box. When I moved my drawing board to another position, I was able to see only one side, and this was easier to draw and paint. This side had almost one colour of blue, but at the end, it was more of a rectangle, a flat shape than a box. I painted in the shadows and the surrounding background, and was happy with my artwork. So was my teacher. We all saw the box with six sides in my ‘artwork’ with only one side.

Our imagination is an important gift and a space of ‘zero’ gravity. It is akin to that grocery supermarket, that is totally different from the kitchen where the food is eventually cooked.

In my art class, I saw how true it is that ‘we’ see in partial dimensions; in familiar shapes and colours, mostly flat. The closer the object, the more our dimensions of thought and perception improve, and our understanding is sorted in perspectives; with either a dominant vanishing point or multiple ones, within a common and shared space. The free ‘will’ or the audacity to imagine is not a rebellion from the absolute Truth, but a bidden of it, occasioned by His dignified non intrusiveness.

But in His ferocious strength Truth snatched the Harlot, the thief, the corrupt public servant, the numbed rich and the poor fishers.

Absolute Truth stands dignified at an inspiring space, in a reassured confidence that through our subjective perception of what is Truth, through sincere and honest curiosities, seasoned by our tempting interactions with the corruptions around our evolving selves, we will become. Truth by imagination frees our heart to question and own our answer.

My son’s dissent, could point to my language, and yet every day, he embodies and preaches the story of God; a language my generation has lost to speak.

Let’s cheer up.

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

Ending

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.

Our Cause

 

DICK was a student Teacher

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Today was Tuesday the Twenty Seventh. The month of January, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Fifteen, the day Mr Dick Hamilton; the student teacher was fired. My name is Harry and I will tell you all about it.

“Good morning, Mrs Smith”.

“Good morning Harry and how was your weekend?”

“It was alright Mrs Smith. Miss, I was at my Dad’s, so, so I couldn’t do my homework”

“Not to worry Harry, am sure Mr Hamilton will sort it out later”

Mr Dick Hamilton came differently. Gold coffee; his aura was plain and formal, and he left an innocent air of vintage sophistication and confidence. He was charitable with what he knew and wore his age and experience with a casual hint. With no conscious effort, he became an unavoidably focus and a contradiction of a student teacher.

Jack’s father of all people also liked Mr Hamilton. The other day, he said something like this, “minorities is good and we’ve come a long way with sorts and chocolates…” Ha-ha, that doesn’t make sense. Yeah? But, anything that sounds like m&ms, smarties and chocolates, I’ll reckon must be something nice he’d said.

“Thank you Mrs Smith and Good morning children” said Dick Hamilton as he starts his lesson for the day.

Mr Hamilton’s starter came on beautifully. He is made it more inclusive by differentiating, the answers as it appeared that only the high and middle ability children were leaving the rest of us behind. It was getting to five minutes. He began to quicken his pace. He calls out to me, saying that I have been good, although I had been day dreaming.

“Alright, our topic for today’s lesson is…”

Smooth! His introduction blended well, with his questioning which invaded our ‘privacy’. O! Sorry, did I say that? No, I meant that his introduction blended well, with his questioning which investigated our previous knowledge of the substance of the lesson’s topic.

It’s a bit quiet today; everybody is behaving themselves. I remember when Mr Hamilton was new and we used to wind him up. He’s learnt this behaviour management tricks fast, I must say.

Like the African fireflies, the splint of an invading curiosity crawls from the depth of darkness. As it scrapes the crust of the knowledge it seeks, the sparks illuminate, and ‘a fact’ sees the face of the risen sun.

Mr Hamilton crawled gently. He remembered not to be too ‘teachy’. When he was new, ha-ha, he used to talk too much. Now, here is the secret, “Save Your Breath” Start banter amongst us and just stand by the sides to tend the fire. In teaching these kids, it’s best to use them to develop and answer their own questions.

Moreover, we don’t listen much these days. This is because there is a lot going on around us. You could practically get run over by everything, if we listened as much as adults want you to. You could even lose your own life listening to an adult, trust me on that.

Also we think all adults especially teachers are boring, and sometimes don’t make sense, as well. Now, Mrs Smith thinks I need a statement, can you beat that? I don’t need statement from anybody, because I can make my own sentence with my own name. I bet you don’t get it too.

However, If we don’t learn by the way you teach, you have to teach how we to learn; pupil’s Voice ‘innit’? Ha-ha, I know my rights, yeah, and ‘every child matters’

Mr Hamilton has enjoyed some respite since his trainers succumbed to his wishes to tailor his training to the dictates of the monitoring university’s tutor. This has not happened without a few blunt communications from him. So much has been at stake, by implication, and it’s been an uneasy calm and Mrs Smith has been out of the class more around here since then.

“Write on your whiteboards guys…”

Shush! Mr Hamilton is looking at me. He’s coming this way. I hate this Assessment for Learning thing teachers do.

 “Harry”

“Yes, Mr Hamilton”

“If I have double of what you have, and you have TWELVE, what do I have?”

“TWENTY FOUR, Mr Hamilton”

“Super! Well done. Guys on Harry’s table, I owe you all a sticker each at lunch time.”

Whoosh! That was close. How did I pull that off? But how was I supposed to learn these answers when am not soothsayer or psychic? Sometimes I don’t see the point of coming to school. Phew! He almost gave me a heart attack! What did he do that for? Well that one was a nice one though. I like him.

My father says that Mr Dick Hamilton is one teacher who’s got a better head than his own name. Of course my father, like most adults, sometimes, doesn’t make sense too.

But surprisingly, he is one thing my mom agrees with my dad, whenever my dad mentions names of teachers in my school.

I really like him a lot.

The mini-plenary pulled off well. So was the task for the day and the plenary. However he must evaluate his lesson plan and reinforce our understanding on ‘tens and unit’ to further address our misconceptions, for progress into the next lessons. But sadly, there wasn’t going to be another lesson.

Those who learn are sometimes better to be fully immersed in the darkness caused by the ignorance of what they seek to understand. They should even feign ignorance, if that will pander on the ego of their trainers.

However, one of his own; Fela Kuti, quickly dissents in his fluting, saying “Teacher don’t teach me nonsense”

This story is best told when darkness is on one side and light on the other. Then the light will permeate the darkness, and there will be Light.

While darkness is always dark, LIGHT could sometimes be faint. Only light can be made brighter, even then to brighter brilliance.

Like the way the story started, it was today Tuesday the Twenty Seventh. The month of January, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Fifteen, at a quarter hour before mid-day that Mr Dick Hamilton; the student teacher was summoned to the head teacher’s office.

Now, I was not part of it but it was decided again that it was expedient that one person should die for many people, than for many people to die for one person.

I was also not part of it but reasonable amount of spurious evidence was stacked against him. He was sent off and implored never to foist himself on the Sanhedrin of another primary education’s sanctuary.

And his wage was taken from him.

I was told that three days and three nights, while bent over by the indignities and chastisements of an empty pocket, he fell forward to the ‘truth’, that his ‘time’ has just been given back to him.

And that forever, the ‘wage’ they took off him, will palter miserably; against the bounty of the ‘time’ he has gained back from them.

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

I need your comments and questions please. Thank you.

Our cause

Our cause is a battle against our worries and fears which say ‘Worse things will happen to us’

We say that though there is no such life as one without challenges, or rose beds without prickly thorns, we tell the story of life’s challenge to illustrate that they are finite.

Our friends will come out with an after taste that they too can pull through their challenges.

In celebrating the ephemeral nature of all life’s impediments, our story is a collection of how all troubles ENDED.

Therefore, at any point you wish, you can, DONATE to support our cause.

 

 

 

UNCLE Bennett’s Struggles

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It’s was 1987 in a 5Star hotel room. I was visiting a lady friend and Uncle Bennett came visiting too. He was not my uncle but that title stuck with him as he was later to be known by the rest of us.

He was bald, deep chocolate black and had a clean set of white teeth that beamed whenever he smiled. And he smiled and laughed so often.

Everything about him said how rich or comfortable he was. These things were diabolical enough in themselves to persuade any lady to prioritise him in their short list of suitors. I was soon to relinquish my status as visitor as I joined my lady friend to play co-host to Uncle Bennett.

In this old city, the Sahara desert was our closest neighbour. It came with its allies of frightening blares of sun rays and sauna hot heat waves before the hours of the early noon.

Amidst bare running wheels, beautiful cars strode through the streets. Behind their air-conditioned wound up windows, their occupants were always clean, glossy and untouched.

The main street was a colourful crowd scene of flowing gowns and turbans whose sails navigated the hash head winds with deft seamanship. In this steer fry was the few like me, whose western clad exposed their sauna blacked bodies. Their faces were covered in dusts, caked in dripping sweat like a Shakespearian mascara gone terribly wrong. My satchel and bleeding cracked lips said nothing of the thirst I endured.

I met Uncle Bennett again in a much pious place. Our introduction had been done two years earlier, so he needed to talk. I listened.

He was everything we had thought about him but he wasn’t in heaven. He was in a dizzying loop of finding new girlfriends easily, and sadly losing them just as quickly.

“I was once married, but she left with our son. Women had been for me just for the obvious male reasons. I was the man and there was the belief that gifts and roses will always sway them. I was wrong”

“It’s difficult when you have started out for this long and things change on you. Yes, they change for the better, but the new reality is frightening and am confused whether am not working against taking the steps I should take”

“I have anger problems. I am scared to keep my girlfriends long”.

“I have kept my relationships short. They only last between one trigger to another. I can only last seven days, and that was okay for the player. Now I need, but can’t handle a long haul”

“I will be happy if somebody I love can love me… Am not sure anybody will love me after they see me explode”

He talked, I listened. We were seen together more and I heard quite a few complaints and accusations, but time wore on and we kept at it.

Much older now than he was in 1987, his teeth still beamed in sparkles. More to the sparkle on this Facebook photograph, is his wife of these many years and their eighteen year old son, next to him in Old Trafford. Their daughter had also joined them from Cambridge University.

Manchester United went ahead to win that home match, which was no news at the time.

 

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

I need your comments and questions please. Thank you.

 

Our cause

Our cause is a battle against our worries and fears which say
‘Worse things will happen to us’

We say that, though there is no such life as one without challenges,
or rose beds without prickly thorns,
we tell the story of life’s challenges to illustrate that they are finite.

Our friends and readers will come out feeling better,
with an after taste that they too can pull through their challenges.

In celebrating the ephemeral nature of all life’s impediments,
our story is a collection of how all troubles ENDED.

Therefore, at any point you wish, you can, DONATE to support our cause.

 

 

 

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

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