Seven Colours from My Life

colours

1.
Amber is the colour of HB pencils. One morning, in the year I was five, I returned from our neighbour’s house where we grind beans for akara and moi moi and sketched the grinding machine I saw there. My dad’s sister raved about the drawing and adjudged it an excellent reproduction. She rewarded me with two HB pencils and one eraser. These were not the last accolades I received for my art.

 

2.
Baby blue is the colour of my mom’s cooler. On a Visiting Day in junior secondary school, I took some of the jollof rice my mom brought for me to the hostel. My five friends flocked around and in-between jollification and smacking of lips, intoxicating praise for the jollof streamed into my ears. Three of these friends lived in Lagos. Zaria was too far-off from Lagos so their parents never honoured Visiting Day. The next term, my mom journeyed from Kaduna by bus with her big cooler of jollof rice for me and my crew. The image of my mom walking with the cooler on her head, and a Bagco Super sack of provisions clutched in her hand, stays with me.

 

3.
Brown is the small scar on my mom’s palm. Books, television, and the sound of music made me a wandering kid who always yearned to recreate something wonderful. Many evenings bloomed and withered as I combed garbage dumps for milk cans and precise colours of slippers, from which I fashioned wheels, Ludo seeds, and hockey balls. I ended my quests, each time, looking scruffy, and spankings by my mom’s palms remained the consistent punctuation to homecomings. In my mid-twenties, my mom revealed the real reason behind her anger. It wasn’t her supreme aversion to uncleanliness. Each time I strolled home looking like a pig, I reminded her of her days as a little village girl.

 

4.
Copper is the skin tone of my girlfriend. We were whatsapping one day and then:
*Ping* Why do you like me?
You pinch me. Sometimes. And it hurts until I laugh.
 I typed the last of nine answers to her question.
She replied with thirty reasons why she likes me. I have emailed them to myself for safekeeping.

 

5.
Yellow is the colour of egusi. The day we overcame our reservations and ate at Mama Favour’s spot, we sat in the open air, on an unstable bench, battling impolite flies and smoke from smoldering firewood. Her pounded yam and egusi was delicious. Incredibly cheap too. So cheap that we did the math three times to make sure we weren’t short-changing her. Two years on and Mama Favour has two roofed bukkas now. My best friend and I, and the other friends we have shared the gospel with, are still her customers.

 

6.
Porcelain white was the colour of Aunty Ramatu’s teeth. To the delight of my parents and we kids, her visits to our house were seldom without a jerrycan of kunu and sticks of sugarcane stuffed in a Bagco Super sack. In September, I visited Aunty Ramatu at the hospital. Her only surviving child laughed at a joke I cracked, revealing white teeth. I marveled, turned to her mother and discovered, as she too laughed, weakly, that her teeth were also white. Aunty Ramatu was discharged from the hospital two days later. In October, after contending with a terminal illness for more than fifteen years, she ascended from our realm. Your kindness and laughter will always be remembered, dear aunt. Rest in perfect peace.

 

7.
Red is TED. “Did you read Chimamanda’s 9K words essay?” read Mimi’s IM on WhatsApp. I hadn’t. She whatsapped the link. I read and found it articulate, inspiring, and instructional even if I didn’t agree with a number of Chimamanda’s admonitions. The waves of my doubts crashing against the shore of my convictions steered me towards Google. There, I discovered Chimamanda’s TED talk We Should All be Feminists. These days, I wonder if the women in my life will not live richer, fuller lives if we all became feminists. Maybe I am slowly becoming a feminist. Maybe not. Only when I marry, beget and rear a daughter will I really be certain.

© Samuel Okopi 2016

Samuel Okopi loves to sing, design, and fantasize about the future. He believes there is no end to learning and so, for him, every tommorrow is pregnant with new opportunities to inch closer to perfection.

 

Photo credit: nbostanova/ https://pixabay.com/en/pencils-coulored-red-blue-yellow-1654051/

© Timi Yeseibo, 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I am not What I Wear and Other Lies we Tell Ourselves

cracked face

“I want to be taken seriously dammit!”

Her skin is fair, her face, neck, and breasts, the same skin tone. If her blouse were cut any wider, her nipples would escape. Once, she told me with pride that she didn’t need a bra. I want to use my hands to verify, but I check this irrational impulse and listen to her instead.

“I mean who stumbles over cleavage, right? That’s just like . . .  soooo eighties!” She flicks her bangs and sucks her lemon ice tea, her every movement a pirouette in seduction.

“Right,” I reply, aware that almost every eye in the restaurant is on us, on her, as they have been ever since she walked in. Tall and lithe, like cat woman, could she be unaware of her magnetism? Or does her power lie in contrived innocence?

I let her lead, the conversation that is, but I don’t follow. If I say what I feel, she would think I’m like so eighties, anti-feminist, old–er, and sexually repressed by my sociocultural and religious background.

I let her lead, and then I come home and write this blog post.

***

 Whether you believe in evolution or creationism, gone are the days when humans roamed free and breeze cooled what hung bare for all to see. Fig leaves or animal skin no longer covers our “delicate” parts. Along the way, we discovered clothes, which define standards of decency in public. If you walk naked on the streets, people might consider you mad, and little children might giggle.

Imagine . . .

Nine o’ clock, Monday morning, you walk into the building and approach the counter. A man sporting dreadlocks, a cut-off denim vest, and three gold chains with huge dollar-sign pendants, rises to greet you.

“Good morning, how may I help you today?”

You shake his outstretched hand and look around the room: off-white walls, ficus plants at the corner, black straight-back reception chairs, display screens, ATMs, and the revolving door behind you.

“Sorry, I thought . . . where . . . is this the bank?”

You visit your doctor for a routine exam. An assistant ushers you in. The doctor has her back to you. When she turns, her wavy black hair bounces. Her smile is pleasant as she motions for you to take a seat. Your eyes fasten on her cleavage; the V of her blouse would make the Kaghan valley in Pakistan weep in envy.

“Is something wrong?” she asks politely.

“No,” you say as you swallow and drag your eyes to her face.

“How are you doing today?”

“Fine. But, I . . . I’m here to see the doctor.”

At the office, you hit your keyboard with the gentle force of your ideas. When your colleague stops over and says hi, you reply without taking your eyes off the monitor. He walks a few paces closer, so you look at him.

“Was there something I could help—”

You cannot complete your question because you are nearly eye level with his white boxers. Your eyes travel up past the narrow line of hair around his navel, which fans out like a bush on his chest. You spare a glimpse for his biceps before you take in the black bow tie on his neck. When you meet his eyes, his voice sounds distant. You have not been listening.

“I hope will you be done with your report on time. I need to put everything together for the presentation.” He turns and walks away.

Your yes response carries no conviction because you are staring at his boxers, the bit of fabric trapped in the crack of his buttocks.

Why are clothes important? Why do you wear what you wear?

Girls, we’ve come a loooong way! We’ve leaped from the bedroom to the boardroom, made sandwiches in the kitchen and laws in parliaments. We’ve flown beyond prep school all the way to Outer Space and signed cheques for weighty sums in our name too. But what more did my great, great, great, great, great-grandmother fight for? To see me strut almost naked on the red carpet, while my beau stands by my side fully clothed in a tux? Where is equality? Why isn’t he as naked as I am?

While the V’s on our dresses reach our navel and our hemlines tease our bums, men objectify us, fully clothed, they gawk at us, only human, they ogle “with style”. We are progressing regressing to an upscale version of cave woman.  It won’t be long before we’ll be swaying down the streets our breasts running free. We’ll hi-five each other in our Victoria Secret fig-leaves tong, “Power to you girl; we’ve come a long way baby!”

And the men? They’ll be walking down the streets too, savouring women’s liberation, hailing women’s empowerment, fully clothed of course.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Original image URL: http://pixabay.com/en/cracked-cracks-face-people-woman-164310/

Photo tags: Cracked Cracks Face People Woman Female Portrait

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.