Making Millions

The audition hall was like a fish market. Humans of every sex and size were talking, laughing, singing and nodding to inaudible music. Udeme hid his anxiety behind a stiff smile, found a spot on the line and let himself sink down on the orange and black rug.

He closed his eyes and his thoughts drifted to Duke Town. To the dusty wood and tin garage, where he practised his songs and worked on his beats while Grandpa fiddled with the new iPad and his friends made fun of him. One day they laughed so hard that their voices turned daggers and murdered his drive. He didn’t go near the garage for days.

Grandpa found him lying in bed, staring at the window.

“Koko, come and eat.” Grandpa had said.

“I am not hungry”

“Well come watch me eat then”

He dragged himself off the bed to the dining room. They ate together. When the meal of water-yam porridge was done and Peter, Grandpa’s steward had whisked away the empty plates, Grandpa held his hand.

“Koko, you have to be strong if you want to be an artist. You have to be stronger than the things that want to stop you.

You have to know that not everyone will like you and not everyone will hate you. Even God has enemies and the devil has friends.

The important thing is for you to like yourself and to keep making beautiful songs. To keep sharing and reaching for those people that do care about what you have. Those people that are hungry for what you share.”

And so he dragged himself back to the garage. He put locks on the doors tis time to keep stray humans out.

He sang for the wall geckos, the mice and the moths.

He sang till he lost his voice.

It came back again two weeks later, just in time for the Malta Live Idol auditions.

So here he was.

He wouldn’t make it to the next level. One judge thought he “had potential”, the other two looked too exhausted to care. The verdict was ‘No’.

In his rage he would burn his song books and his drums. And vow never to sing again.

But sing he would: at Grandpa’s burial, at a friend’s wedding then at a bar in a 5-star hotel where Steve Bruce was listening and loving what he heard.

He would get signed on. He would attend concerts and festivals in Belgium, Greece, Spain, America and Britain.

He would make millions.

And he would always say to himself,
“Udeme, it is the people that love you that count.”

Safe Places

It felt good to be home. The past five years had been a blur of trips, trainings and travel. Morocco, Denmark,Houston, Bangkok, everywhere the services of excellent brand and media strategists were needed, they were there. Sidax Consulting had changed her life. Within months of working there, she had been exposed to a world of opportunities and affluence beyond anything she had ever known. It had been good while it lasted. And it would have lasted longer if her manager hadn’t gotten greedy. In the inquiry that followed, she was found to be innocent but the company felt it was best to fire the entire unit. The severance pay had been generous but the shock of being unemployed was a jolt that singed her soul.

Home was the only place to go. Her parents recent move to the village made the Abuja house an easy choice. There she would have time and space to think and plan. Or so she had thought.

Incidentally, things had changed. Abuja had changed.

The city wasn’t the way she remembered it. The carefree, secure, moneyed, air the city once wore was now a stifling cloak of fear. Everywhere you looked there were reminders of the terror that gripped people’s hearts and minds. It was in the metal detectors at hotel lobbies, the frisking one got at the church entrance, the long queues into places like the Shoprite Mall as boots were opened and mirrors passed beneath car hoods.

Yet, the bombings continued. Forty killed at a blast in a motor park, fifty slain while another exploded at a crowded shopping centre, two dozen dead and many more injured at a viewing centre last weekend, numbers where once were lives.

She shivered in the mild evening breeze and opened her tablet to read the day’s news.

Two airplanes were missing, 230 people aboard.

A man suspected to be carrying the Ebola virus had died in Lagos.

A pro-Gaza riot in Zaria had escalated into a clash and at least ten were feared dead.

She switched the device off and took several deep breaths. The walls of the room seemed to close in on her do she dressed quickly and left the house. A chilled pack of juice would help, she thought, and the fresh air too.

She got back feeling better but her mood was soon changed. On her bed, lying at the exact spot she had been reading, mangled in her mattress, was the carcass of the overhead fan. Flecks of foam and cloth were strewn everywhere.

Her legs wobbled and she collapsed at the door in a pile of quiet gratitude. Then the tears of anger and frustration she had not cried since she got home came and she let them flow.

The Things I am Scared Of

Of losing you,
Saying the wrong thing,
Failing, when you need me most,
Scaring you away,
Our affection,giving up the ghost,
Words made of clay,
Younger men,
Older men,
Richer men,
Your boyfriend.

Of you losing interest,
Un-replied texts,
Being disappointed,
Finding myself in love alone,
Carrying on when you’ve carelessly moved on,
Wearing my heart on my breast pocket,
Crying in the dark, when all my efforts to reach you remain vain,
Of hope deferred
Paradise Lost,
The return of Reason
And its opportunity cost.

Your Race

Looking ahead

It is clear that
We have many miles to walk,

Trophies await
You must hurry.

Who can run with
Such weights?

Shadows and other people’s
Shoes dangling all over you,

Did you think they would be
A talisman?
Can’t you see they hold you
Back like chains?

Toss them aside.

Set your face like flint,
Hear the future calling
Your name.

Breathe.
You have just one life
And the sky is wide enough
For all the birds to fly.

Take off.
No more
Excuses
Complaints
Murmurs
Grumbling
Moaning
And
Laziness.

This is why you were born.
Start
Surge
Soar!

After The Raid

Gunshots rang out breaking the still quiet of the night. Without a thought Ama ran upstairs to mummy’s room ,into her wardrobe and wriggled behind the boxes. Tears tumbled down her face as she prayed for her parent’s safety. There were shouts downstairs then silence. She squeezed her eyes shut as her heart thundered in the darkness.

The door creaked and she wet herself.

******

“Ama”

“Ama”

Familiar voices called out to her. She opened her eye to find tubes running up and down her hands.

She was in the hospital. Everyone else was fine. Her mother was crying as she sang praise songs.

Her father was smiling at her through his glasses.

She tried to smile back but the darkness swallowed her again.