Swimming Pool

Hello guys.

We are back. Or not.

Welcome again to The Graduate Monologues.

You’re surprised this series is still on? Don’t be.

Paraphrasing (allegedly) Mark Twain,

“Rumors of its conclusion and/or abandonment have been greatly exaggerated. “

On today’s post,  we have Titilola Fagbemi, an eccentric young dentist. She presents her monologue in an appropriately fitting style: an extended metaphor.

Enjoy!  And don’t forget to leave your comments!

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'The Graduate Monologues' is supported by ShopyGFX.    Email: shopyboy@gmail.com   | Phone: 07060512285  | BBM: 238E63A8  Follow on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/shopygfx

‘The Graduate Monologues’ is supported by ShopyGFX.
Email: shopyboy@gmail.com
| Phone: 07060512285 | BBM: 238E63A8
Follow on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/shopygfx

 

SWIMMING POOL

 

I do not know how to swim.                                            It’s laughable: to take a plunge in such

Not in a clear pool,                                                a contained enviroment.

Or one saturated with                                             I do not understand why I

Synchronized swimmers                                                 have to swim.

 

 

I’m determined to reason it out like Theo:                                  blue  pool,

cool    pool, blue,                                                                       blue cool pool,  full   full?

drowning pool!                                                                  Full of what?

 

 

Something about swimming pools is meant to oppress me.

Perhaps, the placidity, the lukewarm apathetic energy I sense when I stand alone before them,

Maybe it’s the way they shimmer and appeal to me on dark and bright nights, when I feel that

emptiness and the city swimmers’ chatter in the distance, so promising and tireless.

Then comes the option to stay or jump off the dive board into that plain, rectangular despondency box.

 

Something about swimming pools is meant to oppress me.

I’m such a sad soul.        Pools are meant for swimming.

Simple.                                        Simple as a  swim pool.                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                    -titiLOLA FAGBEMI

 

 

The swimming pool is a place every swimmer has to channel energy, focus and attention into. It’s scary for a lot of us, and we try to rationalize and talk ourselves out of going into it. But to successfully swim, one has to stop thinking too much, take risks and sometimes jump off the dive board one’s been perched on for so long.

Some will make a decision to play safe and remain on the dive board. The swimming pool remains in view, waiting for them to plunge in.

 

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi. Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com Twitter:@tortiobasi Phone: 07032729549

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi. Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com
Twitter:@tortiobasi
Phone: 07032729549

How You Became Gainfully Unemployed

Hello people!! Welcome to today’s post on The Graduate Monologues.

I missed putting up posts here! But…. *drum roll* we’re back!

Today, @ifemmanuel will be doing the talking. He takes us through his post-school life, wielding the sword of prose, deftly striking us where it hurts most. I hope you guys recover- I’m still reeling…

Enjoy!

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>             Where do you want to work after school?

At fifteen, your dad arranges for you to work as an apprentice to a mechanic. A workshop is chosen on the roadside in Apake, Ogbomoso and a start date is set. You dad gives you a stained overall that smells of camphor to use as work cloth. The night before the start of your apprenticeship, your mother walks into the house with a scowl on her face.

“My first son will not work as a roadside mechanic.”

You bend to her will, despite the fact that you want it and think you’ll learn a lot from the experience. You do not question motherhood logic.
You start work at a pharmacy instead, dusting shelves, cramming drug brand names and working as a cashier. You leave the pharmacy after three months and start to sell phones. You go on to work in a factory and intern in one of the country’s top engineering firms. In school, you design magazines and posters as a hobby. Working is not a problem for you. It’s always been a matter of choice between options.

Then you graduate.

>              What will you do after service?

You think of NYSC as a waste of time, although, to be fair, it serves as a gap year that gives folks who are clueless about the direction they’re heading an opportunity to align their rudderless lives. For you, it is going to be a time to recharge and prepare for life as an adult. A month before leaving for Anambra, you travel to Lagos to meet your former employers to enquire about work.

“Hey man, don’t worry. Just drop your CV with the HR manager and come back once you’re done with service. We’ll have a place for you”.

Three months before the end of the service year, you return to the office. The air is still as cold as it used to be. There are well-dressed bodies in white cubicles, bent over black HP screens. One of them looks up, smiles and offers a handshake.
“Welcome. Are you done with service? It would be good to have you back.”
You used to be a whiz kid as an intern.

You see new faces—lots of new faces—in the cubicles as you walk to the office of the managing partner in charge of recruitment.
“Are you done with service now?”
“No, I’m not. But I’ll be done in three months.”
“I’m sure you saw a number of new faces in the office”
“Yes I did.”
“See, we’re careful about taking in more people now, because of the elections coming up next year. But do come back once you’re done. We’ll see what we can do.”

March, April, May… five months after service and you’re still waiting to see what they can do.

This is one of the first lessons life as a graduate teaches you: learn to search, ask and wait; and never put your career eggs in one corporate basket.

>             What are you doing now?

At the start of your service year, you begin to write as a way of making sense of the changes around you. Some of the writing finds their way online and friends like it.

“You’re good at this”, they say.
You decide to make learning the craft of writing one of your goals for the year. In the process, you rediscover your love for literary fiction. You also take Stephen King’s write-a-thousand-words-daily advice. In a land so different from home and among strangers who speak a strange language, your love for the written word blossoms. You learn that, in writing, you are a late bloomer, so you read a little more and write a little more every day.
“I’ll like to write something and probably get it published”, you tell an elderly person who wants to know your future writing goals.
“But isn’t that just a hobby?” he says.
This makes you stop talking to people about your writing.

Writing is still your way of making sense of the world around you, but sometimes, the desire to put words on paper starts to feel like the death of you. Well, it’s now the death of your bank account; after five months of focusing on writing more than your search for a well-paying job.

>             Where are you now?

You never share details of your life on Twitter. It is where you spend the bulk of your unproductive days, but they are a strange lot. They all graduate and fly out of their parent’s nest into an exciting independent life. Living alone is expensive, as you soon learn. You eat two meals a day and almost never leave your table, but even that life costs a lot of money. Your family lives in three cities, so you’ve chosen a place where you’re always alone on weekends. It’s perfect for brooding over your under-achieving self. Your parents don’t mind. If they had their way, you’d spend the weekends—and every other day—with them.

You now believe anyone who graduates and returns to his father’s house will always be a failure. This is what ideas and opinions like the ones bandied on Twitter do to you. They are like venom. You can try to resist their influence, but they work their way through your psyche, poisoning your mind, killing your innocence and tainting your decisions.

>             What is happening to you?

Your friends have made it their duty to keep tabs on you. At moments when you question your intellect, they’ve remind you of how smart you used to be, how smart you still are. With them you can be open, sincere, yourself.

“So, what’s up with you?”
“Honestly, I don’t know.”

Sometime in May, you read Coetzee’s Disgrace and Plath’s Bell Jar, in that order, in three days, part of a week when you do not even open the blinds. You start to stare at a dark place when, out of nowhere, one of your friends calls you. You hesitate and let the phone ring twice before picking up. She is worried. It is like telepathy.

“Perhaps writing is bad for you” she says.

You agree with her and decide to take a break. You go out, meet old friends, watch movies and smile a little. You feel better at the end of the week. You realise, once again, that friendships are the greatest form of love.

>             Are you back for your masters?

When people see you in Ibadan, they ask if you’re back for your masters.

“The contract I signed with UI is non-renewable” you reply.

Graduate studies have become a way to lessen the effect of unemployment and you think it’s a silly development. During your service year, you lost the desire to school abroad because GRE was cancelled in the country.

You have now changed your mind about graduate studies.

Within an hour of paying for TOEFL, you meet a dude who wants to apply for an MFA in creative writing and another girl who has UK visa issues. “UK people dey fuck up” she texts to her friend on BBM. Everyone wants to escape from the filth that is Nigeria.
You talk about your new found verve for academics with a friend and she says, “This is the you I used to know”. Yeah, this is the you you used to know too.

>             Who are you?

Employment is not your greatest problem after graduation. You even turn down a few offers. Your problem is finding a definition for yourself.
Sometimes you think about people who don’t believe in God. They must have it tough in life. At moments when things stop making sense, closing the eyes and saying a word of prayer is your saving grace. Of all the things you are, being a follower of Christ seems to be the only constant—the centre that holds the falling parts together. You still can’t answer the question of identity without tripping over words, but you’ve become deft at answering the other questions people ask you.

“What is happening to you?”
You start to talk about your migraines, ulcer and other aspects of your fragile, ajebota health.
“What are you doing now?”
“Eating, sleeping and waking up”
“Where are you?”
“In my father’s house”
“What about work?”

The answer to that used to be a rambling story; now it’s simple: you’re a gainfully unemployed graduate.

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You see! Did I not tell you? You haven’t recovered yet, right? Please I want to know, leave your replies and feelings in the Comments section below. I’m sure you had such fun reading this piece, you just want to follow our blog, to do so, click on the Follow/Subscribe buttons (so you won’t miss any post) 

The writer, Nihinlola IfeOluwa has a degree in civil engineering, spends his time reading and trying to write. Read more of his work on ifenihinlola.wordpress.com

'The Graduate Monologues' is supported by ShopyGFX.    Email: shopyboy@gmail.com   | Phone: 07060512285  | BBM: 238E63A8  Follow on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/shopygfx

‘The Graduate Monologues’ is supported by ShopyGFX.
Email: shopyboy@gmail.com
| Phone: 07060512285 | BBM: 238E63A8
Follow on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/shopygfx

  

I Remember

Ronke Adeleke (@0_tega)

Welcome to the fourth post in The Graduate Monologues.

When we graduate from school, we are filled with euphoria, and all we have playing in a loop in our heads is ‘It is over’. But what happens when that euphoria fades away? What happens when we look back and recall our days of youth?

Ronke Adeleke is a writer but is better known for her spoken word pieces. She leads us into her thoughts, so let’s take a walk with her, shall we?

 

This series is supported by ShopyGFX.    Email: shopyboy@gmail.com   | Phone: 07060512285  | BBM: 238E63A8  Follow on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/shopygfx

This series is supported by ShopyGFX.
Email: shopyboy@gmail.com | Phone: 07060512285 | BBM: 238E63A8
Follow on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/shopygfx

 

****

Sometimes when my busy schedule allows me to sit down and breathe, I remember a time when I had all the time to breathe, and wonder why I didn’t take all the breaths I would need.

My earliest memory of being an undergraduate is walking into the University of Ibadan campus and staring at the statue of a fresh graduate armed with degree in hand and set to race for the hills of a new life. Oddly enough, that statue is also one of the last things I remember about that school.

But I remember other things too. Vaguely, but I remember.

I remember matriculating with a navy-blue cap and gown. There weren’t many to go round in my set but I remember I got one that was rumpled. I don’t remember who I took pictures with or if I took pictures at all. Maybe I did, but I don’t remember.

I remember how Hall Week celebrations always kicked off with a carnival. Everyone got dressed in ridiculous pieces of clothing and walked around the campus till their feet hurt or bled. People danced, sang, screamed and painted their faces, having fun because it was the one time they could be silly and childish and no one would make fun of them because everyone else was doing it. I remember, don’t I?

But I don’t remember being a part of the craze; painting my face, wearing God-awful clothes and all the time having fun looking like a mascot or masquerade. I don’t remember screaming till my voice was hoarse,  or walking and dancing till I couldn’t feel my feet and all the time laughing and being laughed at.

I remember how the school environment would come alive with every big event that happened. Shows would be sold out, venues spilling over with large crowds because the program was probably free and no one wanted to miss out on free stuff.

I remember how clubs and organizations and fellowships would organize welcome parties for the ‘fresh meat’ on campus, calling it “Freshers’ Welcome” and each one of them would try to outdo the other in a desperate bid to snag the majority of the freshman population to join their fold and increase membership. I remember how these freshmen gatherings were most times adulterated with not-so-fresh sophomores and juniors only there for the refreshments.

I remember the drama presentations and film shows at the Arts Theatre and how there were people who lived for those moments to feel something thrill them besides the loud crashing of thunder outside their windows, or gist about people they didn’t even know passed along the rumour mill.

I remember, yet I don’t remember. I don’t remember getting a chill down my spine watching some enthralling Theatre Arts presentation at the Arts Theatre; I don’t even remember what the Arts Theatre looked like from the inside and the outside.

I remember how departments and faculties would come together in somber reflection and commemoration, everyone wearing black or something close to black to pay respects to a classmate, course mate or friend that had just passed away. I remember how they would all hold lit candles, the fires glittering softly in the gloom of dusk and the procession would move from the department/faculty of the deceased to the hall of residence where prayers would be said and a moment of silence would be observed in honour of the fallen comrade.

I remember how people who had no idea who the deceased was would join the procession along the way, also trying to pay their respects because to them it did not matter that they did not know who the dead was. The dead had been a student of their school and that was reason enough.

I remember the silence that pervaded the campus as exams approached and students realized that they were not prepared for whatever questions their lecturers would ask. I remember how during these times it always seemed like the whole school had moved their lives to the corners, crevices and corridors of Kenneth Dike Library, gathering at all times of the day to read, gist, cram, chew and snore.

I remember how that silence before exam was different from the silence when school was on vacation. How you could hear everything and see everything on campus because there were no longer so many people to drown out the sounds and obscure your vision.

I don’t remember what most of the entire campus looked like; the trees that had been standing for years, maybe centuries; the architecture that always left people spellbound and awed at the sight and the knowledge that they had been there for a very long time.

I don’t remember the people, or my classmates. The food vendors in various corners of the school that people always patronized, the cab drivers, lecturers and non-teaching staff in Department and Faculty offices or even the halls of residence. I don’t remember most details of the “hey days.”

Even in this hectic post-university life, sometimes I remember. I remember all that I should have felt that I never felt. I remember that the students that paid adequate attention during classes and ended up having the best grades, also ended up being snatched by multinationals and big companies with fantastic job offers. I remember that while I staggered back to my room after classes, some colleagues strode off with boyfriends and girlfriends (some are now happily married to each other while some others broke-up as a graduation gift). I remember that my classmates who joined international associations such as ANUNSA, AISEC, JCI, L & D and SIFE were always much happier and till now, have not regretted those decisions. I remember the commitment and joy with which some people spent long hours in the campus fellowships, and I remember considering them very foolish but now I know better. I remember that my friend who used to write poems and articles in freshman year ended up representing the university at several literary competitions, and was eventually offered jobs by The Guardian newspapers and Forbes Africa magazine. I also remember that her brother who spent all his Saturday mornings on the Tennis court is now gearing up to join the Nigerian Lawn Tennis team for the next Davis Cup. I remember so many things I should have done, people I should have met, books I should have read and places I should have gone. I also remember reaching a conclusion that I made many mistakes so that every young person I talk to will graduate with (many) more honours and laurels than I imagined.

As the memories gush over me in wobbled sequence and I feel the burning sensation of desire for that-which-was rush into my cheek, I acknowledge that the feelings of reminiscence would never be comparable to the bliss of fantasies that I once cherished.

But still, I remember.

 

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So what do you think? What (good or bad) do you remember of school? What do you wish you had done differently? Do you have experiences you want to share? We are eager to know, so please tell us what you think in the Comments box below.

Ronke writes on www.ronniesblog20.wordpress.com You can read more of her works there or follow her on Twitter @O_tega.

The next post  comes up on Friday, 12th, September, 2014. To avoid missing any posts, kindly subscribe to the blog by clicking the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screens. Thank you 🙂

Graduate Monologues

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi| @TortiObasi | Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com

 

Things I Learnt in UNILAG and Things I Didn’t

Hi guys.

Welcome!

Today, we have writing for us the (insert multiple superlatives here) Osemhen Elohor Akhibi. She’s one of my favorite writers and her writing has always touched heart and mind (she’s also one person I secretly admire, but shhhhh. Don’t tell her).

In typical Osemhen fashion, she doesn’t beat around the bush, and here, she talks of her life in the University.

Enjoy!
Graduate Monologues

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi| @TortiObasi | Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com

 

Five Things University Taught Me

1. How to learn. I have a whole blog post on how I managed to convince people I was (am?) smart, even though I don’t think I’m smarter than the average Joe. I learnt how my mind worked in university. I apply this skill at work, taking the time to sit down and plough through a stack of technical material. I work for a company with a policy of “on-the-job-learning” and being able to digest technical documents on the go is a priceless skill. In addition, all those hours spent writing lab reports in university prepared me for writing technical reports, and also taught me that researching a topic to write about it is a quick way to become an expert at it.

2. How to stay open. It’s funny, people think university life is academic, and has little to do with the practicalities of life. I think this is true to an extent, but not necessarily. As a student, I followed IEEE trends, read every novel that crossed my path, could recite the capital and currency of almost every country in the world. I was the queen of trivia. I was a sponge for every bit of information that crossed my path. These days, I have to struggle to pay attention to anything not work-related. It’s so bad that I have to schedule time in the day to read a novel, just to de-clutter my head. I fear I’m getting boring. My New Year resolution is to return to that place where I am voracious for information, no matter how irrelevant. It helped me stay balanced.

3. How to be prudent with money. I didn’t have a lot of money in school. And now that I earn, it’s hard to kick old habits. For instance, I never buy more food than I can finish. I don’t buy stuff I don’t need. Once in a while, I’ll indulge but most of the time, I save my money.

4. How to walk everywhere. I walk a lot. Even though I own a car now, I walk and use public transport about 60% of the time. I do it for exercise and I do it to stay grounded in reality. I do it to think. My thoughts are a lot clearer when I walk.

5. How to be self-confident. I went to the University of Lagos. Despite its flaws and the stereotypes, UNILAG is a good school because of the people who go there. My classmates and friends shaped me a great deal, and I like to think I was an influence on them as well. I entered university at 15; I was very impressionable and I’m glad I got good “impressions”. I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin, to be street-savvy, to bluff, to have good grades and still be able to enjoy a good party. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

 

 

Four Things University Didn’t Teach Me

1. How To Use A Computer Effectively: I was in 4th year when I learned to use Microsoft Excel by myself. This is utterly unforgiveable. I wish I had been given assignments from 1st year that required me to use tools like Excel, Access and Powerpoint. I didn’t enter the job market at a disadvantage because I learned by myself quickly, but I could have easily been left behind.

2. How To Be Socially Conscious/Responsible: Volunteer work in university wasn’t emphasized, and I think for many people, it was a missed opportunity. I learned a lot from being a volunteer but I almost didn’t become one. Volunteering helps you expand your worldview beyond your tiny self-centred world, it makes you feel good giving back (or paying forward, as the case may be) and it looks damn good on your CV.

3. How To Have Rights (or opposing opinions): Let’s face it, many Nigerian universities are run like prisons. You do what you’re told; deviations attract dire consequences. There were lecturers who dictated to us how to wear our hair (my sister was banned from attending certain classes with her Afro out) on one hand, and then there were lecturers who demanded we approach questions from one angle only. A new school of thought, a new approach? God forbid. It’s something I struggle with till today, toeing the fine line between compliance to rules and thinking outside the box.

4. How to ensure a relationship doesn’t derail you. Nutshell: I wish I had stayed single all through university. My grades didn’t need the suffering. And the truth is: it was only after leaving school that I could fully appreciate what it meant to be in a relationship. Relationships requires attention and work that honestly, very few people can balance successfully with the attention and work proper to studying.

 

Whew! This was long overdue. Hope it’s worth it to someone out there.

 

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Do you have anything to add? What did university teach (or fail to teach) you? You can write your experiences as comments below.

You can learn more about Osemhen by following her Twitter handle @OsemhenA or enjoy her writings on her blog at eurekanaija.wordpress.com. You can also check out the stories she wrote for Klorofyl digital magazine (for example, “A Memory of Warri” http://t.co/0FI7GzA925 ) by downloading the free magazine or reading on the blog at klorofyl.com 

Next post comes up on Friday, 4th September, 2014 and we’ll be having @O_tega’s post then. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the awesome posts coming up, so just click the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screen.

Don’t forget to tell us how much you loved this post (and us) in the comment box below.

Keep being awesome!

🙂

Message To Mma

Welcome to the first post in The Graduate Monologues. If you have not read the introduction and want to find out what this series is about, go HERE

 

Today’s post is by Gustavo Iyke DeGraves. A little introduction, first of all.

God’spower Obinna Igbokwe goes by the pen name Gustavo Iyke Degraves and is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Maiduguri. He is primarily a poet, but has an interest in writing other genres. In December 2011, his poem ‘I Rise’ won the KorlueNow Prize for poetry in Port-Harcourt. He is currently working on publishing a collection of some of his poems-Whispers and Whistles.

He is a really good poet, and I’m rather surprised he chose the medium of prose to explore his theme. But it works, and this piece is spring-loaded with tightly-coiled emotion.

Enjoy.

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Dear Mma,

I shouldn’t be writing this letter, but I am, and I hope you read it and understand its contents. Forgive me for not starting with the traditional ‘how are you?’ I am not expecting you to reply this letter so you might as well save the response. And please do not perceive my introductory lines as meaning that I regret writing this letter; on the contrary, I am content with penning these words for your reading displeasure. It’s just that in this age of Information and Communication Technology, where everybody owns a car on the Information Superhighway, it is awkward that I should be writing you an epistle when I could be sending you short messages, e-mails, or pinging you on your BlackBerry. Well I’m sorry Mma, the words in my heart are so strong that sending them via any transient medium would shrivel them to mere fonts and emoticons- kilobytes less than a grain of the sand I gathered to build this message.

Besides, I don’t know how long it will take to finish writing this message, maybe today, or maybe not. It is our story- yours and mine- and may therefore take a long time to complete, if it ever will. But I am ready to try. I will write with every pen and pencil I can find, not minding its shade or colour. I will write with charcoal and chalk, with a marker and stylus. And when I am short of writing materials, I will use my nails- finger nails, toe nails. I may also have to break off each rib, dabbed in my sweat, blood or both, to scribble paragraphs of this message to you.

Mma, I want this message to remain with you forever. I want it to haunt you. It will follow you everywhere like a birthmark; it will muzzle and replace the tick of your timepieces- hurling stones of memories at you by the second. Those memories will wither your laughter and freeze your tears; they will cast your face in the mud of confusion.

If I could rewind time, I would take us back to that moment before you met the serpent, before things fell apart and life squirted pain in my face. You were that pain.

I was happy, Mma, before your intrusion into my life. But somebody was selfish when you came, you wanted me all to yourself. So my hangouts with Salim became as snow in summer and you stole my time so there was none to spend with Wild Kid. Big Jo became a story I could share only with myself. Your made me seem a rice field with a scarecrow in it to the women. Those who were courageous enough to keep their mirth, you threw behind bars of hate.

I should have seen the signs that said you were programmed to be my doom, but I would listen to no sane advice. You were a dream come true, and there was no need to tread with caution. I thought it was bliss.

Then you began to reveal yourself, and I knew the true colour of night. You weren’t, after all, the golden morning sun. You were the chronic night crawler and terrible addict. Remember how when I first realized, you went down on your knees to beg? You pledged your undying love and to be of good conduct. Remember how I sought to call it quits, and how you pestered me to change my mind? Against all sound reasoning, I gave you a chance to gamble with my heart. You did, and you lost.

I’m not sorry for taking a vengeful course by making out with your sister. It was expedient to soothe my wounded heart. I’m not sorry you saw us. If you think I write to apologize, you are wrong. I write to gloat.

You thought I’d be distracted and frustrated by your being so loose and eventually fail and fall to the bottom? Think again, my darling. You failed and I graduated alright.

I started writing you this letter to tell you how much I detest you now, and how I wish you a million times the pain you caused me. I want to go on and on, but I am tired, and suddenly, I realize you are not worth the effort.

Tata for now. I wish you hell.

Yours Spitefully,

Dele

 

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Did you enjoy Gustavo’s tale? If you did, you can learn more about him on his Facebook Godspower Igbokwe (Gustavo Iyke DeGraves). Don’t forget to like and comment on here too.

The next post, by @OsemhenA, comes up on Friday, 29th August, 2014. To avoid missing any post, kindly subscribe to the blog by clicking the ‘Follow/Subscribe’ buttons on your screens. Thank you 🙂

 

IMG-20140820-WA0004

 

Design Credit: Ethan Obasi, @TortiObasi, Email: torti.obasi@gmail.com

 

Forever a Student

Good day ladies and gentlemen. I know it’s been incredibly long since we’ve been here. We’re sorry *hanging head in shame*

The time away has not been in vain and I have such good news to share:

I.AM.NOW.A.GRADUATE!
HOOORAH!

It feels really good to not have any exams to worry about or books lying open, begging to be read. It feels great to be free!

Also….. *drum roll, trumpets blowing and cymbals clanging*

This is the beginning of a new series, The Graduate Monologues, a compilation of pieces drawn from the experience of contributing writers. It has taken almost two years from conception to execution, we are finally here. We are going to explore themes that plague human beings in general and graduates in particular. We do not claim to have all the experience or knowledge, but we would very much love to try.

I have been given the honour of launching The Graduate Monologues and there is no better way to launch it than to give my own monologue 🙂

I am going to tell you about my first “Baptism of Fire”. That moment when for the first time, I walked into a room full of cadavers. The frozen moment in time when all present were humbled by the sheer power and mystery of death or after-death. My cadaver was once a living man, now at the mercy of my scalpel; a mere specimen to be dissected and scrutinized for the better part of two semesters. I can still see my colleague’s sweaty face as he struggled to cut away the adhesions holding the cadaver’s entrails in place. I thought that was the most horrid moment I would ever witness.

I was horribly wrong.

My second and more thorough Baptism of Fire occurred in the autopsy room. I stood behind the slab and watched the senior registrar pull on the female corpse’s intestines, yanking the entire length out along with her tongue. Such was the force exerted we front-row occupants were splashed with the still lukewarm blood. He let the loops fall to the side, her tongue flopping down to rest beside her hand. I wondered what the inside of her mouth would look like. I left that autopsy room with feasible scenes from a horror movie; her viscera sitting on the slab, a long incision down her middle, an empty skull and my first signature.

Yes. Signature.

I attended twenty-five more autopsies of corpses; men, women, old, young and infantile, all for one reason: The Signature. I had examinations to write and a stipulated amount of autopsies to observe and I wasn’t going to let my weak stomach get in the way.

The Signature continued to haunt me even in my final year. I had a hundred and one different procedures to get signed as a pre-requisite to writing my exams. I scoured for patients like a dog in heat. My friends and their friends soon became targets. I spent nights, and some daytime hours too, praying for people to come down with cavities or need their teeth extracted. You see this life? People are praying to be healthy and I was praying for people to be sick. I trudged through medical school like a fatigued zombie. I learnt to walk past the Accident and Emergency Unit and close my eyes and ears to all the different cries. When my patients died, I learnt to deaden my senses to the inevitable sadness. I was driven only by the signatures, I could not wait to graduate and get out of that dungeon.

Then I met you.

Yes. You, dear reader.

I saw you come in on a stretcher still as death itself, and watched you walk out the wards. I saw the wonder of 1cm pills, how they turned a feverish child riddled with seizures back into an annoyingly inquisitive, happy-go-lucky lad. I put on my gloves and sculpted that broken tooth to look as good as new, giving that bride a genuine smile.  And somehow there it was, my light at the end of the tunnel.

I used to wish the JAMB brochure came with an attached ‘Terms of Agreement’ for aspiring medical doctors. A 40-page document, warning us of all the perils and risk of irreparable psychiatric damage that could be incurred if one decided to walk down this medical road. Then I remember, all my life, I have never read the Terms of Agreement. Let us assume that whilst I was still in school, I had been meticulously taught the ups and downs in my career, I am persuaded that I would still have been ill-prepared for what I was made to face or the enormous responsibility on my hands. School was a dungeon, at least that’s what I thought. I learnt with picture shows, lectures and teachings. Outside those safe walls, I hope to keep learning; learning to dodge life’s curve balls or better yet, hitch a ride on them and revel in the thrill of the turns. Life in itself is a school. Irrespective of where you find yourself, the truth still remains; the day you stop learning, you become a graduate. From life.

*****

Welcome once again. Get ready to be treated to a feast of real life tales, truth, fiction(alized stories), and poetry. Some posts are true, some are embellished, some will move you to tears, others will make you chuckle. Most are unedited and published as is. All, without exception, are personal. Writers with a broad range of life experience have been persuaded to feature. In no particular order, some of them are:

  • Jones Ntaukira
  • Osemhen Elohor Akhibi (@OsemhenA)
  • Ronke Adeleke(@O_tega)
  • Kaudresi Mundugu (@kaudresi)
  • Sanmi Abiodun
  • Gustavo Iyke Degraves
  • Chuks Nwabueze (@oluwachuks)
  • Tolu Bablo (@ToluBablo)
  • Fagbemi Titilola
  • Ife Nihinlola (@ifemmanuel)

The next post will be up on Friday, 22nd August, 2014. Subsequent posts will go up every Friday on preannounced dates. To avoid missing any post, kindly subscribe to the blog by clicking the ‘Follow’ buttons at the bottom (or sides) of your screens. Thank you. 🙂

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The Butterfly Effect II: And Ajalon

Hello guys. I know everyone’s been gearing up for the sequel to @tolubablo’s Gibeon so without much ado, let’s get to it! I did my best to create the “ripple effect” and I do hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t read the back story, Gibeon, just click here, and enjoy!

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The prophets were gathered round King Nur-Adad’s throne. Their hooded figures formed a semi-circle round the king with the chief prophet in the centre, directly facing King Nur-Adad. The message from the gods had always been delivered by the oldest prophet whose thin voice could barely be heard.

“My lord, we bring you news from the gods. It would seem that Shapshu, our most beautiful sun goddess, began her descent into Sheol yesterday but her ascent to our sky has been halted on Ba’al’s command. The people of Ajalon have incurred Ba’al’s wrath by dishonouring him. My lord, as custom demands, the king must sacrifice the first-born of his loins to the gods, but your love for your daughter has blinded you to the needs of your people. The gods’ wishes must be met, else nights will fill our days and our fields will fail for lack of the sun’s warmth.”

The king glared at the frail-looking prophet. He could have had him killed with a flick of his thumb, but fear of his people held him back. He was a pragmatic man, and though he might have believed that the gods were responsible for the longer hours of darkness, he had sent messengers to Beth-Horon and Gibeon to find out if Ajalon was the only place afflicted by the stalled moon. But the messengers had not returned and his people had begun to panic, so he had called for the prophets. He regretted that decision now.

The prophet’s voice cut into his reverie.

“My lord, we must hasten to please Ba’al. Let the people of Ajalon meet at the temple to drink to Ba’al. They must bring their offerings of silver and gold to his feet. The Qadishtu are being prepared for the crowd; we will please the gods with music, merriment and coition. The king must remember that we are simply preparing the ground for his ultimate sacrifice. Princess Intisaar must pass through the flames of Ba’al. ”

“Enough!”

The king’s stern command reverberated through the castle. His heart had constricted at the mention of his daughter’s name, but his face had not betrayed his pain. He wore a stoic mask, as was required of him as king.  He looked at the chief prophet and gave a subtle nod. In the quiet manner they came, the prophets filed out of the room. Their message had been delivered, their counsel had been heeded.

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“Count yourself honoured, my child for it is not every day that you get the chance to die for your people. Think about how pleased Ba’al would be when he sees you.”

Intisaar looked at her mother with vacant eyes. She had felt no pain when she heard about her father’s decision, only numbness. They were very alike, her father and her; practical, and pragmatic. Of course, like her father, she kept her thoughts about the gods to herself. She knew her father had been arm-twisted to make this decision but this knowledge did not lessen the bitterness she felt. Ba’al was a depraved hedonist, a selfish god that demanded from his people but never gave anything in return. She hated him and hated her people for all they did to please him. The festivals were always filled with lewd men full of wine and loud music. During the worship, she fled to her chambers to block out the music and the raucous laughter but most of all, the moans of pleasure that filled the air as men and women copulated with the Qadishtu. She saw depravity where her people saw worship, she knew she could die for that, and would have gone unafraid then. But now, she did not wish to die, not for Ba’al. If Ba’al wanted her dead, she would seek a god who sought her alive. Her thoughts went to the god of the Israelites. She had heard of this distant god who parted seas and fought for his people. She sought to plead with him to save her life but she did not know how to summon him. It seemed there was nothing but ill-luck for her.

Outside, the moon shone in the midst of the sky. Children wove in and out of their mother’s petticoats, restless from too much sleep. Groups of men and women were huddled in corners, talking about the long overdue dawn. Like half-empty wineskins, arguments were tossed back and forth. Some thought Yarikh, the moon god, had fallen asleep and forgotten to come down his perch. Others believed, Shapshu had  given in to her feminine whims, and refused to ascend to the East. The different arguments weaved into each other, melding as one and separating to give rise to a fistful of fights and harsh words. Despair and fear had combined to infest the hearts of men and panic ruled in the valley of Ajalon. But neither all the despair of the men nor the quiet weeping of the women could make the moon budge from its position in the sky.

Intisaar looked in the mirror, a beautiful woman looked back. Her chambermaids had done a good job; they had made her beautiful for Ba’al. Several tendrils of her thick black hair escaped the silver brooch to frame her face. Black kohl accentuated her eyes, making them appear deep and raven-like. Her fingers traced her lips, they were full, blood-red and still throbbed from the bee sting. Purple robes flowed to her ankle and the gold trimmings near her arms and neck, made her skin seem whiter than it was. She inhaled deeply; myrrh and henna filling her lungs. Much had been done to prepare her for death; for Ba’al. Unshed tears and her proximity to death loosened her tongue, as the words fell so did her tears.

Cursed be the gods of my people! You remain far away, insouciantly watching us. You have turned your ear away at this time of need. If I be cursed, then so be itbut I spit on you Ba’al. You are a god of no repute. I call on the god of the Israelites, he who dried up the Jordan. Send me a sign; save me from death for I am yet young and have not suckled any child. I vow to you, if you save me, I will worship you till I die.

She looked in the mirror, black lines ran down her eyes. The kohl had come undone, revealing what had always been – she was never beautiful to behold.

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The high place of Ajalon was bustling with activity. Wineskins passed from hand to hand, their contents intoxicating man and woman alike. Ballads extoling Ba’al were sung to eight-stringed lyres. The temple sanctuary was a moving canvas of naked bodies. Young and old; men and women discarded their vestures and joined with the Qadishtu to appease Ba’al.

The king looked out from his carriage. Liquor, music and coition abounded. Why was this not sufficient for the Ba’al? Must he require the spilling of his beloved daughter’s blood? Sadness gripped the vestments of the king’s heart and held fast. In anguish, the king looked up to the sky and like a mad man began mumbling; pleading with the moon to move.

Intisaar stepped out. The god of the Israelites was naught. She was to die, as a roasted pig. She clutched at her robes as her heart trembled with fear.

There was a stirring outside, the pitch of the music was dwindling and replaced by an excited rise in voices. She moved to remove her veil but her mother’s handheld hers. A few moments later her mother’s voice, tinged with surprise and joy, reached out to her.

“Dawn breaks my dear child. The sun is rising! Ba’al has heard us.”

In some distant part of her mind, Intisaar could hear mother calling to her chambermaids. She felt faint. Had Ba’al saved her? She had prepared herself so fiercely for death that when she realised she was to live, tears ran down her face. Gratitude welled up in her heart. She wanted to thank her benefactor, tell the gods how grateful she was. But which god was responsible for her fortune? Ba’al? The god of the Israelites?

She was led back to her chambers by shaking hands. She lifted her veil then and looked out the window. The sun indeed was rising. Amidst tears, a smile grew across her lips. Her heart took on a lightness and she knew her life would never be the same again.

As the day wore on,her father’s messengers brought word to the king. They told the tale of Ki-Jearim and his defeated army, of hailstones and blinded horses. They spoke of Joshua, son of Nun, who spoke to the sun and moon- Sun, stand still in Gibeon. Moon stay in the valley of Ajalon, until we defeat our enemies.

She knew the god of the Israelites was mighty but he had moved the moon because the battle had ended, and not because he wanted to save her. She hadn’t been saved by any god, but by luck.

“Are you alive or not? You asked for a sign, therefore, look and believe.”

She turned, looking for the person who spoke, but she was alone. She walked to the mirror, but instead of her face, she saw fiery horses riding on parted seas, and the moon and the sun were one. She knew then, the harbinger of her fortune.