Sunday, November 24, 2013

memories

he jumped around, with his lollipop, eyes glistening with joy. that spark in the eyes that can only be seen in the eyes of an innocent child. The spark that no matter how chaste a man maybe, his eyes just cannot produce. It has to be a child, ........from the innocently ignorant eyes of a child.
he jumped and laughed, and giggled, producing that sharp pitched laugh, the laugh I recognized, reminding me of how my little brother (Drew) used to laugh when we were kids. The laugh that was some place between a scream and a laugh. He doesn't laugh like that anymore, now he's a 45 year old grumpy diabetic, always arguing with everyone else, that he can "take the sugar". The other day, his wife had to sneak into his room while he was at the hospital, to take out his stash of sweets and chocolates. My brother, always been stubborn and hard headed, the little man.
I remember when we were kids, and we went camping with my uncle and cousins, in Sedona, Arizona. I was 8 and he was 6, and my cousins Gerald and Bobby were 10 year old twin boys. I remember that night, it was cold and chilly. On hindsight, my uncle who was in the middle of a divorce wasn't probably the best person to be in charge of us kids in a remote area at the time. He was drunk and passed out in his tent, and so was I (not the drunk part though - lol). I had a busy day earlier, going through the woods to fetch sticks and branches we could use to start a fire, as well as trying to live out my 'bush hunter' fantasies I had as a child. Armed with my sling and stones, I spent most of the day hunting birds and little rodents. Obviously I didn't get any, but the thrill was more than enough satisfaction. So at the end of the day, I was understandably tired, and I retired to my tent, where I dozed off almost immediately I hit my camp bed. Only to be awoken by a shrill scream. I woke up to find my tent was on fire, I was dazed and confused. I could hear my cousins trying to wake my uncle up, and I was still confused as to what to do. Then I heard the scream again and recognized it as my brother's voice, and then as I turned to look in the direction of the scream, I heard the ripping sound that was my brothers knife tearing through my tent. "jump out" he screamed. I did. My uncle was still deep in sleep, my cousins were terrified, my brother was agitated, and I in shock just realized, my little bro saved my life. I eventually found out, Bobby and Gerald were in a fight, and one of them mistakenly kicked a firewood at my tent, and so began the fire.
The screamy laugh of the kid snapped me back to present day, as I lay on the roof, a few 100 meters away from the child as he played with his dad in front of their house. I looked back into my scope, as his head bobbed in and out of target. He reminded me so much of my brother 39 years ago. I promised him that night he saved my life, that I would save his too someday. I sat up, and started dismantling my M24A2 rifle,........I wouldn't do this. I would have to call and cancel this contract, which I have never done in my 20 year career.
as I got up, and started making my way to the exit door on the shopping mall roof, I heard the child's shrill chuckle again, and I murmured to myself: "this one's for you Drew".

Monday, October 21, 2013

what do you want to be when you grow up?






We must have been asked that question a number of times, at various stages of our growth. My earliest reply to that (that I can remember) is a soldier. What with all the Rambo and Commando movies I grew up on, that was the only logical career for a young 5 or 6 year old 'action movie junkie'. I just had to be a soldier, it wasn't up for debate, as I practiced shooting with my arsenal of toy guns. From the water spraying guns, to the ones with sticky darts propelled out at the pull of the trigger, from the star wars looking ones, to those that glow and sound like an AK-47 sub. Those were the days,.....the days of unbridled dreams, and innocent aspirations. lol, I know innocence and being a soldier shooting people down, shouldn't go in the same sentence, but that's because you reading this and spotting that out,.....you & I are adults. But if a kid reads this, he would jump with glee at the dream of being a soldier, of being like his on-screen heroes. A child with a normal upbringing (which some aren't lucky to have, as children as young as 3 in Syria, now know the meaning of death first hand), doesn't know the meaning of death or it's implications, they see life in all its beauty, as a large playground where there are no boundaries to what you can be and what you can do, and there is no need to harm anyone in the process of achieving your goals. How about the primary school bullies, you may ask? The proportion of bullies to every other child in primary schools, is very much in the minority, and its driven more out of want for more snacks than criminality, how many 8 year old bullies have you asked the question; "what do you want to become when you grow up?" and he answers: "a serial killer or a terrorist, or a rapist".


Now forward to this present day, and compare what we have become to what we had wanted to be as 6 year olds. I would guess about 90% of us turned out to be in careers far fetched from what we wanted to be, for a variety of reasons. Some would have innocently answered as kids, "I want to be the president" or "I want to be an astronaut" or "I want to be a musician" or "I want to be a chocolate factory owner", but with age, we considered most of those 'unrealistic'. But are they truly unrealistic? The older we grow, the more we tend to but boundaries on our aspirations, and question what and what we can / cannot do. We put ourselves on courses that veer off from what we first of all, fell in love with. Sadly many of us are in careers we don't truly love, and some are involved in acts that society frowns upon. Its quick to turn around and blame everyone else, "oh my parents weren't there for me", or "I had no other option". I'm not trying to be judgmental, because it's not in my place to judge anyone, but I'm saying, there is never just one option. To every situation, there are at least 2. If for some reason you that had a dream as a child of being a doctor, and you ended up being an armed robber, or a drug dealer or a terrorist, stop and think about where it all went wrong. Your actions and present career, how does it affect people around you, the people you come face to face with in your daily business, how those it affect your 'clients'? Rewind to how you were as a child, & with such eyes, would you be proud to have a father that does what you do now? Everyone of us was born innocent, but with our various paths, we might have chosen to do good or be bad. As crazy as it sounds, the terrorists of today, were once members of a play group, at school or within a community. Is it too late to change? No, No Time Is Too Late, the best time to get something done is now. Granted, for a 50 year old semi literate armed robber to drop armed robbery and return to his childhood dream of being a doctor isn't exactly the most feasible of career changes, but for a 50 year old armed robber to leave the criminal life, and become (for example) a farmer, or a grocery store owner, isn't so unachievable.

Forget about what others think, forget about what you think, but be most concerned with what the little you would think about who you have become today, and do what you can to make 'him' proud of you today, as well as supporting your children (and/or future children) to pursue their dreams.

Dreams are the only things that remind us we are alive, follow them and encourage the little ones to follow theirs
too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the beast of Exmoor

In many places around the world, story's of beast's in the woods and unknown forces haunt local legend, folklore and are sometimes refereed to as urban legends.

The most famous of these myths comes all the way from the highlands of Scotland. Where it is claimed that an unknown beast lurks the dark waters of the loch and is rarely seen by man. There are many claimed sightings of the monster and a few photographs depicting the supposed beast exist.

The earliest and most famous claimed sighting among believers of the beast, comes from the 7th century and a irish monk named Saint Columbia. The story goes that while staying in the land of the Picts, he came across a group of people who were burying a man next to the river Ness. The group told him that while the man was swimming in the river, he was attacked and eventually dragged under the surface. The group tried to rescue him in a boat but without success, the were only able to retrieve is corpse. When Saint Columbia heard this tale, he was in shock and utter disbelief. He then stunned the group by sending one of his followers to swim across the river and try to lure the beast to the surface. It worked and the monster was quickly in pursuit of the man. Upon seeing this, Saint Columbia made the sign of the cross and commanded: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.". The monster stopped dead in its tracks and then fled in terror.

The loch has since been a staple must see landmark in the are and people flock from from all over the world in the hope of getting a glimpse of the loch ness monster.

A bit closer to home is based right here in the heart of the south western tip of the British isles. The myth goes, a wild cat like beast roams the countryside around Exmoor and is often seen at night by many locals.

There are only a few photographs of this supposed animal but many have claimed these to be merely of domestic cat's or simply fakes.

The last known sighting was made by the Carrigan family from the town of Darlington backin April of 2010. They were out walking one day when they stumbled into the beast and managed to snp a few pictures. It was later discovered though that Mr Carrigan had been using Photoshop as well as his new found love of photography to doctor the images.

Real or not, I think you'll agree that folk tales and myth's have a deep place in our society. They help us understand our heritage and provide us with a deeper understanding of who we are and where we come from.

Submitted by Kevin Tuck.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

the voices in solitude (poem)












reach out, and touch it she said,......grasp it
hesitation, apprehension,....uncertainty.
I paused, I retreated, I coiled more into my fetal tranquility
but yet the voice repeated,.....grasp it.

come to me she said,....I wait for you.
I squint my eyes in the direction of the voice,
yet I see no one,.....I strain my ears, & hear no noise.
but yet the voice repeated,.....I wait for you.

She whispered,.......you know you want me.
her breath on the back of my neck so light and warm
blowing through my hair, like breeze through grass in autumn
but yet the voice repeated,.........you want me.

my arms outstretched,......I touched her.
as indeed she rightly said I wanted to
I felt her skin, I sniffed her hair, it felt like dejavu
I smiled,......her hands buried in mine,.......I touched her.

My hands cupped her face,......framing her fragile features
but no sooner had I held her, than she like sand poured through my fingers,
as the present becomes a memory, my smile barely lingers,
my brain like a camera,.......framed her fragile features.

And so I smile to myself,......... a smile sprinkled with bitterness
she was so mysteriously enchanting, but yet so painfully transient
you could have been courteous enough to say your name, I said beneath my breath,
then I heard the final whisper, as she said
.......my name is happiness



Monday, May 6, 2013

sometime in april

and so it happened, April,.....the month after March. The Easter month,.....lent over, we can laugh again, & be merry again. drink and get drunk,......eat and get full. yes,....we can be merry again.
going through my blackberry contacts, I see a picture on one of my friends' display window. the face is familiar,...."Obum,...who's this guy? wasnt he in your department in uni", to this Obum replied, "he was shot dead a few days ago by armed robbers & I just saw him 2weeks back. he always adviced me to remember to pray". Obum was crying on the other end of this chat.
it shocked me,......and everytime I saw Obum change his display picture to another one of his pics, with the personal message: 'RIP, I cant stop crying', it pricked me, like a little hungry child tugging on his father's shirt, I was trying to be reminded of the grim one,....but as most "tired" parents would, I did my best to brush it off, and stay focused. I did my best to ignore.....I was doing such a good job of it till,.....it hit closer to home. you know that little kid I just spoke about now, tugging on his father's shirt, & was ignored? Lets just say, this time he tore the shirt off my back on a chilly cold night. I couldnt ignore anymore,....death was realer this time, as it snatched an old friend of mine, that just lived 2 streets from my house in Lagos, he was my age,.....he just turned 28, a few days later he was gone. slumped, coma, life support, awake, dead.I didnt know when tears came to my eyes,.....like a pick pulling on guitar string, my tear ducts pinched my eyeballs. the cliche question kept swirling in my head like the pungent smoke from a rotten sacrifice. Polluting my head with questions,........rhetorical questions, that I can never answer. he was so young, so intelligent,.....so cheerful......WHY?!!!! My day was ruined, & my mood was absolutely shattered. I trudged hopelessly on my usual 15mins trek, past telegraph park, to new cross gate, where I board a bus to Uni..... all the time, thinking,....pondering,....and fighting the tears. School seemed useless. why am I going to school? I'm still going to die, innit? "Depression" hounded me non-stop and I wanted to be left alone. Class just seemed like a bad theater show I had to endure. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I couldn't cry......not now,....not here, but on my trek back home I did. ipod earphones plugged into my ears, I belted tracks from eminem (was his favorite artist). I could picture my friend's face, smiling widely and hoping around, as was his usual giddy character. He was indeed a character, a really cheerful lad. Tears streamed down my face, as I knew, this my friend would soon be placed in a box, and then buried in the ground, and covered with dug up sand. It cant be true,.........I'm sure he's still alive, if they try to bury him, he'll hop out of the casket,.......and if he doesn't wake up before they do,......they should leave the grave open cos he might wake up later, and then he'll be able to come out of the grave. Thinking about it now, it sounds crazy,.....but what am I to think? I just cant believe he's dead, it's hard to understand, and its hard to believe.
But I guess, I just have to believe what everyone says.......I have to believe he's dead and gone. I guess its about time, I faced my fears.
Thinking about it now,.........I see no reason to cry, actually I think it should be the other way round. Believing in life after death, and hoping they made it to heaven, I'm sure my friend, as well as the other people we have lost, would be having a laugh when they look at us, trudging on like zombies, besotted with daily challenges and sometimes seeming inextricable problems. Our lives, where we wake every morning, and march to work, to be able to pay mounting bills, and as we get more successful, our paranoia increases in direct proportion, almost always in fear of the unknown. Where we all seek something that seems so mundane, yet so hard to get, something so intangible, yet we want to hold on to forever. We seek happiness and peace so much, but yet we cry for those who have left us and found peace. I'm not saying we should laugh and celebrate losing a loved one, but rather we should mourn and then remember that, they have found happiness, and we are the ones searching. Looking at this from the other end, I'm not suggesting we should commit suicide, in a bid to find happiness, but being that we are still alive, we should make the best of our time here, and stop looking for happiness in the big things, and setting huge targets, but instead take out time, and be happy with the people we care about the most, put that smile on your mom's face, watch that sport's game with your dad, and enjoy the banter, spend time with your family, and build bridges that might have previously been destroyed. Life is too short for bearing grudges.
Drop the pills and drugs you take, to fight your depression, stop pushing the ones you love the most away from you, because your scared to face personal fears. Find happiness and hold on to it. In the words of Ghandi, the two things no one can take away from you without your permission are your will and your peace of mind. Find it and live happy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

bare feet on the hot african sand

The ogene (local gong) is beating, the rhythm familiar, the dancer even more familiar,
everyone's been waiting for this day, its been on everyone's lips for the past four market weeks. Highly anticipated, & the fanfare that antecedes the occasion is tangible in the crowd that gathered, as the various recherch√© masquerades & local dancers gyrate rhythmically, cocooning the village square with the dust raised. The drum beats harder, the ojadike (local flutist) plays on, shaking his head from left to right with a smile on, as he acknowledges the cheers of the clearly appreciative crowd.
Hours pass on, and the various dance groups gradually end their performances. The sun is fully out, and as the dust settles, she appears. Though the foggy atmosphere, her silhouette is seen. Curvy & slim, she sashays slowly forward. The crowd is silent as the drummer starts to beat to the slow tune of the ojadike. She makes her way through the haze & she is fully visible in all her splendor. She is the beautiful Isioma, last daughter of the widower, ichie Emembolu. Barely 15, her full womanly features contrast her tender age. Its her ravishing beauty that caught the eye of the ageing king Igwe Ochiagha, who sits on the throne, in front of the gathering. He smiles pollyannaishly, because afterall, its his wedding introduction ceremony to the beautiful Isioma that is being celebrated today. At the end of today, she'll be his 5th wife, & his most beautiful so far.........so he smiles, he smiles gleefully.
............she cries, she cries regrettably. She cries when she remembers her heartrob, Obiekene. The young hunter, whom she first loved. Remembering all the times he came around to her family house, bearing gifts of antelopes & wild goats, as well as helping out with setting up her father's barn. He was a brave young man, who was dear to her family, as her father & elder sisters were very fond of him. It was his bravery that proved to be his final undoing. His bravery saw him stand up to refuse the king's request to marry his beautiful Isioma. Igwe Ochiagha is ruthless, even as a septuagenarian, his mercilessness hasn't waned. He saw Obiekene's refusal as an affront, & as he usually dealt with obstinate oppositions, he had obiekene ambushed during one of his hunting trips, & he was bludgeoned by 3 of his giant palace guards......Isioma might be young, but she wasnt blind. she knew the Igwe was behind Obiekene's death, & she knew he would stop at nothing to get her. The death threats to her family members, the times at the village river when she looked over her shoulder to find some palace guards hiddens in bushes (stalking her). She knew her life & those of her family members were at stake, so she had to take this bitter pill & marry a man, even older than her father, whom she loved NOT.
As the beats got louder, the dust settled down, & a cloud moved slowly across the sun, she started her traditional marriage dance, & no sooner had she started, that the clouds (as if in sympathy with her) burst into tears, as a slight drizzle of rain came down on this warm african afternoon. The beats were more intense, her dance steps more rigorous, as the king nodded appreciatively. She danced & she cried, as the rain camouflaged her tears. The longer she danced, the more vivid the memories, the harder she cried.........

if only she knew that the gods were watching & sympathetic to her plight. If only she knew that the bloodstained hands of ochiagha would never touch her virgin body, because Ochiagha was to die that very night.

.......................................she cried.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

amazing grace



I was desolate, I despaired, I was confused. I turned round, & friends I trusted, threw me to the mercies of the elements. Even when I went out of my way to plead & explain the importance of my request, everyone turned their backs at me, some snickering, some giggling, some scornful, some indifferent. It was a rude shock, but a shock is always necessary. A shock is necessary at times, to jar one to consciousness. A shock makes you realize that what you considered your reality, is actually fantasy built on sentiments. With misfortunes or problems, your friends take of their masks, & you see them for who they are,.......(hmmm,....or is it that you take off your fuzzy glasses, & see who they've always been?)

But then again, hey,....you cant blame anyone. Its their prerogative to assist or not. I can only blame myself, for believing my friends can do for me, what I would have done for them if the tables were turned. I look around forlorn, & from the dark recesses steps forward my friend, who's been there all the while. My friend whom I failed to run to, who I trusted only by word of mouth. He comes to me at this late hour, when all hope is lost. I look to him, with that quizzical look, as if to ask, "can anything be salvaged?" "isnt it already late?" "can anything be done?" & all he says to me is: "trust me". Hmmmmm, what do I stand to lose? So I give it a shot. I trust fully, & take my mind off my issues totally. I've got a short time frame & a huge task, it seems impossible, but i trust. It seems insurmountable, but I trust, & just like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, I can slowly but gradually see the beautiful butterfly, crack out of the cocoon. I can gradually see my problems, slowly being solved, mysteriously.........miraculously. An issue I have been battling for months, is solved within a few weeks of trusting my good friend. Not only do I get what I ask for, but truly I get even more than what I requested & I'm at a loss for words.

What a friend we have in Jesus. Carrying all our burdens, & making light work of it. Proving time and again, that indeed faith as little as a mustard seed can move the mountains and obstacles in our lives. Faith,........faith is all it takes. True faith, that even when the storm rages, you dont lose hope, you dont lose your cheer, your calm that you've handed over your burdens to the one who is in himself, "ALMIGHTY". He is bigger than what we give him credit for, he is an awesome God & a dear friend.

Amazing grace,.......indeed how sweet the sound.