THE WAIF, THE WIDOW AND THE WOLF – Part 5

(continued from part four)

***
PART FIVE

She trudged, light and heavy, happy and sad, up and over the hills again, back towards the house. It was always hard to part from Chagonu, Nneni and the three cubs. Chagu was making progress. Today he had stood on all fours, the first time she’s seen him manage that ever since the shooting. He would live.

As soon as she thought this way, she saw it… the Wolf-soul. It appeared. It disappeared. Somayinozo hurried back home.

Why was there pain in her heart when she arose the next morning? She did not know. She prayed hard and plunged herself into her duties. Aunty Ngozi seemed harsher than usual today. The tall, dark fourteen year-old was driven like a mule.

“Clean the kitchen!” – she did so.
“Clean the top floor!” – she did so.
“Go and wash the Madame’s clothes!” – she did so.
“You good for nothing waif!” – her lips became straight and hard.
“It’s not your fault. It’s because you were born and bred in that foolish Lagos. Nonsense.”

It was now two o’clock in the afternoon. Somayinozo was hungry, but her appetite was nowhere to be found. She avoided the kitchen. She slipped out through a side door. She knew that Madame Ude would would be waiting for her in her bedroom upstairs, so they could converse, read or just nourish silence together. SOmayinozo sighed a deep sigh. That woman was so kind. Kindness flowed out of her like her breath, enveloped her like an aura. Again Somayinozo wished she could do something for the sick Madame Ude.

But not now. Now she yearned for aloneness. She waited by the side of the door until Ikem, the driver, had walked out of sight. Then she set off. The sun was high and hot, blazing in unrestrained ardour, happy and content in doing always and only this one same thing: shedding light.

Somayinozo could daily feel herself growing older and older. Everyday the world changed. Everyday she saw people differently. Everyday she grew wiser… sadder… more hopeful… stronger… lonelier. She was changing from one person to another and, in between, she did not know who she was.

She did not feel the heat of the sun. She yielded to the urge to move, move, move, seek, find… find a new destiny. But how? Where?

Suddenly the Wolf-soul, as she called this strange canine apparition, was before her again. It was moving. She followed.

… to be continued.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.

FRIENDSHIP

To laugh heart to heart always. To cry heart to heart always. No heart on today’s earth can laugh completely without first crying completely, because only that Pain can unbolt a bolted heart – the pain of friendship. Friendship does not come easy, even when you think it just popped up right from the very first moment – that was merely the seed. Now you have to plant it, water it, tend it, nurture it patiently – and, hopefully, finally reap the fruit and the flower, after the pain… the pain of friendship. I will always be your friend, I vow. When it grows dark, remember my words…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE DREAMER

Sometimes it seems
As though the valley were the
Mountain-peak,
The mountain-peak the valley

Sometimes it seems
That to arrive at the valley
I must first arrive at the mountain-peak
And, sometimes, to arrive
At the mountain-peak, I must
Arrive at the valley

Which is the valley
Which the mountain and
Which the peak? –

Sometimes, Baby, it seems
As though to find you I must leave you…
And sometimes it seems as though
When I want to leave you
I’ll only end up again by your side

Sometimes, when I am Dreaming
I think I am awake –
But I have never once thought myself a dreamer,
Not even while I dreamt.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE GIRL WHO SAW TRUTH

There was a girl
Who read the story of the Wild-Horse Mountain
And who then went to find
The writer of the story
And question him thus:

GIRL:
Is this story true, of the lady who went to the Island of Wild-Horse Mountain and found the winged horses?

POET:
Yes, it is true.

GIRL:
Really?

POET:
Truly.

GIRL:
How do you know?

POET:
Because after the lady had visited the Land of Tomorrow awhile with Sram, he flew her in the night back home to our land again, and the next morning she told us the story…

GIRL:
What happened next?

POET:
Well, nobody believed her… except I. I did.

GIRL:
But why?

POET:
Why did I believe her?

GIRL:
No. Why did nobody else believe her?

POET:
Well… because they searched for proofs… and found none, at least none that made any sense to our minds. Upon hearing her story, we all sailed over to the Island of Wild-Horse Mountain, to see if we could corroborate her story. Also the other six people were still missing and we wanted to find them. But we found Nothing. No horses, no green valley, no horse-prints in the ground, anywhere, and no bodies… not the bodies of the six missing people, or bones, clothes, shoes, bags, articles, anything! All we saw, on the shore of the desolate, rocky island, was a beached boat. So, the people said she was mad. They came up with the theory that she had run mad and killed her friends at sea, or she had lost her friends at sea, which in turn had driven her crazy…

GIRL:
What?!

POET:
Yes, indeed. In the end, they put her in an asylum, where she finally died…

GIRL (sobbing):
What country is this wicked place?

POET:
Oh, it’s the country in which I live. My country.

GIRL:
What’s the name of your country then?

POET:
It is called “The Land of Modern Minds”.

GIRL:
The Land of Modern Minds? I have never heard of this country.

POET:
When you grow up, you will ear a lot of it. You will live there too.

GIRL:
Never! Never!

POET:
(smiles and says nothing)

GIRL (still weeping):
Oh, that poor lady! Killed for saying the truth; such an exhilarating, new, promising truth too. But… but… but is there a possibility that… that she maybe just had a dream?…

POET (smiling):
The same possibility that, right now, you are also dreaming.

GIRL:
But I am not dreaming!

POET:
You can only assume that until you Awake…

GIRL (after a pause… thoughtfully):
Thank you, Poet, for talking to me.

POET:
Don’t you want to know what happened to the lady after she died?

GIRL?
After? But no. It does not matter, does it?

POET:
But, yes, it does matter. When people die, they start to live…

GIRL:
Is this the truth?

POET:
Yes, dear Lady, it is.

GIRL:
So, are we dead now?

POET:
We are Partly Asleep.

GIRL:
I believe you, Sram. Please, forsake me not…

POET:
That I will Never do!!!

Then they embraced, and did weep
And woke up each
Gently from their deep sleep
On opposite sides of the world.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

RIGIDIFICATION

Basically to do with respect – or the lack of it. A disrespect that has its roots in an unexamined, unquestioned presumption which a person has grown up with from childhood.

The presumption becomes the basis for all further interactions with and reflections upon the people or places to which the presumption applies. This presumption forms the bedrock of the basic attitudes the person develops towards the object of consideration. It stands like a wall in the face of a reappraisal of the people, object, situation or place; it is wielded as a weapon, held up as a shield in one’s dealings with them.

 A common tendency towards lethargy might then prevent one from examining the presumption, which may also be called a prejudice. To examine the prejudice means facing the danger of encountering and acknowledging its incorrectness or partial incorrectness, and taking the trouble to build up a new view of and relationship with the discriminated – and thus making an about-face.

 So it becomes a matter of pride. And, passed on from generation to generation, it will stand through the centuries like the Rock of Gibraltar, and no-one will know its beginning anymore.

 Pride is a drug. It offers you comfort and succour, with gentle paws and steely claws that entrap what they embrace.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

UNRUHIG

Ein gewöhnlicher Nachmittag
Unruhig lauf ich hin und her
Von meinen Gedanken getrieben

Manchen lauf ich davon
Anderen ewig hinter her
Meine Wohnung ist mir zu klein

Es steht mir alles im Weg
Es stehen mir alle im Weg
Ich stehe mir selbst im Weg

Ich verlasse Heim und Herd
Doch der Fluß beruhigt mich nicht
Noch Wiese, noch Himmel, noch Wald

Von allem kann ich mich trennen
Selbst vom Leben – nur von einem
Eben nicht – von mir selber.

Spieglein, Spieglein, Dichtung
Sei heut wied meine Lichtung
Gib mir innerlich eine Richtung

Kaum gesucht, gleich gefunden
Adieu Denken, ich hab’s empfunden
Und meine Unruhe überwunden

Jetzt kehr ich zurück zu Herd und Heim
Es freuen sich alle insgeheim
Es fügt sich ein wie ein Schlußreim.

Ferner, weit am Horizont
Schaut, wie sie neuen Anlauf nimmt
Die dunkle Wolkenmasse.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

MIX UP

White men complain
Of losing their women
Black women complain
Of losing their men

White women complain
Of losing their men
Asian men complain
Of losing their women…

From race to race
Place to place
Everyone is sure
Everyone is impure

I guess we’re all lost
I guess we’re all found
I guess we’re all free
I guess we’re all bound

I guess we all complain
I guess we’re all afraid
I guess we all know
How best to get laid.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

STAUNEN

Tiger Tiger
Tausend Krallen
Fänden jetzt keinen Angriffspunkt
Auf meinem Herzen

Deine sanfte Stimme nur
Verschafft mir Sonne
Und in der Nacht tausend Sonnen

So stark deine Weichheit
So sicher dein tastendes Stolpern
Eine Welt für sich
Bist du

Tiger Tiger
Zarte Pfoten
Halte mich wieder wie in jener Nacht
Ohne Vorbehalt
Mit all der Liebe deiner feuerkühlen Urmacht
Und das was du sagst, sag leise…

Tiger Tiger
Es ist ein Raunen im Wald
Ein Staunen in meinem Herzen.

 – Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SURROGATE MOTHER EARTH AND HER STRANGE CHILDREN OF JOY

Everything about the earth’s geological history and trend suggests the disconcerting and alienating thought that human beings were not intended to exist on it for a long time – speaking in terms of geological time. It seems we are a species, the conditions favourable for whose biological existence would, like a thin strip on the broad spectrum of earth time, be laboriously reached after billions of years of evolution, tenderly maintained for several millions of years (very short compared to the past and future age of the earth), and then gradually evolved away from again.The earth wil then plunge further in its cycle into more advanced states of instability or stability, which ever way you want to view it, eventually drastically altering the delicate balance of elementary interplay that once sustained higher animal and, above all, human life upon its surface. Mother Earth, it seems, like all mothers, after bearing and rearing her children, will one day tire of them and expel them from her home.

Whereas the earth is over 4,600 million years old, the first hominids appeared just 4 to 6 million years ago, while human beings as we know them today came on the scene only about 200,000 years ago. It took 1,600 million years for the first cyanobacteria (capable of photosynthesis, thus producing oxygen) to evolve, and after that it took another almost 3,000 million years before humans arrived, and many dramatic things happened along the way. This reminds me of an analogy I once read somewhere: that if the age of the earth up until now were a ninety kilometre long motorway, humans only appear somewhere in the last few meters at the end of the final, the ninetieth, kilometre. Quite awe-inspiring to me. It however does not end there. It keeps moving forward. Discontinuing the influence of human technology, which largely – at least in the short term – seems to be putting more pressure on the earth, the natural geological changes in the earth and solar system will, within many thousands of millions of years in the future, yield an environment poor in exactly those elements and conditions that once called forth biological life. Quite simply, even if in the future the earth is spared every possible kind of accident and trauma that ever befell it in the past, which is highly unlikely, yet the earth will still eventually Age. The sun too will dramatically change and become very unfriendly. It seems quite unlikely that the human race will not become extinct some day, at least on earth.

Some say this is where science fiction comes into this motion picture. According to them, science fiction of today is science fact of tomorrow. Man, the technological being, will become master over the laws of nature. Time travel will become possible. The quick traversing of large distances that normally would cover light-years will be achieved. New sources of energy, new methods of making use of energy, would have been developed. New planets colonised. A new super race of galactic humans would have been bioengineered. And all the rest of that flight of fancy. Well, it’s hard to dispute something that has not yet happened. But so far all we seem to do is put ourselves in danger and expose just how vulnerable the human species is. So, as an aside, let’s just hope the bees don’t go extinct. And yet this dogged belief in technology’s ability to secure us a future is understandable, because… what’s the alternative? – eventual Extinction someday?… Really? Extinction?… It’s a thought that’s just inacceptable to the human mind, that the human mind will one day be no more, disappeared with the human being. Because it just does not make any sense: What on earth was the rationale behind the brief physical existence of this species – Human. What was the point? To grow and to know, only in order to forget and to die? The entire species – without being able to pass all that knowledge on to… someone… anyone. Why?

Well, what about passing it on to, retaining and using it, ourselves – somewhere, somehow? What if Mother Earth is not really our mother? Only our surrogate mother? Our temporary womb.

This is the point, I must admit, at which some times my thoughts turn to that little elusive thing called Spirit. That thing of which they say that it originates in a place, in a state, in a consistency, that floats above every measurable concept of time and space, that existed before and will continue to exist after every earth has had its day. They say it, Spirit, coming from there, is eternal and that it alone is in truth the true human being. I have read that it incarnates and reincarnates time and again, seeking maturity. I have read, have heard, have even sensed, that it speaks the language of intuition and will always be incomprehensible to the intellect, and yet will always continue to silently argue with it. Because, if the earth is my mother, who is my father? I know I can’t prove anything to anybody, not even to myself, yet for sure the earth will meet its end one day, and yet there is in me something that will live on, somewhere, somehow, consciously. Eternally. And I call it Joy.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.