LIGHTRISE

When more than the sun rises
And more than the moon is full
When enlightenment itself materialises
Upon and within your soul

When you awaken in the deepest sense
And the light of your spirit fills your eyes
Then shall you experience
The dawn of the morning Lightrise.

Che Chidi Chukwumerije

BOYS TO MEN

The older I get,
The more I miss my father.
The more knowing I grow,
The more I miss him.
The more I know him.
The more I understand him.
We live life forwards,
But understand life backwards.
When it‘s too late to change anything,
That’s when we understand everything.
The young shall grow.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije
(I just feel like remembering today)

YESTERDAY’S FACES

YESTERDAY, IT WAS as beautiful as the early morning sunlight dancing upon a rose. My heart was not my heart, but myself; and my face was not my face, but the shimmering reflection of my heart.

As I was striding once, I saw a figure hovering in the Air. But she had no wings, only the longest, most gleaming braids I ever saw, but gleaming not as bright as her eyes, eyes a-smiling straight into mine.

“Come, my friend,” called she to me in voice of purest gold, “Follow me awhile and I will show you distant places of light and harmony, yes indeed I will!”

I nodded and right there and then her words lifted me up into the magic-coloured sky where, I by her side, we flew over two crystal mountains and one silver lake and then hovered a while above a garden where children wiser than the wisest men were building beautiful castles not in the air or sand, but inside their own hearts.

And then we flew off once again and this time when we paused, a circle of beautiful winged horses with talking eyes came flying up to meet us. We mounted two and journeyed on… but where we went from there I know not anymore, for I have lost my memories of then…

Because now I wonder, like one blind, in the dark and earthly worlds of modern men. And ever, when the sun is a-dawning, or a-shinning but not burning, though it be noon, or a-setting down, I ever and again go on long, gentle strolls, as though I were trying to recapture that glorious journey which I barely remember…

And today as I wandered through dingy markets I saw a face… a woman selling decaying fish, eyes materialistic and cunning, impure seduction. Of course she was not that beautiful Maiden of my all but forgotten past.

So why then does she look so familiar? And what was it that startled her when our eyes touched? Unsettled her. But of course she cannot be that same beautiful female spirit of ancient days who I left up in glorious heights yesterday…

I hope.

– che chidi chukwumerije..

METAMORPHOSIS

THERE ONCE lived a girl called Vanity. It was in that strange country where newborn babies are left unnamed – simply being referred to as so and so’s first son, so and so’s third daughter, etc – until they have grown into childhood. Only then would their parents and relatives, having up to this time carefully studied the character (for early dawns day) of the one to be named – finally confer upon the child that name which they believed best captured the essence of its core personality.

And so did this girl, from an early age, come to be called Vanity, for she was as proud and vainglorious as a peacock. Vanity believed that the whole world was there just to serve and admire her. She did not care much for others, nor could she tolerate, in her vicinity, another receiving more attention, admiration and adoration than herself. This she simply could not bear. She thus constantly went to all and any lengths to make sure that the attention of everybody would always and only be riveted upon only her. Vanity dressed in the most beautiful of clothes, wore the most attractive ornaments, learned the most alluring manners of self-expression, perfected the most sensational methods of walking and swinging, and – being the scion of wealthy royalty – made it very obvious to the gentry that she had a lot of wealth to spread around. The inevitable consequence of this was that the world divided itself into two groups before her – those who crowded themselves around her and those who avoided her. Great was her pleasure, for ‘her side’ verily outnumbered the other side.

As she grew into a teenage adolescent, a spectacular beauty happened to grow out upon Vanity’s features and fitted itself around her form. Naturally this pleased Vanity extremely  and only served to confirm for her and her court her egotistical claim to prenatal supremacy. And at this point her name changed spontaneously from Vanity to Beauty. Beauty became the rave of her time, the talk of town, the object of the envy and idolisation of the women, the desire of the men – exactly what she wanted. Beauty wore her outward beauty like a trophy and used it ruthlessly to acquire everything she wanted, most of which she indeed also got. For people practically worshipped Beauty; they made her their idol, their goddess, their queen. She controlled all.

Such was it that by the time she had become a young woman her name had changed once more – and now everybody called her Power. Power exalted in this name granted to her by her fellow human beings and proceeded to have a crown manufactured for herself on which her name was inscribed for all to see. She became so full of herself that there was no space left for her in which she could continue to expand, nor could her bloated ego grow any further. It neared its peak, its limits. Her ways became stiff and cold, lifeless. She could not find any further height to reach and claim. She became an ornament herself.

And very soon her name became Rigidity. For rigidly fixed was she to the dogged attachment to vanity, beauty and power. She bore no love for other human beings. Frightening and strange became her ways. Rigidity detested her new name intensely and tried to rigidly hold on to the previous one and to thus force the people to keep on calling her by it, but the people, like people like to do, persisted in calling Rigidity by the newest name they had given to her. And the harder she resisted it, the louder they called it.

It happened that, at this time, owing to her persistent attachment to old forms, her health broke down. By the time she recovered, her face, older, less beautiful, remained marked by the deep scars of her illness and struggles, and there was a tired ring to her voice. And, for some unknown reason, the people at this point began to call her Lesson. They pointed at her and said: “Lesson, Lesson, Lesson!” And Lesson saw that they were but pointing her out to the new, young beauty in town and pointing out her own destiny to her too. Lesson was very dejected. Sadly she sneaked out of town in the dead of night and wandered lost and lonely, trying to put a finger on what exactly had gone wrong in her life. And Lesson spent many years trying to understand life. Many lonely years.

And during these years of her travels, fellow wayfarers who saw her simply dubbed her with the name Simplicity, for she walked silent and alone and appeared to do all her things simply. When Simplicity found out that this was her new name, it seemed to her that there was a hidden message and clue in this name. She then began to consciously strive to do all things simply, to think simply and to cultivate true simplicity of the soul. Finally Simplicity settled down in a little hut in a little village where she cultivated farms and gardens and grew to love children and nature.

The people of the village loved exceedingly this obviously aristocratic yet so modest, archaic stranger who had come to live amongst them and, inspired by her ways, they named her Humility. This name struck the surprised Humility with such great humbleness that she again, using it as a guiding star, started striving consciously after true humbleness and humility in her life, in order to become worthy of the name. Humility was ever ready to carry out even the lowliest of tasks and was never too proud to speak up for the truth when she saw it being denied, or even to fight for it, no matter how much of a fool she might appear in the eyes of others for doing so; for in her newfound humility it no longer mattered to her what others thought of her. Because true humility is strength, not weakness, as we all know.

The people of the village learnt much from Humility, who was by now rather an old woman, and gradually they recognised the absolute magnificence of the beautiful female spirit that occupied her old body – which revealed to them the essence of true inner beauty – and, unanimously, they agreed to change her name to Beauty! And so, for the second time in her life, Beauty was called Beauty again, but now for a genuine reason, for the truest of beauty is the beauty of the heart.

Many more years has Beauty now lived amongst the people of this dear and beautiful village, and it is Beauty herself who is now writing down her own long and eventful story. Except that now – now that this village has become a place of that true heavenlike peace and beauty which she has always borne hidden, deep, within her maturing soul – Beauty’s name is no longer Beauty, but she now bears an other and final name which will be the one that will be etched unto her grave tablet when this old, warm body of hers is finally returned to earth. And what do you think this her ninth name is? – It might be Service; or Leadership; or Strength; it could be Love; or perhaps Peace; or even Heaven. It may also be Purity; or Guide; or Guardian; or maybe it could be Mirror. Choose for yourself, every woman out there, do.

I am simply what I should be.

Emptiness always makes the greatest noise. Would that emptiness could learn to become silent, that it may be true and become filled.

Goodbye, Earth. – – –

The beautiful old woman died two days after writing down her own story; and when she was buried, the grateful village people inscribed upon her grave stone the single word…:

HOME.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije (from my collection of short and inspiring stories and essays titled „There Is Always Something More“)
Available on all Amazon stores.
amazon cover copy there is always something more 2015

ELOKA

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AFTER THE NIGERIAN Civil War, popularly known as the Biafran War, Eloka could not find his feet anymore. He had run away from home and bluffed his way to the front where he miraculously survived. By the time the war ended however he had learnt all those slippery gripping things which are most dangerous to learn in those teenage years.

A drug addict, possessed of fits of violence and passion, and unable to focus his attention on anything serious for any considerable length of time, he became in the post-war years a source of sorrow and heart-ache to his parents and family. He was the fifth and youngest child of his parents, their baby and most beloved. His mother shed innumerable tears. His proud and stately but gentle father, a high chief of their people, bore it with a grim silence.

And then, somehow, someone hit upon the disastrous idea of sending young Eloka to America; for some reason they indulged in the logic that, at school there, far away from home, Eloka would be moulded into a man, forced to become self-controlled, responsible and mature. – And so, off he went to America.

But even many a stable and level-headed adult has been turned and broken by America, that distant continent, not to talk of this unsettled youth. Reports have it that he indeed at first attended his courses at the university, but with time Eloka gradually eased away from contact and eventually disappeared from sight.

Full of concern and agony, in which was mingled a stab of self-blame, Chief Ogbonna – Eloka’s stately father – contacted all known relatives and friends in that giant continent-of-a-country, pleading with them to help find his Eloka. But look high or look low as these people did – even with the help of police and private detectives – Eloka was nowhere to be found.

Sorrowfully his parents resigned themselves to the certainty that death must have overtaken him. Eloka’s war-torn nature, they lamented, had broken out again and done him in. Oh… that war! – Eloka’s mother’s tears flowed again, night after night, as she called his name into the unresponsive wind. And Eloka’s father again bore these times with a leaden heart of silence.

But then, as life always shows itself to be running differently from what we think it is, Eloka suddenly appeared again, not in America, but back in Nigeria. But when Chief Ogbonna gazed into his son’s eyes he saw, not the son he once knew, but a harassed stranger. And the Chief openly shed tears. And whilst others thought they were tears of joy, in truth they were tears of pain and loss. Now he really knew that his son was gone from him for good.

The others, however, only celebrated his return. His mother, though she sensed the absolute change in him, refused to acknowledge it as she clung unto her love for her returned son, and proceeded to go through the motions of being a happy mother.

But, truly, nobody knew the real reason why Eloka had suddenly and miraculously returned. He had simply been on the run from other gangsters who were after his life, and had fled to his native country to wait out the heat.

The heat did cool off, as Eloka established through telephone conversations, and then, just the same way as he had returned, Eloka whisked himself back to America.

Let me not disclose the renewed sorrow that descended upon the Ogbonna family. The years went by. For a long while nobody heard anything from or about Eloka. But then, slowly, pieces of news about him began to painfully filter through: wanted by the police here, fleeing from the law there, etcetera.

To say that all this added to the quickened deterioration of Chief Ogbonna’s health would be an understatement. Slowly he withered mortally away…

Meanwhile, on that strange distant American continent, Eloka began to slowly come to a better understanding of life and himself. The works of great philosophers slid through his fingers and across the canvas of his soul and he discovered his buried I. He began to study and to read and to think. Reading wrought a strange change upon his spirit and suddenly, as though with new eyes, looking about him he found himself surrounded by works and people that had the capacity to inspire him, and all of a sudden the country seemed like a whole different place – a land of opportunity. And then he began to think about his life.

It became clear to him that he had nigh on senselessly wasted over two decades of his life being less than he could be, less than his parents had brought him up to be, less than his father had all along been waiting for him to become. His father. His mentor. His childhood hero. He remembered the gulf that had yawned between both of them when he last saw him that time he fled home fifteen years earlier. Remorse gradually took hold of him and the urge to close this gap that had opened up between his father and himself.

To this purpose at the age of forty, Eloka’s life began anew. He turned away fully from crime and, over the next couple of years, settled his cases with the law, left the bars permanently behind and eventually worked himself into a job as a writer of newspaper articles. He wanted to step before his father as a respectable and capable son. – Once or twice he considered writing a letter home, but never did so.

But this period of transformation had not yet ended when the heavy, fateful news suddenly and abruptly filtered through to Eloka that his father had just died after a protracted bout of illness. A wild pain, laced by regret, tore through Eloka. Suddenly his life lost whatever meaning it had recently and newly found again. His only star, only beckoning light, was gone. What was he to do now? Could anything be done? Eloka was tired. For although he dearly loved his mother, his brothers and his sisters, it was his father who had always been the owner of the deepest love in his heart.

Yet why did he not even now return home? Or communicate, or something, anything, to make the pain in his heart, and in everybody else’s too, go away a little. – But, no. His life was empty now, his destiny altered. There was nothing more to strive for… – wispy thoughts that stung at night.

Yet must credit be given to Eloka however. He did not revert back to crime, nor did he ever contemplate suicide. He simply drifted on in that old new world and completely forgot his old homeland, a stranger in a land of seekers and dreamers.

Unknown to Eloka however his father was still alive and, in fact, hale and hearty. Chief Ogbonna was not dead., neither was his mother. It had been a case of misinformation, accidentally or deliberately. Both his parents lived, resigned to their loss and newly resolved to making the best of the rest of their lives. In this spirit, the Chief had kicked against the dejection that had been slowly killing him, and returned to life.

They lived over ten more happy years together and then the old Chief, in his nineties, was the first to close his eyes to a rich and many-sided earthlife. And, in accordance with the customs of his people, an Igbo village in Eastern Nigeria, though his body was interred immediately, the public funeral ceremony was fixed for a distant month.

Hardly had his body been buried, however, than private investigators in America, constantly hired over the decades to seek out Eloka, found him at last. They communicated this piece of news to other relatives of his who also lived in America and these set out to meet him.

Great, and not to be fastened in words, were the emotions that suddenly surged up in and overwhelmed Eloka when he opened the door of his apartment and gazed into familiar, long unseen, loved faces, gazing back at him.

Tenderly, ever so tenderly, they broke the news to him about the recent death of his beloved father, Chief Obinna Ogbonna. But they did not know the reason why Eloka sat so still after hearing this strange, startling piece of news. Eloka was dumbfounded, perplexed, thunderstruck, silent. Very silent and very still. But his soul was in tumult.

The realization that his father had not died over ten years ago like he had heard, like he had all the while thought, but had been alive all this time! All these years, years in which he, Eloka, had finally, even if almost nonchalantly, achieved that which only the longing to meet his father again had awakened in his heart some fifteen years ago now. To be a respectable son and capable, independent, balanced man. Years in which he could have visited the old man as often as he pleased. Ten years. All gone. For he had believed his father dead all along. Now history.

Why had fate misinformed him years ago? But whose fate? And who’s fate?

Eloka’s thoughts floated back to his childhood, to the time before the war, before that haunting turning point. How many evenings had he lain beside his father, listening to his breathing? During how many meals had he sat by the loving man’s side, pilfering solemnly slices of fish and roasted chicken from his plate? How many times had his father tickled him, made him laugh and then made him proud with tales of their ancestors, and then made his heart tremble by telling him how eager he was to see what his boy would be when he became a man. How many times had he longed again and again for his father, his father for him?…

And so, Eloka, now in his mid-fifties, who did not visit his father while the man yet lived, and longed, boarded an American plane in that distant month to go and visit him at his funeral.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

 

image: 3345408/pixabay