HAPPY PEOPLE

If you’re mad, and you know you’re mad, are you mad?
If you’re in heaven, and you’re not happy, are you in heaven?
If you have everything, and you’re empty, do you have anything?
If you have nothing, and you’re full, do you have nothing?

What’s the point in being able to explain the Laws of God to everybody, if you lack the courage to live the paths that will reveal yourself to you.

Some people have the courage to show you God, but they don’t have the courage to show you themselves. It is not God that is shrouded in strange mystery, it is the human being.

Don’t tell me about God – you can’t. Tell me about yourself. Show me who you really are. That’s difficult enough. But that’s the knowledge we reciprocally need, between and amongst ourselves, in order to be able to live happily with one another.

And happy coexistence, as ourselves, with ourselves: that is our Paradise.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE MOON IS TWO WOMEN

If ever there come upon you the shadow
Of the widow on the moon’s dark window,
Resist the urge it will urge upon you
To put the knife to your own heart
And die –
If you cannot resist it
Channel it into the bowels of the sea –
Remember:
The shadow will pass away someday
And you will be brighter than ever before.

The woman on the dark side of the moon
Will be out-done by the woman
On the other side of the moon,
The bright side,
Where the light of the sun has ever dwelt
And never died.

There is a woman on the lightside of the moon
And she is coming, and coming soon.
Just hold on, dear, just hold on a while,
A little while longer and soon we’ll smile.
If you go the first mile,
I promise to go with you the extra mile.
Just one more mile, and soon we’ll smile.

– che chidi chukwumerije.

TALKING TO HERSELF

He loved her like the
Sun was about to fall down
Like lightning and thunder
Would be their eternal crown
And then when he’d had his fill he walked away
Now there she goes talking to herself
Each evening…

It hurts his soul
To see her cry
Yet he must go
He can’t explain why
The light and the darkness dwell inside his heart
So there she goes talking to herself
Each evening…

Trying to understand the demons in his heart
Trying hard to grasp what happened and then she starts
To blame herself for what she can’t explain
There she goes softly talking to herself
Each evening…

Each evening
Deep inside
Each evening
He’s suffering too
Too…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

DEEPER THAN RINGS

They share things with one another
Which some say husband and wife
Ought not share with each other
Yet they do –

When I asked them why, they paused
And the tables turned and they
Said we are not husband and wife
We are married only for the sake of society

In truth we are friends and enemies in one
Lovers, fighters and sojourners – born
Of the same madness, of the same truth
Of the same sadness and joy and mystery –

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE AFTERMATH OF THE BATTLE

What do I write when
In truth I feel so insecure
Plagued by a thousand doubts and a thousand thoughts
Of things unanswered yet…

Ah! My mind is so terribly sharp! It cuts me everyday
Deep incisions of distrust and indecision –
Yet, out of them I grow…

There is a world of unanswered questions
A gap, in the middle of two stories
This gap is filled with our memories and dreams
A little part only of which we see… –

A Plague, a terrible plague
The restiveness of the human mind
It rages over the earth, devouring in numbers…
People fall victim, die in numbers –

A few survive, who live to tell the tale
Which the others shall call the masterpiece…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

A MIGHTY WALK FOR A SHATTERED MIND

The Sound of Evening
Beginning to rise
Filled her ears…
They say she’s mad
She’s not bad, she’s just sad
Locked in a jigsaw puzzle
A kaleidoscopic riot of betrayed dreams
Tangled up in her shattered mind
Entangling her to that spot of evening sand
Around which she circles every
Sunset.

There is an unclear thought in her mind that occupies her
Worryingly, perpetually –
If only she could think it through, she thinks
Just once think it through…
Bound to the ungrasped thought
She circles and circles it endlessly…

I want to touch her and tell her
To just walk away from it…
It’s an illusion – walk away…

But she won’t hear.
Yesterday, after a thousand lifetimes
I passed that way
And looked again

And she’s still there… struggling
And struggling
With a thought
That almost
But just never crosses
Her mind.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

A HEADLONG FALL

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SHE WAS LONGING for the deep. A headlong fall into the dark abyss. There was something at the bottom, the sightless depths, that pulled her with irresistible power, like a magnet. She stood perched on the edge of the precipice and stared longingly, anxiously, searchingly into the waiting bowels of the darkness and felt the pull, the call. If a hand had reached out from the deep, a giant hand, she would have clutched on to it with hers and gone down with it, down to the source of the great pull.

But she could not. The precipice in its precarious noncrossability, the abyss in its treacherously easy availability, were also a wall. A non-permeable wall that divided her from her longing, bound her to her state.

There was a sunlit meadow behind her and to her ears arrived the twittering of a hundred birds. That was her life. The life of which she had tired. Yet the strings of that life bound her fast. She could not go beyond the boundary of the precipice. The call of the deep would remain unanswered. Her longing would stay unfulfilled. But how could she bear it? How could she go on like this day after day with this pull in her soul without being able to resolve it?

She longed for the deep.

The deep was mirrored in his eyes. His look was the reflection of the deep that was sunk into his soul. In him were the deep and the call of the mysterious magnet down at the sightless bottom of the deep. It was in his voice, in the turn of his head, in his hands and the way they first held her. It was in his slow measured walk and accurate mental deliberations. It was on his lips, it was the low-cut hair on his head, it was around him, within him. It was he.

He drew her with such an intensity, such a passion, that she was perpetually on the verge of crying out, loud, sharp, desperate, wired out of control… yet she did not. Because, most of all, he made her calm.

She first met him one day at the beach. It was a public holiday. May 29th, 2000. Democracy Day in Nigeria. It was the first time this day was being celebrated, amidst controversy of course. The labour union bore down heavily on the president for having unilaterally declared, of all days, May 29th henceforth as Democracy Day, a public holiday. The Upper and Lower Houses had a field day president-bashing. But in the end the day stayed.

Uninterested in political matters, she had gone to the beach on this day with her friend, Hadiza, happy to spend time with the roaring, in the sight and nearness, of the ocean. Born and bred in Lagos, the sea had all her life been her secret lover.

The beach was full. She liked the noise that pressed in on the great hall of silence in her centre. The contrast gave her a kick. Here deep within her the silence. Outside, beyond the silence and hall of silence, the noise, not only of the crowded beach, the overcrowded world, but also of her thoughts which had to think extra loud – or was it extra quietly – extra clearly today in order for her to hear them.

And everything was centred on the waves. They crashed, cracked and thundered… yet the sea of silence remain unruffled, for in the heart of the roaring waves too was the silence.

The silence of the eternal sea of life. Deep space bordered by horizon.

She stood on the sand dune and looked beyond the rising shoulders of the waves and out into the Atlantic. Creamy pale blue and watching you.

What was in there? And beyond it, what?

Stirred by this question, her soul was, like a sensitive gland, activated, perceptive, ready.Before she saw him, she sensed him. The deep was coming closer. The deep!

At first she thought it must be the ocean.

That far place. Horizon.

She looked at it… longingly. But her longing met no response from there. It was not the ocean. It was… it was…

Her heart leaped and she looked around wildly. Never before had the deep exercised such a physical presence. So she was prepared for him when their eyes met. The longing and the yearning. By and by.

A shock wave arose from the deep, the earth at the precipice trembled.
Later he found an excuse to saunter up to them.

He spoke about the beach, the water, the public holiday. He spoke intelligently. He spoke to her. His name was Anosike, he worked in an oil company, he said, played the guitar in his spare time. She got up and they went on a stroll. Patiently they sought out the quietest, most secluded area of the rainforest beach. She put her hand in his. It was large and enclosed hers completely. The sun was high and bright beyond the fronds. Then. Everything has a boundary, if not an end. It was clear right from the very first that he had come to get her. She did not think of resisting. Unhesitatingly, unafraid, she stepped forward and fell into the deep.

And all the while, his voice. It was an unending process.

The ties that had hitherto pulled her back, they were no more. Nothing stopped her. Nothing inhibited her.

Only once, for a wisp of a microsecond, did she remember the sunlit meadow. Then the momentum tilted her gently forward and, headlong, the blood rushed up and she fell…

A desperate cry floated up… and that was the last that was heard of her.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

ELOPERS

It is a story that always breaks and
Runs away from its observers
Like the baffling speed of light

No outsider ever understands what is happening
When it’s happening
Always it breaks the fabric of logic

Only the two lovers themselves, only they
Who follow the inner call of shared love
Understand the logic of magic.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.

BOTTOMLESS WELL

Everyday she printed dust on feet
Earlier than sunrise
She was a surprise
To every sleeping wanderer she will meet

On her way to the well, wishing well,
An empty bucket on her head
One more in each hand that bled
On her way to hell

The well, the well is dry
It is dry, barren, unresponsive
The less you get, the more you give
The desert will never cry

Every evening she dusts her way home
Not a drop of water
To herself she will mutter
Soliloquy on when the rain will come.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.