I read a book ONE time.

Once, I walked into a bookstore in search of a Poetry Book. It was only late last year. I had heard so many people rant and talk and obsess over how they had stacks of Poetry Books on their shelves, but I had none to boast of. In my most private moments, I reckoned I would call myself some-kind-of-poet, so it made no sense that I had no poetry book, no? So, I went to that bookstore. I had no recommendations or suggestions in mind, so I let the luv’ly book-keeper talk me into buying this very colourful compilation. I thought it to be my best collection yet, and flaunted it with pride, to as many literary friends as I had at the time, and I could not wait to dig right in! You know! First ten pages down, and I had my chin in my palms. Forlorn. By golly, I could not understand a thing! There and then, I became ever so wary of Poetry books. Until early last week when A.L.D. Chalom revived my interest in carving out a shelf of poetry books again, with her debut “ONE”.

Chalom talks about love, and pain, and life in very many simple ways, that resonate with me. Reading “I’d share my fire if you had a door”, reminded me of what I felt while writing License to Love. “Why don’t you burn with me” reminded me of those days when I would hurt so bad about something and wish someone would tell me it was okay to feel that way, because in fact, maybe it was hurting them too…

“…because how,

Yes, how,

Can something that radiates

So. Much. Damn. Pain.

Through your entire body

Not burn the rest of the world with you?”

A. L. D. Chalom in ONE

Chalom’s book evoked wonderment and appreciation in me; I felt that it must have taken some feat to make something very brief, simple, yet exquisite in impact. I had been quite busy at the time I got to read the book, having a lot of deadlines to catch up to, but once I delved into it—from the very first piece of poetry: “One you. One sun. One chance, or two?”, I knew I had to go through it completely before putting it down. And I did, I read the book one time, yo; because she made it easy to do so. I think that in all, the beauty of Chalom’s book lies in its simplicity; in its you-do-not-have-to-get-a-dictionary-i-am-just-an-easy-awesome-read quality. Now, really, if this book had been out earlier, say sometime in December last year, I would wish that that book-keeper had handed me this piece of magic instead.

Here’s me thanking A.L.D. Chalom for lending her thoughts to me and the rest of the world, in this simple exquisite pack of delight, and everywhere else! Do keep writing! And in the spirit of penmanship, I hope we all get better at doing this thing that we so love! Telling our stories the way we know how to.

You can check out A. L. D. Chalom on Instagram– @printpoetics, and you can grab a copy of her book “ONE” on Amazon. It is highly recommended in fact!  😍😘😉😊

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Lest I forget, happy Marvellous May family!

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© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

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That bold thing we are shy of.

Once, while watching the Mary Jane series, I saw a quote that made my breath hitch. I didn’t know why, I couldn’t explain it, but I knew it meant so much because it explained a phenomenon I had struggled to understand over these past years of growing up and becoming. So, I wrote it down; and when I bought that notepad, it was the first sagely piece to kiss the starched lined white sheet of the first page. And that was that.

Today, I listened to Brene Brown talk about “Vulnerability”; and in fact, just yesterday, I read a facebook post from a friend on this same “state of being”. Now, I remember in a recent post too, I talked about how we must commend ourselves for having the courage to be vulnerable. Indeed, it is a powerful thing and a modestly discussed and revered topic. But Brene’s perspective shed a whole new light, and connected the dots of my hitherto fragmented thoughts.

People think of vulnerability in different ways. We might have the same surface or superficial idea of what it means, but the depth and strength of the ideas we hold about it, largely differ… or maybe not. In my most shallow moments of thought, ‘ve considered vulnerability as being “that something so beautiful, which you do not contest, or decide to be or not be- just about the way you pick your lingerie and outfit per day; but that secret leeway in you that opens up without your permission, giving whom it wills the access to love you for something a little beyond the ordinary”– thinking back now, I think I may have grossly undermined it’s significance and brilliance. You can choose to be vulnerable too.

From Brene’s talk, ‘ve now understood that that thing “vulnerability” is such a paradoxical state that stages itself at the centre of every feeling of shame, un-enough-ness, pain, heartbreak (and all the other gazillion angry and demeaning words your heart can think of); and every feeling of joy, colour, pride, enough-ness, and fullness. How? Or not how? Upon hearing this analysis, I then came to understand why Jonathan Safrer’s words “you cannot protect yourself from sadness, without protecting yourself from happiness” meant so much, and connected with my sense of reasoning on so many levels. And still does.

To be happy, we must give ourselves to the chances of getting sad. It is a gamble. Life is a gamble. Brene reminded me of how in life, we choose to numb vulnerability by: pretending to be strong, perfecting things that might only be beautiful when flawed, turning uncertainties into certainties; and how by so doing, we numb chances of completeness and fullness… but this life is what it is. A conundrum of complexities and mysteries, of joys and pains, and gains and losses. Not many things are guaranteed. In fact, very many things are not guaranteed. So it is, that we live by what we get; or if we won’t (as we shouldn’t, not always anyway), allow ourselves be so “us”, so that we attract only what would so appear “perfect”. Because it would be natural. Because it would fit.

It sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? This idea of how being “vulnerable”, just wearing yourself so courageously that you seem so comfortable on your own skin, brings such immense joy and magic in the end. It does. But then, I ask myself– can I truly be vulnerable? Like allow myself get crushed by someone in the name of love? Or trust someone that once hurt me, everytime they apologise and say they’ve changed? And I realise, I have always been vulnerable– albeit unknowingly. From every love that wasn’t meant to be, to every one that almost happened, and everyone that never happened; I have loved with a fullness, in my own way. And while ‘ve felt the brunt from it, ‘ve experienced my own share of joy too.

It is hard. Darn hard. Every form of vulnerability and openness. But maybe if we realised it took even more courage to be vulnerable, than it took to be brave, we would no longer see “vulnerability” as derogatory or as a weakness, but a mark of acceptance and peace- that is, “owning oneself completely”, and thus allowing others a chance to do same.

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Hear Brene Brown’s talk here

Read my friend’s Facebook post here

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

The Mishap (2).

Being

**

I am a blog maniac. That time of the year, just a year back, I had been reading random blog sites, and stumbled across Dare’s Dare to read blog space. I became enchanted, that day and night, I was all about Dare; and if I’d talk to anyone, in every two sentences, I would quote a line from Dare. It was crazy. I knew I had fallen in love with a witty writer’s mind. And I would read all of his posts and drop my two cents everywhere possible. I never nurtured the thoughts of seeing him in person, but I knew he knew he had found a stalker in me. Soon though, beyond my expectations, he picked interest in me and we began to chat off his blog space. Then, I told him about my best friend, who happened to be a writer too, Kemi, and how she was jealous that I didn’t even talk about her articles as much as I did his. Months after, we decided to meet. I thought it was going to be fun, so I invited Kemi too, and he promised to bring a friend of his along as well. That was the mistake, and undoing. The beginning of my folly.

So we met. Myself, Dare, Kemi and Tade…

I fell in love with Dare anew the moment I recognised him stepping into the restaurant that Friday night. He had a Ralph Lauren cap on, a black polo shirt adorably hugging his well structured body to life, and a pair of jeans. I couldn’t be bothered about what graced his feet any longer, he looked fine enough already. I didn’t notice the person he was coming in with until they stopped by our seat and Dare introduced Tade as the friend. Dare sat beside me, thankfully, just opposite Kemi, and Tade beside Kemi, just opposite me. I made the rest of the introductions and we ordered goat meat pepper soup and a bottle of red wine. We talked about books, and I made sure to impress Dare with my scholarly mind… and I think I did, until out of the blues Kemi started on about sports. It didn’t take two seconds for Dare to shift his attention to her, and surprisingly, Tade who had been quiet all along, joined in too. So it was just me from then on, looking askance, lost on what to say or how to steer everyone’s attention back to me. That was how I lost Dare that night even before having him, and I am still contemplating who to blame for it- myself for inviting Kemi, or Kemi for trying to outwit me before my crush. It was a surprise, and a big blow to my breaking heart that just months after, Kemi announced to me that they were dating. I felt betrayed. In a bid to make him jealous, I started dating his friend Tade, who had not stopped sending me flowers and calling me every other day for another meet up since that hazardous dinner night, and to my folly once again, he fell in love with me!

**

Why? Why oh why?

I know Dare likes me. We share a bond, a chemistry… the one between a writer and his number one reader. I understand Dare more than he understands himself, and see way more than he chooses to share with words on his blog space. That feeling is something no one else can share with him or understand, not even another writer. And It is not fair that I have to lose a man I love because I cannot write, or because I don’t love sports, or play computer games, or watch cartoons. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friend Kemi and I am happy that she is happy. But I am not happy, and it is sad that she doesn’t even seem to be aware of it.

Adele’s take it all comes to a wrap on my earpiece just in time for me to hear Tade’s persistent knock at the door. I feel the urge to go let him in and discuss my hearts dilemma with him but it’s too late, or is it not? I should have done it this morning before we left for church but we were running late, and he seemed in too good a mood… or yesterday when we went shopping for some decorations for ‘our-house-to-be‘ but Kemi and Dare were shopping with us too, so I couldn’t… or the day before that when he proposed, if only he didn’t do it in the presence of everyone at my office just before we closed. No time just ever seemed like the right time, and now it’s too late to make things right.

Or do I just tell him now?

Quickly, I run to the door to let him in. He is stunned to see me still fully dressed with my eyes red and swollen, but he is calm and gentlemanly as he pushes past me to sit on the bed after carefully shutting the door behind him, leaving me in shades of guilt and doubt. Soon, he beckons on me to join him, and after a second of silence, he begins…

“Gbemisola Blessing, it’s a pity I love you the way I do, but my heart feels better this way. I might even cry if you break my heart, but I will be happy that I once loved someone like you. Now, I don’t know for sure what happened in the church, and what’s happening now, and if my gut feelings that you’re not excited about this marriage as much as I am are real or just an echo of my own fears… but i’ll like to hear it from you here and now if you’re not okay with us getting married. I won’t hate you, or love you less… i’ll even always remember that blessed dinner night and how you swooned me to speechlessness with your intelligence, wit and the might of books you’ve read in your lifetime_” he smiles now, and I cry more “_ just… just tell me you don’t want this, and i’ll walk out of your life for as long as I can keep my two feet apart from each other.” he laughs shortly, then continues “well, you get the point, i’ll try. I’ll try to stay away. I promise.”

I feel abashed. It isn’t that he can’t get someone else, but he has chosen me over every other option there might be. Will I ever get a man to love me like this again? I don’t know, I can’t see the future. But I can see now, and it seems like the best I may ever get. I hug him now, and I am not totally sure what that gesture means, except that I certainly am not telling him off tonight either.

Maybe I don’t love him now, but i’ll learn to love him soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next, maybe never even. But he loves me, and he cares about me, and I think that’s enough. He hugs me back now, and I feel his smile on my hair. He is a fine man, and what’s more, I am sure he will make a fine daddy… Besides, there’s the saying that sometimes in life, what matters is not what’s right or wrong, but what’s left.

He is all I have… now. And maybe, always too.

**

Quote by Zayta Kamal: Sometimes in life, what matters is not what’s right or wrong, but what’s left.

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

The Mishap (1).

Being
People think I am lucky because I have Tade. He is a very tall, good- looking, rich, and influential man; a devout christian too. Always well dressed, speaks impeccably well, and very generous with gifts. Truth, he is almost all I wish for in a man and he loves me so, but I don’t and can’t love him back. I have tried, beat myself day and night, cast my heart forth and back, but my mind is made up, it won’t love any other safe for Oluwadamilare. I can’t say…

“…Sister Blessing. Sist_”

“I do!” the words are out of my mouth before I realise it’s the wrongest thing to say at the moment, as laughter amidst thunderous applauds fill the air. I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder again, and it is only then I get back into character. I open my eyes now, remembering that minutes ago, I had closed them as I knelt before pastor Femi with Tade by my side- in front of the congregation that Sunday morning- duly after Tade had announced that we would be getting married later in the year.

“Yes Pastor.” I answer eventually, slightly embarrassed as I realise the whole congregation has taken a seat now, and Tade is standing upright beside me while I remain on the floor, with my kneels to the ground.

“You may stand up now. I hope there is no problem? You seem eager to get this marriage thing over and done with.”

Flushed, I rise to my feet, and shake my skirt to rid it off dust as I fumble for an explanation in my head. “No pastor, I was connecting with the Holy Spirit. Pastor, the Lord is indeed wonderful, and marvellous. He is happy with the choice I have made.” I state, almost matter- of- factly, staring into Tade’s wide black face that seems to host a ghost of a smile. My heart rises with guilt, as I tear my gaze away from him.

Pastor Femi smiles too, offering us both a re-assuring nod as he ushers us back to our seats where the congregation welcomes us with even more applause. My stomach turns, I think I just might be sick.

The Sunday service is soon over, after a thorough lecture on the Do’s and Don’ts of marriage, specially dedicated to us as delivered by Pastor Femi. Unexcitedly, I exit the church hall with Tade, after having shook hands with the lot of the other members congratulating us on our engagement, most of whom seemed green with envy as if I had just claimed their most coveted prize. Finally, we make it into the car and I release the breath I wasn’t aware I had been keeping until now. I stare out the car, trying to avoid his gaze, and hoping he would just drive and not try to act heroic or something by asking me if I am okay. But no…

“Gbemisola Blessing, what’s the problem?”

Incensed I am, but I manage a smile, as I turn to him for a brief second. “Nothing, just cramps. Thanks.”

His face is awash with concern, and I just want to cry. Why can’t I love this man the way he loves me?! He straightens my hair with his palms and places a gentle kiss on my cheek before starting the car. Finally!!!

In an hour, we are at the Lekki apartment I share with Kemi. I let myself into the house with my set of keys, Tade tagging along despite my fervent prayer that he’ll just leave me be. I hear muffles and quiet laughter from the door, and soon, I notice it’s from the sitting room where Kemi and Dare are entangled in an X- rated movie position on the couch, my favourite couch, watching a football game. That just about does it for me! Or almost…

“Hey guys! Wassap! Una don pray finish kiakia. Mr and…” Now, that’s it! I don’t wait to hear the remaining of what Dare is saying, I just rush into my room and slam the door shut; not forgetting to turn the key and plug my earpiece in, because I know Tade will soon find his way to my room. Now, I play the scene over and over again in my head for the umpteenth time, of how I met Dare and how he might have ended up being mine rather than Kemi’s…

__

Kiakia- quickly

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© The Short Black Girl, 2015.