Non Sequitur

Not all poems are poem-shaped. Not all stories are story-shaped. An abstraction then. For the things that aren’t really anything at all but are still true.

Non Sequitur

I fell in love with you tomorrow and we made love in a rose-coloured room at the end of the world.

There was no issue of blood between us and our union was a perpetually blithesome affair.

We had two lovely children, Two halves of a boy and half of two girls.

We were happy, we were perfect and the skulking shadows of sin and sadness fled from us.

I loved you with the very quiddity of me and your love was a guiding light to my soul.

But you will never know these things because the light of dawn steals dreams from their dreamers and makes the strange and beautiful things mundane in its unforgiving glare.

Ergo, non sequitur.

Vignettes

I am sitting with W in the brown wood and gunmetal embrace of the Hard Rock Cafe, Kuala Lumpur. We’ve ordered too much food and I’m struggling to finish a Texas-style pulled pork sandwich. I’m failing. Badly. Comically. There are two girls seated two tables away from us. They look European. British. W points this out and follows up with the poignant “Two girls, two guys. We should be over there man”. Lenny Kravitz comes up on the screen beside us and American Woman blares through the ubiquitous speakers. I concede defeat to the sandwich, wave the white napkin and say to W, “So which one of us is going to make the move?”. He laughs and pulls out a coin from his trouser pocket. “Heads or tails”? Heads, I say with an oily smile. He tosses the coin. Three hours later we are with J and L, dancing to Psys ‘Gentleman’ at the beach club on Jalan Perak.

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Mr. A. has cold, cold eyes. I am standing in front of him as cold air streams directly from the air conditioner over his head and onto my face. His limbs are disproportionately long, his skin is dark and dull, the hair on his head is a badly maintained garden of tangled knots. His office is ugly in an efficient sort of way. Nothing is out of place but the severity has bred a bland, unfeeling ugliness finished in browns and greys and blacks. He does not ask me to sit down. He is looking at me now with those cold, cold eyes, having finished looking at the stark white piece of paper that now lies in his lap. “This is unacceptable,” He says slowly.  “If this continues, we may have to cancel your scholarship.” A chill runs up my 12 year old spine.

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“You know what you are? You’re liminal. ” C says this over her mug and through the rising streams of steam from her latte. We are in Starbucks on Regents street. There are far too many people here, most of them pretending to write something on their laptops. Most of them are bashing out words that describe the intricate minutiae of the lives of the grand characters that populate the best-sellers in their heads that will probably never be sold. The rest of them are working or socially networking, keeping up with more people than they care about. All this by the grace of dark coffee and free WiFi. I allow myself a smile. “Liminal…” I say, noticing that it both starts and ends with an ‘L’. “I like it.” “I don’t mean that in a good way,” she offers. “You’re too many things at the same time. Its unhealthy. People like me don’t like people like you.” “Oh,” I say non-committally as I take a sip of my cappuccino. Its tepid. “I see.” I shouldn’t be drinking cappuccinos in June.

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“Should we stop at Mega Plaza and buy chocolates?”. I turn to my mother,sitting beside me in the back seat of the Toyota Corolla. She is peering over the rim of her glasses with a mischievous look in her eyes. It is a look I know well. It is a look I use as well. “But you know Dr. Daddy wont approve. And I didn’t drink my aloe virus this morning. Double offence.” She eases back into her seat, places her hands on her stomach and says to me in a muted, comically conspiratorial tone. “Well, your father wont know if we don’t tell him. Abi will you tell him?”. We explode into the high-pitched laughter of jocund schemers and executers of minor plots. Through the laughter, her cheeks full and reddened, she tells O, the driver, to head to Mega Plaza. We continue laughing even though we don’t have to.

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The bus is going around what I am sure is the hundredth spiral we have taken up this mountain road. I’m queasy and uneasy. L is beside me, her eyes closed, her pale, cream  skin covered in tiny beads of sweat. She is having an even harder time than I am on this our little adventure. Apparently, this is the only path to Agua Azul, which I am assured is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in South America. This assurance is why we are taking the Mexican cousin of a Lagos molue from Tabasco to Chiapas and are now headed up a mountain path frequented by anti-government rebels. That and the fact that L did not tell me we would be going through rebel territory before we actually started going through rebel territory. “You must be thinking this girl is crazy,” she starts, as though reading my mind.  “When you get back to Nigeria, you can tell them about your crazy Mexican friend, that took you to Agua Azul.” I laugh in spite of my churning stomach. “Of course I will,” I say, looking out the window to the farming villages set into the side of the mountain. The  vista is spectacular. When we finally reach Agua Azul, I am dizzy and desperate for a place to lie down. Until I see the water. It was worth the tortuous trip.

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It feels like fire, this anger consuming me as I watch E laugh after telling me to shut up. He is my friend, which is what makes the laughter worse. Its deliberate mockery, a belittling of something he knows I hold dear – my image. There are about 10 others in the room and I am far too proud for a 14 year old boy. This pride is the fuel upon which the anger feeds, lives, grows. It is becoming a living thing, taking over me. I do not realize I have left the bed until I am standing in front of E. I do not realize I have shoved E violently until he shoves me back. Someone in the room hoots. More fuel on the fire. I shove him again, cursing. He throws a punch. I manage to land a few solid body shots before we crash, struggling on the floor and he has me in a headlock. I bite him viciously. He punches my face. I lift him off the ground and slam him onto the cold terrazzo floor. That night, we both end up in the sick bay. I have a black eye and he needs stitches.

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There are things you expect to see atop the Eiffel tower, Darth Vader is not one of them. Its March and I’m wearing a jacket which the cold air is ignoring. I amble over to Darth Vader and ask his friend in the Hello Kitty suit to take a picture of us. She does. Its a blurry picture and Darth Vader is shorter than he was in the movies. His suit is also suspiciously plastic. I keep walking along the towers top deck, looking, appreciating. I watched God paint the sky earlier – a stunning study in scarlet, sienna, yellow, orange and blue hues. He has thrown a black curtain across the canvas now. He only ever displays his best work briefly. I decide to leave. I have been here since 4 p.m. Its nearly 8 p.m. now. There are things you should be atop the Eiffel tower, alone is not one of them.

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I’m sitting with N in my sprightly peugeot 504 in front of the Ife amphitheatre. The AC is on even though the car is not moving and I am wondering somewhere in some recess of my mind, how long it will take for the 23 year old vehicle to overheat while she tells me what happened during her chemistry class. The soft, neon blue glow from the CD player’s LED bathes the vehicle in a electric aura. I am staring at her face intently – working up the courage to tell her I love her. The words are choking me, the wonderful fear that is born of as yet unacknowledged love is slithering slowly down my spine, sending a subdued shiver through me in sudden, sporadic surges. The soft glow from the CD player dims momentarily and then brightens as the music changes. Aqualung’s ‘Strange and Beautiful‘ eases into the air. I can barely breathe. It feels like I am being inflated with lightning. I can almost feel my heart swell with sentiment sparks and excited emotion electrons. I open my mouth and discharge the three words, hastily, clumsily. She stops speaking and turns to look at me, shocked. The silence dances electric between us. It takes almost 7 seconds for her to respond.

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