Monday, June 23, 2008

Life's Diet.

I started out smart.
I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a reflection of my parents who sired me. My father at the time of my birth was pursuing his PhD .My mum was well into her first diploma. Two minds deeply engrossed in pursuit of knowledge took time out to produce another. Maybe with all the reading my resultant DNA helix had just a little extra protein. Somewhere at the first twist. Smaller than a micrometer but the effect was interesting.
This is all conjecture. I off course am assuming all this. The point though is whatever the reason might have been. I started out as a really smart kid.
My mum swears I started reading at the age of two. I don’t believe her. There are too many reasons against such blasé acceptance of her recount. Old age for one and the blind eyes of maternal love for another. I do however agree—report cards still lying in my shelf bear evidence—that I was slightly smarter than the average kid during my childhood.
I would spend all day watching TV and running my parents mad with imaginary games and somehow, when the time came, I would sit in class and answer questions that were stomping all the other kids around me.
Questions like what the square of 7 was.
What type of soil was best for farming?
And who was the first president of Nigeria.

As a result of my brief intellectual head start I was placed in classes suited for children above my age.
Thus it was that I found myself hanging around friends who were years older than I was. Much later in, years to come, I grew up picking much older friend. This was more out of habit and not because I still was the smart wunderkind of yesteryears. In fact I had become quite an Idiot as I grew older. I was yet to figure out the secret behind girls. My sisters had somehow reversed the tables and were now bullying me and just a month ago when my mum asked me who the first president of Nigeria was I replied, after thinking for 3 minutes, a hesitant Babangida?

Tumbling out of Secondary School found me with friends approaching the final laps of University.
They were my Sentinels to life my friends. They warned me of what to expect. Of things to avoid and goals to gun for. For instance I got my first lesson on Sex from my friends. They explained it carefully and quite plainly.
Sex, they said, was a lot like pounding yam. You spent 5 minutes or more hammering away at the yam breaking your back with exertion and yet strangely spurred on by the desire to have pounded yam. You kept pounding away working your body into a fevered state. A climax was very much like swallowing all the pounded yam in one quick go. Your entire 10 minutes (20 minutes if you were a pro) work vanished in less than 30 seconds.
As could be expected after swallowing a plate of pounded yam, most of the time you passed out immediately.
That was what sex was like, my friends explained.

Just like most groups of friends, we had tradition. One of which was every month end we would look forward to a night of Beer and Pepper soup. Protected by an alibi in beer we would sit and talk about matters of life. Laughing at those we had triumph over and those that were to come.
And so it was that at last month’s gathering I found myself with my friends talking about that most dreaded of topics.

None of my friends was married.
I had always found it relieving.
My reason was simple, if they were yet to get married with all their experience and time, then who was I to consider looking into such matters. As reasons go it had worked for a long while. The only problem was the longer it worked the more holes Time punched into it. Whist it was true that I was logically the last person expected to get married in the group, I had noticed that outside my circle of friends, everyone else seemed to be getting married.
What was wrong with my friends?
Why were they refusing to get married?

“You’re joking.” Chuck said when I asked the question.
Everyone else at the table laughed
“Why should I get married? Life is hard enough as it is.”
I took a sip of my beer.
“You think Marriage is hard?” I asked.
Was Marriage hard I wondered? Really? True there was no such thing as happily ever after. The laws of social human interaction demanded that eventually conflict would arise with proximity and familiarity. But was this enough to define Marriage as hard?
“Absolutely. Why take up an extra person’s burden? Having a woman to Nag at you all day. Where’s the fun in that?” Chuck asked with a grimace.
Chuck was kind of special amongst our group. He was the most vocal about his sexual exploits and if his pronouncements were true. He had rewritten the Kama sutra. He also had succeeded were none of us had dared. He had a child.
It seemed he had pounded so hard on the yam he landed in soup. Hot soup. Nine months later the soup was a girl. Maybe his hesitation to get married stemmed from this. A reluctance to add to his responsibility pile.
But what about the others.
“I can’t give up sex. It’s ridiculous.” David volunteered. David was one of two lawyers amongst our group.
“I agree.” Said Akinwale. Another friend of mine.
Our friendship was built on traditions and habits. One of them was the PSP. Every one of my friends owned one. We also had a pact to all eventually own Power Bikes. Akinwale had already made good his end. Parked outside was a flaming Yellow power Bike. Every time I saw him I assumed it would be the last. He left worrying status updates on face book like "I just broke Mach3". Or "I just made a BMW Z5" eat my dust. Akinwale was a speed demon in every area of his life. A man who blazed between Lagos and Ibadan at 230 miles an hour scaring the demons off the road. He was the last person I expected to commit. It didn’t surprise me.
“So it’s all about sex.” I said.
“Absolutely.” Everyone said with a laugh.
“Why eat the same kind of soup when you can have different kinds?” Chuck asked. “Having sex with the same woman for the rest of your life can be very boring.”
I nodded my head in agreement.

Marriage as an institution was one of mankind’s strongest traditions. And yet in recent years less people seemed eager to commit to it and more were seeking a divorce exit. Was Marriage slowly evolving to a slow end? Would it soon be extinct with only the rare few practicing it teachings. The present day was fraught with social revolutions—The advocacy of gay rights. The right of a woman to choose. The acceptance of the 21st century woman. The liberation of sex amidst sexes—Had all these combined inadvertently to ridicule the notion of marriage?
Or had it just made it stronger?

“Marriage is a good idea if you’re ready for it. But most people don’t seem to realize that. People just want to get married without really knowing why. Just because tradition demands it. That’s one major problem. You have to be ready” David said. “And if you’re not ready to get married then I don’t think you should get into it. There’s no rush. Really.”

Maybe there was the answer.
The spurious sense of urgency imposed on everyone. What was the rush to get married anyway?
Breakthroughs in medicine guaranteed that child bearing could be had as long as the woman still could. The dangers associated with aging mothers, whilst still present ,were easily attended too. Whilst there was no reason why a person couldn’t marry in his late teen years there was no reason either why such decision could not be postponed for another decade.
One thing was right. Marriage was taking a lot of hits. If one was going to do it. It helped if you did it right.

“Eventually I suppose. I will get married. When I’m ready. When I find the right person.” Chuck announced. He raised his bottle of beer in his hand. Just in case we asked him to make good his declaration he was pointing out his excuse.
I didn’t say anything in reply to that. I had already made my decision on the topic.

It was true that sex was great and the freedom of singlehood was a heady rush. But then there were times when the need to share arose. The need to touch. To see. To reassure ourselves that we were not lone adventurers experiencing the busy pace of life. No man, they say, is an island. Marriage guaranteed that we found partners to steer through life with. The good and the bad. There was a reason why Marriage had worked so well and somehow I doubted that sex had that much to do with it. Sex was an important part of marriage. But it wasn’t Marriage.
Like a man once said, No one knows who discovered water but it wasn’t the fish.
Someday I would marry. But when I did it would be because of all the right reasons. Because I felt ready. Because I found the right person.

“So maybe one day we’ll get married.”Akinwale said raising his beer glass with a smile. “But till then. Here’s to more nights of Glorious sex with our girlfriend and girlfriends.”
We all cheered in agreement with him, Loud shrieks adding to the noise of the already noisy bar, but within me, another fraught with caution, whispered even louder.
Sex to be sure was a fantastic thing. But if there was one thing I still remembered from my wunderkid years it was this.
Pounded yam was good, but too much often resulted in Kwashiorkor.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I am afraid of heights.
It is a pretty serious problem i am told.
Given my line of work there are certain things expected of you. Even more importantly, i am not told, are things that are not expected.
Fear of Heights appears to be one of them. It is why i am seated here waiting.
My condition has been referred to the people above me and some form of reckoning or reconciliation is scheduled to take place.
I think it's a lot of fuss over nothing really but everyone assures me that, in my line of work , it isn't.
You see I am an Angel.

There is a soft gasp and he walks in.
Well, he doesn't so much walk as floats.
When one is an Arch Angel like Micheal walking is hardly the means of conveyance.
I play with my fingers nervously as he seats down opposite me. To calm my nerves I wonder why i am fidgeting.

Micheal doesn't notice my fidgeting. If he does he is polite and does not comment on it. He looks through the sheaf of paper in his hands. Some unbiased report--i suppose--on my......preference.
"You're afraid of heights?" Angel Micheal asks with a smile.
I close my eyes in exasperation. Obviously i am wrong.
It is a big deal when an angel is afraid of heights.
Micheal chuckles."What;s your name?" He asks.
He asks me the question in Yiddish. We Angels are Multi Lingual. The simplest of us is versed in over 987 earth languages. Obviously Arch Angels are acquainted with more. It is a common habit for us to converse in different languages.
"Mourinho." I reply.
Okay. Granted that really isn't my name. I don't really say Mourinho in answer to his question but instead give him my actual name. Unfortunately What my real name is is something that--unless ordered otherwise-- i cannot write here. To cover this problem i have picked a susbtitute.
Mourinho is just as good a substitute name as Micheal is.
No. Micheal isn't his real name either.
Micheal smiles."It's okay. You aren't the first Angel afraid of heights."
I look at him with surprise.
"I'm not." I ask him this in German. One of my favorite languages.
"Off course not. It's actually quite common. Something to do with an angel's fear of falling." He chuckles again "Fallen Angels aren't good news you know."
I nod my head not really understanding.
Micheal turns a sheet and writes on the page using a quill dipped in ink."Let see. Before this you were a Seraph. In the Choir it says."
I smile happily. This is something i am proud off.
"Yes i was. I sang the Dotrino Hossana Harmas. 4 times in a row." I look at him hopefully " Do you want to hear it?"
"Er.... NO." Micheal says.
I slouch in my seat a bit let down. I understand his hesitation though. An Angel cannot leave his work until it's done. The Dotrino Hossana Hama takes 1500 earth years to complete.
""4 times in a row. Very Impressive.."mummurs Micheal in Latin.
"WHat's that?"
"Never mind." He says to me with another lovely smile.He shouldn't have bothered.
We angels rarely worry for long.It's on the list of things one expects from angels. A lack of worry. It's an Angel thing.
Across me Micheal tries to write in the scroll that he holds in his hand. The quill appears to be broken. He sighs and looks across at me.
"DO duck your head."
His wings are magnificent.
They unfold slowly from behind him. Blossoming out into the masterpiece of white plumage. A soft breeze sweeps across the room as he fans them softly sending tufts of cloud in difrent direction. Framed by the feathers he appears even more beautiful.I watch as he fiddles with his wings a bit before finally settling on one feather.
He pulls it out.
"Ouch" i say using the Universal language of Ouch.
My wings behind me quiver with the shock of the act.
It must have hurt a lot but Micheal doesn't show it. My respect for Arch Angels grow a notch.He dips the new quill in the bottle of Ink.
"I cant wait for Laszlo Biro to come to heaven. There are changes that i wouldn't mind seeing around here. A Biro wouldn't be bad at all."
"A what?" I ask him. He spoke in English and yet it is a word i am not familiar with.
"Never mind."
I do the angel thing. It is a very easy thing to do .Not worrying.
"Okay Mourinho. You know why you are here. It seems there are more and more souls popping up on earth. 3000 years ago we had barely a million people on the earth. We didn't need to supervise as much. I remember the years after the Flood. Noah and his family were all we had to watch over."He sighs dreamily."Those were Good times. Good times indeed."Micheal leans forward and points to a meter behind him. There is a number on it written in lovely Calligraph.
Six Billion, five hundred and sixty thousand , two hundred and three.
"Now we have Six Billion, five hundred and sixty thousand , two hundred and three souls on earth.
""Two hundred and eight." I correct him.
"What?" Micheal Asks.
I point behind him. The handwritten Meter has changed with an extra five. It now reads.Six Billion, five hundred and sixty thousand , two hundred and Eight.
Micheal nods and throws his wing in the air.
" You see what I'm talking about. They're growing at an alarming rate. Popping up all over the world . Unless..... off course some woman just delivered Quintuplets."
"Quintuplets?" I say with a laugh.
Micheal nods." It means...."
" I know what it means." I interrupt. Somehow we have ended up speaking Greek for the last minute. I change to Spanish. " I see what you mean."
The numbers on the wall have gained an extra one hundred.
" Do you now? Well that's good." Micheal says with a smile. " We've got a lot more souls to watch over now. Most of them require at least 2 angels to watch over them and that's if we're lucky. Some girl asked him for 7 angels to watch over her puppy. There's a lot of demand for us over there. " He looked at me grimly."That's were you come in. We've decided to pull some of our Seraphs to help out with the load. It's been ordered by him. We wanted to send you some where south but this flying thing..."
"The Flying thing." I repeated with a respectful nod.
Micheal smiled at me again. He seemed to love doing that a lot.
"It's okay though. A ready solution comes to mind. We'll just send you over to places that do not require much flying. A place were people stay closer to the ground than most. You shouldn't have a problem blending in there. it's a proven ground for people with your condition."
I cant help it and blush.
"I feel so embarrassed ." I say in Gibberish.
Remarkably enough he hears me." Oh no. Don't be. There are angels that have crazier sides. Why , i know of an angel who liked to float upside down. Scared the hell out of some nuns in Brazil. No no. YOu're fine. It's a phase. You'll slip out of it." Micheal said laughing. " In the mean time here's your deployment papers. You'll like it. We're sending you to the Equatroix Section. ALpha Mani."
I take the papers from him and read it quickly."It's close to the desert." I say with delight.
Micheal nods sagely. " Yes. We took your singing experience into consideration. Just in case you feel like singing. There's space enough..." Micheal says in Russian.
I smile happily. He twirls the quill with a pleased look.
Business all done.
" SO that;s it then." He says with a smile ."Pack your bags and roll out. Someone will attend to you when you get there."
I rise happily while he floats opposite me.
."See?" He says in another language "I tell you say Wahala no dey. No worry."
I smile happily back doing the Angel thing.
Worry Ke? Thunder Fire Satan.