It is the worst feeling in the world when you are rejected by a man, any man, but when it is the love of your life. Well, the only one you would have chosen anyway, above any of them, and there were some, some of the most powerful, highly persuasive, well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Because in the end, he didn’t want me. He was very polite about it though. About telling me to leave him alone. All he had to say was this, that I looked like his daughter. Which meant I was too young, too unsuitable, too crazy, or too mad, whatever word you want to use in place of mental patient. I wanted them to leave me alone, and now they do. I only have myself to blame at the end of the day, or night, or in the early hours of the day.
Men want sex. They want to know it is available to them when you are in a relationship with them. Men want the sex-act. They don’t want to ask you questions. I don’t eat anyway. Restaurant dinners would be wasted on me. I don’t like to eat in public. I don’t like restaurants.
Don’t like to go to them. I don’t believe in all of that. The stuff of relationship-imagination that girlfriends want, and wives want even more. The date night. That’s foreplay for the girl, for the wife. She talks, and talks, and talks, and the man says nothing, what does he really do, what does he really want. He wants the evening to end, so he can make love to his wife, or his girlfriend. I on the other hand because of the medication cannot climax. I cannot reach orgasm.
I am a complete waste of time. What does a wife do best? Nag. Whine.
But she’s fertile. She gives him the sons, and the daughters that he wants. He worships his children, gives them everything, everything because he can. The men, besides being beautiful, and intellectual, and driven in their careers and all of that, the Orpheus Effect, oh, I said that. I said what I wanted to say. They are beautiful. All I want is the man. But I can’t. I can’t fall pregnant, do you understand.
What would I do with a child, a baby who will need me for the best part of eighteen years? I have no money. A woman alone, living in poverty, oh, I write. I write books for a living, but I don’t make much. It’s enough for me. But not for a family. Do you understand?
There’s no man, you see. Do you understand? There is no man. But there were. Oh, they’re all off now in the world. Leading everything.
Building empires. Leading filmmaker, leading researcher, leading companies, teaching, consulting. I was young. I’m not young anymore.
Maybe one day I’ll get lucky. I’ll get someone to marry me. But I’m a strange and bewildering woman. My books are full of it. If you read them, you will find that out about me. I’m not a woman. I’m an intellectual. Blame my father for that. He was lonely. He wanted someone to talk too. I was his companion. His best friend. His confidante. I don’t know how to be this woman, anyway. Lack of mother.
Lack of her intensity. So, I lack that kind of intensity within me.
You’re the therapist, here. Yes, I understand. I understand that you understand. Yes, it is a lonely life. I don’t have a father to shelter, or protect me anymore. The sky is a blue ribbon, so, so is my heart. What colour is yours? I’m a detective. If I investigate everything, write about everything, hold nothing back, what then the wife in the relationship with her husband. These books I write, oh, they sell. People read them. Men and women read them. My life, I, little me, make people curious. My life makes people curious. Not men.
Men know exactly what I am. The Jack Nicholson of women. Always left, always loved though, but men can’t stand to be around me say, for years. Maybe hours. Everybody wants me. It’s tiresome. Tiring.
The conversations are mentally exhausting. The love, I have enough love for the world of men. Creative men, highly intelligent men. For them, I am everything. I’m progressive thinker, I’m independent, I’m object of affection, and in return they love me. They can’t be with me; they can’t marry me. Marriage is out of the question. They made their choice years before, all these men. All my loves. Everyone can see this. So, I try to stay out of the man’s way. His space. Goodness knows how important a man’s personal space is to him. The wife ensconced in mansion, large house, with child, or, with children. They make it clear to me from the beginning that no mention must be made of the other women in their lives, their wives, their daughters.
Their other children, if the other children are sons. In the men I have chosen to live my days with, long afternoons. The men that I think of, that are there even when I close my eyes, and am utterly, utterly alone, they chose me, so that should be enough happiness for me, isn’t it? The sex act makes me sometimes, just sometimes uncomfortable. But I do, do I do it gladly, that is enough, isn’t it?
It makes the man in my life happy. That is enough for me. I get no pleasure. None whatsoever. Blame I guess the lack of the presence of a mother in my life. I was always gravitating to women, not to fall in love with them, no, no. I always, always preferred men. Blame my father. Blame me for being his confidante for his entire life.
Even near the end, I had to do everything for him. He was in a wheelchair at the end, in the autumn of his years, and I was still doing everything. A grown woman behaving like a child. Never able to settle down and run my own household affairs. I was a grown woman, bored, uneducated running my father’s household. Fixing breakfast for him, giving him his pills, reading to him from the Book of Psalms, after that we’d discuss what was read, he’d pray, I’d pray, then we’d talk and talk and talk. He was educated, an intellectual. Perhaps that is why I’m only attracted to heavily educated, intellectual men.
Childhood is strange. My childhood was strange. No mother, although there she was in the house. Elegant, always elegant.
Hair always done. She never spoke to me. She talked at me. She screamed at me. She shouted at me when she wanted something done. I could not, even when I the insomnia started, the nightmares as a child sleep in her bed. By then, my parents were sleeping in separate beds.
My childhood. You want me now to talk about my childhood. Not now.
Please not now. I don’t have that kind of time. Already I am mentally exhausted thinking about my father, thinking about all the men. They leave me alone now. Maybe it’s because I’m old now. Older. Isn’t it sad? All that time, all that love, all that potential wasted. Or, perhaps not wasted after all. I have written books. Some people even call me an artist. Note to self. Not novelist.
Not writer. They call me artist. Read it. Read them, if you want to. I know you won’t. You’re female. Not male. You have a female sensibility. You’re married. You have a husband, a daughter. I have none. These books you will either find amusing, or absurd. Perhaps you won’t be able to take my freedom. I’m free. You’re not. You’re tethered to community. I have no community on the other hand. If you read just a chapter, even open any of my books randomly, you will discover this for yourself. I don’t want you to hate me. It’s not your job to hate me. It was my mother’s job to hate me. My sister, she despised me all the way to Czechoslovakia. She lives in Prague now. If you read my books, you will know all the secrets of my heart.
All those men, but all that time they didn’t, or, couldn’t understand that I didn’t know how they loved me at all. They didn’t want talk.
They didn’t want communication eye-to-eye. Face-to-face talk. All they wanted, desired, was the sex-act. Even in my early twenties I didn’t know anything about the sex-act. Jean Rhys had called it ‘the sexual transaction’. Sorry, she was a novelist and short story writer.
Dominican. Feminist before her time. Writer, in the vein of the Russian men, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, you know. Oh, you don’t know them either. Fine, I’ll continue. I had plenty of boyfriends.
Most of them, no, all of them, come to think of it, a good deal older than me. Do they still think of me, that is the question, with their careers and prosperity? Children at university. The only one I do care about, no, let me rather rephrase that.
The only one I love, love deeply, for who he is, and all of that. The kind of love that makes a woman in the end marry. He doesn’t love me anymore. He never loved me. All this time, I thought he did. After winter, must come spring, right? Right. Madly in love with me. Sadly, as it turns out I had believed in a dream all these years. In my youth I struggled. As a child I was hurt, wounded by my own mother. There’s the proof. I have life. I am an artist. I also have no life. To look at me I look as if I’m a married lady, with children. Not even children at university, young children. After all this time, years, and years, and years. My great love is still unmarried. He is still beautiful. He’s still older though, but even more beautiful.
We’re both a great deal older now, and of course I thought, anything can happen. Yes, yes, it was a mistake. But it was my mistake, you see. I take full ownership, and responsibility for that. I thought, well now. We can love each other now. We can fall in love now. But I am here. He is in America. He is in Los Angeles. He is also an artist.
I am an artist. All of these things we have in common. I contacted him. It was my mistake to make, you see. He did not speak to me. He spoke to me through his secretary. There was no love. Never. I could see that now, as I saw it when I was in my younger years. My early twenties. Or there was, and he was just doing what he always did, which is love, absolute love, unconditional love me, in any place.
He protected me, by not speaking to me. By not questioning me. He just said this. He told his secretary to say this to me. That I looked like his daughter. And all I thought to myself was this, asked myself, really, has so much, or, so little time passed that I still looked like his daughter. All this time I thought that change would eventually come. I thought I would marry. That the seeds would grow.
That I would marry the man I loved with my entire being, and that accepted my psychological framework. All this time it was out of the question. It was out of the question. My love was unacceptable. He had someone else in his life. A daughter, and we would never be together.
I look like her.
Remember, because I remember that cold and hard fact, bitterly sometimes. That he told his secretary these exact words. That I looked like his daughter. Which meant this, the very obvious. That he was always going to be old enough to be my father. I know, I know. Why do I hurt myself in this way? It’s all my fault. It’s always my fault.
They end it, always. They walk away. The men. All of them. When you are a gifted child, you carry that gift with you throughout your life.
Yes, it stays with you. No matter how old you become, you become wiser, also indifferent to the world. In a way, this gift arrests your youth, your development. You understand? No, you don’t. How do I explain it to you, then? You specialized in the field of psychiatry.
You should be explaining this to me. Not the other way around. You smile. So, so, we are friends. All this time I thought to myself that we weren’t. I was too forward-thinking, too artistic. You were mother.
Psychic, empath or psychosis
Rita is a woman who has had visions from childhood. At night she always left her bedroom door ajar, slept with the light on, with the bible under her pillow. She is visited by men and women who have passed on to the hereafter who think that they are still in some indefinable way connected, tethered to this world, this earthly plane and to the ones they have left behind. Children, husbands, spouses, pets. Slaves, and Masters.
She believes her auditory hallucinations are very, very real and that it is her duty, her moral obligation to record the conversations that she has with them be they writers and poets who have suffered the anguish and despair of suicidal depression (Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace, and Anne Sexton). Be they South African men and women detained during apartheid. We are living in changing times. Progress.
(Dulcie September, George Botha, Biko aka Frank Talk), men and women of African, British (Anna Kavan, Ann Quin), North American, Dominican descent (Jean Rhys) or from the Biblical era (for example Moses, Jonah and the whale, Elijah, Job, Noah, David, Solomon, and Jesus key figures in the history of civilization).This, she does fastidiously. Handwritten in black Croxley notebooks. I write in circles. Casting vertigo off.
But when people around her can see that she is different, special in a rather extraordinary way they begin to doubt her sanity and she is found to be certifiable, told that she should get plenty of rest, be put under psychiatric treatment and put under the care of a team of doctors. She soon though discovers her identity. Its borders in the powers of her own feminine sensuality, her ego. I was a slave to the vertigo of depression.
The perpetual balancing act between the psychological framework of her intelligence, and intellectualism, and the final analysis of the sexual transaction. With that said she rises to the occasion and meets her new life head under feet. She soon finds herself in the tiny one roomed library of the hospital and begins to read everything she can get her hands on from Doris Lessing but most importantly the genius poetry of T.S. Eliot.
Once she surrenders to the fact that everyone around her thinks that she has lost touch with reality she pursues love with an art second to none. She is or rather becomes Orlando in an asylum and finds that she must play her role in this establishment’s class, gender and economic system. She becomes a phenomenal African version of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. People in semi-autobiographical novels are based in reality.
Beautiful, wanted, adored, worshiped by men and women for her intellect in a dazed, confused world where pharmaceuticals, head doctors with textbook knowledge of case studies are the elixir, the essence of life. She negotiates the shark infested waters of having intimate relationships with both men and women acutely aware of the danger she finds herself in of engaging in licentious behaviour. Your reputation is an investment.
Of losing more than the fabric of her psyche, her soul. The safe world as she knew it as a child, youth and adult in her twenties. She finds herself in danger of losing everything.In the hospital Rita has flashbacks, embodies another personality that she, and her psychiatrist Dr Naomi Prinsloo calls ‘Julia’, she writes and she journals.Hurting people, hurt other people. Broken people, hurt broken people. Gifted people too.
Sometimes a child’s innocence is lost too soon, and by the time they reach adulthood they are unable to cope with the stressors of adult life and of being an adult. They revert to being children, or being treated like a child. A female of the gender persuasion will not be able to look after her children, love, listen, respect and admire her husband, support him through his long walk to spiritual and personal freedom.
The female is unable to do that through each magnitude of every choice her husband has to make. He wants and needs and desires love. So, if it is not forthcoming from his wife, the key to understanding and tolerating him, he feels lost, ashamed in the bedroom if the sexual impulse is not forthcoming from his wife in the bedroom. If the sexual stimulus that he needs is not forthcoming from his wife. To love, to love.
To love. Pour the memory of the mental cruelty. Poor the memory of that down on me.If felt so good to be touched by him. He made me feel so safe in his arms. And I longed to be in his company forever. Two words. Moses Molelekwa. The thing about being a tortured genius is very real. Your man is not going to be superhuman all of the time. Within every man is a bored and tortured genius waiting, for a life partner.
for the woman who will understand he is flawed. He also needs to be loved, understood. If you need therapy, and I’ve needed a lot of it over the years, make the call. (Think Hemingway and Salinger, brilliant men, tortured geniuses) who will live for posterity. You will live for posterity in the lives of your children, your wife at your side, the people that you work with. What is the legacy that you will leave behind?
Two words. Moses Molelekwa. The thing about being a tortured genius is very real. Your man is not going to be superhuman all of the time. Within every man is a bored and tortured genius waiting for the woman who will understand he is flawed. He also needs to be loved, understood. If you need therapy, and I’ve needed a lot of it over the years, make the call. Think Freud, Hemingway and Salinger, Rilke, and Nietzsche.
(All brilliant men, tortured geniuses) who will live for posterity. You will live for posterity in the lives of your children, your wife at your side, the people that you work with. What is the edge-of-your-seat legacy that you will leave behind in the lives of the people who love you, who care for you? I wish I could tell broken people that depression is just a season. That taking your own life, or, being in a rehab facility is a season.
The Reward of Having a Revolutionary Spirit
I’ve made mistakes. More than a few. I haven’t always apologised for my behaviour, for the mistakes I made, the wrong journey I took, the path less travelled. I am broken inside. I sometimes feel numb and dead inside when I exercise. Especially when I exercise. When I’m stressed out, I exercise a lot. I watch films. I read poetry. I write poetry. But these days it just feels as if I can’t carry out the simplest of tasks. I feel that nobody really loves me for me. I think of Elvis, I think of Sinatra, I think of Sammy Davis Junior. I think of their friendship. The bonds between them. They were brothers. They had each other’s backs. They looked out for one another. They loved each other. I do not know what love is. It feels like a burden.
Growing up my mother loved herself. Narcissist I think is the correct term. Always in heels and a G-string. Sexed up.My father was an absent father by all accounts. But, to all intents and purposes her gave me a happy life, a happy childhood. So, I am taking the memories wherever I go. Wherever, whenever, and I mean the happiest memories I’ve had, I still have, are the moments I spent with my father. Eating ice cream, going to the beach, visiting the clinical psychologist, buying the month’s groceries, playing under his desk at work. My father’s friends were my friends. The people that knew my father, knew me from a young age. Precocious and cute, always wanting to make people with sad eyes laugh, and if I couldn’t get them to laugh.
I would get them to smile at least. When I was born before the eighties, George Botha passed away that year, from an apparent suicide. Biko slipped on a bar of soap. Dulcie September (I wonder what her children would have been like, her husband, would she have settled in London, married a man who had green, or blue eyes. Rick Turner was assassinated by a man with a gun (they haven’t found him yet), Kevin Carter was killed by a stray bullet as he was taking pictures of the unrest in the townships during the brutal heights of the heyday of apartheid. Political activists of colour were being arrested at every turn. Turn the corner, walk in the opposite direction someone, someone would be following you. We have life, down the slope of life, and up the hill.
The Americans I think termed that phrase Big Brother is watching you, or else it could have been anyone really. I’m young, but I have an old soul. Yes, I read poetry. Yes, I read books too. Basically, anything I can get my hands on. I love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. The cake flour, the dough I eat off my fingers, dust the doughnuts with icing sugar, or cocoa, keeping busy, busy, busy, trying not to think, trying not to think of anyone, or anything. It is a long, long way to Rapunzel, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Proust, Nabokov, Salinger, Rilke, Akhmatova, and Coco Chanel. It is an even longer distance to Billy Graham, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Neville Alexander, Fikile Bam, Patrice Motsepe.
My thoughts pay attention to ex-president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, ex-president Thabo Mbeki, ex-president Jacob Zuma, and president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa. Then I think of the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and the American presidents (the leaders of the free world), George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Nobody knows anything really about their childhood. Rapunzel, like all fairy tales, like the Native Americans, and the Eastern Cape poets Ayanda Billie, Robert Berold, Brian Walter, Mzi Mahola, the late Arthur Nortje, the late Dennis Brutus, Mxolisi Nyezwa, they are all frozen in the snow of my memory. I want people to love me.
Just like my dad. People love daddy. People loved daddy. But inside I am sad. I am not even loved in my own home. My mother hates me. How to get over the mental cruelty, her un-loveliness to me over the years, her utter humiliation of me when she saw how close me and dad were getting. She was in the house, put on a disappearing act whenever I appeared. I tell myself that nobody loves me. That I’m a rubbish-throw-away-type of person. Nobody should associate themselves with me. I have no self-esteem, then low self-esteem. Sleep around. No, not really. I just give expert hand jobs, and I never kiss. Never. Too intimate, it makes me feel vulnerable, and when you kiss someone there are just so many levels to it, you know.
The first kiss. Well, you always remember that. You always remember the person who first kissed your lips. And after that, after that you open your warm mouth (I think of everything as an experiment, an adventure, an exploration of sorts). They have all gone out into the world now. The wives have done what is impossible for me. Given the boys children. That, that, that right there is too much for me to take, to handle, although I know I will survive. Believe me, I survive without cocaine and alcoholism, without sexuality and the sexual transaction (as Jean Rhys said in After Leaving Mr Mackenzie. I endure with the best of them. I love like the greats. The great singers and songwriters (the late Karen Carpenter), musicians. (Lenny Kravitz, Fiona Apple).
I too have been careless with the hearts of delicate people. Some have moved on with their lives, and have forgotten all about me. I pretend to wake up in the mornings to the legends that the boys have become. They are men who rule empires now. They have forgotten all about me, forsaken me for money, prosperity, prestige, status (I’m mixing up my similes here). I miss them. I miss them like crazy. I wish I was back there, not here. Each and every day in Johannesburg was either a summer-ish day, or winter. I wish I was in love again, but I’m not. I’m a wreck. Still the same wreck I was 20 years ago. I’m growing older. I’m in my forties now. What a terrible age. The onset of menopause, flashbacks to a time and place when you were happier.
When you could afford to make mistakes, behave foolishly, and love, love, love, and dance the night away with multiple partners on your arms, but I didn’t know about the world. Didn’t know anything about the world. So, mothers, be good to your daughters. They will learn to love like you do. I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about love. I can smoke, I can drink when I hang out with the guys. I love men. Women ignore me. Women talk down to me. Women humiliate me in front of their children, mother-in-law, and especially, especially their boyfriends, their husbands, life partners. You know that kind of girl. You know that kind of woman. She’s beautiful, exceptional-looking. She dresses down.
She dresses up. I’m that kind of woman now. Can someone hear my plea? Anyone, anyone? Anyone out there? All I ever wanted was for my mother to tell me how much she loved me, how proud she was of me, and she didn’t. Still doesn’t to this day. And I hate violence of any kind, even in films. I still believe in what Walt Disney proclaimed. It is my mantra still to this day. I believe in family values. I guess it is the principle behind it. Norms and values. Growing up with norms and values. A kind of belief system, even though I did go to Sunday School, and memorise Bible verses, and was indoctrinated into religion by the Union Congregational Church,(I’m not religious anymore, although I still pray, still meditate.
I still believe in reconciliation, and as such there is evil in the world, but there is also the greater good). Anyway, I am much more of a spiritual person now, from an early age I believed in angels. Truth for some, but not truth for all. I believe in the qualities of a good Christian, Brahmin, Yogi, Hindu, Muslim, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic. All religions hold truth at the cornerstones of their foundation. So, instead of making war, think instead (this is for all the world leaders, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters out there), make peace (keep the peace in the house, reconcile your differences, sit at the table and break bread, talk about your day, don’t isolate yourself from either your family, or your community). Be kind.
You can kill with kindness you know. Today that person could be your enemy, tomorrow (as the ancients, prophets, saints, angels say) that same enemy could be your friend. Money and wealth won’t make you beautiful. Inner beauty, understanding and understanding devotion to others less fortunate than yourself, the marginalised, downtrodden, those living in poverty-stricken areas in dire straits give them your peace too, and something to eat. The game of life is made up of winners and losers. The loser always forgets about the lesson that they have learned. The winner takes it all. Always remember it is how you play the game. Life is precious. People are precious too. We are only human at the end of the day.
Once, they said that someday technology will surpass humanity. Code breakers, the women and men who serve countries around the world, and who are willing to sacrifice their lives for millions of people). I think also of scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Pavlov, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie (twice-winner) of the Nobel Prize. I think of researchers dealing with computers, information communication technology, indigenous knowledge systems, the great digital divide between the haves and the have nots (first world countries and third world countries). I think of intellectuals like Pliny the Elder, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Homer, and Plato. Isn’t every intellectual an authority on philosophy, education.
Subjects as diverse and varied (Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo), as the holistic vision of an educationalist, community leader, humanist, activist, volunteer, just as much as a person can be plumber, he can also be a storyteller (everybody has a story to tell), and a poet. His name can be Yusuf Agherdien, Ambrose Cato George, and Shaheed Hendricks (the writers of the book South End: As We Knew It, although District Six in Cape Town is more well-known when it comes to the promulgation of the Group Areas Act). They can even be the curator, and a writer-visionary-maverick of the world-famous museum, the South End Museum, that has its roots in Saint Helena. An island in the middle of the ocean, that could only in the past be reached by a Royal Mail Ship that sailed from Cape Town to Saint Helena. Are we still slaves, our minds enslaved?
Enslaved by oppression and racism, prejudice and gangsterism, the abuse of alcohol and mental cruelty? It has become a global phenomenon. It has become a buzzword. In my mind, we are all then victims of circumstance, of trauma, of incidents that happened in our childhood. And yes, we fall prey to evil deeds, and evil thoughts, we sin, and sometimes we pray and ask for forgiveness, and sometimes we don’t. We don’t learn the lesson; we would rather abscond. Go our own way. For some of us, this is all we know. Running away from loss and grief, denial and instigation, and when we do that we are motivated by our own fear, anxiety, even insanity (which means two things, break from reality, or non-reality).
When you’re in high school all you want to do is hang with the popular crowd, go out with the most popular boy in school, obtain high marks, achieve on the sports field and inside the classroom. I was an obsessive-compulsive achiever, and the only people I wanted to impress were the women in my family. The women make babies, and stay at home, cook and clean, raise their family, but in my world the husband was always marrying the mistress.We know the affect that climate change has had on the seasons, harvests, running water, rain, sanitation, and it spells disaster in all areas. Floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, storms, drought which affects our farmers, and particular our agriculture all over the world. I digress.
I come back to those two words again. Global phenomenon. We are reaching a climatic stage of events in world history. Ask yourself these questions, think about them, ponder them as you would any project that is highly creative, and imaginative, that needs you to focus, and concentrate. Put all your energies into it, as you would your children’s lives, and your husband’s or wife’s welfare. What is your legacy, will it be hidden from view, or be there for all to see? What is your calling, your purpose in life, what are you extremely passionate about (I must have asked myself these questions thousands of times, and so, no, I’m not exaggerating)? What are your empirical dreams, lofty goals, pre-imminent plans? Are you concerned about the spiritual welfare of others, as I am?
Sola Osofisan’s masterpiece ‘Blood Will Call’: A bowl of green apples, and a book review
“And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing; a local habitation and a name.”-William Shakespeare
‘Blood Will Call’ is a beautiful book that promises the planting of the seasons faded out with the elegant winter, complex, and complicated summer, spring, and autumns, escapism, hurting, and wounded lives.
People who have to take stock of the exit route out. There’s abuse, there’s mediocrity, there’s average, there’s people living on the edge, addicted to the void of waiting, the darkness of existentialism, the apron strings of the kitchen, the reincarnation of ghost, illusion, and apparition. Don’t think of me as volcano, the woman seems to say, the girlchild, clouds wherever they fix their eyes.
There is legacy.
But there are also proponents for change, grief-stricken hearts, impoverished, disadvantaged, and marginalized circumstances. There is forgiveness, tenderness, vertigo, karmic accounts, and debts that have to be paid, and the analysis of scandal, and love story. Rituals of innocence, and wisdom to keep them company. I always wonder about the writer’s routine. Just the thought of this writer hurt me.
I thought of the writer’s anguish, in much the same way I thought of all the characters in the book, their anguish. It played a major role for me. Then came their sadness in a supporting role. Is the writer a morning person, an afternoon person, or an evening person? Do they write into the lonely hours of early morning? What was the object of the writer’s affection, the subjects they framed so imaginatively?
For not the first time in my life, when it came to reviewing a book, I ran away. I danced away from the writer’s vision for his book. This book was a crazy love, and the people in this book didn’t often obey the laws of human nature, or the rules of the game, or know when to say please, or thank you. This book was a boat journey into fire, a river of fire, the flames licking at the canvas of my bare feet.
It was a crossing into the divide of sleeping, and dreaming, thought, and meditation, prayer, and vision. You see the writer’s mind at work, a filmmaker’s vision, a poet’s meditation, a short story writer’s dreaming away. So, the book is acrobatic, intense, hectic, and there’s conflict, and drama that never leaves the page, but you get taken from point to principle, from one identity crisis to the next.
The women have an uninhibited desire for courage, savvy, sass, even when they are at their most vulnerable. They are armed with intuition, persuasion, greatness, supernatural memory, and desire. I paid critical attention to these women, these mothers with their large haunting eyes, they’re not party people, they’re not beach people, they’re people who go off to war every day of their lives.
Yet, there’s something beautiful about them. In their pain, their humiliation, the drudgery of their lives, they take you from the beginning of this book of short stories to the end, and you are wanting them to overcome their circumstances through any means necessary. And I think to myself, this is a Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri writing here. What now of the valley we’re in.
We’re dreaming that our books, our pen, our sword if you will, will hit the mark, will hit the ground running, and there’s the belief that our books will fascinate audiences, and we dream as Africans from the east to the west in poetry, we write our novels, and short stories in poetry, we envision that now is the time. The plausible time for the possible, and impossible, the time for Africans not to be soft targets.
It is difficult for African novelists, and short story writers to publish their books. The world has gone gaga over Nigerian female writers, but where are the male writers. They’re there. It’s just that favor, and increase has yet to work for them in the same way that it has for someone like Chimamanda Adichie. Sola Osofisan, I don’t think that you really understand what you’ve done. You’ve changed everything. I see African on the screen of my mind. I see Nigeria on the screen of my mind.
The writer taught me that God will put entities in your path either to obstruct you, destroy you, sabotage you, destroy you, or uplift, empower you, and make you selfless, giving, gifted visionary. The book is a journey. The book is a spiritual journey. Sola Osofisan has a destiny, a kingdom, and in these pages, I took a knowledge from, lessons from my father, stories from my mother. There’s personal fulfillment here on these pages.
There were chapters from my childhood. Things I didn’t want to remember, but I remembered the lesson. Don’t waste the pain. Kill your enemies with kindness. Things happen in life. Things happen in Africa.
Mostly negative things happen to women, and girl children in Africa.
But they wake up in the morning, the country is still there. There’s a truly wonderful feeling in the air for me right now. Sola Osofisan is Herculean, an Aristotle-in-the-making.
Anybody who writes is creative, but few writers, creatives are historians, researchers, perfect illustrators at interpreting the past injustices of their country. I don’t need the world to love me after eight books. I have the same message for Sola Osofisan. Go on, comrade. Don’t quit, compatriot. Write as if you are living on the edge of the world, as if it’s the end times. Don’t give up your passion.
I’ve discovered the African Renaissance in Sola Osofisan, his brave world, his artistry, his flawless writing, profound technique, and style, and there’s chaos, hysteria, spiritual sensitivity that he brings to his writing. It is dazzling, and sure, hectic, and pure, as he describes the landscape of life, of what matters, mapping it all out for the reader, and it seems as if I have waited forever to read a book like this. There’s conditioned thinking, church, indoctrinated religion, theologians that are still there.
From the first page the characters hover in plain sight like the music of the night. They are anointed, and enigmatic (nurturers, caretakers, products of neo-colonialism that awaken others to insight, loneliness, curbing their enthusiasm for the disgruntled, the downtrodden, miserable pain of their lives). There is something frightening about the reality and non-reality of these stories.
How these people are blessed by their enemies even. The stories are filled with movement like dance, moving rhetoric that represents the unseen system, and a country that is as captivating as a symphony orchestra. I think of the aspects of almost prophetic vision that the people in these stories have. Forgive them. Forgive Sola Osofisan for taking you there. When you’re exhausted, take a break, inhale the aromas of the food cooking on the fire, exhale the happy days that these people will never have.
You just know that you are in the hands of a master-storyteller. More than imprint burned on brain, more like a ghost. I miss you more than most on some days, just thinking of the very thought of you. The book came to me in blooming flowers, in energetic silhouettes, in evolving waves, in vibrations, marking its intelligence in rotation in fulltime observation, great expectations of greatness in study.
Yes, the awareness of something evil is also out there asking for the taking. We live our lives in denial. That denial has become a pastime whenever we are figuring out the hurting in our lives, who was involved with the hurt, why’d it has to impact us so, hit us so hard.
I love this writer who displays in one heart the fugitive spirit of humanity, in one soul survival, and endurance, and fear and anxiety in the rural wilderness of the countryside in Africa. This is not an African book by far. It is a Nigerian book.
Nigerian creatives are using every story that they’ve heard from childhood, that has doors that lead to intimacy, and frustration, that navigate you towards health, and homesickness, a basket case, and the decay found in the wild. Camp out in ‘Blood Will Call’ but don’t get too comfortable. Soon a forcefield will hit you. The man you don’t want to marry, risk, adventure, and radiance. You can never predict the direction in which this writer goes. It is not the weather.
This writer eats the crumbs from our masters’ table, the dust of the colonial masters’ until it feels like home, with his angel tongue. I am a writer who understands the anatomy of loneliness, and the explicit, controversial, seed-language of blood. The book will grant you a revolutionary kiss on the lips, it is intellectual-magic, on so many levels political, breaking and un-breaking diplomacy, negotiation, and reconciliation.
Now a few words about Sola Osofisan, the writer of ‘Blood Will Call’.
In Africa, in tales of folklore, in the tradition, culture, background, heritage of oral storytelling, passing stories from one generation to the next, there is always a woman involved. Now we have a man. Not just any man. We have a maverick-extraordinaire who knows when to make a gracious exit in-and-out of these relationships. He’s conscientizing an entire generation.
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