The Dream

“To live long, love other people including your family as you love yourself. Don’t be greedy because that is the origin of sadness. Be careful to learn every day”

The Dream

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Olawale had a dream.

When he woke up, he had forgotten the dream. He was afraid because he had forgotten the dream. In his village, the people always say when you forget your dreams that the gods may have forsaken you.

Nobody knows if the postulation is superstitious or not. Some people thought it is a way of promoting spiritual awareness and consciousness of the unseen dimension or the supernatural world.

They say that dreams are the revelations of the things to come. They say that dreams are ways to remember their forefathers and it will be the way that their children will remember them.

Dreams can be the substantial evidence of reincarnation and the fulfilment of the wish to live forever.

It is like that. Our departed parents and grandparents come to us and we go to them in our dreams. Olawale remembered one of his father’s postulations.

Therefore the gift of dream and the gift of memory are cherished among the dwellers.

In this village, you will never tell anyone about your dreams if you don’t remember them.

By following their dreams many people have accomplished outstanding feats. Many have found a way to move on with their lives, away from the points of hopelessness.

Olawale had forgotten some of his dreams before. It is not unusual for people to forget dreams. This is because the transition between night and day in our sleep is endless.

No one knows what breaks the transition for the people who return to day with consciousness.

It was in this village that people first ask if another person has woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

They think that the people who are angry in the mornings are those who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. They think that you lack spiritual guidance if you forget your dreams and that could be one of the sources of your anger.

Nobody is perfect and no mortal will always remember all their dreams. If they do, they will transform to gods and there will be too many gods for human needs and desires.

Olawale was also sad.

So for 7 days he almost didn’t speak to anyone. He only replied and gave short answers when people spoke to him.

His parents didn’t hear from him as much as they would have wanted. When he is returning from work, he usually pays them a visit on his way home. When he had gone home on another route, he calls them from a local telephone kiosk.

But this week is different because he felt inadequate for forgetting yet another dream.

On the 8th day he decided to leave the house and go for a long walk in the forest. He wanted to clear his mind.

After walking for just 15 minutes he was very tired. He was tired because he had also not been eating very well since the day he forgot his last dream.

So he said to himself, I will rest.

Then he sat down on a big stone. He rested. But he fell asleep on the stone.

He rolled off the stone and fell down on the other side of it. He was shaking. He did not know when he fell asleep. Now he is awake and the big stone is above him.

As he was about to stand up, he saw a bag under the stone. But he was afraid because he didn’t know how the bag got there. He was more afraid for what could be the content of the bag.

As he was pondering about where he is and how a bag could have landed under a big stone in the forest, his “forgotten” dream came back to him like a flash.

Eight days ago, he had dreamt that he became a very rich man during his middle-age. So he was upset when he forgot the dream because he had a feeling it was something positive.

Now he remembers his dream and he saw a mysterious bag.

He started to ponder about the meaning of his dream. He is still afraid. He is not sure what could be inside the bag and he was alone in the forest.

How can a bag lie under the stone in the forest where nobody lives? He pondered.

He took the bag from under the stone and was surprised that such a big bag felt to light when he took it up. He opened it and found nothing but a letter inside the bag.

Dear son,

To be happy, you need to find the things that you like. Do them and you’ll be happy.

To be well, eat fresh food that you cook yourself.

When you get married, take care of your wife and children.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger or frustrations.

Instead take a walk for life, for health.

Be of kind heart and show appreciation for the things you have.

Work hard and don’t forget to spend from your savings.

Contentment, not material richness, is the secret of happiness.

To live long, love other people including your family as you love yourself.

Don’t be greedy because that is the origin of sadness.

These are some of the simple lessons of life.

But be careful to learn every day.

The lessons you learn will guide you. They’ll enrich you.

When the alarm went on Olawale woke up and realised that he had been asleep for 3 hours. He was sweating, so he took a cold shower and spent the evening reflecting about his dream.

In it he learnt about some of the simple secrets of life in a letter that he found in a bag in the forest.

aderounmu@gmail.com

(c) 2014

Why Men Should Cook

Cooking can be a form of relaxation. It is surely art. A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family.

Why Men Should Cook

By Adeola Aderounmu

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family. I have argued for parental leave for both mothers and fathers in Nigeria.

Unfortunately there has not been any progress in that area. The typical Nigerian life is driven by harsh economic realities and unpredictable socio-political circumstances.

In one of the most complicated situations in the world, the influence of culture and religion in Nigeria provide for a lot of arguments and discussions on the roles of men in different functional and complicated family situations.

All the men in my nuclear family are great cooks. How is that possible?

The credit goes to our mother who complemented our education effectively on the home front. In Western Nigerian secondary schools (during my time) boys are encouraged to choose Agricultural Science and the girls Home Economics.

As I recall now it seemed that the society also played a biased role in determining the roles of men and women. Therefore it appeared that unless the boys took great interest in cooking or their parents especially mothers taught them at home, they always ended up unable to cook.

Many are quick to emphasize that it is the role or even the “job” of women to cook. In traditional African settings that is largely true. The last statement can be expanded even as a topic for an academic dissertation based on the settings of the traditional African societies and the division of labor amongst the men, women and children.

It has always been imperative that women are able to cook, I may state.

My arguments in this essay are towards the men. I think that the men should be able to cook as much as the women. There are many examples of men who are better cook than their wives or the women in their lives.

These arguments are based on the realities of a changing world that cannot be locked up in the past.

Why should men cook? I will draw mostly from personal experiences.

Cooking as I have found out can be a form of relaxation. A wrong notion might be that a man needs a cold bottle of beer after a stressful day at work.

Cooking can relax the mind and body

Cooking can relax the mind and body

If your kitchen is tidy it is one of the best places to retire to after a hard day’s work. It is a place where you can either throw away your disappointments or show your happiness for the day.

Under any of these circumstances above there should be no hindrance to showing love and care to your children or to your visitors or friends depending on the company you keep after work.

Cooking is art. By systematically creating a piece of meal or a nice, tasty diet from essential raw materials, you might forget or relish about how the day has been and cherish the moment when your children, friends or family enjoy the products your serve to them.

A man should cook to ease the strain on the family.

The children should not suffer or eat junk food simply because their mother is working late one day a week. They should not bear the brunt of their mother visiting a friend during the week or attending a ceremony on Saturday.

If the man is at home, he should be able to stand up to the responsibility of keeping the family going and cooking should be the least of his worries.

There will always be situations when the man is alone with the children at home. That time should not be the time to put up the “I don’t care attitude”. It should not be the time to insult the mother of the children simply because she is held up with another activity.

Some men will never accept that they neglected the obligation of learning how to cook when they were growing up.

Men don’t cook in my family is an outdated expression. When I went to the university I always ate from mama-put is the outburst of a lazy mind. Wake up and look around you. Face the reality of your time and brace up for the era you live in!

Many students can cook despite the fact that they ate at Mama-put and other decent restaurant-which one is your own?

Cooking helps the women to appreciate and boast positively about their men. They feel a sense of gender equality without struggling to achieve it. In a functional family this can promote sexual attraction and help the family to stay psychologically healthy.

Pie: cooking is a form of art

Pie: cooking is a form of art

I do not mean that cooking prevent separation or divorce. It is just one of the ingredients that help as long as the relationship exists.

When both men and women take turns in the kitchen especially when the turns are not based on a schedule, it helps the children to understand that they are required to also take responsibilities for many things in their lives.

The act of pushing blames or looking for excuses start from the family and children learn too quickly from their immediate environment.

Cooking helps children to learn in diverse ways. Science, art, creativity and mathematics are all embodied into cooking.

In Nigeria I can recall that we learned how to cook using a lot of estimations in our judgments of what is required or needed.

Now when I cook sometimes with instructions and using units like “deciliter” or other measurements-I appreciate the level of my mother’s mathematics. It is almost unbelievable what our mothers did!

I know some men take to cooking as a hobby. This means that, by looking or by some sort of interest they just got going at cooking and found it easy and lovable.

I am sure this category of men have found cooking as a useful hobby at those times they are alone as bachelors or married men whose wives are away for certain reasons. They are able to step-up and take charge of the kitchen.

Turning this hobby into a responsibility will be useful on the long run.

From the foregoing, the ability to cook can also help men (and women) to live independently if they choose to be single.

In my family the time between the secondary school leaving year and the university admission year was reserved for intensive course in cooking with my mother. Invariably that was the time you take over the responsibility of cooking for the others in the family who are at home or getting back from work.

Long before that time, it was recommended to be an observer as mama dished out orisirisi from different pots on our stove that was powered by the kerosene.

Growing up in my family back in Nigeria, I know that both boys and girls have equal abilities in the kitchen. I mean a balance of culinary skills. What may vary is the creativity that we add as we went our separate ways.

The documentation of my days at Jaja and Mariere Halls of the University of Lagos cannot be complete without the flavor and aroma the boys in the halls added to the hostels every day.

Later on I met a friend (names withheld) who told me that he could hardly make a cup of tea. He was actually not joking that he cannot even fry an egg. He frequents my room at the College of Medicine in Idiaraba and I always try to show him how I cook. His case was hopeless. He is still my friend today.

When I have had visitors at our home in Stockholm, some people were unable to hide their shock as to the long time I spent in the kitchen. I cook and I tidy up after cooking. Then I tell them why men should cook and tidy up. I hope some women are not fighting their men based on my kitchen behavior.

I do not believe it is the role of women to always do the cooking or tidy up. My mother would chase me out of the kitchen if I start to cook when the kitchen is dirty. In some extreme cases that I remember, she will put out the fire from the stove and I have to take it from the beginning.

There is a time to add the salt and there is a time to slice the onions. No stones in the beans or you’ll eat all the beans yourself. The rice cannot stick together and the tomato sauce must be well fried. Oh Mamma!

Today I appreciate those teachings more than ever before. You will never see me in a dirty kitchen. I can get ill in a dirty kitchen and that is not an exaggeration. It is not a function of wealth but common sense and lessons about hygiene well taken from my mother.

In Nigeria, many families will probably be unable to synchronize their meal times but with proper planning breakfast and dinner at home should be a possibility. Depending on the weekend schedules, families should strive to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

People should stop giving excuses on why they cannot cook or eat with their family.

Like many other issues affecting the upbringing of children, many men will continue to blame it on “lack of time”.

There will never be enough time for what a man wants to do in his lifetime. The same is true for women. People should be taught how to manage their time using the family (spouse and children) as the starting point.

Parents should help their children to acquire cooking skills at home. Bring the children into a safe and tidy kitchen and show them how to cook.

It will be a long walk for the Nigerian society but it is achievable across all the regions if sensible and capable people take over control of the politics and the economy across all the various regions.

Nothing is impossible when there is a sincere roadmap that is not left in the hands of idiots and complete nonentities who are driven by selfish interests and absolute greed.

In Nigeria, it is imperative that the different regions are allowed to re-emerge.

There is a lot in the identities of each ethnic group that are submerged and lost in the name of unitary government that shows lack of respect to individuals and folk-group.

People should be allowed to tap into their cultural and traditional family values. They should be taught how to plan their homes appropriately with respect to family size and responsibilities.

It is time to lift the positive values within the family through regional adaptive education and merge them with the demands of a global village.

Properly educated children will build strong families and dependable communities. They will form the backbones of viable regions across Nigeria. The future can be bright and better.

My late mother’s teachings at home and an adaptive, undiluted education in Western Nigeria fit perfectly into a functional life at home and across the world.

The Cost Of Freedom

Unless a country or a group of people are willingly to genuinely give their today in the name of true freedom, their children will never be free tomorrow.

The Cost Of Freedom

Which Way Nigeria?

Which Way Nigeria?

By Adeola Aderounmu

Nigeria’s 54th year as a so-called independent country was marked in several ways. One headline that caught my attention was the one that stated that poverty in Nigeria has been reduced by 50%.

The headline is first class fraud.

Statistics was one of my favourite subjects during my first and second degrees at the University of Lagos. It is one of those subjects that I really felt comfortable doing. At Idiaraba it was Medical Statistics and oh, how I enjoyed every bit of it and the lecturer was awesome.

Poverty may have been reduced by 50%, it depends on the sample size or the part of the population where you draw your samples from.

So I can conclude that if we take the population of the follow-follow people flocking Aso Rock since the inception of Jonathan’s administration, he has successfully tackled the poverty among 50% of the ass-lickers including the expanding society of Aso Rock Bull Dogs.

If I cast my dragnets at the places that I know like Oshodi, Ojuelegba or Okokomaiko, my data will produce a result that will make nonsense of the results produced by some drunkards in Aso Rock. More than 90% of the people will be below poverty level and living on less than N500 a day.

For more than ever before majority of Nigerians groan under an increasingly senseless and insensitive government. Increasing the death rate and lowering the life expectancy of a population does not mean that poverty has been reduced.

In several essays I have depicted the nature, spread and characteristics of poverty in Nigeria as one of the worst hidden tragedies in the world. I have also been very quick to dismiss the claims of the few people who escaped the threshold of poverty sometimes through luck or unmerited opportunities that their situations cannot be used as the yardstick.

The title of this essay came as a result of my feelings in recent months. I’ll approach it.

I do know, and convincingly too that there are a few people in Sweden who have cultivated the habits of reading my articles, not because they want to be “my readers” but because they “enjoy” this culture of gossiping about “what did he write this week”?

I am happy for them, that they found a weekly delight.

I’ll keep them in the dark by not defining their range but amongst them are people who need to understand though that I have the right to my views about Nigeria no matter what they think or feel.

I cannot help those who found out too late that they had been talking to someone who has been writing about Nigeria since 2001.

One of my pictures on Facebook must have tilted the table over. I had a T-shirt with the inscription Oduduwa republic on my mind. It is one of my ideas of freedom. The image must have gone viral among some folks. I am still happy for them and I hope they get a pat on the back when they make their reports.

I wonder how much shock my Swedish-Nigerian readers suffered in the last 4 weeks when I had written stories about love. I will choose love any day over a failed country under the bondage of crazy and deaf rulers.

The love stories came to me after a recent trip to Finland. I think my ancestors love nature and they prefer the solitude of a calm sea to bring me teachings and guidance.

Today I wanted to write a story about “The Dreamer Boy” but I thought some people will like to know if I am still in tune with Nigeria and how the drunkards have reduced poverty by 50%.

What is more interesting than this blatant lie is the growth and spread of individuals, groups and associations that are intensifying their doubts about their continuous recognitions as Nigerians.

They are weighing the options of bailing out of a jaga-jaga Nigeria. There are many t-shirts nowadays with a lot of messages and one boy even tore his green passport and posted it on YouTube.

I have a lot of reflections on this emerging trend especially among “Nigerians” who are far away from their regions in Nigeria, based mostly in Europe, Asia and America.

For the Nigeria we have today became a total mess as a result of our collective failures as citizens and participants or onlookers in the successive corrupt and useless governments in Nigeria over the years and even to this day in October 2014.

The Nigeria of today was not the dream of the men and women who fought collectively to wrestle the country from the colonialists.

The reason we write or recite or even highlights repeatedly our failures as a country is because some people need the education at some point on what has happened and what we expected. Where Nigeria is today on the scale of human development and quality of life is a complete disgrace to the intellectual abilities of the African race.

One failed government blames the other and the cycle of idiocy rotates as nobody tackles the menaces of corruption, federal character (yes, it is a menace), nepotism and tribalism.

It was the greed in Nigerians and the corruption in their veins that exposed the madness of the colonialists who married different nations into one entity. “Irreconcilable differences” is an expression made in Nigeria. The crazy rulers destroyed the institutions of governance and many crazy people in government stole for themselves, their friends and their unborn generations-even to this day.

Since the mid-1960s, no government has made efforts to return power and freedom to the regions just the way it was when education, health and technological developments were functional until greed and outright stupidity reared their ugly heads.

The process of divide and rule, looting and total disregard for the rules of law continued and reached a new dimension since the inception of pseudo-democracy in 1999.

For Nigeria I have oscillated between hope and hopelessness and my understanding of statistics says it is time to try something else.

I am all for the freedom and the emancipation of the people who are currently enslaved in Nigeria.

It is imperative to define the modalities and the cost of freedom so that the sycophants and the major players of today do not ruin the future of our children and grandchildren the same way they ruined our parents lives and displaced us to different places around the globe.

I wish that all the groups and associations around the world will emerge from their clandestine positions and start to talk openly. The Scottish people just had a vote. The outcome was not as important as the action they took but it will define the things to come in the future. Their children will grow up feeling more secured.

It is old fashioned to seek freedom in the dark rooms. It is very primitive to seek independence through confidential emails or social media closed groups.

If you want something, make it open, make it plain. Go for it and carry the people who need the change along.

Healthy debates, open groups, open discussions and other form of transparent dealings may help to check some of my personal fears regarding the stakeholders in all these clandestine groups scattered around the world.

What is the cost of freedom?

The cost of freedom lies in service to humanity. It is not looting the treasury and telling stupid lies about security and poverty.

The cost of freedom in public service lies in willingness to die at the altar of truth. It is not in building houses of gold on the polluted land across Nigeria.

The cost of freedom is the deprivation that comes with the belief that humanity comes before self.

The cost of freedom will be correlated to conventional free thinking and explorative mindedness.

It will not be locked to dying for the sake of acquiring virgins in an imaginary place. It will not have anything to do with deadly assembly at the feet of gangster mortals called prophets. The cost of freedom will rid a nation of the defenders of evil.

Unless a country or a group of people are willingly to genuinely give their today in the name of true freedom, their children will never be free tomorrow.

For the nations entangled in Nigeria these sacrifices are non-negotiable.  Along with the irrepressible truth, they will be the ultimate cost of freedom.

aderounmu@gmail.com

The Madrilenian (part 3)

I will start a new life. I will create my own future and make love the foundation.

The Madrilenian (Part 3)

By Adeola Aderounmu

DSC_1136

Unknown to Pablo, his sisters took up the task of finding out more about Patricia since the day he invited them for a family reunion. It was a day he ate well and spoke the most to them ever. He had a little drink and spoke about everything that happened to him in St. Petersburg.

What he told them was enough for his sisters to hire a private investigator to locate Patricia in Madrid. This family has adequate wealth to do the things they actually set their minds on together.

Pablo’s sisters travelled to Madrid when the private investigator brought back his reports. They thanked him and paid him the outstanding fees.

Patricia is single, has a decent job and lives quietly on Castellana Drive-a part of Madrid that is about 0,5 mile from Santiago Bernabéu.

She laughed when she met Aleksandra, Cecilia and Viveca.

She spoke to them earlier on the phone and was open to meeting them. They even brought their children and spent a few days in Madrid. Together, they went to Santiago Bernabéu and saw Real Madrid won against Atletico Bilbao.

Since their first meeting in St. Petersburg, Patricia and Pablo have remained in constant touch with each other but like all emerging strange hearts trying to make love work, they were yet to agree on a few things.

Should she leave Spain for Catalonia or will Pablo leave Catalonia for Spain?

They have met once in Madrid and twice in Barcelona in recent months. They always joke of having different nationalities and they think that politicians are crazy citizens.

The future is always undefined; therefore many people always want to remain close to their families.

The family remains the greatest source of comfort and solace both during war and in the time of peace. It took Pablo a long time to realise some of these elements and values of family.

Did he suffer from a sort of disorder that heals with time and age? What went wrong when he was growing up? There is no need to worry about the past. For his family the best gift for the future is the present development in Pablo’s life.

For Pablo it felt good to get have this bond and to look forward to ways of finding the missing puzzle bits in his life.

Patricia promised to think about the proposals that the sisters brought with the wonderful, introduction visit.

Aleksandra is a top executive in Girona. Her vast experience in human resources and consultancy means that she can connect people with newer opportunities in Catalonia and other places in Spain.

The sisters came with a job offer in Girona for Patricia. Patricia may have to choose between all the comfort she has now and a future where she can have a new family.

I will think about it. She said as the sisters headed for the airport and flew back to Girona.

As she thought about what the future may bring, she asked herself, why did l travel to St. Petersburg? Was Moscow not enough for me? But she asked these questions not out of regret but fear.

That night as she lay on her bed looking at the dim lit lamp hanging from the roof, she took herself on the memory lane and thought about where she was coming from and where she could be heading.

Then she conquered her fears. Only cowards are afraid of changes she told herself. I am a Madrilenian and I should not be afraid to fill the vacuum in my life.

I have comfort, but I also still have a need. She tries to find a permanent reasoning that will stir her mood in the most positive way possible.

She went deeper in her thoughts in search of the positive energy locked in her soul.

She must find the conviction that that this change is the next stage of her life.

If this will be my future, so be it. So she decided she will go to Girona, to Pablo and to Pablo’s lovely sisters and their beautiful children.

I will start a new life. I will create my own future and make love the foundation.

She told her family about the latest development. They wished her well and promised to visit her often.

Patricia had been living in Girona for 2 weeks before she found the air that took her to Pablo’s house.

She turned off the location settings on her mobile devices when she left Madrid. She tested her new job, she lived with Pablo’s parents and she started to find her way around the town. Luckily she didn’t run into Pablo all of those times.

Pablo didn’t know that Patricia was living in the same town so he was obviously not looking at every person or object until now when he saw that someone was sitting in his garden, with back to the main street.

When he turned around and saw the face of the person sitting in his garden, he was speechless.

It was the same dumbness and reaction he had the first time he saw her image in the glass at St. Petersburg. She is beautiful.

Patricia was already crying before he arrived. Pablo could not hold back his tears too.

She gave him a gift she brought from Madrid. The packet contains a bracelet with the inscription, The Madrilenian. He thanked her.

They hugged each other and went inside.

(Concluded)

aderounmu@gmail.com

The Madrilenean (Part 2)

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Pablo was immensely attracted to the image of the woman in the glass. His heart skipped some beats. When he turned around to look at the woman, he met a smile on her face.

Then she said excuse me, I didn’t mean to distract or disturb you. I am sorry if I did.

For the first time in his life, Pablo felt that someone spoke to him so kindly that he thought he heard the voice of an angel.

It took him more than 5 seconds to utter a word. Oh…no……it’s alright. You did not disturb me. 

As the woman was leaving, he said my name is Pablo. I am Patricia she turned back and replied.

Then Pablo knew from her accent that she is from Spain. So they continued their conversation in Spanish.  First he made a joke; I would rather say you are “an attraction”.

Then he asked her if she now knows where she was going.

Yes, I do she replied. I found it on the same map you were looking at.

She was laughing because Pablo said she was an attraction. She knew he was making reference to her first comment.

This was also the first time that Pablo had on his own spoken to a girl that was not his sister.

He had no control over what he was going through. He was actually talking to a complete stranger and making a joke he didn’t know how it would be received.

But it seemed he had the confidence and will to continue the conversation.

He remembered not knowing the meaning of love or how to express it. He remembered his promise never to love anyone because of those deficiencies.

But love is stronger than anything else. Love has its own language. It is universal and indomitable.

You can pretend to run away from love but when the time is right it will find you no matter where you are. Love is freedom from bondage.

Love is nature itself. It is the reason for night and day.

Love is the reason for different seasons.

The next day Pablo had coffee with Patricia at The Coffee House close to the central station in St. Petersburg. They sat outside partly because it was a sunny day and partly because they dislike the smell of the cigarette that filled the shop.

Patricia had been around in Moscow for about 2 weeks and she came to St. Petersburg because she wanted to see why the city is the cultural center of Russia. When she met Pablo, she was checking how to the get to the Main Port just as she had planned in Moscow the day before.

What was not in her plan was meeting a man from Girona in Russia. In 48 hours she will be flying home to Madrid. But first she must get back to her hotel in Moscow where most of her belongings are.

They talked about almost everything and anything: work, family, living in Spain and living in Catalonia. They spoke of Catalonia as an independent country and what may happen in the future.

That night Patricia went back to Moscow.

Pablo stayed in St. Petersburg for 7 more days. Every day he thought about Patricia. Every day he went back to the map at the central station. He wished that Patricia will change her plans and probably come back to check the map for newer directions.

At the end of his short stay, Pablo flew directly from St. Petersburg to the local airport at Girona.

His colleagues at the factory noticed something strange about him. He was more open and more talkative. They thought that he would stop when he had finished sharing his travel experiences and the things he saw, but it went on.

So in good fate the people made many jokes. One man asked: what kind of drugs or stimulants do they sell in Russia? One lady said Russian Vodka has the longest hangover effect.

His work mate in the engine room added: when you are in Moscow don’t drink coffee at a smoky coffee shop. He misunderstood that The Coffes House bar was actually in St. Petersburg. Pablo heard none of the jokes or gossip that passed.

When Pablo’s sisters received his letters asking them to attend a family reunion, they called one another and expressed shock. Cecilia said the letters cannot be real. The eldest sister always has a way to show her age and wisdom. So she asked: what shall we lose if we drive home to mamma and pappa even if the invitation for a family reunion is not real?

But they knew the invitation was real, it was just hard to imagine it coming from Pablo.

Pablo’s parents are glad they are still alive. They will host all their children at the behest of Pablo.

They are happy because they know that though it appeared strange, something has definitely happened to Pablo.

He’s getting close to 30.  He now knows the meaning of love and sharing.

His father remembered how he promised himself never to worry about Pablo again. He believes in the spirit of the puma and he thought that the puma has met Pablo in Russia and helped him find his way.

One day when Pablo returned from work. He found a stranger sitting in his garden. He walked round the person to see who it was.

(read the conclusion next week)

aderounmu@gmail.com

The Madrilenean

“I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different”

The Madrilenean

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Pablo grew up in Girona. This town has about 100 000 people. His childhood went too quickly or maybe not. It depends on which perspective he chose. When he thought about the years he had to endure with his sisters, then it was a long, uneventful childhood.

On the other hand when he thought about what could have happened if he could turn back the time, then it was a period that went rather quickly. As a result of his feelings during his teenage and college days, he forgone many things that many other children his age did.

There are many things that Pablo will like to forget. There are so many things he hoped will be left in his thoughtless moments.

But what happened to Pablo actually that almost destroyed his life especially his relationship with his family. Here is the story.

Pablo has 3 sisters. He is the only son of his parents. At a very early age, he started to pull away from everyone in his household. He felt totally different. When his parents noticed his strange withdrawal, they tried to pamper him. Pablo’s withdrawal became more intense and his parents regretted that they did not consult a professional. Where did we go wrong? His mother pondered.

One day his father decided to take a long walk. He thought deeply about his family situation-how his daughters are having the best days of their lives and how his only son is turning to a complete stranger. He slipped at the edge of the pavement and broke a toe. He is a man who believes in omen. His favourite is the spirit of the puma.

Once he had a twisted ankle when he was taking a walk in the woods and thinking about Pablo. When he got a broken toe walking on the other side of the town, he decided that he will never worry about Pablo again. He thought he may develop a serious health problem like stroke if he worries more about Pablo. A twisted ankle and then a broken toe will do. The spirit of the puma will guide Pablo, he reasoned.

It didn’t matter what anyone did, Pablo did not feel that he was loved. At home the conclusion was that Pablo was acting the last child or the last born. One day Aleksandra the eldest sister told a joke and said, mamma, maybe you should have let pappa make the 5th baby. Maybe Pablo wanted a brother to play with. He doesn’t like us because we are girls.

Pablo was 10 years at the time and the joke turned out to be a bad one. He locked himself in the room and skipped school for 3 days. He came out only when everyone had left home and helped himself to some juice and biscuits. His mother cried. She was completely devastated how bad things turned out socially for Pablo.

Pablo had always thought that his sisters are getting all the attention at home. No one is sure exactly when he got that perception but it must have registered in his brain quite early. His mother even said, maybe he heard too many voices when he was a foetus and got fed up with everyone even before he was born.

On the surface everyone at home knew that Pablo’s feelings or perceptions were incorrect. But deep inside they don’t know what approach would make him cherish and love them the way they love him. So the most difficult task at home and sometimes at school and at the playgrounds was how to correct the impressions and help Pablo get along socially. He was growing up and his family feared that he may become a social misfit. This trait is uncommon in Catalonia.

What was obvious was that Pablo did not know how to feel as a boy because everywhere he looked in the house, he saw girls and things that belonged to girls. This made him uncomfortable and sad and he thought he was different from the other boys in his class. His heart continued to grow cold as he grew up.

Pablo hated school. It is a place that brought him in contact with many other categories of people. However he learnt to dissociate his social deficiency from his academic needs. Therefore he excelled even as a withdrawn student. This was one of the reasons his parents did not seek professional help for him. His future looks bright, his mother said to his father one day when they looked at some of his results after a quarterly conference with the school teachers.

When he was 18 Pablo started to work at the postal agency. He saved a lot of money because this is a work he had no need for. His father is wealthy and even his mother inherited a lot of fortunes from her grandparents. His parents understood that Pablo took the job so he could skip encountering his sisters at home. It was one of his weird ideas of what freedom means.

By the time Pablo became a graduate at the age of 23, there was only one of his sisters left unmarried. With only Cecilia at home, Pablo was beginning to see the world from another perspective. But he had a hard time to express his feelings. He never liked his sisters yet he’s feeling the vacuum created when Aleksandra and Viveca left home forever.

When he was a young boy he promised never to love anyone because he doesn’t know what it means. I will never know what it means to love, he told himself. He hated his childhood. He does not like to remember it. He felt lonely, quite often. These women have ruined my life, so he thought. He cannot remember when he started hearing their voices but it appeared like forever until now that Cecil is the only one left.

Despite all his troubles Pablo turned out to be one of the outstanding engineers in Girona. People have noticed that he likes to be alone but they have also come to appreciate his effectiveness and productivity at work. This was also an outstanding observation his former boss made when he worked at the postal agency.

Pablo found the courage and will to rent his own apartment. When he was 25 and Cecil was preparing to get married, Pablo decided it was time for him to move on. That’s what he did.

One day Pablo was tired after work. It was his third year at the factory and he had accumulated his annual leave. So he decided he will travel to another city in another country. He made up his mind to travel to a place he had never been before.

I will go to a place where nobody knows my name, a place where the language is different. So he left. He travelled by road to Barcelona and flew from there to St. Petersburg.

One day he stood at the central station at St. Petersburg. He was looking at the map, trying to find his way around.

But the map he was looking at was inside a frame made of glass. So it also looked like a mirror. He saw himself as he looked at the map for directions.

Suddenly he saw the image of a woman too. There was a pretty woman looking at the same map. She stood behind him.

(Read Part 2 Next Week)

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No Love Lost  

One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable

NO LOVE LOST

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Lucy lives in Zambezi, until now anyway. This is where she has known all of her life. She was born here and this is where she blooms. She is a very beautiful woman. Some people spoke about her and said maybe she is a goddess. There was an artist in the town and he was convinced the gods took their time to mould her. He meant to say that Lucy was made with perfection.

Ever since she was a little girl there has always been an admiration for her beauty and her personality. People generally agree with Lucy. In her neighbourhood almost everybody she met respected her.

When she left home for the City College at Mongu, she already knew that respect and admiration were not going to be substitutes for love. We all need someone or some people to love us. So when Lucy left college the emptiness in her life began to manifest. Still she continued to pull through with the admiration and respect that folks have towards her. When she is alone she often asks herself: who will satisfy my soul?  Respect is a wonderful quality but it is not love. Even admiration is not love.

Now a working class lady, Lucy almost gave up on love. It was not hard to find a job when she graduated from Zambezi University. She is a brilliant woman and with her kind of beauty, she can open any door. But when it comes to love and satisfaction for her soul, she seemed to be lost. No one knew this but her. She knew that she is not perfect like the artist had insinuated.

One day she was waiting at the bus station. Quite unpredictably the sky turned cloudy that morning and it started to rain heavily. As it rained, Lucy started to cry. The buses were not coming because of the heavy rain. But she was not crying because of the rain or the buses that were not coming. It turned out that the weather gave her a picture of her life. She thought that her life was cloudy inside. She was alone at the bus station, and then she cried even more.

This is not the first time Lucy cried. She has read a lot of novels and she had known about the travails of many characters in tragic literatures and even in some romantic books. She learnt to cry when she is sad because tears wash away sorrows, so she thought. Once she read a book where it was stated that the men who committed suicide are often those who refused to cry because they did not give in to their feelings and pains. When people cry, they feel refreshed and often that gives them the hope that they can carry on.

Lucy was so carried away in her thoughts she almost did not notice the car that had parked right in front of her at the station. Someone had stopped to her help get to work that morning. The man did not know that Lucy had been crying. He thought it had rained over her face. In addition it was too dark to make clear observations. The man recognised Lucy though and that was why he stopped to help her.

That weekend Lucy saw the man again as she took a walk down the street. Thank you Paul, you are kind, she said. It was nothing he replied. But on this occasion Paul noticed something unusual about Lucy. Are you alright he asked? Then Lucy looked at him and started to cry again.

Paul gave her a tissue and she wiped her tears. But Paul was shocked. Until that moment he was one of those who thought that Lucy could have anything she wished for in her life. Lucy did not speak about all of her emptiness but Paul knew from the short conversation they had that the vacuum in her life is enormous.  

Paul was almost thinking out loud. So people can be beautiful, they can have good jobs, they may be admired, well respected and still be sad. Indeed many people often ignore the roles of physical beauty and clothes in covering the darkness and emptiness inside the human body.

In Zambezi there is a man who cannot finish his expressions without the use of proverbs. Paul thought about the day the man had a conversation with him. He remembered one of his sentences: lizards are always lying on their bellies, so we don’t know which among them have stomach problems.

He gave Lucy a hug and they parted ways.

Over several months that followed, Paul was visiting Lucy. There was no attraction between them because Paul had a woman in his life. But with his company, Lucy felt better. They talked about many things, some memories of growing up and now working in this commercial town where the fourth largest river in Africa took its origin.

Lucy also met new friends through Paul. These after-work and weekend companions helped Lucy to forget some of her problems. They filled some gaps in her life. Some of the people who admire her are no longer at a distance.

When she remembered how an unexpected rain facilitated her meeting with Paul, she cherished the moment. Then she decided to buy a car so that she does not have to be at the mercy of another man from the town on another rainy day. She already knew how to drive.

Lucy is happy. She felt she had leaped out of a shell. It was definitely a step in the right direction when people not only admire her but showed her some love through conversations and doing things together. Some people she spoke to talked about their travels and adventures.

Lucy became inspired and she decided that she will also take to travelling. She had always had the opportunities to travel but she never took them. She felt that it was a lot of hassles but now that she had listened to the stories about Paris, Berlin, London and Stockholm, she got motivated.

However she promised herself that she will not travel far. She learnt in geography about the different places and seasons in Africa. I will see my world in Africa before I see the rest of the world she told herself. In her mind she also made a decision to find love and never to let it go.

Lucy spent some of her weekends in Harare and sometimes she is off to Johannesburg. She also travelled to Accra because of the gold at the coast in Ghana. Once she was covering her hair in Cairo. Now she has a handful of pictures, maps and souvenirs from the West, East, North and South of Africa in her study at home.

One day, Paul left a note for Lucy. He wanted to see her again. Lucy did not understand. She just came back from Cape Town where she went on holidays. Zambezi had been warm and she wanted some experience of winter from the bottom of Africa. Lucy is a woman in search of balance and fulfilment. She came home to Zambezi and found the note in her letter box.

Paul’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend had fallen apart. They did not get along as they had dreamt. They had a few problems and they both agreed on one thing only: to end the relationship. It was a sad occurrence but they both felt it was better to do it now rather than trying to make it work at all cost. They have no children yet. He is now 32 and she is 28, so they still have their lives ahead of them.

Sometimes things are not always what they seem. We all make mistakes and our passions can mislead us. One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. If people stop pretending, maybe they wouldn’t have to run away from their problems. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable.

Lucy met Paul at the coffee shop down the street. She was sorry to hear Paul’s sad story. Paul’s heart was obviously broken. But he cannot blame it on Lucy. Lucy did all she could not to be a distraction. They are close friends, true. Still there was neither attraction nor intimacy between them. Lucy was missing something in her life but her head was clear about what she wanted and desired.

In her mind, she knew that Paul is confused. He has just broken up with someone he had spent a substantial part of his life with. Lucy is quick to draw inspirations from books, stories and her own life. So she said, give it sometime maybe you will find someone new. Your heart will heal and you will go on with your life.

She continued: When I went to Johannesburg in February, I met Vincent. I like him a lot. He adores me. He respects me, but above all he loves me and I love him too. We spent the last two weeks together in Cape Town and he’s planning to find a job in Harare. Apparently 7 months after their first meeting Lucy and Vincent have concluded plans to move to Harare as expatriates.

Paul is not a novice. He too had always known that people must learn to pass through their own troubles, their travails. They must learn to conquer their fears. They may need some time and a little help but they must learn.

The best way to learn is through real experiences.

Goodbye Paul. I must go now. Take care of yourself and we’ll see sometime.

Paul was close to tears but Lucy showed no emotion whatsoever.   

She gave him a tight hug and left.

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(c) Adeola Aderounmu 2014