Happiness is Being 

I finally step out of my self
And walk the miles to you.

I have worn the cloak of winter for too long

And lived on dried raisins gathered in the summer

Many seasons ago

Living is empty when the heart is dry and stale

And memory becomes a bad brew of ale

Happiness comes from being –

My epiphany from intoxication on fumes of dried tears

Remnants of aged agony

From the cellar of sorrow.

In a drunken haze, I stagger into wisdom:

It takes courage to be naked.

I undress in sobriety

From the soul out,

And feel my manhood shrivel from the cold winds

Of your eyes

I step out of the pile of me

And take unsteady steps in your direction

Barefooted.

Naked.

A walk of shame

Towards redemption.
Poem appeared first in  sentinel literary quarterly 

Springs

My spring flows with
Hot and cold waters
Seeping upwards from
The aquifer of my soul
 
Hot springs of happiness flow
From a deep volcano within
Crystal clear waters cascading
Forwards in gentle rivulets
 
Cold springs seep upwards
Through cracks and faults in my soul
Waters tainted with sediments of sorrow
Leaving a bitter aftertaste.
 
I find myself a stream of lukewarm
Emotions. Bitter sweet waters flowing
Forwards in the eighth magnitude

Story wars 1: taking your writing to the next level

seun odukoya/ the underline academy presents 

‘Move your writing to the next level’ may sound like a cliché – but that’s the reason behind these classes. Else, what’s the point?

That’s the only reason you’re attending too – the knowledge that you will get something different and worthwhile out of it. That’s the only reason you should attend.

Hence, STORY WARS I.

The precursory writing mashups came as a result of a need to see writers/creatives be more than their ‘situation’. You’re only as successful as your options and this is designed to give you more options by improving and diversifying your skill set.

What more could you need?

For details/registration visit: https://theunderlineacademy.wordpress.com/story-wars/

 

A tale of two hearts

There was a guy, shy and sweet and in love with a girl. The girl was pretty and witty; high class too and she was with another guy, the coolest guy in the neighborhood. Day by day, Shy guy pined after Pretty and witty lady but he didn’t exist to her. They passed by each other daily and he always had a smile for her but she never saw him; her eyes saw through him. His heart grew lean from starvation and he walked around with a stoop.

Then one day, he stumbled into Sweet girl. Sweet girl provided a distraction from Pretty and witty girl, and for a while he allowed himself to get lost in her. She tended to his heart and fed it daily with love and affection; she doted over him and he never wanted for care. Soon he began to think that he could give his heart to Sweet girl – she would take care of it – Maybe love wasn’t supposed to be wild and exhilarating like he had always believed.

One evening, after a quiet meal, while snuggling on his sofa watching a romantic comedy, Sweet girl whispered to him, asked if she could keep his heart forever. He said yes, laughed and then began to cry. His heart would not budge and it stuck to its place in his chest, cold and unyielding. It had stopped beating. He left the house leaving a bewildered Sweet girl in tow, and went for a walk, hoping for a miracle.

Pretty and witty girl was restless. She had been for two weeks but she could not place a hand on why. Life was good. She had everything she wanted and a man that doted on her and cherished her. Still, something was missing. She was hanging with her friends when it hit her; the emptiness and aloneness that was lurking beneath the surface. It was her soul, she concluded, it lacked fire, and she was shivering in the cold.

She decided to go for a walk, hoping to find answers. She was walking on the same path that shy guy was on. They walked towards each other, one looking for a miracle and the other answers, both lost in thought and oblivious of the other.

When they were a few feet from each other, it began to rain – it was sudden and without warning. It was a heavy downpour with rumbling thunder and cracking lightning. They ran back in opposite directions, seeking shelter from the rain.

With each step they took, each was filled with a sense of loss and a feeling of having just missed out on something special.

Shy guy turned back a few times on his journey home unable to shake the feeling that he was going in the wrong direction. He was fighting the wild thump of his heart – jumping and screaming and – telling him to turn back.

Drenched, he reached the front door of his house and steeling his resolve, stepped in and locked gaze with Sweet girl standing by the window. She was beautiful, homely and lovable, and he knew he was blessed to have her in his life; to have her wanting him. His heart said in a cool but clear voice – you don’t belong here; you won’t be happy here.

He stepped forward, reached into his chest and pulled out his heart and handed it to Sweet girl. She took his heart gingerly, with tears streaming down her face and said – welcome home.

On her front porch, Pretty and witty girl collapsed breathless, chest heaving, and began to weep. She was filled with an overwhelming sadness and grief. She knew something had definitely gone terribly wrong, something that affected her deeply. Something that had changed the course of her life.

She felt like she had lost something precious.

She had indeed lost her soul-mate.

 

Rape: straight talk

Today, I was going through an old post on TNC and I took the pains to read all the comments on the story. It was a narrative of rape by a victim. One thought that stuck to me as I read through all the comments on the post is that we need to educate people more on what rape is and what the role of society is in curbing this trend.

In no particular order I will address some common thread in that post, which I think reflects the general mindset of a lot of people on the subject of rape

  1. Rape is not good but the victim has to bear some blame for her role

This position is the worst of all. Why? Because it comes from a sympathetic front, it seeks to demonstrate some form of support for the victim, seeks to be a voice of reason and outrage against the act while subtly shaming the victim. It is a sugar coated poison.

If we must remember one thing and one thing only, it is that the rape victim has no blame in rape. Let me paint a worst case scenario. You are lying down in your house, and a girl walks in naked, smiles at you and then sits across from you baring her privates. If you get aroused and proceed to initiate sex, and she flows along even responding to your advances, and suddenly tells you she is no longer interested, you have an obligation to stop. If you proceed you have raped her. And she will have no blame.

Rape is any sexual act including but not limited to penetration that occurs in the absence of consent. If and when she withdraws the consent, whatever the state of arousal of the man and the stage of the sexual act at which the consent is withdrawn, should the man continue, he has committed rape, and the woman is not to blame.

Voluntariness and the right to choose is one of the fundamental human rights and one of the things that define us as humans. Once taken, it dehumanizes and strips us of our sense of identity.

That is why rape is one of the worst crimes against humanity. It strips away the humanness and leaves a husk.

Every human has the right to purchase say a banana and take a bite and then decide to not eat the banana anymore. It is solely our right as humans.

So, when rape happens – because consent is not given or consent is given and withdrawn or consent does not cover a particular sexual act – the woman is not to blame.

So what happens when a woman puts herself in harm’s way? Does she not deserve to be blamed? The answer is no. Either by getting drunk, sleeping over in a stranger’s house, dressing skimpily or even flirting, it doesn’t give any man the right to forcefully engage in sexual acts with her.

Note the word ‘forcefully’. It is necessary to distinguish this from sexual acts done voluntarily but for which the woman regrets later. But as long as there is no consent, it becomes rape.

For those who shame women who engage in risky behaviors and blame them for having a role in their rape, I have an illustration. Imagine a well prepared dish of steamy jollof rice with assorted garnishing of meat, fish, shrimps, and fried plantain. Imagine you are about to put a spoonful in your mouth and then someone tells you the food has been contaminated by rat poison, would you still proceed to eat that delicious and sumptuous meal even if you were starving?

No matter how tempting a woman is, no matter how alluring, no matter how easy she has made it for the rapist, no matter her lifestyle choices, she is human, and not meat, and shouldn’t be taken against her will. She is a deliciously prepared dish with rat poison.

Unless and until she tells you to take a bite, and continues to tell you to go on, please stay back. Stop. Desist.

A man should be able to exercise restraint. Women do not deserved to be raped. Her body being flaunted before you isn’t an excuse. Her body is not an extension of your penis and therefore you have no right nor entitlement to force her against her will.

If she is too alluring or is constituting a distraction please walk away, run, flee. That is the appropriate response. Not rape, not “she wanted it, she was begging for it, she deserved it or she is a slut”. None of those, dear men.

A rape victim has no blame. Period.

  1. Sometimes “NO” means “YES”, it is just a game that women play. She really wanted it. She is a slut.

All these arguments are products of a narrow minded, egotistic and misogynistic minds. If I point a gun at you and ask you if you want to die, and your answer is no, should I assume that you really mean yes? Should I go ahead and shoot you?

What about the scenario of a husband and wife fighting, and the wife grabs hold of the man and says “kill me o, it is today that you will kill me” should the man go ahead and kill her? Does she deserve to die because she has provoked the man and even gone ahead to tell him to kill her?

There is no need belaboring this point. Men everywhere, NO MEANS NO.

Even if you are inside and having a swell time, even if you are a few thrusts away from reaching cloud 9, once you hear STOP, PLEASE STOP.

STOP MEANS STOP.

  1. She said YES before how can she say NO afterwards?

Of course she can say NO! It is her right. When it comes to sex, there is no blanket approval. She said yes to kissing doesn’t mean the yes extends to fondling her breasts. She allowed you to undress her doesn’t mean she will say yes to penetration. She said yes to penetration doesn’t mean she would allow you to finish. She can decide to say NO after a few thrusts.

Sex is a journey, and the woman needs to be with you every step of the journey. At any point in time, she can choose to disembark from the ride. You are obliged to let her disembark no matter how much you are enjoying the ride, and no matter how much you want to make her enjoy the ride!

She has a RIGHT TO SAY NO AT ANYTIME DURING SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.

  1. It is hard for men to just stop like that! Once aroused, they seem to lose control.

Men and brethren, even animals have control. Even if they don’t, we are not animals. If after she has gotten you all hot and needy she decides to pull the plug, here is what you should do: stand up, go into the shower, get a bottle of lube or soap and help yourself. Afterwards, take a cold shower, you will feel alright.

If after trying all this, you still don’t feel alright, there are people that offer these services for a fee and once the contract is established they won’t say no, and will give you your money’s worth.

Please always protect the dignity of women. It is selfish to think of your own pleasure alone and use that as an excuse to dehumanize another human being and scar her for life.

Be a real man. A real man is always in control. A real man always respects the wishes of the woman regarding matters affecting her body. A real man is selfless.

  1. After all I have done for her, how can she say no?

Men, women are not goods to be bought. Women are priceless. Your gifts and wooing are tokens of your profession of affection for her; they speak to her when you can’t find the words, they tell her that you care and that you want to spend your days giving her things that will make her happy; that you want to take care of her even if she is capable of taking care of herself; that you want to pamper her and make her feel every bit the special person that she is.

However, these gifts, monetary or otherwise do not buy her nor her love, nor does it make her your possession that you can possess at will and use as you choose. Sex is not the reward of gifts. No amount of money is worth the value and dignity of a woman.

The decision to have sex with you is totally hers, and it will be her way of sharing something special with you – her body is the window to her soul, and she won’t share with just anybody. So, your gifts aren’t what will make her take you into her being.

And when she says NO, please respect her. And do not for one second feel entitled to her, or of ravaging her.

Money and gifts DOES NOT give you the ticket to having your way with her.

NO means NO.

The list is not exhaustive and the discussion on rape should be an on-going one. Men and women need to be educated on what constitutes rape and denouncing the victim shaming and condemnation. Men should be more vocal against rape, women should provide a more open environment for victims to speak up and find succor from such dehumanizing treatment. The society should take a harder stance on perpetrators of this heinous and inhuman crime. The gavel of the law should bang harder and echo louder.

Last words. Rape is not limited to the women folk and men do get raped too. Now, because of our prejudicial minds, we tend to dismiss reports by men who claims to be rape victims. We bash them and call them hypocrites. Sometimes we tell them to grow some balls – how can a man be a rape victim, we gripe.

Rape is any sexual act that occurs without consent and be it a male or a female, the psychological effects are enormous.

Let the campaign be against rape in all forms, and among all genders.

For more conversations on rape and perspectives read more by Seun Odukoya here, here, here and here and Sally here.

Share your thoughts and opinion in the comment box.