In the spirit of Xmas, I decided to post a write up by Abiodun Kassim,
I cried when I read it, I’ve seen him perform it as a monologue, the emotional response from the audience was amazing and even though I had read it I cried yet again.
Please Read & Lemme Know what you think about it.
My name is Kunle I am 32 years old, I am a drug addict. I am addicted to marijuana, aka weed. i was not always an addict. Before my affliction or my disease as my mom and ex wife like to call it. I know you all will like to call it that too, but we are stuck here together so you can’t. And as a result we come up with names like “setbacks” “distractions”, hell some of us even call it our “stepping stone”…. That there is seeing the glass half full. So; before weed, I was a lieutenant in the Nigerian army, decorated, I was the first uniform man of my family and my family was proud, very proud. I remember clearly that my mom always carried the photo of my first day in boot camp with her, and she told everyone who cared to listen how I was the youngest in my platoon and how on the first day, she had to plead with the commandant not to lock me up because I smart mouthed him,
He called me a sissy, I was smiling and he asked what I was smiling at; (He was the one in tight shorts waving his crotch in the face of over 100 men and I was the sissy?) I told him my sister had the same pair of shorts but slightly bigger. You can imagine where it went from there. My dad….. He would boast amongst his friends, tell my siblings in Yoruba “e jade lo, e lo daran, my son….. Will get you out of trouble, he is a lieutenant in the army. Of all, my wife was the most proud, she had her car painted army green and almost got herself a uniform. She made a ritual of watching army wives religiously with her friends and twisted their arms to address her as lieutenant Mrs.………. “A.k.a iyawosoja” the 2 hours I spent in coaxing her not to get a plate number that said “Army wife 1” was longer than the 2 years I wooed her for. My daughter…….. Bundle of love and cuteness, 4 years old, her first word was practically “attention” with a cute salute. Teniola; always eager to learn; just like me. I remember one day at the park, I had just shown Teniola how to cross the road, we passed by another family who were playing, and the dad asked his little girl “why did the chicken cross the road?” my Teni just jumped in and said “because her daddy taught her” you look left then right then left again before you go; my daddy taught me. With her innocent voice she said; “but can a chicken do that? And which hand will her daddy hold? We all laughed. My family was proud and I loved them all.
That was my life as I knew it until one day; I had to join a battalion to Liberia for peace keeping. No one in my family supported the war, they were proud of their soldier as long as he did not have to kill people…. Go figure. It lasted for a whole 6 months contrary to the mandate that said 4 weeks. I longed to see my family, I missed little teni and her cute salute.
We were all happy when the ceasefire was called; it was all over, we were going home. Captain Danjuma passed round some neatly wrapped joints (weed) for celebrations; he called them the fat lady. We had a song we sang….. “When the fat lady sings, I am going home”. I put mine in my breast pocket, I don’t smoke but you dare not turn down your superior officer, who born monkey? I was more than ecstatic when I boarded the plane back home. I made a necklace of spent bullet casings for my girl and I couldn’t wait to give it to her and see that smile and salute, I couldn’t wait to hold and kiss my wife. I was excited like a little boy on his first trip to the zoo after reading many zoo books.
Night had fallen and it was pouring down heavily as the commando dispatch bus dropped me in front of my VI apartment complex. I stood for a second under the rain, took a deep breath, home still smelt the same, even in the rain…… the plush green grass, the smell of generator smoke in the air, flat 5 still bakes those cup cakes that Teniola loves so much. It was great to be home. I reached into my bag for the bullet casing necklace I made for my teni I couldn’t wait to give it to her. Surprisingly, the front door was unlocked Bisi is usually very security conscious, with teni Running around, doesn’t she know it is dangerous? I walked in and there was no one in sight “teni must be in bed”, I said to myself in a hush tone as though I will wake her if I were a tad louder. In the same hush tones, I started to call out to my wife, who also did not reply: this is weird, I thought. As I reached for my phone to call, Footsteps from the kitchen area made me look up and behold, it was Bisi. She didn’t look happy to see me, her face was blank, she wasn’t happy, she wasn’t sad, no anger, no love, no fear, just plain emotionless. ………. What is the problem? She stared on with no reply, where is Teniola? She still did not answer, so I began to get worried!!! Where is she???? “She is sleeping” she said, with the same blank look on her face. I thought as much, is she ok? I will check on her. As I headed for her room, she burst out.
“You killed her!!!! You!!!…. It was you who killed her. You and your stupid government, you killed my baby!!!” I was dumbfounded. What is she talking about? My heart was already broken, I could not process the idea, but the look on her face was scary. Her pupils were dilated. She had given up and I could see it. The beautiful eyes into which I looked while I said my marriage vows now spelt hate and were reading the eulogy of my wife and daughter. I am a soldier who has been away from home for a long time, I have lost my daughter, I am not about to lose my wife. So I held it all in, and held her close!!! Tight as though she was going to disappear if I let go. And in a soft tone I asked, what happened? She broke down. She cried for a good five minutes during which I shed my own tears without a drop of water. My face was rock solid, but inside, I was swimming in a pool of tears! My heart hurt more than the bullet wound that earned me my medal of honor. She wiped her tears and in sobs, she said….
………..“I was in the living room, the news was on, Teniola was beside me when they announced that your battalion will be returning home, I was excited, but not half as excited as Teni when I told her you were coming home! She jumped for joy and bolted up the stairs! I was sure she wanted to sleep early so she could see you in the morning! I stayed behind to finish the news! The news caster was re-reading the headlines when I heard a loud bang from upstairs! I rushed straight up to Teni’s room, but she was not there so I went straight to our room, and there she was, in a pool of her own blood! My baby was dead! Lying beside the anna montana handkerchief I bought her and your service pistol. She was trying to clean your gun like she saw you do many times before you get home!! You killed my baby!!”………..
I let her cry it all out, I held mine all in, I had to be strong for us both. She continued……
“I remember her asking me if she was a big girl now! I said yes, she was so happy; she wanted to do things for herself. I should have been paying attention, but you shouldn’t have left your gun lying around, you shouldn’t have filled her head with all your soldier mumbo jumbo…. Now she is gone!!! I hope you are happy!!! Your little soldier girl is waiting on you in heaven. My things are packed, I am leaving you. All I can see in this house and in you is her…… I can’t take it!!! I am sorry……. Hers is the smallest grave, the first you will see at the Victoria court cemetery when you enter in case you choose to seek her forgiveness.”……………
She left. I was dumbfounded, where does this leave me? She was right, maybe a little selfish with the blame but she was right…. I should have allowed her be herself, I should have been there. I figured something out, not until you have shed tears, real tears you have not touched manhood. All the gunshots, bombings, fights, testosterone, and deaths from the war were luxury compared to the ache of guilt I felt in my heart….. I could not hold the tears back! They rolled down my cheeks freely like a waterfall. I had lost everything, I had reached the end. No wonder why my family refused to call me or check on me. They blamed me too? I had nothing, I had no one. I remembered rope course from boot camp and how they taught us to tie knots that can save lives. I kept staring at the iron and its wire and all I could think about was tying knots… but this time, I was thinking about taking my life with the knots. I am going to hang myself. I was about to transcend into another world, I had “tied the knot” tight enough to make sure I hang till death do us part, I was ready for my journey, and maybe I will see my daughter again… I did not want to be seen in my military garbs, they did not seem to bring me much luck. Let me go the way I came. I wanted to go in my birthday suit. While I took off my shirt to prepare for the voyage, something fell out of the breast pocket; it was the wrap of weed the captain had handed me back in Liberia. I smiled to myself as I saw the fat lady and thought…. Why not have a taste before I go! This is how it all begun.
After my first drag, I saw a man, dark skin, tight bell bottom pants, shirtless. He had a wrap of weed 3 times as big as mine in his hand with his golden saxophone hanging from his neck like a massive medal. The background music was soft afro beat and it was just, Fela, I and a lot of smoke. He said to me…
……” if you ever heard my story boy, you will know that our country asked me to bend over and screwed me more times than a town whore. They locked me up, killed my mother and tried to drive me crazy… what did I do? I smoked, danced, married and bore children!!! …. Trust me son, suicide is not the way, you no even get the liver, all Na shakara”……
I laughed hard as he did his signature dance to “shakara oloje” and disappeared into the smoke. After that experience, I took Fela’s advice and stuck to smoking… on different days, I will meet different people. Gandhi, hale selassi, Bob Marley, on some days, I will find myself back in Liberia, helping people out. They all kept me happy. The fat lady really sang some sweet tune. She saved my life and gave me a new life! Maybe not as admirable as I would have wanted it, but I lived!!!
I was happy, but the real reason I got hooked was my daughter, every now and then, after I smoke, she will appear to me and tell me stories about heaven, teach me some songs from there, she was still cute as ever, her salute still made me smile. She was still proud of me. She said she wanted to join the army in heaven, but it was already full, she thinks if she eats well and grows big like the angels she saw, God may give her a second thought… (She is just the sweetest… isn’t she?). I saw her yesterday, and she baffled me with her words, shee said to me……….
…….“daddy, I really need to talk to you o… I Love you and I am proud of you. You know someone else who loves you? God, I asked him if you could come early because I see you are sad and I know you will be happier playing with me in the garden and pushing me on the swings but he says you are a big boy and you will be fine, he will call you when it’s your turn. Daddy, everybody is here, soldiers, lawyers, doctors, even some presidents, everyone dad!!! It’s so colorful here just like in my book of bible stories. Here, I am not a kid, I know everything and I know why you see me, and I know it makes you happy, but don’t you want to make it permanent? I do! I want you to be here with me. Drug addicts are here too daddy …. But they had to change, they had to stop. Please daddy, I want us to be together forever, I want you to stop…. I love you daddy”……
so Here I am, I was never the type to seek help or come to these type meetings, my daughter directed me here….. She says you can help me………