why don’t we read books? I keep asking myself that question every time. Why don’t we read books that are for pleasure, expand our minds, books that excite our imagination, books that teach us about other cultures? Why do we ignore books that expand our minds? I have been thinking a lot about books and the paucity of good books
You know, when you have a lot of things to do and you find you have not done one? You are so busy doing nothing. That has been my problem lately. I had a radio drama series which seemed to have swallowed me up whole. I have not had time to even think there are other parts of my literary life that need attention and my blog has suffered it most. I will stare for long moments longingly wishing I could just get my arse and do some writing ut I read another story on rape or hear one and I am off-putting that into a radio drama piece and asking my panelists to be on standby.
I do not intend to talk about rape today. Where am I?
Okay, I forget easily these days and that is another thing. This irritating habit of simply looking into the distance mid-conversation and not remembering what I want to say or write. Okay, blogging and my blog. Did I tell you about the problem I had getting my books back from those ’friends’ of mine?
Anyways, I don’t plan to give my books to bookshops anymore. Leastways not in my environment. One asked me to reduce the cover price to a fraction of the production cost so I could sell cheaply. He said books that are just meant to be read for its literary value don’t sell. He laughed at me, accepted that I could maybe write, but no one was going to buy my books for the prices I quoted.
There was hope in his eyes when he asked me if I had won any awards with any of the titles. Then the hope was replaced with pity as I mentioned that I wrote the series “I NEED TO KNOW”, he gave me a suspicious look. I could almost read his thoughts as he wondered if I had lost my marbles. I don’t look like a television writer to him, besides that was a popular series that spanned the whole country and beyond.
He had come to ask if he could sell my books for me in his own state and stared t me in horror when I told him how much it was going for. He patiently explained that I was not producing this for television and he was being helpful. There was a long pause then he brightened up and offered to take all four books for N600, that is less than $2:00. I screamed at him to get off my face and space.
He was miffed and told my friend I was going to be hungry for a long time. I was depressed. Told him he was a nightmare. I have been having such nightmares daily as I stare at my collection gathering dust.
Why don’t we read?
I wish I can have an answer.
There was silence as they stared at each other. They were half-brothers but had remained friends because Babatunde acknowledged he was six months younger in age and that had pleased Tope. When Babatunde graduated, there had been slight tension as Tope had expected that his younger sibling might put on some airs as the educated one, but both their mothers had genuinely acted like he was the senior and congratulated him on becoming a graduate in the family.
Papa had been nice too, always recognizing Tope as the older and head of the house after him. Any rising jealousy had thus been nipped in the bud. Babatunde asked him if he would like a beer and Tope shook his head negatively saying he had taken care to drink some really nice palm wine at the local canteen.
Babatunde took the items to the kitchen and returned to find Tope staring in awe at the full life-size photograph of Ife. The photograph took a whole side of the east wall of Babatunde’s living room. It was obviously taken as she stood by the hill amongst flowers and stream. Babatunde watched his brother and had a small smile on his face as Tope turned round. However, there was real alarm in Tope’s eyes as he pointed to the photo and looked at Babatunde. “Why do you have that here?”
“Why not here? It is mine and I happen to live here.” Tope stared for some long seconds, shook his head and went back to the couch. He seemed irritated all of a sudden and that puzzled Babatunde.
He knew the issue of Ife had always bothered his brother and Babatunde was at a loss how to handle it. In a quiet voice, he spoke to his brother. “Look it is my problem and not yours, so why don’t you simply accept it?”
“Papa wants to know if you have any plans of marrying. Even Joseph got married.”
“Is that why he sent you or has he chosen another bride again?” Babatunde asked, searching his brother’s eyes. His hands were clenched at his sides but his voice was even and steady.
Babatunde saw a strange look come into the eyes of his half-brother. He tried to make light of the almost heavy silence.
“Why are you worrying about me? I have been busy with school but you are even older and should have been married by now anyway so what is holding you back?”
“Papa says that you are wanted back in the town as Ifa is to decide the new king and you are to report to the elders,” Tope announced abruptly.
He gave his brother a look that Babatunde recognized as reluctant respect.
Babatunde had a small frown conveyed in his eyes. ”I hope I can get time off from work, my boss is not around now and the one acting on his behalf could be tricky about giving permission.”
Tope shrugged and announced he would like to turn in for the night as he had had a long drive, was tired and gave a big yawn to prove his point. He said his goodnight and hurried off to the guest bedroom.
Babatunde sat back in the living room contemplating his impossible dream. Would Ife ever love him like he loved her? He wondered how he was going to learn to live with it if she did not.
He did not know what he was going to tell his father who was getting on in years. He had tried to shake himself into the reality of his impossible longing and go on with his life.
Now a pharmacist and employed, he still had been unable to date. Not for lack of offers he reminded himself.
He threw himself fully into his work and that was some relief.
The hair on the back of his head prickled and he knew Sasa was around. He sighed and invited his friend in. Sasa now moved closer to him in the physical plane. He could almost always see Sasa in the misty form.
Sasa had identifiable features—a tall, distinguished but youthful old. He still teased him by calling him Fancy Pants particularly if they were having an argument.
Sasa was looking at the Blue Mountains. No, there were no mountains near his home but each time Sasa visited, he showed him things.
Babatunde learned that it was Sasa’s inner thoughts that beamed to him and when they connected he could experience and see one of Sasa’s homes.
Sasa gave him a wry smile and a look from deep blue eyes. “When you have finished, maybe we can have a decent conversation.”
Babatunde smiled. “Has a king being decided?”
“You tell me, young Lion.”
“Madam, it is your right to take the money. These idiots think of the state as their personal treasury. Make hay while the sun shines is my motto, Madam,” he counseled.
Ife bit her lip seeing the difficulty of her position. She gave the secretary a smile. “Let me tell you a small story. There was a woman who was invited by accident into a coven of witches. The first time she was dragged to the coven, she feared for her life and was told to play along so she could learn how to escape, but she witnessed the child of the leader being contributed as a meal for them to devour.
She kept her portion and hid it inside her leg. So her leg got fatter than the rest of her body for she kept hiding her portion of the human beings killed at the coven. They made her rich, believing she was part of them and she held her peace blaming Olodumare for not striking the witches dead. However one day, it was announced to her that she was to contribute her only child for a particular festival of the witches. Her child had just graduated from the University, done his NYSC successfully and against all expectations gotten a job. This woman was happily looking forward to reap the fruits of her labor so definitely she had no intention to accede to the request of the witches.
She appealed to them that sacrificing her child was just not on the cards. The witches laughed and said since she had accepted every potion she had been given, they requested she should return it, she smiled relieved and offered them her leg, stating that her portion of each meal was embedded in her leg. The leader of the witches gave a long chilling laugh and told her that what they had given her was not just a leg, but at different times other parts of the body. They told
her to make things fair, while the leg had been fattened by her, they would need all the other body parts.
“You see, she was guilty by association under the laws of creation; birds of the same feathers flock together. She was always free to refuse to come to the coven. She was always free not to accept the portions she had received. She was bound by the judgment that what you sow is what you reap. So the witches ate her alive while she remained conscious of what was happening to her body. An association is free but the consequences of the association is not free.
There is no way I am going to be able to afford the consequence of this gift. It might become too expensive for me. Please thank Her Excellency and let her know I am deeply grateful but I possibly cannot accept the gift.”
Ife felt close to tears as she finished her long reply. The personal secretary hesitatingly asked if he was expected to tell the story of the witch when he returned the money.
Ife saw greed come into his eyes and knew immediately that he had no intention of returning the money, in fact she read his thoughts and learned what he had planning on saying so she laughed and took the envelope saying she might as well bell the cat herself.
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