LETTERS: TO STEFN SYLVESTER , A BROTHER WHOSE WORDS MEND HEARTS
Do you know i still remember how Aba looks like? The city that you said that has the golden history of the Ancient Igbo kingdom. Do you remember all of her towns, Osisioma, Ohafia, Isuokwuato, Aba, Umuahia and Isi Alangwa? Do you know that that was where our forefathers were birth under the sparkling sun? Do you know that your father and my father were giving birth in that Ancient city of Aba even before the women of Aba went naked for the sake of tax? Do you know I still have that city in mind? Aba is for me as well as yours and you know about this. Do you know I humbly appreciate how you carry that city on your shoulder to remind the world that we’re from the other side of the world where treasures are made? I know Shammah built an honourable poet. I know Shammah created a marvelous editor whose name breaks the walls of the prison yard. We may not be at peace with the world because it has treated us like an orphan but we’ll be happy that in a thousand years to come, our names shall remain here on the wings of the time and beautifully printed on the wings of butterflies.
Do you remember Sabrina? The one whom you said has eyes like the sun and her legs are like the pillars on which the world stands on. I think you should remember her, the one whose steps turn up every beat for dancers from the city of Aba. Ogene, Ikoro, Atilogwu; it didn't matter the type of drum that are being beaten; you said her body was a dream yet to come to you. I know how you fell in love with her. I know it was on your way to school that you both met and she spoke to you at first while you looked at her eyes to see those seven goddesses of love that father and mother told you about. You fell for her magical eyes. Meanwhile, she was a dream that was yet to come in your eyes. Do you remember her now? The one who was reluctant to let you in, into her heart, I might not be a good soothsayer but it was said before the act surfaced.
However, I know you still remember the songs you wrote her. Do you remember asking Uchenna Njie for her nick name? You sang her praises like she was your king, bent her with poetry and songs until she danced to your tunes. I still remember all these things even if you don’t, I still do. Stefn, do you remember breaking her waist beads while she begged for you to love her again and again? Do you? Sometimes we forget some memories and allow them to float in the soul of our loved ones. Do you remember she told you she would give you her love for free? She reminded you she wasn't ready for singleness. Those days we built castles on the sand, we hoped to chew cud like the goats but the girls told us that having them was better than chewing a cud. We watched our mothers made love to our fathers, we watched both of them moaned and groaned in unknown tunes, we saw the room went blind and the curtains sang an unknown song. Do you remember they told us love making wasn’t meant for our age? They told us that once we take the girls to the other side of the room; we would put them in a family way. We were afraid of those statements. We were afraid because they never told us how and what we shouldn’t do but, they said we shouldn’t touch the girls in as much as we saw them making love.
Do you remember how good it felt when we saw our fathers broke through the tightness of our mothers, when their semen flowed and they cursed God because it was that good and pleasurable to let go? Stefn, our parents are now old and what is left are those things we learnt from them. Their bodies cannot move the way it used to move to the moans of their voices. There are no beads on their waists now but on the waists of our coy lovers. There are no singers at the doors of our fathers but at our own door. We are the new grooms now holding water and fire and songs and prayers; songs for our lovers and supplications for their love. We are the new grooms now hoping to find that special one that could sing to our ears of those melodies our mothers sang to our fathers in the eve of the night under the Udala trees at the back of the hut. Remember that Sabrina won’t be the village laughing stock. I know you won’t allow that to happen because I saw love in your eyes the last time you hold her in your arms. (Smiles)
But on a lighter note, how is Aba? I hope Ikpeazu has done more good than bad in that city? When last did you visit York? Do you go there at all? Are they still heaps of dirty beside Ahia Ohuru? When last did you see Uchendu? Your mother and Father nko? I heard you are a now big boy controlling many poets in Aba (smiles), I heard you have a good job. I visited your site some days ago; I read some of the articles there. They are great works from you.
I could have wanted us to talk about love and marriage but I don’t really know how it might sound to your ears because many writers nowadays are enemies of love. They shy away from the fact that they must one day love no matter how rigid their heart is. Find love even if Sabrina is no more in your life, never you fantasy as I do with Ivara. Sometimes it hurts in the mind. Marry wherever you see love. Fall in love where ever you see love. To me, I think tribe does not really matter. Remember this is your prime. This is the right time to take care of yourself and build an empire, any kind of empire you want to build. This is the time to think about the kind of children you want to have, the kind of wife you will love to marry and the kind of career and school you will want your children to go to. This is the right time to do all these things because there is no time to check the time on the wall.
To be frank with you, sometimes I wonder the kind of person you are, jovial? Kind? Annoying? Easy going? hard to please or anything out of this world? Honestly, I do have mix feelings of who you are. But, your pictures speak volumes. Facebook has brought us closer to each other. Do you know that without social media I wouldn’t have known you? Do you know that? I wouldn’t have read most of your works especially poetry. You wouldn’t have known that I existed anyway. In all, the world is advancing and things are coming closer to us than we expected. Things are taking different forms and shapes and men are more spontaneous these days than before.
Well, concerning one of your books, Sweetness, I think I am yet to lay my hands on it. I have no doubt in my mind; I know you did a wonderful job there. You write with passion and wit. I love most of your poems, those ones you posted on facebook. Last year, when you had the 365 days poetry Challenge, I think of how brave you were to embark on that journey. I watched behind, I admired your courage until it came to an end. Of a truth, you are a great man. I have never doubted your greatness right from the day I saw your name and picture popped out on facebook as facebook friend suggestion. Well, we may not understand how the heart of another beats until our own heart continue from where the other ends. We may not rightly discover that it is only a person whose teeth come out that has big teeth. Life is in phases and men in sizes and when the heart yields to a particular direction we forget that life itself has life of its own.
In fact, I was one of those boys who let out tears from his eyes to tell the world that we are not stones. I told the stories and you backed me up with your cravenness. I could have thank you enough for the cover design of that book, I could have thank you enough for those times I called and broke into your busy schedules. I know what it means to break into one’s muse and break out again without taking permission from him. In principles and policies; we should understand that bearing is of common knowledge and understanding of one another. Thanks for everything special you have done for me. Thanks for assisting in “Boys Are Not Stones” Anthology. Thanks for your candid advice and those times I have to chat you up and your what’sapp replied me. Those messages reminded me that you were also busy planting in your own farm. I won’t forget everything in a hurry, I won’t. If you pay homage to the man on top, others will someday pay homage to you when it is your turn to be on top. I hope you still remember that our father’s once said that the power of the leopard resides in its claws. Better days are coming, better days shall have us smiling and feasting on the new wine of greatness and when those days shall come, you will be there for us to celebrate in one accord.
Furthermore, the fox must be chased away first after that, the hen might be warned against wandering into the bush. You are to me a soul brother and we won’t relax because our home is on fire. We must dream not because our leaders are bad but because we are greater than them. We must work harder now to plant so that when harvest time comes, we’ll smile to our children and to our neighbours and our foes. You are loved, you belong here. A fowl does not eat into the belly of a goat.
Take care of your mother and father and your siblings and let them know the importance of birthing a boy like you. Give no room for them to regret. Serve them just like they’ve served you when you were much younger; rubbing shoulders together, breathing through the nostril of another is the reason why we are called humans.
I need you to take out time, to think; to reminisce about what the future holds for you and for your generations to come. You know deep down in your mind that there are other mountains out there whose career are to shatter dreams, batter dreams, like that of our country home, Nigeria.
Please bear it in mind that no matter what comes in your way that you must conquer them all and survive. All I'm trying to say is that, you mustn’t give up the quest for a better future, for you, for your children who are to come and for your country home. You must keep moving, you must keep moving to the breaking of the wind, holding hope, holding fire, trying to be yourself; you must aim at once and never give up the quest no matter the circumstances. Remember that many eyes are widely fixed on you, dear Stefn. We all reap what we sow and, the good news is this, One day, we’ll all sit somewhere closer to heaven preparing to repay the favour with the same measure we received from our neighbours. Someday, we will sit to drink and laugh out the insanity of this world to the world. But before then, let’s hold each other in our heart, shoulder to shoulder to dream again and again till dawn is dusk and dusk becomes dawn.
We will see soonest and when we see, we will give out this boyish laughter that makes the heaven smile to the baking of our happiness.
© John Chizoba Vincent