Yahaya Madu

Chronicler of the art of life.


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Greetings to my Readers

Greetings of the season to my readers! I hope the short stories and poems on my blog are loved by you. These are just a few of my unpublished works, posted so as to give my readers an example of my literary art and style. Many would never do this, for fear of their readers disliking the example and thus end up showing no interest in their subsequent works. I disagree. An example of your work promotes you better than a big literary name that often proves disappointing to those who read your work. But I dislike what is done by some Indie ( i.e self published ) authors who write whole novels and then give away the ebooks for free; ( though I wouldn’t mind downloading them, he he he ). A few short stories and poems are, in my opinion, excusable.  Lets allow the literary profession to retain its dignity.
I’ll conclude with one of my sayings: ‘ The sea is nothing but so many drops of dew…’

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Through the mists

There is a mist that embraces the fields at the first light of dawn. And silence. The green grass is drenched in dew and the leaves of the trees come alive with lone birdsong. December is cold. The path to the village borehole is lonely and deserted. Sunday morning. In breath of cool breezes is the rising of the sun at dawn. Quietude.

Mamza held two buckets, one rubber, the other iron, as he made his way through the mists of decembers harmattan, shivering in the cold despite his thick blue sweater. The cold seemed to unrobe all clothes, biting. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the village was surrounded by distant mountains. Beneath the mountains was the harmattan mists, upon the mountains rested the clouds.

Somebody cleared his throat, coming down the footpath. Mamza looked on, walking towards them. One could not see clearly at only a short distance. Soon they came close enough. It was three muslim young men coming back from the mosque after the subh or dawn prayers.

“Salaam alaikum”, said the one that cleared his throat.

“Good morning”, replied Mamza.

He walked on. He needed to fetch water from the borehole or the well next to it in good time for the morning hausa church service, depending on which queue was shorter. The young men passed on, cracking a joke that the blood of unbelievers was lawful. Two laughed but one of them did not smile. Mamza pretended he did not hear them in the silence of the misty dawn and the cold winds. He was wondering about his dove. He needed to pay tithes to the church. The pastor needed to buy a new car. His parents wouldn’t give him anything. He had sold all his doves except the white one. But that wasn’t the real reason he wanted to sell it. What the witchdoctor had said was false. In the rain, the descent of the dove upon his head as he came out of the waters of the rain could never confer upon one the power of immortality.

There was a rattling sound and a rickety bicycle came down the footpath, with an old man astride it. Mamza greeted him, stepping aside to let him ride by on the footpath. The grey haired old man rode by passing him silently not uttering a word, a deep frown on his haggard face. He was one of the security guards that worked at the hospital.

‘He must have been on the night shift today’, thought Mamza.

The old man was also a member of the villages vigilante group. Dane guns, toughness and deadly charms that turn bullets into water. That is if you have been well ‘cooked’ with village medicine, as far as the literal translation of the local word goes.

He walked on. The sun was shining and the footpath was becoming brighter. He would never have walked down this lonely road in the middle of the night. Hyenas loved to prowl the bush nearby. Sometimes you could hear their sad howls, carried by the wind into the night. Yet many moved about at that time, fearlessly. As if there was no legend that there was more to them than what met the eye. Strange, not only boys trembled at that myth.

He walked on, without looking back, except to cast a wary eye behind. He shivered in the mists from the cold, and exhaled mist like cigarette smoke out of his mouth, thinking… When he came back from church he would go fishing. So he decided. He was now old and experienced enough to steel his conscience, as he put a worm on the steel hook and the fish devoured it alive.

He would take his two loaves of bread to the river, needing no miracle, knowing that the fish would multiply. Men should give thanks for such bountiful blessings. Quietly, Mamza moved on through the harmattan mist, in the village surrounded by the silent mountains.


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Elohim

Lay some lilies upon a mirror pearled by dew

Color the painting of its roses

Lay a wreathe on the sad ripples of your reflection

Adorn the silent lake.

Clear the mist in a breeze drenched in light.

Silent waters mirroring images of a silent heaven

That is to the talons, embracing the dove, of the beautiful eagle

A misty halo.

Sometimes the waters of the lakes

Reflect the silence of sunny blue skies

That makes parchment of the earth

And in cracks on the ground that is cursive script

Ordains a famine and crowns the death of the grass in silver hue.

The winds tell of the divorce of the moistness of dew

From slaking the thirst of Mother and Child.

Sometimes the music in the dew of heaven

Utters upon the lake

Odes about the greenery in which the lion sleeps,

The sweet smell of death beside its slumber.

For they say life comes from the waters

And death when the thunder veiled in the clouds is silent.

Animals and men may die in famine and heaven does not weep,

Yet the blood of the poor that sleep beneath the skies

By soft shiny dew drops is washed away.

Upon the Cross, sounds in the winds;

“My Lord, My Lord,

Why have You

Forsaken Me?

Veiled it is, what the breeze utters

When it rustles through these leaves.

The call of the rainy descent of uncut diamonds as ice stones

And the answer of thunder.

Yet in the odes uttered by the falling dew

There is music of the drowning hare, and the lions peaceful sleep

To adorn in dew drops of blood the floating lilies.

The earthworm but dreams of the black eagle, of the gentle doves

That always seek to embrace the childish clouds

Drenched in light.


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Bitrus

The raindrops were now dripping from the leaves, the cloudy skies rumbled, and streams of water rushed down the tarred street.The storm had passed.The electric high tension cables lay in puddles on Lantana Main Street. The sheet of rainwater overflowed the street, over the blocked sand filled drainage, touching the bottom of the gates on both sides of the glistening road.

House number forty seven was quiet. Other than the owner of the house, Mr. Bitrus, the house was quite empty. His wife and three children had traveled to their mothers village in a neighbouring state. It was two P.M and the maid had already left after fixing him lunch. He had told her to leave and not to mind about dinner because he was going to eat out, and now the rain. His girlfriend would be disappointed. He sat on a plastic chair on the verandah before the parlour, enjoying the cool after rain breeze, watching the rain water stream-lets gushing over the ground, almost drowning the buds of the flowers.

He was, by trade, an insurance broker. He sat there staring at gushing waters, seeing nothing, confused. He was supposed to sacrifice a child. He had a P.H.D in insurance marketing. Two years without a single client was not natural .It was juju , it must be those insurance professors competing with him for controlling shares in insurance firms. Mr. Bitrus was at the verge of bankruptcy. He had signed assignations for most of his hard gotten shares for money. He had mortgaged his house to multiple banks using the same residential house as collateral. His debts were piling up. He was playing a very dangerous game.

The witchdoctor had stared into the finger drawn animal patterns on the sand and said quite clearly;

”You must sacrifice not an animal this time, but a human being. A child. The sacrifice must be without sin. Only a child is truly without sin”.

Only then could the clouds that hovered over him clear. The Lord cannot blame him. He had taken the battle to the Lord. And the Lord had failed him.

“Do not worry my child”, said the pastor, ”Even if your sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Just take heart. The Lord will bind them for you, and you’ll get clients”.

And still: Nothing. Though he did not tell the priest what was in his mind. The supernatural… death of his enemies .And why should he, he mused, The Lord knows what was hidden in his mind. The destruction of his enemies was the best path to financial resuscitation. But where would he find a child? There was a knock on the gate. Bitrus looked up.

“Who is it?”

The small door at the side of the gate was pushed open and a seven year old girl entered, pushing it close behind her.

“Good afternoon sir.”

“Ah, ah, Mercy. What are you doing here wading through the water?”

“Is Patience back?”

“No she’s not back. They’ll return after the weekend.”

Mercy looked disappointed, standing in the gushing water,  a doll in her hands.

“Baba Patince, the high tension wires are down in the street.”

“Really? Stay away from there. Go back home immediately, okay?”

She nodded. She turned and walked towards the gate, singing;

“Mary had a little Lamb, the Governor is dead in the spring without snow.”

“What? Mercy?”

She turned at him with a mischievous smile,  raising her eyebrows.

“Stop singing that song.”

It was then it occurred to him. The witchdoctor said kill a child. The method was not specified. Why not the girl? The prophet Abraham did it. Or almost did it. Mr. Bitrus would have killed one of his own children, but they were too old. He cannot become bankrupt. If the Mallam made him rich, he would pay him well. For the Mallam was poor. Sitting on sheepskin, counting his rosary, gazing at the mysteries in the animal patterns drawn on the sand .

“Mercy?” said Bitrus.

She stopped in her tracks, one hand resting on the gate.

“Would you like some chocolate and vanilla ice cream?”

“Yes”,she shouted, jumping happily in the water.

“First you must play a game.”

“Play a game? Okay.”

“You see the high tension wires outside? They are not dangerous. I want you to go and hold one. Are you a brave girl?”

“I AM.”

“Good. Hold one and pull it off the street. I know you are a brave little girl. You’ll make the road safe for all pedestrians. Mercy, save lives. Your family’s too. When you return, the chocolate and vanilla ice cream’s yours.”

She dropped her doll in her excitement and rushed outside. Mr. Bitrus became still. Waiting quietly. There was the sound of feet splashing through the streams of rainwater, then a loud electrical zap, then silence. Mr. Bitrus took off his slippers and waded through the water to the gate and opened it a crack. Yes, she was roasted, her small body lying in a puddle, dead. He closed the gate.

He walked back to the verandah and sat down on the comfortable plastic chair. The dew was still dripping from the breeze shaken leaves. And the flower buds seemed to float on water. He would inform the witchdoctor. He hoped her parents had taken out a life assurance policy on the child. They would have profited from her death. He closed his eyes, feeling calm and peaceful.

I am not ashamed to lie about how it all ended.He went into the bedroom and hanged himself.


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Elegy of the Setting Sun

The reflection of light in the dew

In a rosebud that is dome to silence

Crowns the windy ripples in a pond

That is to a temple wrapt in darkness

A  ray of light perfumed

In still waters.

In the sad music of the morning breeze caressing the leaves.

What eclipse in shroud of slumber

Cloaks at dawn the sun ?

What primordial law embraces the dark form of space

In perpetual darkness

Pierced

Only by the rays of the leaf of the candle flame ?

Those that watered the garden

Did not taste of its pomegranates

But are in earth in the womb of nature,

The tearful drops of dew that drips from the leaves

Do not mourn them.

The path of the sun is clouded by the dark of the moon

Nightfall embraces the flower buds at the hour of descending dawn

Reason slumbers from the motion of many dying ripples

But not in the bust that is a mirror

To the peeble in the sparkling waters.

It is not the painting of the rose in bloom

That breathes a sceptre to the memory of its blossom

But the breeze of the sceptered seed.

Perhaps the winds that pluck the buds of the lilies

Is spirit of beloved but departed fingers

That once heard the flute of natures laughing waters

But now, as kings, live in the notes of its music.

The darkness that is in the tears of the misty clouds

Becomes the springs

And the invisible dew of the evaporating waters

Becomes the army of gathering clouds

That waters the garden of the earth

In dew drops in the waters of eternity.

Rest

In peace


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The Exorcist

The mother gazed at her daughter. It was night. The candle flame on the stool beside the mattress on the floor flickered. The girl was shivering on the mattress despite the fact that the night was hot. There was no ceiling in the bedroom, only the iron zinc that embraced the heat of the sun. It was three A.M. Outside the open windows, the night was quiet. In silence.

She had already put out four calls for help. She would have called the doctor but they were tired of going to the hospital;

” Madame, your daughter is fine. We can’t find anything wrong with her.”

Besides, they didn’t have the money. Not since her mothers tailoring business started losing customers to the wealthy tailoring outfit newly established near the suya joint on the same street. They lived in a one bedroom apartment in a dirty neighbourhood. There was one parlour to the bedroom. The bathroom and kitchen was shared with the other tenants. The old building was not painted but plastered. It had plastered cracks on its walls. There was a knock on the door. One of the four people she had called was there.

Miss Eliza Gadzama, who was single, ( her daughter was a love child ), got off the stool she had been sitting on by her daughters bedside and walked through the empty door space that led to the parlour. She stopped at the door.

“Please, who is there? ”

“Sister Eliza, It is me, Father Pius.”

She unlocked the door, let him in, then locked it again. He was not new to the household. He walked straight into the door- less bedroom. He stopped by the girl lying on the mattress on the floor and knelt by her side. The candle light cast in relief her suffering features. She was twenty four, and beautiful. He called her name;

“Parmata!”

She smiled at him.

“Yes,Father?”

She touched the softness of the robe of the catholic priest.

“Are you feeling better?”

“No. But I’m fighting the things.”

“What things?”

“Mayu.”

Father Pius was silent. It was a local word for people who appeared human but secretly ate your flesh, while maintaining the illusion that the flesh was still there, until there was actually nothing left, at which point you died. The scientific psychiatrists denied this, but he was a priest. He knew and whispered in prayer what was written in the Bible in the second Book of Kings, chapter six, verses twenty six to twenty nine. He whispered;

“Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him , saying;

“Help,my lord, O king!”.

And he said;

“If the Lord does not help you, where can i find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the wine-press?”

Then the king said to her;

“What is troubling you?”

And she answered;

“This woman said to me, ‘Give me your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And i said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him”; but she has hidden her son.’

Father Pius also went on  and whispered verse thirty three of the same chapter;

“Its the Lord who has brought this trouble on us? Why should I wait any longer for Him to do something?”

Then Father Pius prayed in the Spirit, and said Amen. He got up and reassured Miss Gadzama that her daughter would be okay.

“I have brought a book for you,” he said, giving her a small book.

It was a copy of Nature Power by the Nigerian Roman Catholic priest, Father Anselm Adodo. She already had a copy, but she did not tell him that. She took the small book. It questioned the use of drugs when  natural medicine was available. It also recommended drinking your urine as medicine. Eliza had also read the Malleus Maleficarum, which meant ‘The Witches Hammer’, used by the Catholic Church long ago in order to burn witches at the stake. It was  not helpful for her suffering daughter. Father Pius departed. She locked the door behind him.

There was another knock on the door by four A.M.

“Who’s there?” she asked as she approached.

“Baba Familoni.”

It was her herbalist. She unlocked the door and he walked in, and she locked the door behind him. He went to her daughters bedside and touched her head with his hand.

“How are you feeling?” he asked the girl.

‘Like there is something on my shoulders, and something crawls in the body, and an ever present burning sensation, always sensing the presence of evil.’

“Hmm.’ He nodded wisely. “I have some herbs, but in order for the plants to take effect, you need to sacrifice a goat, and rub some…’

“Baba Familoni,”; interrupted Eliza, “I don’t have the money, you hear? When I get the money I will call you.”

He nodded, then left, chewing his kola nut.She shook her head. Honestly, she was tired of his useless concoctions, but she was so desperate.  The herbalist left. She locked the door behind him. An hour later the Muslim Seer was by the door. He walked to the bedroom and sat down beside the sick Parmata. Mallam Salihu cleared his throat.

“My little child, how are you feeling?”

“Oppressed by an invisible demonic presence.”

He nodded. He, as he must, knew the entire Qur’an by heart. He began to recite, whispering prayerfully, Chapter thirty six, verses eight and nine of the Qur’an, Sura Yasin, said to be the most dreaded Sura in the evil world of black magic;

“We have put yokes round their necks right up to their chins, so that their heads are forced up ( and they cannot see ). And we have put a bar in front of them, and a bar behind them, and further, we have covered them up; so that they cannot see.’

Mallam Salihu uttered a prayer, quietly. His religion forbade him from trafficking with the unbelievers, but money was… er… money. He looked up at Eliza.

“Madame, Allah has revealed to me this sickness is not natural. It was caused by your husbands first wife.”

Eliza was shocked.

“Mallam, I am single, I have never been married before in my life.”

“Sorry. It was a slip of tongue. What was actually revealed was…”

“And I don’t have any money for you.” she added, interrupting him.

“Well,” he said reflectively, “When I call again?”

She nodded.

Mallam Salihu left. After he left, there was a knock on the door. she went to the door.

“Who is it?”

“It is Paul.”

She opened the door. He walked in. He was known as the Drunken Master. He loved his brandy, sometimes mixed with soft drinks,  but only friends called him by that particular name, named after the traditional Chinese martial art of Drunken Boxing. He was their neighbour. He loved his wine, yes, but was ever sober. He walked into the quiet bedroom and sat beside the girl on the  straw mat.

“Parmata, Feeling better?

She smiled. He was holding a bottle of fine blended white brandy with some bulbs of fresh garlic poured in it for the oppressed to drink  from time to time.

“Paul” said Eliza, “they have all failed me.”

“I said they would didn’t I? Take this,” he said, giving her the bottle; “Vampires hate garlic. If the doctors are helpless, then the power of nature, my dear, the way of herbs, is the only way.”

“You want her to become a drunkard?”

“No. She’s an adult, right?  And make sure she doesn’t smoke.  Eliza, stay away from superstition,  all the bloody hocus pocus. Fight on the proven medicinal ground. Demons have nothing to do with this,  Eliza, even  though a fairy tale can sometimes be correct. Use only that which you know Eliza. Okay?”

‘Strange words’, thought Eliza, as she escorted him out of the apartment. She locked the door as he left. She walked back to the bedroom. She thought of everything for quite a long time. She had to make a bloody choice. And she made the choice. It was best described by her neighbour Paul’s favourite biblical verse;

“Do not drink water only, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake, and your often infirmities.”

First Timothy Chapter five verse twenty three. Furthermore, her neighbour Paul loved to play on words;

“If anyone comes to accuse the Drunken Master, just say its the gospel according to Paul.”

Eliza gave some to the girl to sip. The girl later said that she felt much better. Eliza made up her mind. If the bloody priest ever came again she would simply say she prayed and the Lord turned water into wine.

Outside, people were beginning to stir and the light of dawn had  finally come.


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Melodies

The breeze is music upon soft piano keys That utter notes that whisper into the earth And soothes the stillness of the lake Into butterfly kissing ripples Mesmerizing the perfume of flower blossoms. The thunder utters terrible things But is soothed into silence By the stillness of the waters, The hurricane and the calm breeze Are One. The music of the heavens In streaks of lightning And gathering winds whispering In the war drums of the storm Foretells the calm of the music Of the rain in dripping dew Upon the greenery of a pond, quiet. Dreaming of the orchestra of the sea The Navy sailor is transfixed upon the earth By the cool fires of blooming gardens And in dew drenched leaves, the melodies of brightly coloured birds. Ah, this is paradise For the lions no longer exist And the slender antelope listens To the music of the wind In the grass laden by dew And the green serpent is waiting for the hen, guarding her eggs in peace. The naval sailor is dreaming Yet is awakened by the rain In the melody of ice and of thunder.