The Heart Whisperer

As I make my way back to my seat in the midst of the rousing ovation, the small voice was unmistakeable, it was insistent and clear.

“Well?” the voice says

“Well… wow!” I say, “This is some great reception. Are you seeing this? Almost everyone is on their feet clapping” I continue.

I hear the dry chuckle in my heart.

“Huh huh, and you made certain you did not say a word of what you were sent to.”

I carefully take my seat, adjust my cuffs, and make a show of rearranging the sullen looking cutlery on the table- which seem to have perked up with interest at the conversation (or is that reflection from the sunshine whose cunny rays have somehow boycotted the barricade of the heavy shutters?)

The ambience in the room is great, the lights are low, the mood is relaxed and everybody is friendly; back pats, handshakes, air kisses and almost warm hugs.

“You were given an in-season word for some in this room, and you traded that for intelligent sounding vowels and impressive consonants, because you doubted the acceptance of the original message.
That was a brilliant talk, but sadly, you’ve hardly taken a seat, and it’d probably be the camcorder alone that remembers what you said and is truly affected by it.

You see, God’s word (read message) never goes empty, His counsel is ever sure, His division is precise and His direction accurate. He backs up what He says with power and whom He sends, with authority. Did He endorse what you just said?”

“Okay” I silently retort, “so maybe I didn’t exactly say what needed to be said out there, but I emphatically implied it.
Potential connection to big players in this continent is just an introduction, a handshake or a nod of acknowledgement away in a place like this”
“Besides”, I continue, “I think there are certain things that are basic knowledge, going on about them would look like I didn’t know my onions, my brilliance was under a laser microscope out there.
The way I see it, that was a make or mar speech. It determines whether I am in or out, and if I am out, how can I ever reach them for God?” I rush on to respond, in time to catch the admiring glance and silent courtesy of the beautiful wife of a well known politician.

“So it’s about your status then? You say IT determines…?”

“No, no”, I cut in, “ it is not about my status. But you have taught that wisdom is profitable to direct, and I simply employed wisdom there.”

In a gentle but firm voice, he says, “It’s interesting that you choose to employ wisdom rather than allow wisdom ’employ’ you. Have you forgotten who the person of wisdom is?
Christ is wisdom; the word of God… He is understanding and direction”

I adjusted on the seat, “What I meant to say is: of course, He is my priority”.

“What do you think is His priority?

People… the subject of Love’s unfailing affection. You… your well being in every facet of life.

People. Everyday people: the bigwigs that many feel too awed to talk to about Christ, the homeless bum you’re too pious to talk to and give a kind word; the teary eyed other at the Hospital gate, the tattered kid, the old man, the bubbly youth, the jaded divorcee, the man in the prestigious white house, Mr CEO, Miss celeb, the Forbes list-er… they are all just humans, mortals, hurting, needing help somewhere, needing God.

The precious souls behind the Sunglasses and Rafter caps, them in the latest model cars and designer labels, ones in the scorching sun and on bare foot… They are God’s priority and He loves them and has had His love commended towards them. The word is His way of reaching out, because he wants them to know how He loves them.

Besides, as basic as basic knowledge sounds, not everybody has it. What you’ve taken for granted since you were barely a boy could be a surprising, life altering insight to a 60 y/o somewhere. Stop psychoanalysing God’s ways and intent, just open your mouth, let Him fill it. There is enablement and life in God’s word…”

There I am, I just gave the most impressive speech of my life and had the room on its feet, but I knew in my heart that I had hidden the truth. In the hope of affiliations- of nuisance value- and some crumbs of stale bread, I had chosen to scratch itching ears rather than feed hungry hearts. In a haystack of ‘intelligence’, I had set the truth ablaze.
But it will not die, the truth will not disappear just because I had been disobedient about sharing it. It will forever the truth remain.

The next speaker walked on stage after an impressive heralding bio was read and the thunder of applause swallowed up my thoughts…until another time.

With a word, a pink Hammer,

Apples of gold and silver frames
©Lily 2013

Lily Chronicles 3- Homes and Alleys

First, I really must apologise for going MIA on this blog practically all year long.

I’ve thought of this blog every single week and my heart yearns to post something but I somehow find that the months roll by and I still don’t.

Excuses won’t cut it, I OD’d on those already.

So, to every person who visited here and found the same old post(s) every time, I apologise for not coming through. Forgimme?{puppy eyes}. Thank you {bright smile}, I’ll try harder and do better, I promise.

Now, here’s an old story (purely fictional) about an unlikely beauty queen. Let’s just say Miss congeniality, is not an undercover cop, but a one-man rebel government this time around.

Catch up on and

And the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom -Anais Nin

The days keep counting, alternating between being exhilaratingly fast and frustratingly slow. The euphoria wears out, public attention wanes, there are new scandals, news piece and everybody is moving on but my life, my course is forever altered (or maybe I just got on course?).

Today, I got a call from Emayo, whom I fondly call ‘PG’. He is the Projects and Programmes director, so both letters P and G find a cozy home as acronyms of his job description. More accurately though, the acronym stands for ‘Parental Guidance’, my way of giving parents with little kids a heads up around him.
His language is vulgar and rated PG-13 at least, also, he is quite the lady’s man, and adult supervision (R-rating) is advised if your pretty, young daughter is going to be hanging out around him.
It drives him up the wall that I won’t quit my PG parade and as a way of payback, he calls me ‘Lil’. (Who on earth shortens the name ‘Lily’?!)

He calls and asks if I have gone through the slides he sent me and if I didn’t find the pictures too disturbing.

I almost let loose a guffaw.

Those pictures, to me, were like flipping through an album of my life, only they didn’t contain any picture of the past 12years that I’ve lived –outside of that kind of environment.

High definition pictures that depict the standard selling point of Africa- as many outside the continent know it. Poverty. Call me paranoid, but I think that is why PG chose this particular project for me, to make us look “good” to potential investors.

What an irony! We sell our worst stories to attract charity. The inspiring stories hardly gets a media once over, local innovations get booted to the curbs, SME’s sweat tears and blood, the political landscape is fraught with backward policies, violence and corruption but hey! who cares, right? So far we can attract international pity with our poignant stories of squalor and window dress our festering sores to look “good” for foreign investors.

I go over the slides again and smile sadly… there were shots of children playing on extensive fields of debris: If you look carefully enough, you will see the not so odd bodies of dead chickens, goats or dogs, at different stages of decay.
A child with an alarmingly distended tummy and a half eaten mango celebrating a swarm of flies paying homage to the bounty that she holds, stands on one part of the field.

There were pictures of Mothers – with teams of kids- in different states of undress, going about their daily chores with no self consciousness.

These particular photographs made me chuckle.

How these women would have their delicate sensibilities offended and talk haughtily about city girls and their trending barely-there dresses, when they practically would have on their undergarments and a shy piece of wrapper and go to the next street to fetch an errant child or pieces of firewood.

In this state, they would unabashedly greet male folks and smile warmly at strangers (this is a show of their hospitality and is not intended to be sensual).They watch the movies and see “modern” ladies with no social qualms as loose and a bad influence on their young daughters.

Slide after slide tells a story of domestic abuse, police brutality, environmental degradation, sad state of social infrastructure and dehumanization of epic proportions.

The town in consideration is not far from a mega city. It, infact produces a huge proportion of the food items supplied to the city, besides supplying it with cheap labour in form of teenagers and ambitious young adults.

Small towns like this one mostly has a distribution of the aging and the really young population- both dependents,as the work force migrates.

Everybody wants to go to the city and make something of their life. The drive is mostly from the stomach.

They operate a communal setting with likely tradition of jointly raising children. Your child could do something wrong three streets away and neighbors will already help you deal with him before you show up, you just thank the neighbors and promise the child additional hell when you get home. Vices such as lying, stealing et al are frowned upon. Hence,a rumbling tummy would more likely drive a youngster to child labour than to the neighbour’s (money jar) till.

To fix, to empower,to sensitize,to educate… this is to be my project. I smile. I am going home.

Home, not because I am from there, but because I can identify with their struggles and pains.

Home to me, is a distant but ruthless memory, which comes once for an annual visit… on the anniversary of my guardians’ demise.

The Boogie Man (Part 1 of 2)

Word has gone round that the Boogie man is in town. Many are sceptical about that piece of news, many are indifferent, many more are simply stricken with fear, (that’s one ‘many’ too many, but it is a really large population), and a lot more do not believe the boogie man exists.

Already, people have been said to have come up missing.

Questionable, sensational reports, very much like this one, are a-dime-a-dozen in this area. So, you understand if some of us are not bowled over at the latest fad.

On this fateful day though, against our mother’s warnings, my sister and I take off in one of the cars, we put down the top, and travel down the winding path that leads to town. For the thrill, she steps on it while we whoop and generally have the time of our lives. We somehow get distracted and wind up near the falls, a brief stroll on the beach and she wants to peel off her clothes and take a dip but voice
-of-wisdom me reminds her that father awaits our early return.

As we make our way back to the car, a shadow falls on the rock that hides our car from view. Somehow, we know, just before we see him, that this was it. In seconds, we are to face with the fear of many- aka Boogie man. Tall- huge more like, ferocious looking, garbed in designer blacks, he moves stealthily with a gun casually slung across his shoulder.  Without speaking a word, he looks terrifying.

I steal a look at my sister, she does not look terrified but she isn’t smiling (as is her custom) either, actually, she looks… askance (?!)

He says something but all my numb mind registers is a deafening roar. To me, everything is magnified and  amplified, looking and sounding a thousand times worse than it probably is.
Before he utters another word, Sis gets the first word in and  announces that we are not afraid of him.

“We are not?” I incredulously squeak under my breath. She shushes and pulls me closer.

Then comes the oh so beautiful exchange.

She tells him he is a scarred, scared little boy in adult skin, terrorising harmless people and how she feels sorry for him because his life must really suck.
He growls in response.

In my semi paralysed state, I wonder why he doesn’t  attack; just pull the trigger and shut my sister up once and for all. Everybody complains that she talks too much anyway.
“Go pick on someone your size”, she says, ‘oh, that’s right, you are the lowest of lows, right at the bottom of the food – and authority – chain. Too inconsequential, in the right places, to be classed as anything that matters.

She tells of how she knows for sure that he was defeated in battle downtown; how he was thrashed and publicly made a spectacle of by a Carpenter. Ordinary men kicked dust on him and made him whimper for mercy- the fish merchant, the tent maker, the accounts clerk, the law intern, simple guys who dared- these guys bound him up and plundered his arsenal, kicking him out of town.

I am near hysteria at this point, but with each syllable, my sister’s words seems to shoot darts of liquid fire up my spine.

I brace a look into his eyes, he doesn’t seem to be affected by all of these but I feel something shift (hey, I have been known to be wrong before).

Sis just keeps right on recounting his depressing track record.

Quietly, he says “shut up and move”, jerking his head towards a frightening part of the rocks- replete with caves and drops.
“Didn’t you get the memo?”  was her comeback, “We are not your hostages, nor would we ever be. You are too…” as if searching for words, she suddenly stops and (wait for this) starts laughing! I mean, she actually laughs, heartily!

My heart plunges to the sole of my left foot. Finally, I think, she has lost it. My sister has snapped; gone mad, and I am going to die. Oh well! At least I lived a good life.

As if he finds my sister hilarious and reads my mind at the same time, with a faint smile, he echoes “You are going to die – both of you- slowly, painfully, with all your dreams unfulfilled, then, I’ll go to your home and do same to every sorry member of your family”

Her pretty lips curls upwards and with a look of glorious wonder, she claps and says,“ Nice little speech. I was wondering when you will get to the lies. You’re a liar and a lie. That’s your identity”

I glare at her and think “Really, calling a man with a weapon names is not smart at all”

“You know the game is up but you are not one to go without trying”. She continues, “Well, in case you missed the news, we are the ones that escaped*.
We have been given authority over you by the man that trashed you in battle… we are seated with Him in High places, far above you and your creative tantrums.

You have nothing on us, nothing to charge us with because we are just and right-standing. Yes, we are the righteousness of the most High God through His son Jesus.

As He is, so are we; you know why? Because, we believe and wholeheartedly accept the sacrifice that He made for us with His life. We are now the pleasures at the Father’s right hand.
We are one with Him: He is the head of the body that we are, so His victory over you is ours too- forever”
“Oh! Did I mention that we have authority over you? So, you may leave now, ’cause am done talking to you”.

I am shocked to find out that I have not passed out
– in a bid to grant my turmoiled soul respite from its back and forth.

I know all these things my sister is saying- we had both been taught them- they are true, but do they work just like that? Will they work now?
I’m not sure but I know she either just saved our lives or made our deaths that much more excruciating because this guy looks like he could cause an earthquake with a pop of his vein. Boy, he is all shades of red with rage!

From all intents and purposes, we -she- did well, but, I thought, tiny us and rehashed news against big, mean, present right-before-your-eyes him? I am totally seating on the fence on this one.

I grow weak-er (if that is possible at this point) with tears, as, within a heartbeat, ‘Mr Boogs’ disappears behind the rocks.

I crumple in tearful relief into my sister, and whisper, “Oh my God, what just happened?”

She holds me tight and with her usual humour, teasingly replies, “I am not your God, silly, I am Faith, your sister” she grins “and we just kicked the enemy’s butt from the place of victory!”

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Lily Chronicles 2 (The Diary of a Rebel Beauty Queen)

It has been a week since I ascended the unseen throne of beauty queens. The past week was a giant blur of press conferences, interviews, photo shoots, meetings and carefully chosen public appearances. I feel exhausted. More from having my life planned and patterned by a bunch of so called professionals, than from the energy I have expended on these activities.

After weeks of training, practices and what nots, my shoulders still ache from being suddenly beaten from a perfect slouch to a broad square -in a bid to stand and sit straight at all times. Every now and again I feel like giving them respite by hunching them a little like I used to. It does not matter now that the social etiquettes drilled into us during camp seemed a bit far fetched to me then, because with each day that passes, my movements and lady-like mannerisms flow a lot more naturally.
You should have seen me when it all started, my movements were jerky and forced. Whoever says becoming a lady was an easy job?

Every dawn of day, a team of beauty ‘specialists’ is deployed to my room to ensure that I look like a million dollars; all bright and alluring. My face has come under the most attack from them as they form a coalition to wash it, cleanse it (apparently there is a world of difference between those two actions), brush it, dust it, pinch it, powder it, paint it, blush it and seal it (sigh). To think that I traded 11months of a splash of water on my face, chapstick and a dab of cologne for this!

You are probably thinking I am being ungrateful, many girls will practically give an arm to be here (isn’t it ironical that they wouldn’t crown them without that arm?). Quite a few peps and opportunities come with this platform I have been given.
Well, that is the ideal situation.
But the reality is, there are lots of under handed politicking and high priced greed going on behind the flowered drapes and attractive grins.

Infuriatingly,the pageant management discusses me like am not there. Everthing we do is (calculatively) for show. According to them, if it’s not high profile, it may not attract a lot of media attention; if it does not attract media attention, it does not get on the schedule and if it’s not on the schedule, it’s not worth pursuing.
Now, something as mundane as visiting with my family has to be on the schedule!
I mostly feel trapped as one in prison. Papers have been signed, so there’s little room for me to wiggle.

I hope the world knows, that though I may be the face, but the voice is theirs. Really, how come no one prepared me for this dark side of fame?

Already, the soft stories are pouring in. People want to make a few bucks even if they have to sell outright lies to get it; just as sad is the fact that very few want to buy the truth or go in search of it.

We would feed on anything (news), so far it has enough pull to distract us from the gnawing realities of our own lives.
Rather than walk through our differences or challenges to find their Achilles’ heels and shush the Lion’s roar, we would often deny or forsake them hoping they would grow wings and fly, but they just fester like gaping sores.
Then we point accusing fingers, hypocritically stoning the mirror for reflecting our images.

Were we not supposed to seek to buy the truth and not cheaply sell it off (in exchange for fleeting feel-good moments)?
Was that not the plan?

When did others’ mystery become comedy at our dinner tables? Whatever happened to ”all for one; one for all”?

Anyway, one week have I watched. One week have I learned. One week, I have observed individuals and tried to understand their motives. It’s been dreary playing their games their way. Dancing to their tunes is that much harder because they simply cannot hold a tune!
It’s time I took off the stilettos and got on my boxing gloves because whether it lasts one hour or one year, this right here, is the fight of my life.