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Red Teddy by Victor Oladejo

1. Mary curled up like a millipede setting up a defense against a predator on the bed. Her eyes were red and heavy with tears and her heart was pounding heavily against the thin flesh that covered it, threatening to pop out if she continued to wail. Her friend, Modupe was seated on a stool close by, her face was drained of life too. She had tried to console Mary, but it was impossible to bring her out of the grief that consumed her. All she could do now was punctuate every surge of wail with “ Pele”, “ Small small dear”, “ it’s okay”. They received the news of Dele’s death earlier today. Mary was cooking their breakfast in the kitchen, and her music turned high as usual, filling the room and making the whole house vibrate. She had left her phone with Modupe who was playing Candy Crush on it. When the phone began to beep, she paused the game and went to the kitchen to give Mary the phone. After a while, Mary started screaming and she had not stopped since then. Modupe later got a call from Lawrence who told her the bad news. Mary stood from the bed and rushed out of the room. Modupe followed her. Mary could be up to some crazy ideas, she was unpredictable now. Dele was her childhood friend for christ’s sake, his death had overturned things in her head. Grief could make you mad! Mary rushed down the hallway to the Bathroom and slammed the door. When Modupe got to the door it was locked. Behind the locked door was the fragile girl leaning over the bathroom zinc, vomiting. Her eyes, a blurry screen, were darting about, magnifying things as they went in that endless circle. 2. I couldn’t believe the news when my mother told me over the phone this morning. I was writing the last part of an email when the phone icon popped on the left side of my phone’s screen. I pressed it quickly and regretted it the second after. “ Dele is dead ooo, mama Dele is at our house o, joor mabo nile” I collapsed against the table, the upper part of my body went limp and my leg treacherously became heavy, dragging me down as though someone was pulling me by my heels. This state was not strange to me, this was my body trying to react to the news. It happened for the first time when I received the news of my uncle’s death three years ago while driving and I had struggled to pack my car by the roadside and allow my body to return to its normal form. I wheeled on my buttocks to the only cabinet in the office and pushed my back against it. Now, a skull-splitting pain started to form at the back of my head. By luck, my secretary came in with a file she wanted to submit and it was she who helped me back to my chair and began to fan me till I could call Mary. 3. Mary was propped against a pillow in her bedroom after they returned the next day after Dele’s Burial according to Islamic rites. Her hair was scattered from constant scratching and pulling and an eerie silence enveloped her. Lawrence, Andrew, and Modupe were in the living room, they were silent too, and still like statues. It seemed that every one of them was in their minds, pondering over Dele’s demise. When someone close to you died, you mourned them because they are dead. Gone. But when they died a horrific death, you mourned their loss and an alien pain arising from pity settled on you as an additional burden. That was Mary’s state now, and her head was clogged with thoughts. The scene of Dele’s death, like a video on replay, kept flashing through her mind: Dele on his bed with a hole in his chest and a knife stuck in it, Dele’s face still and cold as though he were in a hangover induced sleep and a stupid fly clinging to the eyelid of his left eye. She regretted saving the pictures Lawrence sent to her Whatsapp, she would have to deal with it for the next few days before it would fade away. 4. When the police searched Dele’s room, they couldn’t find any trace of the killer, it was a smooth job. But they found something, a Teddy. It was nothing, believe me, it could be one of Dele’s girlfriends who dropped it there. But the police insisted that I ask around. Telling Mary about Teddy now would be quite insensitive and would pique an unnecessary curiosity which would further hurt her. Dele, Andrew, and I met at the University. We were studying the same course and we happened to be from the same town. It was a week before our graduation when Mary, who shared facetime with Dele every week, visited for Dele’s Graduation. It was pure Bliss after we met that day. 5. Mary was sleeping when Modupe arrived from the market. It was three weeks already and they decided to have a good meal for a change after endless watery meals Mary fed them. She opened her eyes when her friend shook her, jarring her from sleep. “ How you dey?”, She asked and set the nylon she was holding on the ground. “ Fine, you are back already?” “ Yes,” Modupe replied and walked to her section of their wardrobe and dropped an item in it. “ So what are we cooking?” Mary said and rubbed her eyes. “ Okro soup and eba”, Modupe replied and held her friend in her gaze, her lips pulled taut in a wild wan. “Ha, that one na bad combo, I won’t eat that one with you o” Mary replied and feigned irritation. Modupe stood still trying to maintain a straight face, then she let out her infectious laughter and Mary couldn’t

Blog, Essays, Monishots

What will it take to awaken a lazy opposition?

There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time. ~ Malcolm X In the ‘coup’ that led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy, a cerebral friend had asked a pertinent question. How will the opposition fare in a democracy where one of the most senior senators selfishly joined an APC led Senate leadership as the Deputy Senate President? Well, it could be fair to suggest that Ike who is a seasoned lawyer and lawmaker stooped to conquer in a future battle but if he ever did stumble upon the above wisdom nugget by the legendary Malcolm X how has he fared as an opposition senator? The answer is that he has performed abysmally if at all what we have seen can be described as a performance. You are free to luxuriate in your cloddishness but smart and politically savvy Nigerians are not obliged to flounder about with you. Any discerning political observer would have known that the applause which heralded Obasanjo’s explosive letter will no sooner evaporate as it effervesced. Even though the former president is notorious for his strategy, Nigerians are often so much in a hurry to move on to the next that the euphoria over that missive was never going to last beyond a week. Obasanjo superintended no democracy and should never be our SI unit for measuring good governance. It was he who boisterously strode across the nation like a colossus for 8 years, taking down all that dared cross his path. He willfully rigged in and impeached governors at his whim and but for Asiwaju’s resilience, Nigeria would have been a one-party state when the ruling PDP swept through the polls by ‘winning’ 28 states in 2003. But this essay is not about the selfish and corrupt nationalist, nor will I waste space on the doublespeak by IBB lest we digress and wander too far. Now let us critically dissect some of the issues. Can you imagine the ruling party in opposition while the government of the day reneges on many of its numerous promises to Nigerians? You see, let us not deceive ourselves opposition politics is no cheesecake. No other person than the Asiwaju himself can attest to this. For 16ys he was in the dugout slugging it out with almighty Villa occupants as the leader of the opposition. Half of that time was spent battling Obasanjo who had little political value in his base, but however, had the required international clout and the equally invaluable backing of political power blocs controlled by moneybag generals who have continued appropriating our collective patrimony since the end of the civil war. I was therefore not surprised when Tinubu described Baba’s tantrums as mere politics, the Ebora Owu could have used other means as he has unfettered access to the presidency. Some will ask if he was playing politics when he wrote Jonathan? Of course, else let the old fox show us Jonathan’s so-called snipers. Or have we in our characteristic amnesia forgotten that weighty allegation which the then opposition milked to the extreme with El Rufai’s scurvy list? Who is spearheading the onslaught? Wike may have installed Secondus as the PDP chairman but the Ikwerre politician is smart enough to know that holding on to his base is imperative for his political survival, at least for now. Is it Femi Fani Kayode whom the majority of Nigerians regard as a junkie that will sing for any government that drops a teaspoonful of porridge on his dinner table? Or Fayose who barks like a rabid dog in the day but sneaks in at night to prostrate and apologise to those he abused? Then we have Reno Omokri, a perky impostor whose primary platform is Linda Ikeji’s blog where he spars with Kim Kardashian and Cossy Orjiakor for social media likes. Just tell me, who is leading the opposition? These vocal few who are supposed to be championing the opposition’s quest to ‘win 30 states in 2019’ are such a laughable bunch that they will be instant hits in the comedy business. They are neither capable of articulating the vision and mission of any serious political party nor are they suited to the onerous task of getting the electorate’s attention let alone convincing them. Sadly, there are few alternatives left in the PDP, for all have stolen and will remain tainted with corruption for life. Whatsmore whatever ace they may have up their sleeves will not be alien to APC which is comprised of strange bedfellows that will do anything to retain the seat of power. That much they achieved out of power, how much more now they have the power and resources. So what will it take to mobilise a robust opposition that can rattle the ruling APC? Who can put together a movement that will convince Nigerians that it cares about our socio-economic well-being? A tall order if you ask me, for in our nascent democracy there is a lot of motion with little movement. We have seen political parties which are supposedly the fundamental crucible of any democracy become opportunistic associations devoid of ideology but dotted with individuals whose major interests are at best self-serving. They have similar manifestos that are often filled with the vacuous rhetoric used to conceal parochial sentiments and avarice. Little wonder then that many have given up resulting in another round of brain drain and a vast number of our people caught in the tragic migrant routes of war-torn Libya. However, we must trudge on because just like they say, Rome was not built in a day. The quest to achieve a just and equitable society must begin with admitting our collective complicity in the bad state of affairs that has plagued our fatherland for ages. Even as we blame politicians for nepotism and corruption, how many of us can honestly say we

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