By Jude Uchella:

 

Jude Uchella

The hostel:

Slowly, I walked through
the dark passage,
with eyes strained to follow
the path.
my nostrils agitated at the
insurgence of putrid smell,
more dangerous a weapon
than fart.
I was shocked when I saw
smiles of elated faces,
dancing to the lyrics of
smelling faeces.
I saw them bask in the
bosom of untidiness,
with an obvious touch of
ruggedness.
“Come back here,” I heard
a matured voice,
“don’t you have anything
for the boys?
I looked, puzzled at the old
figure,
whose breath emanated the
smell of strong liquor.
I knew he was a security
officer,
not a bribery minister.
so, I turned, neglecting his
demand,
amidst his threats of
reprimand.
I kept on treading and
treading,
fast-paced, like an escapee
convicted of treason.
I traversed the entire
building,
which I thought was
magically rotating.
Finally, I met the room–
with a fragile door,
when it opened I was
appalled at what I saw.
It looked more like an
abandoned place,
or perhaps where a pig
stays.
As I stepped in, I
perceived a different
odour,
quickly held my nose, I
wanted no more.
The fan had lost its place in
the room,
and the agents of heat
prophesied doom.
The beds were so lean–
they looked starved,
perhaps room service was
mean; I laughed.
Suddenly, I heard a
strange voice,
just then, I noticed the
staring boys.
One,two,three….I counted
eight,
in a room designed for four
room mates.
With a stuttering voice I
said “hello”
and shut the door to
embrace hell oooo!

 

The Occupants

My days here have become
weeks
stuck in this tidy sewer that
stinks
My pupils have gazed,
slouched and mourned
at the folly les etudiants
have adorned

The ambience is fraught
with untold jabbering
amidst periodic shouts and
inane chanting
Aloof they stand in heated
argument
with no remorse for time
spent.

To exalt decrepit skull they
inhale
smoke, behind locked doors
to impede trail
casualties clasp nostrils
and gasp for air
and miscreants bask in the
aura that brings death
near.

En masse they grace the
ground and crouch
when a flirty die escapes
from a pouch
In turns they throw money
away
like stones thrown into a
bay

At eventide they stand by
window
in search of prey to
hauteur
drumming hurtful words to
passing nymphs
clad with glowing beams.

 

‘Wash’ Women.

Wrangling women with

wrapper
squander precious space
and water
epitomes of endless tittle-
tattle
offend ears as they garner
and babble.

At dawn when we wake with
dreamy eyes
the scary shout of “any
wash” arise
It prickles the heart of my
soul
when they gather as a
noisy whole.

Gently they usurp myriad of
lines
claiming ownership with
invisible papers and rights
Blessed by the silent voices
of opposition
they append signature of
ownership with conviction.

Blessed are they that
patronize them not
for dirtiness characterize
this lot
More blessed are they that
hang garments on lines
their names will be in
tandem with great minds.
The Salesman.

Here we patronize a slothful
pastor
like a snail disseminates his
sermon
His modus operandi
nauseates my flirtatious
being
and it scouts for a place
with pace and grin.

When I moved in, oblivious
of this flagrant display
I would stand a decade and
fast and pray
waiting on “His Highness”
respond to order
the first becomes last and
lasts longer.

From time to time the
offering increases
manipulating the amount as
he pleases
Boys still queue to receive
blessings
amidst usual struggle and
wrestling.

 

Their Incompetence.

They sit with crossed legs
on table
arms akimbo, indifferent,
disabled.
All day, eyes on television
the potters to me are
fiction.

The oval office sits widely
unkempt
fraught with high-class
gadgets of contempt
Home of bribery and
corruption
abuse to their calling and
mission.

Wounded taps beckon for
attention
sparsely furnished rooms
cry for affection
but ears are glued with
wanton wax
and eyes blurred with
plenteous pranks.

In due season they garner
for pay packets
honourable thieves in white
adorned with rackets
If the ‘olori okos’ in this
tenement of dirt
act this way, what do we
expect?

 

Security Officers 

They can’t curb a ball of
fire
harmless but armed to the
teeth
after lambasting with verbal
assault
they treat me like a
prominent adult.

Right under nostrils ‘goose’
troup in and out
staring law in the face and
flout
so long as silver in thirty
pieces
carress palms of atrocities.

…still stranded in this
venomous cosmic tenement
plagued by obnoxious and
noxious absurdities, I
intercede for my maverick
self and other immaculate
occupants that : despite the
proximity of these pot-
pourri of happenings, our
genteel minds shall and will
not be influenced.

 

The Faculty of Arts (Unilag)

 

There she stands,
five storey tall,
lofty with pride,
never to fall.

She leaps with joy
when folks come,
what astounds me:
nobody leaves dumb.

Her painters are pundits-
they keep her aglow,
not just that;
they help minds grow.

Like the lad, Joseph,
she towers above her siblings,
a disparity so obvious
her diligence achieved this.

Her mind is creative,
she speaks perfect English,
she knows all about history;
our lady is no queer fish.

Her words are philosophical,
an ardent linguist,
she grasps langue de Europe
she’s fun to be with.

What more can I say
about my sagacious sweetheart?
The one I’ve chosen to be with,
the faculty of Arts.

 

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