Content note: the material below includes sensitive topics which may not be suitable for all audiences. You can find a list of potentially triggering aspects here. 

The Chemistry of This Heart

I will always remember where the formation of my heart began. The songs my mother sang in her mother tongue. The pitter-patter of my younger brother's infantile feet on cemented grounds. The Nigerians that built this solid foundation of enriched soil and deep roots for me to sprout into the tree I am becoming.

I will always remember how we sang in falsetto at dusk, round a pot mounted on firewood with glowing embers lighting the dark. It was raw perfection sitting in schlock clothing, singing songs as we told each other folktales and dreams that were too large to fit in this cosmos alone.

I remember how we snuck to the back of your thatched home, and how we exchanged universes in our kisses. The genuineness of your mouth consuming mine, and how love was more than the entanglement of bodies alone. How love was my soul and yours entwined. Words weren't enough to convey such ineffable emotions.

I remember a particularly warm Saturday afternoon. “You are a deft stone juggler,” I thought as you juggled stones you picked from the ground. We sat beneath a tree, talking about the future and I told you I was leaving. You tufted the grass ever so tightly in your hand and said that you were happy for me.

Now I'm miles away in a different land, thinking about you and all the words we left unsaid. I will always remember where my life began. It began with the folktales and my mother's singing, thatched houses, huge dreams that this world cannot possibly contain. I remember where the formation of my heart began, and it began with you.


You drove me home last night in your bronze Toyota car. I alighted from the vehicle, saying “thanks for dinner,” and “see you next week.” Yet you insisted to walk me into my home. “I need to make sure you're safe,” you said. So I gave into your persistence.

You walked in behind me, smiling oh so triumphantly. “Silly man,” I'd thought. I reached for the light switch and you locked the door shut. “Peter?” I called as I turned the lights on. You were a vicious mountain lion and I was a little mouse, retreating slowly to a corner. The room grew dark as you clicked the lights off.

By now I was racing away from you, but your steps were twice as large as mine. You grabbed the hem of my dress in a deft action, I came crashing down. You peeled my underwear from my skin, leaving me bare and vulnerable. I clawed at you, cried in falsetto, but you clasped my mouth shut, you tufted my hair in your betraying fingers.

My womanhood shattered like glass. Friend: That's what we call men that treat us to dinner and hold us warmly.
Lovers: That's what all the people in the neighborhood assumed we were. Now I lay here clutching my sheets, I am now schlock in the eyes of the Nigerians that know my story.

Tell me why men aren't shamed for sexual immorality, why do we bear the cross of both the victim and the perpetrator? You have taken a part of me, knifed me down to the very soul and you walked out unscathed. Because you were a “friend,” a “lover.” Now I'm an open wound and everything else is salty.

“Safety,” does not exist for women like me in a society like this.


A Child Like Me

After I commit suicide,
I wonder what they'll say about me during my funeral.
If they'll sing eulogies about this biography,
Say that I lived a life worthy of mourning for centuries of mornings.
If they'll say I was half of a yellow sun and things fell apart when I parted,
Or chant lamentations from the Bible,
When they only lamented that I was a taboo when I was alive.

When a child like me is born,
The child is condemned to be burned by the rising of shovel tongues,
When a child like me is born it is a surprise package,
That turns out to be only but a curse in the mouths of everyone that says: if God ever made a mistake in history it would be me,
They said my mother never wanted me, only the doctors did, So I became a specimen in the hands of curious men,
From needle to needle to the middle of insanity and disability.

When a child like me is born,
We are given wheels for legs,
We no fit run, but we fit dribble words
And maybe play chess with joy and laughter making checkmates in your heart.
Maybe we'd raise the dead if you didn't make us Lazarus first,
Perhaps we'd be Adam with the breath of life,
But you never gave us the space to breathe.
Because when pity and discrimination join hands,
They create a stench of death,
And you don’t have to call me worthless for me to know
That you think I'm less than human,
Your look says it all.

I always find myself trying to explain my body, my anatomy. Like why did I undergo surgery,
Why does everyone stare at me?
Am I an eyesore to be isolated?
Maybe I should be sorry about my existence
But I refuse to be.

Standing on this stage with these legs,
That you deem unworthy is a firm NO to death.
So NO I won't commit suicide.
You won't wail out of hypocrisy on my gravestone,
Because I will live and I will do it with audacity.
I will not cower under the label of disability
Because this-ability is a part of my identity,
And even if words kill me,
I have the tenacity to resurrect like Christ time and time again.

Remember that you can only be disabled
When you let your mind surrender,
But if you choose to soar and render your gift to the world,
Then you will see that there are no limitations anywhere.

My people have never been feeble,
We create our language in signs when we can't hear the world,
We see through our hands when our eyes won't respond to light,
We March in wheels when our legs are tired.
My people have never been feeble.
And if this isn't magic,
To create a way where there seems to be no way,
Then I don't know what is.

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