Hello there… Welcome, to my abode. I would apologise for the clutter but you’ll come to appreciate it for what it is in due time. You see, I’m an artist and I have been blessed to be gifted and versed in several artforms – music, poetry, drawing, paint, digital art, clay, metal, dance… I could go on. If I had to group them all into broader categories, they would be imagery, sound and words.
And this brings me to why I am here. I am here to present to you a melding of art forms, in ways that you are used to and in ways that you are not. A good combination of words and pictures or words and sounds or pictures and sounds have always held a certain allure and appeal to the human mind, such that the combination has been discovered to be a great learning and teaching tool to the young and the old alike. This helped one pass messages across much faster and more effectively and on the part of the receiver(s), they learn faster, relate better, pay closer attention. Who doesn’t appreciate some visual aid in a presentation? Who never enjoyed stories better as a child when they were embellished with pictures to help carry one away on that adventure? And when those pictures began moving and beautiful sound added to the mix? Magic!
Well, what we shall be doing here is not much different. Every week, we’ll present you a piece made up of at least two art forms; three in some cases. One piece of art in any one post will always be inspired by another and as often as is possible, the inspiring artwork will be an original contribution.
Ladies, gentlemen, I present to you Art Stories.
Today, a story inspired by a sketch I did several years ago. I have titled the drawing Alhajai. Please, enjoy…
We walk in and as always, I can feel the judgmental glares being flung in our direction, smacking us rudely in the face and then dripping down to the floor. A shake of the head here, a grimace there. From a mere glance, they know our whole story, and there is great disdain towards him and pity towards me. His tall, imposing figure and my diminutive one do not help matters much. I can see what they see when they look at me. I can see it in their eyes as they judge him, indict him and sentence him to a thousand deaths.
I can see how wrong they are.
I can feel the righteous anger beginning to stir. It will soon claw its way out of me once again if not suppressed. I can feel its frustration, and so can he. He lazily puts his left arm around me to soothe the beast, calm it down some. But his action only releases the other beasts in the room. Hisses and dirty little whispers defile the air around us.
“Oma se o…”
“Animal. Old bastard…”
“All these dirty alhajis sef…”
I’m already spinning around to release my angered demon in response but the soothing arm around my shoulder has becoming steel, he won’t let me. He presses me close to his side, again, the wrong move. This time around, a chair or two scrape back in response as a customer or two rise to leave in disgust. I can’t take it anymore, I release my demon by bursting into sniffles and sobs. Hot angry tears are not the way my indignation had sought to be released, but they would have to do for now.
I can never understand these people, these people and their dirty judgmental selves. Can’t a girl choose who to love any longer? Why can’t a 20-year-old girl decide for herself? Why can’t I just…
The gentle squeeze I feel on my arm, just above my shoulder, a squeeze that is not from my husband’s hand, is the one that opens pandora’s box. It is barely a touch but it speaks volumes.
I understand. I’m here if you ever want to talk. I can rescue you, just let me.
The demon is unleashed. This time around, the husband’s steel will not, cannot, hold it back.
“Don’t you dare touch me again, you dirty whore! Who told you, any of you, that you can judge me or my husband? Did I come to you people to beg for help? Did I tell you I did not love my husband as he loves me? I can marry whosoever I choose regardless of what anybody thinks. Unu agaghi ekwu maka nke gbasara unu. Anuofia!”
I see the desired effect as I scan the room. Confusion. Shock. Remorse. The igbo was a nice touch, wasn’t it? I’m not so good at it, growing up in Lagos is to blame, but the chances of these people in the heart of Ogbomoso being able to tell that is highly unlikely.
My eyes come to rest on the middle aged woman who touched me, she is smiling. I am confused.
She replies, “Unu abuo yiri ka di na nwunye. A na m eche otu mu na di mu no mgbe m dika gi. Ka mkpuruobi ya zuru ike na ndokwa. Lee anya, a na m ahu panti gi.” I was just thinking how you both make a cute couple. In fact, you remind me of my husband and I when I was about your age, God rest his soul. I only meant to let you know your skirt isn’t quite zipped up at the back. I am shocked.
I have judged this woman and all these people, perhaps too hastily. It appears I am guilty of the same crimes of which I have accused them, in thought and in words. The tears keep pouring as I look from my kinswoman to my husband. I am remorseful.