The Wicked Cockroach
Kolawole Mathew Ogundipe
See this cockroach,
Oh! My fellow caterers
In this resources processing company,
See it: it is, in all ways, different
From other cockroaches
Formerly existed in this company.
Nothing else to be called,
But a heartless cockroach:
The indefinite agent of destruction,
The cause of desert in the sea.
The best way to express its peculiarity
Among other cockroaches,
Is to use the above epithets;
Of course, others of its kind
Destroyed a few out of the raw materials
Available in the company,
Of course, others of its kind
Ate up a few out of the clothes available
For covering peoples’ body
In the company;
But as for it,
It destroys ALL raw materials
In the company,
And eats ALL clothes;
Thereby, turning them ALL tattered and irrelevant,
Now, peoples have nothing left in the company!
No food to eat,
No good clothes to wear,
They remain half-naked,
Becoming victims of hunger and cold!
The Stigma of my Virginity
Onipede, Festus Moses
February 14 is a day I will never forget in my life. I never knew I would be deflowered before getting married.
Everyone in the University of Kado knew me as ‘Scripture Union’ or ‘SU’ as I was popularly called. Every member of my Church as well as classmates confided in me because of my religion devotion. I enjoyed my pious life on campus until I was lured by the beautiful cover of the book I admired.
The bane of my shame came from my Mathematics lecturer. He used to call me ‘Mummy G.O’ just because of the way I dressed then. One day, he sent me friend request on Facebook, and I accepted him. The following day, he chatted with me on Facebook messenger, and from there we became close friends. He asked me to demand anything I needed from him. As naive as I was, I could not understand his tactics, but all I could remember was that he was my lecturer. From that time, what mattered was that I needed something from him and I had to get it. My classmates were already suspecting what was going on between us. Some of my lecturers had given their last warning but I continued to be close to him.
On this particular day, a day God had set aside to teach me a hard lesson, I ate my lunch and I attended lectures as usual. Then at my usual appointed time with Mr Gbako, that is 5 p.m., I went back to my hostel to change my clothes. When I finished putting on my clothes, I headed to Mr Gbako’s office, at the Department of Mathematics. When I got to his office, I met a naive, frail-looking 100 level female student who was there to see Mr Gbako. The lady looked dejected and I asked her why she was there at that hour of the day. While I was opening my purse to bring out my mobile phone, I heard a voice from inside, “who is there?”, he asked. I quickly replied him and he ordered me to come inside. As I was entering his office, he instructed me to close the door but I told him that there was a female student who I met at the door and she told me that she wanted to see you. “Leave that lady, I have no business with her today”, he replied. I could not say anything since I didn’t know the lady’s mission to his office. As I settled down on the couch, Mr Gbako moved closer to me and said: “You know I have been looking for a way to declare my love for you. I love you. You are my sweetheart.” I was perplexed by his declaration and frowned at him, but he said he was only joking with me. In order for me to tell him that I was leaving for my hostel, I quickly set my mobile phone on alarm just to disguise that I had a visitor at home. Ten minutes after, the phone rang and I quickly picked it as if I was making a phone call. From there, I told him that I was leaving for home.
Rain was pouring heavily outside as if heaven had been let loose. I managed to run in the rain and I got to my hostel at an odd hour. Before I got to my hostel, I saw three men – two tall and the other short, standing at the main gate. They put on mufti and I hardly recognised them as security men until they identified themselves through their identification cards (id card). One of them asked where I was coming from and I lied to him that I travelled to see my parents at home, and that when I moved closer to campus it started raining. I further told the security men that I wanted the rain to stop before I headed to my hostel but the rain could not stop. The short man among them warned me not to take such risk anymore. “Make sure you stay wherever you are whenever it is raining”, the short man advised.
The next day, I received a text message from Mr Gbako to see him at Staff Club where he was celebrating his birthday. That day was a Valentine’s Day, and did not consider what happened the other time I visited him but still believed that he told me he was joking with me. At 1 p.m, I left home for the Staff Club. On my way, I received a call from him telling me to wait for him at the main gate. Then, I started thinking of what could have made the man ordered me to stay at the main gate. Five minutes later, I got to the main gate and met him with his car parked along the road. He persuaded me to accompany him to one of the popular hotels in the city. At first I was reluctant to go but he kept on persuading me. I had no choice than to accompany him. We left campus around 2 p.m and we got to Joláayé Hotel at 3 p.m. The journey took us an hour. When we got to the hotel, he asked me to wait for him at Room 4 and I reluctantly located the room. While I was in the room, he came with a waitress who brought some bottles of soft drink I could not remember their names on the table before me. Mr Gbako gave me one bottle of the drink to sip and I sipped it to my fill, not knowing that he had put drugs inside it. Ten minutes after I sipped the drink, I felt sleepy and didn’t know when I slept off. I must have slept heavily for I didn’t know when Mr Gbako had a canal knowledge of me until I woke up to find my undies on the bed and I could feel pains in my body, and the stain of blood in my skirts. Before I could know what had happened, Mr Gbako told me not to let anybody know that he deflowered me. I started crying and there was nobody to help me out of my predicaments. For some months I kept on ruminating the shame I had brought upon myself. I started soliloquising the pride in virginity if one happened to be deflowered by one’s groom. “What a stigma!” I thought within myself. Indeed, I had learned my lesson and I was sad to keep it to myself.
DIETING FOR CHILDREN
It is difficult for us to see the world we live in because many children are overweight and literally put pressure on their bodies at a young age. These babies just can’t run, jump and play with other babies because their bodies just don’t allow them to. For these children, dieting is a must.
If you have a child who is outside the normal weight range for his age, you are the person who must continue the effort and take the necessary steps to ensure insurance so that they can live a life that is as close to normal as possible. But the first thing you need to do is consult your child’s doctor who will also protect your child’s health.
If you are putting your child’s health at risk, say very clearly if you are not trying to help your child lose those pounds. We don’t let our kids play in the streets, we don’t let them run with knives, why on earth would we allow them to commit suicide by twinkling? If you have a child who is overweight, the following tips will help you and their diet.
First, don’t make food as a punishment or reward. Food is a part of your kids problem and you don’t have to use it against it. Instead, introduce them to healthy alternatives.
Christopher T. Dabrowski
It’s what people want. They’re always right. Elections are sacred.
The majority vote is fundamental to winning elections.
The majority vote is an irrefutable argument.
It doesn’t matter that he wins by a hundredth of a per cent. Even by two or three votes.
Vote, believing that you have a choice.
It doesn’t matter that it’s an illusion, they’re all together – despite the differences, it’s a game of appearances.
You don’t count. You aren’t even sure if the results are correct. They say – you believe.
Do you know why Hitler came to power? Why got the majority of the votes?
An interview with Dr Mridul Sarma, a noted Critic, Novelist, Poet of Assamese Literature
1/ Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You have written a lot as a critic. Can you tell about your career as a critic ?
Ans: You are welcome. It’s my pleasure. I started criticism probably back in my days at N. L. College, Dr. Anjan Kumar Ozah sir was my inspiration. It was the late nineties when I was a university student, a few of our teachers inspired me to this task. Since 1999, criticism became a continuous practice of mine. My first book of criticism was published in 2008. Till date, five books of criticism have been published along with hundreds of critical write-ups.
2/ Can you explain briefly what is literary criticism and what does a critic?
Ans: Criticism, as my opinion is a journey through a text to discover the probabilities of the author. This way the critic helps both the communities- the readers and the writers. However, the negativity of a text should also be focused on. But the principal task should be making a bridge between the author and the readers. If you ask me as a classroom teacher, my answer will differ, because in a classroom, teaching is still limited to passing the examinations.
3/According to you, who is a critic: a journalist, a reader, or a writer?
Ans: A critic must be a reader. Within a writer or a journalist, a reader always exists.
4/What are the rules to write a perfect and useful criticism?
Ans: Sorry, I am unable to answer it if it’s an academic question. But as a practitioner I think there is no universal rule(s) in criticism. However, some sort of methods exist.
5/ Is a critic basically a very good reader?
Ans: Must be. But I don’t think all critics are good readers. Reading helps a critic to identify the hidden issues of a text. If I’m asked about the issues, I must tell the truth, the aesthetics expressed by the cultural background of the language, heritage of thinking etc.
6/Who do you consider the greatest critics in history?
Ans: The choice changes from time to time. In my language a few names I can enlist are Banikanta Kakati, Hiren Gohain, Mahendra Borah, Ranjit Kumar Dev Goswami etc. In English, I always admire T. S. Eliot for his genuine style of questioning and clarity of analysis.
7/ What is the art of being a good critic?
Ans: Effective analysis and informative interpretation. However, his/her expression must have the power to touch the reader’s mind to the depth and has to motivate them. His/her expression should be clear and unbiased. He/she should stand on the null point so that he/she can observe all the positives as well as the negatives. His/ her attitude should be positive and constructive.
8/Do you hear back from writers after you write a negative review?
Ans: Yes, yes. A lot of experiences I have in store till date. Even a writer wrote a letter to the editor where he clearly claimed that my critique ‘had none’.
9/Can a negative review destroy the career of a famous author and help the one of an aspiring writer?
Ans. May or may not. It depends on the writer’s perception. Many senior writers express their gratitude when I point out some weaker points/ aspects of their writings. If a writer is determined to grow as a good author, he/she must feel thankful to the negative critique.
10/Always according to you, which is the main difference between a good book and a bad book?
Ans: I believe, the justification of good or bad is relative. But we use both of these words at least once a day. I think, a good book always tries to torch on the dark side of our mind so that after reading a good book we can discover ourselves as new, to some extent.
11/ Once books were traditionally published by publisher, nowadays authors self publish their works on online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Goodreads, Lulu and so on. What do you think about this new way to publish books? It is useful to be successful?
Ans: Usefulness or success of a book has many dimensions- commercial, social etc. I observe, many times the writer’s point of view is same as that of the publisher. Nowadays, many writers become their own publishers. I am not the right person to judge it as good or bad.
12/Do you prefer to read traditional published books or self published books?
Ans. My taste of reading does not depend on publishers or the type of publication. I just try to know the author and then try to go through his/her writings.
13/ How often do you write? Do you have set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Ans. I am not a professional writer. By profession I am a teacher. I have no fixed time frame for writing. My writing practice totally depends on my state of mind. Generally I prefer to write at night, when my surroundings sleep and I feel concentrated and in peace. Of course, it is an artificial construction of my mind… hah… hah…
14/ You are also a popular novelist. Please tell us briefly about you currently published novel “Panidhemali” that got a record as one of best seller books in the last book fair.
Ans. Yes… Panidhemali is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional novel. Almost six decades of social, environmental, political, cultural and religious life of Assam has been portrayed in this novel. I spent eight and a half years with this novel. I tried to draw public attention to the many realities in a parallel way i.e. corruption, deforestation, terrorism, administrative conspiracy, hollowness of democratic practices, folk and community life, artificial urban life-style, rapidly changing languages, love and sex as a ladder of personal carrier etc. I know, each story of the novel stands as an allegorical and satirical reproduction of another. It’s a new form, I think.
15/ Nowadays people prefer poetry to novel? What do you say on this allegation?
Ans: Time is probably the main factor. Another factor is syntax. People have no time to spend with a big novel. A rapidly changing pattern of language is another factor. Poetic language does not make a barrier for a reader who does not know the rules of syntax because poetic language is unpredictable, it does not flow according to grammar… Hence, in Assam, people still are drawn towards novels.
16/How do you find out a plot for writing a new novel?
Ans: By studying mankind. Human being is the most beautiful and attractive element that Mother Nature has created.
17/What do you see as the role of a writer in modern-day society?
Ans: Of course, a critic should have a vital role in the society. But in present time, many agencies patronize hate, communalism and anti-humanity. Hence, I try to point out the possibilities of positivity through my literary criticism, through my social criticism (in Column of Newspapers). I know, my strength is limited. But I believe I’m an individual who has grown in the cradle of this society which is why I continue to write.
18/Who are some of your biggest influences in your writings?
Ans: My best friend, my love.
19/Do you have particular audience in mind when you write, an ideal reader?
Ans: I consider myself my ideal reader. If I satisfy myself, I believe that my writing can touch at least one person.
20/You have also written a lot of poems that have also been published in many newspapers, magazines and anthologies, when did you start writing poetry? Do you remember the first time you wrote something? What was the source of your inspiration earlier?
Ans: Poetry is my first love. In college days I started writing poems. Till date only thirty poems of mine have been published. I have hesitation regarding poetry. As a writer of five critical books on poetry, I believe, Poetry is the toughest form of literary art.
21/ Which poem that you have written is your favourite and what are your top three poems?
Ans: Sorry. I can’t consider any one of my creations… It’s a task of critics.
22/ The poets and authors you like the best?
Ans: Poets too are authors. I like all artists who play with words, with lines and colors.
23/ What are, according to you, the merits and demerits of Assamese young poets? Can you refer to some remarkable young poets of the state?
Ans: Merits- Most of the newly emerged poets try to express old things newly. They try to become experienced by perceiving the old ways of life newly and in an inevitable new point of view.
Demerits- Maximum of them unaware about their own literary tradition. Their study is limited to a narrow track.
24/The books you regard as all time readable?
Ans: the Vedas. I think Vedas are compilations of the best poems of the world. If asked about Assamese literature, I must say that no person should try to be an Assamese writer if they haven’t read Sankardev
25/ If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
Ans: Sorry. I can’t choose one. There are numerous different ones.
26/What are your greatest accomplishment as a critic, novelist and poet?
Ans: The tragic situation of mine is that I don’t know nearly enough about me. Hope it will be determined by the next generation, when I wouldn’t be around. Physically anyway!
27/ Please let’s the readers know about your future projects for the future? Are you working on any book? And please share any stanza you have read or written and you repeat it most of the time?
Ans: I have many half-done projects such as a play titled Sangeet (Music), based on a victim of terrorism, a novel named Garh (Rhinoceros), another novel named Putala (Doll) and Dinamoni (the Sun). One unconventional book is also in progress titled Luckor Bachan (Speech of Luck). One collection of short stories awaits in the publishing house, has been. It’s called Makaratantra. One book of criticism on some technical aspects of poetry is also in mind.
28/What is your message to the young writers or poets.
Ans: I am not experienced enough to advice my juniors. I love them, all of them.
29/ Thank you so much for your time and for all the revealed details. Do you want to add some more for our readers?
Ans: I am thankful to all my esteemed readers. Stay secured and safe from Corona virus.
I Couldn’t Read
My eyes are burdened with tear,
When I think of memories with my dear.
l meet many girls in the journey of life,
But never find anyone of her type.
She was my affectionate classmate,
But never was she in my dream and fate.
Many a fuss used to happen at school,
Among all buddies on table,chair and tool.
Strict teachers rushed to the room with grim face,
To find the culprit by asking only girls with grace.
She stood up and pointed her fingers only towards me,
To convince them with soft words my lack of spree.
She was often harassed and disturbed directly or indirectly,
And she related me all those matters minutely and privately,
Perhaps with the hope of receiving help and support surely.
She dared to take me with her to stand by her side,
When she had to talk to the headmaster with fear of chide.
She expressed me her desire secretly of wearing saree,
On the functions and occasions of our School baari.
Today,I am simply amazed and perplexed to find,
Thousands of such memories crossing my mind.
I took a notebook from her towards the end of school term,
She didn’t take it back but said with her hand on my arm,
“Preserve it in your bookshelf forever.”
Alas! she was an interesting book and I couldn’t read.