Wednesday, January 28, 2009


What are your favorite African expressions? Tell me on the AfricaLab channel: (Look in the sidebar for the link.)

More videos there as well - enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

woman scorned, woman burned

13 February 1967

Last night I caught my husband fucking someone else in our bed. In six hours, I shall be fucking his best friend. And he will know all about it. Revenge shall be my orgasm. Which is more than I've ever gotten from that rat bastard.

I was worried when I started writing this that I wouldn't have enough anger left to fuel a complete account. Or that, forced to re-live that terrible, terrible moment, my pain would consume me and push me to abandon my plan. I am as relieved as I am scared to discover that, not only am I certain that I want to capture the memory forever, I am still as determined as ever to make that bastard suffer. I want to do this. God...who am I?

The worst part of his betrayal is that he was fucking her on my sheets. My brand-new, sultry, white, Egyptian cotton sheets. I haven’t even slept on them yet! He deliberately took them out of the airing closet, re-made the bed, and then proceeded to lay her on them and fuck her. That fucking BASTARD!!! If ever there was an indication that he was doing this just to spite me – that it wasn’t merely a matter of passion, or reckless abandon, or simply a lack of control – that was it. In the end, I didn’t even care that he had his face buried between the cunt’s legs (the son of a bitch has NEVER done that for me. Too risqué, wasn’t it, Lord Marcher? Not for the white woman. That PIECE OF SHIT!!!). I didn’t care that I could hear her pleasure howls before I even unlocked the front door (why was I home so early? Fate? Was I destined to have my life frayed in an instant?). I don’t even care that she’s white. Yes I do. Fuck, I do. Why should I?? What’s happening to me?? I’ve never cared before. My dignity has been soiled, like my sheets. And who am I without it? A woman scorned, thirsty for blood. The blood of her betrayer. Stanley, Stanley…you’re going to wish you never met me.

So there they were, having the time of their lives, if their moans were any indication. In my bed. I stood there for a moment, wondering how she could possibly have let a man so old propose to give her intimate pleasure. Of any kind. She looked around 28 years old! The dog…

Of course, the gasps and stammering, the frantic scrambling for clothes to hide their dreadful shame, followed soon after. Quite frankly, it bored me. I surprised myself by how collected I was. I just walked out. I left him in our marital bed with a whore nearly a decade younger than I. Ha! The more things change, the more they stay the same, don’t they, Leslie? Perhaps it’s time I use my real name. Would this have happened to Lolia? God…I’m so tired…

There was nothing else to do, so I made tea. God knows what they were doing the whole time while I was in the kitchen, why she only decided to step out after the kettle stopped whistling. Stupid cunt. I made her sit down in the parlour with me, interrogated her. I’m still marvelling at that one. If it’s true that one only comes to know one’s true self by one’s choices in the middle of conflict, then I am one very twisted woman. I asked after her name (Josie – how simple-sounding), her job (receptionist – how cliché), if she wanted children (she didn’t know). She was quite young, and appeared even more so as our interview progressed, stammering and blubbering, making a general fool of herself, really. I enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed asking her if she wanted a cup of my tea with lemon and sugar. What was she going to say? No? The whore drank a whole cup with me directing every sip she took, and I savoured thoroughly the look on her face as she contemplated whether she was being poisoned or not. I hope she threw up in the side alley on her way out. Pole bitch.

Stanley came out a little later. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t even look at him. He sat across from me. Couldn’t help but notice it was the same armchair Josie’d picked. Perhaps they’re soul mates. He started saying something after some time, but I wasn’t paying attention to a word he said. I was concentrating on keeping my tears firmly inside. If he really thinks I’m a cold bitch, then that’s exactly the person he will have. But I nearly lost my head when he started talking about children. What the hell did that have to do with anything? So we can’t have children; so what? I’ve never punished him for that. Never blamed him, never felt I was missing out on something exceedingly precious. He said he thought I wanted to be free, that he didn't think I loved him anymore. Free to do what? I do everything I want to do – I’ve always done. He wants to be free, the snake! He wants to be free, how dare he blame me!

I only have five minutes left. I still haven’t spoken to Stanley, in part because I haven’t yet decided what my first words to him will be. I slept with John. I’m going out. With John. To torture him with the thought of what I might be doing with his best friend, or to keep him wondering where I’ve been until I inform him. The haggard old bastard has been tearing up all day. Talk to me, Leslie. Say something, for God’s sake! I will say something. I will put on a dress that says I’m going out to get fucked. I will wear my come hither heels. And I will spray a perfume on my neck that beckons to all men, whispering, Kiss me…. It’s his favourite. I would hope it kills him on my way out, but I want to see the expression on his face when I’ve done all that I’m going to do.

Til tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

she hates she

I love the velvet softness of her chocolate skin. I have learned to love my breasts; still I desire hers: never obviously paler than her sun-touched face, the same tone as her stomach, thighs and legs. She has no wrinkles, none of the acne scars that mar my own face so obtrusively. Her lips, like mine, are full and soft; after brief, heartfelt visits, we used to kiss goodbye, and the love I had for her, coupled with the intense shock I always felt to discover that my face could sink into hers, made the hairs on my head rise. Her teeth are perfect white squares; when she wears blood red lipstick, and her lips part into that smile that could never be too wide, I melt in awe of her.

And yet. She cannot love herself.

She dresses her luscious curves in trendy fashions, but avoids the mirror of other people's eyes. I have known this woman all our lives, but never have I heard her accept a compliment. Not a smile, not even a quiet nod of acknowledgment. Her eyes glaze over for an instant before she moves the conversation along, as though all her efforts at style are merely a continuous internal competition that she knows she will not win. She doesn't want your validation. She doesn't need you to notice. She will never see herself as perfect. When we shop for makeup, she sighs and says, I wish I were mixed. They're so much prettier than we are, don't you think? No, I don't think. You are as dark as mahogany and you are perfect to me, I tell her, always. She shrugs, and tries the darkest shade of concealer. So I think she must know. She must agree, or she'd try to make herself lighter. So I leave her alone.

When he stepped into our story, she became lost to me forever. Scrawny and pale, with sharp nose and cruel eyes, he managed to captivate her somehow. I know now that it was because he was her first. Not just a lover, but a white lover. Apparently, any one would do. He must not have believee his luck when she looked at him, in all her beauty, and deigned to kiss him with the lips I love so dearly. From that moment, I know, he swore never to free her; and in her ignorance, she locked the door to his prison with her own hand and swallowed the key.

She thinks he's better than she is, though he doesn't work. She thinks he's better than me. His hair dances in the slightest breeze, it's true, but what is that to a woman who knows to see herself through her own eyes and love what is there? My hair towers above me and with combs and thread, plaits made by my own fingers, I can create sculptures in it, majestic pieces of art befitting of my own personal royalty. The queen that I be. But she hates me. She thinks I'm too proud, and foolish to boot. Were I more sensible, she says, I would tame my wildness with lye and force it to lie flat and straight like those who would rule me in thought and deed. Her white superiors. You'd look so much better with a perm, she said once. As I laughed a hearty, derisive laugh, she spit at me then walked quickly away. It was years before we spoke again.

The next time I saw her, she was hard to recognize. Her eyes were still wide, still brown, but they had no shine. She still had her style, but now she used it to cover up the mounds of fat that rolled and cascaded beneath the satin brown that is her skin. And her mouth, soft and pouty that I had always wished was mine, smiled smaller and less often.

You're fat
. The words escaped me before the thought was even complete in my mind. She isn't the one I meant to blame; the accusation in my voice was directed only at him but, as is her wont, she moved the conversation swiftly along without acknowledging my misstep, and I never was able to explain that he was the one I hated for doing this to her. We had lunch. She nibbled at everything but dessert; when she finished hers, she asked me if I was going to eat mine. Confused and inexplicably, thoroughly sad, I passed her my plate. I don't remember anything we spoke about, but I did ask her about him. He was fine, working hard to take care of them both. She lost her job at L'Oreal, now she's preoccupied with making sure she's not a burden. But you supported him for six months before, I reminded her. Yes, but I'm not his responsibility. I have to be able to pull my own...colossal weight. She laughed for the first time. I didn't laugh with her.

On the way to the train station, we stopped in the supermarket to buy sprouts for the stirfry I was making for dinner. There was only one bag left in the shop, and the sprouts looked fairly miserable. But I needed them, so I picked it up. She bought doughnuts. A baker's dozen. Here, try these, I suggested gingerly and handed her a small bag of satsumas. Cautiously. That's when she stopped and looked me in the eyes for the first time. They were clear. She spoke with purpose. He beat me, you know. Just once. But I'm fine and he won't do it again. Then she brushed past me to the register to pay for her doughnuts, leaving me holding the last bag of sprouts, wilting on their expiration date. That was the last time I saw her.

They had a baby last year. A girl. Summer. I haven't seen her yet, but she sent me a lot of pictures once. Summer is pale, paler than I would have expected from a mother so dark. I looked through the photos, smiling wryly as I imagined how hard she must have willed her partner's genes to overpower hers. They are beautiful pictures: Summer with the cat, smiling. Summer grinning in the bathtub, reaching for the bubbles her mother blows over her. Summer staring into the camera lens, a question mark on her face, a carefree exuberance in her. She looks just like her mother, my sister. I hear my sister doesn't agree - she wouldn't dream of having a child that looks just like her. I hear she is as large as a house. The doughnuts are still a favorite, but now she eats - no, inhales - everything in sight. She works at Safeway, so she has a discount on groceries. How lucky. On Summer's first birthday, she had a garden barbecue for close friends, some family. I wasn't invited. There was an impressive spread, I hear; she made most of it. Everything but the cake. She ate most of it, too. Just as well I wasn't invited, I suppose; you're not supposed to cry at a toddler's birthday party.

I like to imagine what I would do if I had been forced to witness this latest manifestation of her demise: make a scene, insist that she pack a bag and follow me, that sadistic bastard be damned! Drag her and the child who would follow in her footsteps away, against their will if necessary, and promise her that I will help her start over, re-build. Beg her to forgive me for letting it get to this point. Beg her to let me show her what real love looks like. But she hates she, and always has. The choice to change can only be hers. And I choose to stand back and watch from afar. I have my own life to live, after all.

I'm looking through the pictures again. I am staring at my favorite: Summer staring into the camera lens, a question mark on her face, a carefree exuberance in her. I smile. I know that face. It reminds me of a happier time: of making mud pies with my sister by the side of our house, "cake" to eat with "candy", which we called the palm nuts we cracked open with broken cinderblocks. I run my fingers over the dark, dark curly hair in the picture. I kiss the image of my niece's face. I think to myself, At least she believes you are perfect. So maybe there is hope for you. When I put the picture away, I will have to go and start dinner; my fiance has invited some friends over. So I linger just a little longer and delay the mundane to pray for a brighter future.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

kulu 2.0

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Loc'ed and Loaded: The Eight-Month Recap
After firmly deciding that I no longer wish to stay away from my practice space, I'm back on Blogger. No more exciting than I used to be, no wiser, no happier, no better at my craft. It's funny how the road less traveled always seems to lead back to that more familiar, well-worn one. Now I'm back at the drawing board. Truth be told, I couldn't be happier. There's something very comforting about my Hyena's Belly - talking to no one in particular, at the same time knowing that I somehow manage to touch someone out there. Here's to the second time around.

So here's the (inane) dish: I quit NFTHB in order to focus on work, which I did. Then I got bored, so I decided to shake things up a little bit. I started locking my hair, which has been fun and super-easy so far. I fell in love, which was also fun and pretty easy, but then I grew bored with that and started sowing seeds of discontentment in the relationship to see what would happen. So far, they're only germinating in me, which I don't think is quite what I was hoping for. Anyone's guess what will happen next. I got a job offer in Nigeria, which I turned down for what I imagine are several good reasons, but given my lack of progress in the months since, I'm starting to wonder if I didn't act too hastily. No matter - I've decided to acquire a new skill: screenwriting. I credit the books I'm reading with my decision to return here. The recurring message is resounding: practice, practice, practice. And I won't write anything special until I spew out the mundane. It's coming though. I feel it. Nollywood's next big thing, anyone?

What else? Bought some Uggs (love 'em), went to London (loved it), started to, then didn't, buy a new laptop (stupid, because the battery cord on my old laptop has burned right through and off the battery - now I have to write at work). I also made the surprising discovery that I don't actually hate babies - around the right one, I'm virtually obsessed with making a fool of myself solely for her enjoyment. Apparently, this lady doth protest too much. Hold on to your credit cards - I won't be signing up at any baby registries any time soon!

Anyway, it's January, and I'm back in the spider's web (which is what I'm calling the office), struggling to get out, hoping I can disentangle myself before I suffocate. Voila. My life since May 2008.

Harken to the Call...
As I've said, my time away has been pretty uneventful. I've been working hard, but growing more disenchanted with my work daily. (Did you get that? Shall I say it yet again?) Maybe it's the disorganization. Maybe it's that I don't find any of it particularly inspirational or even appealing. So I'm looking for work anywhere...sort of. I'd like to be happy - I do much better work when I enjoy what I'm doing. So if anyone knows anyone who is looking for an editor-at-large (or not even so far away); an executive assistant; a creative writer; a copy editor; book reviewer (are we seeing a theme here? "Is highly organized, has proficient writing skills, works well as part of a team, extremely handy with MS Office Suite, doesn't do pun, etc., etc.") - call me! I'm thinking magazine houses, film studios, e-zine development. I'm also thinking "paid". The bills don't stop coming just because I want to be "different" and "creative". Keep in mind: I have a master's degree. From Yale. Just putting that out there.

Vision 2009
It's time to get my shit in order. I'm not getting any younger. NFTHB will have to be revamped, as will Wellspring Green. For one thing, I'm going to need a schedule. It's all about discipline in 2009. As soon as I can commit to a regular updating schedule, you'll be the first to know. kulu with your Monday morning coffee...kulu as your Friday night standby...something of that nature. The Green Pages are a different story. But you'll hear about that too.

Positive thinking! I'm only 26, but I think like Death is upon me and there's nothing to live for. I no longer wish to age so prematurely. I credit CB with this...will I ever tell him? I wonder. Which brings me to my next point...

Honesty! Honesty? Surely kulu always speaks her mind? Yes - but it's time to re-frame my idea of being honest. Time to be nicer about it. I'm not necessarily worried about burning bridges (though I still feel guilty for some of the unkinder things I've said in the heat of an argument); my motive is entirely selfish. I'd like to keep my blood pressure even as long as possible. And I need not air my opinion merely because I've been presented with an opportunity to do so. Sometimes, silence is the strongest response. Most of the time, though, it simply doesn't matter. '09 is all about keeping it moving. If it doesn't need to be said, don't say it. Write about it :-).

More than anything, though, I just want to write. I want to create something powerful and everlasting. Re-reading my profile, I remember when I thought life was intended to nurture my growing soul. I've lost that optimism, that minute sliver of hope. So '09 is about recapturing that too. Finding a channel to let my 'me' blossom. I've been a roving carcass way too long. I can only hope not to turn into a replica of my office mate, who is a bleeding heart, through and through. I find his brand of optimism more than a little annoying, I must confess. And I let him know in not so many words, as often as I possibly can: gruff responses to very pleasantly-put questions, lack of eye contact, firm refusals to do anything social he asks me to do. And yet, he was so happy to see me after I got back from Christmas break. He hugged me and kissed me and said he was so glad that I decided not to defect to Abuja (if only he knew). If the universe is going to surround me with people who manage to see through this crusty exterior I've worked so hard to create, I might as well let it go.

Anyway, I guess my point is: I'm back. May we not live to regret this.