Too Rich to Give

Poverty in the Midst of Plenty (1939)

Poverty in the Midst of Plenty (1939) by Gerard Sekoto

A poor man wakes up feeling hungry and useless.
A rich man prefers to have his meat boneless.
The poor man eats out of the rich man’s bins, homeless.
The rich man blames him for it, but the poor man is faultless.

Poor man only wants some food; he’s harmless.
He has told rich man many times- it’s countless.
He needs rich man’s attention; he’s helpless,
but rich man doesn’t care, he’s loveless.

Does wealth make a person heartless?
Someone, tell me, ’cause I’m clueless.
Does it kill a person’s sense of fairness?
Does it make a human being think less?

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Roses Die

Women who talk back when they are spoken down to are “mannerless”;
they have “bad attitudes”.
Men who don’t talk back when they are spoken down to are “morons and retards”.

She served him dutifully because she wanted to; most importantly, because she was led to. It was the Lord who led her. Now, her psychic friends say it was some karmic obligation she had to fulfill, or some shit. Whatever. She had a “very good attitude” then. “imeyatekcorawulo”, wasn’t it? 

It was a very undefined relationship, extremely confusing. Today, they’re sexting; tomorrow, they are just friends- siblings in the Lord. He never wanted to talk about what they were, His Royal Highness, The “Dawonlopoloru” of Mind Game Kingdom the third. 

It’s her 21st birthday and she asks, “if I lived in the same country as you, you would take me out and buy me a meal for my birthday, wouldn’t you?” He says “no”. She gasps. “Well, why not?” “Why would I? Yen yen yen yen yen yen yen.” She’s upset. “I would do everything I can to make this man happy, and he wouldn’t even buy me a meal on my birthday if he could. I’m not even worthy of a plate of rice.” “Aye le, aye ma le, oro aye yi, otoju sumi.” It’s a wicked world we live in.

She’s getting even more upset. She says, “it’s not about your money. I would buy myself a meal. Don’t flatter yourself. I just wanted to feel that you cared about me. Yen yen yen yen yen.”

He snaps. The egoistic, ungrateful man writes a whole fucking epistle on how rude and bad mannered she had been to him. It’s funny how bad-mannered men can’t stand bad manners. He says he is done with her, talks about reporting her to his parents. What is he? Two?

She begs. She doesn’t know what she’s worth. She says “okay, forget the meal and everything else I said because I was hurt, I’m sorry. For two years, we’ve been in this ordinary friendship [cough cough] and you want to just leave. The devil (that’s you, moron) is about to scatter all we have (’cause of your immaturity).” He doesn’t listen. She cries, attempts suicide, cries again, doesn’t eat for days, then overeats, but she heals, quickly and fiercely. They haven’t spoken since. 

Oya came in to scatter and rebuild her life. “Eepa e!” Osun came to cook and decorate. “Iyalooode!” He was stinking the whole place out. Good riddance!

‘No Use’ is Abuse

He doesn’t want to eat whatever meals she prepares; the old him wouldn’t even be satisfied with just one serving. Yesterday, she made this delicious plate of yam-pottage for him. He gets home, heads straight to the dining table, ignores her greeting and her presence, and calls his eldest daughter. She responds, and he asks, “Sade, talo s’ounje yii?” [Who made this meal?] She says it was her mother. He gets up to pour it into the dog’s bowl. “Sade, make me another meal with the ingredients in that bag.” He points to the nylon bag that he arrived with. “I don’t want to be poisoned by this witch.”

Liberian Artist Ehi Obinyan

Art by Liberian Artist, Ehi Obinyan

She says “good morning”, and “good evening”, and “good night”, and the days keep going by, but he never responds. He doesn’t sleep beside her in her room like he used to; he doesn’t sleep with her. He sleeps in his own room, and it’s been 10 months. He’s an angel of evil; nice in open spaces, psychopathic behind closed doors.

It all began the day he yelled at her for taking too long in the market and she, being very stressed and upset, briefly apologized but called him a “short-man devil”. He has always been very sensitive about his height, and it really hurt him. He swore to himself to show her how much of a devil he could be.

He hasn’t really spoken with* her since then; only the children know about it. They speak to each other briefly when they have visitors or when they attend social functions together but that’s about it. She has apologized many times. She even slipped an apology/love letter under his door one night, but he tore it into shreds after a quick glance.

It’s domestic abuse, but a different kind- the kind that kills the soul. It’ll be the 11th month in 10 days; it hasn’t stopped.