Contemplating while barefoot on the grounds my father and grandfather walked, I saw my life clearly. With African sun nibbling on my dark skin and gentle winds soothing my foreboding, my past life and current responsibilities overwhelmed me occasionally. Abundant tears flowed freely. Dripping on my face and clothes. Travelling through the ancient roads created by my forefathers, grasslands, trees and anthills kept me company. A lonely journey. I knew that nothing remains the same, but ones past never changes. Even in the loneliness of my past, I accepted that you cannot effectively go forward without knowing how and where you started your journey. Even in that state of near dejection I was aware that my sojourn in foreign lands is not forever, but my lording of this beautiful land, my own Africa, where my spent body will finally rest someday, is for eternity. Nothing remains the same, but nothing ever changes. It depends on how you look at your life.
Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Tears before Exaltation’
The sun rose this morning failing to dissipate the haze barely hanging above the palm fronds. A windy morning, and that inner feeling of something different about to start. A sub-Saharan harmattan; a blow of kiss with a tender chill. A chill not suited for a fireplace, but soothed by a soft sweater draped across my aging shoulders. When I close my eyes, I felt what I assumed to be teardrops on my feet. The manifestation of my ambivalence about the many years of my sojourn in foreign lands. I escaped from a state of despair as the harmattan wind blows, whistling and whispering my name across pine trees. I am home in Africa.
Fidelis O Mkparu (2018), Author of ‘Tears Before Exaltation’
“Oftentimes, I had gone to the river to look at my reflection in the sunlight. Each time a face looked at me with subdued eyes. What I saw was not the same as the image I pretended to see when I looked in the mirror. Stubbornly, I found solace in blaming the ripples for the wrinkles and abhorrent distortions on my face. A painful allegory of sight, and a revelation of reality.”
― Fidelis O. Mkparu, author of Tears Before Exaltation’
After many years of knowing her, she died. Instead of leaving me with a heartbreak, she left behind wonderful memories. Memories of teasing me and pretending to fall asleep when I walk into her room. There are no tears to be shed. Instead, I celebrated our friendship. Twenty-two years of smiles and laughter. Unhurried narration of her life stories and hugs. Rewarding me with birthday cards and Christmas greetings. Scolding me with a smile before each departure, and winks by the door before she left my office. Each time, I stood and watched her struggle to get into her car. Even with all her physical struggles, she never missed the chance to visit me every three months until she was taken away from me permanently. Her death. Her departure from earth. As much as I struggle with the event, I would not call it untimely. I said my farewell, but I still cherish what we had. A sempiternal friendship
Fidelis O Mkparu, February 6, 2018.
“I woke up this morning, January 1, 2018 to reflect on my dreams. I could not remember what I dreamed about the night before. My past was gone, and my future has yet to come. I must embrace my present, and make the best of it. If my future ever comes, I would be ready for anything that confronts me.
Turning all the lights on in my bathroom, I looked in the mirror with blurred vision and clogged brain. I wondered who I was searching for in the mirror; the man I used to be, the man looking back at me, or the man I would like to become. Many years have passed since I had a critical assessment of my life. I know I had spent more than half of my assigned life on earth already, therefore, my dreams must be more realistic and attainable. Since my life journey is winding down, it’s a good time to take stock of what is left to be done. My ambitions and things I neglected over the past 59 years.”—Fidelis O Mkparu, author of soon to be released novel ‘Tears before Exaltation’ Harvard Square Editions.
A group of young students surrounded me. The author of ‘Love’s Affliction.’ The man with all the answers about love, as they probably believed. Amazed at their exuberance, I reflected and smiled. Maybe from a change in my demeanor, some of them came closer to me as if I was about to share a revelation. A wisdom of age and experience. When I smiled more, they said, “tell us about love. Your inspiration for your book.” I sighed. They waited, anxiously.
How I explained love to the students was as succinct as possible for me. A mini treatise. Avoiding verbosity, my inclination, I proceeded to tell them my opinion about love. It is not how many times we say, “I love you,” or how many cards we send to each other that matter. Several events came to my mind as I looked at them. The eager students surrounding me. I remembered love in so many ways; sharing one winter coat at a bus-stop on a cold December evening. Holding each other tight to create oneness that made a coat adequate for two people. As they smiled and laughed, I remembered another story that I could not share with them; sharing a kiss and saliva when one of us is sick with a flu, and staying awake to ‘guard’ the recovery. I could not share that story with them for health reasons, but I told them that I know love when I see it. It is not what I hear about love that matters, but what one does for love.
Summarizing for them, I stated that true love is what we feel, and not what we hear about the immensity of it. As I was walking away, I told them not to shed ‘Tears before Exaltation’, but rather, to discover the secret of perpetual happiness. Everyone laughed.
Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Love’s Affliction’ and soon to be published ‘Tears before Exaltation’
I set out at night from Atlanta. No wind, or snow. Hovered over the Atlantic Ocean for thirteen hours. Sleepless night. Patience has become a part of me. Landed facing west. The glitter of setting sun. Hazy sky, and a gentle breeze. Harmattan kiss. It blows on you, mimicking onset of common cold. I remember the gloomy feeling. Lassitude.
Three hours of sleep on a borrowed bed. Watched international news until 4 am. Shaved, and showered. Arrived at the local airport in Lagos by 6 am. Long lines of travelers, and touts. Scam experts, and helpers. Grateful. Found saints, and not sinners. Security check with hustlers. Survived the pat downs. Ten hours of wait at the departure lounge. False flight updates every hour. Flights delayed, or cancelled. I became weary in the hall of departure. The real reason for delays eventually announced. Harmattan hijacked the sub-Saharan sky. Without electronic instrument-guided landing, the pilot would be lost in the haze.
As late evening approached, they asked us to board. We milled around, lacking vigor, and excitement. Three hundred miles of bumpy sky, I reached the second leg of my journey. With my driver, and security detail, we set out for my ancestral home. Not far from the banks of the river Niger. I arrived after sunset in sub-Saharan haven. My ancestral home. As the gate to my compound opened, I was overwhelmed with youthful exuberance. I knelt on the soil for the people that lorded before me. My ancestors. Renewal of our covenant. Never to become a profligate. This is where my soul belongs.
Eleven hours of flight across the Atlantic Ocean. By road, I crossed two rivers; river Niger, and John’s River. My destination was across from a market, and adjacent to a town hall. Lush Iroko trees in every direction. Scattered, and casting shadows over acres of brush land. A grazing field, decades before my life began. My father told me.
Two anthills guarding the footpath. Tall mounds from red soil dug up by ants claiming territories they did not own. I approached the mounds. Termites meandering around. New owners of the land, or mere tenants? No one had challenged their presence for years. My grandfather abandoned the space one hundred years ago. His son, my father, became the overseer until he departed twenty-one years ago. Timing of birth anointed my only brother as the manager of the estate. A veritable lord of the land. He lorded from a distance, until he joined our ancestors the day I was summoned home. That was how my journey began.
Pieces of broken earthen pots littered the ground. Along the path to my grandfather’s house, birds congregated on several trees with ripe fruits. On one special tree, red feathered birds, and buzzing bees shared their bounty. Beaks and talons probing abundant feasts. Buzzing and gyrations on dripping fruits.
I heard rumbling noise from a distance. Drops of rain on my face. Effervescent sounds on baked tropical soil. Unique aroma emanated from the fizz. Special earthy scent of the first rain. Anticipating a tropical deluge, I quickened my pace to my ancestral house. Corrugated iron roof. Rust and red dust. Delicate floor more than one hundred years old. Preserved for eternity, if taken care of. I removed my shoes and socks. I walked barefoot where my grandfather walked. An owl asked, “who-o-o who-o-o?” Words came out of my mouth, “I’m home grandpa.” A spiritual transformation.
I knelt, and kissed the soil. Sadness overtook me. Tears rolled down my eyes. I mourned for my dead brother, alone. I remembered the last time we stood together. Mourning the death of our father.
I returned from my sojourn, a Patriarch. It is my turn to lord over the land. My birthright.
Written by Fidelis O. Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
“I’ll never forget the magic of our Saturday nights. Special moments carved in my mind by you the sculptor of my love. Let’s dance the night away. Who needs music, when your heart already sings to me.” ~ Fidelis O Mkparu (2016), author of ‘Love’s Affliction’
“There was no moon to influence the night. Just you, your beauty, and your wondrous smile. We sat for two hours. Kisses and nibbles. Laughing and fondling. Falling for each other endlessly. We woke to embrace, and arouse. Fanning the fire we started. Losing every sense of time, and embracing candor. Whispers and moaning.” ~Fidelis O Mkparu, (2016) author of ‘Love’s Affliction’