African Son


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’

 

Biographical

Home In Africa


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’

 

Reflection

Mirror Image


“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.

Biographical

Tears for Las Vegas


“Apart from the service and worship of God, religion teaches us to respect the sanctity of life, a gift from God. When we abandon our dedication to the creator, we forget our commitment to humanity and the sacredness of life. Some end human life as if it has no value. God help us all, and may the people of Las Vegas, Nevada find peace in their lives someday soon.” ~ Fidelis O. Mkparu, October 2017.

Uncategorized Violence

Goodbye old friend


My dearest friend Wolfgang,

I read the obituary page of our local newspaper today. Your name was the first on the list. The beautiful name you loved. I could not remember a goodbye from you, and no one called to let me know that you permanently ended your regular visits to my office. Shedding tears for your death would have been an insult to the jovial man I remembered. A kindhearted fellow who loved old cameras and beautiful ladies. You even adored my Yashica camera I bought 43 years ago, and rewarded my dedication to the art of photography with old fashioned rolls of films. Kodak and Agfa films you gave me remain in my drawer. I still remember what you said, “rolls of films for a perfect outdoor photo shoot.” A photo session set aside for a beautiful fräulein.

I will continue to cherish 21 years of friendship I had with you until the end of time. Death took you away and has overshadowed the 32 years that separated our births.

Goodbye my dear old friend.

Fidelis O. Mkparu, August 2017.

Biographical Uncategorized

My Ancestral Home


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 belongsancestral-home.

Biographical

Farewell


“My dear friend, so sweet and distant,
Take farewell from all my heart,
As takes a wid in a somber instant,
As takes a friend before a prison
Will split those dear friends apart.” –Aleksandr Pushkin, ‘Farewell’

 

There were four of us. Close friends by the standards of the time and our youth. We were first cousins. It was the 1960’s Nigeria and the Biafra war brought us together. We were youthful, but not youths. We were mere children, from three different sets of parents, but our bonds were as strong as the strings that held our shared genes together. “War children,” they called us. The most ebullient one was Dorothy. Yes, my dearest cousin Dorothy. I remember the worst day in 1967 with violent torrential rain. Dark clouds, lightning, and thunder. Howling winds that bent and broke tall trees. As the wind grew more forceful, I heard a loud noise. It sounded as if my house split open. Fear gripped me. My hands trembled as I pulled the window curtains apart, and from a short distance I saw the big Iroko tree split in half. The mighty West African Iroko tree, Chlorophora excelsa, reduced to splinters. I wondered if my house would be next. My trembling hands closed the curtains as if it would prevent the wind from doing any damage to my house.

A loud knock on my front door. My body trembled in fear.

“Open the door. It’s me, Dorothy.”

“What’s going on out there?” My father asked from his study.

“Nothing Dad, just Dorothy.”

My trembling hand struggled with the door latch. Dorothy, soaking wet, hugged me as soon as there was enough opening to let her small body inside my house. Tears rolled down her eyes as she held me tight.

“I heard the loud noise. Thought it came from here. Have to make sure you’re OK,” Dorothy said.

“Let go of me you scared little girl,” I said. She ignored me and held on tighter. I smiled.

“I’m staying with you until the rain stops,” she said as she let go of me. She walked into my room. I followed her. Unfolded shirts and shorts littered my bed. Dorothy knelt down and pulled out a suitcase from under my bed. She selected a pair of shorts and a shirt. Yes, she knew her way around my room.

“Leave my Knicker alone Dorothy,” I shouted. She smiled and changed her wet clothes. She wore my boy’s Knicker and a white shirt. Undaunted. As she was about to leave my room, she turned around and snickered. I sighed. She walked over to my father’s den. I jumped on my bed before I heard my father laugh. I jumped down from my bed and ran to the kitchen to tell my side of the story to my mother before she heard it from my father.

When the Biafra war ended in 1970, Dorothy and I moved away from each other. In 1973 I left home to attend a boarding school. We barely saw each other. I never saw Dorothy again after I moved to the US about forty years ago.

Dorothy died recently. One week before her death, she went to my father’s house looking for me. A partially deserted enclave because of the death of my parents. She sat outside the gate and sobbed. “My cousin would have rescued me if he had known,” Dorothy told our neighbors. They were worried about her mental state but did not let me know. It was only after she died that they spoke out. I was told that her husband physically and mentally abused her for three decades.

Even the strongest among us can be physically and mentally broken. Know when to ask for help. Don’t protect spousal abusers. Expose them and seek help immediately.

Farewell Dorothy. Only distance separated us, and nothing more. You are etched in my memory, and my love for you is eternal. I am sorry I was not there for you when you needed me the most.

 

Written by Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Love’s Affliction’ (March 27, 2016) as a tribute to his first cousin Dorothy (2)

Biographical