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Abiku (A reply to J.P. Clark)

I am Abiku coming once again
I do not bring joy at birth,
secretly wishing to bring sorrow at death.
Do not blame me
No! Do not blame me for answering your repeated call

Even though you’re poor,
Just like my health
I always wish to stay
and just like the other children,
I long to listen to moonlight tales
under the baobab tree.

I try to wipe your tears.
I ache to live a little longer
despite the pain and torture
you poisoned me with.

Love is beautiful,
but the love that brings me to you is selfish.
I wonder what you were thinking
When you gave him palm wine,
and your kinsmen collected dowry.

And what was he thinking when he accepted?
Decades ago, you didn’t consult the witch doctors.
And even now,
you hold steadfast to deaf ears
as scientific doctors report of AS-AS dominance

You stifled my voice.
You notched my ears,
and serrated my back and front,
as relics of my first coming.
Only for me to come back again,
to rouse your household into insomnia,
as my disease will not leave me be.

But where are the signs?
Check my ears and body,
Your claims are false.
You and father make me feel guilty,
and paint me with wicked colours
because it is easier to remain ignorant than to take the blame.

Until you open your ears
and actually hear the message in my cry…
Until you heed the doctor when he says no!
No healthy child can come from this union,
Father’s seed will always be in vain

It is not my choice to answer your repeated calls
But answer, I must.
I am Abiku and my epiphany is near.

ÓKÓLÍ STEPHEN NÓNSÓ is a poet and an essayist from Nigeria. He is the winner of 2014 SOASA AIFCE creative writing competition in poetry. He believes in the power of pen and the positive difference it can make in our world. His poems have appeared in Tuck Magazine, Praxis Magazine, Adelaide Literary Magazine (New York), and other journals. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. His poems come from the heart and a desire to share words of joy and happiness. He believes that poetry can be used as a tool to solving societal ills.

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