Passage

Mother was glad I visited the cathedral. I was glad too. I visited for selfish reasons, though; I visited to appreciate art and architecture. Mum’s reasons are usually for godliness. She would urge you to pray, to take care of yourself. She would then specifically command you to eat well—to her, food and God are inseparable. 

Midnight: I am trying to remember things, and what comes to mind are buildings I loved the most in Abuja, Nigeria. There are quite a number of them, of course, but my mind hasn’t passed the Abuja National Mosque. My favourite sight of the mosque is the glimmer of sunset over it and how it takes a fluid, sensual form as if seducing the onlooker to give their life to God. 

 

*

 

My friend is planning to make love in an abandoned cathedral. She calls it, the great commission—go ye into the church and make love

Quiet mosses, lonely arches, forgotten gravestones, spring leaves and wet patches, old bells and holy spirits. Lasting footfalls. You will press your backs to walls, hold each other, you will stare at rusty bars and pews, you will grab kisses, roll over abandoned desires, you will moan and not know where it is going. It is nothing else but the hollow of wholeness, the hollow of holiness. 

Mother will probably not hear or know this. 

 

*

 

I sneaked into my mother’s room twice or so to peep into her diary. I had no intention to read what was inside, and I stuck with my intention. It was one of those teenage crazes: the obsession to know what’s what, what’s going on, what’s not going on in and outside your bedroom. The obsession with questions that often have answers too difficult to comprehend at the time. 

As I try to remember those days, I feel so sorry for breaking into my mother’s space. I feel sorry for trying to peep into her life without her consent. However, in many ways, it was comforting to find out that mum kept diaries. It was the only thing I wanted to know—I wanted to know more about my mother.

Diaries are for secrets, people often concoct; but now, I disagree. Diaries are not for secrets; secrets are rather people themselves. They are stories.

I could go on and on to mention different kinds of secrets: a glass of wine; a room full of books; a simple plate of salad; a wedding gown; a bald head; a bald garden; a wink; a scar; a sweet nap; a quiet time with or without people; a stroke of blue on a new canvas; a riverside stroll; a stroll down memory lane; a dream passed from one person to another; a song written for the dead; a word from a dying lover; a teapot older than you; a kiss only two of you know; stretch marks or birthmarks. A body too difficult for everyone else to understand or tame; a body tired of this world; a body craving another body, craving new worlds; a body termed nameless. 

My mother’s secrets are not my business, and I am not entitled to them. Her secrets are her rights, and must be totally respected. Just like everyone’s. Each soul to their secret. 

Right there in her room I thought to myself: Mum is capable of secrets like me, her son. That she is just as human like me. And the simple realisation that mum keeps a diary pointed to me that she isn’t this outsider that parenthood made her look in my teenage eyes; it motivated me into accepting her not only as a parent but as a fellow human being and as a friend that I could share my feelings, fears and thoughts with. 

Mother will probably not hear or know this.

 

 

 

David Ishaya Osu is a poet, memoirist, and street photographer. His works have appeared in The Lifted BrowThe Oxford Review of Books, and other places. David has an MA in Creative Writing (with Distinction) from the University of Kent.

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