Photo Series – Lagos Island #1

There’s a palpable, breathable melancholy about Lagos Island. It is a wild and claustrophobic place. It is beautiful, quiet, and noisy. Sparse, congested, and industrial. Ugly, fascinating, and begging-to-be-photographed. I took some pictures and captioned them with lines from one of my favourite Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems, God’s Grandeur. 

fullsizeoutput_da4
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
fullsizeoutput_da9
“It will flame out, like shining from shook foil”
fullsizeoutput_dab
“It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil”
fullsizeoutput_dae
“And for all this, nature is never spent;”
fullsizeoutput_daf
“There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;”
fullsizeoutput_dad
“And though the last lights off the black West went”
fullsizeoutput_dac
“Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —”
fullsizeoutput_daa
“Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

Falling Boy is Here

Falling Boy Official Cover Template3

My first official collection of poems, falling boy, has arrived. The link below will lead you to the poetic promise land. Please tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend. It’s out on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, and Okadabooks. Thank you.

Here’s the magic link: https://linktr.ee/tomilade

Places

ib

I preserve my time with people as events and more importantly, places. Goodbyes have become a permanent fixture over the years: migration, graduation, death, etc. Distance soon turns friends into strangers. Easy pleasantries become quadratic equations: “I haven’t seen x in while; I should probably check up on y.” And the people I (we) shared laughs and tears with, become vestiges of good times: the good old days. Nostalgia.

I collect these experiences as places because even when the nuances of the stories and moments slip out of my hands, I do not misplace the where. It means that when the what and how escape memory, there is a place to build from. A foundation to lay old bricks upon. A road map to a house of lost treasures and old possibilities.

When my mum passed on in May, I rushed to recollect our last time together, the last place we breathed together. It was on her 50th birthday and she was being discharged post-surgery from a hospital in the States. How poetic. She was frail but cheery, flashing a smile to the extent the pain would permit. Cancer be dammed. This was recovery. I did not think a hospital room in Maryland would be our last place. It was. When I think of November 2015, I’ll remember that place.

I did not see her until February or March: via Facetime. I was in my room. She was in hers, an ocean away, asking about my wellbeing. “How are your friends?” as though she knew any of them. Her room is now a landmark in my memory.

I had a strange dream as a kid. A type of apocalypse had happened but mummy and I remained, alone in the world. Frightened. But we had ourselves. I fail at recalling the rest of the dream but I remember that we stood at the front of her shop in Iba, waiting for something to happen. Anything.

She turned up at 8pm for my first visiting day at boarding school. Visiting hours ended moons ago. Lagos was 2 hours away. I thought they had forgotten. There was a mix up, I think. I can’t quite remember. We sat at the front of my school’s chapel. Coke or Fanta and meat pie in hand; the wind gusting against our faces in the silent darkness.

The last time I saw her, we were at the funeral service, hours before the internment. She was resting in the casket. Her quiet yet striking beauty beaming as much in death as it did when she was alive. Her body decaying and soul on a journey. That she was “going to a better place,” brought me little to no consolation. Every time I heard it, no matter how true it rung, it fell off my skin like dead hair. How could the place be better without me? Without us?

But of course, she has a place in my heart (our hearts). And perhaps that is everything. Perhaps it matters that even as the upper bulb of the hourglass empties and memories become blurrier, the places we lived, left and loved ourselves, are etched as footprints in the sands; guiding and teaching me how to put the pieces together; how to repaint over and over, the marvellous picture of our time together.

Even When It Hurts

Taya Smith
Taya Smith of Hillsong United

I often claim to rediscover Christ through song (worship). Not that I ‘lose’ him or backslide, rather, I attain newness that comes from spiritual melodies after a prolonged phase of internal struggles, doubts, and existential battles. But in reality, Christ finds me again. There’s peace in those moments (the type the world cannot give). An intangible and yet ever accessible serenity.

It is the beauty of worship, the peeling of the all human layers so that the spirit vitalises the mind and by so doing, the body. I dream of capturing these moments in a bottle to keep for the rainy day, for when routines wear me out. For when tears abound and for when it feels like God has forgotten to give this beloved, sleep.

I usually get to a point of brokenness where the only remedy is the message of grace and unending love. And more often than not, the medicine is in the self-forgetting ambience of worship that allows for vulnerability. That allows us to receive from the ever-giving supply, without considering ourselves. Shedding like serpent for new skin.

“Even when it hurts, I will only sing your praise.”

Image source: crowdalbun

Have a merry Christmas 🙂

Today

crying

And there I was, eyes like a nimbus cloud, head facing the earth. All 80kg of man and testosterone. There I was by the aisle of a supermarket, sobbing like an infant for no reason. Pre-birthday blues maybe, but not really. I wanted an answer for a temporal nothingness, I wanted to rid myself of me. And maybe crying was the means to an end. Why do we tell people to stop crying as though it will alleviate their pain? What if the pain is intangible and the tears are simply reflexive?

I walked out of the supermarket and there was a nimbus cloud in the sky when my head faced the heavens. I looked to God for answers, and as I cried my words, the clouds cried into my mouth. I am not on a search for happiness, and the idea of a search for self has become an exhausted thought. I am not looking for myself anymore, and it is probably because I have found me. Or maybe I haven’t.

God probably answered as he always does, but I did not hear. Or maybe the answer was that there was no answer. Maybe the chemical imbalance in my brain had other ideas. I was not feeling lonely or unloved. I just was: the way I am when I am like this; void of a problem to touch but with many intangible problemites swimming in the pool of my subconscious.

I had to restrain myself from crying for the fear of “are you okay?”. But in my room, where the doors are shut and the only voices I hear are the ones in my head, my pillow will be soaked. I will arise tomorrow, feeling better than I was today. And I will hope that the visitor who lives in me, does not remind me of a certain intangible despair.

Photo credit: Pinterest