About the book
The book tells the story of Momodu, a tale teller, and unpublished poet with a banana heart and flabby waist, weaves the interlocking stories of his younger brother, father, mother, cousin and slum friends into a tapestry that sometimes looks like a shroud, other times like a priest's holy hermit, and plenty times like the sparkling attire of a blaspheming fornicator.
About the author
Born in 1968, Mohamed Gibril Sesay grew up in Crojimmy, Eastern Freetown. He is graduate of Fourah Bay College. He has worked as a Secondary school teacher, a journalist and a sociology lecturer at Fourah Bay College. A poet and short story writer, he has anthologized a collection of Sierra Leone poems of the 1990s 'Songs That Pour the Heart'. He has also won a Pen Award for his contribution to Poetry in Sierra Leone.
Read Chapter One
Mother poked the wind towards man with plump body and dollop lump for head and said to Younger Brother and me, ?if I had had my heart-way, that man would have been my husband.? To which Younger Brother protested, ?I don?t want him for a father.? To which mother replied, ?but I would not have given birth to you.?
Eating bitter dreams in an unwashed bowl of memories I contracted cholera, I mean cholera of words vroooo like blood from the slit nape of the woman who would not sing the rebels? refrain: ?we want peace.?
Ah, so you don?t know about the rebels? refrain? Okay, Let me tell you: after the Rebels captured our corner of town, they forced people whose relatives they had just killed to sing ?we want peace? to prevent government forces from counter attacking.
?Tell them you want peace,? the rebels ordered. ?We want peace,? the people sang. But this woman refused. ?No,? she thundered, ?we don?t want rebel peace.? So the knaves knifed her navel and snapped her nape, blood coming vroo like diarrhea induced by bad food.
So I cussed the cook, a veiled invective. Mother said the worse way to cuss a cook is singing whilst eating. ?How mama?? Younger Brother asked.
Younger Brother always wanted an answer quick quick quick. He was to die because he could not wait, but that story must wait awhile. ?Eee Mama, how, how?? he blurted. ?Just shut off your impudent tunes,? mother yelled.
My fugues are sometimes sweet; they are sugar poured on rotting week-old sauce to make it palatable. Crazy? It happened at Hilltop College, this sugaring of dour soup, at a flat called Harlem, damp as an ill-drained ill ventilated pit- latrine with a leaky roof. There was a professor there, at Hilltop College, his shoes were red-white striped with shoestrings blue, then green socks, pink trousers, brown belt, maroon jacket, green shirt, white necktie, red baseball cap... We called him Prof Rainbow alias Color Rebel also... well, I?ll tell you this other name later...
Longtime nor see. How many sleep did you wear during the raining season? Were there holes in your skull, were your dreams leaky, did the rush-rain of events drench your soul with its bloody particulars ? slit napes, hammer-smashed balls, upturned labia colored like the under side of a new- babe?s lobes? Did you hold your snout when God/ess filled to constipation with our rotten pleas belched for only Hesheit knows how many whatever Hesheit decides to call Hisherit time? God/ess bids Hisherit time like cat a rat. Is God/ess the cat joking with our ratty lives, toss-teasing us about before the final kill? Me? I didn?t wear out my sleep; so they have become sleeplessness. My nights are as brand new as this very second. You want some? My nights are for sale ? I want someone to give me cash for my insomnia. I go to the university to sell sleeplessness to students studying for their final exams, no need for them to put feet in bowls of water to stay awake, or wrap soaked towels round their famished skins. Let them just buy my sleeplessness made from the finest fabrics of esoterica. But they are so poor, those students. But they wouldn?t say that to get my soft-heart to give them the sleeplessness free of charge. Rather they tell me my nights are fake; that my sleeplessness is as old as the squatting buttocks of prophets of yore pouring their thoughts on the deeds of manwoman.
The deeds of manwoman are like hot pap filling up a hungry gut. The gut distends; the fate of the pap is to fill it, to provide a purpose for the gut. But the gut is never glutted. Is God/ess ... remember what we counsel about the dead: ?God/ess has taken himher...? Is God/ess therefore the red-gut where the pap becomes something else? Are prophets the gullets through which the pap pass?
We in this country are pap; even a child gulps us without difficulties. We are pap for the red-guts of flesh- rich gods. We will have trouble carrying these bloody gods to their tombs (but when will that be?). Their corpses will be too heavy. Like the woman we buried last week. So flesh-rich. We called her Balu Bana, which in our language means Balu the big. She was probably created in a night without light, for everything about her was haphazard ? great fleshy chunks ill- splattered on ill-shaped bones. Such a waste of flesh was a burden to tote: arms broke, shoulders creaked. But when we gave her to grave I sighed, envying worms of the grave their gravy.
How many sleep did you put on last week? Mine were not beautiful; they were wet rags of nightmare that shamed my soul. My penis hanged out like a dog?s newly separated from his bitch. My nightly bitch had the voice of the orange-selling woman I was licking (which in our area-slang also means ?screwing?) but the body of a tortoise. I put my thing inside the tortoises? anus. The tortoises? rear hole was hot as baker?s fire (you just ask the male agama lizard why its head is so red and he?ll tell you about the head?s misadventure into tortoise?s hot-hole). My penis? It was baked in the succubus? anal fire; it was bread served to hungry electors ? that they leave not the party of our flesh-rich gods. That was what they did to the private parts of our neighbor?s child; so handsome, this child, like Anabi-Yusufu...
Who is Annabi Yusufu? asked Younger Brother
Eeee, Younger Brother, so you don?t know about Anabi-Yusufu... O myth- ignoring youth, I must tell you his story before I continue the story of our neighbor?s child. So now listen:
Anabi-Yusufu was the most handsome man ever created, so divine-handsome that he aroused the lust of Zulaikha, his master?s wife. She wanted him badly, but Anabi-Yusufu would have none of it. Soon the news of Zulaikha?s lust for her husband?s slave boy spread and the other ladies of high society started giggling anytime she was around. So Zulaikha planned revenge, a sweet one. She invited the giggling ladies to her house to help her cut onions and other things for a feast... Just when the ladies were slicing the onions she called Anabi-Yusufu. O bewitching handsomeness. O divine beauty. The ladies, lost in the ecstatic apparition sliced their palms for onions without knowing... See the lines on our palms? They are mementoes of the healed-sores of Zulaikha?s revenge, mutilations of Anabi Yusufu?s supernal beauty.
Rubbish, said Younger Brother, our palm lines are caused by our clenched fist while we were inside the stomachs of our mothers...
Don?t argue with me about that, O Younger Brother, I know you are the skeptical type, but listen to this: our palm-lines are caused by that slicing of palms by the giggling friends of Zulaikha; and not by the fetus? clenched fists; no, no, not at all, my dear Younger Brother, they are not marks left by the boxer-like fists of our infant days...
Boxer-like fists? A child was once battered to death by her mad mother because she thought it wanted to give her some upper-cuts with its clenched-fists, ?what do you want to fight me for, me, me your mother, me?? And she rained the most savage of blows on the innocent child...
What did they do to her? Younger Brother asked.
What would they do to a person made mad by our war? They let her go; the war freed her. Like the woman who found herself in the same fleeing places as her son-in law when the renegades attacked her village. Months and months they trekked, woman and son-in ?law, strangers in strange places running away from the sounds of war. They clung to each other, intimacy grew and the son in law got the mother in law pregnant. When they finally returned to their village people asked the mother in law, ?what happened?? She replied, ?the war.? And ?the war? became the name of the child. So when the nappies of the child went missing she asked, ?did anyone see the nappies of the war?? So when the child is hungry people say, ?the war is hungry.? The war, the war, the war.
But I must continue the story of our neighbor?s child, the one as handsome as Anabi-Yusufu. Its father was a party to its gruesome murder. The father was poor and also bad; so when a politician told him he was paying huge sums for body-parts to make election juju, this bad father gave his son.
This is Ikemefuna in the forests of Sierra Leone. And when the child cried ?father!? this bad father drew his machete and cut the innocent child down, much like Okonkwo did in Achebe?s Things fall Apart.
Deities, gods, goddesses, in Things Fall Apart, the holy text of African literature, there is the story about some deity of Umuofia that demanded human blood. History, fiction and divine myths are replete with man-eating gods. From Aztec to Ur, the gods demanded human sacrifice. But civilization steeped in the myths of the Emperor Constantine has put an end to that.
Who is Emperor Constantine, asked Younger Brother.
So you don?t know about Emperor Constantine, O history shallow youth, let me tell you: He was the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity and put the power of the state behind a particular way of looking at the Christ. It is civilization steeped in the assertions of that emperor that put an end to manwoman eating gods in what they now call the West. So now we have god-eating menwomen; god-flesh deifies the masses during mass, what a change of fortunes!