We are John Chizoba Vincents. We have lived in different bodies throughout many millennia. Many centuries ago, our kind walked on this Earth with our Chi. Some of them were dancers, mourners, hunters, farmers, and sojourners. Some lived on the horizon of the sky, some were the rays of the sun, some were the earth and some were spirits; we roamed in the air, we roamed among humans and dwelled amongst Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses. We had faces like the faces of the gods. The gods once lived in different bodies we possessed until we decided to be one in trinity. They spoke through this mouth in dark freedom and held the wind captive. John Chizoba Vincents once stood on the altar of Gold conversing righteousness. We have been standing here hoping to conquer fears, imaginations and thoughts. You may have seen us walk pass a deadly demon without shaking, it was how we were created. Holding lives, basking lives and jotting down those things we would have left behind closed doors. We are here to see to these depraved stars of possessed nights. We are here to lay ambush for the sun from falling into cloudy bunkers. We have come again like warriors to our mother, Ogbonne Ugochi, in this part of the earth where corruption hang around its air.
We are not the ghost of Odumegwu Ojukwu lurking around the Niger still bearing festering wounds of those children killed on the soil of Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu — We have always been here for those memories that our grandmother kept somewhere on the side of the shrine waiting for the day the gods would bring forth a son that could replace us. We have seen demons around who have no value. They moved effortlessly looking for an opportunity to cause havoc and destructions, this was not how we were created, we were created for impactation but the choice was given though. It was the basis of the world. We have not come as losers in victories but to get the kind of fate that the world hasn’t seen in ages. In sundry tongues, in sweet passionate murmurs, we prayed often to the gods for the life of the world. It was reported that the days our prayers scented the kingdom lightly with the fragrance of roses and hibiscus and the morning glory, and that never did a gentler breeze blow in the land, nor was there such a subdued air over the seas and forests, hills and mountains of the kingdom because we went in search of our own who went and never return.
So, this is how our story is told? John may be the wicked one, Chizoba may be the saint and Vincent, may be the weird one or the devil. It doesn’t matter how the story comes in shape. It may have a different turn rearranging the three differently but what matters is that our mother respects every personality with much love. The last time we visited her before now, she was overjoyed. She held us in her arms and laughed. She gave out a reechoing laughter. That kind of laughter that stays for long in the heart. She watched our faces and thank the gods for another birth. Now, we are here again, we did not come to her by chance, fate made it so and most desired for her and her husband. We are water, formless and free; we recycle, we keep recycling and coming back to that place we started to take form. We are water, we are colourless and gentler, unless troubled. We are liquid, we assume the shape of the container we find ourselves. Right in this time of life, we have assumed the shape of our mother’s joy. We have come back for her tears, for her joy; we can’t linger anymore to watch its passing in different directions.
We’ll come back after we die as many times as we want. We’ll always come back many times just like the water a boy throws on the ground which gets into the ground, then, it mixes with the underground water and later, it comes back from the tap in our homes or through borehole[s]. We’ll always come back like the ocean water which get heated up by the sun, then, it evaporates to the cloud and later, it comes back to us as rain. We’ll always come back just like urine that mixes with the underground water which humans later drink. We don’t belong to our mother. We are Ogbanje. We keep coming back. We are lives longing for its own freedom. we come back having different faces, different eyes and nose, different mouth and different lips. Each time we decide to come, we choose the womb to stay, it may be the previous or the latter. It may be the innocent ones or the troubled ones. We choose the egg to form us and how to go back home when we decide to go back. We are lives longing for its own peace and understanding. Naked we were born and naked we’ll always return. A man may own something for as long as it remains with him. Once he leaves it, he may lose it to another man entirely. It is said that if one wakes in the morning to find something as innocuous as a hen chasing him, he should run because he does not know whether the hen has grown teeth and claws during the night.
Life in its cruelty is like a certain man who woke up joyfully because he has been told the night before that his wife has given birth to a bouncing baby by a doctor in a hotel Room where he slept in a city far from his home. He ran out of his hotel room, he ran into the receptionist on the staircase and embraced her joyfully, he flashed his teeth to her and she smiled back and in the bar, he ordered drinks for all the people in there; he ran back to his Hotel room, got dressed and left immediately to see his wife and his new baby in the hospital. When he zoomed out from the hotel’s gate in his car, excitedly, he did not see the poor lost Man pushing his wheelbarrow into the heart of the street. He ran into the road in fear. In a second, in the batting of an eyelid, the man has killed a poor man who had gone to look for what his family would eat! What a bitter day to behold?
The world heaps a great burden on him at once. He forgot his wife and his new baby in the hospital and carried a burden which is not an ordinary one, for it is something he cannot unburden himself of immediately. The world has nothing to offer him but pains — Sorrow and Agony. He would return to a gloomy state. Once the Doctor’s call comes in again, he would look at his phone and wouldn’t know which to face — the joy of his new born baby or the sadness of the poor man he crushed on the ground. That man would come again but not in this manner but in a manner holier than the previous that he came in a gloomy state.
We don’t allow Grief to return like an army of old ants crawling into familiar holes in the soft earth of our formal life, we don’t look through the prism of the world’s ungodliness to see innumerable truthful lies we bandied around synagogues with nauseous repetitiveness. We allow ourselves to stay on the surface of the earth longer and return in hundred folds after the earth has given us a splendid variety of food, women, and Wines and made aromatic dishes of great love and had them sent to our heart for the delectation of our being. But to repair its timelessness once again, we allow time to erase all the memories we’ve had before to create a new us. For we have already become familiar with culture and tradition of every race — White — Black and Pink and we don’t lose the heritage of this dark soil’s memories. We are like regurgitated flesh of a dead corpse falling off the beak of hideous vultures. We have a way of disguising ourselves as doves with holy feathers in the midst of every generation we find ourselves.
We are interwoven stories they would pass on to their children today and tomorrow under the moon, and which they would still whisper to the children that are yet to come under moonlit skies, in an open market square, in a lonely place and in sundry villages, where one or two credulous children still listen with wide open eyes, mouth agape and ears as open as a tunnel, to tales that the spirits told their ancestors, fathers, mothers, forefathers centuries ago during the vigil or funeral for a famous king, queen, Prince or Princess, It doesn’t matter the figure. And some gentle spirits wandered through the atmosphere and the surroundings, listening to rumours, gists, conspiracies, gossip, lies, plots, confessions, events and secrets; listening and saying that those who came before us came in their own accord with their own spirit and soul. We were not responsible for their coming neither were we responsible for their going if they sleep and never get up from their slumber.
We are John Chizoba Vincents, after we die, we’ll be reincarnated to a different world. And our Chi follows us briefly before leaving us to the world on our own. We have lived on this planet centuries ago. We don’t come only once; we come many times and return many times.
John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, Author, Cinematographer and filmmaker. He was born and brought up in Aba and later moved to Lagos where he had his tertiary education . His works have appeared on allpoetry, Voicesnet, Poetrysoup Poemhunter, Africanwriter, TuckMagazine, Gaze,naijastories, Praxismagazine, Nairaland, black boy reviews and forthcoming in BrittlePapers. His writings have featured in many anthologies both home and abroad. He has five books published to his credit which includes Good Mama, Hard times, Letter From Home, For Boys Of Tomorrow. He lives in Lagos where he writes.