WS 12: The Firewood of this World by Morenike Singerr


It feels like a lifetime ago when I dropped my letter. I saw my grey-green G-Wagon in which I stacked my work place “personal effects” in a dream just before I woke on resignation day. I shored up savings for six months, not with the dimmest inclination that I would be home for far longer.

I have gone from feeling a thousand emotions to being numb. I’ve screamed so loudly in my heart that I heard my Creator say to me in Yoruba, my first earthly language, “Pele, Keke”.

As a young, young girl in Primary 4, my Class teacher had me perform “Songs of Sorrow”, by Kofi Awonoor- Williams. What was he thinking when he wrote that poem?

I wore tattered looking clothes, chalk in my hair and on my face to lend credence to the lines “I have been somewhere…If I turn here the rain beats me, if I turn here the sun burns me”. My most quoted section of that unique poem is “…the firewood of this world is for only those who can take heart…” I felt back then though that the line should have said, “…the firewood of this world is for only those who can carry it…”.

Alas, life has happened to me. Nearing my third decade, Keke begins to shake off the “cares and happiness of youth”. I now raise my right foot to wear the pantaloons of the troubles and joy of growing up. This is because I have begun to witness in my spirit, not yet with all of my eyes (I am young yet) that the Firewood is not for the brawny. It is for those with enlarged hearts which can span trouble yet irrigate with joy. The Firewood of this world is for only those whose hearts warm their bodies enough to transport the fuel (Firewood) to warm their hands and appetites.

A special friend and sister asked me a few days ago, (at least I hope it was me and not really Him), “What is the meaning of all this?” Even as I write, a smile plays at my lips. You don’t know Omo’eni. Upretentious, zestful and “tush”, her Firewood has caused her a momentary display of such crass bewilderment as any random Mama Bomboy with 8 kids, a chain-smoking bomboclad husband, an 8 month old pregnancy and the bad news that the thrift collector has run away with the cooperative’s funds. Thus her N10,000 expected to come in handy upon her safe delivery has gone up in the evil smoke of the netherworld’s Firewood- because she has no strength to light any fires in the here and now.

Of course Omo’Eni and I’s situation is not so desolate, thank God! But then again if the Firewood is for the “heartstrong”, does it mean that the princes and the paupers and the noisy mother hen can share the same grief and feel the exact same weight of Firewood when a lover elopes with a servant, a child is lost to disease or a chick is crushed under the heavy weight of a spiteful boy’s hammer? Maybe Firewood is not for chickens though, because their copulating time is over before hens can say, “Not tonight dear cock, I have a headache?”

Nope, this Firewood is for humans. It thus means that warm hands are the privilege of large hearts and large hearts are the privilege of those who can take them regardless of status and station in life.

So, my life has stood still for a thousand seconds and minutes and moments because it is time for my coronary upgrade. Surgery is carried out in the wilderness- separate from all that glitters and consoles and dumbs down in the world.

But how did I get here? Keke, a highly intelligent, fully cognate and largely empirical man, okay, woman- which means even more intuitive? He allured me! He told me that there was a G-Wagon waiting just out there. He convinced my conviction and brought to my spirit a palpable fear of death and rot in the city- like Sodom and Gomorrah or maybe even never leaving Egypt- a fate so terrible that the Bible never even broached the possibility of no Exodus to the Israelites.

Therefore, if you send me an IV to your feast and I don’t RSVP, I’m so sorry; I’m having my heart done! If you show me an expense I considered a “no-purser” 12 months ago, pele, my cash went into the expensive procedure as my hopes and faith and dreams and theology. My theology and worldview are now the tattered clothes of my costume way back in Primary 4, and only when my heart can be taken or will take can I wear them again but the rags are exchanged for a garment of praise.

Though I like to know everything, I am not allowed to know what is happening here. The most affected parts of my heart under the knife have been “zoinked” by my anaesthetic breaths- I will only find out someday what new rooms and attics have been built in when I have to carry more Firewood. I have to wait upon the Heart Guy, one so unuxorious that He tells me only what I need to know and gives no timelines unless He deems fit but not so unfeeling that He does not say “Pele Keke”, but that was only on one audible occasion.

The final procedure is fixing the faith-space in my heart. I suspect it will require a lot of work- because it keeps contracting and expanding. Sometimes it is so small that I cannot fit the word “I” -as small as I am in His eyes -into it, otherwise it is so large that I can see that I am the light of the world and my praise worship does count and faith was created to impact ALL my neighbours and ALL unborn generations. Pheew.

The final test is to know when this particular operation is complete. Some people are reported to be under anesthesia for so long that no further upgrades are possible whilst others are ready in no time to be allured again. The latter guys get a lot of Firewood their way, and always seem to be warming the other lazy no-wooders in the meanwhile. Aren’t they afraid of losing all their wood? Won’t they ask again too soon, “What is the meaning of all this?” But the Surgeon Guy sorts them out and their health insurance covers rapid replenishment for such depletions.

Meanwhile, my heart hurt but I’ll soon be back on my feet; hefting my wood once more!

2 responses »

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