Within Mama Wire-wire’s drinking palour, the bamboo walls wear the garment of night, the air the smell of tobacco breath and palm wine belch. Flavour N’abania’s ashawo blurts out from the speakers and everyone cheers. Littered here and there are men, drowning their worries down their throat with kegs, some bottles and some smoking, as if to say to their troubles, there, vanish with the smoke in my lungs and in the air. There are women here too, those who make blood rush between a man’s thighs, and are ready to milk a man for a price, maybe a meal. From a distant corner, a man’s words nibble my ears, I could read pain in his words, like a palmist divining destiny, from the lines etched on a palm. There’s a proverb among my people that says, it’s condition that bends the crayfish, so I call out to him, my friend, what’s your story? He says his wife is one who sets fire with her tongue and expect him to put out the flames. And as if all her headaches are not enough, also gives him heartaches, like when he wants to touch her, she says she’s fasting, and he will ask himself, if God paid her bride price. But ashewo sweet like honey, dem no dey worry, just give dem their money and everywhere lelele. I mimic a nodding lizard, while I search my mind for the right words to say. As I open my mouth to speak, I am interrupted by a woman, who I mistake for a mad woman, only to realize this is his wife when he says, everyone, my beloved wife!
- ashawo : a Nigerian slang for a sex worker
- dem no de worry : They don’t give trouble
- everywhere lelele : Everywhere is peaceful
Joemario Umana is a Nigerian creative writer and a performance poet, whose most poems, surround the theme of masculinity.
He is an alumnus of The Poetic Collective writing fellowship and 2023 SprinNg Writing fellowship program. Also, a member of The Writers Manger Network (TWMN), a literary and literacy hub in Nigeria.
Joemario Umana’s works have appeared and forthcoming in journals like the anthology publication of NSPP 2022, Loch Raven Review, The Kalahari Review, Lunaris Review, Ngiga Review, Eboquills, Nantygreens, Poemify, Punocracy, Spillwords and elsewhere. His works have drawn literary appreciation to themselves.
He is the winner of Profwic poetry challenge 2022 amongst other wins.
He is currently pursuing a bachelor degree at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. He tweets @Jo_marioumana