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THE STRANGER 

THE STRANGER 

Into the mirror, I dared look

Her countenance, open as a book 

Yet, her eyes held such deep enigma 

Akin to the smile of the Monalisa. 
I looked on in confusion, 

She seemed to stare back in derision 

“Who are you?” I asked 

Her lips parted to answer, voice was masked 
By so many wrong opinions 

Shutting off these opinions, 

I consciously focused on her 

And I could hear her loud and clear 
Shrugging, she answered, “It’s your decision. I am who you make of me”

Laura Brightson. 

Image Source: quotemaster.org 

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Yes, I am an Island 

I was going to camp. New environment, new personality. Hence, I decided to be a loner. Not just a loner but a really queer fellow. I decided I was going to wear dark makeup and black nail polish, have a perpetual wide-eyed glassy stare, then, I’d top it off with  a constant background soundtrack of Classical Music, Enya or Yanni. If I couldn’t use my headset, then I’d hum the music. Of course I wasn’t going to be speaking to people. Except when absolutely necessary. Chit-chat? No. 
All was going on well till the soldiers at the gate asked me to carry my box on my head and run into the compound. Of course I didn’t dare have my headset on. 
Then, the rigorous registration process began. I didn’t break character. Someone tapped me. She wanted to ask a question.. I turned my head really slowly, gave her my glassy unblinking stare, reduced the pitch of my voice several tones lower than normal and answered the question, all the while speaking slowly. Of course she scurried. I smiled and congratulated myself. 

Then, I got hungry. No, I was already hungry. Got hungrier. And hungrier… 
(Stomach growls). Me: Sister, abeg I’m behind you, let me go get something. 

Got back, thanked her and got back in character (meanwhile I’d already asked someone where I could buy food). “Well, they’re just two persons, Lau you can still do this”, I thought. 
Then, bunks were brought to the camp and I didn’t have a sleeping space. Everyone was scrambling, no dulling. I noticed that the girl who had saved my place on the queue seemed to have an upper hand in the hustle. She’d gotten a bunk after warding away the other scavengers! But couldn’t carry it alone. 

Me: Excuse me, please can I be your bunkmate? 

She: No wahala, let’s take this one

Me: Thank you. (Hesitates… Smiles) I’m Laura. What’s your name? 

She: (Smiles and says her name) Which state do you come from?… 

And the dialogue with her continued… Later, “let’s go fetch water/eat, etc”

Now the dialogue isn’t just with her. “You’re in my platoon? Nice to meet you, I’m Laura, you? Yes, I’m Igbo. Kedu?” 
I’m sure you’ve gotten my point by now. We DO need people. We do need friends. Value relationships. Be a better friend today. 
*whistle blows* *jumps off my bunk and ties my shoe laces*
Okay, bye. 

THE RUMPELSTILTSKIN PARADOX 

I have no idea why, but recently, I’ve been thinking about some of the fairy tales we adored as kids… And some things don’t quite add up. Let’s take a look at RUMPELSTILSKIN. Here’s what I remember:
“A miller lies to the king, telling him that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king calls for the girl, shuts her in a tower room filled with straw and a spinning wheel, and demands she spin the straw into gold by morning or he will cut off her head/lock her up in a dungeon forever. When she has given up all hope, an imp-like creature appears in the room and spins the straw into gold in return for her necklace. When next morning the king takes the girl to a larger room filled with straw to repeat the feat, the imp spins in return for the girl’s ring. On the third day, the girl is taken to an even larger room filled with straw and told by the king that he will marry her if she can fill this room with gold or execute her if she cannot, The girl has nothing left with which to pay the strange creature so he extracts from her a promise that she will give him her firstborn child. He proceeded to spin the straw into gold a final time. 

The king keeps his promise to marry the miller’s daughter. But when their first child is born, the imp returns to claim his payment: “Now give me what you promised.” She offers him all the wealth she has to keep the child but the imp has no interest in her riches. He finally consents to give up his claim to the child if she can guess his name within three days. Her many guesses fail, but before the final night, she wanders into the woods/sends a servant to search for him and comes across his remote mountain cottage and watches, unseen, as he hops about his fire and sings. In his song’s lyrics, “tonight tonight, my plans I make, tomorrow tomorrow, the baby I take. The queen will never win the game, for Rumpelstiltskin is my name'”, he reveals his name. 

When the imp comes to the queen on the third day, after first feigning ignorance, she reveals his name, Rumpelstiltskin, and he loses his temper and their bargain. He stomps his feet really hard on the floor, falls in and was never seen again. And the King and Queen lived happily ever after”. 
And I’d rejoice… The villain had been defeated. But was Rumpelstiltskin really the villain? Let’s take a look at the other characters. 

1. The Miller: Had a big mouth. Probably born out of a poor self image. What sort of father would do that to his own daughter? 

2. The King: Was clearly a very greedy soul. I’m sure he didn’t marry the Miller’s daughter out of love. He married a “gold-spinner”. 

3. The Queen/Miller’s daughter: Poor confused girl… Desperate to save herself. Traded all she had including her unborn child. What if the imp had plans of eating the baby? (Bad parenting is probably in the genes). Perhaps she didn’t thins she’d ever get out of the mess her dad put her into talk more of getting married. She broke her promise nonetheless… 

4. Rumpelstiltskin: Poor lonely imp… Loves kids perhaps, and wanted one. Too ugly to have one (would you marry or have a baby for an imp?) Shrewd ‘businessimp’. Not a greedy guy, he didn’t want money. Maybe he just wanted a child to love him and call him dad. I don’t know, neither do you. Should have left his name out of that song, though. But, how was he to have known that someone was there? How disappointed and heartbroken the poor imp must have felt. Betrayed, used, cheated, name it. Was he really the villain? 
Rumpelstiltskin might have been an evil baby-eating villain… Or not. We don’t know his side of the story. Same goes for all stories we hear. What we make of them usually depends on who told them. Things aren’t always as they seem. 

Clay 

Like a lump of clay, to be broken… 

Like broken clay, to be moistened… 

Like moist clay, soft and malleable in the hands of the Potter. Willing to thrown on to His wheel and spun…

Like budding pottery, trusting the Potter enough to become His vessel of choice. His will is mine… 

Like an emerging mug, willing to be marred and broken… 

Like the broken mug, remaining at the Potter’s wheel to be remoulded… 

Like the remoulded vessel, delighted as I become enlarged into a jug… 

Like the greenware, terrified by the kiln’s heat but comforted by my Potter… 

Like bisque, ready to be vitrified at an even higher temperature order to attain glossification for I’ve been made to understand, by my potter that all these firing processes are for my beautification. 

Like a glossified vessel, shiny and beautiful, reflecting my Potter’s image… 

Like a beautiful jug, ready to be filled and emptied again and again… For the glory of my Potter and for the benefit of others. 

Still willing to get broken and remoulded… Perhaps into a pot… 

Be Yourself 

Over time, I’ve been pondering on “Being Myself” and I realized a few things… Decided to share some of them today. 

 

You see, a lot of times, we believe that we are a certain way. But are we really? I’ve come to believe that’s not an absolute truth. Granted, people have inclinations and character traits, which might have been formed over time as a result of upbringing, experiences, environment, etc. However, these traits are very modifiable. 
We all were a certain way at some point. 

I, for instance, used to avoid all forms of work and house chores, till I got to a point where there was no one else to do them but me. 

An Aunty used to call me “Onye Obi Ojoo” because I used to find it so difficult to forgive and let go of the slightest of wrongs done to me. I actually derived pleasure in nursing them. What a waste of time. (that would have been more profitable if my grudge could harm my offenders). 

Back in secondary school, I was a good enough person to be around, till I got angry… Which happened really often and at the slightest provocation.

 Flash back to Primary School, I once stabbed a classmate’s hand just because she drew a line on my book. Got into Junior Secondary School and started picking fights with people way bigger than me, because “mighty Laura had gotten offended”. Shaa God was always faithful to me by sending people to separate the fights before I got murdered. 
I’m sure everyone has their story. I still don’t have all my acts together but I believe that I’m getting better. And the transition began because I decided not to be that person anymore. 
People change when they identify who they have decided to become. Hence, what we term pretense sometimes isn’t. 

It’s wonderful to choose to be yourself. Just be sure that who you’re being, is the best you can be. Don’t become a certain way because of circumstances, experiences, much less people. No one deserves that much power over you. 
2 Cor 3:18

 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
So, I ask again, Who are you? 

Shadows 


There’s usually more to life than we can see. See that “more”. Find it. Take it. 

Dear Motivational Speaker 

DISCLAIMER: Please try to read this article with an open mind. That way, you’d understand the message the writer is trying to pass across without bias. There’s actually no pun or sarcasm implied in this article. Thank you so much. 
Dear Motivational Speaker, 

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the role you have played so far in our society. Indeed, I do appreciate you. You’ve reminded us of all the potentials we have, that we can be more than we are. Thank you so much, God bless you. 
I went home after my first encounter with you and actually rediscovered myself. Made plans and all of that. Then I went for another conference organized by you… The rediscovered me… And you spoke again… I went back and tried to set the balls rolling in my life. Oh, I really tried, but you see, I encountered a lot of road blocks. 

Then, I wanted to attend another conference… But I couldn’t afford the fee. I did not even have transport fare. So I decided to read the notes from your last conference… I felt better. Then, I tried again. But there was absolutely no finances to grease the wheels and get my dreams rolling. Then, I finally got the chance to attend another conference, but, Dear Motivational Speaker, you told me to do the same things I’ve been doing… 

Please, was it like this for you too? 

Were you once like me, fasting sometimes because there was nothing to eat? 

Did you ever write down your dreams and wet your journal with tears? 

Did you ever have to sell your phone to pay some bills? 

Did you ever get home from a conference feeling even more downcast than you were before attending? Because, you honestly did not know the next step to take? 

I could go on and on, Dear Motivational Speaker. 

Please, I really mean no offense, but please I’d like to know how you got away from all these. Please could you try to acknowledge the fact that sometimes, background, location, education, upbringing, etc also play a role on the journey to success? Please could you inspire me? Motivation is beautiful. But then it ends in the mind, when it fails, it needs to be reinforced, since you might not always be there to do that, please could you deposit something into my spirit? That’s more lasting. Tell me about faith, perseverance, hope, prayer God’s grace? I acknowledge that some of you do so, I really do appreciate. I sure do hope that someday, I’d actually find and experience the answers to my questions. I think I’ll just stop here for now. Thank you so much for taking out time to read. God bless you.   

                                                              Yours sincerely, 

                                                              Laura Brightson. 

YES, I DO 

ME: Did you know I was going to go right back to it? Right after you forgave? 

HIM: Yes I did 

ME: Yet you forgave all the same? 

HIM: Yes 
ME: Did you know I was going to ignore your calls for attention and fellowship? 

HIM: Yes, I did 

ME: Yet you kept calling all the same? 

HIM: Yes 
ME: Did you know I was going to deny and betray you again and again? 

HIM: Yes, I did

ME: And you stayed put? 

HIM: Yes
ME: Why? 

HIM: Because I love you. So much. You don’t understand the depth of my love for you. However, I have the whole of eternity to make you understand. I forgive you. 
ME: Do you know how flawed I am? 

HIM: Yes, I do

ME: Yet you still love me?

HIM: Yes. That’s why I gave you Myself. Take me and become me. 

My Alley

I found myself in this dark and putrid alley 

It stretched on like the proverbial death valley 

Looked down, my feet bare

Wondered how I got there 
I had to make a move 

This I did, my mobility to prove

I rounded a sharp bend 

The road ahead seemed without end 
I walked till I couldn’t feel my feet. 

Obviously, there was no way out of this pit

Hopeless, I crumbled onto the cold damp floor

Then, I leaned on the rusty wall… No! Door! 
Finally! A way out of this dung! 

But opening the door, proved me wrong 

For on the other side of door was another alley 

Gloomier and darker than the death valley 
Right then, I made my decision 

I closed the door and bolted it with precision 

My countenance was lit, heart was merry

And with a hearty song, began I to clean my alley 

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