1.Demons & Holy Spirit
We are four writers sitting at the table spooning rice into our plates when a fellow writer – a Norwegian blonde – pulls up a chair. She exchanges pleasantries with the other writers, then sits beside me.
Just seeing her for the first time, I introduce myself.
She tilts her head back, fixing me with a stare. I fancy a smile turning up on her lips, but she says in a serious tone, ‘You are from Nigeria?’
I nod, noting a genuinely surprised look in her eye.
‘Lots of demons and Holy Spirit,’ she says.
I manage a quick smile, though annoyed with Nollywood and its penchant for spiritualising every Nigerian flick.
I am sipping merlot at a civic dinner at MUSON Centre when a greasy-haired American comes up to me, few minutes after I’d just finished reading a poem on the Niger Delta.
‘That’s quite touching, very political,’ he says, nodding his head.
I smile appreciatively. ‘I am inclined to the political,’ I tell him.
‘It’s hard to accept the extent of election rigging that returned Obasanjo a second term.’
Not everybody can be like Mandela, I almost tell him. But I offer him a smile of understanding instead.
He glances around. ‘It’s a great shame that Nigeria is in this mess,’ he mentions.
‘These things happen…’ I reply carelessly. Then I notice the American is about grinning and I chip in, ‘…I suppose the Florida experience, which returned George W. Bush Jr., still remains fresh in the minds of many a Nigerian politician.’
And the grin peters out of his face, replaced by a downy red.
Laure and I are chatting at an award dinner party when our host calls me aside.
‘There’s someone you should meet –’ Kraft Penbottom says, his arm cutting a breezy arc over his face. ‘Hey, Kylie, I’d like you to meet …’ Then he slips away to catch up with another writer.
I smile, reaching for Kylie’s hand. She is a sprightly-looking playwright. Her cheeks remind me of sunflowers.
‘So you are from Nigeria?’ she asks, her green eyes twinkling.
‘Yeah,’ I reply, not quite eager to slide back to Laure’s side.
Kylie lets out a soft-bellied laugh. ‘How did you get the grant?’ she asks.
‘I applied,’ I tell her.
‘Whoa, you must be very hard working.’
‘It’s a Nigerian thing.’
She frowns, then says, ‘We have very terrible Nigerians in Australia.’
I almost turn livid, but somehow I manage to keep my cool. I turn around to walk away, then pause.
‘By the way,’ I say, ‘All those sickening tales of ill-treatment of the Aborigines we keep hearing every so often doesn’t speak well of the glorious Australia.’
And I shuffle away, just when the sunflower starts to wither on her cheeks.