23 August 2009

The Saxophonist by Anengiyefa (Part One)

He was tall and dark. And very handsome. And it was to him that my eyes were instantly drawn the minute the band started playing that sultry night all those years ago at the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti's night club, known as the Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. The attraction was magnetic. I'm not sure that I remember which of his songs Fela sang that night, or how lasciviously Fela's female dancers gyrated their nearly naked bodies, or how amazingly the musicians played Fela's mind-blowing music. It was him, just him for that night.The Shrine would on a normal night have a crowd of revellers something approximating 500, all of whom were dancing, singing, drinking and smoking cigarettes and weed. This place was a haven for smokers of marijuana, which was illegal outside the walls of the club, but perfectly permissible inside. Indeed if you didn't indulge, you were considered freakish. The crowd typically would consist of a large contingent of university students, (I was one at the time), several European embassy types who were exploiting the opportunity to see Fela in his full glory, for a pittance, as compared to what they would have had to pay to see him perform in Bonn or Amsterdam; it was also an opportunity for them to let their hair down and smoke a few joints openly, without fear or shame. Then there would be members of the general public, the atmosphere buzzing with an electric anticipation until Fela started his performance. Then everyone would be drawn in by Fela's magic and the wild party would begin.

This was my first time at the Shrine, but I liked the atmosphere. The energy, the excitement of everyone around me was contagious and I got caught up in it. And so the band started playing and the crowd went wild, but through all of this my eyes fell upon this magnificent specimen of the African male, in the far left corner at the back of the stage. I don't recall how it was that I was able to make my way from the back of the crowd where I had been standing when the music began, to a position beside the left side of the stage, close to where this man was playing his saxophone so beautifully. I guess I just needed to be closer to this man, even if only to take a closer look.

From the moment I saw him I had not moved my eyes from him even for one second. It was as if a spell had been cast upon me and I was in a trance. I did not realise that he too had picked me out from the hundreds of people in the crowd. But just then, our eyes met while he was still on stage. And I knew. I just knew. Typically, Fela's performance at the Shrine would last for several hours and it was normal that halfway through the night there would be a break, as this was a live performance. At break time, the musicians would mingle with members of the crowd, and this was the chance that we had to make first contact. I'm usually a bit shy and reserved, but on occasion I can surprise even myself by how bold I can be. Not that I needed to be too bold this time, because he too seemed keen to meet me. His gaze never left me after the music stopped, as I stood rooted to the spot, being unsure what to do next.

To my great surprise and pleasure, this man put away his saxophone, came off the stage and walked towards me, staring at me. And without flinching I moved towards him too. In no time, we were standing very close to each other, facing each other our chests almost touching, seemingly relying on the pretext that the crowd surrounding us provided us little room to manoeuvre our bodies. He towered above me and I felt his warm breath on my face as he looked down into my eyes. I'm sure he too would have seen in my eyes how totally mesmerised I was. Without saying a word, he put is arm around my shoulders, and with his eyes signalled that we should proceed outside. I was completely overpowered by the raw masculinity and strength of this man and I melted against his body as he shepherded me to the exit and then outside to the street, where several others had made their way, presumably for some respite from all that smoke inside the club.

After the introductions, we were both pretty sure we were on to something. He couldn't keep his hands off my body and we stared and smiled into each other's eyes as we exchanged stories, still standing very close to each other out there in the open. In Africa, it is not unusual for male friends to hold hands or embrace in public. I told him I loved the way he had played with the band; although this was not entirely true since I had been focused on him the man, rather than on the music. As a member of the band, he had been privileged to travel all over the world with Fela and I had just recently returned from a holiday in Brazil, something which I'd had to scrimp and save for, for years. Anyway it gave me something to talk about, and since he too had once been to Brazil with Fela, we had something in common to discuss those few moments that we were together. Our first meeting lasted for less than half an hour, because he had to go back inside to join the band. But for the rest of that night I was on a high. I returned to my position close to the stage and danced and sang to Fela's music, knowing that this wonderful man was watching me and enjoying it too. I was dancing for him, perhaps a bit provocatively when I think back, but as far as I was concerned, he was blowing his saxophone just for me. He was watching me dance and I loved the fact that he was taking it all in.

When the show ended, I could see that he was unable to separate himself from his duties with the band. So I left the Shrine, knowing that I would be back on Friday.


I went back to the Shrine that Friday. And this time I made certain to go alone as on the previous occasion I had accompanied a group of my friends from university. And of course, I was sure to arrive early, in order to enhance the likelihood of meeting Moses before the performance began (let us call him that for the purpose of this story). On arrival, I made my way to the backstage area, feigning the innocuous wide-eyed curiosity of an excited and awe-struck Fela fan, primarily to bamboozle my way past the burly bodybuilder bouncers who were the scourge of any foolish troublemaker at the Shrine, and of these there were many. Anyway, I successfully made it into the inner sanctum of the nightclub, not quite believing how daring I had been at the entrance. As is to be expected, there was a lot of activity going on, Fela's girls darting about, giggling as women are wont to do, while preparing themselves for the night's performance. And as everywhere else inside the Shrine there was the ever present cloud of cannabis smoke hanging in the air. The lighting was low so it was quite an effort moving around the backstage, from darkened room to darkened room trying to locate him. Thinking back now, I can only wonder how easy it would have been had this been happening today when everybody owns a mobile telephone. Back then, the thought of a personal mobile phone was still in the realm of science fiction.

Eventually, out of the corner of my eye I spotted him bending over something on the floor, at the far end of a corridor. It was dark you see, and I wasn't sure if that was him. Yet I was very sure that it was him, Moses, that man because of whom I'd laid awake at night, every night since last Tuesday when I first heard his voice and felt his touch. There could not be another person backstage at the Shrine who looked anything remotely like this man, whom I had been unable to keep out of my mind since I left this place three nights ago. So I moved closer and had almost reached him before he sensed that he was being approached. Then he looked up and recognised me, the expression on his face a combination of shock, surprise and delight. He beamed, flashing that dazzling white toothed smile at me. Oh Lord, I wished this was a private setting, I should have leaped into his arms. But no, I just smiled back, genuinely feeling a bit shy about the fact that I had taken the bold step of coming to find him backstage. He must have noticed too, so he made me relax by rising from what he was doing and walked to meet me. He said "Hi baby" and then he embraced me. I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven. The hug had happened so naturally. I held on tightly to his body, feeling as if I had arrived at my destination after a long and tortuous journey, never wanting to let go of this man who made me feel so special. It was hard to think that I had met Moses only once before, because being with him now at this very moment was as if I had arrived at a place I had always wanted to be.

I felt safe and so secure. This man was strong and he pulled me close and held on too, but we were both mindful of the fact that we were in a space that was accessible to all the members of the troupe of performers. And so reluctantly, we let go of each other. I was a bit shy (or pretended to be), so I turned my face downwards, towards the floor, smiling. We didn't talk much, we just let our facial expressions and our bodies do the talking for us. Moses crooked his finger under my chin and turned my face upwards towards him. I raised my head and looked up into his eyes. I knew he could tell that I was totally infatuated with him and he pulled me close again, this time being careful not to make contact with that part of our anatomy that is below the waist. I put my head against his chest as I hugged him and I could feel his heart pounding. We held on to each other again, tightly. In my head I could hear myself saying, "my love, where have you been all my life? I'm so glad I've finally found you..." But that line of thought was abruptly disrupted when Moses suddenly jerked and let go of me. I looked up at him and followed his gaze down the corridor towards a female figure who was approaching us. She did not seem to have seen us, but Moses had seen her and had reacted in the way that he did for a reason...




The Saxophonist was written by Anengiyefa.


Copyright Anengiyefa 2009.



AnengiyefaI grew up in a suburb of the city of Lagos, Nigeria in the 1970s and spent all of my childhood and formative years there. That city more than any other, is my home. I fulfilled my childhood ambition of becoming a lawyer when I was admitted to the Nigerian Bar sometime in the mid 1980s and went straight into law practice. But it was not very long before I became disillusioned with the system in Nigeria. I persevered for as long as I could, but seized the opportunity when it came to relocate to the UK in 1996. I have been living in London, UK since then and have since re qualified and been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales. I enjoy the challenges thrown my way in the work that I do and my profession is a big part of my life.



But then I've also discovered another love, a new found love of creative writing. In February 2009, I surrendered to a long held desire to start a weblog. In writing the blog I gradually drifted towards writing stories, episode by episode, making up the details as I went along. The stories I have written and the ones that are still at the embryonic stage in my mind are all based on real life experiences and situations, of myself personally or of others I have known. But the accounts are fictionalised.



I stumbled upon ST while on one of my web surfing expeditions. I was moved by the fact that several other African people were similarly motivated to write creatively such that I felt a compulsion to join this group of African writers. And I was pleasantly surprised when Ivor Hartmann read one of my scripts and thought it good enough for me to be admitted as a ST author. I have never had anything published previously, save for the odd contribution here and there to Nigerian and British newspapers and magazines, usually one strong opinion or the otherr. ST is the first venue at which my creative writing is published and I cannot say how pleasing this is. I know this is supposed to be an autobiography, but I was not going to let slip the chance of expressing my immense pleasure.

16 comments:

Colin Meier said...

Eagerly awaiting Part 2, Anengiyefa!

Anengiyefa said...

Glad you enjoyed it Colin. Part 2 coming up shortly. :)

Rox said...

Anengiyefa,
As usual I continue to stalk you coz you write beautifully. I am so excited for you for having your work published, you very well deserve it. Much love........And handsome you are, if only........lol

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Rox,

Its feels great to be tracked down as you've done, it makes me feel so special. But I still insist that you write more "beautifully" than I do; and on this we may just have to agree to disagree. :)

Its wonderful too to know what you think of my looks. Its not often that a beautiful woman says such words to me. I'm so grateful.

Jude Dibia said...

Anengiyefa (cool name), this was beautiful and erotic. I really, really like the way your narration flowed like a stream of pulsing current.

I love this bold tale on many levels; for its eroticism; for its homoerotic leanings and for its simplicity. And the last part was a cliffhanger... can't wait to read the next installment. Well done!

Anengiyefa said...

Jude thanks for your kind words. They are much appreciated. I find it encouraging to know that there are those who think positively of my work. Thanks too for the follow.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma said...

Wow, a very interesting piece. what struck me the most was the almost subtle way the 'homoerotic' aspect creeped up, at the beginning I assumed the character was a woman. Bold writing and very interesting, provokes thought. awaiting part two!

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Novuyo, I was pleased to read your comment. Perhaps the idea of the story is for the reader to see the world, or that bit of it that is portrayed in the story, through the eyes of the gay person, who in all honesty sees his sexuality as natural and responds to it accordingly.

There has been deliberate effort made to avoid feelings of guilt or discomfort in the mind of the character telling story, thereby portraying his 'unusual' sexuality and that of other(s)who share it as nothing but ordinary and normal.

Hence the sense you got when you first started reading the story that it was the voice of a a female. :)

Mama Shujaa said...

I love it Anengiyefa...gripping, honest, revealing. Lovely work. I look forward to the next installment.

uche peter said...

stirring, sensuous, evocative and vivid, and the slight unsure voice of the yearner is rather enchanting, like a crooning in the ear.

well done, Anengiyefa!

Anengiyefa said...

Mama Shujaa & Uche Peter, thanks so much. I take encouragement from your words. In Part 2 I'll do all I can to fulfil expectations. Thank you.

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

BRAVO! The beauty of this piece lies in the simplicity of the narrative and the success of the writer in conveying pent-up emotions.

Blooming marvellous old chap.

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Ayodele, thanks. I'm going where few other Africans have gone..its almost uncharted territory, but I'm writing it with truly held feeling... Your comment is appreciated. :)

Akin said...

Hello,

I writhe with excitement and I am glad Part 2 was out before I read Part 1, the suspense in waiting for the next part would have been unbearable.

I sometimes wish one could find more of those experiences back then in Nigeria.

It just draws you in, I like your writing style.

Regards,

Akin

Anengiyefa said...

Aww Akin, its lucky I came looking to see if anyone had left another comment.

I blushed when I read your words...don't know why.. :)

Akin said...

Hello,

I writhe with excitement and I am glad Part 2 was out before I read Part 1, the suspense in waiting for the next part would have been unbearable.

I sometimes wish one could find more of those experiences back then in Nigeria.

It just draws you in, I like your writing style.

Regards,

Akin

 
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