NIMISIRE

THE LITERARY LAB

SADNESS SUN-DRIED 

I woke up to this heap daily during school closure.

It would be an exaggeration to say the news of the industrial action was more shocking than 50 volts of electricity jolting one’s body, but the surprise was mortifying. No one would have thought that after being kept from academic activities for eight months, another episode of the strike — the antecedent of the cessation of school work — was closer than the next eclipse. 

For the first few weeks after school closure, I carried sadness with me everywhere like a birthmark, and wore smiles only when I was trying to avoid being questioned about how I was- if I was fine; was the strike getting to me?

Once, my mum heard me crying in my room. She seldom displays affection, so for a moment the tears stopped when she climbed up my bed, curled on to me, and asked what was wrong. Her voice undid my composure; another session of wailing began. 

I told her I was tired, that I felt helpless and clueless. I didn’t know what to do with myself this time, feigning happiness and okay-ness was not a thing I wanted to do all over again in the next few till-school-resumes months. Her sermons did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had braced myself the moment the sound of her footsteps neared my room.

At end of her sermon, she admonished that I find joy in the midst of my overshadowing sorrow. She left, and once more, I had the room all to myself. More tears.

In May I registered for a digital marketing training which would hold in June, facilitated by TechNitro – an initiative of some tech enthusiasts who are students of LAUTECH. I got selected. On a sultry afternoon, I had an episode I would rather not talk about. Hurriedly, the next day I packed my bags and left for school to tend to my battered soul away my mum’s worry, and attend the workshop. 

The workshop was a month-long. There was an event on the first day – an introduction to the tech world and talks on career prospects in the tech space by two guest speakers. 

The first classes were introductory and fun. The tutor, who was also my friend – we had met at a conference in Lagos in February and effortlessly got along – had a vast experience as a digital marketer; there was no struggle in delivering his lessons and being understood.  

It was a class of about twenty students. The population startled me the first time. Students must have realized how much the globe was leaning towards technology, and that there is an increasing probability each day that a first-degree graduate with no fore-knowledge of certain technologies is an equivalent of a high school graduate in the labour market.  

One evening, at the middle of the training, a student sent a picture he had designed to the Whatsapp group (this student had been attending the Graphics Design class) and I was stunned. Seeing how much a person could do by attending only few classes made me take my classes seriously.

When the training was about to halt, the tutor split the class into groups, four people in each, and gave us distinct tasks. I was the only girl in my group, and almost immediately assumed the post of the group leader as my team members were passive at first. 

Three meetings- that was all it took to complete our assignment and submit it. After four more classes, the training was over, and there was a project defence on the last day. 

My friend and I entered an essay competition organized by The Courtroom Nigeria– it was required that the essay is written by two people; it was argumentative. We were among the fourteen winning participants. 

The Courtroom Nigeria is a campus newsletter written by undergraduates dissecting controversial issues in their universities (and the country) worthy of massive attention. Being a part of its new generation felt great. However, I cannot say the same for my partner, as his countenance was without enthusiasm anytime the subject surfaced. 

On the first day, we toured the headquarters of The Nigerian Tribune in Ibadan. The Human Resources manager, our tour guide, was a middle-aged woman, dark-skinned and on a thin line between fat and not fat. In the editorial, we were spoken to by the chief-editor, and surrounded by computers and journalists. There were three giant machines in the printing room. The operator, who told us about the processes of printing newspapers and operating the machines, was a man in his late forties. For a while, as he talked, I wondered if he got the burn on the left side of his face in this room. 

A seminar was held on the second day. The founders of The Courtroom Nigeria told us about the birth of the newsletter and their writing experience. 

The outgoing members of The Courtroom, University of Ibadan schooled us on writing, and an On Air Personnel at Splash FM, a radio station in Ibadan, handled a session on research and how-to of interviews. 

A few days after the workshop, I collected sadness from where I had hung it, washed and sun-dried, and then donned it. I had nothing to do; I locked myself in my room most days, leaving it only to do chores or eat. 

At some point, it dawned on me to seek internship at places where I could work as a content writer. The search began- I put up a status on my Facebook timeline about needing a temporary job, since my school could resume anytime. I also registered on sites that were middlemen between potential employers and jobseekers. I sent a number of cover letters, my resume attached, applying as content writer. I went for an interview at an estate management company in Lagos, but didn’t get the job.

I didn’t give up. Early September, an old acquaintance — who would later become a great friend– saw my post on job-hunt and told me about a vacancy at the NGO where she volunteered. I wrote a cover letter and sent my resume to the mail address she provided.

I got a reply the second night- my resume “doesn’t meet the eye” but I should come for an interview the next day. I reworked my resume this night until I felt it was good enough to land me the job. 

The next day, I had a hard time getting to the location of the organization; Google map could only help a bit.

The office was a white space with a welcoming ambiance. In it were a shelf of books, a wide table, three chairs, and printing machine. The founder of the NGO was a dark-skinned bespectacled young man.  

The anticipated interview which had left my body tense turned out to be a chat; one enlightening, searching, and revealing. 

I could volunteer as a content writer, he told me at the end of what must have been a three hours’ discussion. This moment would be what I remember as the onset of a journey of discovery, exploration, and mind-expansion. ​

Work work work

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HOME

Home knows every nook,

held your hand as you broke 

and gave way to crannies. 

Home has sickle for walking stick, 

builds an excuse around your glassiness-

says he’s scared of tripping and landing 

on one of those jagged edges of yours.

*

Waves of distrust cascaded over his loyalty-

he gives no hint that you can’t bank on it. 

Home swings with the tides, 

leaving you with weather change for clue. 

No worries, you are armed:

Thermometer in hand;

forecast on TV; and

eyes acquainted with the sky’s tantrums. 

*

Body jerking in rhythm with yours as you laugh. 

In the quietness that succeeds the chortle,

Home’s eyes still on your face. 

‘You are beautiful’ proclaims Home. 

Some night decides words don’t mean much,

Home talks betty to sleep. 

PS: betty deserves letters in lower case, 

regardless of what your keyboard says.

*

Home is papery, 

nonetheless gazes at the sky with you.

As raindrops turn your faces into waterfalls,

he takes your cold hands into his, 

promises to hold you through all thunderstorms.

But you know about the striking fist of lightning.

And that our lovers sometimes do it’s bidding.

​​OF DAYS THAT NEVER MADE IT INTO A WEEK 

What does it mean for one to be free? Is it to have the necessary armor for driving through life at the speed one wishes without the fear of crashing? Or it has nothing to do with being armed, but everything with never needing one because it is immunity against whatever missiles life shoots one’s way? 

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BLACKOUT 

Hello guys, here’s the link to my first post on Medium. It’s pretty short and sweet. Enjoy your reading.  😉

https://medium.com/@e2d720cf62de/edd814d526f

A Mosaic of Torn Places | Read the New Diverse Anthology of Young Nigerian Writers | Brittle Paper

http://brittlepaper.com/2017/05/mosaic-torn-places-read-anthology-young-nigerian-writers/

BLOATED 

Cut. Some hoarse voice soused in fatigue, I anticipate its saying it. This scene I didn’t rehearse before acting, these lines I read out of a slipping-into-numbness-where in my head.  

They’ve forgotten about a break. Well I need a break. Whoever they -director- are. I don’t remember our agreement on terms of work, but no one works non-stop, except, well, God. 

God. Cut. Is he the one to say that? The director? 

He is.

Of course he isn’t. There is no play. 

This is real. This chaos is no goddamn play.  

To commune with everything the knife ever cut, for my insides to have a taste of everything it ever sliced, is what I want. A cut deep enough to hush this howl. 

Deep sleep. I told you that the only time I am at peace is when I’m asleep. That waking up, and remembering this is me, that happened, I feel like going back to sleep.

Everyone wants an escape from a nightmare that snuck out of otherworld to feast on them. It has never been music. It will never be a spike of epinephrine. You’ll wake from this deep sleep to find your intestine in its grip, your colon wound round its neck as it has its fill. You’ll watch, helpless. Knives, ceramic plates, picture frame, TV, arm chair, android phone, laptop, armless chair; you’ll hurl none. Instead, you’ll wish it dead, or that you could be anywhere you have to be, in a deep sleep.

Depth. People have messed with your priorities. What they believe in is deep, so deep that you have to embrace this religious depth too. Semiconscious, you’ll consider their convictions, employ their eyes. And take yours back later, but what you have now are not your eyes. You carry a pair of lenses in each pupil and it’s difficult to undo this amalgamation (it’s not like you’ll even try to). 

The worst part? You don’t know this. You’ll only realize when you look for what is killing you and discover you’ve been seeing the world through mixed sight, living in a depth that was never really yours, walking around bloated. 

But to know no depth is to be comatose; everything just has to have more meaning than the ordinary, you have to look deeper. The sky has to be more than a thing that hangs over the earth. The moon isn’t only full, crescent, or a luminescent body; it has to remind you of folklores, of faith in light amidst your overwhelming darkness; beauty in your pound of ugliness. A river doesn’t only flow calmly; you must drag it into this business of pressing your lips into a smile, or tearing up after remembering the jagged memories bruising your every present.

Someday while you sleep, I lay in the depth of the blood that escapes the gash in my belly. 

They will say God didn’t say cut.

 I did.   

MIRAGE 

You will look for me everywhere- places I can’t be reached- because everywhere is only where

your eyes can behold,

but I am everywhere, like air,

and beyond these wheres,

and like air your eyes can’t behold me.

Your eyes will take on searchlight for lens,

your body rubbing against luminescence to hitch

a bit of glow

“I have found a course” you’ll assure yourself,

but all you cling to are ashes mirage has fleshed.

You will troll for murk amidst your new found

beam,

your soul is miles away from your body-

You will search for the temple where it’s being

conjugated with your darkness.

GLE 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 *

I am at the park. Inside the bus I will travel to Lagos in, there is a couple at the front seat; the only passengers. There is a commotion beside the bus. From the flakes of conversations of the women who sell snacks and soft drinks to passengers, and a pricking gloom that has lingered in the air since I got here, I deduce that a woman, who had been a passenger of a bus that stopped here, had run mad. Pity is bold in these onlookers’ eyes and it is vivid that they are more worried about the woman’s wailing little boy than her. I too am.

I am thinking of how to help this boy- how to get him help. But there is barely anything I can do.

 

This is one of those helpless situations that remind me that saving the world ought to be canceled in my list of feasible.

Day 1

Sunrise at the lagoon.

6:45am
I am in Unilag hoping to get the location of the hall without asking anyone. I call a friend who is at the university teaching hospital, but he doesn’t answer his phone; probably still asleep. I ask a lady where the hall is and she hurries a direction which after using, I realize that not interrupting her urgent steps would have been a better choice.

I am lost. I ask a janitor sweeping dirt by the street for direction, and from the way she speaks so assuredly like she knows this place the way she’s familiar with the broom, I know I will get to the hall without having to ask anyone else.

8:45am

I am at the hall, and late because I went to the lagoon with my friend and lost grasp of time. There are three women at the registering table, smiling. I get my tag, the woman behind the computer asks for my name and clicks away on her keyboard and then… I could go have my seat.

I sit at the second row and pretend to read Helon Habila’s measuring time, when in fact my eyes are scanning the hall.

One of the women comes to the front and introduces herself as the chairperson of the conference and gives a brief talk about the organization. She enjoins everyone to take few minutes in meeting other participants in the hall.

Reluctantly, I stand and remain fixed at a point watching the concurrent introductions and catch some names and schools.

When I’m on my way back to sitting, a guy comes to me and there is a cursory introduction.
The woman asks us to tell the person by our side the reason we are here and what we hope to achieve from the conference.
I needed a break from home because my school had been on strike for eight months, so when a friend sent the link for registering for this conference, I didn’t hesitate applying. That’s why I’m here, I say to the girl beside me.

She says her brother registered for her and she really doesnt know what the conference is about.

We both at this moment are two clueless individuals who at the end of the conference would have given everything up to be here now.

 

I don’t know what I hope to achieve. My best friend said -in verbatim- leadership conferences are crap, no one can teach you how to be a leader. I agree with him, no one can teach you such thing as leadership; it is like being taught how to live.
After breakfast, we are split into groups and I’m the only female in my group. Our activity is reading the message on each allotted share of cards and putting them in a chart -with agree, disagree, no idea, and no consensus boxes- based on our conviction or non-conviction.

The next stage where, as a group, there is a repositioning of cards in the chart is interesting and argumentative. I amuse myself a lot; I believe that I’m quite vast in knowledge and almost always right about things, perhaps it’s because it’s been eons since I had been in the midst of intellectuals who are sophisticated and well-informed, so I am surprised when more than a person doesn’t agree with my stance and with valid facts are able to win me to their side.
Today, I have achieved:
Now I know that when amidst people, it is pertinent to learn from them if one repels deafness born off ego and listen without constantly interrupting their speech.

There is a clear difference between baseless arguments and constructive arguments. The latter leaves you changed- of beliefs or convictions- or as a changer, and the former often leaves you frustrated and bitter.

Everyone has something to say, while you may not agree with their opinion, you should learn to respect it.

From the chairperson’s speech, I learnt that cultural diversity isn’t limited to ethnicity as I thought; it could be a difference in age, professionalism, or specialization.

Day 2

A quick selfie before the day weighs in.





We meet the community evangelist of Next generation Africa and he gives us a warm welcome. From him, I learn these:

When you want to start a NGO, you first should identify the problem you want to solve and target a locality.
What problem do I want to solve?

I remember the mad woman and her boy. The problem of shelter for the homeless, and lack of mental facility in Ibadan.

The globe itself is a cluster of problems, but if so many humans can choose one problem each and work towards solving it, the world may lean towards being saved.
Create your own unique solution after problem identification.

Seek partnership, advisably from firms whose objectives align with yours.
Build a formidable team. As a leader, know your members’ skills and help them in being more versatile- send them to seminars or workshops, for example. These skills besides being self-developing can be harnessed in bringing the goals of the organization to fruitfulness.

Day 3

​​

G for… Ganglion ?

I went through a quite devastating experience yesterday, and because of this I’m cold and withdrawn today.

I have a new group and we are to come up with a project that fosters civic engagement in Lagos.
Ideas?

 

I am unprepared for this. I’m abashed and mad at myself because this isn’t a good day for mood swing and the surfacing of a rookie self.

Everyone talks about thier project ideas. I am silent  and completely passive, talking only when all eyes at the table are on me, expectantly awaiting my opinion.

I channel my reservedness into productivity, conform it to becoming a tool I learnt from a session yesterday- observation:
A group of people from different cultural backgrounds, with almost equaling level of knowledge coming together to reach a consensus on different ideas provided by same members are like the vanes of a fan that in a non-functioning state are apart, but when connected to electricity rotate to work for common purpose and appear to be one.   
We don’t reach a conclusion on what project to work on till our mentor steps in to redeem the day and makes us realize that our lack of oneness has kept progress away, and that we should never let the fear of rejection keep us from saying our idea or opinion.
Suppressed thoughts and reactions come afloat when he leaves; each person unloads their mind and we move forward.
I’m wondering who/what our source of electricity is- our mentor or goal?

Day 4

GLE 2017 alumni, Nigeria.

Presentation of projects takes place today. We brainstorm on the form our presentation shall take and there is a suggestion to add a short play. I am not sure its not going to be distracting, I eventually speak up when the drama rehearsals are ongoing. I await a colossal of angry reactions -because I should have spoken up earlier, while we all hadn’t agreed on adding the drama- but no offense is expressed. We talk about it and they convince me that its not going to be distracting.

It takes mature minds to make a strong and productive group, people whose focus is directed towards results and won’t let anything remind them of an ‘I’ instead of ‘us’. People who can put away differences, preferences, and embrace selflessness. 
I’m awestruck at the sight different projects, the ideas behind them, and the manner with which the presenters deliver.
There are stunning young minds, great brains and beautiful hearts in Nigeria. I am sure of this now, more than ever.

*

On my way home, I think of what my friend said about leadership conferences. And again, I agree with him. For me, GLE was not a mere   leadership conference; it was four-day soul-searching, self-discovery, and all I learnt about leadership, I did by listening, observing, talking, commenting, and being open-minded.

Leadership can be learnt.

SIFTED MEMORIES 

JAN’17

I wrote nothing about living 2016 at the end of the year because I would be too overwhelmed to finish whatever piece I started out to write. But if I had made it past few paragraphs, certain entries would have taken seats amidst the introspective sentences:
“I felt guilt in its unrefined form, watched my fears take on flesh, crawling at first and then as if on cue, in the last months flood my life like 2017 would be wearing cologne with a repelling fragrance.” 

Some guilt made it into this year; guilt about not downloading any Sia’s song I stumble on (did I make an undocumented agreement to have her every song?). I wonder if there is a more intense guilt lurking till it is safe to walk out of the dark. But I just wonder, not worry.

“My insecurity lured me out, not to shame me, but to show me how stupid it was to be afraid of it.”

And like that guilt, this insecurity made it here too, and I amuse myself this time; I’m done fighting it. 


DEC’16

Contrary to what was assumed by those I met during my first and second years in the university, I used to wear make-up. I told a friend I was more religious than Christian, this- though never said this curtly when the topic surfaced in conversations- was why I stopped using make-up, and denied my second pair of piercings earrings for some years. Leaving my house today with my face fully made up, I feel something a tad similar to what an individual coming out about being gay would feel. But I’m uncertain if this is something I want to keep doing. Before recently, after I must have emboldened myself that I could go out like that, the reflection in the mirror with jagged edges would do the summation of the number eyes that would be on me and give a result of ‘all’; the required conviction to wash the cosmetics off my face.
I knew I needed the sort of courage I wore to compete in debate tournaments to get over my insecurity and step into the open looking different. I got it, months after losing the courage I wore to compete in debate tournaments, and a debate tournament. 

    

NOV’16

When I was two years younger, I had a team mate who made cussing seem cool; working with him on few projects was all it took for me to reel to the same lane. 
He left, I stopped. 

For some months, I was friends with someone who cussed, and I’m swearing again albeit in selective situations; I’m a female in my twenties- old enough to man a home, my family often remarks to disapprove my mediocrity in the kitchen- and a Nigerian who lives in Nigeria, and who cussing, just like her having more than a pair of piercings, passes off as ungenteel and un-African to the society. But then, just like my IMs are filled with wannas and trynnas- which paints me phony- and my music folder of about two hundred songs has less than thirty African songs, acting African doesn’t have my care. 



OCT’16



I lose platonic relationships almost as often as I make them. It is when I remember that I am still friends with my best friend of three years that I’m relieved; there’s nothing wrong with me.
I once heard amidst my sister’s conversation with her friend that “… someone may want to be all by one’s self sometimes, and cry just for no reason because no one would understand if one told them one cried for nothing” , I don’t remember the subject of their discussion; perhaps something in the genre solidarity. I like to believe that I’m a lone star, that I prefer being all by myself, I do, but I know I would rather be around certain people than be alone. I think of them as daylight. 

Every time, I lose these daylights to the dark and I don’t know if to unlearn this civility of not meddling with the way earth orbits round the sun.  


SEPT’16
I sometimes indulge the thought that if I groomed my interest in mathematics, and pursued a degree in the course, I would do something different; I would carry out mathematical experiments in relation to words. I am quite obsessed with ‘if’; I would record how and the number of times my test subjects used the preposition for a period of time.
The goal of the experiment would be to explicate that ‘if’ ought to be extricated from the unnecessary burden it bears. I’m convinced that at the end of the day, what we would do ‘if’ we had something has a specific probability of never getting done when we have the needful, which often is greater than the probability of being done. 



JAN’17

For some two years after I graduated from high school, I was a teacher. Four months, I worked at a primary school and left to prepare for exams (I was going to leave anyway; when the term was over. I doubled as a teacher and babysitter, ran errands and did petty jobs; things I was not informed of till my first day at work. When I remember working at this school, I try to convince myself that I left because I was taken advantage of, that I could have been told the school lacked a janitor after my interview) and worked as a home tutor in the remaining months before I started at the university.   
I got a home tutoring job yesterday. As I teach the kids today, I feel a part of me break off aestivation, and it feels so good. I marvel inwardly at the beauty in a small world of quantitative reasoning, fractions, realization, bemusement and occasional nods from the kids when a puzzle pikes out of their way.   

WE NEED NEW NAMES- THE REVIEW.

After the first two pages of We need new names, I thought it was speculative fiction; that Darling and her friends were inhabitants of this surreal world called Paradise, and they could fly to Budapest chanting Vasco da Gama. I thought these kids with awkward names were actual birds. I’m abashed. Jumping into conclusions has never been a game with a pleasant end. But then, Darling made it easy to think she was anything but a ten year old. I mean her perception of Paradise! Who would have thought that it is just a village in another scarcely populated country in Africa? And names such as Bastard, Fraction, Godknows, and Mother of Bones certainly aren’t what you read in everyday African stories.

In We need new names, NoViolet Bulawayo writes in fonts so bold a long-sighted person won’t need visual aid to see, “This is nothing like what you ever read”. It is only apt that her veracious imagery of a preteen’s life reminds one of Maggie Harris’ Commonwealth prize winning story, Sending for Chatal where Maggie brilliantly captured a dyslexic girl’s pathetic life, and Uzodinma Iweala’s exceptional Beasts of no nation.

The child’s voice resonates throughout the book in a way that remembering it is written by an adult occurs only when you’re not reading.

 Mother would kill me dead if she found out…

They are silent when they go, none of that talk-talk of the days before…

Over every page, Bulawayo rolls the brush of literary devices to paint an endearing piece. She is quite fond of simile. There is a beaucoup of the word like in the book.

We need new names explores Darling’s interesting, adventurous and despairing preteen years and her transition into teen age. She is an extreme extrovert who loves playing out, hunting for guava with her friends, and stirring calm rivers (take upsetting a guard for one). She, her mother and overly religious grandmother live in a shack having lost their brick house to the new government’s bulldozing. Her father who had left home for South Africa finally returns with a strange illness. Darling has a pungent contempt for him because hanging out with her friends has been overruled by the duty of caring for him and he forgot all about Darling and her mother while away. Her father remains bedridden till he dies. Here, Bulawayo shows that children are capable of such weighty decisions as despising their parents.

My boy, he says again. I do not look at him because I don’t even want to look at him. He keeps saying my boy, until I finally say, “I’m not your boy, are you crazy? Go back, get away from your bed and go back to where you come from with your ugly bones and leave us alone”, but I’m saying it all in my head…

When Paradise deteriorated in the hands of AIDS, illiteracy, poverty, into a hamlet daily emigrated from, Darling’s crave to join her aunt in America heightens. One day with a rainbow-colored string- this supposedly will fight off evil- belting her waist, she leaves for the states with her aunt Fostalina. The next half of the book, set in Detroit, continues with Darling’s struggle with acute cold and snowfalls, and reminiscence of her Paradise home. She also discovers that this place which she had so much longed for isn’t all she expected it to be and that having no papers, visiting Paradise is but a pie in the sky. Her aunt is more concerned with fitness than looking after the family like an African woman should, and her cousin TK is an unfriendly fat teenage boy.

In order to fit in, like most immigrants do, Darling learns words and mannerisms of the white man and trades her accent for the American fluidity, dumping some African mentality along the way.

I have decided that the best way to deal with it all is to sound American, and the TV has taught me just how to do it…

I also have my list of American words that I keep under the tongue like talismans, ready to use: pretty good, pain in the ass, for real…

I know I will never forget those faces, and I know, looking at them, that I will never hit a child again, no matter how bad he is…

When people make no attempts to rid their relationships of distance’s proboscis, it feeds on them, and sucks till the relationships wither off like dead scales. With diminishing interest in writing home and staying on long calls with her friends in Paradise, having new friends in the U.S, sorting out cans and bottles at work for many hours, Darling’s bond with her childhood friends wears out. Towards the end of the book, Darling’s initiation into adulthood, marked by sharp sensual sensitivity and decision making, begins.

Tony’s body was pressed tight behind me like it would take saw to separate us, his hands up and down my sides, groping my stomach…

I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to get into, but I have zero passion for what Aunt Fostalina wants me to do.

We need new names is a story that unfolds without as much as a semblance of a plot, but out of the blue pushes one to the surface.

If you love stories written by authors who explore their creative liberty to the maximum, delivering keen details, We need new names is just what you’re looking for.

NIMISIRE

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