Letters To Rachael

Letters to Rachael

Letters to Rachael

Dear Rachael,

They say love is blind, but I think it’s just deep-sighted. It makes you close your eyes and see with your mind. And that’s how you do me, Stranger; you make me see with my mind.

Sometimes I see us, you and I, and we have neither past nor present, no unmet expectations, no broken promises; only possibilities.

Sometimes I feel you when I see you in my mind, and you feel like a fresh start, like a new year resolution, like the anticipation, the space between two lovers just before a kiss. Sometimes, you’re like fireworks on new year’s eve.

And let me tell you, dear Rachael, you’re a question I look forward to, the answer I will have to wait for, and I have waited; through diamond studded nights, and the humid dog days of crawling Lagos Januaries; through dinners with no date, and weddings with sixteen bridesmaids and no potential. I waited till time stood still and eternity crawled into my shell to wait with me. And so we sat there, curled up in the fetal position, waiting to be reborn, waiting to molt our hearts.

But this is me, the unfeeling, adopted son of a fountain pen, who locked away his feelings and lost the keys. This is me finding courage to break the box. This is me emptying myself.

Sometimes I wonder how I got here, but I’m not complaining. It’s been a long road and there were no signs. I’m just trying to save the memories that cling to me. Someday, you’ll help me tell this story.





My fascination with healed wounds began as a little boy, through those endless primary school days, when after each football game and after each attempt to dive at the ball in style like I often saw on my neighbor’s black and white TV with the twin doors, I’d come home with at least four wounds. Yes. I counted.

Mother was a Nurse/Midwife Tutor and like every mother with a growing child – she had three boys, she had developed and perfected her own special blend of drugs and blends for healing cuts, bruises and injuries of all kinds. I remember that one of her special ingredients was unprocessed honey, fresh from the mountains that made up the Obudu Cattle Ranch mountain range and separated Nigeria from the Cameroons.

The alternative to the almost-weekly injuries was to keep me locked up at home and out of harm’s way, but that wasn’t Mother’s way. She wanted us to experience life and to live, so she raised her boys to learn from their experiences and mistakes, and from their hurt. And we did, because every time I got injured, I learned a new way not to dive, and the scar was there to remind me if I ever forgot.


I invite you to recall with me, if you will, the personal stories of some of the most admired and respected people through history, people of character and charisma, people with that quiet, uncommon dignity that has become one of humanity’s most rare possessions.

Bring to mind their strong souls, forged on the anvil of personal suffering or their willingness to partake in that of others; their individual characters, passed through the many purifying fires that burned away the dross and brought out the gold in them, from Abraham Lincoln, who is arguably the poster boy of how hardships and personal failure can be positive character-building forces, to Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, and all fifty-six signers of America’s Declaration of Independence. Recall their humanity and their self-effacing personalities, all of them seared with, but ennobled by the scars they bore.

They could have hidden behind the memories of their wounds or booked therapy sessions to sit on a therapist’s couch and discuss their personal demons. But they took those scars and made something beautiful out of them and shared this beauty with the world, and we haven’t forgotten since.
And it seems to me mankind could use some of that beauty, and grace, and character and temperedness right now, but we have refused the fellowship of scars and the world has suffered a hero drought.

They were just ordinary people like us but the scars made them extraordinary.

And I want to be like them. I want my scars to write my name in the stars when I go. It’s why I embrace them with an open heart. I wear them proud like medals, some of them conferred, not for victory but for valor in the face of failure and defeat. They are the keepsakes of my survived battles.

Sometimes I tell myself I am a mother in labor: pushing through the pangs, suffering an episiotomy but pushing still, mind on the pleasure that is to come, embracing the pain, for pain is just a scar on my pleasure.

So I invite life to cut me daily, with every risk taken, every step ventured further down the path less trod, with every stillborn dream I re-dream, every ruptured ambition patched; I take the wound and wait for my scar medal.

Last night, I had a long candid conversation with a dear friend and it drifted like many of them do, to the places where we came from, to the place we were headed, to our dreamed future and the distance left to travel. In many ways she was just like me; growing up on the edge of dysfunction, memories weighted with emotional scars, personal demons put to productive labor. There is always a lot to learn from these conversations, and last night was no different.

I have learned that wounds may leave a scar, but the scar is not the wound. The scar is simply evidence of healing, the mark of a closed wound. I learned that scars are not necessarily damaging, of themselves. It is only our response to their existence that determines their effect on us, and that response is often fear. But fear is a bullet in the spine, and makes mental invalids of those who will let it. I learned that life is a contact sport, and only the craven have no scars.

Like Garrison Keillor once said, it’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars.

Thank you for reading, and I sincerely hope that this has challenged you. Kindly leave a comment if you can. I will appreciate that. If you are on twitter, you can follow me here: @iamashiwel and we can continue the conversation with a larger audience. Carpe Diem.

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Story Story

cikko's lair

A short story: the list of how many girlfriends I’ve had.

A long story: why I’m not with any of them.

A sad story: one day, I looked in the mirror…

A funny story: one day, I looked in the mirror. While naked.

A sadder story: while staring in the mirror naked, my high wore off.

A smart story: I got dressed. Fast.

A stupid story: and what do you think you’ve been reading for the past minute or so?

A dumb story: It took you a full minute to get this far?

A war story: one day, I went to the toilet…

A romantic story: so as I was eating a large helping of spaghetti…

A coming-of-age story: like that of King David and Uriah, I realized that my romantic story led to my war story and then my sad story.

A tragic story: so I wrote my account…

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We’ve Moved!


Hello! it’s been a while and we haven’t been here in a long time. You see, we’ve moved.

We moved from {ashiwel.wordpress.com} to {ashiwel.com}; we thought that might be easier to remember. We’ve posted a bunch of new stuff up there that everyone seems to love, but we noticed you hadn’t dropped by so we thought we’d come say hello and invite you over.

We hope you will like the new site better. If you’d like to catch up on what we’ve been up to, start with Breakup Lines Part 01.

Theres a follow button at the bottom of the page; click that and save your email, and you will never miss a post from us again. We look forward to seeing you.


The Points System: How To Make Women Happy.

So, I was doing some digital housekeeping when I found this old article from somewhere. With a little editing and polishing, I present to you:


Pay attention guys, I suspect this is pure gold.

Now, in the world of romance and much of what happens on the way there, only one single rule applies: make the woman happy. Sorry guys, they lied. It’s not a man’s world. And yes, Beyoncé was right. Girls do run the world.

So, this is how it works: you do something she likes, you get points. You do something she dislikes, you lose points. And no. You don’t get any points for doing something she expects. Sorry, that’s the way the game is played.

So here we go:

You make the bed (+1)
You make the bed, but forget to add the decorative pillows (0)
You throw the bedspread over rumpled sheets (-5)

You leave the toilet seat up (-7)
You replace the toilet paper roll when it is empty (0)
When the toilet paper roll is empty, you resort to serviettes (-3)
When the serviettes run out you use the next bathroom (-3)

You go out to buy her extra-light panty liners with wings (+5)
In the pouring rain (+8)
But return with beer (-7)

You check out a suspicious noise at night (0)
You check out a suspicious noise and it is nothing (0)
You check out a suspicious noise and it is something (+5)
You pummel it with a six iron or pestle (+10)
It’s her pet (-15)

You stay by her side the entire party (0)
You stay by her side for a while, then leave to chat with a drinking buddy from Uni (-7)
Named Tiffany (-13)
Tiffany is a dancer (-26)
Tiffany has implants (-42)
You still remember her bra size (-120)

You take her out to dinner (0)
You take her out to dinner and it’s not Mr. Biggs (+1)
Okay, it is Mr. Biggs (-5)
And they’re doing a promo (-13)
It’s Mr. Biggs, they’re doing a promo, and you snuck in two six-packs of Heineken (-22)

Go with a pal (-5)
The pal is happily married (-4)
Or frighteningly single (-7)
And he drives a Ford Mustang (-12)
With a personalized license plate that reads GR8 N BED (-19)

You take her to a movie (+2)
You take her to a movie she likes (+4)
You take her to a movie you hate (+6)
You take her to a movie you like (-2)
It’s a Chinese movie called Snake In The Monkey Shadow (-3)
Which features people that swordfight on a bamboo leaf (-9)
You lied and said it was a foreign film about orphans (-15)

You develop a noticeable potbelly (-15)
You develop a noticeable potbelly and exercise to get rid of it (+10)
You develop a noticeable potbelly and resort to loose jeans and baggy Hawaiian shirts (-30)
You say, “It doesn’t matter, you have one too.” (-800)

You listen, displaying what looks like a concerned expression (0)
You listen, for over 30 minutes (+5)
You listen for more than 30 minutes without looking at the TV (+100)
She realizes this is because you have fallen asleep (-20)

You’re not a sports fan (-5)
You’re a sports fan (-5)
The sport is football (-7)
You ignore her to watch a match (-5)
You leave a match to be with her (+0)
Because there’s been a power failure (-5)
The match is a cup final (+0)

You’re still friends with your ex (-15)
And she still calls you (-25)
At 8.00pm (-37)
To ask for help (-45)
And you agree to help (-52)
You say “We’ve been friends since childhood” (-74)

You hesitate in responding (-15)
You reply, “Where?” (-35)
Any other response (-20)

For more wise words and discoveries like this, please follow me on twitter @iamashiwel

Mental Carnivores

Sleepless nights and
Listless days,
I have been out here too long,
But still the winding streets call me
And I walk them.
They’re all in my head.

I make out the broken path
By the light of a waning comet.
I am the destination
Of those dim midnight blues,
The mental carnivores that chase me.
I lose them in my winding streets,
But I lose me too.

And this evolving, familiar stranger
That talks to me like he once knew me,
He told me with a heavy heart,
You’re a free man in chains,
Or maybe you’re a free prisoner.
Oh well, hello denial.

I see now I am time’s canvass
And he’s been a poor artist.
Perhaps I don’t understand his art,
Perhaps I chose the painted colors. .

Through naked thoughts
On a rainy hesitant dawn,
I washed my unfamiliar face.
I washed it twice but it didn’t change
So I punched the mirror in the nose.
The shattered pieces laughed at me,
I was the only one who bled.



I haven’t written or posted anything in a while. I’ve been really apathetic to everything lately and it’s not a very nice place to be. Perhaps this poem comes from that place? I’d love to have your thoughts and interpretations of it. Feel free to share them in your comments.
~ Ashiwel

This Day These Days

This day these days are quiet days,
I feel a peace that belies the war
Between uncertainty and optimism.

And the days wave when they go by
But they never wait for me.

A million thoughts to dream,
The defeated past beneath my feet,
Time frozen in time, within time,
I keep finding my tested peace
In the eye of the storm.

These days past,
Every fleeting minute
Was a battle trophy.
Old warrior songs kept me company,
Into the future, black and unknown.

And hear now that
I felt no hesitation,
For battle scars are
The glory of an unsung hero.

These days,
There is no need to learn a
New victory song.
I am the victory song.

Time after time,
Fall after graceless fall,
Each faltering step,
I’ll go where no one dreams for me.


Since 2010, I have written a poem every year on my birthday. This past year has been full of mixed joys, laughter and friendship, uncertainty and a little fear, simple joys and little glories, courage and travails, and victory. Always.
In this year’s poem, I have tried to take that crowd of emotions, and the memories, and the long journey and merge them into a victory song.
And as the year drew to a close for me, a few days before my birthday, I learned that people won’t always believe in you. They will readily take the worst of you, and judge you by it. They won’t give you second chances.
And it will hurt. But no matter what happens, never forget that you are your own victory song.
Carpe Diem.

O. Ashiwel Ochui.

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