Today is Wole Soyinka's birthday. This is wishing him an amazing year ahead. He is one of the writers who put Nigeria on the world literary map. He "nativised" English, as Kola Tubosun would call what he does with the language in most of his plays. He deserves all the happiness he can get even as he grows older. More wisdom. More energy. Despite the age!
Below is Kola Tubosun's adaptation of Wole Soyinka's "Telephone Conversation"; enjoy "Chat Call"
The voice seemed reasonable, locution
Different. The young man swore he lived
Close by. Nothing remained
But self-confession. “Gentleman,” I warned,
“I hate a wasted journey—I am big.”
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Huffy, short minted breath
As a husky radioman. Caught I was foully.
“HOW FAT?” . . . I had not misheard . . . “ARE YOU CURVY
OR VERY FAT?” CTRL, ALT, DEL. Stench
Of rancid sweat drops on electronic bead-mat of log-in chat.
Black paint. Black metal board. Black double-rimmed
PC’s glittering screen. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate he was, varying the emphasis–
“ARE YOU FAT? OR VERY CURVY?” Revelation came.
“You mean—like old or modern Rubensian?”
His assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. “West African portliness” – and as afterthought,
“Down in my profile.” Silence for macroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged his accent
Hard on the microphone. “WHAT’S THAT?” conceding
“DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.” “Like chubby.”
“THAT’S FAT, ISN’T IT?” “Not altogether.
Facially, I am plump, but, man, you should see
The rest of me. Wrist of my hand, ankles of my feet
Are merely corpulent. Gravity, caused –
Foolishly, man – by sitting down, has turned
My bottom rotund – One moment, please!”– sensing
His keyboard rasp away like the thunderclap
About my ears–“ Come on man,” I pleaded, “wouldn’t you rather
See for yourself?”