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Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience
Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study

Writing about people is usually a walk in the park for me, because on all first meetings, I ‘study’ you unintentionally. Probably because I’m a communicator, I try to understand why people behave the way they do by silently studying them. Meaning, I don’t start out with a grand plan to do so but by default, it happens.

We didn’t begin by talking to each other. At first meeting with me, the usual report I get is “she’s so uptight; with a straight face…I wonder if she ever smiles!” I’m glad to confess that I have maintained my first meeting assessment for years now. Not intentionally though, but like people say, “everyone is entitled to their opinion”. So I let you form yours and enjoy the mystery about me later; which includes she’s so warm, loving, stubborn *wink*, etc. Our initial contact was only on a need-to-know basis and according to her (she told me this later), that she had made up her mind to confront me about my not-so-nice look but I guess every time she met me, her liver failed (like we say in Nigeria) meaning she lost the boldness. LOL.

With chocolate coloured skin tone, kinky natural African hair (like mine…I think seeing hers made me grow mine), great smile, pretty eyes and demure personality …she’s a lady at first glance. Her ladylike attributes transcends her personality to her dressing and I think that’s where it stops. As I practically have to ‘force’ her to add a bit of colour or make-up to her face daily.

Her love for work and ensuring she observes laid down rules of the organisation is worth emulating…being with me brings out the other part of her (which I know is in there somewhere) a really naughty person that can break the rules while keeping an innocent face all together. Not that I’m saying I’m naughty, but I hate being so uptight all the time as the world has enough stress to go round already. Don’t tell her I said this ok…promise?

It is easy to tell when someone loves to explore…you can see it in their choice and combination of colours, the mix they throw into their culinary skills. She’s very good at baking too but has to be pushed to bake and when she does, the taste and final outcome is simply heavenly…yum, yum (her son ‘Sammie’ says when he is eating something he likes). That’s the feedback you elicit eating one of her concoctions.

Don’t be deceived to think she’s all ladylike and a pushover because she stands her ground well on matters she’s convinced about. But with me, I simply keep pushing the buttons till she stomps off (probably planning to ‘deal’ with me later) leaving me to have a good laugh behind her back. And despite all the occasional macho she shows, I can tell she has a heart that really loves to a fault and is tender especially if she loves you. She’s bore my pain alone, prayed about it, cried to her hubby over it and smiled at me the next day just so I’m reminded that there’s a rainbow after the storm, a light at the end of the tunnel and a friend that understands.

She can really be a mummy sometimes for someone her young age. It shows in her care for her son, Sammie and her Prince. I have come to know that this part of her is not a front she puts up just for looking-good sake. But an intrinsic part of her life more like something woven into the fabric of her life. She does it to her family members and other friends too. I’m not sure what our being together means to her (as in its’ depth) but she’s simply Otibhor (pronounced ‘oh-tea-war’) my colleague and now friend/sister.

© Frances Kelvin Otung 2014. All rights reserved.

‘Burning Hurt’ review


Review on Burning Hurt by Frances Kelvin OtungBurning Hurt

Why would a ‘Hurt’ that is already painful by itself be Burning? Not ‘Burnt’, but ‘Burning’ in a continuous present term. I wondered…as I tried to imagine the story behind the title. A part of me said ‘it will be filled with bitterness’, probably a typical “boy-meets-girl-boy-loves-girl-breaks-her-heart-and-runs-away-with-her-best-friend-story” with a slightly different twist to it.

Imagine the shock on my face, the thrill in my heart as I flipped pages upon pages in a slow hurry, not wanting the chapters to end or the scenes to conclude… yet panting with desire to know what happened next. Too much anticipation is not good sometimes for an old heart you know, but the anticipation in Burning Hurt pumped fresh blood into my heart.

Unyime-Ivy King is one writer you do not want to assume you know what she will say at the end of a line. Being a lover of books gives her the added advantage to take you on a roller-coaster ride at every turn. Just when you thought you had it figured out, she dims the light and returns full scale with all the beams on you!

Burning Hurt is definitely a story about love, hatred, deep seated un-forgiveness, neglect and bitterness aimed at the wrong person. For me, it is a Library containing Cooking instructions, Histories of our forgotten legends in Ibibio land, How-to-learn-Ibibio-Language-in-some-hours, Sound Proverbs, Educational Values, Ideals from Groups necessary for good home-keeping and Economic Empowerment, which also covered Primitive forms of seeking justice and so much more. According to Unyime-Ivy King, the “Ebre Society” for the women performed during the day, while the “Akata” (for the men) operated at night in the cover of darkness. I’m wondering why, but that’s a matter for another day.

The book Burning Hurt deals with the birth of a child under shameful circumstances, the death of that child, the curses that follow upon the Father from the Mother, of a parent’s failed hopes for his first son; of “Verity’s” pain in the waiting room (for a child) for 9 years, of meddling parents in their children’s marriages, of the loss of a Dad and a Mum’s remarriage to his best friend, of not having someone to confide in, of unwavering faith in God and His ways; of the true lies our mothers told us “if a man as much as touched her, she would end up pregnant. Hence, Verity and her sisters were severely warned not to go near men as the latter were ‘dangerous’” and it worked! Oh… the humour!

We are reminded of the power of agreement in the place of prayer/forgiveness/love, of songs, of witchcraft and false prophets, of philandering and most importantly of God’s expertise at intricately weaving lives into one fabric such that no matter how far anyone runs, their paths meet for the sake of Purpose and Destiny and it all begins with Itohowo Ekanem. Join me on this ride through the Hurt to the Healing…using your own copy.

Thank you.